Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

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

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

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds

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

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pathetic: British children's charity cuts all alcohol references from Drunken Sailor nursery rhyme

First sung in the days when Britannia ruled the waves, it became a favourite in schools and nurseries, handed down through the decades. But the old sea shanty What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor? may finally be sunk by a broadside from the good ship Political Correctness. The government-funded charity Bookstart, which promotes reading for children around the country, has changed the lyrics to remove any reference to alcohol. It means the 'drunken sailor' has been transformed into the rather tame 'grumpy pirate'. 'Put him in the brig until he's sober' has been replaced by the insipid 'Do a little jig and make him smile', while 'Round with the rum and scotch and whiskey' has become 'Tickle him till he starts to giggle'.

The cleaned-up rhyme was made into a songsheet sent to libraries across the UK to encourage children to read. But parents and education experts insisted that children could be trusted with the original version. Nick Seaton, of pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'Changing the words of a much-loved children's nursery rhyme is simply trying to re-write the history and tradition of this country. 'Organisations such as Bookstart should know better and not start to tinker with traditional songs which were written many years ago. 'Once you start doing that you are asking for trouble. If they want to sing a song about pirates, why don't they simply write a new one?'

Bookstart is funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Work and Pensions to help parents share books with their children from as early an age as possible. Mother Caroline Graham, 29, attended one of their sessions with her son Jacob, two, at her local library in Rainham in Kent. She said: 'I don't know why they bother. It is clearly meant to be politically correct but surely children that young can't be offended by a harmless nursery rhyme. 'It makes me angry that during the current economic climate people are being paid probably more than my husband earns to come up with stuff like this. It's pathetic really.'

Karen Sanders, 34, also went to a session with her girl Clara, one. She said: 'It's a song I sang when I was growing up and I don't think it did me any harm. It seems silly to change the lyrics because they are quite funny - everyone laughs at the image of a drunken sailor.' Former Ofsted inspector and grandmother Margaret Morrissey said: 'This is just nonsense. 'Children are great levellers and no matter how politically correct the Government and their quangos become, they will still sing the original nursery rhymes because they are funny.'

The song was sung by sailors on the Royal Navy's ships of the line in the 19th century. It was often sung when raising a sail or lifting the anchor - hence 'Up She Rises' in the song's chorus - or when sailing into battle. The lyrics tell of how the ship's crew might deal with one of their shipmates after a belly full of rum stops him from helping with his deck duties.

Katherine Soloman, spokesman for Bookstart, admitted she could see how some would think the change was politically correct. But she said the change was to fit in with a 'pirate theme' it was promoting. She said: 'We are keen on all the old favourites and we believe we do a good job in getting young children reading and enjoying books.' Bookstart, established in 1992, is an initiative run by independent arts charity Booktrust. As well as government funding, children's book publishers and booksellers support it with sponsorship.


`A nasty little piece of smug class warfare'

A "Green" holiday firm's promise of `chav-free holidays' for the middle classes exposes the snobbery that underpins radical eco-tourism.

Activities Abroad, a green-leaning travel firm based in Northumberland, England, has caused a stink by guaranteeing its clients `chav-free holidays'. For the benefit of non-British readers, `chav' is a derogatory term for working-class British youth, the tracksuit-wearing, blinged-up, lager-swilling kind, who are said to populate areas such as Croydon, Bermondsey and Birmingham, but who are most frequently found hanging around in the minds of panicked middle-class, Middle England hacks. In a promo email sent to 24,000 subscribers at the end of last week, Activities Abroad (AA) promised that no such despicable, slovenly people will ever be found on one of its trips overseas.

Under the heading `Chav-Free Activity Holidays', AA said: `...Children with middle-class names such as Duncan and Catherine are eight times more likely to pass their GCSEs than children with names such as Wayne and Dwayne. This got us thinking. Are there names you are likely to encounter and not encounter on an Activities Abroad holiday?' (1) It did some quickfire research and discovered that on an AA trip you are unlikely to encounter people called `Britney, Kylie-Lianne, Dazza, Chardonnay, Chantelle and Candice' (in short, thugs and slags), and are far more likely to run in to people called `Sarah, Alice, Lucy, Charlotte, James and Joseph' (in short, middle class and mild).

Eleven of AA's email subscribers complained; one denounced the mailshot as `a nasty little piece of smug class warfare' and promised never to patronise AA again (2). The Guardian seemed especially miffed by the embarrassing mailout, conscious, perhaps, that AA is the kind of trendy, liberal, eco-aware holiday firm that it normally advertises in its pages. AA's holidays include husky safaris in the Canadian wilderness and volcano hiking in Costa Rica, which can set travellers back 2,000 pounds, and last year it won a silver award for `most environmentally responsible small tour operator' at the British Travel Awards (3). Yet its managing director, Alistair McLean, was unapologetic about the email, telling one complaining customer: `I make no apology for proclaiming myself to be middle class and a genuine contributor to our society.' (4) Unlike those Waynes, Dwaynes, Chantelles and Candices, who of course contribute nothing.

AA's anti-chav advertising tactics are disturbing, and more than a little dumb, but are they really so shocking? Poisonous snobbery towards `chavvy' and working-class holidaymakers is rife today - only it tends to be expressed in code, in underhand concerns about CO2 emissions, trails of noxious gases in the blue sky, the dangers of cheap flights, and the denigration of foreign cultures by unthinking Brits. AA's mistake was to forget the coded lingo and state out loud the prejudices that underpin new forms of oh-so-superior eco-travel. Perhaps it has done us a crude service, then, by revealing for all to see the naked loathing of the young and horizon-exploring working classes that motivates much of the contemporary debate on tourism.

Much of what AA's Alistair McLean said in response to the 11 complaints about his email went entirely unreported in the Guardian's article, or anywhere else in the British press. This scion of Green travel - hailed by ethical columnists, decorated by the British Travel Awards, and a member of the Responsible Travel coalition (`holidays that give the world a break') - let rip against the Great Unwashed in one online discussion forum. To one complainant, he spat: `Do you encourage your children to go off and play with the shell-suited [a shell-suit is trackpants with a matching top], Lambert and Butler sucking teenagers who hang around our shopping centres at night?' He laid into the `shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners'. And he pointed out that where his travel firm makes `a positive contribution to our economy' - by paying `corporation tax, income tax, PAYE. and [making contributions] to AIDS projects in South Africa and other charitable organisations' - he is tired of watching economic resources being `frittered away by people who simply can't be bothered ("bovvered")' (5).

It's nasty stuff, fuelled by hysterical images of feral working-class kids running riot and old-style prejudices about the poor sponging off decent society. Yet the idea that lower-income communities - these `urchins', these cigarette-sucking teenagers - are destructive, especially when they go on holiday, is widespread. In recent years, `cheap flights' has become a thinly-disguised codeword for `cheap people', for those Dwaynes and Waynes who apparently only go overseas in order to drink, puke and fornicate. Eco-activists and commentators try their best to present their opposition to cheap flights as being driven by concern for the environment or even, laughably, as a radical anti-capitalist stance against `the toffs' who allegedly populate Ryanair's 5 pound flights to Riga. Yet their mask of eco-respectability frequently slips to reveal a sneering snobbery underneath.

Caroline Lucas, leader of the UK Green Party, has written of the `stratospheric cost of cheap flights' and demanded `an end to cheap stag nights in Riga' (6). She fails to explain why a flight for a stag night in the Latvian capital is more destructive than, say, a flight to one of AA's husky safaris in the Canadian wilderness. Plane Stupid poses as an edgy campaign group that wants to ground the cheap flights of `second home owners'. Yet in their more unguarded moments, its members spout bile about one kind of travel only. Its founder says: `Our ability to live on Earth is at stake, and for what? So people can have a stag do in Prague.' (7) In another statement, Plane Stupid said: `There's been an enormous growth in binge-flying with the proliferation of stag and hen nights to Eastern European destinations chosen not for their architecture or culture but because people can fly there for 99p and get loaded for a tenner.' (8) That's not edgy - it's the age-old middle-class prejudice against pointless, wasteful working-class tourism dressed up in a little bit of environmental garb.

Whether they're dissing `cheap flights' (the correct code), `stag night attendees' (the code starts to slip), or vile `shell-suited urchins' called `Dwayne and Wayne' (the code completely falls apart), the target of the eco-aware is always the kind of hedonistic travel indulged by youthful members of lower-income communities. Beneath their environmental concerns there lurks the long-standing prejudice that some forms of travel, involving huskies and volcanos, are worthwhile, and other forms, involving kicking back, relaxing, having unadulterated fun, are low, coarse, destructive and literally `noxious'.

Tourism and travel have long been the targets of vicious snootiness. When in the Victorian era British workers first started venturing to the seaside, thanks to one Thomas Cook, snobbish commentators complained that `of all noxious animals, the most noxious is a tourist' (9). Later, in the modern era of the 1920s and 30s, the middle classes who had long been travelling to places like Italy and Greece were alarmed to see the lower middle-classes, and even Americans, following in their wake. The British literary snob Osbert Sitwell described American tourists as a `swarm of very noisy transatlantic locusts'. His sister, the poet Edith, said tourists were `the most awful people with legs like flies, who come in to lunch in bathing costumes - flies, centipedes' (10). In more recent times, from the 1980s onwards, commentators have attacked `the vile behaviour of British tourists' in places like southern Spain, the `disgusting inebriation, oral sex and other beachside practices [that would] startle a Blackpool donkey' (11). The image of the `Blackpool donkey' is telling: the sentiment is that `these people', these destructive urchins, should really stay put in places like Blackpool rather than fouling the sophisticated world with their filthy habits as they get `loaded for a tenner'.

Paul Fussell argued in his 1982 book Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars that: `From the outset, mass tourism attracted the class-contempt of killjoys who conceived themselves. superior by reason of intellect, education, curiosity and spirit.' The language changes over the years - from `animals' to `locusts', `centipedes' to `yobs' and `drunks' - but the sentiment remains remarkably similar: these people are noxious, whether metaphorically, as described by that Victorian observer, or literally, in the way that they are now described by today's snobs as being `harmful to the environment'. AA's fantastically crude reduction of entire sections of the population to `chavs', `urchins', cigarette-suckers, all instantly recognisable by their ridiculous first names, reveals the deep snobbery that still underpins the tourism debate. Because it is about betterment and exploration, about escaping the local and dipping a foot into the global, about having ideas way, way above one's station, travel invites the undiluted snobbery of those who consider themselves `superior by reason of intellect' like no other single issue.

We should challenge the fake distinction made between `enlightening travel' and `filthy travel', and insist that travel is in itself a positive thing. Whether people go abroad to hang out with huskies or to chat up girls, to donkey-trek in Peru or to sunbathe in Magaluf, it's all about escaping, exploring and experiencing, and urchins who smoke and sponge off society (allegedly) should be as free to do that as the kids named Lucy, Charlotte and Alice.


No Platform for anyone called Rothschild

I know how Douglas Murray feels after being disinvited from a university debate. I was once rejected due to my surname

By Nathalie Rothschild

Organisers of a London School of Economics (LSE) debate titled `Islam or Liberalism: Which is the Way Forward?' came up with a Third Way this week: pre-emptive censorship. Douglas Murray, a self-described neoconservative and critic of Islam, was disinvited from chairing the debate between Dr Alan Sked, senior lecturer in international history at the LSE, and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a Muslim writer and lecturer, on the basis that his presence might rile some students. I know how he must feel. I was once turned down from a university debate on the basis that my surname - Rothschild - might upset sensitive attendees.

The decision to bar Murray from the debate, which went ahead without him on Monday, was not based on anything he had said or done. The Telegraph reported Dr Sked saying that Murray had `never said anything objectionable' in previous appearances at the LSE (1). Instead, the LSE asked Murray not to attend `in the interest of public safety' (2). According to Dr Sked, `radical students' have recently caused trouble, including by occupying LSE buildings (3). A one-week protest over Israel's war in Gaza had just taken place at the LSE when Murray received notice that it was no longer appropriate for him to chair Monday's event.

The purpose of the LSE debate was to evaluate `how far Islam and liberalism are compatible' (4). Perhaps the organisers should do a follow-up discussion on how far the LSE and liberal values are compatible. Free and open debate ought to be the mainstay of any university worth its name, yet the managers of this prestigious institution don't seem to have the guts to uphold freedom of speech.

Two years ago, I spoke on a panel debate with Murray at the Battle of Ideas, looking at what lay behind `the veil row' - that short-lived but incendiary controversy sparked by former foreign secretary Jack Straw's description of the niqab as a `visible demonstration of separateness'. I didn't find Murray's warnings about the `Islamification of the West' convincing, and neither did most of the audience, which included representatives of the radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. However, there was no global jihad at this heated debate; radical young Muslims simply challenged Murray from the floor, and he challenged them back. The idea that people will go berserk upon hearing controversial arguments - a fear that apparently haunts the imagination of LSE professors - is unfounded.

It is not just professors who feel the need to tiptoe around students' supposed sensibilities. Shortly before that Battle of Ideas debate - in October 2006 - I had been recommended as a speaker for a panel debate at Greenwich University titled `Does the Veil Stop "Community Cohesion?"'. The event was organised by a Further Education Black Students Officer at the National Union of Students (NUS). Yet when this elected NUS representative, whose primary job was to deal with issues affecting ethnic minorities in Britain's colleges, found out that my surname is Rothschild, he decided I was persona non grata. Apparently, it is not appropriate for a person with a Jewish name to sit on a panel discussing Muslim issues.

The organiser's excuse for not inviting me to speak was that he feared the debate would turn into a discussion about Israel/Palestine on the basis of my name, instantly recognisable as Jewish. Yet when I saw the full outline of the event, it was clear that there was no reason why the debate would `descend into a row' about the Middle East. The debate aimed to address four questions: `Is the veil stopping community cohesion and why will the Muslim community not integrate? Are the Muslim community intolerant of whether people find the veil uncomfortable? Does the war on terror have anything to do with this? What are Muslims doing to alleviate any fears of the wider non-Muslim community?' These are all issues I have written on or spoken about, yet the organisers decided not to accept me as a recommended speaker because of the R-word: Rothschild.

Then, three days before the debate was scheduled to take place, they became desperate to find a final speaker. So desperate that they seemed to overcome their qualms about having someone with a recognisable Jewish name on the panel. They emailed asking me to take part, demanding `please get back to us ASAP!'. This time, I declined.

The whole saga was pretty insulting. But it wasn't proof of some endemic anti-Semitism; it simply showed up the prejudice and cowardice of one individual. I quite easily brushed the incident aside. After all, with a name like Rothschild, I have been mistaken for everything from a global international conspirator and an `ally of genocidal communism' to a multibillionaire playboy who hangs out with Russian oligarchs and Tories (also named `Nat Rothschild'). So what if some ignoramus deduced from my family name that I could not address a student union debate on Muslim veils without promulgating some `Jewish interest'? That was his problem.

However, both my experience and that of Douglas Murray point to the rise and rise of new forms of pre-emptive censorship - the curtailing of debate `just in case'. Both the NUS officer who declined me as a speaker and the professors at the LSE who disinvited Murray insulted their prospective audiences, presuming that they would be offended or incited by the presence of a Jew, in my case, or a neocon critic of Islam, in Murray's case.

Students, professors, politicians and commentators increasingly feel the need to tiptoe around people's perceived sensitivities, particularly in relation to the Middle East. Fearing complaints and controversy, they end up practising pre-emptive censorship in the name of `public safety' or `avoiding offence'. This was also the case when Random House publishers pulled Sherry Jones' novel, The Jewel of Medina, a Mills-and-Boon style story about the prophet Mohammed's relationship with his 14-year-old wife Aisha. Random House said the book `might be offensive to some in the Muslim community' and it could `incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment' (5). Again, the `just in case' principle rules: withhold a novel from publication `just in case' it incites anger.

Others argue that radical Muslims should be banned in case they offend Christians or stir young Muslims to become suicide bombers. Indeed, some of the right-wing conservative commentators who were up in arms about the LSE retracting its invitation to Douglas Murray, all self-proclaimed defenders of Enlightenment values, often call for censorship, too. For example, Daily Mail columnist Melanie Philips has demanded the banning of Muslim groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir (6). Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance, called for the resignation of the LSE professor who took the final decision to disinvite Murray. Gabb was right to say that universities have a commitment to free speech and that the professor undermined this by disinviting Murray (7). However, his reaction also points to a censorious impulse simply to get rid of those who offend certain ideals rather than to challenge them.

As it happens, the NUS, through its censorious `No Platform' policy, has managed to ban Hiz-but-Tahrir on many British campuses. Sensitivity censorship is rife in British universities: leftists try to ban fascists, right-wing groups oppose radical Muslims, and Muslims try to stop Jews from speaking. When I was a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, a handful of students formed a Jewish society, yet the Islamic Society complained that the student union had allowed a `Zionist organisation' to set up on campus. Recently, students in Oxford demanded the cancellation of a speech by Israeli president Shimon Peres. Elsewhere, students have campaigned to censor anti-immigrant professors, the youth wing of the British Nationalist Party, Christian Unions, the Daily Mail, and Eminem songs. One university recently banned political groups from participating in freshers' week - the first week of the academic year when students normally get the chance to mingle and sign up to societies.

Rather than feeding into this bizarre game of `No Platform' one-upmanship, professors, students, publishers and others should stand up for freedom expression for all - and that includes Muslim extremists, neocons, and people with famous surnames.


A View from the Target Zone

These words are written a short distance away from the most northern hit, so far, of the Hamas missiles, which are methodically aimed only at civilian population in Israel. For eight years, approximately 5,000 rockets have been sent deliberately into Israeli population centers by the Hamas terrorists. The rockets are extremely inaccurate. The good news is that they often hit an empty field. The bad news is that, when they do hit buildings and people, they kill, maim and destroy. It is a very ugly game of Iranian Roulette.

But the most significant fact is that the undisputed purpose of the rockets is to kill civilians in a random manner. Since they miss entire towns, they could not possibly be aimed at military or strategic targets. No claim is made by Hamas of anything other than a deliberate attempt to kill civilians within Israel. The world knows about the rockets but rarely mentions that they are aimed only at the civilian population and at nothing else.

Hamas consistently refers to Israel itself as "the occupied territory." It refers to any town in Israel as an "illegal settlement." Its declared aim is to destroy Israel. It has proudly endorsed, initiated and sent numerous suicide murderers into Israeli buses, supermarkets, shopping malls, weddings and other crowded places. It explicitly states that it will continue to do so. Since Israel succeeded in preventing the suicide murders by a combination of the protective wall, other defensive measures and good intelligence penetration, the missiles became the preferred way of killing Israeli civilians.

Hamas is declared to be a terrorist organization, not only by Israel, not only by the U.S., but also by the European Union, which is not suspected of being pro-Israeli. This is the same European Union that refuses to label the Hizbullah as a terror organization, but repeatedly and officially declares Hamas as such. Hamas is fully funded and largely controlled by Iran, a country openly and totally committed to the destruction of Israel, while continuing to enjoy trade with much of the western world.

The Hamas media, and especially its independent TV station, carry daily children programs (including programs for kindergarten age) depicting the Jews (and not only the Israelis) as pigs, dogs, scum of the earth and creatures that must be killed. One of these programs features a rabbit which eats Jews. There is plenty of documentation of these programs, including animations and programs with child presenters. Major western news media never report on this phenomenon, while some of them publish op-ed pieces by declared Hamas leaders.

The favorite hour of launching the daily Hamas rockets during the last eight years was 7:45 in the morning, but only on weekdays. Why? Because this is the time in which the streets are full of Israeli children, on their way to school. No one wants to waste rockets when no children are in the streets, during the weekend. Eight year old children in the Israeli town of Sderot, a few miles from the Gaza border, live, since they were born, with these rockets. They know no other life. When the alarm sounds, they have exactly 15 seconds to reach an improvised cover. Eighth grade children, age 13, have never gone to school, since kindergarten, without the real threat of having a rocket hit them on the way. Their parents have never felt safe about sending their child to school. It is very difficult for anyone living in a normal safe place, to imagine what it means to send your child to school, every single day, for eight years, with the fear that he or she may never reach school because of a missile attack, aimed at killing the children. The world seems to accept this.

Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip in 2005. Not one Israeli soldier or civilian remained there. Everything was ready for the people of Gaza to start a new life and economic development. There was no blockade, border crossings were open. Instead came increased shooting of rockets into Israel, a Hamas coup, throwing Fatah Palestinians from roofs of buildings to their death and torturing their own people in their prisons. It is regrettable that Israel did not react with full force to the very first rockets after its withdrawal from Gaza, but there was always the naive illusion that perhaps talks, discussions, verbal threats and temporary closings of the border crossings might do the job.

Much more here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Vicious British social workers yet again

'They say we're too old to care for our grandchildren': Social workers hand brother and sister to gay men for adoption -- DESPITE the little girl being fearful of men. The welfare of the children was obviously NOT the priority of these Leftist animals

Two young children are to be adopted by a gay couple, despite the protests of their grandparents. The devastated grandparents were told they would never see the youngsters again unless they dropped their opposition. The couple, who cannot be named, wanted to give the five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister a loving home themselves. But they were ruled to be too old - at 46 and 59. For two years they fought for their rights to care for the children, whose 26-year- old mother is a recovering heroin addict. They agreed to an adoption only after they faced being financially crippled by legal bills. The final blow came when they were told the children were going to a gay household, even though several heterosexual couples wanted them.

When the grandfather protested, he was told: 'You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.' The man said last night: 'It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother figure. We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.'

Social workers themselves have admitted that the little girl is 'more wary' of men than women. The case, in Edinburgh, raises worrying issues about state interference in family life. It will also fuel concern over the practice of gay adoption, which has been promoted by Left-wing ministers and council bosses.

Some local authorities forbid adoption by smokers and obese people but actively support gay fostering and adoption - even though research shows overwhelmingly that children are best brought up by a mother and father.

The grandparents first stepped in because the children's mother was unable to look after them. But council social workers became worried that the grandparents' ages and health problems meant they would also be unable to care for the children properly. The 59-year-old grandfather, a farm worker, has angina while his wife is receiving medication for diabetes. The children were taken into foster care during the two years of court hearings.

When the grandparents eventually conceded defeat, they were assured by social workers that they would still have regular contact with them. The fostering arrangement worked well, but the council decided that the children should be adopted, to give them a permanent home. The grandparents agreed - as long as they could be assured that the adoptive parents would be a loving mother and father. The couple were then told an adoption had been arranged - but the grandfather 'hit the roof' when he discovered that the adoptive parents were two gay men.

Social workers dealing with the case admitted that heterosexual couples who were approved as adoptive parents had also been keen to adopt the children. The decision was taken even though a confidential social work report - now part of the court records held by the grandparents - contained that the little girl is generally not as happy around men. The report says she 'has tended to be more wary of males in general.'

Her grandparents insist they are not homophobic. But they reject the view of social workers that the decision to allow the gay couple to adopt the children was made 'in accordance with who can best meet their needs.' When they made their opposition clear, however, the couple were told that social workers would 'certainly look' at allowing them access to the children 'when you are able to come back with an open mind on the issues'.

The grandfather was told by a social worker: 'If you couldn't support the children [in the gay adoption], if you were having contact and couldn't support the children, and were showing negative feelings, it wouldn't be in their best interests for contact to take place.' He said last night: 'The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives. 'But in our society the mother is generally the cornerstone of the family and the most important person for a young child.' His wife added: 'It's so important for children to fit in, and I feel our grandchildren will be marked out from the start when they draw pictures of their two dads.'

The last time the couple saw their grandchildren was shortly after the agreement for them to be adopted but before the decision to place them with a gay couple. They took dozens of photographs and tried, for the sake of the youngsters, not to break down. 'Granny, I'm not going to see you for a very long time,' said the five-year-old boy. 'Maybe when I'm in Primary Seven I'll be able to see you.' 'We'll try our very hardest to see you soon,' said his grandmother, choking back tears.

The boy told his grandfather: 'Grandad, if you want to see me you will have to pick me up because I will be a very long way away.' Then he added innocently: 'We are getting a new mummy and daddy.'

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic church condemned the council's decision last night, warning that the children's welfare could be jeopardised. He added: 'This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved. 'There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved. 'The social work department have deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically-correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection for the children.'

The City of Edinburgh Council said last night that it could not comment on individual cases. Adoption by gay couples in Scotland was approved by MSPs in 2006 - despite an official consultation process which showed that nearly 90 per cent of people opposed it.


Tuscan city under fire for banning foreign food

The Italian city of Lucca faced accusations of "culinary racism" on Tuesday after it banned new foreign eateries from opening in its historic center. The city council recently voted to deny new licenses to any bar or restaurant whose style of cooking was non-Italian within the Renaissance-era walls encircling the city center. Tuscany's center-left regional government criticized the ban as discriminatory and warned against measures "introducing hidden forms of 'gastronomic or culinary' racism." "The defense of quality is one thing, discrimination is another," Paolo Cocchi, the regional councilor for commerce, said on the region's website.

A spokesman for Lucca's town hall defended the new rules, saying they were meant to safeguard the city's traditional and cultural identity and that it also applied to sex shops, fast food restaurants and take-away pizza parlors. "The ban targets McDonald's as much as kebab restaurants," he said.

The town council is also urging foreign restaurants to include on their menus at least one course typical of Lucca, prepared exclusively with local ingredients. "It's an invitation, not an order," the town hall spokesman said.

Italy, which prides itself on its rich culinary tradition, has fewer foreign restaurants than other European countries. But their number has risen in recent years as increasing immigration has brought new culinary influences. Lucca's spokesman said the four kebab shops already in the city center would be allowed to continue operating as normal.


Ethnic crime coverup

Probably Hmong, a group known for gang crime. Most Hmong in the USA come from Laos. Google "Chai Vang" for America's most famous Hmong

A curious story from Wichita, Kan., crossed the Associated Press wire yesterday:
Police say two people were killed and seven wounded in a shooting during a wake at a house in Wichita. Sgt. Ronald Hunt says all the victims of Saturday night's shooting were adults. He did not know their ages or genders. Hunt says one victim is in critical condition, while as many as four others are in serious condition. Police say the shooting occurred around 9:30 p.m. on the ninth day of the wake, which was being held for an elderly woman buried earlier Saturday.

Deputy Police Chief Robert Lee could not say how many shooters were involved but says some of the shots came from outside. Police won't say if they believe the shooting is gang-related. Officers had trouble communicating because many of those at the house did not speak English. Police are looking for a pickup truck seen leaving the home.
Supposedly no one has any clue who the perpetrators or the victims were, except that the AP hints the shooting might have been gang-related and tells us that "many of those at the house did not speak English." Did they speak any other language? The AP doesn't say. We had a hunch, which we explored by checking the local paper, the Wichita Eagle. It had stories on the shootings Sunday and Monday, but the only additional detail came was this, from the Sunday story:
[Neighbor John] Kemp said that the woman who the wake was for and her husband ran a restaurant in the neighborhood. "They were doing well," Kemp said. That restaurant was closed Sunday afternoon.
Hmm, we have an old couple who ran a restaurant, a gathering of non-English speakers, and hints of gang activity. It sounds as though an ethnic community in Wichita is plagued by violence--though which ethnic community it is, is a closely guarded secret.

Well, closely guarded by the Eagle and the AP, anyway. KSNW-TV, the local NBC affiliate, was able to dig up (although not to spell properly) the fact that somehow eluded the eagle-eyed Eagle reporters: "The crowd was made up of Laotion-Americans and Laotion immigrants."

This did not surprise us, because the story, as vaguely described as it was by the AP and the Eagle, reminded us of a scene from "Gran Torino," the new Clint Eastwood movie, which involves a Laotian gang in an inner suburb of Detroit. It says something about the state of journalism in Wichita that people who see Hollywood movies are better informed than people who read the local paper.


Myth of the noble terrorist takes an overdue battering

Jason Koutsoukis in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald reports on the brutality of Hamas towards Gaza's citizens

PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of Hamas's attempt to hijack ambulances. Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected. We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety. "You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone." Eyad al-Bayary, 32, lost his job as a senior nurse at the Shifa Hospital because he is closely identified with Fatah.

Since the ceasefire was declared on January 17, Hamas has begun to systematically take revenge on anyone believed to have collaborated with Israel before the war. According to rumour, a number of alleged collaborators have already been executed. Taher al-Nono, the Hamas Government's spokesman in Gaza, told the Herald that 175 people had been arrested so far on suspicion of collaborating. And if the sentence is death? "We will respect the decision."

The commander of one al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit, who used the name Abu Ibrahim, said he would never accept peace or negotiation, even if it might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Ynetnews.com reports that Hamas may have inflated the death toll in Gaza:

ITALIAN newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead. "The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article. The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.

A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper's reporter: "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."

The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas's exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders: why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?" These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.

Denis Maceoin in The Jerusalem Post:

WATCH those films of Hamas gunmen dragging screaming children along with them to act as human shields, watch how they fire from behind the little ones, knowing no Israeli soldier will fire back. And even as they put their own children's lives at risk, they shout to high heaven that the Israelis are Nazis and the Jews are child-killers. Hamas has become proficient at resurrecting the blood libel, just as its fighters use the Nazi salute, just as their predecessor in the 1930s and '40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, conferred with Hitler about building death camps in Palestine and raised a division of SS troops in Bosnia to fight for the Reich.

It is all self-contradictory: The Left supports gay rights, yet attacks the only country in the Middle East, where gay rights are enshrined in law. Hamas makes death the punishment for being gay, but "we are all Hamas now". Iran hangs gays, but it is praised as an agent of anti-imperialism, and allowed to get on with its job of stoning women and executing dissidents and members of religious minorities. If British Prime Minister Gordon Brown swore to wipe France from the face of the earth, he would become a pariah among nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to do that to Israel and is invited to speak to the UN General Assembly. Israel guarantees civil liberties to all its citizens, Jew or Arab alike, but it is dubbed an apartheid state; Hamas, ever the bully, kills its opponents and denies the rest the most basic rights, but we march on behalf of Hamas.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Florida stupidity

All states are equal, apparently. Why else ignore that there are higher storm-damage risks there?

State Farm Insurance Cos. said it will drop all its homeowner policies in Florida, a move that could increase the strain on a state still contending with the aftermath of hurricanes in recent years. The nation's largest insurer of cars and homes said it is pulling out of the Florida homeowners-insurance market because it wasn't able to charge high enough rates. Florida regulators rejected State Farm's request last year for a 47% rate rise. "We have to take this serious step to avoid further financial weakening," said Chris Neal, a spokesman for State Farm Florida Insurance Co., the unit that writes homeowners policies in the state.

Florida was ravaged by hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, which caused tens of billions of dollars in damage. As a result, some insurers have stopped writing new policies or are jettisoning existing customers. State Farm's potential impact is far-reaching because the insurer had 703,357 homeowners policies in force in Florida as of Sept. 30, as well as tens of thousands of policies covering condominium units, boats and renters. State Farm has the second-largest share of the Florida homeowners market.

"I was shocked. I'm quite nervous," said Jennifer Bitner, a Tallahassee, Fla., homeowner. She said she has been a State Farm customer for several years, paying more than $1,000 a year for her coverage. Policyholders may now be forced to find new coverage in a state where some other large national insurers have also been seeking to pare their risk, given the potential for large losses due to hurricanes. They also could end up paying higher rates with other companies.

Many State Farm customers could wind up with the state-created insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Citizens has grown in recent years to become the largest insurer of homes in Florida. An influx of former State Farm policyholders could increase the financial pressure on Citizens, which has been trying to shed policies.

Another alternative is likely to be a group of smaller insurers, some of which are relatively new, issue policies only in Florida or haven't been tested by major hurricanes. It isn't clear how many policies those companies could absorb. State Farm, based in Bloomington, Ill., said it will take more than two years to drop all the policies. The insurer will keep selling car and life insurance in Florida.


A new Hitler Jugend for Australia?

OK. That heading is a bit unfair. I think Prime Minister Rudd is a bit misguided but I don't think he is a bad man at all. It is however entirely in keeping that a Leftist would have a scheme to organize the nation's youth into some form of government-run youth organization. There was the Hitler Jugend, Stalin's Komsomol, Putin's "Nashi" and Obama also has proposed something of the sort. Rudd's version, however, seems reasonable enough, though undoubtably socialistic (government-run)

Kevin Rudd wants to recruit an army of young volunteers to help the elderly, feed the homeless, and clean up the environment. In exchange for giving up their time, members of the new Community Corps would get discounts on their university HECS debts. The proposal could attract tens of thousands of volunteers from the 1.3 million Australians with a higher education debt. The average ex-student has a $12,000 HECS debt, which typically takes more than seven years to pay off. The scheme could wipe out students' debts as they accumulate hours of community service, the Herald Sun reports.

The plan, backed by top business minds and embraced by community and welfare groups, emerged from the Prime Minister's 2020 summit. The Government is expected to adopt it within days when it releases its final 2020 summit report.

Mr Rudd, who has pleaded for Australians to pull together to beat the rapidly worsening economic downturn, has described the idea as "a very practical trade". Corps members could deliver meals on wheels, youth and Aboriginal services, become volunteer firefighters, or assist the disabled and elderly. Landcare and water projects could also benefit. It is understood the Corps would operate within Australia, unlike the US Peace Corps, which works on projects across the globe.

The plan is believed to be one of about six big ideas from the 2020 summit to get the green light. After the summit, Mr Rudd said: "We need more volunteering in the community, and students are emerging from university with a whole lot of debt. "The idea . . . where young people would go out and provide voluntary service in the community in exchange for reducing their HECS debt . . . is one we want to consider."

Brotherhood of St Lawrence chief executive Tony Nicholson said there would be plenty for Community Corps members to do. "It could range from assisting with recreational programs to driving a community bus, to assisting disadvantaged people get to the doctor or do their shopping," he said. Mr Nicholson said those with special skills, such as IT graduates, would be particularly useful.

When the idea was floated at the summit, the architect of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme, Prof Bruce Chapman, said it would appeal to wealthier students. Poorer students, he said, would probably prefer to enter the paid workforce.


It's happened again! Tiny baby found alone, abandoned and screaming in a closed childcare centre

This is gross negligence on the part of staff. I have always said that the only place for little children is in a loving home but this just reinforces that

A woman broke the window of a Darwin childcare centre with a brick when she arrived to find the building locked, the lights out and her tiny son trapped inside. Yula Williams, 30, said she could hear her eight-month-old baby Xavier "screaming and crying". "It made me terrified to know that my son was inside the centre, locked and in the dark," she said.

Ms Williams had dropped her son off at the centre in the Darwin suburb of Wagaman around 8am (CST) on Tuesday and went to work. She had dropped her car off at a local mechanic and arranged for one of her cousins to collect her son from the centre before it closed at 6pm (CST). But when she arrived home later that night her son was not at the house. "It was just a mother's instinct that I went back to the childcare centre and looked around," she said.

Ms Williams arrived at the centre shortly before 6pm but staff had already left the building. After scanning all the the security screens the frantic mother climbed the back of the building to call Xavier's name through elevated slats. "I couldn't hear him from the outside but when I walked around and called through the vents to the bedrooms I heard him scream," she told ABC radio in Darwin. Desperate to get to her tiny son, Ms Williams then picked up a brick from the garden bed and smashed it through a window. Police arrived at the scene about 7.30pm (CST) after they were called by one of the mother's relatives, who told them a baby was missing.

St John Ambulance officers also attended the centre to ensure the child was in good health. They gave Xavier the all-clear.

Ms Williams said that while she could understand the misunderstanding with her relative over the pickup arrangements, she could not understand how the centre had not called her to let her know that no-one had come to collect her son. Police said they were continuing to conduct investigations into the incident.


More photography madness

"Bordering on the absurd" understates it. This story is from Australia but there have been many similar stories from Britain

A Perth library has declined to display an inoffensive photograph of two toddlers because of fears of a post-Henson backlash. Earlier this month, photographer Nicole Boenig McGrade submitted her picture, Kids in Suburbia, for an exhibition. Concerned that the photo might prompt complaints, the exhibition organiser suggested it be left out and Boenig McGrade agreed. The photographer declined to name the venue yesterday, but The Australian has since confirmed it is the Subiaco Library.

"They're just being cautious and I can understand that because no one wants to be put in a position where they might cause other people to be upset," said Boenig McGrade. But she said she was shocked to think her photo of two children playing on the footpath outside their WA home might be considered offensive. "This is an image of Australian lifestyle -- this is who we are. Children are part of our history and that's how I see my photographs," she said.

The photo, taken in 2006, shows an 18-month-old boy and his three-year-old sister, both with their shirts off. Their parents asked Boenig McGrade, a mother of two, to take the image, and they attended the photo session.

Library manager Colleen Harris is on leave and unavailable for comment, but it is understood that she was also concerned about the Australia Council's new protocols for artists working with children, released on January 1. The protocols, introduced after last year's national furore over Bill Henson's photographs of naked children, do not apply to Boenig McGrade because she receives no government funding.

Executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, said yesterday the council protocols would hinder artistic freedom. "Because of justified anxiety over the protection of children, what we're seeing here is a complete overreaction which is bordering on the absurd now," she said.

Australia Council chief executive Kathy Keele last night defended the guidelines. "I certainly hope -- and it's been our intention all along -- that this does not exclude children from our arts body of work in Australia," she said. "But we will all have to work hard to interpret what's in front of us, and talk about what it means." [More talk is not what is needed. The deficit is of realism and commonsense]



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another episode from Britian's vicious social workers

Targeting decent people is all they seem to want to do. Feral parents can (and do) kill their kids without the social workers lifting a finger. I guess that in their elitist world the kids of dysfunctional families don't matter

Social services banned a mother from being alone with her baby after she took him to hospital with a tiny mark on his ear. Lyndsey Craig worried that six-month-old Daniel might have meningitis after she found the blemish. But doctors who examined him referred the case to social services who then banned Mrs Craig and her husband Tim, 30, from being alone with the child while they investigated.

Responsibility for Daniel had to be handed to his grandparents. Mrs Craig, 24, who works as an accounts assistant, took Daniel to Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool last month as he was suffering from vomiting and had a small purple mark on his ear.

She said doctors took blood tests and confirmed he did not have meningitis, but decided to keep him in overnight for scans. During this time, she and her husband were asked questions about domestic violence and a social worker was sent round to check their home in Liverpool. When the scans and X-rays came back clear the Craigs expected to be given an apology from social services. But instead they were told they were not allowed to be left alone with Daniel. Mrs Craig said: 'They said that if I took him home, they would be able to arrest me and put both of my children into foster care. That's when I broke down.'

Daniel was discharged from the hospital when his grandparents Florence and Jim Craig signed a form promising to 'support, supervise and monitor' his care until a child protection conference on January 8. The couple, from the Lake District, who are both retired and in their 60s, had to move in with the family.

Social services visited the Craigs, who also have a three year old son Sam, three times during the ban. Officers finally visited them on New Year's Eve to say the ban was lifted, more than three weeks after their ordeal began. But they weren't officially cleared until the child protection conference on January 8 in which ten people voted unanimously against putting Daniel into care. Mrs Craig requested a photograph of the mark on her son's ear and showed it to those attending the conference. She said they were shocked when they discovered the tiny blemish had been the cause of the problem. It has since disappeared and remains unexplained.

Mrs Craig said: 'Right now, there are probably thousands of children who are getting beaten up and abused and they have wasted all this time and money on us.' A Liverpool council spokesman said: 'We recognise these situations are stressful. However, we do have a legal duty to investigate.' An Alder Hey spokesman said the referral was standard practice for any child admitted to hospital with 'unexplained injuries'.


School sport coach sacked after big WIN

The "no-one must be offended" version of political correctness is steadily encroaching into sport

A high school basketball coach was sacked after he refused to apologise for his team's 100-0 thrashing of a crosstown rival. The Covenant School in Dallas, Texas, beat the Dallas Academy by the stunning margin in a match played on January 13. Last week, the school posted a message on its website apologising for the win. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honourable approach to competition," the message read.

The Covenant coach, Micah Grimes, wrote an email to the Dallas Morning News over the weekend rejecting the idea that his team should be ashamed for winning. "We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologise for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honour and integrity," his email read. He was fired the same day, FOXNews.com reported.

Dallas Academy has not won a game in the last four seasons of the local private schools competition. FOXNews.com reported the school has only 20 female students, eight of whom make up the basketball team. It said a parent who watched the game praised the conduct of the Covenant team, but said other spectators and an assistant coach were "cheering wildly" as the score neared the 100-point milestone.

It reported that the Dallas Academy team had also been congratulated for refusing to give up.


Real Fascists attack a nominally Fascist family

For reasons only they know, and haven't chosen to share with the rest of us, Holland Township, New Jersey residents Heath and Deborah Campbell named their oldest child Adolf Hitler Campbell. His younger sisters are named Joyce Lynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlnn Hinnler Jeannie Campbell, the latter name apparently an illiterate tribute of some sort to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler.

Mr. and Mrs. Campbell - both of whom are disabled, unemployed, and receive welfare subsidies - insist that they are not Nazi sympathizers. There is compelling evidence that they are avid publicity seekers. Their child made international headlines a few weeks ago when they demanded an apology from the management of a local grocery store when its bakery refused to inscribe Adolf's full given name on a birthday cake (a customer request that was eventually carried out by a Wal-Mart).

About two weeks ago, child "protection" bureaucrats from the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) materialized in the Campbell household in the company of a police officer. Referring to a conveniently anonymous report alleging some unspecified "imminent danger" to the kids, the DYFS child-nappers seized the Campbell children and placed them in foster care.

Sgt. John Harris of the Holland Township Police was the officer assigned to accompany the child-nappers "to keep the peace and protect the [social] workers," as he told ABC News. Harris points out that the couple had not been charged with any crime. Nor was he aware of any complaint that had been lodged against either parent for any form of domestic abuse or neglect.

In fact, the police officer, who has known Mr. Campbell for a decade, could actually serve as a character witness: "Just from knowing Mr. Campbell from the past ten or so years, I've never known him to abuse his children, and when he has talked about his children he has been very much into his kids. [He's] very loving."

This characterization is supported by Harris's boss, Police Chief Van Gilson. "He loves his kids - there are no ifs, ands or buts about that," Gilson told the New York Times, adding that Heath Campbell "broke down" on hearing that his children were to be seized and taken away.

These comments summon an important question: Since the Campbells are innocent of any crime, and no complaints had been filed with the police, why did Sgt. Harris permit the DYFS officials to abduct the children? His moral and constitutional responsibility was to prevent the kidnapping of the Campbell children, not to act as an armed accomplice to it.

The role played by Sgt. Harris in this crime illustrates a fact that simply cannot be repeated too often: In our system, the police do not exist to defend our rights, but rather to enforce the will of the nearest state functionary who claims the "authority" to violate our rights.

The Campbells have odd and reprehensible taste in names for their children, certainly. But it was the conduct of Sgt. Harris - who was only following the orders of his superiors - that displayed the same authoritarian conformity that facilitated the evil acts carried out by the National Socialist regime.

New Jersey DYFS spokeswoman Kate Bernyk insists that "We wouldn't remove a child based on their name," and maintains that some unspecified "danger" prompted the removal of the children from an eccentric but by all accounts loving home. True to form, the agency has shut the children off from parental contact, slapped a gag order on the parents, and started the familiar tactic of drawing out legal hearings in the matter as long as possible.

The isolation of the children and the use of dilatory measures will help the agency create an after-the-fact rationale for its kidnapping, thereby justifying either permanent separation of the children or the imposition of a "parenting plan" to re-educate Heath and Deborah Campbell regarding their parental roles.

Not including their traumatic separation from their parents at gunpoint, there is only one documented sense in which the children have been recently endangered: Somebody sent a death threat to the parents. If this is the "imminent danger" DYFS refers to, then finding and prosecuting the author of the death threat is the appropriate course of action, rather than breaking up a viable family.

The fact that the Campbell household is entirely dependent on government transfer payments italicizes one little-understood facet of the Welfare State: The same government that pays to feed and shelter the children implicitly claims them as its property, and stands prepared to exercise that claim whenever its functionaries see fit to do so. This principle was laid out with admirable frankness by H.G. Wells (yes, that H.G. Wells), a supporter of Britain's Fabian Socialist movement, in his 1919 book New Worlds for Old....

It should surprise nobody that Germany's National Socialist welfare/warfare state operated on exactly the same principles. Hitler and his clique earned the support of many traditionalist Germans by condemning the Communist assault on conventional social institutions.

However, as G.K. Chesterton, the Catholic social commentator who was a passionate critic of all forms of collectivism, pointed out, the National Socialist approach was just as inimical to parental rights and the traditional home: "Hitler's way of defending the independence of the family is to make every family dependent on him and his semi-Socialist State; and to preserve the authority of parents by authoritatively telling all the parents what to do.... In other words, he appears to interfere with family life more even than the Bolshevists do; and to do it in the name of the sacredness of the family."

To examine the case of the Campbell family is to collide with the irony that it is the supposed protectors of the Campbell children who are acting on collectivist assumptions identical to those of the Nazis. To be sure, naming a child after a Nazi is in incomprehensible bad taste - but isn't acting like a Nazi under the color of government authority a much more serious offense?


BBC personality made 40 false rape allegations against her ex-boyfriend

Another instance of something that feminists claim never happens

A BBC personality has shattered her ex-boyfriend's life by falsely accusing him of rape. The woman, who has broadcast to television audiences of millions, accused him of raping her 40 times throughout their two-and-a-half-year relationship. He was arrested, held in a police cell and handcuffed as police searched his flat for evidence of his crime. But she retracted her allegation weeks later, and the officer investigating the claims described them as 'inconsistent' and 'not credible'.

Despite the lack of evidence, the incident remains on the Police National Computer thanks to a legal loophole, which campaigners say is blighting the lives of falsely accused men. Even if the 'victim' withdraws their allegation, it will show up under enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks that are undertaken regularly on people who apply for jobs with employers such as the NHS or schools. It will also prevent them from travelling to the United States.

The boyfriend cannot be identified to protect his accuser's anonymity, but wants to make his case public. He said: 'The lies she told have ruined my life. Yet, while I have lost out on jobs and been left paranoid and scared of women, she has got away without punishment. We're not even allowed to reveal her identity. Rape is a horrific crime, and there is no way I am capable of committing it. 'I don't care how successful she is, she should be sent to prison. Of course, the BBC doesn't know what she has done. But if they were to find out I would like to think they'd sack her.'

Fewer than six per cent of reported rapes result in a conviction, but according to Tim Murray of the False Rape Society, this case is typical. 'Thousands of innocent men are tainted for ever by an unfair system,' he said. 'The accused should have the right to remain anonymous until a conviction. If they are cleared, the incident should be erased from their records.'

Robert - not his real name - is an articulate man in his 50s who met the BBC star in London in 2003. A keen amateur photographer, he was there to take promotional shots. The woman, who we will call Charlotte, was working for a commercial television station and asked Robert if he would take some publicity pictures to help further her career. Within weeks they had embarked on a physical relationship. 'In addition to being very beautiful she was intelligent and funny. She was, still is, ambitious. Her career and becoming famous meant more to her than anything,' he said.

The pair filmed many of their encounters at his Central London flat, something he said was Charlotte's idea. 'It turned her on and I enjoyed it too,' he said. 'We agreed from the start that we'd have an open relationship. But we didn't just have sex. We cooked together, went to restaurants. I supported her whenever she was down.' Robert, who separated amicably from his wife, with whom he has two teenage children, ten years ago, was introduced to her friends, but not her family. 'They have strict views on sex before marriage and Charlotte wanted them to believe she was a virgin.'

Still in her 20s, there was a considerable age gap between the two. 'It was flattering at first,' he admits. 'But as the months went by I became more self-conscious about it. Plus, I started to mistrust Charlotte. She lied to me about her whereabouts. And I knew she wanted to marry another boyfriend.' By March 2006 he decided to end the relationship. He arranged to visit Charlotte's London home to pick up the keys to his flat from her.

Yet as he was waiting outside in his car, he was arrested. He was taken first to Hendon Police Station in North London, then to Marylebone police station, where he was accused of raping her, spiking her drinks, blackmailing and threatening to kill her. 'I was confused and powerless. I imagined myself in prison for life. I respect women and would not dream of touching one against her will.' While in custody, Robert, a former employee of an international trading company, suggested the police visit his flat to pick up the DVDs he and Charlotte had made. 'I knew they should prove my innocence,' he said. He also thinks the footage was the reason for his arrest in the first place. 'Once I ended the relationship she became paranoid I would blackmail her with the DVDs,' he said. 'But she was judging me by her standards.'

After seven hours, he was released on bail. 'I dreaded telling my children and ex-wife what had happened,' he recalled. 'Charlotte had befriended them, even picking my children up from school. Luckily they supported me from the start.'

In police records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and seen by The Mail on Sunday, Charlotte claimed that Robert had been blackmailing her by threatening to sell the DVDs to the Press. She said he spiked her drink before they had sex and threatened to kill her if she left him. 'It was all nonsense, fabricated to substantiate her claim,' he said. 'She once told me she had been raped twice before. Now I think she uses both the allegation, and sex in general, as some kind of tool to get what she wants.'

As the days passed, the police began to find Charlotte's evidence increasingly 'tenuous'. The DVDs showed that Charlotte 'would appear to be fully participating in sexual acts'. On May 18, perhaps knowing her account contained, as police put it, a 'number of inconsistencies', she withdrew the allegation. The police officer recorded the incident as 'no crime'.

Robert then received a letter saying he was released from bail and that no further action would be taken. 'But there was no apology from Charlotte or the police,' he says. His anger was exacerbated when police told him in a letter that 'the matter remains recorded as rape'. It was eventually downgraded to 'an allegation of rape' after he protested. Although the allegation had been withdrawn, one police officer had written in his records that: 'There is insufficient additional verifiable information to determine that no notifiable offence has been committed.'

Surprisingly, the law permits officers to register their disagreement with the outcome of a case in police records, with potentially devastating repercussions. While Charlotte's anonymity is guaranteed by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of 1976, Robert's ordeal will remain on his file indefinitely. He believes he has been rejected from a job as a Home Office interpreter because he failed to clear criminal checks. An application for a US visa requires him to state whether he has ever been arrested for a crime, and he says he did not apply for a job as a photographer in London schools because his records would stop him being offered it.

A police spokesman would not discuss individual cases but said: 'The current Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines state that police forces retain allegations of serious crime for ten years. We are liaising with ACPO and the Information Commissioner about a review of this policy.'



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "charities" are guilty, not the BBC (for a change)

The Corporation is right not to run the Gaza appeal. Oxfam and others are clearly anti-Israel

Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, is quite right to refuse to broadcast the appeal of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) for humanitarian relief for Gaza, but not for the reason he thinks. He is under the impression that it will damage the BBC's reputation for impartiality in reporting the Israel-Palestine question, but the fact is that the BBC does not have any such reputation, having for years been institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. The reason that his decision is brave and right, however, is that many of the 13 charities that make up the DEC are even more mired in anti-Israeli assumptions than the BBC itself.

Mr Thompson rightly appreciates that the issue of humanitarian relief in this conflict is quite unlike humanitarian relief for victims of a tsunami or a famine.

Who adjudicates on which victims to support via such charitable aid - and according to whose political morality? Why did the BBC not launch an appeal for the victims of collateral damage during Nato's bombing of Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign? And had it done so, would it have given money to ethnic Serbs as well as to Kosovars and Bosnian Muslims, all of whom were "cleansed" during the Balkan wars of that decade? What about the victims of insurgencies and counter- insurgencies in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Chechnya or Georgia? Or Israeli victims of the next Hamas suicide attack? Indeed, what about the Palestinian victims of Hamas's hideous human rights abuses, still so shamefully under-reported by the British media as a whole?

And who are these supposedly impartial charities who are attacking Mr Thompson's (albeit belated) attempt to uphold the Corporation's traditional standards? While groups such as the British Red Cross and Christian Aid are generally impartial in other areas of the world, that cannot be said to apply to their role in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, where they regularly view the conflict through a deeply partisan lens.

In the months prior to the decision by Hamas to end the six-month ceasefire and resume rocket attacks, these charities issued a flood of one- sided denunciations aimed at Israel. Their campaign repeated tendentious and often highly inaccurate terms such as "collective punishment" and "violation of international law". On March 6, 2008, CARE International, Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam (among others) published a widely quoted report under the headline "The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion". The authors did not bother to hide their political bias against Israel, repeating standard Palestinian political rhetoric and including claims that Israeli policy "constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children" and is "illegal under international humanitarian law".

The report was wrong on many counts, including allegations over the availability of food and basic necessities, which were later contradicted by both the World Bank and World Health Organisation, neither of which are exactly Israeli stooges. The fact that Hamas chose to pursue war with Israel rather than the welfare of its people, was not covered in these reports. There was no sense that any of these claims might be disputed by the other side or by genuinely neutral observers.

During the three-week war, Oxfam and other charities were extremely active in the ideological campaign that highlighted Palestinians as the sole victims and Israelis as the sole aggressors. Numerous Oxfam press statements included language such as: "The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law."

Violence against Israelis, including deaths, are virtually ignored by Oxfam officials, who have referred to "collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community". For those of us who reject such gross ideological bias, which absolves the Hamas leadership for a confrontation which they openly sought, such statements by charities are unacceptable and should not be rewarded by the BBC.

The final issue is the fraught one of the practicability of actually distributing the aid on the ground. After Hamas seized total control of Gaza in June 2007 there have been many well-documented reports of Hamas officials diverting assistance for themselves. On February 7 last year, for example, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that "at least ten trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the lorries entered the territory". Journalists also reported that the aid was "unloaded in Hamas ministry warehouses" and that a similar seizure took place in January 2008.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, used to say that Hamas was like a bird that needed two wings to fly - the armed branch, but also the charitable-welfare side of the organisation. Do the 13 charities and their political allies that are so vocally attacking the "cowardly" BBC really have the guts and wherewithal to do a proper audit on how those monies might be spent in today's Gaza Strip? I, for one, do not believe it.


Roe and Doe, 36 years on

by Jeff Jacoby

A new anti-abortion TV ad appeared last week, just in time for the inauguration of a president whose support for abortion rights is unqualified. The ad shows the ultrasound image of a fetus in the womb. As the camera slowly moves in, a message gradually appears onscreen:

This child's future is a broken home.
He will be abandoned by his father.
His single mother will struggle to raise him.
Despite the hardships he will endure. . .
this child will become. . .
the first African-American president.

Then, alongside a picture of President Obama, comes the closing message: "Life: Imagine the Potential."

Last week also brought the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and with it the annual March for Life on Jan. 22. Tens of thousands of Americans, most of them in their teens and 20s, gathered in Washington to implore the new president to help end "the intentional killing of an estimated 3,000 pre-born boys and girls each day," in the words of an open letter on the March for Life website. For his part, Obama issued a statement restating his support for abortion rights and insisting that Roe v. Wade "protects women's health and reproductive freedom."

Endlessly, the abortion battle goes on. The absolutists -- the "Keep Abortion Legal" and "Stop Abortion Now" contingents -- are forever polarized, but most Americans want to have it both ways. In poll after poll, substantial majorities say that abortion should be legal only in limited circumstances, if not banned outright. Only about one voter in five wants abortions to be legal at any time for any reason -- i.e., abortion on demand. Yet by equally clear majorities, Americans say that they support Roe and would not want it overturned.

But these are irreconcilable positions. Contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court did not allow states to ban late-term abortions or restrict abortion on demand only to the first three months of pregnancy. To be sure, it appeared do so. Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion in Roe declared that states could not regulate abortion at all in the first trimester and could do so thereafter only "in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health." Once a fetus became viable, Blackmun wrote, states could regulate and even prohibit abortion, "except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother." Those 20 words became the exception that swallowed the rule.

Roe wasn't the only abortion case the court decided on Jan. 22, 1973. In a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the justices decided that "medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment."

Taken together, Roe and Doe meant that abortion could not be barred at any stage of a pregnancy. The "attending physician" could always say that in his medical judgment, the woman's "emotional" or "familial" health made it necessary to abort her unborn child. The result has been 36 years of abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy.

Americans can be forgiven for not realizing what Roe really wrought. It has never been easy for its supporters to acknowledge its true impact. Chief Justice Warren Burger, who concurred in the decision, was sure that abortions would be performed only "on the basis of carefully deliberated medical judgments," not merely for reasons of convenience. "Plainly," he wrote, "the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortion on demand."

Burger was wrong, but he wasn't alone. Right from the start, the media have gotten it wrong, too. The morning after the decision, The New York Times reported on Page 1 that the high court had "overruled today all state laws that prohibit or restrict a woman's right to obtain an abortion during her first three months of pregnancy." That mistake has been repeated endlessly in the 36 years since.

Since 1973, more than 40 million US pregnancies have ended in abortion: Ours is the most liberal abortion culture in the advanced world. Reasonable people can differ over whether to preserve Roe or overrule Roe. But surely the way to begin is to understand Roe.


Why is Israel Suspicious of the United Nations?

1. Before 1990, Security Council passed 175 resolutions, 97 were directed against Israel (It is 55% of all resolutions).

2. Before 1990, UN General Assembly voted on 690 resolutions, 429 were directed against Israel (It is 62% of all resolutions).

3. The UN was silent when Jordanians destroyed 58 Synagogues in Jerusalem.

4. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

5. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

6. The UN was silent while for 18 months Israel was terrorized by indiscriminate suicide bombing campaign unleashed by PA leadership.

7. There are 60 Muslims countries in the UN. As well as many more are others Arab oil dependant states.


9. Israel is the only country excluded from the U.N.'s regional group system. Since Israel does not belong to any group, it is the only country of 190 member states that is not eligible to serve on the numerous U.N. commissions.

10. In recent years, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights has annually passed five resolutions condemning Israel. This year, they passed seven. By contrast, each of the following countries/regions has been the subject of only one resolution: Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Russia/Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Southeast Europe and Sudan.

11. Nov. 29 is the United Nations Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People. No other people has a U.N. Day of Solidarity.

12. Israel is the only state to which a special investigator with "an open-ended mandate to inspect its human rights record" is assigned by the U.N.

13. It is the only state targeted by two special committees and special units of the U.N. Secretariat ostensibly devoted to the Palestinians but in reality dedicated to Israel-bashing worldwide, costing millions of dollars a year.

14. UNIFIL, the U.N. force stationed on the Israel-Lebanon border, hid a videotape of Israeli soldiers being abducted by Hezbollah in October 2000. After finally admitting to having the tape, the U.N. would only show an edited version (in which Hezbollah faces were hidden) to the Israeli government.

15. UNESCO, in Paris, began passing resolutions about protection of Jerusalem holy sites and access for Muslims in 1968. No resolutions about protection or Jewish access were passed from 1946 to 1967 when Jordan controlled Jerusalem and barred Jews from entering.


The BBC does it again

Note that this was not broadcast live. It was a version pre-approved by the BBC. But of course "There's no such thing as right and wrong" to Leftists

The foul mouth of shamed Jonathan Ross put his BBC career on a new knife-edge yesterday-just minutes after he returned to Radio 2 from his three-month suspension. The mega-bucks star's crude joke about sex with an 86-year-old woman infuriated listeners. And last night as it emerged that the woman is a REAL PERSON with ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE there were mounting calls for Ross to be SACKED from his 6 million pounds-a-year job.

The shocking blunder came while ad-libbing on air with producer Andy Davies about an elderly woman neighbour then urging him to "give her one last night". They were a mere eight minutes and 35 seconds into yesterday's big comeback show following Ross's Beeb ban over the Sachsgate scandal, when he and comedian Russell Brand left filthy phone messages for 78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs. It came just after 10 o'clock in the morning when families and children were listening.

Ross, 48, and freelance 43-year-old Davies had been discussing how they spent their time during the suspension. Davies said he did some bricklaying in the garden of his villa in Spain but kept getting grabbed by a frisky 80-year-old woman. Ross finished up by declaring: "Eighty, oh God! I think you should, just for charity. "Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?"

The banter ended abruptly there without any explanation. The Ting Tings' record That's Not My Name was played and the pair did not return to the story afterwards. It's not known if Ross was ordered to stop the sequence. But reaction was swift. Tory MP David Davies was listening to the show with his young children and demanded the BBC immediately sack Ross. He raged: "On Radio 2 you don't expected X-rated references to sex, and especially sex with an 80-year-old, during the day. "I was listening with my kids to this. There's a place for humour but it has to be appropriate to the time of the day. And that clearly wasn't. "He should have gone ages ago. There's no way this man should be on the air. He needs to be replaced now! "It's obscene, especially given the amount of money Ross is being paid. It could also be highly offensive to this woman if she's a real person."

Last night at producer Davies's home near Granada in Southern Spain his wife Abigail-who listened to the broadcast there-confirmed that the pensioner DOES exist. She said: "It's very sad because she has Alzheimer's Disease. She takes a fancy to any man in the street and tries to kiss them." Giggling, she added: "I shouldn't be laughing because, as I say, it's very sad, and she doesn't really realise what she's doing. "I sometimes walk her home because she gets confused about where she is."

Meanwhile former Home Secretary David Blunkett called for Ross's pay to be docked as a result of this latest incident. He said: "It's time for Ross to donate some of his salary to charity."

Regular Radio 2 listener Nigel Langstone, 43, from Leamington, Warwickshire, was furious over Ross's comments and said: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "He gets kicked off air for three months for hounding an old man with disgusting comments about his grand-daughter. "Then virtually the first thing he does after getting back is start telling a gag about sex with an 80-year-old woman. How insensitive can you be? "It just shows he's learned absolutely nothing and is a loose cannon who can't be controlled. "What's worse is that the exchange happened with his own producer-the man who's supposed to control him. "The BBC is totally OUT of control. They've no idea how much offence they're causing. "Ross should be taken off air immediately. He's a timebomb waiting to go off."

Ross's latest gaffe came a day after BBC bosses heavily censored his comeback TV show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

Mediawatch, which campaigns for "socially responsible broadcasting", last night joined the call for the star to go. Director John Beyer said: "Making jokes like this is not acceptable. He should have gone three months ago and I haven't changed my view."

But Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, refused to condemn Ross. He even declined to listen to a transcript of the crass comments and said: "You're not going to expect me to make any comment on this, are you?" BBC Director-General Mark Thompson - on 816,000 a year of licence-payers money - REFUSED to discuss the incident and hung up on us. Later the corporation defended Ross in a statement which said: "Regular listeners will be familiar with Jonathan's irreverence and innuendo. "This light-hearted exchange contained no offensive language, named no individuals and there was clearly no intention to offend anyone."

But Ross himself was clearly embarrassed as he tried to wriggle out of his latest gaffe when he was confronted by the News of the World at his 3 million home in Hampstead, North London, last night. At first his wife Jane answered the door and insisted he had done nothing wrong. But when we asked if Ross was hiding behind his wife he came to the door and said: "I hope no one has been upset by the show. "It was a kind of light-hearted remark about giving her a cuddle. "It wasn't `give her one'-I meant, `Give her one last cuddle.' You know there was no malice intended. There was no harm intended, OK?"

That was at 5.30pm. But two hours later he issued a statement through his public relations expert attempting to wriggle yet further and shift the blame. His second version of what happened said: "It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast. "As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes, as is common practice on radio and comedy shows across the country. "Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended and, if the media wasn't hell bent on stirring up controversy, I'm sure none would be taken."

In fact, the story was completely ACCURATE, as confirmed by Andy Davies's wife. She also contradicted Ross by pointing out that she-like thousands of other ex-pats who listen in on the internet-heard the whole show perfectly clearly at her Spanish home. Strangely her husband, who commutes from Spain to London, last night claimed in a statement issued through Radio 2 and approved by senior BBC bosses: "It is completely untrue to suggest that I was referring to a real individual on the programme, nor would I have told such a story about anyone suffering from dementia. "The story was poetic licence based on the warm and affectionate behaviour experienced in Spanish village life. I did not identify an individual because there isn't one."

Yet three hours earlier, in a phone interview with the News of the World, his wife Abigail had confirmed she actually KNOWS the woman, she DOES have Alzheimer's and even gave us the pensioner's name. She is well-known to locals but we are keeping her identity secret to protect her privacy.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, January 26, 2009

Overwhelming Dutch Support For Geert Wilders

According to GeenStijl, the mainstream Dutch opinion poll firms are wrong: there is massive grassroots support for Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. Here's a translation by our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan:

As you can see in our poll on the right hand side of your screen, we also asked the Dutch for their opinion about the prosecution of Geert Wilders. Our results are spectacular. 85% of all Dutch said NO to a prosecution of Geert Wilders. That is substantially different from the results of the establishment pollsters.

According to millennium hoaxer Maurice de Hond of www.peil.nl exactly half of all Dutch would like to see Wilders prosecuted. According to competitor TNS NIPO that's even 53% of all NL: TNS NIPO was commissioned by RTL News. Remarkable results. GeenStijl Poll Service, the biggest independent pollster of the country decided to do it all over again. Only we do it the right way.

Simple question: "Should Wilders be prosecuted or not?" with clear answers: yes or no. Look and behold: a completely different result than the established *cough* pollsters show you.

You should know that TNS NIPO is up to their elbows in the left-wing program NOVA with www.politiekbarometer.nl. For each poll they look for the right respondents. You ask, they provide.

Competitor Maurice de Hond [expletive]s off twice daily over photos of Els Lucas and Ella Vogelaar, and keeps 150 red-head babe shots on file. Calling that representative. Yeah, sure. We simply don't trust those pollsters. The respondents are us.


Kingdom of the forgotten

Christians face forced ejection from refugee camps, death

Headlines blare genocide, persistent and systematically planned. The government stands on the sidelines, watching the unfolding horror while doing little to nothing. More than 70,000 are forced into horrific refugee camps and then ejected from them with no place to go. Returning home for this particular people may mean instant death or living the rest of their lives in constant fear and vigilance with the threat of forced religious conversion hanging over their heads.

Questions abound: Where is this happening? How long has this been going on? Families turned out of refugee centers with nowhere to go? Why is the government wordlessly condoning the terror afflicting its own people? Why isn't this story in the mainstream media? Shouldn't the mention of genocide call for world wide media attention?

The people featured in these articles are Christians from the state of Orissa in India. Christian news organizations, such as Voice of the Martyrs, Mission Network News, and Compass Direct have been following the events as far back as July 2007. The New York Times, on the other hand, had only two articles in September and October of 2008. The Los Angeles Times mentioned the violence in Orissa in one paragraph of an article about the Mumbai attacks on Thanksgiving. But VOM, MNN, and CD have 10 to over a dozen different articles each on the violence in Orissa. The blatant discrepancy in reporting raises questions beyond the news outlets' coverage of religious violence. What does it mean to represent and report well when it comes to something as personal as religion? What other stories concerning the abuse and mistreatment of Christians around the world has the mainstream media neglected to report? Who are the Christians being attacked and abused around the world, and who is covering their stories?

"Over 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest, and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ, with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination and alienation," according to Open Doors, a faith-based mission supporting persecuted Christian believers.

The Voice of the Martyrs, another such group, says "more Christians have died for their faith in Christ in the past 100 years than in all of history prior to that."

The Voice of the Martyrs is a Christian organization working to raise awareness and grant assistance to Christians who are persecuted and mistreated across the globe. Another is the Mission Network News, a "mission news service dedicated to keeping Christians informed about evangelical mission activity around the world." As Christians mistreated because of their faith are hard-pressed to be found in the United States, many times this kind of news coverage is the only way information gets out. VOM uses the phrase "It Didn't End At The Coliseum" in its posters, implying that a common misconception is that Christian persecution does not exist anymore in the 21st century.

Gary Lane, a senior reporter at the Christian Broadcasting Network and formerly with VOM, follows and reports on the persecuted church. He says most people think Christian persecution is limited to "the book of Acts and the Roman empire."

Todd Nettleton, director of media development and senior reporter at VOM, says there is a Christian and a secular perspective on how persecuted Christian groups, frequently referred to as the persecuted church, merit coverage. From the Christian perspective, he frames it as a "family issue," where the persecuted Christians are "brothers and sisters in the faith" and there is a "natural affinity" to know what's going on with them, as part of sharing the same faith in Christ. This would explain why most of the coverage on the persecution of Christians comes from Christians themselves, as they feel a deeper bond and sense of obligation to those they are covering than the average reporter would.

From the secular perspective, Nettleton says, these people are being denied basic human rights, something that is of importance to the concerns of the greater human society. He says that this is usually the only way a story on Christian persecution would be framed in the secular media. The "spiritual side" of the issue, which he considers the most compelling part of the story, is commonly overlooked.

Lane says Christian news reports on the persecuted church are often written in a way not only to connect the reader to the people in the story, but to "move to action, think beyond ourselves, and respond to the situation."

Critiquing the traditional value of fairness and balance in a journalistic story, Nettleton says that while the established media doesn't want to give more weight to one system of beliefs over another, they "did back flips" to maintain political correctness. His criticism recalls the New York Times article that first mentioned the religious violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists against Christians in India in the story, "Violence in India Is Fueled by Religious and Economic Divide." The article immediately identifies Christians as the victims of the premeditated attacks. However, it never says that the perpetrators of the violence are Hindus, but refers to them as "attackers" and "the mob." The lone phrase "All Hindus are brothers" shouted by the mob identifies their religious affiliation. Though the violence is "among the worst in decades against Christians in this Hindu-dominated nation," the story goes on to say that it appears to have been fueled by "discontent at a time when the gap between India's haves and have-nots is growing," citing economic turmoil as the reason for the violence.

The Times neatly sidesteps the issue of exploring the fundamental difference and tension between Christianity and Hinduism as the cause of the attacks, going so far as to say "it has nothing to do with any particular religion." But, Nettleton wonders, does the New York Times have trouble "calling a spade, a spade"?

The mainstream media outlets would do well to probe further into these issues. They would enrich not only the story, but the understanding of religious dynamics and tensions, and open the way for discussion about a topic that often has deep meaning and associations for people personally, but is never mentioned in depth in the public forum.

There are challenges, however, to following and finding these stories. Nettleton points out that one of the biggest difficulties in covering the persecuted church is "the mechanics of collecting the stories." Some countries give restricted access to journalists and closely tail their whereabouts until the moment they board a plane and leave. Another issue, Nettleton points out, is putting the victims in more danger by exposing their stories. He says VOM tries to engage in "accurately portraying while protecting," and stresses "not creating more problems" for the Christians because they spoke out about the injustices they were going through. According to Nettleton, this kind of exposure can potentially lead to "increased hostility from the government or group that is persecuting them." The punishment Christians can receive for sharing their information can be anything from a simple questioning session to imprisonment and torture. The need to frame Christian persecution in a way that is""comprehensible to the audience" to listen, pray and help, is also something Nettleton touched on. He says VOM chooses the stories it covers according to: the ones with the most impact, incidents from countries seldom reported on, and stories with direct VOM involvement, along with accounts that have accompanying photos and video.

Lane mentioned a similar list of criteria for the stories chosen for one of CBN's outlets, Christian World News. He also said that the affordability of a story, covering the costs of round-trip flights, (mostly for international stories), bringing in equipment, and engaging in relief work, are concerns as well.

Lane cited economics as an advantage that secular media sources had over the smaller, Christian organizations. The money and resources available to them would not only allow them further access to the people they want to cover, but it would also allow for more widespread coverage and potential mobilization to bring justice and aid for these people.

On the inconsistency of the media with regards to selective coverage, Lane recalled the recent attacks in Mumbai and noted that an attack involving five-star hotels and many expatriates and tourists received blow-by-blow coverage while in the same country, churches were being burned down, huge mobs were hunting down Christians, evicting them and slaughtering them in broad daylight, while they were forced to flee to forests to survive. If the media had devoted even a third of the attention they gave the Mumbai attacks to coverage of the persecution in Orissa, Lane believes the situation would have been different for these Christians.

Both Lane and Nettleton share a deep need to get the word out, knowing believers want to be informed and have a role to play in responding to the situation, and the responsibility that "when one part of the body suffers, the rest does as well."

Though Lane and Nettleton are informed by a Christian worldview, their words hold merit and interest even for those who are not Christians. The stories they cover are clearly gross violations of human rights. If we turn our faces away from the plight of these people, and as a result passively condone the atrocities being carried out, don't we suffer as well in not holding human rights to be universal?

So why isn't the mainstream media reporting on the persecution of Christians?

Lane points to the reporters who would be covering these stories. He notes that for someone who is not religious, it would be hard to "understand people who have faith, their motivations, and have sympathy for them." Additionally, he says, many people have had negative experiences with religion, be it in the form of overly-aggressive Bible thumpers or judgmental figures who abused their authority.

But Lane created an innovative project that helps to bridge the gap. Early in his career, he began pitching stories from a human rights angle and tying it to current news stories for non-Christian news organizations. Perhaps the mainstream media today can do the same by reciprocating Lane's actions. It would not just be something fresh and new to cover; they would also be initiating a long-overdue conversation and open forum on religion, how it turns people's minds and hearts towards a common unity and informs their world-view, as well as simultaneously marking off dividing lines that are becoming increasingly important today.

Lane's closing words are a reminder that it is not simply "our job to just report - God wants us to do something - as we all have a role to play" in the stories we cover. We have the "responsibility to get on our knees and pray for our brothers and sisters in faith," he said.


The sum of our fears

Question: What are these people doing in Europe? Who invited them? Who let them in? Who let them stay? What has allowed them to even dream about moving to Europe, let alone realizing a colonization plan? In Great Britain alone, intelligence agencies are tracking 200 terrorists plots among Pakistani Brits, of whom some 2,000 are under observation. More than 400,000 Pakistani citizens of Great Britain travel every year to Pakistan - a country of 12,000 madrassas and, as of mid-2005, 55 terrorist training camps. Why are there a million (1) Pakistanis in Great Britain? Just what has been going on in the brains of the British ruling elites these past 40 years? What has been going on in the brains of the ruled British people?

What are these people doing in the United States? We know how they came and who and what let them in, but why? The stock answer is: the left, to gain new voters; the right, to get cheap labor. But it's not the real answer, except if this be a society of madmen.

You have to be a moron, an ignoramus with no knowledge of history, religion, philosophy, social psychology, economics, geopolitics, strategy, statecraft, higher [and ipso facto Western (2)] culture not to be aware that you have seeded a future civil war, an economic calamity, a cultural wasteland, a major devaluation of social capital, a destruction of your own mother, your nation. Yet the people who have inflicted all this on us have very high IQs (3) and have all been educated at the very best universities.

Why is Christmas in Sweden greeted these days with flaming mayhem by imported Muslim barbarians, rather than with flaming gl”gg by Swedes? Why are there 2 millions irredeemably alien "refugees" (4) in Sweden, including 600,000 Muslims, when there are only 7 million Swedes proper?

There are answers to this too: the politicians and the mass media are foisting this madness on the people, and the people have no power and no voice. But it's a copout: the Swedish people do have the power and the voice - they just prefer not to use them.

All the answers are no answers. If we looked solely at the demographic folly of the West, the resultant fraying of the social fabric, the certainty of rapidly accelerating socio-political entropy, the inevitability of future internecine violence due to the infusion of 70 million Muslims (5) and growing, with many more to issue from those - that alone would qualify as the greatest catastrophe the West has inflicted upon itself since the Assembly of Athens, swayed by Alcibiades -- a glamorous fast-mouth of a type that entrances the demos of democracy to this day -- decided to send an enormous armada on its ill-fated mission to conquer distant Sicily in 415 BC.

For ours is not a disaster imposed from the outside, such as Hitler's Germany inflicted on the rest of Europe, or Muslim jihad on Christendom. What we are witnessing is a voluntary self-destruction carried out by democratically elected political leaders on acquiescing populations that, largely, refuse to see The Emperor's New Clothes even as his naked arse is at arm's length from their faces.

To the contrary, gross, transparent lies such as "Our Strength is in Diversity, "All Whites are racists," "Islam is a religion of peace" seem to have much traction with the general population, even though in the depth of their falsehood they equal the worst that the subjects of the Bolshevik Empire had to live under. The West has become an Orwellian tyranny of preferred lies, forcing the natural social preference for one's own people into the same inhuman mold as the Bolsheviks applied to the natural preference for one's family's material wellbeing.

But that is just one of many symptoms. Why is the culture of Aristotle and Kant, Cervantes and MoliŠre, Thomas Mann and Raymond Chandler, Mozart and Rachmaninoff, Velazquez and Bruegel, Charles Chaplin and Francis Coppola, Levi's and Valentino now almost the exclusive province of Amy Winehouse and Rage Against the Machine, Booty Pop Panties and designer-torn jeans with rhinestone skull patches, Reality TV celebrating real repulsive imbeciles, and illiterate hoodlums with diamond-encrusted gold chains prancing on MTV ? Why are pierced eyebrows, green hair and Che Guevara the hottest fashion statement of Western man and woman? Why is the idea of multiculturalism to not know any culture, least of all one's own, rather than to know one's culture plus at least one other? .....

The American justice system is broken too. 50,000 civil actions are filed daily. The more social capital and its array of norms and customs are broken through imported "diversity" and multiculti coddling, the more lawsuits multiply. Courts are now not interested in justice but, as a former-prosecutor friend puts it, "disposing of the backlog."

America's inspired Constitution has been made into a handy gourd that the Imperial Judiciary and its Jacobin theorists in the top law schools fill with any brackish water of "progressive" causes that happen to inflame their passions. So many new and unnecessary laws are enacted, and so many new "victim" classes created and new government privileges arrogated, that falling afoul of the law can be a random process that can harm anyone irrespective of innocence. Raising one's voice to a boorish flight attendant may result in a felony air terrorism conviction under the cannily named Patriot Act.

In Europe, alas, the picture is even uglier. While the American example shows the self-extinguishing nature of a populist democracy with a besotted and decadent demos, the European example is one of a bien-pensant oligarchy, driving the whole continent off the cliff while singing the praise of its own greatness, complete with a 2.4 billion euros PR - brainwashing budget.

Europe has been busy copying many of the worst features of the United States - from militant feminism, to Affirmative Action, to obsession with human rights rather than human obligations, to a toxic pop culture, to outsize greed and overleveraging of the main European banks. What is has not copied is what's still healthy and commendable in America - Freedom of Expression, Freedom to Bear Arms, Constitutional protections from the state's arbitrary power, strong Christian consciousness, ease in setting up and conducting a business, only moderately powerful labor unions, resistance to high taxes.

But America's still-healthy features may not remain so for long. With state socialism implemented by the last Republican government the U.S. will know for quite a while, and the biggest blanket ever of reality-averse liberalism about to be tied around a somnolent, dumb electorate, America is going to wake up after four or eight years of Obama administration and Nancy Pelosi Congress to find, in the words of James Delingpole, "its pockets empty, its savings gone, its property trashed to virtual worthlessness, its streets rife with crime and its traditional liberties circumscribed by nannying bureaucrats and pettifogging regulation." And- the most important topic that every "conservative" pundit tiptoes around carefully - a 33% Latino and African segment of the population that votes reflexively socialist and anti-white. That block will have been vastly augmented through a deliberate weakening of border security and endless `amnesty.'

Already, the Democrat machine is gearing up to squash freedom of expression through the "Fairness Doctrine," to enshrine the imposition of chaos by "minorities" through various pro-Muslim, pro-Mexican, pro-homosexual and anti-"discrimination" initiatives, and to gut the freedom of armed self-defense. The government's constant race-and-gender meddling in the workplace will escalate far beyond what even the most witless and liberal Republican administration in history has just wrought, and its labor union-coddling will reach levels not seen since before World War 2.

Hence the process we posited at the beginning of this series: the convergence and gelling of Europe and the United States as an oppressive, socialist, anti-white racist, redistributive and economically crumbling police state - Meccania. The recent disinvitation of Vlaams Belang by the American Embassy in Brussels, hours before Barack Obama's inauguration as President, shows where Obamerica's European sympathies will lie: with the unhinged Greens, the rioting Muslims, the Lefto-Jewhaters, and the S&M Social Dhimmicrats.

But America still has perhaps eight years to get there, while Europe's slide down the chute of unintended consequences is already a singular spectacle. In September 2008, Geert Wilders stated in a speech that Europe is in the final stages of Islamization, with America that will remain as the "Last Man Standing." Wilders cited multiple European cities that are already one-quarter Muslim, with the majority of the under-18 population that's Muslim. School curriculums have been distorted to accommodate Muslim sensibilities, and Western culture has receded before the Islamic one - from shop signs in Arabic script to sharia courts.

As per Wilders, 54 million Muslims now live in Europe and 25% of the population will be Muslim just 12 years from now. Muslims will have reached a European voting majority by the end of this century. In every European city there are plans to build super-mosques that will dwarf every church in the region. "Clearly," said Wilders, "the rather obvious, and ominous, signal is: ®here WE rule¯; right 'in your face'."

The Euro ruling elites don't even try to disguise anymore that they deploy the immigration and naturalization of alien Muslim primitives, as a means to dilute and replace the vote of the autochthon population. "Muslim immigration is even a source of pride within ruling liberal parties," said Wilders. "Academia, the arts, the media, trade unions, the churches, the business world, the entire political establishment have all converted to the suicidal theory of multiculturalism. So-called journalists volunteer to label any and all critics of Islamization as 'right-wing extremists' or 'racists'. The entire establishment has sided with our enemy. Leftists, liberals, Christian-Democrats are now all in bed with Islam."

Mr. Wilders is now under an indictment of a Body Snatcher Inquisition Tribunal in Amsterdam, for his "hate speech." And one should not forget in this context the tax-funded plan to invite more than 50 million African workers into the European Union (hat tip, Tiberge), with a job recruiting center already opened in the African state of Mali. Those who speak out against it will share Geert Wilders' cell in prison or in the poorhouse.

The average European's reaction to such goings-on ranges from evasion to incredulity. But the ruling oligarchy is no longer a part of the people. It's a class of Body Snatchers (6) with an altered consciousness programmed on Destroy, except Destroy is mislabeled as Renewal. No Stop or Reverse buttons are incorporated into their synthetic carapaces. And so, a Nicolas Sarkozy, who happens to be the President of France, would retort to the question "What on Earth are you doing?" with a proclamation - pulled at random from his most recent "gems" -- that Arabic is "the language of the future, of science and of modernity that expresses great civilizational and spiritual values."

The West is now a brakeless bus rolling toward the abyss. It has already crashed the economic guardrail, and it will crash the other guardrails too before the g-force of reality launches it onto a parabolic course. There is a giant legume pod, a pre-programmed robotic alien, at the steering wheel. For the passengers to survive, the first step is to recognize and observe this situation with no blinders -- to become a reality-based community again.

The second step is to orient the conduct as per that observation, after which come the stages of decision and action (8). But most of us have already progressed to decision and action, without having done enough of the prerequisite observation and orienting. Therefore, conservatives are trying to convince the driver to turn the steering wheel, without recognizing that all they will get in response is more pedal to the metal. Or, they try to persuade the other passengers to vote the bus driver out of his seat. But most of the passengers are already Pods, snatched a long time ago and of one programmed will with the driver.

Yet a different group of conservatives tries standing athwart the road, yelling stop. But what worked for William Buckley in the 50s does not work anymore. For one, all of us are on the bus now, so how can anyone imagine he is standing on the road? In the 50s, Body Snatchers were only in the universities and among the intelligentsia. Now, hundreds of millions have been turned into Pods too, currently all in rapture, for Messiah hath returned. The Pods are now within our closest families.

Much more here

Tribunal: Homosexual rights trump Christianity

Counselor wins reinstatement, but on procedural grounds

A British employment tribunal has ruled that a Christian counselor was wrongfully dismissed after he expressed reservations about offering sexual advice to homosexuals, but the judges rejected his claim of religious discrimination.

The ruling by the Bristol Employment Tribunal in the United Kingdom on Gary McFarlane, a relationship counselor with the company Relate Avon, is a disorganized precedent that should be addressed, according to Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Center, which worked on McFarlane's case.

"The law is in a confused state; in the case of Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar, the court held that Christian belief must give way to the rights of same sex couples; but in the case of Gary McFarlane there is a finding of wrongful dismissal," Williams said. "The courts and public are confused; we call on the government to recognize the legitimate expression of conscience by Christians in the area of sexual orientation and provide protection where necessary."

The legal center said McFarlane had worked at Relate since 2003 and had encountered "hostility" at the organization. "Although Mr.McFarlane had never had to provide sex therapy to a same-sex couple, he thought that if the situation did arise, he would be able to discuss his Christian views with his supervisors so that his position could be discussed and if necessary accommodated," according to the legal center report. Instead, after a letter circulated at Relate that accused McFarlane of being a "homophobe," he was suspended in January 2008 and dismissed two months later.

"If I were a Muslim, this would not have happened. But Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights," McFarlane said.

The legal center cited a recent court opinion that found Muslims imprisoned for sex offenses may opt out of therapy. "It is important to note that Mr. McFarlane has never refused to counsel a same-sex couple; he merely raised the potential conflict between his Christian faith and homosexual conduct," Williams said. "It is deeply disturbing that the mere expression of religious belief with an inability to give unqualified support to sexual orientation issues means that a Christian can be dismissed with no attempt to provide suitable accommodation for his or her beliefs. The law preventing religious discrimination against Christians is in danger of becoming a dead letter," Williams said.

The tribunal, however, said, "The claimant was not treated as he was because of his Christian faith, but because (Relate) believed that he would not comply with its policies." Mike Judge of the Christian Institute said the conclusion means the laws "are not being applied equally." Relate had stated in support of its decision, "His religious faith is not relevant; it is the application of it to the equal opportunities policy."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

More of the violent black crime that now is running riot in Britain

It seems that in Britain too these days a "teen" refers to a BLACK teen. The picture below was NOT included in the news report that I reproduce below. In response to events such as that below, British commentators often ask where "we" have gone wrong. The "we" is misplaced. It should be "they". The fact that American jails are stuffed to the gills with blacks is just coincidence, of course

Two teenagers were given life sentences today for the murder of schoolboy Lyle Tulloch who was stabbed 13 times during an argument over a mobile phone at a birthday party. Damien Solowabe, 18, and Tobi Peters, 17, both of London, will serve a minimum 12 years after being found guilty at the Old Bailey last December.

Lyle, 15, from Peckham, had been at a party in Southwark, south-east London, last May when his friend asked to use Solowabe's phone. When Solowabe could not find it an argument began and Lyle was chased outside and into a stairwell where he was stabbed in the chest and thigh.

"This is another tragic example of what can happen when knives are used to settle arguments," said Scotland Yard's Detective Inspector David Willis, in a statement after sentencing.


Council tax levy for being middle class: Labour plan to base bills on social background

Homeowners may have to pay more council tax than local authority tenants in identical properties under plans that could lead to 'class war', the Conservatives warned last night. At present, they would be in the same tax band. But the Government wants to base bills on the social background of homeowners, it is claimed. Privately-owned homes would be penalised because they are not in 'social ownership', according to the Tories.

Ministers are developing a computer database with details of all four million council properties in Britain - and handing the details to council tax inspectors. The news comes as Labour seeks to introduce 'Harman's Law' - a proposal that would force all public bodies to consider social background as well as race, age, gender, disability and sexuality.

The blueprint, unveiled this month by deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, prompted fears that the better-off could see a squeeze on their access to everything from health care to school places. Shadow local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: 'No one would dispute that council tax for a large detached house should be more than for a small terrace. 'But it is unfair to hit families with higher council tax bills purely because of who they are. 'Labour's only response after a decade of failing to help poor families is to hammer everyone else with higher taxes. Taxing hard work and success is just the hypocritical politics of envy and will do nothing to improve social mobility. 'Ministers have been watching too much Life on Mars and want to drag the whole country back to the Seventies. 'Gordon Brown's plans to reignite class war and bring back socialism are a desperate and cynical move to win back his disillusioned core vote.'

Parliamentary questions have revealed that all council housing will be logged on the National Register of Social Housing by April. The data transferred to tax inspectors includes the address, location, floor space, number of living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms for each council house. Since social housing is only available to people with lower social and economic backgrounds, it acts as an accurate benchmark for the Government's explicit aim to 'address socio-economic disadvantage'. Under the current council tax system, those on low incomes are eligible for up to 100 per cent council tax benefit. But the Tories warn that when the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) revalues homes to update tax bands, council housing could also be put in lower bands than similar, privately-owned homes.

A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government department said: 'Revaluation will not happen in this Parliament. 'The purpose of the register is to provide a better evidence base for developing housing policy through up-to-date information on, for example, the size and age of a property and its energy efficiency. 'It will be centrally held and so reduce the burden of data collection that landlords face. 'Tax banding has always been determined on the value of the property at April 1, 1991. 'The principles of valuation for council tax are exactly the same as they were when council tax was first introduced in 1993. 'The VOA is merely keeping existing council tax records up to date - that is their job, which has not changed since council tax was introduced. 'Any claims to the contrary are misleading and unfounded.'


More anti-white bigotry

I didn't vote for Barack Obama, nor do I agree with him on just about anything, but I found a lot to be proud of today as I watched us peacefully transfer power while hundreds of thousands waved American flags. But I was greatly disappointed because there was entirely too much discussion of race. As long as we make the color of our skin a focal point of our discussions we cannot be truly united. My disappointment turned to disgust when Rev. Lowry, while delivering the benediction, prayed that "whites would embrace what is right."

This is offensive on so many levels. First, at the inauguration he should not be praying for categories of people, but for all people. Second, I don't think of myself as a "white", but as a person or as an American. Third, the insinuation is that "whites" don't normally embrace what is right.

Please, pundits, preachers, and politicians, STOP separating us! This is learned behavior that is unnecessarily being passed along to our children and it is harmful to our country.

I grew up in Flint, Michigan during the 1960's and early 70's. The neighborhoods were diverse, as first and second and third generation immigrants came to work in the factories and as Southerners migrated north to find jobs. Despite the vast cultural differences, folks generally got along and wanted the same things for their children--for them to be respectful, patriotic, and well-behaved, and for them to finish high school and get a job. The basic facts of life were these-love God, your family and your country.

My brother's friends were a good snapshot of the diversity of our neighborhood. Second and third generation Lebanese, Irish, German, Italian, English, and Polish kids hung out at our home. My best friend, Annette, was Black, although I never thought of her as Black or me as White. I'd say we didn't think any further about diversity than the fact that our mothers cooked different kinds of food and we enjoyed it all.

I never heard any words of division. My mother always said that God loved everyone and made everyone in His image. In our family the measure of a person was how they treated others, not their race or ethnicity. In fact, race and ethnicity wasn't even mentioned. Our family was wonderfully color-blind. My parents tried to shelter me from the ugliness of the race riots and discrimination going on in the world, but they couldn't shelter me forever.

In October of 1970, my friend Annette and I decided to enter our school's Halloween costume contest as the prince and princess of Fez, characters from a book we had just read. Our mothers made us beautiful costumes. Annette and I were excited as we walked into the crowded auditorium. If our parents had any reservations about sending their mixed race couple into a crowded auditorium, they didn't mention it to us. Everyone was staring and whispering as we walked down the aisle to the seats in the front of the auditorium. Annette and I thought it was because we had the most elaborate costumes and we were so proud. Our moms were proud too, but we had no idea that it had nothing to do with the costumes. At the end of the evening, Annette and I walked away with first place ribbons. Many months later my mother explained the significance of the ribbons and the racial tensions of the time. It was my shocking first indication that people judged others based on the color of their skin. It didn't make any sense to me. Annette and her family were just like us. Regular folks.

As I got older, I learned more about the context of those racial tensions. My father took me to the family cemetery and as we put flowers on each grave he told me the story of my great great grandfather and his heroics as a Union soldier-of his wounding and capture and imprisonment in a southern prisoner of war camp.

I thought about all of this today as I heard Rev. Lowry and bristled at his words. To Rev. Lowry and others who choose to separate us, I say this: I refuse to accept the blame for sins I did not commit. I resent the insinuation that the color of my skin indicates my thoughts or actions. I am disgusted that on a day for all Americans to rejoice in our democratic republic you chose to divide us. But if you insist on dividing us, I will indulge you for a moment and remind you that because of "whites" like my great great grandfather and because of a thousand small acts by "whites" like my parents, today was possible. I guess you could say they "embraced what is right". I feel cheapened by even indulging these separations here in these few sentences penned to make a point.

I pray for the day when people are not judged based on the actions of others, or the actions of their ancestors, or on the color of their skin. Sadly, it was obvious that today was not that day.


A defining moment

So the inevitable has now come about in the teetering civilisation of Europe, and it has happened first in the Netherlands. One of the supposedly most liberal societies on the planet wants to criminalise someone for telling the truth. The BBC reports that Dutch Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders is to be put on trial
`...for for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs'...In March 2008, Mr Wilders posted a film about the Koran on the internet, prompting angry protests across the Muslim World. The opening scenes of Fitna - a Koranic term sometimes translated as `strife' - show a copy of the holy book followed by footage of the bomb attacks on the US on 11 September 2001, London in July 2005 and Madrid in March 2004. Pictures appearing to show Muslim demonstrators holding up placards saying `God bless Hitler' and `Freedom go to hell' also feature. The film ends with the statement: `Stop Islamisation. Defend our freedom.' Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the time that the film wrongly equated Islam with violence and served `no purpose other than to offend'. A year earlier, Mr Wilders described the Koran as a `fascist book' and called for it to be banned in `the same way we ban Mein Kampf', in a letter published in the De Volkskrant newspaper.
This is what I wrote about Fitna last March:
It shows very clearly the precise nature of what the civilised world is up against, a war of religion with striking similarities to Nazi ideology and murderous mass hysteria. It was, however, very careful not to call for the Koran or Islam to be banned. Instead it confined itself to calling for Muslims to reform their faith by removing the bad bits of the Koran, and for an end to the Islamising of Europe. To that extent it was not extreme at all, and indeed reformist Muslims themselves say much the same thing. On the other hand, it did not make any acknowledgement of those Muslims around the world who do not subscribe to the application of their religion as represented in the film, and who live pacific and unthreatening lives in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. It was nevertheless accurate in its depiction of the religion and therefore could not be considered insulting. As a result, reaction from the Muslim world has so far been muted (although that may change). As the Financial Times reported: Omar Bakri, the Libyan-based radical Muslim cleric who is barred from Britain, did not think the film was very offensive. `On the contrary, if we leave out the first images and the sound of the page being torn, it could be a film by the [Islamist] Mujahideen,' he said.
Ever since Fitna appeared, Wilders has had to live under police protection. But far from defending him and western civilisation from the totalitarian threat to life and liberty arising from the attempt to suppress discussion of radical Islamism and the religion upon which it draws, the Dutch have now decided to suppress it themselves. As has been pointed out elsewhere, in The River War published in 1899, Winston Churchill wrote this:
How dreadful are the curses which Islam lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property‹either as a child, a wife, or a concubine must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Islam is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science -the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
During the 1930s and World War Two, the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine – from whom, incidentally, Hamas are directly descended – were the allies of Hitler. Heinrich Himmler observed:
Muslims responded to the call of Muslim leaders and joined our side because of their hatred of our joint Jewish-English-Bolshevik enemies, and because of their belief and respect for, above all -- our Fuehrer.
And Churchill wrote in turn:
In truth though, just as the British stoicism recalls the same from 65 years ago, so too, there is a deep and instructive similarity between the Nazis and the Islamic-fascist forces that attacked then and attack today. The fact of the matter is that even more important than invoking the famous British ‘stiff upper lip,’ to fight this current war to victory requires understanding and accepting the similarities between the Nazis and the Arab-Islamic terrorist armies.
If Churchill were to have said these things today, he too would surely have been prosecuted, at least in the Netherlands, for inciting hatred and discrimination just for fighting for freedom against enslavement -- on behalf of life and liberty-loving Muslims as well as everyone else. This is a defining moment for Europe. It is when people have to decide what side they are on. All those ‘human rights’ supporters who tell us endlessly that we can only defend our society against terror if we remain true to its values now must decide whether they are going to defend Geert Wilders against the attempt to criminalise him for exercising his freedom to speak in defence of life, liberty and western liberalism -- or whether they are going to run up the white flag in the face of Islamist totalitarianism enforced by its already enslaved western dupes.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feminists eat your heart out

Comment from Australia

This is the scene on a picture-perfect Sydney day I experienced recently: a bride, beautiful in white; the handsome groom by her side; the sun setting slowly over the Harbour, casting an ethereal glow on the small congregation gathered on the sand. He says his love is like the "undulating waves of the ocean"; she weeps as the ring is placed gently on her finger. As the marriage celebrant pronounces them "man and wife", our elegant bride punches her fist into the air, lifts up her train, and performs an impromptu victory lap. It might seem odd to some but the guests at this wedding, myself included, understand her elation.

For some women getting married is like winning a footy grand final. For almost a decade this bride had waited patiently for her Prince Charming to go down on bended knee, while her biological clock ticked ever louder. Their on-again, off-again travails took them to every corner of the globe, our heroine visiting soothsayers and shamans to find the key to his heart. He suddenly awoke one morning with a revelation that the size nine stiletto by the side of the bed was actually a glass slipper. He had found his Cinderella.

It seems my friends are not alone. On the other side of Sydney, another such drama has apparently been played out, with a different denouement. Football star Craig Wing has broken up with his girlfriend of almost a decade, Zoe Foster, amid whispers that she is tired of waiting for him to propose. The 28-year-old beauty writer reportedly wants to settle down and start a family. And it seems she has the support of our readers. "You go girl! Such a shame he didn't want to propose but good on you for realising and deciding to move on with your life instead of hanging around until the relationship soured," online reader Helena commented.

It's a problem facing many women who are approaching their 30s, when fertility rates begin to decline. "Society is very focused on individual success so there's no pressure on men to settle down," says Relationships Australia's Anne Hollands. "Often, the pressure comes from women's biological clocks."

Some three-quarters of Australian couples now live together before getting married, up from 22 per cent in 1978; most only concede to marriage because they want to have children. When the big day finally arrives, Muriel eat your heart out - too much frou-frou is barely enough. "We almost feel as though we can defy the one-in-three divorce rate if we do it in the traditional way," says Ms Hollands. Witness popular movies such as Sex And The City (sassy career chick left waiting at the altar), Made of Honor (beautiful woman can't get hunky Patrick Dempsey to settle down) and Bride Wars (best friends planned details of their weddings since childhood).

"Marriage has never gone out of fashion . . . every girl still wants the big, white wedding," says Barbara Bell, a celebrant for 14 years. It's quite extraordinary that, a century after the first wave of feminism, women are still desperate to be given away to a man, goods-and-chattels style.

Even the blokes are perplexed. "It's the 21st century. Women are supposed to be equal. If she (Zoe Foster) wants to be married, why doesn't she exercise her equality and do the proposal?" writes Dave of Sydney. Indeed, the Sunday weddings pages and personal advice websites such as about.com are full of stories about sisters who are doing it for themselves. "I just proposed to my fiance a month ago and I loved it!" gushes Alycia. "We went to his favourite band's concert in Las Vegas and I had them pull us up on stage and I got on the mic and asked him and gave him the ring in front of everyone!"

A recent news poll found 20 per cent of Aussie women support the tradition of proposing marriage on February 29 - the extra day of a leap year. In reality, most are waiting for a knight in shining armour to ride in on his trusty steed (or for a Macquarie banker in a pin-striped suit to drive up in his reliable Lexus).

"We had one bride who sold her car to buy the dress," says Jill Hulse of Paddington Weddings. "At every fitting, she jumped up and down like Tigger (from Winnie The Pooh). On her final fitting, she tried to do a cartwheel!"

Wedding couturier Suzanne Tapp says many men don't see the sense in a wedding in these tough financial times. "Why blow $30,000 on a wedding?" she says. "That's a home deposit." So, if you're still waiting for your man to pop the question, he could be a) too selfish; b) too frugal; c) too scared; d) waiting for an epiphany, or e) just not that into you. Or perhaps - and most likely - it's simply not "right" and that Prince Charming is waiting in the wings.


'Warrior Gene' Predicts Aggressive Behavior After Provocation

I thought "poverty" was the source of all troubles! So Leftists say, anyway

Individuals with the so-called "warrior gene" display higher levels of aggression in response to provocation, according to new research co-authored by Rose McDermott, professor of political science at Brown University. In the experiment, which is the first to examine a behavioral measure of aggression in response to provocation, subjects were asked to cause physical pain to an opponent they believed had taken money from them by administering varying amounts of hot sauce.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to McDermott, the research team included Dustin Tingley of Princeton University, Jonathan Cowden of the University of California-Santa Barbara, Giovanni Frazetto from the London School of Economics, and Dominic Johnson from the University of Edinburgh. Their experiment synthesized work in psychology and behavioral economics.

Monoamine oxidase A is an enzyme that breaks down important neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The enzyme is regulated by monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA). Humans have various forms of the gene, resulting in different levels of enzymatic activity. People with the low-activity form (MAOA-L) produce less of the enzyme, while the high-activity form (MAOA-H) produces more of the enzyme.

Several studies have found a correlation between the low-activity form of MAOA and aggression in observational and survey-based studies. Only about a third of people in Western populations have the low-activity form of MAOA. By comparison, low-activity MAOA has been reported to be much more frequent (approaching two-thirds of people) in some populations that had a history of warfare. This led to a controversy over MAOA being dubbed the "warrior gene."

The PNAS paper is the first experimental test of whether MAOA-L individuals display higher levels of actual behavioral aggression in response to provocation. A total of 78 subjects took part in the experiment over networked computers (all were male students from the University of California-Santa Barbara). Each subject (A) first performed a vocabulary task in which they earned money. Then they were told that an anonymous partner (B), linked over the network, could choose to take some of their earnings away from them. The original subject (A) could then choose to punish the taker (B) by forcing them to eat unpleasantly hot (spicy) sauce - but they had to pay to do so, so administering punishment was costly. In reality, the "partner" who took money away was a computer, which allowed the researchers to control responses. No one actually ingested hot sauce. Their results demonstrate that

Low-activity MAOA subjects displayed slightly higher levels of aggression overall than high-activity MAOA subjects.

There was strong evidence for a gene-by-environment interaction, such that MAOA is less associated with the occurrence of aggression in the low-provocation condition (when the amount of money taken was low), but significantly predicted aggression in a high-provocation situation (when the amount of money taken was high).

The results support previous research suggesting that MAOA influences aggressive behavior, with potentially important implications for interpersonal aggression, violence, political decision-making, and crime. The finding of genetic influences on aggression and punishment behavior also questions the recently proposed idea that humans are "altruistic" punishers, who willingly punish free-riders for the good of the group. These results support theories of cooperation that propose there are mixed strategies in the population. Some people may punish more than others, and there may be an underlying evolutionary logic for doing so.


A small victory for openness in Britain

Gordon Brown performed a swift U-turn over government plans to block the publication of MPs expenses yesterday. The Prime Minister told the Commons that the plans to amend Freedom of Information laws to exempt MPs expenses would be abandoned. The House had been due to vote on the measures today, with Labour MPs under a three line whip to vote in favour. But Mr Brown said yesterday that the lack of cross-party support meant a vote would no longer held tomorrow and the issue would be reviewed further.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, he blamed the Tories for withdrawing their support from the controversial move and leaving the Government isolated, a charge that David Cameron, the Conservative leader, denied. "We thought we had agreement on the Freedom of Information Act as part of this wider package," he said. "Recently that support that we believed we had from the main opposition party was withdrawn. "So on this particular matter, I believe all-party support is important and we will continue to consult on that matter." Mr Brown made the announcement in response to a question from Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP, who asked why he was whipping the MPs to pass the matter.

The Conservatives denied, however, that there had been any "trickery", with the Shadow Leader of the House Alan Duncan saying that the party had rejected the moves on principle. "What was wrong with this is that Parliament made the law, the law included Parliament in it and now we're looking backwards and saying 'Oops, we don't like it'," he said. Mr Cameron later issued a statement welcoming the Government's "embarrassing U-turn". "To exempt MPs from the FOI Act would be completely wrong. They should be treated the same as everybody else," he said. "The public demand and deserve greater transparency from their politicians and this would have been a step in the wrong direction. "This is about the simple principle that MPs are given taxpayers' money to help them represent voters. Taxpayers struggling to get by in this recession surely have a right to know how their money is going to be spent."

More here

Big government, not big media, threatens free speech

Self-appointed consumer watchdogs--including Obama's recent pick for FCC chair, Julius Genachowski--have long complained about media consolidation. So it was no surprise that when the FCC recently loosened restrictions barring companies from owning a newspaper and TV station in the same city, these critics went apoplectic and are now urging the House to follow the Senate in blocking the measure.

Media consolidation supposedly threatens free speech. A few conglomerates, critics warn, have seized control of our media outlets, enabling these companies to shove a single "corporate-friendly" perspective down our throats. As Senator Byron Dorgan put it, "The free flow of information in this country is not accommodated by having fewer and fewer voices determine what is out there. . . . You have five or six corporate interests that determine what Americans can see, hear, and read."

Leave aside that Dorgan's comments are hard to take seriously in the age of the Internet: his position is still a fantasy. Media consolidation is no threat to free speech--it is the result of individuals exercising that right.

All speech requires control of material resources, whether by standing on a soapbox, starting a blog, running a newspaper ad, or buying a radio station. Media corporations simply do this on a larger scale.

Consider the critics' favorite bogeyman, News Corp. When Rupert Murdoch launched the company, he and his fellow shareholders pooled their wealth to create a communications platform capable of reaching millions. They further expanded their ability to communicate through mergers and acquisitions--that is, through media consolidation. As News Corp.'s owners, shareholders were able to exercise their freedom of speech by deciding what views their private property would (and wouldn't) be used to promote--the same way a blogger decides what ideas to champion on his blog. Like most other media companies, News Corp. even extended the use of its platforms to speakers from all over the ideological map--including opponents of media consolidation.

Do News Corp.'s resources give Murdoch an advantage when it comes to promoting his views? Absolutely. Free speech doesn't guarantee that everyone will have equal airtime, any more than free trade guarantees that every business will have the same amount of goods to trade. What it does guarantee is that everyone has the right to use his own property to speak his mind.

Some of today's most prominent voices, such as Matt Drudge, have succeeded without huge financial resources. But regardless of how large a media company grows, it can never--Dorgan's complaints notwithstanding--determine what media Americans consume. It must continually earn its audience. Fox News may be the leading news channel today, but if it doesn't produce shows people want to watch, it will have all the influence of ham radio. Just think of how newspapers and the big-three network news stations are losing audiences to Web-based sources.

Now consider the actual meaning of government restrictions on media ownership. The FCC is telling certain Americans that they cannot operate a printing press or its equivalent. Such restrictions cannot protect free speech--they are in fact violations of the right to free speech. There is no essential difference between smashing someone's printing press and threatening to fine and jail him if he uses one; either way, he can't use it to express his views.

What galls critics of media consolidation is not that News Corp. stops anyone from speaking--it's that they don't like the choices Americans make when free speech is protected. In the words of one critic: "[M]arket forces provide neither adequate incentives to produce the high quality media product, nor adequate incentives to distribute sufficient amounts of diverse content necessary to meet consumer and citizen needs." Translation: Can you believe what those stupid consumers willingly pay for? If I got to decide what Americans watched, read, and listened to, things would be different.

In order to "correct" the choices Americans make, these critics demand that the FCC violate the free speech rights of some speakers in order to prop up other speakers who, absent such favors, would be unable to earn an audience. In short, they want a gun-wielding Uncle Sam--not the voluntary choices of free individuals--to determine who can speak and therefore who you can listen to. The critics of media consolidation are frauds. They are not defenders of free speech--they are dangerous enemies of that freedom.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, January 23, 2009

How British bureaucracy crushed British fishermen

A draconian quota sytem forces fishermen to throw countless millions of saleable fish dead back into the sea

Until recently, Newlyn in Cornwall was the largest fishing port left in England. Last week a banner headline over two pages of Fishing News read "Newlyn reels under 188,000 pounds penalties - port's netting fleet decimated". What has left the town stunned, wondering how long its fishing industry can survive, is the latest step in a court case which has left 14 local residents, several in their 70s and 80s, facing heavy fines and the threat of imprisonment, forcing most to sever family links with fishing that go back generations. When the final step comes in May, involving the trawler firm Stevenson's, the town's largest employer, it is feared this could wipe out Newlyn as a fishing port, Nothing better summed up the poignancy of this case than the sight of 82-year old Doreen Hicks weeping in the dock after being given a criminal record, fines and costs of 3,500, on threat of imprisonment, just because she was named as a part-owner of her family's fishing boat.

As much as any episode I have come across in 20 years of reporting on the destruction of Britain's fishing industry, this case has shown how there are two different ways of looking at this long-drawn-out tragedy. From one point of view, the facts were clearcut. The 14 defendants, fishermen and their families who happened to have a part-share in six elderly fishing boats, were accused of selling œ140,000-worth of hake and other fish back in 2002 which they had illegally mis-recorded as other species because they didn't have the required EU quota. After a six year investigation by officials of the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the 14 last year pleaded guilty.

Having delayed sentencing for nearly a year, with a ban on press reporting of the case, Judge Phillip Wassell, claiming that plenty of hake quota had been available at the time, showed no sympathy for what he called "a deliberate, complex and well-organised series of deceptions". He imposed fines and costs on the defendants totalling 188,000, with prison sentences for non-payment.

An MFA spokesman, echoing the judge's claim that plenty of quota was available, exulted at the punishment of this "environmental and financial crime". Also supporting the judge and officials was Charles Clover in The Daily Telegraph who, under the headline "Fishing pirates of Newlyn caught in law's net", described the defendants as "the self-serving fiddlers of Newlyn who conspired to wipe out our marine resources for private gain".

Among those facing fines and possible imprisonment were 83-year old Mrs Hicks, Donald Turtle, 82, and his wife Joan, 71, as part-owners of boats skippered by their sons. Judge Wassell conceded they might not have known about the "conspiracy", but they deserved punishment for having "benefited" from the crime.

From the fishermen's point of view the story looks rather different. Hake were abundant around Cornwall in 2002, but EU quotas were so tiny that the fishermen could catch their entire month's allowance in a single haul, making it virtually impossible to earn a living. This was why they logged their over-quota catches as different species. Although Judge Wassell claimed that quota had been available, the court had heard no evidence on this (the fishermen themselves were not permitted to speak in their own defence). But the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, responsible for individual quota allocations, insists that virtually no extra quota was available in 2002. It was so dismayed by the judge's comments that it has asked for a transcript of his judgment.

In response to accusations that the men acted solely out of "greed", Mrs Turtle says: "It was need, not greed - most weeks our men come home having earned less than the minimum wage."

Ironically, since 2002, the Newlyn fishermen, working with government scientists, have convinced both Defra and Brussels that Cornish hake stocks had been so underestimated that fishing for hake is now "unrestricted". But of those six Newlyn boats, only two are still in full-time fishing. One skipper, John Turtle, now working on a North Sea supply vessel, says: "Defra has broken the back of the Newlyn fleet. I haven't got any fight left in me to return to fishing."

Another skipper, Shaun Williams, now working as a lorry driver, says: "I wanted to leave a good industry for my son to join, but that industry is now very, very sick and struggling to survive."

The final blow for Newlyn could come in May, when Stevenson's comes up for sentencing, after its records have been trawled through under the Proceeds of Crime Act, designed to seize the assets of terrorists and international drug dealers. Last year this was used by the MFA to wipe out three small fishing businesses in the Thames Estuary, when fishermen were forced to sell boats and homes to pay punitive fines.

The quota system being enforced in this ever more draconian fashion is the one which every year forces fishermen to throw countless millions of saleable fish dead back into the sea. Even the EU's fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg, calls it "immoral". But what is even more startling about the disaster created by the Common Fisheries Policy has been the uniquely ruthless zeal with which Britain's officials have set out to enforce its "immoral" rules on our own fishermen - with the enthusiastic support of judges (and even some journalists) who seem quite unable to recognise the human tragedy involved.

Another British industry which may soon disappear, thanks to our masters in Brussels, is production of that remarkably useful metal aluminium. Although we rank only 19th in the world production league, our two main plants, in Anglesey and Northumberland, are as efficient as any of their competitors. But aluminium relies heavily on constant supplies of electricity.

The Holyhead plant, Wales's largest electricity user, is supplied at a discount price by the nearby Wylfa nuclear power station, state-owned through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). If the NDA was privately owned, it says it would be happy to carry on selling power to its largest customer at a discount. But under EU state-aid rules this is now "against the law". So it was announced last week that Holyhead is to close next September, with the loss of 500 jobs.

The Northumberland plant at Lynemouth uses its own coal-fired power station to produce even more aluminium than Anglesey. But Brussels has ruled that, because it fails to comply with the EU's Large Combustion Plants directive, it too will have to close, losing 600 more jobs and almost all that remains of our aluminium production.

As ever more of British industry disappears, with Lord Mandelson predicting that even the City of London will emerge from the slump much reduced, it seems we shall soon have to live on air. Then, when Brussels discovers that air contains carbon dioxide, calling for yet more regulation, will even that be beyond our reach?


From mad to worse

Prof. Brignell comments on the above

Christopher Booker reports yet another case of hapless toilers, who have had their livelihoods taken from them by bureaucratic theft, and then been turned into criminals for trying to carry on their forefathers' trade of centuries. What they did was perfectly reasonable to an unbiased observer. They caught hake, which were plentiful, and sold them for food. Remarkably, in fact, it is not even a crime any more. They were forced by poverty into trying to disguise the fact that they were carrying out what has always been perfectly legitimate trade. And what about that judge? The judiciary sit on their large stipends and more than comfortable pensions, telling people on the breadline, who have had their livings taken by legitimised theft, that they are acting out of greed. And can it really be true that the fishermen themselves "were not permitted to speak in their own defence." Is this what has become of British justice, to say nothing of natural justice?

It is a crime against nature and humanity to throw fresh fish back into the sea dead. The EU not only forces fishermen into this crime, but makes it a crime not to commit it. Many, including the man in charge of the policy, have called it immoral; barely an adequate word. It is not just a few fish, but tons. It must cut those fishermen to their very souls to betray the memories of their ancestors, who fought and died against the elements to scratch a living and feed their countrymen. Now their inheritance is being destroyed by cold-hearted officials who are motivated by nothing more than bureaucratic convenience and political infighting. Uniquely in the UK, however, each ill-considered directive from the EU is rigidly interpreted with total disregard for the human and economic consequences.

In Sorry, wrong number (2001) your bending author wrote that MAFF had been out of control for years. How did the politicians get over this? They changed its name to DEFRA; but the leopard does not change its spots. It was MAFF/DEFRA who launched the slaughter of the innocents, in which 8 million animals endured appalling and unnecessary death. DEFRA has a mission to destroy: if it can rely on the EU for weaponry, so much the better. French bureaucrats would never willingly take part in activities that would destroy their own industries, but to DEFRA that is what they were put on earth for.

On 11th December 2008 Neil Parish MEP reported:
Britain fined 74.5 million pounds for Labour's incompetence

Single Farm Payment delays result in massive fine

Brussels , 11th December 2008 -- The European Commission has fined Britain 74.5million pounds for the Single Farm Payments fiasco that caused misery to farmers across the country when it was introduced in 2005. The Rural Payments Agency was dogged by late payments and administrative error in 2005, when Britain failed to meet the EU's statutory deadline for getting subsidy cheques to farmers.

Conservative chairman of the European Parliament's agriculture committee, Neil Parish MEP, said: "Once again our government's incompetence has caused British farmers and the British taxpayer to lose out. "When at Defra, Margaret Beckett introduced a hybrid system for making payments that everybody told her would lead to this calamity, yet she went ahead anyway. "Beckett's legacy of blunders is still being felt in the countryside today, yet she still sits around the Cabinet table. That shows the level of contempt this government has for the countryside."
The sufferers we not only the farmers who were forced into bankruptcy, or even suicide, but many apparently unconnected victims. These bureaucrats do not have the competence or determination simply to pass on a subsidy, yet they have the persistence to pursue a tiny group of fishermen for six years. Their crime was to do what their forefathers have done without interference for centuries.

It was the Thatcher reforms that left the UK with all its eggs dangerously in one basket, the financial one. Those eggs have now hatched into chickens, which have come home to roost. The small remainder of manufacturing industry is now slowly being crushed by EU directives. Booker's second example is the residual aluminium smelting business, which is in the process of being sacrificed to the global warming religion, as are so many others.

Meanwhile DEFRA has quietly bypassed our pusillanimous Parliament, giving itself the right to impose 100 pound bin taxes on religious grounds. The bureaucracy has become a juggernaut, rolling along supported by implacable authority, insouciance and incompetence, crushing any small individual or group who get in the way. Can there be any outcome other than economic and cultural disaster?


A small victory against authoritarian government in Britain

The tax was announced without any parliamentary scrutiny but "No taxation without co-operation" seems to have done the trick

Ministers have killed off their plans for pay-as-you-throw bin taxes in the face of hostility from town halls. They abandoned the charges - which could have cost middle-class families about 100 pounds a year - after local authorities refused to carry out trial runs. Not one council volunteered to take part in the the tests of the tax, which were supposed to begin this spring, officials at the Environment Department admitted.

Pay-as-you-throw was designed to encourage recycling and cut the amount of rubbish householders leave out in their wheelie bins. Bin taxes, based on schemes operated in Holland and some other European countries, would have meant limits on the amount of unrecycled rubbish a household could leave out for the binmen without paying extra. But local authorities feared a backlash from voters and had deep concerns that administering the taxes would prove both expensive and unworkable.

The Daily Mail highlighted the plans for bin taxes and their likely impact on families in its Great Bin Revolt campaign, which rallied opinion against fortnightly collections. The failure ends more than two years of controversy over bin taxes.


Bigoted British church? Everything is OK in the C of E (you can even be an atheist bishop) -- except opposition to immigration, apparently

The Church of England is to be asked to ban clergy from joining the British National Party (BNP). The general synod - the Church's parliament - will be urged to adopt a similar policy to other bodies which forbid BNP membership, like the police. The move comes after the leaked publication of the names of 12,000 BNP members in November. The list contained five "Reverends" but the Church said none was a licensed or serving clergy member.

The Association of Chief Police Officers policy states that no member of the police service may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims or objectives contradict the general duty to promote equality. It specifically mentions the BNP as one such organisation.

At the meeting of the synod next month one of its members, Vasantha Gnanadoss - who works for the Metropolitan Police - will submit a private members motion calling for a similar policy to apply to all clergy, candidates for ordination and lay persons speaking on behalf of the Church. She said the policy would make it more difficult for organisations like the BNP to exploit the claim that there are members of the Anglican clergy that support them. "Of specific relevance to this motion are some of the tactics adopted by the BNP, which in recent years has sought to identify itself as Christian and sometimes specifically with the Church of England, in order to further its agenda," she said. [Who said the C of E was Christian? The episcopate seems mostly atheist]

William Fittall, secretary general of the general synod, said it was already Church of England policy that people should not enter ordained ministry if they held racist views. He added, however, that it would be harder for the Church to enact a formal policy aimed at the BNP. "Not long ago the synod passed the Clergy Discipline Measure, which specifically said you could not discipline a member of the clergy for political views or membership of a political party," he said.

A BNP spokesman said the party was aware of the efforts of Ms Gnanadoss and denied it was racist. "There are members of the general synod who are sympathetic towards us," he said. "This is a disgraceful way to politicise the Church. The Church has got far more important things we feel to worry about... rather than a vindictive campaign against a perfectly legitimate political party".



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The nonsense never stops in Britain

Now music teachers are ordered to wear earmuffs by health and safety watchdog. There must be a heckova lot of stone-deaf music teachers around according to this

School music teachers have been warned to wear earmuffs or stand behind noise screens to protect their hearing. This is because beginners tend to blast away much louder than professionals. The most potentially deafening instrument is the cornet, with just one honk being enough to cause permanent ear damage. And standing in the direct fire of instruments such as the flute, oboe and saxophone can become risky after just 15 minutes.

Standing next to a school band is even more dangerous, the Health and Safety Executive warns. 'Sound levels produced by groups of student instrumentalists are likely to be higher than those produced by a professional group of players because of less-developed technical abilities and natural exuberance,' the organisation said. 'Damaging sound levels have been measured at the conductor's position in school bands.'

The warning has been posted on the HSE website. It sets the lower safe daily limit for exposure to a prolonged noise at 80 decibels. This level takes account of the actual volume of sound and how long it continues. Noise exposure is not the same as sound level, which is the noise measured at a particular moment. After just 15 minutes of a saxophone lesson, teachers can reach their safe daily exposure limit.

Conducting a brass, woodwind and percussion orchestra can be done safely for just 19 minutes. For a one-off sound, the lower safe limit is 135 decibels and 140 decibels must not be breached.

When officials visited a school, they found that noise in a cornet lesson hit 140 decibels. In comparison, a pneumatic drill makes a 100-decibel sound and 140 decibels equates to a plane taking off. A school that allows staff to be exposed to the cornet without protection would likely be in breach of noise regulations, the HSE warns.

'Sounds peaking above 140dB are liable to cause immediate and lasting damage rather than accumulating over time,' the HSE warns. 'It is therefore crucial that a thorough noise control strategy is in place before any exposure to loud noise might occur.' To avoid overexposure, teachers can stand behind screens, ensure they do not stand in the line of fire of an instrument or, as a last resort, wear ear protectors.

If they do use acoustic screens, they must be careful not to place them so that the sound reverberates back to the child, putting them in added danger. The advice is aimed at protecting workers. But the HSE says: 'Consider the use of hearing protection for both teachers and students to protect hearing during "loud" lessons.'


Another triumph of British bureaucracy

Fifty child-sex offenders were cleared to work with children, new probe reveals

At least 50 sex offenders who pose an 'ongoing risk' to children were cleared to work in schools, an inquiry has found. Some were approved by ministers or senior officials to continue working with children despite evidence they had committed sex offences. A small number were free to seek work in schools three years after a teacher scandal highlighted the loopholes that can allow paedophiles to gain positions of trust.

An investigation - instigated in January 2006 by then Education Secretary Ruth Kelly - this month ordered the barring of 50 offenders initially permitted to work with children. Whitehall officials declined to say whether any had committed sex offences against children since an initial reprieve from the blacklist of those banned from working with children, known as List 99.

But, in a written statement to the Commons yesterday, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said in some cases the decision to bar had been based on 'further information' from police.

During the crackdown on sex offenders working with children List 99 grew to an unprecedented 13,000 names, Mr Balls said. Numbers surged by 60 per cent in just a year mainly because laws have now been tightened so that all those added to the sex offenders register - for cautions as well as convictions - are automatically put on the list.

A review of historical cases has also swelled the list. Mr Balls said 2,560 cases of sex offenders dating to 1940 had been re-examined in a review by a panel led by Sir Roger Singleton. Fifty more individuals were placed on the list as a result of the review, 46 of them by March last year. Officials are unsure how many, if any, worked in schools and for how long. They said schools' own background checks would probably have prevented them from being employed.

Liberal Democrat schools spokes-David Laws said: 'Ministers must explain why at least 50 people now thought to pose a risk to children were originally excluded from the official list.' There were 'still far too many unanswered questions', he added.

Ministers have already admitted 33 offenders had slipped through the net and were banned after loopholes came to light in January 2006. These included 32 individuals on the sex offenders' register not referred to the Department for Children, Schools and Families by police.

The row over loopholes allowing sex offenders to work in schools threatened to engulf Miss Kelly's career. The first case to get widespread attention - that of Paul Reeve - highlighted how individuals cautioned for sex offences might still be cleared to work in schools. Reeve was placed on the sex offenders register after a caution from police in 2003 for accessing banned images of children on the internet.

Legally, in accepting a caution, guilt is admitted. But the decision was taken at ministerial level not to put the teacher on List 99. He was appointed by a school in Norwich but resigned after eight days when police raised concerns.

Mr Balls said the Government was transferring administration of List 99 cases to the new Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will hold a list to replace List 99.


Another triumph of Australian bureaucracy

Taxi sex fiends allowed back behind the wheel

TAXI drivers who sexually harass and assault passengers are being allowed back on the road and taking fares within months of being caught. The Courier-Mail can reveal drivers are escaping with little more than a slap on the wrist after groping passengers and making unwanted advances to women and children. One woman was even compelled to tell a driver she had a knife after being so frightened of his sexual small talk.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show life bans were handed out after a driver received a sexual favour as a fare from an underage girl while another was charged for allegedly raping a disabled passenger.

But tougher punishments are being demanded after seven cabbies in the past two years were still allowed behind the wheel despite multiple misdemeanours in some cases. One current driver was involved in four cases inside 12 months, including sexually assaulting two women and cajoling another to let him inside her home, before Queensland Transport suspended him for three months last year.

Transport Minister John Mickel yesterday insisted passenger safety was paramount, with all drivers convicted of an offence to be immediately banned indefinitely. However, Mr Mickel admitted to a loophole in which his department only heard about lesser complaints if taxi companies offered the information. "Assaults by taxi drivers against passengers, and particularly sexual assaults against women, are totally unacceptable," Mr Mickel said.

But Queensland Taxi Council chief executive Blair Davies said no driver caught for predatory behaviour of any kind should be allowed to drive again. "Where somebody has acted in a sexually and predatory manner in any way, there is no place for them and we would want Queensland Transport to get rid of them for good," Mr Davies said. Both Black & White and Yellow Cabs insist they tell the Government about all sexual complaints received.

But the FOI documents, which censored the taxi company identities, show companies often did not tell the Government. Black & White Cabs general manager John Tighe said only one of the cases involved the company and the driver was banned forever. "We take these offences very seriously and we act upon them and investigate them," Mr Tighe said.

The documents reveal a driver was spotted performing a lewd act outside a hotel in the Brisbane CBD in 2006. However, the taxi company did not tell Queensland Transport, with the driver not denying the claim during an interview. "What can I say?" he said.

The Government was finally told about the case a year later after the driver inappropriately touched a female passenger. He was banned for only eight weeks.


Australian newspaper's apology over anti-Semitic article 'inadequate'

On Tuesday "The Age" carried a very brief apology (under Contacts) on Page 2. I reprint it in full below:

"A column by Michael Backman, headlined "Israelis living high on US expense account" (BusinessDay 17.1.09) was published in error. The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community, and regrets publication of the column."

The Jewish community is considering legal action over the matter and in my view they should insist on "The Age" giving space to a comprehensive reply to the Backman article. With the Murdoch press on their tails (see article below) as well as the Jewish community, I think "The Age" would be wise to surrender quietly and soon

A former editor-in-chief of The Age has accused the paper of "journalistic failure", blasting the newspaper for printing an "inadequate" apology after it published a column espousing racist views. The apology said an article titled "Israel living high on US expense account", which caused outrage in the Jewish community, was "published in error". "The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community, and regrets publication of the column," the apology said.

Former editor-in-chief Michael Gawenda yesterday said the paper had missed the point, and demanded it tell its readers how it would prevent the publication of racist material in the future. "This is a journalistic failure, this is an editing failure," Mr Gawenda said. "The apology is not about offending people, the apology ought to be about the publication of something which should not be published. "Newspapers publish lots of things that they don't endorse, that's what an op-ed page does, it publishes views that the paper disagrees with."

Victoria's Jewish community has considered taking legal action over anti-Semitic comments in the article, written by London-based business contributor Michael Backman. The piece blamed the 9/11 attacks and the Bali and London bombings on the inability of the Israelis to make friends with the Palestinians, suggested the historical persecution of Jews constituted punishment for the death of Jesus and reinforced stereotypes that Jewish people were selfish and stingy.

Mr Gawenda, who served as editor-in-chief from 1997 to 2004, famously refused to publish a Michael Leunig cartoon that compared the plight of Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II to that of the Palestinians today. Before editing The Age, he worked as associate editor of the Australian Jewish News. Writing on a blog on The Australian's website yesterday, Mr Gawenda said: "What this apology seems to be aimed at doing is limit the damage to the paper from the publication of this piece." He told The Australian that questions should be asked about the journalistic culture at The Age. "What I want to know is how The Age has reached the point where racist rubbish like this gets published, and what the new editor-in-chief intends to do about changing this culture."

A source close to staff at The Age said employees were "upset and amazed" the article had gone to print.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle said the apology was seen as a first step, but by no means the conclusion of the matter. The Age failed to return calls from The Australian yesterday.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unbelievable Britain: Coastguards can't start a rescue until they fill out a health and safety form

Can socialist bureaucracy get any more deranged? No mystery where the obsessive bureaucracy came from, however. 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

Coastguards have been ordered to fill in a health and safety questionnaire before they can respond to calls for help. All 400 of Britain's rescue units have been told that before they travel to an accident scene they must complete a 'vehicle pre-journey risk assessment'. It is feared lives may be lost as vital minutes could be taken up with the assessments just as rescuers are preparing their response to emergency callouts. Under the new rules, the teams have to take the time to answer four questions on the type of rescue and journey they are about to undertake.

After first filling out the date and time, the lead rescuer must outline the 'reason for journey' and detail any risks the team may encounter during the rescue, including both current and forecast weather conditions. The form then demands an account of any 'actions taken to mitigate risk' before the leader can fill in a 'yes' or 'no' as to whether the risk is 'acceptable'.

The forms have caused outrage among Britain's 3,200 coastguard rescuers, who are furious after a string of health and safety rulings recently issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Yesterday, one coastguard said: 'When we were first told about this, we simply couldn't believe it. 'When we get a call asking us to go out and rescue someone, we need to go there without delay. 'But they are asking us to waste time in the office filling out this stupid form. 'Also, none of us really knows what we are realistically meant to fill in.

'I mean, how are we meant to know what risks there might be before we get there? 'And do they expect us to get a full weather forecast before we go out? Do they really want us to find out what the traffic conditions will be? 'It's ridiculous. All we want to do is save lives. 'The impression we get is that the bosses are doing everything they can to make sure their hands are legally clean if there is any kind of problem.'

The pre-journey risk assessment form is designed for when coastguards use their specially-equipped Land Rovers for land rescues. Rescues by boat are not affected. It is just the latest in a series of bizarre health and safety rulings to affect the agency, which is a branch of the Department for Transport.

In November last year, coastguards were told that they can no longer use flares during night-time rescue missions as they could 'cause considerable injury'. Even though the flares light up a large area and are considered essential for finding people at night, the Agency told its teams that they should use torches instead.

In August, a three-man coastguard crew from Devon were disciplined because they rescued a 13-year-old girl using a boat that had not been passed by health and safety officials. The girl had been only 150 yards out at sea.

Coastguards patrol the entire length of the UK's 10,200 miles of coastline in conjunction with the lifeboatmen from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Most coastguards work full time in other jobs but carry pagers to alert them when they are needed. They are paid for the time they spend undertaking rescue missions.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the MCA insisted that filling in the questionnaire does not cause any delay as it 'can be done at the same time as the rest of the team prepare equipment.' The spokesman said the pre-journey risk assessment had been introduced to protect the coastguards' safety.


Getting up the noses of the (Leftist) 'guilt-tripping white folks'

When I asked Trevor Phillips why he'd turned his back on a successful career in television and taken his last job as head of the race relations commission, he replied: 'Because I can say things you can't.' Not that it's ever stopped me, but I took his point. As a black man on the inside track, he could tell the truth without being accused of 'racism'. And he's been as good as his word. In one of his first pronouncements, he attacked the 'gold chains and no brains' culture which leads to young black men in Britain apeing nihilistic American rappers and ensures they become trapped in a ghetto of their own creation. That kind of statement of the obvious from a white man would have been howled down.

Now, as chairman of the new all-singing, all-dancing Equalities Commission, he has gone further, endorsing what this column has been arguing for years and shattering one of the Left's great articles of faith. In a thoughtful, courageous article for the Daily Mail, timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the official inquiry report into the genuinely racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, he declares that Britain is the least racist country in Europe. He also says that the label of 'institutional racism' which has hung over the police like a 'badge of shame' ever since is no longer valid and we need a new vocabulary. Those of us who argued at the time that it was ludicrous to accuse the entire police force of racism, over what was a bungled murder inquiry, were ourselves slandered as 'racists'.

The phrase was seized upon by those Trevor identifies as ' guilt-tripping white folks' as a potent stick to batter every public institution in the country. They have used the catch-all cliche; of 'racism' to advance their own agenda, silence dissent and bully the paying public into submission. Until recently, anyone who questioned whether mass immigration was either desirable or sustainable was vilified. The blameless, courteous chairman of Migrationwatch - who exposed the reality behind the Government's fiction over immigration - was subjected to a vicious campaign of character assassination. Fear of being accused of 'racism' has paralysed the police force. It has been exploited by cynical chancers such as Ali Desai and Tarique Ghaffur to enhance their promotion chances and shake the money tree.

We've reached an absurd impasse in which police are prevented from objecting to the siting of a gypsy camp on the grounds that to do so would be 'racist' - despite compelling evidence that it would lead to a rise in crime, which is what the Old Bill are supposed to be in business to prevent. In local government, it has led directly to the tragic murder of Victoria Climbie, who was tortured to death while Haringey social services stood back because 'chastisement' was considered to be part of her African 'culture'. Fear of being accused of 'racism' stalks the corridors of our Town Halls and government departments, creating a generation of box-ticking, brain-dead bureaucrats. Zey are only obeying orderz.

Where I'd take issue with Trevor is over the description ' guilt-tripping white folks'. While it is true most of the phoney allegations of 'racism' come from humourless, middle-class, white Guardianistas, they're not on a guilt-trip. As far as they are concerned, they are good people. And the way in which they reinforce their own self-righteousness is via a constant crusade to make the rest of us feel guilty. They've pulled the same trick with 'homophobia', hysterically accusing of hating gays anyone who has reservations about same-sex couples adopting children, or who objects to men having sex with each other in public parks and toilets.

In truth, most of the hatred comes from the Left, who enforce the cult of 'diversity' with Stalinist zeal, deliberately destroying the careers and reputations of decent people who dare to disagree with them. Being wrongly accused of racism is as hateful as racism itself. They always deny it, but it is the Left who drive people in desperation into the arms of the BNP. And as Trevor Phillips rightly acknowledges, inequality today is more economic than racial, with poor whites as much victims as those from ethnic minorities. Yet disadvantaged whites feel there is no one to speak up for them. That's why some turn to extremists.

I first realised Trevor was riling the Guardianistas when the odious Ken Livingstone accused him of sucking up to the BNP. It's difficult to think of a more vile slur to level at a black man. But that is the level to which these hate-mongers are prepared to descend.

Of course, racism hasn't gone away. I doubt it ever will. But things have improved immensely. I've described before walking through London Weekend Television with Trevor in the mid-1990s, when it dawned on me that his was the only black face which wasn't pushing a broom or working in the canteen. We shouldn't be complacent, but things have progressed.

It's easy to understand why older folk, who grew up in a monochrome Britain, have trouble coming to terms with a multi-racial society. But to my children's generation, race isn't an issue. The growing number of mixed-race children, the Lewis Hamiltons and Leona Lewises, are evidence of that. Beige is the new black and white. I've long argued that left to their own devices, people rub along quite well together. The indigenous British have been far more accepting of incomers than any other nation in Europe - and far more scandalously traduced by their own political leaders.

Trevor and I would probably part company on this, but I've always considered the race relations industry to be as much part of the problem as the solution. I look forward to the day he announces that his own commission is being wound up. Until then, Trev, keep telling it like it is.


An antisemitic Leftist newspaper

No surprise about that. Disappointing when it is a major Australian newspaper though. Some of us hoped that the departure of "Wee Andy" Jaspan as editor of The Age might have led to more mature policies there but it seems that the paper has got worse rather than better. Their circulation is already a mere fraction of the rival "Hun". Looks like they want to reduce it further. I think they are going to find that the antisemitic market is rather small. The article does not seem to be online at the site of "The Age" itself but, funnily enough, a Muslim newspaper has reprinted it. So, you can read their latest reiteration of all the old antisemitic tripe here. Below is an outraged response from the Melbourne Jewish community

John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), and Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), today jointly called on Melbourne's The Age to apologise for publishing a blatantly antisemitic article (attached) in the Saturday Age yesterday. Searle and Lamm stated:

"Sometimes criticism of Israeli foreign policy becomes so irrational and so hate-filled that it spills over into antisemitism. Yesterday Saturday's Age (17/01) published such a piece wherein its columnist Michael Backman encapsulated centuries of hate speech against Jews in a few hundred words. Among other things, Backman wrote:

* Israel's conflict with the Palestinians caused the London, Bali and World Trade Centre bombings.

* Israel has united the Islamic world against Western nations.

* The historical persecution of Jews constitutes punishment for Jesus' death.

* Israelis and Jews are uninterested in the welfare of others, and do not invest financially or socially in the broader community.

It is inexplicable why The Age would publish such a pernicious article, and why by one of its business columnists, a man whose field of expertise is Asian business and art, a man apparently without credentials on the Middle East, international politics or contemporary religion.

Each of the above statements is demonstrably wrong as are other assertions in the article. It is sheer nonsense to claim, for example that "The enmity many Muslims now feel for Israel has nothing to do with religion". Really? Perhaps Backman should read the hate-filled Hamas Covenant which explicitly talks about extermination of all Jews, not merely Israelis.

It is unacceptable that The Age gave a platform to this man's hatred of Jews and Israelis and incitement against them. The Victorian Jewish community's experience is that such commentary rouses violence and hatred against local Jews. Indeed, the JCCV and the ZCV made this very point to The Age only two weeks ago. We were assured by acting editor Mark Baker that its reportage was totally even-handed. And yet its editors saw fit to publish this vile piece. We are outraged with The Age for publishing Backman's disgusting falsehoods.

The JCCV and SZC have complained to The Age today in the strongest possible terms on behalf of the Victorian Jewish community. We have further committed ourselves to further steps, including possible legal action. This is not 1930s Germany. We will not accept this hatred."

SOURCE. See also here

Australia: More destructive bureaucracy

After a sperm donor in Sweden was ordered to pay child maintenance, is it any wonder that potential donors are now very wary?

A controversial plan for a sperm and egg donor registry has sparked concerns donations will end and women will be forced into one night stands to conceive. Under new State Government regulations for the fertility industry, a database containing highly confidential and sensitive information about donors will be handled by government staff. But fertility specialist Dr Joel Bernstein, from Fertility East in Bondi Junction, said the "over-policing" could turn donors away and may affect hundreds of couples who can't be helped by IVF. "It could turn responsible reproduction into irresponsible reproduction. Donations will reduce and I have little doubt that women will go down to the pub or ask a friend (to donate)."

One in six couples in Australia is infertile and many go overseas to find a donor due to the shortage. Donations plummeted when the law changed in 2004 allowing offspring access to information on their donor once they turned 18. It is believed only a dozen men are registered donors in NSW.

The draft Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation, on display until February 27, will also allow inspectors to enter fertility clinics to view records and take samples. "I think the Government should be encouraging more donors and not (taking) an aggressive approach," Dr Bernstein said.

The industry is divided over the registry, which may also force donors to update their address and include information on other offspring and partners. IVF Australia medical director Professor Peter Illingworth said the clinic supported a registry but "question marks" remained over its operation. His clinic has a 12-month waiting list for sperm donations while egg donors must be known to applicant couples. "Our view is the donor registry will not affect our ability to attract new sperm donors," he said.

Egg donation is so low in Australia women spend up to $15,000 and travel to Greece and Spain where donors are not identified.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A British bureaucracy that took 30 years to update its records

And even then it took media exposure before they listened. Don't laugh, but in Britain you have to buy a licence in order to be allowed to watch TV. The proceeds are used to support a Leftist propaganda outfit known as the BBC

The television licence enforcers were nothing if not persistent. For five years they pursued 69-year-old Hannah Patricia Humphris with a succession of intimidating missives demanding she buy a licence. The pursuit culminated with a letter this month threatening her with prosecution and a possible œ1,000 fine. But the TV licensing police had overlooked one crucial fact: Miss Humphris hasn't owned a television since 1978. She got rid of her set that year because it wasn't working properly and, she said, there were no interesting programmes.

Mrs Humphris, from Neath, South Wales, had informed the authorities she did not have a TV when the letters started to mount up. But they wrote back to say she would be interviewed under caution and could be prosecuted if she was caught watching or recording television programmes. Miss Humphris described the letter of January 2, which was headed 'Official Warning' as 'intimidating' and 'threatening'.

Despite her again telling them that she did not have a television they insisted that an officer would have to visit her house to ensure she was telling the truth. The pensioner [retiree], a former shorthand typist who lives on her own, said: 'I told them to search every nook and cranny of my house because they wouldn't find what they were looking for. 'I also told them that they could meet my solicitor at Swansea Crown Court to discuss damages for harassing me.'

As well as threatening prosecution, the letter said she would be liable for a œ1,000 fine if found guilty over the œ139.50 licence fee. Miss Humprhis said: 'I keep telling them that I haven't had a television set in over 30 years but they keep sending me letters claiming I have. 'I think it must be amusing them to keep harassing me like this. Am I a criminal now because I don't own a television set?'

A TV Licensing spokesman said Miss Humphris should not receive any more letters, although she may still receive a visit from an inquiry officer to verify she does not have a set. TV Licensing has previously been accused of heavy-handed methods and bullying. The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, has opened an inquiry into the tactics it uses to collect the licence fee.


The theology of hunting

I understand it when the idolatrous PETA people who worship jackrabbits over Jesus get their panties in a wad over hunting. I expect it, I like it and-truth be told-I'd really miss it if they did not pop a blood vein in their forehead when smacked with the facts. However, lately I've been getting hate mail and weird looks from "Christians" who ardently believe that God, Jesus, Moses, John, Paul, George and Ringo (I know, they get them confused) are, supposedly, vehemently opposed to hunting animals (they're right about McCartney). I have even had some sassy Christians say that fishing is evil because it hurts the fish. No kidding? I wouldn't have thought that a hook in the mouth would hurt. They, therefore, conclude that since fish hooks hurt that Jesus would never fish nor be friendly toward those who do.

Really? Hey, St. Dillweed, have you ever actually read the gospels or do you just smoke ganja and make this crap up as you go? FYI: The majority of Jesus' chosen disciples were fishermen, and the fish they gathered didn't die of old age. For God's sake, Jesus himself was part and parcel of killing so many fish-I'm sorry, "catching" so many fish-that at one point Peter's boat nearly sank under the weight of this Christ-spawned catch (Luke 5). And then there's the loaves and FISHES miracle when Jesus threw a Puff Daddy sized party for 5,000 plus people (that's a lot of sushi). But we won't talk about that because you're probably overwhelmed as it is.

Let's go back to hunting. In addition to these saints' specious, irrational and unbiblical hatred of hunting and hunters, another phenomenon has manifested itself in which the atheistic and/or pantheistic couldn't-be-weirder tree-ogling blowhards have started quoting Scripture to me and tossing God's name around in this debate like a coked-up Courtney Love at a Kid Rock concert. How convenient.

Therefore, seeing that a sizable chunk of the Church is getting goofy and are buying into the Disney-fueled misinformation machine and that PETA pariahs are now parsing biblical passages for propagandistic purposes, I figure it is high time to check out the holy Bible and lay out exactly what it does say about hunting and hunters. Being the capitalist pig that I am, I will do it in a new book that I am pitching for 2009 titled: A Theology of Hunting: Why God Loves Hunting & Hunters. For now here's a little hors d'oeuvre about the Holy One and hunting.

First off, much to my chagrin, I must admit that the Bible contains just trace amounts of direct references to hunters and hunting. What it does contain about hunting, though, is overwhelmingly positive with only one condemnation leveled at a hunter who does not "roast his prey" (Proverbs 12:27a). That's one. Not a bazillion. Only one.

Even though there are few direct references regarding hunting and hunters, there's an abundance of analogies and imagery taken from hunting used in Scripture. Just a cursory glance at the Psalms and the Prophets provides hunting similes aplenty. This is interesting. Let's see . . . rare literal references and massive amounts of hunting imagery used to communicate divine truth. Hmmm. What could this mean? Could it be that the ubiquitous use of hunting metaphors equates that God's mind was quite taken with the topic?

In addition, should one conclude that because hunting metaphors are so profuse that the biblical crowd this book was originally penned for would have had to be a hunting community or the references would have flown straight over their heads like Kafka's symbolism eclipses Britney Spears' brain? The answer to those questions would be yes and yes. Now, for those not jacked up on raw emotion and still able to think, check out this pro-hunting stuff in book one of the Bible, Genesis:

1. You don't have to read too far in the Bible, like . . . uh . . . the first chapter, until you're hit with the fact that man is to exert dominion over animals, birds and fish. That's conservation and game management, folks.

2. When our primal parents blew it in the garden by blowing off God's command in Genesis chapter three, God took it upon himself to clothe their naked rebel butts with leather and fur. It wasn't faux fur or pleather. It was the real schizna, mamasita. Deal with that, Pam Anderson. The silicone must have flowed up to her synapses.

3. In Genesis chapter four, Abel killed a lamb to sacrifice and found favor with God. If Yahweh wasn't happy about that He would have zapped him on the spot. It was the vegan Cain who got canned.

4. In Genesis chapter six God drowned not only a lot of wicked men, women and children in the great flood, but also a lot of animals, too. Like in the 99.9 percentile range. That was the largest game depredation ever seen. Only two critters of each species were afforded a space on the ark. Game management to the extreme, God style.

5. In Genesis chapter nine, after the waters of the flood receded and Noah and his tribe had docked their boat, God told them that they could eat the animals they had just sailed with for the last forty days and nights. I wonder which one they chowed down on first? I would have eaten one of the zebras. If you remove their fat they make great steaks, plus Noah could have decorated his house with the zebra rug.

6. In Genesis chapter ten, Nimrod floats to the literary surface as a mighty hunter before the Lord. What does that mean? I don't know, but I'd like to be one.

7. In Genesis chapter twenty-two when Abraham was going to offer up his only son unto God, Jehovah gave him an out by providing for Abraham a ram instead of Isaac. It's not a hunting reference, but it is a nice little sneak peek into God's mind that He prefers people to animals-something that the PETA people do not get.

8. And lastly for now (`til my book gets brokered), in Genesis chapter twenty-seven Isaac, one of Jehovah's main covenant kids, gets to feeling a bit peckish one day, and you know what he asks for to satisfy his hunger? Was it tofu? No. Lentils? Wrong again. A wheat grass smoothie? Strike three, Chicken Little. It was venison, a Ted Nugent back strap fever feast, that's what! Yep, Isaac commanded his son to pick up his bow and collect him a buck for some down home barbeque.

For PETA or some wrapped around an emotional axle Christian to make the Bible anti-hunting they would need an exacto knife. Nowhere in the entirety of holy writ does God, Jesus, Moses, the apostles or the prophets have any problem whatsoever with those who hunt righteously and utilize the meat fully.


Australian water bureaucracy doesn't know how to call a plumber

OK. Maybe their own crews were too busy to fix a leak. But what about calling a private plumbing firm in to do so?

A resident with a water leak in his driveway says he was forced to ring 000 for help after six calls to United Water were ignored and it developed into a "geyser" yesterday. United Water said its crews were kept busy dealing with burst mains at Royal Park and Richmond yesterday and another at Enfield on Saturday. But crews were too busy to attend a leak at Cudmore Ave, Toorak Gardens, where thousands of litres of water were lost.

Resident Nigel Gammon said he reported water leaking from his driveway on Friday, only to see it turn into a "geyser" by Sunday afternoon. "At 9am on Friday my neighbour came in and said there was water coming from my driveway . . . I rang United Water and the guy said someone would be out here soon to take a look at it," Mr Gammon said. "The next day, 24 hours later nothing had happened, so I rang them again . . . "We were into today, nothing had happened, and the next thing the neighbour came in again and said there's a geyser . . . we rang 000 and they were out here in two hours. "I think I've rung up six times, the people across the road have rung up, other people have rung up and no-one gives a damn."

Mr Gammon said he was frustrated at hearing about the plight of the Lower Lakes and drought-ridden rural areas of SA, only to watch water gush down the gutters. "Here in the city, we've got an opportunity to stop the loss of thousands of litres of water and no one's done anything about it - it's ludicrous."

United Water spokeswoman Edwina Chapman confirmed crews had been delayed in attending to the Cudmore Ave leak as they were diverted to other burst water mains. "Unfortunately in this situation it's a leak that's turned into a burst," Ms Chapman said. "We had a number of (other) large bursts over the weekend that we had to prioritise . . . these bursts were damaging property. "We have a limited number of crews and they attend in order of priority."


Hate-filled Australian social workers say foster mother is too dedicated

Their own bureaucratic power obviously comes before the welfare of the children

They were the kind of children who normally end up in an institution: they could not speak or feed themselves; they had to be rolled over in their beds; they would never walk or get out of nappies. For six years, they lived in the sun-filled home of a registered nurse on the NSW central coast - and then, on December 12, with no warning, all three were removed from her care.

The foster mother, who cannot be named because it would identify the children, says she's still stunned by the reason given. According to social workers, she'd become "greedy" for as many disabled children as possible, revelling in the fact that others saw her as a "superwoman" who could take on any burden, and using the children to fend off "feelings of worthlessness". Officially, she'd become a "compulsive caregiver". "I never knew such a syndrome existed," says the woman. She says she is the victim of "revenge" by social workers with whom she'd been in dispute for many years.

The woman's career as a foster mother of severely disabled children began in 2002. She had been working as a nurse when she heard about the plight of two girls, then aged one and four, who had a mysterious syndrome that limited their development to that of eight-week-old babies. The girls' parents could not care for them - indeed, the stress of their birth helped break up their marriage - so the nurse, who was looking for a new start in life as well, agreed to take them on as foster children.

She makes no bones about the fact she saw this as her new job. "Not many people would agree to do it, but I'm a nurse so I'm not frightened of what has to be done," she says. "I feel confident. I can deal with the medication and the doctors. "I care deeply for the children, but it was also what I had decided to do with my life. I would care for them full-time."

In return, she would receive $600 per child - or $1200, tax-free - a week. By comparison, the private corporation that employs her, Life Without Barriers, receives about $6000 a child per week from the NSW Department of Community Services.

To accommodate the children's wheelchairs, the foster mother widened the hallways in her home. She installed a ground-floor spa, and rigged up trolleys and pulleys above the beds. In 2006, she applied for a third child, a boy, who is not related but has a similar syndrome. He, too, must be fed through a tube, and use nappies and a wheelchair. The three children shared a room, and the home with the foster mum and her three teenage daughters.

It was not all smooth sailing. There were disputes with Life Without Barriers, particularly over money. It's clear from documents seen by The Australian that some welfare workers believe the foster mother and her partner, who shares care of the children, are motivated by the $1800 a week, tax-free, they receive. Last October, the foster mother agreed to meet a psychologist, Toni Single, to "work out the issues" she had with Life Without Barriers. Ms Single has an interest in the syndrome known as "compulsive care-giving" and has written papers on it. She believes that some foster parents believe they are good people who want to care for children, and do not know they have a psychological problem.

Upon meeting the foster mother, Ms Single concluded that she displayed some evidence of the syndrome. In her report, she said that people with this syndrome "enjoy being involved in the drama" of having disabled children, and often "need recognition and approval of others". According to documents seen by The Australian, Ms Single's report was the "key document" used by Life Without Barriers when it decided to remove the children from the nurse's home.

She says they have also "dredged up ancient history" - the fact that she suffered from severe depression and needed medication after her 19-year marriage broke down in 2000, for example. "That was before I took in the children," she says. "I don't deny it. I had a really hard time. But to say that I'm a nutcase now ... I mean, if that were true, how did I ever get approved? "And why, in 2006, did they give me another child? "This is all to do with the fact that I was prepared to take them on, and I will not give up."

Ms Single's report says the nurse is an "attractive, intelligent and charming" woman who had provided "good physical care" for children who would otherwise be impossible to place. "The quality of care provided to date has been of a high standard," the report says. The foster mother is "committed and competent" and "committed to their wellbeing" and often places "their needs above her own". A hearing on the matter will take place on January 28.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, January 19, 2009

Christians are becoming social pariahs in Britain

Jeremy Vine, the BBC presenter, has claimed that it is becoming "socially unacceptable" to be a Christian in Britain

The Radio 2 host said that he feels unable to talk about his faith on his show because he fears how people would react. He argues that society has become increasingly intolerant of the freedom to express religious views. "You can't express views that were common currency 30 or 40 years ago," he said. "Arguably, the parameters of what you might call 'right thinking' are probably closing. "Sadly, along with that has come the fact that it's almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God."

His comments follow the claim from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, that Britain is an "unfriendly" place for religious people to live.

Mr Vine, 43, is a practising Anglican, but says he would be compromised by being more open about his faith on air. "Just blurting it out would be destructive," he said. "Just because something's true doesn't mean you can say it. That's quite an important principle. "Once I put my cards on the table about my faith in discussions, it becomes problematic."

In an interview with Reform, a magazine published by the United Reformed Church, Mr Vine says that he is forced to separate his personal beliefs from his role as a presenter. "One of the things that I think, which may sound bizarre, is that Christ is who he said he was. "I don't think I'd put that out on my show; I suppose there's a bit of a firewall between thinking that and doing the job I do."

Last year, Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC and a practising Roman Catholic, suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the BBC than Christianity. However, he also said that accusations that the corporation was anti-God were "not just too sweeping; they are not even directionally true".

Ed Stourton, one of Mr Vine's colleagues at the BBC, said that he felt that the biggest problem for people of faith is being sidelined. "Clearly we live in a secular society and that has increased, but I don't get a sense of being persecuted," he said. "There's a problem for people who are active in their faith in feeling that the society around them ignores them."

The Today presenter said that he wouldn't allow his faith to affect his job as he has a duty to reflect the views of his audience. He added: "I'm perfectly happy to say I'm a Roman Catholic and that doesn't mean I'm a nutter."

Tony Blair revealed in 2007 that he had been unable to be open about his faith when Prime Minister for fear that people would label him a "nutter". "It's difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system," he said. "If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say 'Yes, that's fair enough,' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. "You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."


Note that Australia is less censorious: Australians are generally irreligious too but Australia's popular centre-Left Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, makes no secret of being a practicing Christian. The pic below shows Mr Rudd (in dark jacket) taking the eucharist at a morning church service at Canberra's oldest church, Saint John's Anglican. The occasion was Christmas day, 2007

Stuck fast in the myth of social immobility

It used to be thought that in Britain no one could ever confuse class with money. This was made comically clear in the 1966 television sketch "I look down on him" involving John Cleese and Ronnies Barker and Corbett. You will recall that the 6ft 5in Cleese represented the bowler-hatted pinstripe-suited upper class, Barker (in the middle) was the successful trader in pork-pie hat and rain-coat, while the diminutive Corbett, in cloth cap and muffler, was working-class man. Barker has more money than civil servant Cleese, but says: "I still look up to him, because although I have money, I am vulgar."

This model of class structure is not recognised by those who measure social mobility today. Every piece of academic work under that headline divides the country according to income - and the extent of social mobility is defined purely by how a family's income moves up or down in relation to that of their fellow citizens. There is a good practical reason for this. Money is measured by numbers, and is therefore readily tabulated. Not so with breeding, or social status in the old-fashioned sense: how do you measure accents, or table manners, against the x-axis on a graph?

So although most of us might feel intuitively certain that British society today is much more open and flexible than it was 40 or 50 years ago, the statisticians insist that it isn't and that our eyes are deceiving us. Their figures appear to show that there is less familial social mobility among Britons born in 1970 than there was for those born in 1958 - and the government is convinced that this is a scandal: last week Labour announced it was putting the former cabinet minister Alan Milburn in charge of a commission that would seek to reverse this alleged collapse in social mobility, while Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, produced a New Opportunities white paper with similar intent.

The most influential of the reports on which the government has based its call to action was produced three years ago by the Sutton Trust, an admirable organisation that seeks to promote social mobility through education. The trust's figures break society down into four quartiles by income, and then relate a father's income when his son was 16 to what that son earns when he in turn reaches the age of 33. Its analysis revealed that while 17% of sons born in 1958 to fathers in the bottom income quartile had managed to reach the top quartile, only 11% of sons born in 1970 had achieved the same vault across the income zones. The trust went on to point out that such a decline in "social mobility" had not been experienced by countries such as Sweden and Norway - causing more agonising in new Labour circles.

One thing that is never asked, either by the academics or the politicians, is what would be an ideal or even desirable level of social mobility. A bloody revolution along Bolshevik lines would presumably maximise social mobility (or at least make sure that the top quartile moved with astonishing rapidity downwards) but that form of economic redistribution has long been consigned to the dustbin of history.

To listen to some on the present-day left, however, you might be forgiven for thinking that we are living in a new feudal age, in which it is impossible for the ambitious worker to break out of a life of unchanging economic fortunes. Yet even those allegedly dire Sutton Trust figures show a tremendous amount of generational movement between income brackets. For example, 62% of the sons born in 1970 to fathers in the lowest income quartile escaped into the three higher quartiles. Or, to look at it from the other end of the social telescope, only 42% of sons born in 1970 to fathers in the top income bracket retained their family's position in the highest income quartile.

Indeed, 16% of the sons born in 1970 to the highest income quartile ended up at the bottom. In other words, there is a vast amount of social churning, at least measured by relative income. Moreover, the assertion that we have less social mobility than the Scandinavians may be based on a statistical sleight of hand. Countries such as Sweden have smaller variations in post-tax salaries; it is much easier to move in and out of their more closely bunched income quartiles, thus creating the illusion of greater social mobility.

I doubt that Harman will be too exercised by such arguments, however. As the privately educated niece of the late Earl and Countess of Longford, she seems to have a particular need to prove herself to be a campaigner against the entrenched privileges of the English class system. The same sort of politics of expiation characterised the career of Tony Benn, formerly Viscount Stansgate. Perhaps that is why such politicians seem to enrage the aspirant middle classes like no others: there is the distinct sense that these are people who, having enjoyed the fruits of selective or private education themselves, are determined to pull that ladder up behind them and leave the rest of society stagnating in undifferentiated mediocrity masquerading as egalitarianism.

The Sutton Trust itself was founded by someone who had broken through the social barriers in a particular way that would now be very much more difficult: Sir Peter Lampl was brought up on a council estate, passed the 11-plus and from grammar school went on to Oxford and then to a successful career as a financier in the United States. He was very disturbed, on his return to this country, to discover how his old Oxford college "used to have lots of ordinary Welsh kids, but they're not coming through any more".

Lampl will not be successful in his general aim of recreating something like the old grammar school system; David Cameron has abandoned the Conservative pledge to restore them and has adopted Tony Blair's policy of trying to introduce some of the rigour and discipline of the private educational system within the non-selective state sector, via so-called academies.

The fact that the partially privately financed academies are loathed by the main teaching unions strongly suggests that there might be a lot to be said for them. While it is true that the destruction of the grammar school system was an act of educational vandalism, it was never going to be the answer for more than a minority, which is why it has a relatively small political constituency. The real destruction of the aspirations of what used to be called the working class was by those who claimed to be its saviours, within the comprehensive system.

A Marxist-influenced teaching profession that regarded academic rigour as a bourgeois imposition, based on an outmoded social order, betrayed an entire generation of children. As the Conservative education spokesman Michael Gove notes, while the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci advocated the "march through the institutions", which his followers carried out, Gramsci himself was a deep opponent of "progressive" educational methods. He wrote: "The most paradoxical aspect is that this new type of school is advocated as being democratic, while in fact it is destined not merely to perpetuate social differences, but to crystallise them."

It is striking that Harman and Milburn have said nothing about education, as they announce their intentions to eradicate the "privileges of the class system". As the state schools begin increasingly to drop "difficult" GCSE subjects such as foreign languages, their natural response would be to legislate to make sure that monoglots will not be discriminated against in examinations to join the Foreign Office. Perhaps - if we are prepared to ignore the inevitable erosion of basic institutional freedoms, or even notions of excellence - they are right that this type of legislation would increase "social mobility". But what would be the point? The problem is not so much class, as the classroom.


Why the Fight for Religious Liberty is the Fight for Life

"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to Him," wrote James Madison in his Memorial and Remonstrance. "This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."

That's quite a statement, coming from the same man who authored the straightforward assertion that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." One is left with the overwhelming conviction that Mr. Madison, like most of his fellow Founding Fathers, put a priority on one's responsibility to his own conscience - even above his responsibility to his country, his government, or the prevailing political winds of society. That assertion, as Father Richard Neuhaus said, is what makes the free exercise of religion "the irreplaceable cornerstone" of "the American experiment":

"`We hold these truths,' the Founders declared. And when these truths about the `unalienable rights' with which men are `endowed by their Creator' are no longer firmly held by the American people and robustly advanced in the public square, this experiment will have come to an end."

Those words are but a few drops from the fountain of thoughtful reflection that sprang from the living waters in the soul of Father Neuhaus, one of the most prominent church leaders in America and one of the most influential theologians and political philosophers of the last 50 years.

The fountain ceased on January 8, when he passed away at 72, but the living waters still flow. And Father Neuhaus' single-minded commitment to that "duty" Madison describes, and his own robust efforts to advance the cause of Truth and religious liberty, will undoubtedly influence his fellow Americans for many years to come.

I was one among the multitude of those blessed by Father Neuhaus' wise, personal counsel; to witness the astonishing breadth of religious and political belief represented at his memorial service last week was to recognize the truly remarkable impact one man can still have on his times, if that man is committed, heart and soul, to his convictions.and expresses those convictions with love and grace.

The attendance of so many leaders of so many persuasions was all the more remarkable because Father Neuhaus, for all that grace, was no passive commentator on the formative issues of his age. He was, first and foremost, a fighter - a man who was never content to raise the alarm when he could wade hip-deep into the forensic fight.

To his mind, a conscientious Christian didn't stand by and just pray for his culture. A virile Christian's duty was to engage that culture.and Father Neuhaus did so ferociously, leading from the front of the battle line.

It's particularly ironic that he should pass away just a few days before Religious Freedom Day, whose themes he had so long and so eloquently defended, and before the 36th anniversary of the terrible Roe v. Wade decision, whose imports and impact he had striven to reverse. What he would not have found ironic - what, indeed, he would have undoubtedly made it a point to underscore - was the significance of the proximity of these two occasions. For no two ideas could be more inexorably linked than religious freedom and the sanctity of life.

A surprising number of people don't believe that. Indeed, when the organization I lead, the Alliance Defense Fund, was in its formative stages, many friends in the conservative and even Christian communities warned me not to sully the "purity" of our legal efforts in defense of religious liberty by involving our ministry with complicated, no-win "side issues" like the right to life or the defense of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

But with each passing year, it becomes more obvious to me what Father Neuhaus understood all along: that these issues are intricately, intimately entwined with each other - that the killing of innocents by the purveyors of abortion and the willful destruction of marriage and families by advocates of the homosexual agenda are both inherently fatal to religious freedom in America.

And, by the same token, the steady erosion of religious liberties by leftist organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union makes the perversion of justice, the dissolution of families, and the death of innocents inevitable. When the American people can no longer publicly express their obligations to the Creator," Father Neuhaus wrote, "it is to be feared that they will no longer acknowledge their obligations to one another - nor the Constitution in which the obligations of freedom are enshrined."

He wrote that 17 years ago, and the fulfillment of his prophecy is evident coast-to-coast, as legislatures, executives, and courts in states like Massachusetts and California increasingly exercise political gymnastics to exempt themselves from the laws of their state constitutions and the expressed will of their citizenry - most of whom overwhelmingly and consistently oppose fabricating same-sex relationships into "marriages."

It's evident in the numerous judicial rulings that deny religious groups equal access to the public facilities enjoyed by other members of the community. It's evident in the efforts to force doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals to submit their conscience to the convenience of a "customer." It's evident in increasingly forceful efforts to silence those who would publicly express their deepest religious convictions.in a school art project, a classroom debate, or outside an abortion clinic.

"To contend for the free exercise of religion," Father Neuhaus wrote, is to contend for the perpetuation of a nation `so conceived and so dedicated.' It is to contend for the hope `that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'"

No serious historian can contend that our nation was "so conceived" as to promote the termination of life post-conception. Nor can any citizen with Madison's sense of "duty" believe that our nation will ever enjoy a "new birth of freedom" while the births of so many of the next generations are being casually obliterated.

Neither freedom nor life will ever be sacred, as long as either one is expendable. That is why, in the words of Father Neuhaus, a great champion of freedom, "We shall not weary, we shall not rest, in the fight for life." That is why, in the courtrooms and the legislatures, in classrooms and newsrooms, at altars and ballot boxes, the battle goes on.


British Christian refuses to drive atheist bus

And gets treated with some respect, for once. The fact that his employer is a private company may account for that

A Christian bus driver has refused to use a vehicle with the atheist slogan: "There's probably no God". Ron Heather, from Southampton, responded with "shock horror" at the message and walked out of his shift in protest.

Buses across Britain started displaying atheist messages in an advertising campaign launched earlier this month, reports the BBC.

Mr Heather said: "I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror. "I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven't got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did. "I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God."

He has since agreed to go back to work with the promise he would only have to drive the buses if there were no others available. First Bus said in a statement: "As a company we understand Mr Heather's views regarding the atheist bus advert and we are doing what we can to accommodate his request not to drive the buses concerned."

The advertising campaign is backed by the British Humanist Association and prominent atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hollywood takes a machinegun to history

Goodies and baddies, monsters and victims... three recent films are great fun, but are miles from reflecting reality

Typical: you wait half a century for a Hollywood film to tackle the myths and taboos of the Second World War, and then three come along at once. The Reader (with Kate Winslet), Defiance (with Daniel Craig) and Valkyrie (with Tom Cruise) have each, in different ways, sought to break from the one-dimensional interpretations of the past. Hollywood has traditionally depicted the horrors of the war as a Manichean struggle between good and evil: SS camp guards as inhuman monsters, Jews as defenceless victims herded to their deaths.

Winslet plays an SS camp guard with humanity; Craig plays Tuvia Bielski, the Jewish partisan who waged guerrilla war against the Germans in Poland; and Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944.

The Reader is fiction, but the other two films claim to be depictions of real events, and will be judged as simple truth by the 12 to 15-year-olds who make up the majority of today's film audiences. Both are great entertainment; but both are flawed history, for the reality of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, and German resistance to Hitler, is far more complex, morally demanding and fascinating than film will allow.

In challenging one myth, Hollywood demands that we accept another. Cruise plays a piratical Stauffenberg, a good German conscience in a snappy Third Reich uniform and an eye-patch, setting out on a crusade to slay the Nazi dragon. The real Stauffenberg was no saint, and the plot to kill Hitler was not some simple redemptive act by a group of heroes.

Stauffenberg was an old-fashioned aristocratic nationalist. He never joined the Nazi party, but he was delighted when Hitler overran Poland and in raptures as the Nazi army rolled into Western Europe. His conscience was little troubled by the enslavement of Poles to feed the ravenous Nazi war machine: "The population here are an unbelievable rabble; a great many Jews and a lot of mixed race. A people that is only comfortable under the lash," he wrote in a letter to his wife. Oddly enough, Cruise does not say these lines in the film.

Some of Stauffenberg's fellow plotters against Hitler had previously played active roles in support of the Holocaust. Some were bent on protecting German conquests in the east by securing a favourable peace with the Anglo-American alliance. Stauffenberg was increasingly appalled by the atrocities of the Nazi regime but, like so many at the time, his motives were mixed, his heroism far from clear-cut. The July plotters were ambitious, as well as brave. These were not soft-hearted democrats, but hard-nosed militarists intent on mounting a coup to oust a leader who was losing the war.

Defiance performs a similarly simplifying role for the equally knotty subject of Jewish resistance. For decades the Jews murdered during the Holocaust have been portrayed as passive victims, a myth that subtly insinuated that Jews were somehow complicit in their own destruction. Films like Schindler's List and The Piano compounded the idea that Jews were terrorised and helpless.

To right that wrong we now have Craig, armed with sub-machinegun and granite jaw, fighting back against Nazi oppression in the forests. Once again the truth is more complicated, and more interesting. Bielski's fighters were linked with Soviet partisans and some suspect that the effort to save Jews was mixed in with a political imperative, to drive out the Germans and usher in Soviet rule. More troubling still is the murder of 128 Poles at Naliboki in May 1943, in which the Bielski group may have been implicated.

Jews undoubtedly did resist the horror, and sometimes with guns. They fought back in the Warsaw ghetto, blew up Treblinka camp and even managed to destroy one of the four crematoriums at Auschwitz. In some cases, they fought with nothing. One communiqu, from the resistance at Vilna Ghetto declared: "When total destruction threatens us we must come out to fight even if we have no arms and must fight with our bare hands."

Physical resistance by Jews was seldom recorded, for the simple reason that none of the resisters lived to tell the story. One of the few photographs of resistance shows a young man emerging from the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto, surrounded by Nazi soldiers. He survived the picture by a few minutes; the strange half-smile on his face is immortal.

But most resistance by Jews does not fit easily into the action-hero template demanded by Hollywood, and provided by Craig, because it was heroism of a quite different sort. Jewish resistance was more often spiritual than armed. Sustaining Jewish culture in the ghetto, sabotaging German material in slave labour camps, saving fat that might have been eaten in order to light a candle: these were all small, common but unromantic acts of resistance.

Merely to survive was an act of defiance, but a quiet death was also a way to fight back. As Martin Gilbert has written: "Even passivity was a form of resistance. To die with dignity was a form of resistance." It is not, however, a form of resistance that lends itself easily to the big screen.

The German [Jewish] writer T.W.Adorno once declared: "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." What he meant, I believe, is that art simplifies and reduces history that is messy, ugly and often unsatisfying. There are no easy answers. As the Holocaust survivor in The Reader insists in the final reel: "Nothing good came out of the camps. Nothing."

The Nazi Holocaust is the most difficult subject of the 20th century, but in its insistence on straightforward heroes Hollywood flattens out complexity into a satisfying morality tale. Perhaps only works of pure imagination, such as The Reader, can really do justice to the painful moral intricacies, for when entertainment and history come into conflict, entertainment always wins.



Nerds are picking apart Valkyrie, Tom Cruise's new film about a German attempt to assassinate Hitler. Cruise's character, Claus von Stauffenberg has amputated fingers in one scene but is fully fingered the next, and a bathtub that appears in another has "modern fixtures, including a hand-held massage/rinse nozzle". Some say the biggest mistake was making the film.

Where Sweatshops Are a Dream

Before Barack Obama and his team act on their talk about "labor standards," I'd like to offer them a tour of the vast garbage dump here in Phnom Penh. This is a Dante-like vision of hell. It's a mountain of festering refuse, a half-hour hike across, emitting clouds of smoke from subterranean fires. The miasma of toxic stink leaves you gasping, breezes batter you with filth, and even the rats look forlorn. Then the smoke parts and you come across a child ambling barefoot, searching for old plastic cups that recyclers will buy for five cents a pound. Many families actually live in shacks on this smoking garbage.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats who favor labor standards in trade agreements mean well, for they intend to fight back at oppressive sweatshops abroad. But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don't exploit enough. Talk to these families in the dump, and a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty, the kind of gauzy if probably unrealistic ambition that parents everywhere often have for their children. "I'd love to get a job in a factory," said Pim Srey Rath, a 19-year-old woman scavenging for plastic. "At least that work is in the shade. Here is where it's hot."

Another woman, Vath Sam Oeun, hopes her 10-year-old boy, scavenging beside her, grows up to get a factory job, partly because she has seen other children run over by garbage trucks. Her boy has never been to a doctor or a dentist, and last bathed when he was 2, so a sweatshop job by comparison would be far more pleasant and less dangerous.

I'm glad that many Americans are repulsed by the idea of importing products made by barely paid, barely legal workers in dangerous factories. Yet sweatshops are only a symptom of poverty, not a cause, and banning them closes off one route out of poverty. At a time of tremendous economic distress and protectionist pressures, there's a special danger that tighter labor standards will be used as an excuse to curb trade. When I defend sweatshops, people always ask me: But would you want to work in a sweatshop? No, of course not. But I would want even less to pull a rickshaw. In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn't the bottom.

My views on sweatshops are shaped by years living in East Asia, watching as living standards soared - including those in my wife's ancestral village in southern China - because of sweatshop jobs. Manufacturing is one sector that can provide millions of jobs. Yet sweatshops usually go not to the poorest nations but to better-off countries with more reliable electricity and ports.

I often hear the argument: Labor standards can improve wages and working conditions, without greatly affecting the eventual retail cost of goods. That's true. But labor standards and "living wages" have a larger impact on production costs that companies are always trying to pare. The result is to push companies to operate more capital-intensive factories in better-off nations like Malaysia, rather than labor-intensive factories in poorer countries like Ghana or Cambodia.

Cambodia has, in fact, pursued an interesting experiment by working with factories to establish decent labor standards and wages. It's a worthwhile idea, but one result of paying above-market wages is that those in charge of hiring often demand bribes - sometimes a month's salary - in exchange for a job. In addition, these standards add to production costs, so some factories have closed because of the global economic crisis and the difficulty of competing internationally.

The best way to help people in the poorest countries isn't to campaign against sweatshops but to promote manufacturing there. One of the best things America could do for Africa would be to strengthen our program to encourage African imports, called AGOA, and nudge Europe to match it. Among people who work in development, many strongly believe (but few dare say very loudly) that one of the best hopes for the poorest countries would be to build their manufacturing industries. But global campaigns against sweatshops make that less likely.

Look, I know that Americans have a hard time accepting that sweatshops can help people. But take it from 13-year-old Neuo Chanthou, who earns a bit less than $1 a day scavenging in the dump. She's wearing a "Playboy" shirt and hat that she found amid the filth, and she worries about her sister, who lost part of her hand when a garbage truck ran over her. "It's dirty, hot and smelly here," she said wistfully. "A factory is better."


Wanted for hate crime

Sooty and sweep above

After a week which has seen 11 football fans arrested for alleged homophobic chanting and the royals embroiled in a controversy over racist language, how long before the 'hate crimes' vigilantes widen their net still farther? The Home Office definition of a 'hate crime' is: 'Any incident... which is perceived by the victim or any other person (my italics) as being motivated by prejudice or hate.' On that basis, Prince Charles could have his collar felt for referring to his polo partner as 'Sooty' - even though the gentleman in question has no problem with his nickname. The fact that no offence was either intended or taken would not be enough to stop him being charged, provided someone - anyone - made a complaint.

This puts the power of prosecution in the hands of any self-righteous, malevolent mischief-maker, of which we have no shortage. For instance, one phone call to Kent Police could close down Margate's Winter Gardens. The coming attractions at the seaside theatre feature not only 4 Poofs And A Piano, but also Sooty In Space.

In my capacity as a gay icon, I once worked with 4 Poofs And A Piano, who have been sadly absent from our television screens recently as a result of Jonathan Ross's little local difficulty. I've still got the T-shirt to prove it. They turned up on one of my old TV shows after they were refused permission to register the name 4 Poofs And A Piano as a trademark. The authorities said that someone could find the name offensive. The 4 Poofs protested that, given they were the poofs in question, no one could possibly take offence. If that's what they chose to call themselves, what was the problem? None of this cut any ice with the Trademark Taliban, who continued to insist that 'poofs' was intrinsically insulting and therefore could not receive official endorsement.

As for Sooty In Space, the possibilities for prosecution are two-fold, both racist and homophobic. Not only is 'Sooty' considered to be an outrageous racial slur, but Sooty himself spends the entire show with someone's hand up his backside. One phone call to the Old Bill from the Margate branch of Stonewall and it would be: 'Izzy-wizzy, let's get busy!'

Think I'm kidding? Log on to the Kent Police website and click 'diversity'. The only difficulty would be knowing which branch to complain to. You're spoiled for choice. There's the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Action Group, which gives lesbians, gays and bisexuals an 'influential voice that will be listened to' and guarantees 'a dynamic forum for positive action'. This isn't to be confused with either the Gay and Transgender Action Group or the Kent Police Gay and Lesbian Support Group. If they don't take your complaint seriously, you could ring the Kent Homophobic and Transphobic Reporting Line on Freefone 0800 328 9162. Be assured: 'We know in Kent that homophobic crime is still going unreported. This needs to change!' Then there's the Hate Crime Action Group, the Minority Ethnic Action Group and the Fairness Action Group, all of which come under the umbrella of the Diversity and Fairness Strategy Board, part of the new Citizen Focus Performance Gold Group, chaired by a Deputy Chief Constable.

They all have to justify their existence-somehow. Which is why they are urging you to report any potential 'hate crime', however trivial. Between them, they should be able to cobble together some kind of charge that will stick and ensure that Sooty and the 4 Poofs are banged up in Maidstone nick for the next ten years.

I dread to think what all this is costing, both in terms of hard cash and the monumental waste of police time, sitting around in committee meetings, talking bollo and ticking boxes. And this madness isn't confined to Kent, it's replicated in every police force across the country, in triplicate. (I hesitate to say 'in spades'.) Remember this the next time some Chief Constable complains about 'lack of resources' and says he can't afford to put bobbies on the beat or investigate burglaries. What's that, Sooty? Bye, bye, everybody. Bye, bye.


Half of civil servants deserve to be fired, says former UK trade minister

Many civil servants deserve the sack, a former government minister has said. As many as half could be axed, delivering better value for taxpayers, ex-trade minister Lord Digby Jones suggested to MPs. He admitted the civil service was ' honest, stuffed full of decent people who work hard' but added: 'Frankly the job could be done with half as many, it could be more productive, more efficient, it could deliver a lot more value for money for the taxpayer. 'I was amazed, quite frankly, at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat they never ever worked under, because it doesn't exist.'

The comments from the one-time head of the Confederation of British Industry were seized on by anti-waste campaigners who said his suggestion would slash the cost to the public purse of pay, perks and gold-plated pensions. But union chiefs said he was 'naive and insulting', while the Cabinet Office said the civil service was already making savings of 26.5billion.

Lord Jones was among a number of non-political experts appointed by Gordon Brown to be part of his ' government of all the talents', or GOATs, in July 2007. He was handed a peerage to allow him to take a ministerial post because he had not been elected. He resigned during last October's reshuffle after apparently becoming disillusioned with his role. His outburst came while giving evidence to an inquiry by the Commons' public administration committee. He told the MPs that the job of junior minister was 'one of the most dehumanising and depersonalising experiences a human being can have'. He added: 'The whole system is designed to take the personality, the drive and the initiative out of a junior minister.'

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents 300,000 staff in 200 government departments and agencies, said civil servants would find Lord Jones's remarks 'grossly insulting'. General secretary Mark Serwotka said: 'These are narrow minded and naive comments which show a complete lack of understanding of what the civil service does. It has already suffered 80,000 job cuts, which has damaged service levels.'

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office, which oversees the civil service, said staff numbers had fallen while 'efficiency gains' had topped 26.5billion. 'They are doing more for less,' she said. 'The civil service is leaner while remaining the driving force behind excellent public services.'

But Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Lord Jones is right - there is serious overstaffing and woeful mismanagement in large tracts of the civil service. There is plenty of fat that could be trimmed.' Lord Jones's appointment as a minister was criticised by Labour MPs because he was not a member of the party. He hit back by saying promoting trade and investment 'should transcend' party politics. But he found himself at odds with Government plans to tax 'non-doms' - British residents based abroad so they pay less to the Exchequer. Earlier this month he said Mr Brown's VAT cut would not help the economy, claiming it was 'pointless, fatuous and doomed to failure'.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Turkey: Antisemitism Gets Out of Control

The report below was received from Prof. Barry Rubin. Prof. Rubin writes: "This has been sent to me by a very reliable friend who has agreed to distribution as long as his name is not used. You are invited to post or send to your list. It is not unthinkable that the future of the Turkish Jewish community is in doubt"

The Prime Minister in Turkey has encouraged hatred against Israel in his speeches which has become obvious anti-Semitic propaganda among the general public.

There are people around the clock besieging the Israeli consulate in Istanbul shouting their hatred against Israel and Jewish people. All around Istanbul billboards are full of propaganda posters against Israel like; "Moses, even this is not written in your book" and "Israel Stop this Crime." On the streets the people are writing such graffiti as: "Kill Jews," "Kill Israel," "Israel should no longer exist in the Middle East," and "Stop Israeli Massacre."

The week-end before, some people wrote, "We will kill you" on the door of one of the biggest synagogues in Izmir resulted in the closing down of synagogues. Near Istanbul University, a group put a huge poster on the door of a shop owned by a Jew: "Do not buy from here, since this shop is owned by a Jew." A group put posters on his wall saying that: "Jews and Armenians are not allowed but dogs are allowed." Some young people are even threatening others with violence if they are seen as pro-Israel in social networking websites such as Facebook and Hi5.

The document attached is the official statement by the minister of education stating that tomorrow [January 14] at 11am in all the high schools and primary schools the students will pay homage to the women and children dead during the war and furthermore, the teachers of art will organize the session of painting and writing on the subject: "Humanity Drama in Palestine" and the winners will receive awards.

The Jewish community can do nothing in response to what has been going on for the last few weeks, except giving vague statements that the Turkish Jewish Community does not want the war to be continued any more.

We have previously faced some strong reaction regarding previous operations in Gaza and the West Bank but this time is really different from former ones. I feel open anti-Semitism and hatred from all these people. Nobody understood, Even some widely read columnists in Turkey are writing things that lead all these groups toward this hatred becoming much more dangerous day by day.

But I know one thing: that the world should know about the widespread and openly anti-Semitic propaganda which far exceeds anything happening in Europe.

The Media Collude in Terrorist Crimes against Humanity

The Hamas War is now beginning to look like a ritual Kabuki play. We know all the moves -- all we can do is watch how well the actors play out their well-worn moves. Except that this is not a play, and real lives are being lost. The key is not the terrorists. They are stuck in their ways. The real key is the international media --- who are hardly neutral observers as they like to pretend. The international leftist media are essential players in this melodrama.

Put it this way -- do you really think that the Arab civilians in Gaza are volunteering to be human shields for Hamas? Some of the biggest fanatics, maybe -- but how many of Gaza's 1.4 million civilians are really prepared to die, along with their families, when Israel inevitably retaliates against thousands of Hamas rockets? How many Gaza Arabs care less for their children than for their masters? How many would flee from Gaza if Hamas let them? According to Ynet, Hamas gunmen forced Palestinian civilians at gunpoint to go back to their homes.

At a recent anniversary bash for Hamastan, 250,000 Gaza residents showed up. Khaled Abu Toameh, a rare voice of reason in the Palestinian universe, argues that Gazans still support Hamas. But more than a million Gazans didn't turn out to cheer the regime on its birthday. The number of Gazans who didn't celebrate Hamas would seem to be at least as important as those who did. Maybe, just maybe they are not so ready to sacrifice their children for an empty promise of paradise.

Arab governments are now speaking out against Hamas -- including Egypt's President Mubarak, the PA's Mahmoud Abbas and the Saudis. Those are very big names in the Arab world. They see the sacrifice of Arab civilians as useless, as it obviously is. Even an Iranian newspaper had the guts to criticize Hamas --- and was immediately shut down for it.

It was just reported that Gaza City hospital received Arab beheading victims -- not exactly Israel's way of making war. Hamas has been reported to be butchering and breaking the hands of Fatah supporters in Gaza. How many of them were civilians, killed just because they wanted to escape? Remember how Saddam Hussein cut off the tongues of his own bureaucrats, to terrorize them before the American invasion. That's what Hamas is doing right now in Gaza.

The media tell to us that the Arabs of Hamastan are voluntary martyrs -- but remember how CNN told us how beloved Saddam Hussein was, just days before the regime crumbled? And Mookie Al Sadr --- who was also destined to beat the Americans? And the Taliban? CNN and BBC told us that those dictator types were invincible because their people loved them. They all lost miserably. CNN's Baghdad editor confessed his personal complicity with Saddam only after the bloody Butcher of Baghdad was overthrown.

In fact, it is the media themselves who are criminally complicit in the internment of Gaza's civilians in the line of fire. They could stop the terrorists simply by headlining Hamas' responsibility for the plight of the Arabs of Gaza, over and over again. That's the real story --- if only they could headline the facts right in front of their eyes. But they don't.

That shows us the real values of CNN and BBC; morally they are no better than the terrorists. The media are essential to the Kabuki play of terror, response, and renewed terror. They are constantly fanning the flames. So when the media and the Left predictably demand Israeli appeasement of Hamas, let's just ask them: where is your compassion for the Arab victims of a jihadist internment camp called Gaza? How much longer do you want civilians to be turned into the bloody victims of the terrorist publicity machine?

The next time you turn on CNN, remember that you are looking at smiling faces that knowingly collude in the deaths of civilians, both Jews and Arabs. Without the leftist media there is no payoff for terrorists. Shut off the oxygen of publicity and Hamas shrivels to a powerless gang of thugs. The media-terrorist collusion is completely symbiotic -- they are both essential for the drama to work. Separate the terrorists from the media, and you have heat without oxygen -- no explosion. The simple fact is that we are seeing repeated crimes against humanity, an endless collusion between the terror masters and the dominant media, resulting in a reign of terror that blights the lives of millions of people and kills unforgiveable numbers, both in Israel and its neighbors.

Media + terrorism = death and destruction.

Maybe we can't change the terrorists, but Americans can hold their media responsible. It's time to choke off their supply of oxygen.


U.S. Catholic contract unconstitutional says ACLU

A U.S. civil liberties group sued the federal government Monday, charging it violated the Constitution by contracting a Roman Catholic entity to help victims of human trafficking. The American Civil Liberties Union said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was imposing its beliefs on victims of human trafficking by not allowing federal grant money to be used for contraception or abortion.

When the bishops applied for the contracts, they said they would not work with subcontractors who provided abortion services or contraceptives, such as condoms, which conflict with Catholic teachings, according to the ACLU.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston said the Department of Health and Human Services violated the separation of church and state [Maybe they did but there is no constitutional prohibition on that -- merely a prohibition on establishing a state church] by giving the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops $6 million in grants from 2006 through 2008. Many women victims of human trafficking are forced to work as prostitutes, and face a high risk of assault and rape, the ACLU said in court papers.

The Department of Health and Human Services permitted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "to impose its own religiously based substantive restrictions on the use of grant funds," the ACLU argued. The suit asks the court to stop the department from allowing its grants being spent in a way that is restricted by religious beliefs.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the bishops' conference said the $6 million figure cited in the suit was the full amount authorized. But "far less" money had been appropriated, she said without giving a figure. "The problem of trafficking in this country is huge and serious and the Catholic Church has the best network of services bar none," she said. "Going to the Catholic Church for social services is very logical."

Representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.


How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

By Ben Stein

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "eonlineFINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end..

It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails.

They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit , Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad . He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad .

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human. Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, January 16, 2009

America's race-obsessed media

by Jeff Jacoby

BARACK OBAMA will face a sobering array of problems when he takes office as the nation's 44th president next week, but the color of the reporters who will be covering him is not one of them. Nor is the pigmentation of Washington journalists one of the genuinely unnerving problems with which the news industry is grappling these days.

With so many other things to worry about, and with the whole world able to see that racial identity is no longer a barrier to even the most powerful position in American life, you might think the press would finally be ready to abandon its unhealthy preoccupation with the color of skin -- especially the skin within its own ranks. Alas, no. "Obama, Like His Predecessors, Will Face a Press Corps Lacking in Minorities," laments the Washington Post on the front page of Monday's Style section. Media reporter Howard Kurtz describes "the relative paucity of black journalists at the White House" as a "cause for concern," and he isn't the only one who thinks so. Even President Bush is quoted as saying that "there need to be more minorities in the press corps."

But why should it matter to anyone but a racist whether a White House reporter is black or white? Well, says Michael Fletcher, a colleague of Kurtz's, "you would want to have black journalists there to bring a different racial sensibility." By the same token, more evangelical journalists would presumably bring a different religious sensibility to the White House, more journalists from the Deep South would bring a different regional sensibility, and more Republican journalists would bring a different political sensibility. Do you know of any news organizations that are fretting over the "relative paucity" of evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans on their payrolls? Me neither.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Obama's accession to the White House "is prompting major changes in the nation's black press, ushering in a series of firsts that editors say will reshape print, internet, radio, and television coverage aimed at African-American audiences." Among those changes: Essence and Ebony, two top magazines among black readers, are going to assign reporters to the White House. Jet magazine is adding a two-page Washington report to each issue. On Jan. 20, Black Entertainment Television will replace its "booty-shaking music videos" with a live, four-hour broadcast of Obama's swearing-in. TV One, another black-oriented cable network, is going even further, with 21 hours of inaugural coverage. All of which, Politico observes, marks something of a return "to a time when the black press -- particularly magazines -- were newsier." It was Jet, for example, that first printed the shocking pictures of lynching victim Emmet Till in 1955.

But hold on. If it's been decades since the black press paid close attention to presidential politics, why should anyone be surprised that black reporters haven't been thronging the White House press room? If bringing that "different racial sensibility" to Washington journalism hasn't been a priority for Essence or Jet, why should it have been one for the Washington Post or NBC?

The plain if unfashionable truth is that the White House press corps, and journalism generally, don't need more black reporters. They don't need more white reporters, either. Journalism needs good reporters, and good reporting isn't a function of race. If the color of Obama's skin is immaterial to his fitness to occupy the White House, surely the color of any other man's skin is immaterial to his fitness to cover the White House. Washington journalism will not be improved by seeking out "journalists of color," but by seeking out journalists of integrity, talent, and thoughtfulness.

Americans are often astonished to learn about the Japanese obsession with blood type. To us it is the sheerest nonsense to believe that blood type determines character, personality, or matrimonial suitability, but millions of Japanese are convinced of it. Four books on the importance of blood type were among Japan's bestsellers in 2008, selling more than 5 million copies. We wonder that intelligent people can put stock in such nonsense; we can't imagine that anyone would let an irrelevant physical characteristic like blood type affect a hiring decision or a romantic choice. Shouldn't we find equally preposterous the irrational belief that skin color is related to professional skill, intellectual outlook, or journalistic "sensibility?" It is time to lay aside such superstitions, even as we have laid aside the shibboleth that a black man cannot be president of the United States.


Another Kristallnacht around the corner in Europe?

By Frank Furedi (Frank is a retired Marxist)

I have always criticised the tendency of some Zionist commentators to dismiss all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Such a defensive knee-jerk reaction simply avoids confronting the issues and undermines the possibility of dialogue. However, in recent years, especially since the eruption of the latest conflict in Gaza last month, anti-Israeli sentiments often mutate into anti-Jewish ones. Recent events indicate that in Europe the traditional distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish feelings has become confusing and blurred.

During a demonstration earlier this month, the Dutch Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel called for a new intifada against Israel. Of course he has every right to express this political standpoint. However, he became an accomplice of the anti-Semites by choosing to do nothing when he heard chants of "Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas" and similar anti-Jewish slogans. Many people who should know better prefer to keep quiet when they hear slogans such as "Kill the Jews" or "Jews to the oven" at protest demonstrations.

At a demonstration in London, such chants provoked little reaction from protesters who otherwise regard themselves as progressive anti-racists. Nor did they appear to be embarrassed by the sight of a man dressed up as a racist Jewish caricature - wearing a mask with a long, crooked nose - pretending to eat babies.

Increasingly, protesters are targeting Jews for being Jews. The demand to boycott Israeli goods in practice often means a call to boycott Jewish shops. That's what George Galloway, British MP for the Respect Party, meant when he called on people to "shut down Israel's shops". In his language, that's another way of saying Jewish-owned businesses. Galloway's Italian mates don't share his linguistic subtlety. In Italy, the trade union FLAICA-CUB's spokesman Giancarlo Desiderati has called for a boycott of Jewish businesses in Rome. A leaflet issued by this outfit informed Romans that goods they purchase in Jewish-owned shops "are tainted by blood".

European anti-Semitism is not simply a rhetorical act confined to a minority of Islamists or pro-Palestinian protesters. In Britain, Jewish schoolchildren have been castigated for belonging to a people with "blood on their hands". Their elders sometimes encounter intimidation and regularly report having to face verbal abuse.

What's truly disturbing about this development is the reluctance of European society to acknowledge and confront acts of anti-Semitism. Take the riots that broke out in Paris on the evening of January 3. If you relied on the European media, you would not have realised that groups of youngsters were shouting "Death to the Jews" while throwing stones at the police.

Probably the saddest example of this accommodation with anti-Semitism comes from Denmark. Historically, Denmark is one of the most enlightened societies in Europe. During World War II, it stood out as the one country were Nazis could find virtually no one who would collaborate with their anti-Jewish policies. That is why it is so sad to discover that a number of Danish school administrators have recommended that Jewish children should not enrol in their schools. Olav Nielsen, headmaster of Humlehave School in Odense, last week publicly said he will "refuse to accept the wishes of Jewish parents" to place their children at his school because it would create tension with Muslim children. Other headmasters echoed this sentiment, claiming that they were putting children's safety first. Whatever their intention, these pedagogues were signalling that in the interest of "health and safety" the ghettoisation of Jewish children was a sensible idea.

Outwardly, European societies are hostile to anti-Semitism, particularly in its traditional form. Many European nations have passed laws against Holocaust denial and proudly boast about their numerous Holocaust museums. However, at the same time, Europe is confused about how to deal with the recent outburst of anti-Jewish prejudice. The official explanation is that the fault lies with Israel's aggression against Palestinian people. It is frequently suggested that, understandably, anger directed at Israeli aggression sometimes loses its focus and becomes directed at Jews. I have lately been advised that raising concerns about instances of anti-Semitism plays into the hands of Israel and diverts attention from the plight of the people of Gaza.

There is no doubt that the conflict has intensified the frustration and anger of supporters of the Palestinian cause. But it is important to note that the rise of European anti-Semitism is not a direct outcome of the fighting between Israel and Palestinians. There is considerable evidence that anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe has been on the rise for some time and that it is fuelled by cultural influences that have little to do with events in Gaza. During the past two decades, and particularly since 2001, anti-Western feelings among European Muslims are often expressed through the language of anti-Semitism. Denunciations of the US are frequently accompanied by the targeting of the Jewish lobby's alleged influence. Such attitudes have gained momentum throughout this century.

For example, one survey carried out in 2002 indicated that 25 per cent of German respondents took the view that "Jewish influence" on American politics was one important reason why the Bush administration invaded Iraq. The association of Jews with business, finance and the media has encouraged current anti-consumerist and anti-modernist sentiments to regard the influence of "these people" with concern. Is it any surprise that last year there was an explosion of conspiracy theories on the internet which blamed Jewish bankers for the financial crisis?

The most worrying development in Europe is not the visible signs of radical Muslim and far-Right vitriol directed at Jews but the new culture of accommodation. What has emerged is a slightly embarrassed "see nothing, hear nothing" attitude that shows far too much understanding towards manifestations of anti-Semitism. Typically the response to such acts is to claim that it is not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israeli. Sometimes even politically correct adherents of diversity and anti-racism manage to switch off when confronted with an anti-Jewish comment.

As a sociologist, I am a member of the online European-Sociologist discussion group. Last week, one of my Muslim colleagues warned us against reading "clever Jewish authors" and advised one of his co-religionists that "true believers should not trust these snakes". To her credit, one American anti-Zionist sociologist objected to the depiction of Jewish authors as snakes. But European sociologists were far too busy poring over their latest training manual on diversity to express any objection. That kind of sums up Europe's cultural accommodation with such loathsome sentiments.


Another attack on business from emptyheaded do-gooders

In the tale of "The Velveteen Rabbit," a child's stuffed toy can only become "real" once all its fur has been loved off, and it's missing a button or two. If only. Under a new law set to go into effect February 10, unsold toys, along with bikes, books and even children's clothing are destined for the scrap heap due to an overzealous law to increase toy safety.

The damage comes from new rules governing lead in children's products. After last year's scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress leapt in to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs of discarded inventory and afford to hire more lawyers. Less likely to survive are hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople getting hit with new costs in a down economy.

Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe. When Congress passed the legislation in August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boasted that "With this legislation, we will not only be recalling, we will be removing those products from the shelves." Yeehaw. While large retailers may ask manufacturers to take back uncertified products, independent stores may be stuck with inventory that is suddenly illegal to sell. One Web site, NationalBankruptcyDay.com, is cataloging the costs faced by small businesses.

Small batch toymakers, many of whom make old-fashioned wood and sustainable products, say the testing requirements -- which can cost thousands of dollars -- are unaffordable. At Etsy.com, a Web site where entrepreneurs can sell their handmade items, many expect the new law to put them out of business. Also ensnared are companies that make products like bikes or childrens books. Because they aren't toy companies, many were caught by surprise when it became clear the law would apply to them. The only lead that can be found on childrens bikes is on the tire, where it poses no risk to a child not in the daily habit of licking the wheels. And while childrens books may contain no more noxious materials than paper and ink, under the new rules they would still need a test to prove it.

Responding to the uproar, CPSC has issued a rule-making notice that would exempt natural materials from having to be certified as lead-free -- but it will need to go further to avoid an economic trainwreck in February. The real responsibility lies with Congress, which rushed through "kid-friendly" crowd-pleaser legislation without considering the consequences. Despite warnings from small businesses, Illinois Representative Bobby Rush and California's Henry Waxman pushed provisions that now require pulling products from the shelf. Mr. Waxman demanded lead standards without allowing compliance to phase in.

Now even their allies are skittering away from strict enforcement, fearing the looming fiasco could force Congress to amend the bill. Last week, consumer groups that once flogged the law, including Public Citizen, Kids in Danger, and the Naderite U.S. Public Interest Research Group, wrote a letter urging the CPSC to "take the initiative . . . by providing prompt, common-sense, and explicit interpretations regarding exemptions to CPSIA." Now they tell us.

Congress has beaten down the CPSC for allegedly not doing enough about toy safety, but last year's toy law was an election-year overreaction by Congress. The Commission needs to implement the rules without putting more companies out of business in an already tenuous economy.


The media and Obama

By the "banned" Ann Coulter

After NBC canceled me "for life" on Monday -- until seven or eight hours later when the ban was splashed across the top of The Drudge Report, forcing a red-faced NBC to withdraw the ban -- an NBC insider told The Drudge Report: "We are just not interested in anyone so highly critical of President-elect Obama, right now," explaining that "it's such a downer. It's just not the time, and it's not what our audience wants, either."

In point of fact, I'm not particularly critical of Obama in my new book. I'm critical of the media for behaving like a protection racket for Obama rather than the constitutionally protected guardians of our liberty that they claim to be. So I think what the NBC insider meant to say is that NBC is not interested in anyone so highly critical of NBC right now. It's such a downer, it's just not the time, and it's not what their audience wants right now, either.

In fact, I think my book is the downer America has been waiting for! So herewith, I present an excerpt from the smash new book out this week, Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America:

When the Obama family materialized, the media was seized by a mass psychosis that hadn't been witnessed since Beatlemania. OK! magazine raved that the Obamas "are such an all-American family that they almost make the Brady Bunch look dysfunctional." Yes, who can forget the madcap episode when the Bradys' wacky preacher tells them the government created AIDS to kill blacks!

Still gushing, OK! magazine's crack journalists reported: "Mom goes to bake sales, dad balances the checkbook, and the girls love Harry Potter" -- and then the whole family goes to a racist huckster who shouts, "God damn America!"

Months before network anchors were interrogating vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the intricacies of foreign policy, here is how NBC's Brian Williams mercilessly grilled presidential candidate Barack Obama: "What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?"

Twisting the knife he had just plunged into Obama, Williams followed up with what has come to be known as a "gotcha" question: "And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father." Sarah Palin was memorizing the last six kings of Swaziland for her media interviews, but Obama only needed to say something nice about his parents to be considered presidential material.

The media's fawning over Obama knew no bounds, and yet, in the midst of the most incredible media conspiracy to turn this jug-eared clodhopper into some combination of Winston Churchill and a young Elvis, you were being a bore if you mentioned the liberal media. Oh surely we've exploded that old chestnut. ... Look! Look, Obama just lit up another Marlboro! Geez, does smoking make you look cool, or what! Yeah, Obama!.

The claim that there's no such thing as a left wing press is a patent lie said to enrage conservatives. Newspapers read like the press under Kim Jung Il, which, outside of a police state, looks foolish. The prose is straight out of The Daily Worker, full of triumphal rhetoric with implicit exclamation points. Still, their chanted slogans fill your brain, like one of those bad songs you can't stop humming.

There is no other explanation for the embarrassing paeans to Obama's "eloquence." His speeches were a run-on string of embarrassing, sophomoric Hallmark card bromides. It seemed only a matter of time before Obama would slip and tell a crowd what a special Dad it had always been to him.

The major theme of Obama's campaign was the audacity of his running for president. He titled his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "The Audacity of Hope" -- named after a sermon given by his spiritual mentor Jeremiah Wright, whom we were not allowed to mention without being accused of playing dirty tricks. (Rejected speech titles from sermons by Rev. Wright included "God Damn America!," "The U.S. of K.K.A." and "The Racist United States of America.")

What is so audacious about announcing that you're running for president? Every U.S. Senator has run for president or is currently thinking about running for president. Dennis Kucinich ran for president. Lyndon LaRouche used to run for president constantly.

But the media were giddy over their latest crush. Even when Obama broke a pledge and rejected public financing for his campaign -- an issue more dear to The New York Times than even gay marriage -- the Times led the article on Obama's broken pledge with his excuse. "Citing the specter of attacks from independent groups on the right," the Times article began, "Sen. Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would opt out of the public financing system for the general election."

So he had to break his pledge because he was a victim of the Republican Attack Machine. When Obama broke his word and voted for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill (FISA), the Times' editorial began: We are shocked and dismayed by Sen. Obama's vote on ... oh, who are we kidding? We can't stay mad at this guy! Isn't he just adorable? Couldn't you just eat him up with a spoon? Is he looking at me? Ohmigod, I think he's looking at me!!!! Couldn't you just die? It has ever been thus.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, January 15, 2009

BritGov wants to improve "social mobility" but has no clue how to make it happen

Now that all their numbskull theories about the matter have failed, all that they can now come up with is to enforce equality by the weight of the law

In 1999 Tony Blair told the Labour Conference: "If we are in politics for one thing, it is to make sure that all children are given the best chance in life." A decade on, the Government has had to admit that billions of pounds of investment in nurseries and schools and on training has failed to bridge the class divide, and that social mobility in Britain has stalled.

Yesterday ministers from various departments put forward measures to try to get it moving again. From schemes to help poor mothers, through offers to help teachers stay in the schools where they are most needed, to the creation of more apprenticeships, the Government described the White Paper as its "agenda for capturing the jobs of the future and investing in families, communities and citizens throughout their lives to help them get on and ahead".

In the most controversial move, discrimination on the ground of class could be made illegal, just as it is with race and sex, and public services would be ordered to fight "the persistent inequality of social class". That was immediately dismissed by critics as meaningless.

Pregnant teenagers and mothers living in the most deprived areas will be allocated a family nurse to help them through the first two years of their child's life. Free nursery care will also be extended to more two-year-olds from poor backgrounds.

Gordon Brown, who has promised a social mobility "crusade", avoided mentioning Labour's poor record when he presented the New Opportunities White Paper. Instead, the Prime Minister said that the policy initiatives would mean that Britain was better placed to take advantage of the economic upturn, when it came. "We want to prepare the UK to grasp new opportunities in the global economy and enable every individual to realise their potential, whatever their background," he said.

Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, came closer to admitting the problem. "No child should be held back by their background, so we will now do more to break the link between disadvantage and achievement," he said.

But it is widely accepted that social mobility has ground to a halt in recent decades. The key study alerting ministers to the problem was published in 2005 by the Sutton Trust. It found a significant decline in upward mobility between those born in 1958 and those born in 1970. The study focused on income mobility and concluded that people born in 1970 were far more likely to earn the same as their parents than those born 12 years earlier. The Sutton Trust attributed this not just to a persistent class divide, but to the growing income inequality of the 1980s and the vast expansion of higher education, which was monopolised by the middle classes. Both trends continued into the new millennium. Between the early 1980s and the late 1990s the proportion of poorer children who graduated from university rose by 3 per cent, compared with 26 per cent from wealthier families.

Also the huge expansion of managerial and professional jobs in the postwar era tailed off in the 1970s, which meant there was less room at the top. And the decline of manufacturing in the 1980s meant that the shop floor-to-boardroom route to success went into decline. In the financial services industry that largely replaced it, it is less likely that a receptionist ends up as a high-earning trader.

Recent research has indicated that all the billions spent on schools may have little impact on improving poorer children's prospects. It found that middle-class children are far ahead even before they arrive at school, thanks to music, ballet and language lessons. Poor children have fallen behind in cognitive skills and vocabulary by the age of 3 [which strongly indicates that the difference is hereditary], making it almost impossible for schools to help to them catch up.

A report last year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that in the UK children struggle to escape the income levels of their parents more than in almost any other country in the group. "There is less social mobility in the UK than in Australia, Canada and Denmark," it said. "What your parents earned when you were a child has much more effect on your own earnings than in more mobile countries."

Ministers are pinning their hopes on one study that suggests that their record investment may be bearing fruit. Data provided by Bristol University, the London School of Economics and the Institute of Fiscal Studies for a government report last autumn indicated that children's academic achievement, measured by the number of GCSEs they pass, is becoming less dependent on their family's wealth. [That's because the exams have been dumbed down]

But the Sutton Trust, while welcoming the measures outlined yesterday, said Mr Brown would have to be far more radical in his reforms if he wanted to improve the life chances of every child. It wants private shools to be opened up to all. [Right. Privatise education completely. Abolish the "sink" government schools] "The aspiration of making every school a good school is, of course, right, but there also need to be more moves to open up the highest-performing schools as powerful engines of mobility, leading to top-ranked universities and prestigious professions," said Lee Elliot Major, research director at the trust. Such a move would require an admissions shake-up including ballots and means-tested fees, he said. [Too much of a shake-up might destroy what they aspire to]


Harriet the hater

Today's White Paper on social mobility should concern anyone who cares about justice and liberty, for it is not about social mobility at all. It is in fact a blueprint for imposing `equality' through every single arm of government. Already, every public authority in Britain is legally bound to ensure that policies do not unfairly discriminate on grounds of race, gender, disability or sexuality - a requirement which has actually brought about much injustice. Now they will be similarly bound to bridge the gap between rich and poor.

And how are they going to do this? Inescapably, by taking away from the better off what they have achieved on the basis that this is unjustified `privilege', and giving it to the poor on the basis that they are unable to achieve by themselves. And this from a government which has itself spent the last decade destroying the life chances of millions of poor people by undermining the nuclear family, bringing the education system to its knees and trapping more and more people in welfare dependency. Instead of genuinely helping those who have been unable to make it, they will instead punish those who have. And they call that `fairness'!

Social mobility is actually the antithesis of equality, because if people are able to progress higher up the social and income ladder it follows that others will be left behind. Social mobility inevitably rests upon a meritocracy in which people are rewarded for what they have achieved. This is the only fair system. Imposing `equality' - which is really a kind of `identicality', a belief that everyone must end up in exactly the same place - is monumentally unfair. It amounts to institutionalised discrimination based on the highly subjective and ideological prejudices of those in power to decide just who deserves to be privileged and who to be discriminated against.

Accordingly, any moves to apply it are inevitably deeply coercive and in the end unattainable - as was proved so appallingly under Soviet communism. For the British government to introduce this Orwellian agenda is not just sinister - it is positively unhinged.

The person said to be behind this is that middle-class paragon, the Equalities Minister Harriet Harman, who is said to have convinced her Cabinet colleagues of the need to enshrine the class war in law. In a speech this weekend, she will hail this move as a step towards `a new social order'. `We want to do more than just provide escape routes out of poverty for a talented few. We want to tackle the class divide,' she will say.

This is but the latest bit of cack-handed injustice from Harman, an ultra-feminist gender warrior who has spent much of her political career trying to institutionalise injustice against men and privilege women on the basis of `sexual equality'.

Much is made of Gordon Brown's unreconstructed redistributive socialism. But in fact Harman is the most conspicuous example of another important characteristic of this government: its state of fossilised adolescence. After all, listening to her is a bit like entering a time-warp and being subjected to some ghastly student radical circa 1970 nasally boring on about the class/gender/race struggle. That's because she - and a number of her ministerial colleagues - were indeed part of that generation of privileged baby-boomers who indulged in adolescent fantasy politics about changing society and human nature - but who, crucially, never grew out of it.

What then happened was that between 1979 and 1997 they were kept out of power by three successive Conservative administrations. And when they finally clawed their way into government, they were then in a position to put into practice the adolescent politics which had been stored in aspic and beyond which they had never progressed.

The way forward is obvious. The Equalities Minister must put her money where her mouth is. By her own lights, the best way the public school-educated Harman could do her bit to `tackle the class divide' would surely be to step down as an MP forthwith so that a working-class person could take her place.


The privileged life of hypocrite Harperson

Who better to 'tackle the class divide' and move Britain 'towards a new social order' than Harriet Harman who is both the most upper class and the most hypocritical member of the cabinet. Some of her colleagues were educated privately but Harman had the smartest education of all, at St Paul's Girls School in London. But that wasn't surprising, because she comes from a very grand family. Her father was a Harley Street doctor and her mother a lawyer. Her aunt married the left-wing social reformer the fifth Earl of Longford, and her cousin is Lady Antonia Fraser, the author who was married to the playwright Harold Pinter.

No doubt she would acknowledge that she had a fine start in life, but she could have put all that behind her when she married the left-wing firebrand and political agitator Jack Dromey. But it seems that Harman, while determined to iron out class privilege for others, was not prepared to subject her own children to the local comprehensive. Her eldest son was sent to the selective Roman Catholic secondary school, the Oratory, where Tony Blair also educated his children. At the time she dismissed the accusation of hypocrisy by claiming it was because her husband was a Catholic.

Next, however, she sent her second son to St Olave's - an Anglican selective grammar school in Orpington, Kent, a good long way from her deprived South London constituency. There was a huge row of course, as not everyone in the Labour party understood how Harman was able to square this with her class-warrior opposition to selective education. But that didn't worry the woman who is now Labour's deputy leader, nor did it stop her sending her daughter to Grey Coat school, yet another selective grammar in Westminster.

So this child of privilege, who has been determined to give the same gilded start in life to her own children, now wishes to instigate a class war pogrom across the public sector, requiring every state institution to take class background into account in all of its decisions. It's hard to know which is more exasperating. The stupidity of wasting huge amounts of time and money on a political crusade that would have been out of date in the Seventies or the hypocrisy that this appalling policy has been suggested by Harriet Harman.

This is, after all, the politician whom her late colleague Gwyneth Dunwoody once called 'one of those certain, particular, women who are of the opinion that they had a God-given right to be among the chosen'.



By Barry Rubin

Last December, Hamas unilaterally ended its ceasefire with Israel and escalated the kind of cross-border attacks continually attempted even during the ceasefire. With massive public support, Israel struck back against a neighboring regime which daily attacked its citizens and called for its extermination.

For decades, Israel's history shows a general pattern: its neighbors attack, Israel responds, Israel wins the war, and the world rushes to ensure that its victory is limited or nullified. If, as sometimes happens, the diplomatic process really improves the situation and provides progress for peace that, of course, is beneficial.

Yet Israel's experience has shown that international promises made in return for its material concessions are often broken. Most recently, in 2006 the international community pledged to keep Hizballah out of south Lebanon and curb its arms' supply, failed totally, yet took no action in response to this defeat. Israel is understandably skeptical.

In addition, Israelis know that Hamas is totally dedicated to their personal and collective destruction. The group will not moderate, cannot be bought off, and will not respect any agreement it makes. As a result, the usual kinds of diplomatic tools-concessions, confidence-building, agreements, moderation resulting from having governmental responsibilities, will not work. Any solution short of Hamas's fall from power will bring more fighting in future.

What should happen is that the international community cooperates in the removal of the Hamas regime. It is an illegal government, brought to power by an unprovoked war against the Palestinian Authority (PA) which was the internationally recognized regime in the Gaza Strip. Hamas may have won the elections but it then seized total power, suspended representative government, and destroyed the opposition.

Moreover, Hamas is a radical terrorist group which openly uses antisemitic rhetoric and actively seeks to wipe Israel off the map. It oppresses the Palestinian population and leads them into endless war. It teaches young Palestinians that their career goal should not be as a teacher, engineer, or doctor but as a suicide bomber.

From a strategic standpoint, Hamas is a member of the Iran-Syria alliance which seeks to overthrow every Arab regime in the Middle East and replace it with an anti-Western, war-oriented, radical Islamist dictatorship. Hamas's survival is a big threat to both Western interests and to those of Arab nationalist regimes. Keeping Hamas in power is equivalent to an energetic Western diplomatic effort to have kept the Taliban regime in power in Afghanistan, despite its role in the September 11 attacks.

If, however, the world is not going to support Hamas's fall from office, Israel cannot bring about this result by itself. At the same time, the world will be making a big mistake if it pushes for a ceasefire at any price, thus encouraging future violence and terrorism, not only regarding Gaza but also in the region generally.

What then are Israel's options? Two possible outcomes are rejected: Israel will not take control of the Gaza Strip again, and Israel will not accept a return to the previous situation in which Hamas repeatedly attacked Israel under cover of a ceasefire. There are at least six major things Israel can obtain realistically:

--The practical weakening of Hamas. Granted it will continue to be aggressive in future, its losses will reduce Hamas's ability to hurt Israeli citizens.

--Deterrence, while retaining its longer-term goals, Hamas will be more reluctant to attack Israel lest it produce another such Israeli response.

--Border control, a change from the situation in which Hamas can import weapons fairly freely to a stricter order in which humanitarian aid but not arms can come in.

--The return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, seized in a Hamas attack on Israeli soil and held hostage, lacking any contact with international humanitarian groups.

--A reduction of Hamas's standing among Palestinians. Despite macho and religious rhetoric about Hamas's strength, Gaza Palestinians are more eager for a return of the PA; West Bank citizens, living under more moderate PA rule, realize that extremism is disastrous.

--Regional perception of Hamas's defeat, lowering support for the Iran-Syria alliance and encouraging more moderate Arab forces to resist radical Islamism and Tehran's power.

Despite this being the best realistic program, Israel also knows significant factors that might mean it won't work entirely:

--Hamas will break any agreement and not change.

--The international community is weak and contains tendencies toward appeasing extremists to avoid trouble.

--Egypt even when well-intended is not so efficient at controlling the border

Thus, even this best-case scenario has problems. First, Hamas will return to building up its forces for future confrontations, teaching a whole generation that it should prepare to sacrifice itself to achieve a "final solution" of the Israel problem. In short, any outcome that leaves Hamas in place is at best a lull until the next round.

Second, it is quite possible that within days or weeks of any agreement, Hamas-partly to prove to itself and others how it remains unbowed-will return to firing rockets and mortar rounds into Israel as well as trying to carry out terrorist attacks across the border. In that case, Israel will have to respond much more seriously than it has in the past to such behavior. A world which guarantees the ceasefire better be prepared to remember Israel's legitimate interests in enforcing it.

Finally, as long as Hamas survives as rulers of the Gaza Strip, it will be impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PA will be too intimidated to make compromises and cannot even deliver its own people. There can be no Palestinian state with half the territory being controlled by an organization which will never accept an agreement and will do everything possible to wreck it.

"Saving" Hamas and making the main or sole priority pushing for a ceasefire at any price is a very short-sighted policy for the international community which will be paid for in future. If the Gaza war is going to be ended, it should be in the framework of solving the problems that let Hamas create the war in the first place.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hitler returns to front page as Nazi era papers hit the streets

The headlines leaping out from German newsstands yesterday were shocking, if a little dated. "Hitler Chancellor of the Reich!" was the lead story on the front of Der Angriff and if readers were in any doubt about the significance of the news they could study the rather histrionic commentary by Dr Joseph Goebbels. Masterminded by a British publisher, facsimiles of original Nazi-era newspapers are being reproduced and are going on sale across the country. The weekly publication costs 3.90 euros. The start-up print run is 300,000 and kiosks in Berlin are reporting brisk sales.

"Ah, you want the Nazi papers," said the owner of a newsstand on the upmarket Kurfrstendamm, reaching up to the top shelf where she stacks men's "special interest" magazines and cigarettes. "Tell me if they have any useful tips."

A surge of interest in national socialist pamphlets has been reported recently. The daily talk about a return of the Great Depression has stoked up interest in the 1930s and there is fresh curiosity about why the older generation swallowed Nazi propaganda. "From today you will have a unique opportunity to read what information was available to your grandparents and your parents," said the historian and editor of the venture, Sandra Paweronschitz. The publisher, Peter McGee, who launched a similar project successfully in Austria describes the publication, Zeitungszeugen (newspaper witnesses), as a platform for discussion in Germany. "It should be read by people who would never read a contemporary history textbook but still value quality analysis of the information," he said.

Mr McGee's London-based publishing company, Albertas, is being advised by leading German historical scholars on the Third Reich, including Professor Wolfgang Benz, head of Berlin's Centre for Research into AntiSemitism. They are part of a ten-member board, whose make-up is intended to banish any suspicion that reprinting Nazi papers was some kind of far-right stunt.

The appeal of the facsimiles in the first instance is to Germans fascinated by the breach of a taboo that has been intact for more than 60 years. In Germany books are removed from the shelves if they bear a swastika, and the Hitler salute is forbidden. Mr McGee has been given special dispensation to reproduce the Nazi propaganda with all its insignia for its historical value.

The current issue is centred on January 30, 1933, when Hitler came to power. Three newspaper are reproduced - Der Angriff (The Attack), a Nazi paper founded by Goebbels, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a national conservative paper and Der Kaempfer (The Fighter), the main organ of the German Communist Party - giving a spread of opinion. The three papers come with a wrap-around supplement full of commentary and analysis from the advisory board.

The publishers have tried to fend off potential criticism that they are peddling Nazi propaganda for a new generation. However, the problem will become more pronounced in subsequent issues. The plan is to reproduce completely 150 newspapers up to 1945. In the later publications there will be little internal balance. The Nazis closed down opposition papers and censored heavily. Newspapers such as Der Stuermer (The Attacker) dripped antiSemitic vitriol.

"I am not sure what effect this project will have," said Ralph Giordano, a novelist and Holocaust survivor. "What I can say is that Hitler, and everything that his name symbolises, may have been militarily defeated but not intellectually." A leading member of the Berlin Jewish community was also sceptical about the mass selling of Nazi newspapers. "We're all a tad nervous," he said, requesting anonymity. "The Gaza action is propelling thousands on to the streets chanting antiIsraeli slogans - it's not a great moment to give publicity to Joseph Goebbels."


Hooray! Arrogant bitch loses

Sharon Shoesmith, the former children's services chief who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy, has lost an appeal against her sacking from Haringey Council.

Ms Shoesmith, 55, was dismissed without compensation from her senior position at Haringey Council in north London last month after a damning report into her department's failings. She launched an attempt to overturn the decision to sack her but a panel of councillors rejected her appeal.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls sent inspectors into Haringey Council after the trial of those responsible for 17-month-old Baby P's death. The inspectors identified a string of "serious concerns" about the local authority's child protection services, which they described as "inadequate".

Mr Balls removed Ms Shoesmith from her post on December 1 but she remained suspended on full pay until Haringey councillors decided to dismiss her a week later. Ms Shoesmith's appeal hearing before a panel of three Haringey councillors began on Wednesday last week and lasted three days. A Haringey Council spokesman said: "A panel of councillors has rejected an appeal by Sharon Shoesmith against her dismissal on December 8 2008. "The decision was taken today by a different panel of councillors from the ones who made the original decision. "Ms Shoesmith will not be returning to work in Haringey. She will not receive any compensation package. She will not receive any payment in lieu of notice."

Employment law experts say Ms Shoesmith could be in line for a payout of up to œ173,000 if she can prove that the council was wrong to sack her. She may now make claims against Haringey for breach of contract and unfair dismissal.

Baby P, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died in a blood-splattered cot in August 2007. He had suffered more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger despite being on the child protection register and receiving 60 contacts with the authorities over eight months. The trio will be sentenced at the Old Bailey in the spring.


Italy: Minister blasts Muslim protesters' prayers

Italy's defence minister warned the country's Muslims to stop further "provocations" after thousands held prayers in public squares in Milan during pro-Palestinian demonstrations over the past week. Ignazio La Russa, from the right-wing National Alliance, said he did not oppose protests or want to deny anyone the right to pray, but called the public prayers a challenge to peace. "I say enough of the provocations of Islamists in Milan," he told Il Giornale newspaper on Sunday. "In Milan, a legitimate demonstration ended in a deliberately provocative mosque under the open sky."

Thousands of Muslims knelt with their heads bowed to the ground in prayer before Milan's central train station in one of several pro-Palestinian protests on Saturday. A week ago, Muslims held prayers in front of Milan's central cathedral, angering right-wing politicians in the overwhelming Catholic country who called it an affront to Christianity.

Muslim leaders later apologised, saying no offence was intended. There are about 1 million Muslims in Italy, making up almost two percent of the population.

"What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray with a rosary before Mecca? They probably would have been stoned," said La Russa, who described himself as a practicising Catholic who attends Mass almost every Sunday.

Milan's deputy mayor issued a similar warning to Muslims, saying four protests in seven days was too much. "Enough with pro-Hamas marches now," said Riccardo De Corato. "Milan is not a province of Gaza and has no intention of reluctantly instituting this type of 'Gaza Saturdays.'"

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, which includes the hardline anti-immigrant Northern League, has clashed with Italy's Muslim community in the past. It irked Muslims last year with plans to block the construction of new mosques in Italy.

Protests against the Israeli offensive continued in Italy on Sunday, with 3,000 people marching through the centre of Naples. Another 1,000 held hands to form a human chain and march through Rome's historic centre to demand an end to violence in Gaza.


Facing reality

by David Gelernter

Several smart observers have described the root cause of the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas in the exact same phrase: "irreconcilable differences." America and Europe are warned not to press for pointless negotiations, because the parties are irreconcilable. Israel and the Palestinians both want the same piece of land and can't both have it; Islam and Western democracy or Islam and Zionism can only be antagonists.

Warning the world against pressuring Israel is timely and important, as governments everywhere respond to Israeli self-defense by celebrating the usual worldwide Hypocrisy-Fest (complete with street demonstrations, U.N. resolutions, and the customary savage gaiety), and as Israel's battle against Hamas is denounced as immoral or "disproportionate." A proportionate response would presumably consist of Israel's launching randomly targeted missiles back into Gaza. (Hamas's rocket technique was pioneered in 1944, by the way, in Nazi Germany's V-1 "buzz bomb" attacks against Britain.)

But even though the warning (beware of forcing negotiations) is right, the premise is not. Of course Israel has no choice but to fight Hamas in Gaza. Of course the idea that all problems can be settled by diplomacy is idiotic. Yet we ought to remind ourselves that the supposed "irreconcilable differences" between Israel and the Palestinians are trumped up and phony. The facts are well known to those who care about facts, but bear repeating.

The dispute has many causes, but one root cause. If I own an old junker Buick that's worthless to me, and a stranger offers me $10,000 for it, naturally I'll take the money. But at the same time I might grow suspicious (or at least thoughtful): Maybe the thing is valuable after all. Maybe I could have got more for it.

And suppose the new owner proceeds to enthuse rapturously over the old car, and repairs and rebuilds it and makes it shine, makes it better than new, and starts exhibiting it at car fairs and winning big prizes. Under those circumstances, I'm even more likely to feel aggrieved, cheated, angry, and (especially) stupid--if I'm the kind of person who dwells on old hurts and imagined grievances. And my friends can make matters worse by egging me on. (Everyone loves a fight, especially if he can watch from the sidelines.)

Now, every human being on earth who cares about facts and can tell a lie from a truth knows that there was no such thing as "Palestinian nationalism" until modern Zionism created it out of whole cloth, by placing enormous value on a piece of land that used to seem as precious to its landlords as a rat-ridden empty lot in a burnt-out neighborhood in the middle of nowhere, in the suburbs of nothing. The Jews gradually got possession of an arid stony wasteland (where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief / And the dry stone no sound of water)--complete with the odd picturesque, crumbling, dirty town; and they loved it. They turned it into a gleaming, thriving modern nation, not only a military but an intellectual powerhouse. And so it is only natural that the former owners' descendants want it back, and remember how much their ancestors loved it, and how the new owners only got possession by wickedness and deceit. Such memories have the strange property of growing clearer instead of cloudier every day.

Only one thing can restore the former owners' peace of mind. They must be kicked firmly in the pants and told "stop whining and get lost" so many times that they finally move on to another grievance.

Any competent psychologist will agree: When someone is mooning over a thing he can't have because it belongs to someone else, the responsible and humane course of treatment is not temporizing sweet-talk but a blunt lesson in the facts of life. "No, you cannot have my wife (girlfriend, husband, etc.), and we are not going to negotiate over it; let's talk about something else." (And it really doesn't matter that the two of you used to keep company; you never loved her.) "Know Thyself" was supposedly carved on the ancient Temple at Delphi; "Face Reality" should have been carved right next to it. There is no irreconcilable difference in the fight between Israel and the Palestinians, no bone-deep dispute that will haunt humanity forever. There is only greed and envy. They never disappear, but can easily move from one target to the next. The problem will be solved as soon as the world stops trying to solve it. When the international community moves on to fresh causes, so will the Palestinians.

Islam too is held up as a basis of "irreconcilable differences" between Israel and the Palestinians. But we ought to remind ourselves that Israel fought the Six Day War in 1967 (and took possession of the West Bank and old Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Gaza--as well as Sinai, since returned to Egypt) with the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, supported by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Except for the Saudis, every one of these Arab governments was a secularist or modernizing autocracy. On the Arab side the most important man by far was Nasser, f_hrer of Egypt, who as a young man had been a "Green Shirt" (modeled on Mussolini's Black Shirts and Hitler's Brown Shirts) and stood for "nonaligned," left-leaning, bellicose secularist nationalism.

Fatah and the PLO were also secular organizations to start, and in some respects still are. (Fatah was founded in 1954, the PLO in '64; they merged in '67.) In the late '60s and 1970s, the PLO made common cause with far-left terror groups such as the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and other wacko-Marxist murderers. At one point, Baader-Meinhof gangsters traveled to PLO camps for elementary terror training.

The English actress Vanessa Redgrave represents the sort of bloody-minded Westerner who supported Palestinian terrorism in the 1970s. In 1977, Redgrave made an infamous propaganda film on behalf of Palestinian terrorists. But she was hardly endorsing Islam or any other religion. She was a Marxist (and, as far as one can tell, still is). The Palestinian terrorists were members in good standing of a worldwide fraternity that included the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Communists, Castroite Cubans, the Sandinistas, and dozens of other far-left groups that mostly hated religion to the extent they bothered with it at all.

Obviously most Arabs are devout Muslims, and Islam has a long history of jihad. An event of the late 1800s suggests modern Iran: An Islamic leader in the Sudan who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, God-given ruler of the whole Islamic world and (in effect) the messiah, announced a jihad against the British colonial authorities. His army drove the British and their Egyptian allies out of the Sudan. In the process his troops slaughtered or enslaved thousands of British, Egyptians, and Sudanese and presented the Mahdi (as a sentimental remembrance of victory) with the severed head of the British commanding general on a pike. The Mahdist army then launched invasions of neighboring territories, but was finally destroyed by the British at Omdurman in 1898.

No one doubts that the Muslim religion can inspire gigantic ferocity--yet Islam, like horseradish, is available in anything from super-hot to extra-mild. Only with the rise of Khomeini's Iran in 1979, the Saudis' increasingly lavish support for the spread of Wahhabism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 did modern Islam become the dominant hate engine of the Middle East, powering anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, anti-Western bloodlust. The Arabs are an intensely religious-minded people, like the Jews, but the same religious devotion that is focused today on blood-and-guts Islam could also be focused on a kinder, gentler variety, such as the one preached in the 19th century by the Emir Abd el-Kader. (On Abd el-Kader, see the book by John W. Kiser, reviewed in last week's issue.) Religious devoutness persists from generation to generation, but can take many different systems and causes as its target--as Jews are well aware.

The Bush administration, which has done so many small and medium things wrong and the biggest of all things right, could leave the world a parting gift by introducing some appropriate resolution in the Security Counsel or General Assembly. A proclamation that "anti-Zionism is a form of racism" might be just the thing. (The infamous "Zionism is racism" resolution, passed in 1975 and rescinded in 1991, remains a perfect symbol of depraved worldwide attitudes to Israel.) Or a U.S. resolution might call on the U.N. to take the unprecedented step of enforcing its own charter and booting out members that preach the destruction of Israel. (Article 2 part 4: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.") To start the ball rolling, Iran might be designated for immediate expulsion. The resolution would be savaged and hooted down. But here and there it might make people think.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Britain: The politics of envy and a new Labour czar gunning for the middle class

There is much excitement over the fact that former Cabinet minister Alan Milburn is being brought in from the cold by Gordon Brown to head a review of social mobility. The return of this arch-moderniser and erstwhile political foe is being seen as yet another tactic to shore up the Prime Minister's position in readiness for an early General Election. Milburn's ultra-Blairite reputation supposedly punctures the charge that Gordon Brown is bent on re-imposing the Old Labour agenda of redistribution and state control.

But here's the strange thing. It appears that Milburn is being brought back to mastermind the latest offensive in the class war - to the opposition against which, as one of the principal outriders in Tony Blair's campaign to drag Labour into the centre ground, he devoted his political career. The Prime Minister apparently wants to stop the middle classes from dominating professions such as law, medicine and the media. Accordingly, Milburn will head a review of the supposed obstacles in the way of the poor - including the work experience or internships used by middle-class parents to give their children a head start.

In addition, the Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne will this week launch a white paper on social mobility. It is certainly dismaying that so many young people are trapped in social disadvantage. Children from the highest socio-economic group are nearly three times more likely than those from the lowest to get good GCSEs, and six times more likely to go to university. What's more, even fewer young people from the poorest backgrounds now go to good universities than when Labour came to power. But that's because, as Tory spokesman Chris Grayling rightly observed, education standards have plummeted, family life has disintegrated and the welfare state traps ever more people in dependency. The way to boost social mobility is therefore to stop the rot in education, shore up intact families and reform welfare.

But the Government will not do that. How could it? To do so would be to stifle its deepest instincts to bring about an egalitarian utopia through social engineering and state control of individual lives. In education, it has systematically rigged the system to boost artificially the achievements of under-qualified young people, thus penalising those showing real merit. Now Messrs Milburn and Byrne appear set to continue this unjust discrimination. Although Downing Street has denied that quotas could be used to reduce internships for middle-class children, it has also made it clear that children who go to private or grammar schools - or who have professional parents - are its main targets. So it appears that once again the agenda is bashing the middle class, and rewarding young people not for what they have achieved but on account of their family background.

In a grotesque mirror-image of everything Labour is supposed to be against, it will once more favour people on the basis of where they come from - but only if they come from the wrong side of the tracks. This makes a total mockery of its supposed aim to improve access to the middle class for those from poor backgrounds. For once such folk have hauled themselves into that middle class, they will promptly get clobbered by Labour for being 'privileged'.

Moreover, given the number of Labour MPs who secure either job placements or internships for their own children, the hypocrisy is pretty staggering.

Milburn has long expressed concern about sluggish social mobility. And he has acknowledged that the correct approach lies not in taking things away from people, but in ensuring that opportunities are opened up for all. But the evidence suggests that, just as Tony Blair himself did, Milburn deludes himself about New Labour's purported success in doing so. In a debate on the subject last year, he used some fancy footwork with official statistics to claim that social mobility had increased because incomes for the less well-off had risen. But, in fact, incomes among the very poorest have actually risen more slowly than among those at the top.

He also claimed that a 'very good' education was available to a small minority of people only because they could afford to pay for it. But the truth is that a 'very good' education is not available to all, simply because government education policy has destroyed education standards - and by axing so many grammar [selective] schools, reduced the opportunities for academic excellence that once lifted so many children out of disadvantage.

Ministers boast that record numbers of young people now go to university. But this has caused a catastrophic drop in standards as universities - under threat of losing grant aid - are forced to admit students who don't cut the mustard. Not surprisingly, record numbers of students are now dropping out - particularly among precisely the kind of people the Government is determined to shoe-horn into universities and professional jobs at the expense of the better-qualified. Figures dragged out of the Government show that students from poor families who get preferential places at universities by being offered lower A-level requirements are three times more likely to drop out of their courses than those who win places by simple merit.

Byrne insists it is a 'classic liberal error' to assume that the middle classes have to suffer in order to give others a fair chance. But that's precisely what this Government has been doing for the past decade. Yet far from opening up real opportunity for those from poor backgrounds, this approach has tricked them by giving them only the illusion of achievement. It has thus achieved the truly brilliant outcome of treating the middle class with undiluted spite and the poor with profound contempt.

There is, of course, a direct link between declining education standards and people playing the system through internships and other manoeuvres. Undoubtedly, internships are potentially unfair because the lucky few who get them have a head start over those who don't. But the reason they have mushroomed over the past few years is that, with crashing academic standards producing - absurdly - vast numbers of top grades, employers often rely on internships to show the true worth of a candidate.

Now it is reported that 400,000 students due to graduate from universities this summer will be offered government-sponsored internships to help them cope with a recession-hit job market. But it is far from clear that the Government will help fund companies to do this; nor that such interns will be paid anything at all; nor that after their three-month internship is up they will actually get a job. After all, many companies are either axing their graduate schemes or not giving jobs to those already on them. In other words, this just looks like a prime piece of political window dressing.

Social mobility is rightly considered to be the lynch-pin of progressive politics. But it is inextricably connected to the creation of a meritocracy. What this government is committed to, in direct contrast, is the destruction of meritocracy and its replacement by social gerrymandering. The fact that an ultra-Blairite politician should be drafted in to pursue such an Old Labour agenda should not surprise us, since the pursuit of egalitarianism was always Labour's real 'Clause Four'. Everything else was smoke and mirrors - the real reason the New Labour project went belly-up. Alan Milburn's return is thus not a radical departure at all; it's just more of the same old same old.


If any government is serious about unemployment, it must sweep away the laws that make it difficult to hire and fire

Comment from Britain

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work we go. With luck. Even those who took a long Christmas will be heading back today, and if there is one safe prediction it is that the usual unseemly scramble over holiday rotas will be a bit muted this year. In 2009, if you've got a job you don't rock the boat. In retail, building, banking, manufacturing, marketing, media - even bits of the bloated public sector - jobs are twisting to the ground like dead leaves in the financial gale. As the Prime Minister convenes his "jobs summit" today, there will be a change of tone from the accustomed fret about the long-term workless and the unwilling. The new and tormenting problem is what to do for the willing: the newly redundant and the newly adult.

For new graduates, the buzz word is "intern". There is to be a national scheme - finances, scale and rules still murky - to give them short paid internships in white-collar business. The Higher Education Minister, David Lammy, speaks of "preparing for the upturn" with useful experience. Alan Milburn, meanwhile, has been ordered to improve social mobility. He writes that recession is an opportunity to do this, although, frankly, it is hard to see why 11 years of boom were not.

Internships arise again: his mission is to end the "middle-class monopoly". It seems that government has finally grasped what some of us out here have been saying for years - that unpaid internships are a racket. All the experience and networking (especially in arts, media and the City) go to kids whose parents can house and support them while they act as unpaid drudges. Meanwhile equally bright young people have to flip burgers for the rent money. And companies exploit it: in France, where the racket is even more common, in some companies 20 per cent of the workforce are permanently interns. One New York magazine boasts 50 per cent. If the new scheme makes it all fairer, good.

But in the end people need real work. To leave university and spend three impoverished months being half-trusted at a corporate keyboard is clearly better than hanging around on benefits. But what all workers deserve, as much as money and experience, is honour. Whether you are a cleaner or a QC, you want to know that you earned your money and would be missed. Even the most solipsistic "creative" needs validation - bums on seats, commissions, viewers, buyers.

And, by happy coincidence, this is also what the economy needs: not millions on benefits and millions more in perpetual training that leads nowhere, nor artificial jobs (such as the new "food leftovers advisers" now allegedly turning up on doorsteps after a one-day course). And - here's the tough bit - in the end it is better to have a job that does not fulfil you creatively than no job at all. This may be a difficult pill to swallow: a recent television series took teenagers to work in Indian sweatshops. One English girl, promoted to the coveted job of machinist, threw a tantrum because "it's just sewing bits of cloth, it's not crea'ive".

Schools must bear some responsibility for letting children think that they have a right to earn their living being creative. The truth is that they have both a right to earn a living and a right to be creative, but not necessarily at the same time.

I met a lot of Cowley assembly-workers in the 1970s: men who made museum-quality models, played in bands, won dancing cups or bred winning pigeons after each tedious day bolting the same bit of trim on endless Minis. And even in medialand, trust me, there are unspeakably mundane tasks to be done before the tiger of creativity runs free.

So - real jobs for the "upturn". What might help? At the moment the Government's obsession is training - internships, grants to mothers, penning teenagers in classrooms until they're 18. Some of that training is pointless, leaving us with such a shortage of practical skills that we need Polish craftsmen and poach Third World nurses.

The thing which ministers seem never to consider is removing some of the impediments to hiring that they gaily put in place during the palmy years. Note that in the US in normal times the average gap between redundancy and a new job was four weeks. Here it was six months. This is because in America you can fire people you can't afford. Thus when an upturn begins, US employers hire early. Here, employment protection law makes an exhausting and time-consuming process of "managing people out": written warnings, meetings, monitoring, watching your language lest lawyers pounce. It takes three months, during which time you are still paying wages as business crumbles. Even genuine redundancy involves lengthy rituals and compulsory verbal hypocrisies about "alternative roles in the organisation" even as bailiffs prepare to board up the windows.

Workers need reasonable protection from caprice and exploitation: you can't bin all the rules. But in seeking to encourage employers, ministers should reflect that helping lame dogs over stiles is more difficult if you have previously laced the stile with barbed wire. The same applies to health and safety law: if, say, a rural bicycle business wants to take on a school leaver but can't guarantee that the shed will be maintained at the prescribed minimum temperature and a dedicated employee toilet provided (rather than the one in the farmhouse), it is not legally enough to give the lad a fleece and a back-door key.

On top of that you might worry about being hammered for sexual or racial discrimination, or indeed kneecapped by the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. This was designed to protect gay workers from persecution, but, as usual, is so loosely drafted that from day one an employee has a case even if he or she just subjectively "perceives" that the boss is feeling homophobic. This applies even if the employee is not gay, and if the boss has never given it a thought but just happened to be a bit testy that week. Although few cases actually arise, the law makes such fears real: so the bike business remains a one-man band, unwilling to expand as trade looks up. Only the big battalions will score a delightfully disposable national intern.

Government can't make everyone prosperous and good. But it can help a bit. And it could certainly smooth away some of the obstacles to hiring which, in happier times, it invented to demonstrate its idealism. At today's jobs summit, I fear this will be the unacknowledged elephant in the room.


Gaza is not Warsaw

The comparison of Israel to the Nazis sums up the childish and dangerous `binary thinking' that is rife in international affairs today.

Denouncing Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories as brutal `Zio-Nazism', as a genocidal project and a process of inhumane ghettoisation akin to the experience of the Jews in 1940s Europe, is not new. But over the past week, such shrill and inaccurate historical equating has sunk to a newly degenerate level. From the London protesters who called for an end to `the final solution' in Palestine, to the former London mayor Ken Livingstone who said that the Israelis `will continue to create a Warsaw Ghetto in the Middle East', anti-Israel campaigners are lazily using images of Nazi atrocities as readymade symbols of human oppression. They are doing it in order to denounce the violence in Gaza, which, however desperate, bears no resemblance in either form or scale to the Holocaust, the greatest crime of the twentieth century. As David Aaronovitch argued in The Times (London), the comparisons with the Warsaw Ghetto are `philistine' (1).

Looking at the Middle East conflict from the outside, it might be tempting to fall back on shoving Jews, Nazis, Israelis and Palestinians into one simple narrative instead of going through the trouble of understanding what went on back then or what is going on right now. Some anti-Israel campaigners also find a perverse satisfaction in throwing the Jews' recent tragic history back in their faces, with slogans like `Zionism = Nazism', `Israel: The Fourth Reich', and `from oppressed to oppressors'. These, by now tired, clich‚s can easily fit on to placards and plant a powerfully simplistic image in people's minds of Jews `doing onto others what was done to them'.

As Aaronovitch rightly says: `This ahistorical hyperbole is. the product of a kind of binary thinking, the belief that there can only be two kinds of anything, and two possible responses: there's the good and the bad; there's the victim and the murderer.' (2)

However, it is not only the conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians that is understood through `binary thinking' these days, and reduced to `good and bad, victim and murderer'. Disparate contemporary conflicts, each with complex roots and circumstances, are routinely transformed into black-and-white morality tales and likened to the Holocaust - think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur. And anyone who questions this representation, and argues that however awful these conflicts are they cannot be compared with the Holocaust, will likely be labelled a `denier'. That accusation also comes straight out of debates around Nazi crimes, evoking the phrase `Holocaust denier'. The reduction of Israel/Palestine to a simple, binary morality tale looks like the logical conclusion to the recent moralisation of international affairs.

Undoubtedly, Gazans are suffering terribly. Civilians are being maimed and killed, property is being destroyed, and any hopes of leading a normal life in Gaza have been crushed for the foreseeable future. Yet even a brief examination of what went on in the Warsaw Ghetto shows just how ignorant and opportunistic the Holocaust comparisons are.

Between 1941 and 1943 the population of the Warsaw Ghetto dropped from an estimated 380,000 to 70,000 as a result of starvation, disease and deportations to concentration and extermination camps (3). The rate of starvation in the ghetto was over 4,000 a month. In 1942, mass expulsion of the ghetto inhabitants began at a rate of over 5,000 Jews a day. Only some 55,000 remained in the ghetto. Some decided to resist, but the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was crushed after four weeks. According to German figures - which may have understated the resistance fighters' resources yet still revealed their poor odds of winning any victory - the Nazis captured nine rifles, 59 pistols, and several hundred grenades, explosives and mines. Seven thousand of the captured Jews were shot, 22,000 were transported to death camps (4). "

Israel is not dotted with labour camps and gas chambers, there is no plan to exterminate the Palestinians. Israel's leadership has repeatedly said that their enemy is Hamas, not the Palestinian people, who are given advance warning of bombings through leaflets and mobile phone messages. It has been reported that Israel is offering some injured Gazans hospital treatment, which is certainly not something the Nazis ever did for Jews. None of that remotely justifies Israel's bombing campaign, but it shows clearly that the Israelis cannot be compared to the Nazis who ghettoised Jews in Warsaw.

Some Jews, too, have compared Israelis with Nazis, and the Israel Defense Forces with the SS. The right-wing Jewish settlers who were deported from Gaza under then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's `disengagement plan' wore orange Star of David patches similar to the yellow ones that the Nazis forced Jews to wear. They accused the IDF soldiers overseeing the evacuation of acting like Nazis.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Tony Greenstein, who describes himself as `socialist, anti-Zionist, anti-racist', said to anti-Israel demonstrators in Brighton, England, last weekend: `The Gazan Palestinians are no different in kind from the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto and it is no surprise that the Zionists, who collaborated with the Nazis during the war, should now seek to ape the persecutors of the Jews.' (5) Greenstein spoke `as a Jewish opponent of Zionism and their terror bombing of Gaza' (6). The irony is that he has no qualms about rehashing a worn-out conspiracy theory, while defiling the memory of the Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis and denigrating Palestinians by turning them into objects of a vicarious Western pity.

The Holocaust has become cheap currency in contemporary debates about international affairs. Even some of the commentators who now denounce any comparison between the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Holocaust have not hesitated to apply the analogy in other ways. David Aaronovitch and many others applied `binary thinking' to Bosnia, arguing: `In front of our eyes, just about, with our full knowledge, thousands were taken to European fields - just as they had been 50 years earlier - and murdered en masse. It was the most shaming moment of my life. We had let it happen again.' (7)

Meanwhile, the pro-Israel columnist Melanie Philips, while criticising the idea that Palestinians are being subjected to a planned extermination, has no qualms about calling Hamas' rocket-firing a `truly genocidal assault upon [Israel's] citizens' (8). Jewish organisations have also interpreted the term `genocide' generously, often insisting that they have a special responsibility to ensure the Holocaust `never happens again'. The British Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, for instance, `commemorates the tragic loss of life in the genocides of World War II, in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur' (9).

We should resist the urge to indulge in `binary thinking' - in relation to Israel and Palestine and all other contemporary conflicts. Those affected by them deserve not to be reduced to black-and-white pawns in Western campaigners' sloganeering. Anyone who wants to uphold the memory of the Holocaust and understand today's conflicts in their specifics - all the better to try to come up with some possible solutions - should stay well clear of the cynical use and abuse of Nazi atrocities.


Running at Recess

Called to a Florida school that could not cope, police led the disorderly student away in handcuffs, all 40 pounds of her 5-year-old self. In a Solomonic compromise, schools in Broward County, Fla., banned running at recess. Long Beach, N.J., removed signs warning swimmers about riptides, although the oblivious tides continued. The warning label on a five-inch fishing lure with a three-pronged hook says, "Harmful if swallowed"; the label on a letter opener says, "Safety goggle recommended."

No official at the Florida school would put a restraining arm around the misbehaving child lest he or she be sued, as a young member of Teach for America was, for $20 million (the school settled for $90,000), because the teacher put a hand on the back of a turbulent seventh-grader to direct him to leave the classroom. Another teacher's career was ruined by accusations arising from her having positioned a child's fingers on a flute. A 2004 survey reported that 78 percent of middle and high school teachers have been subjected to legal threats from students bristling with rights. Students, sensing the anxiety that seizes schools when law intrudes into incidental relations, challenge teachers' authority.

Someone hurt while running at recess might sue the school district for inadequate supervision of the runner, as Broward Country knows: It settled 189 playground lawsuits in five years. In Indiana, a boy did what boys do: He went down a slide head first -- and broke his femur. The school district was sued for inadequate supervision. Because of fears of such liabilities, all over America playgrounds have been stripped of the equipment that made them fun. So now in front of televisions and computer terminals sit millions of obese children, casualties of what attorney and author Philip Howard calls "a bubble wrap approach to child rearing" produced by the "cult of safety." Long Beach removed the warning signs because it is safer to say nothing: Reckless swimmers injured by the tides might sue, claiming that the signs were not sufficiently large or shrill or numerous, or something. Only a public outcry got the signs restored.

Defensive, and ludicrous, warning labels multiply because aggressiveness proliferates. Lawsuits express the theory that anyone should be able to sue to assert that someone is culpable for even an idiotic action by the plaintiff, such as swallowing a fishing lure. A predictable byproduct of this theory is brazen cynicism, encouraged by what Howard calls trial lawyers "congregating at the intersection of human tragedy and human greed." So:

A volunteer for a Catholic charity in Milwaukee ran a red light and seriously injured another person. Because the volunteer did not have deep pockets, the injured person sued the archdiocese -- successfully, for $17 million.

The thread connecting such lunacies is a fear permeating American life. It is, alas, a sensible fear arising from America's increasingly perverse legal culture that is the subject of what surely will be 2009's most needed book on public affairs -- Howard's "Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law."

A nation in which the proportion of lawyers in the work force almost doubled between 1970 and 2000 has become ludicrously dense with laws. Now legal self-consciousness is stifling the exercise of judgment. Today's entitlement culture inculcates the idea that everyone is entitled to a life without danger, disappointment or aggravation. Any disagreement or annoyance can be aggressively "framed in the language of legal deprivation."

Law is essential to, but can stifle, freedom. Today, Howard writes, "Americans increasingly go through the day looking over their shoulders instead of where they want to go." The land of the free and the home of the brave has become "a legal minefield" through which we timidly tiptoe lest we trigger a legal claim. What should be routine daily choices and interactions are fraught with legal risk.

Time was, rights were defensive. They were to prevent government from doing things to you. Today, rights increasingly are offensive weapons wielded to inflict demands on other people, using state power for private aggrandizement. The multiplication of rights, each lacking limiting principles, multiplies nonnegotiable conflicts conducted with the inherent extremism of rights rhetoric, on the assumption, Howard says, "that society will somehow achieve equilibrium if it placates whomever is complaining." But in such a society, dazed by what Howard calls "rule stupor" and victimized by litigious "victims," the incentives are for intensified complaining. Read Howard's book, and weep for the death of common sense.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, January 12, 2009

NYT muddle on black crime

The New York Times has been furiously penning policy briefs to the Obama administration. A recent editorial on black crime compresses within a few hundred words decades of failed thinking on public safety. If the president-elect follows its hoary prescriptions, he will be guaranteed to waste taxpayer money without having the slightest effect on crime.

A new study of homicide among young black males prompted this latest editorial. James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt of Northeastern University found that the number of homicides committed by black males under the age of 18 rose 43 percent between 2002 and 2007, while the number of gun homicides by this same group rose 47 percent. Homicides by white youth during that period decreased slightly. But more significant were the different homicide rates that the report calculated, which no news story dared to divulge. Whereas the report's graph for white homicides over the last 30 years plots the rate in increments of 10, the black rate is demarcated at intervals of 100. The highest homicide rate for whites over the last three decades was 32 homicides committed per 100,000 males between the ages of 18 and 24 (reached in 1991), whereas the highest homicide rate for blacks was approximately 320 homicides per 100,000 males between the ages of 18 and 24 (reached in 1993).

Even this apparent ten-to-one disparity between black and white homicide rates doesn't tell the full story. Fox and Swatt include Hispanic homicides in the white rate, though they do not disclose that they are doing so (both the inclusion and the silence about it follow FBI practice). Hispanic crime rates are between three and four times that of whites-meaning that if one excluded the Hispanic homicides from the white rate, the black-white differential would be even larger than ten to one.

The Times responds to the report with the key strategies of liberal apologetics. Strategy Number One: strip moral agency from favored victim groups. Bad things happen to favored victim groups because of forces outside their control; good things also happen to favored victim groups because of outside forces-above all, wise government programs. Any expectation that members of a favored victim group can take responsibility for their lives must be expunged. Strategy Number Two: Never let the following controversial and dangerous word enter a discussion of the underclass-"marriage."

The editorial initially conceals the Northeastern study's findings. The report, it writes, suggests that "violent crime among young people may be rising"; then, as if in a stray afterthought, the editorial adds that the "study also shows that the murder rate for black teenagers has climbed noticeably since 2000 while the rate for young whites has scarcely changed on the whole and, in some places, has actually declined." That finding-the rising juvenile black homicide rate-is the study's actual import, of course. But the Times would rather contradict itself than lead with the politically incorrect truth.

Such evasions are trivial, however, compared with the misleading information that the Times pumps out about the causes of, and effective responses to, crime. "If the country has learned anything about street gangs, it is that police dragnets-hauling large numbers of nonviolent young people off to jail, along with the troublemakers-tend to make the problem worse, not better," the editorial observes. But "dragnets" to haul "large numbers of nonviolent young people off to jail" aren't official policy anywhere. The warning is a red herring, introduced merely to create a contrast between mean-spirited and shortsighted police action and the wonderful social-services programs that the Times is about to recommend.

Having conveyed the impression of widespread heavy-handed police tactics, the Times then issues its preferred anticrime policies: "Public policy should discourage young people from joining gangs in the first place by keeping them in school, getting them jobs and giving them community-based counseling and social service programs." Note the transferred moral agency. "Policy" should "keep" young people in school. How, exactly, is "policy" to do that? Young people keep themselves in school by not dropping out or by not engaging in the behaviors that, in rare cases, get them expelled. The only way that "policy" might have a greater effect on whether the students stay in school would be to declare that nothing is grounds for expulsion. But even such a prospective amnesty for violence wouldn't "keep" students in school who decide to drop out.

The Times's next antigang prescription-"getting them jobs"-is in theory more within the capacity of "policy." Government can "get" intending or actual gangbangers jobs, but they don't necessarily take or keep them. Few teenagers from any background possess the self-discipline and reliability that employers seek; teens growing up in chaotic home environments are even less likely to have developed a work ethic (which isn't to say that many inner-city teens aren't courteous and enthusiastic workers). It would be a great thing, of course, if a booming economy offered a job to every teenager who sought one. But the biggest barrier to the employment of crime-prone inner-city youth isn't lack of real or even make-work jobs; rather, it's their own willingness to show up every day on time and accept authority.

As for the editorial's final prescription: there is not a single violence-plagued city that has not been administering "community-based counseling and social service programs" for decades, to virtually no effect. Failed foundation- and government-subsidized youth programs litter the philanthropic landscape; no "social service program" has emerged from that decades-long experimentation as the antidote to social breakdown.

The Times's explanation for crime is as fanciful as its proposed solutions. It sees gang violence as driven in significant measure by the economy: "The economic crisis has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs-among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities." The claim that crime results from a bad economy has limited empirical backing in general, but it is particularly ludicrous applied to juvenile violence. It is not the collapse of consumer lending that induces a 16-year-old to shoot a rival who "disses" his girlfriend; it is a failure of self-control and a distorted understanding of self-worth. The pathologies of gang culture have persisted throughout economic booms and recessions. The black youth homicide rate rose 79 percent in San Francisco, 87 percent in Phoenix, and 139 percent in Houston from 2000 and 2001 to 2006 and 2007, while those cities were experiencing the economic surge of the early 2000s. The gangbangers in inner cities may be "hopeless" and "jobless," as the Times puts it, but the reason is the same lack of moral capital that produces their violence in the first place.

In the Times's view, prison is something that just happens to black males in our society. "Once these young men become entangled in the criminal justice system," the Times writes, "they are typically marginalized and shut out of the job market for life." Never mind that you actually have to commit a crime before the criminal justice system "entangles" you. And while it is unquestionably harder for someone with a criminal record to find a job, an ex-felon's work habits play as important a role as his criminal past in determining whether he permanently enters the workforce after serving time.

Liberal policymakers and pundits have spilled buckets of ink over the years promoting social-service programs as the solution to crime, yet-like the Times's recent editorial-those opinion-setters cannot squeeze out one word about the most effective anticrime (and antipoverty) strategy: marriage. The marriage imperative civilizes boys. By contrast, in a world where it is unusual for a man to marry the mother of his children, boys fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility: you are responsible for your children. Freed of the social expectation that they will have to provide a stable home for their offspring, boys have little incentive to restrain their impulses and develop bourgeois habits. In 2005, the national black illegitimacy rate was 70 percent, and it approached 90 percent in many inner cities (compared with a white illegitimacy rate of 25 percent, and as low as 6 percent in some urban areas, like the District of Columbia). The disappearance of marriage from the black community is a social cataclysm.

Some highly structured, values-based youth programs, like the Boy Scouts, can provide boys a surrogate for the paternal authority that they lack at home; society is right to support these lifelines. But they cannot possibly bring crime down significantly among blacks in the absence of a cultural shift toward marriage. True, no one knows yet how to revive marriage in the black community. But given the imperative of doing so, you would think that somewhere in the flood of recommendations for more useless government social programs, a little space could be reserved for promoting the idea of a marriage movement.

Policing is nearly as taboo a solution to crime as marriage. The Times editorial makes a desultory reference to "more financing for local police," but argues-against all evidence-that "programs aimed at providing jobs and social services are far more important." Even that wan half-endorsement must have cost the Times considerable anguish. The paper's real attitude toward the police was hilariously on display in an article on the New York Police Department published less than a week after its editorial. Titled POLICE POLISH IMAGE, BUT CONCERNS PERSIST: IN POST 9/11 NEW YORK, PROTEST IS MUTED AS CRIME RATE STAYS LOW, the article drew on the second of the two story lines that make up the entire repertoire of the Times's thinking about the police. This second story line-"Why isn't there more protest against racist police tactics?"-gets trotted out when circumstances militate against the preferred narrative: "Hooray! Protest mounts over racist police tactics!"

Ideally, president-elect Obama would tear up the liberal playbook on crime that is so expertly summarized in the Times's pronouncements. Obama's political affiliations make that course unlikely. But if he pushed back against the Times's economic determinism and stressed that people from any economic background have the capacity and duty to reject a life of violence, if he called on fathers to take responsibility for their children (as he has done in the past), he would start in motion a set of changes that could bring greater peace to black communities.


The Great Myth: A Biblical Case Against homosexual 'Marriage'

A December issue of Newsweek featured a cover story entitled "Our Mutual Joy" that purported to offer a "religious case" for gay "marriage." Author Lisa Miller claimed, "Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side." Really?

It is interesting that apologists for the homosexual lifestyle typically say, on the one hand, that religious conservatives don't really understand Scripture; if they did, they would see that there is no prohibition against homosexual love or marriage. On the other hand, they tell us the Bible is not to be trusted as a modern-day commentary when it speaks on moral issues-particularly sexuality. As Miller put it, "the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scriptures give us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be married."

Newsweek editor Jon Meacham was even more direct in his commentary on Miller's article, saying that "to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt-it is unserious and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition."

In light of these statements, it is obvious that homosexuals do not want to be held to the biblical standards of faith and practice, yet have no trouble embracing some form of religiosity in order to feel sanctified in the eyes of God. As the apostle Paul put it in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

In her attempt to justify what is scripturally unjustifiable, Miller, either consciously or unconsciously, has made a number of grievous errors:


First, marriage is not a triviality, but a holy ordinance ordained by God in the Garden of Eden. He declares to Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh," which is His model for the union of male and female. Although some patriarchs strayed from this model following the Fall, it was not without consequences. David, for example, lost the son that was born as a result of his affair with Bathsheba.

Jesus is described by Miller as being "indifferent to earthly attachments," but He reiterates God's ordinance in Mathew 19:3-5 when questioned by the Pharisees on the matter of divorce: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, `For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they twain [two] shall be one flesh?' Wherefore, they are no more twain [two], but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

Miller further claims that the "fact" that Jesus was single indicates that the Bible has no model for a "how-to" script on marriage. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Jesus was married-to His church (the community of believers), and His life is an allegory of traditional Hebrew marriage rituals.

In the Hebrew ritual, the father or his emissary would pick out the bride for his son. Next, a price was established for the bride to be paid by the groom. When the bride accepted the proposal, they were legally betrothed, but the marriage was not yet consummated. Gifts were exchanged between the bride and groom and the groom departed to prepare a place for his bride-often in his father's house. The groom may have left for an extended period, but eventually he returned to claim his bride, take her to the place he prepared, and consummate the marriage.

Similarly, God the Father selects the bride (believers) for His Son ("All that the Father gives me shall come to me and I will in no wise cast out"-John 6:37). Jesus pays for His bride by His sacrificial death on the cross. Believers who accept Christ are sanctified, but not yet in His presence.

Upon a believer's commitment to trust in Christ, he or she is given the Holy Spirit, who provides each believer a gift of the Spirit. Jesus leaves His bride (the church) to go to His Father's house, but prior to His departure, says, "In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3). In the end times, Jesus will return to the earth to gather His church and consummate his relationship with believers, who will then remain in His presence forever.

Accordingly, marriage is reflective of Christ's relationship with His church and as such, is not a matter of "indifference" to Him, as Miller suggested, but rather has meaning beyond any other earthly institution-it is holy. In a Spirit-guided Christian marriage, the bride and groom mirror in many ways the relationship Christ has with His church. As noted in Ephesians 5:21-25: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her."

Therefore, whatever two persons of the same sex wish to call their mutual relationship-partnering, co-habiting, or sharing a household-one thing is certain: It is not a marriage in the biblical sense nor in common sense.


Another fallacy of the gay rights movement is comparing America's experience with slavery with the battle for gay rights. Miller accuses opponents of same-sex "marriage" of using Scripture "as the foundation for their objections," in similar fashion as 19th-century supporters of slavery. Jon Meacham states this case most succinctly: "The analogy with race is apt, for Christians in particular long cited scriptural authority to justify and perpetuate slavery with the same certitude that some now use to point to certain passages in the Bible to condemn homosexuality and to deny the sacrament of marriage to homosexuals. This argument from scripture is difficult to take seriously."

The difference is that Scripture does not support slavery and recognizes it as evil, although it was a reality of the times. Persons who looked to the Bible for support on this issue were guilty of the same proof texting as Miller and Meacham. Paul states the biblical view quite clearly in 1 Timothy 1:8-10: "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers-and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."

Those who identify homosexuality as an issue of civil rights and equate it with racial discrimination are both insulting and irrational. Issues of race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender are all real and provable human characteristics. Homosexuality is a behavior that is learned and changeable, unlike the other characteristics, which are innate and immutable. There is not a person on earth that can prove he or she is a homosexual-it is a declaration that can change as evidenced by innumerable persons who have abandoned the lifestyle.

The most common factors in those who have entered the homosexual lifestyle are childhood sexual abuse, a poor relationship with the same-sex parent, or seduction. These classic causes were noted in the story of Lisa Miller (not the author) who left her lesbian relationship with Janet Jenkins convinced that the relationship was sinful. She later repented and reaffirmed her Christian faith. It was also revealed that "her mother sexually and physically abused her as a child and later, forbade her to date, telling her `men were evil.'" It is easy to see how she could fall into the homosexual lifestyle.

Miller is not alone in this circumstance. Many gay celebrities have admitted they were victims of childhood sexual abuse including Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche, Julie Cypher, Melissa Etheridge, swimming star Greg Louganis, and Chastity Bono, who disclosed how she was seduced as a child into the "gay" lifestyle by one of Cher Bono's lesbian friends. Additionally, many of the young boys seduced by priests were drawn into the homosexual lifestyle by the experience.

Gay-rights activists and their apologists have waged an effective brass knuckles campaign to portray homosexuality as inborn and unchangeable and therefore deserving of acceptance, affirmation, and codification into law. Nevertheless, declaring something to be true doesn't make it so, nor does it make it right.


Contrary to the opinion of Newsweek's Miller, Scripture is clear and distinct about the subject of homosexuality no matter how hard gay activists would like to wish it away. Beyond the Old Testament condemnation of homosexual practice as an abomination (which Miller refers to as "throwaway" lines), Paul writes in Romans 1:25-27: "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

In view of the above, it is interesting to note that Miller claims, "Nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women." Evidently, neither Miller nor her source, the Anchor Bible Dictionary, has ever read Romans.

Miller uses certain peculiar passages in Leviticus, which have no modern application, to suggest that statements condemning homosexuality need not be heeded: "[Leviticus is] a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat-or a lamb or a turtle dove. . . . Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices. . . . Why would we regard homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice . . . on the best price to pay for a slave?"

It is important to understand that there are three types of laws in the Old Testament: moral laws, ceremonial laws, and codified civil laws. Under the New Covenant, the ceremonial laws were abolished, since Jesus Christ Himself negated the need for the sacrificial system (see Hebrews 9:1-15). The moral laws remain timeless and permanent.

God imposed the codified civil laws on the Israelite nation during its formative years in order that the people not be corrupted by the practices of the pagans. The punishment these laws invoked were not intended to be permanent, as can be clearly seen in Jesus' encounter with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Although the Pharisees wanted to stone her to death in accordance with the Mosaic Law, Jesus challenged her accusers to show that they themselves were without sin. Jesus then forgave the woman and sent her on her way with the admonition, "Go and sin no more." Clearly, her adultery was sinful but not a justification to stone her to death.

As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus' example and be witnesses-not executioners-for the redemption of sinners through entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Court will hear reverse discrimination case

The Supreme Court on Friday stepped into a reverse discrimination lawsuit over a city's decision to scrap a promotion exam for firefighters because too few minorities scored high enough to move up in rank.

Nineteen white firefighters and one Hispanic firefighter sued New Haven, Conn., in 2004. They said they would have been promoted if the city hadn't thrown out the results of two tests for lieutenant and captain because minorities generally did poorly on the exams.

New Haven officials claimed the exams were unfair to minority firefighters and the city faced potential discrimination lawsuits if it went ahead with the promotions. Scores on the exams indicated that no blacks would be promoted. Fourteen of the top 15 candidates for lieutenant and captain were white, based on scores.

A trial judge dismissed the lawsuit and a three-judge panel of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal. But then six judges on the appeals court issued an unusual opinion asking the Supreme Court to take the case.


On "Disproportion"

When conflicts erupt, public opinion tends to divide between absolutists who have decided once and for all who is right and who is wrong, and more cautious people who judge a particular act as appropriate or not according to circumstances, prepared, if necessary, to withhold judgment pending further information. The confrontation in Gaza, as bloody and awful as it is, nevertheless contains a gleam of hope. For the first time in the conflict in the Middle East, the fanatical absolutists seem to be in the minority. The discussion among Israelis (Is this the right time for war? How far should we go? How long?) proceeds as expected in a democracy. What is surprising is that the Palestinians and their supporters are t! aking part in a similar public debate, to the point that, even after Israel's launching of punitive operations, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, found the courage to attribute initial responsibility for the suffering of Gaza's civilians to Hamas, which had broken its truce with Israel.

Unfortunately, the reaction of global public opinion--the media, diplomats, and moral and political authorities--seems to lag behind the thinking of those who are directly concerned. We cannot avoid the word that is on everyone's lips and bolsters another kind of absolutism--the word that magisterially condemns Israeli acts as "disproportionate." Captions on pictures of Gaza under attack express a universal and immediate consensus: Israel acts disproportionately. News reports and commentaries add other terms as opportunities present themselves: "massacre," "total war." At least the word "genocide" has been avoided so far. Will the memory of the so-called "Jenin genocide," so often evoked before being discredited as a fiction, continue to restrain the worst of these verbal excesses? In any case, the absolute and a priori condemnation of the Jewish outrage defines the dominant line of thought in most parts of the world.

"Disproportionate," of course, refers to what is out of proportion--either because no proportion has ever existed, or because an existing proportion has been broken or violated. It is the second meaning that is intended by those who castigate the Israelis for their reprisals, which are judged to be excessive, incongruous, and inappropriate, a violation of limits and norms. The implication is that there is a normal state of the Israel-Hamas conflict, some equilibrium that the Israeli military's aggressiveness has disturbed--as if the conflict were not, like every serious conflict, disproportionate from the outset.

What is this correct proportion that Israel is supposed to respect in order to deserve the favor of world opinion? Should the Israeli army refrain from employing its technical supremacy and limit itself to the weapons that Hamas uses--that is to say, crude rockets and stones? Should it feel free to adopt the strategy of suicide bombers and the deliberate targeting of civilians? Or, better still, would it be appropriate for Israel to wait patiently until Hamas, with the help of Iran and Syria, is able to "balance" Israel's firepower? Or might it be necessary to level the playing field regarding not only means but also aims? Hamas, unlike the Palestinian Authority, refuses to recognize the Jewish state's right to exist and dreams of the annihilation of its citizens; should Israel match this radicalism?

Every conflict, whether dormant or boiling, is by its nature "disproportionate." If the adversaries agreed on the use of means and on each other's claims, they would not be adversaries. Conflict necessarily implies disagreement, and thus the effort of each camp to exploit its advantages as well as the other's weaknesses. The Israeli army is doing just that when it "profits" from its technical superiority. And Hamas does no differently when it uses Gaza's population as a human shield, unhindered by the moral scruples or diplomatic imperatives that constrain its adversary.

To work for peace in the Middle East, we must escape the temptations of absolutism, which entice not only fanatical hard-liners but also angelic souls who imagine that some sacred "proportion" would bring a providential balance to murderous conflicts. In the Middle East, the conflict concerns not only the enforcement of rules of the game, but their establishment. One has every right to discuss freely the appropriateness of a given military or diplomatic initiative, but not to imagine that the problem is soluble in advance by the ostensible right-thinking of world opinion. To wish to survive is not disproportionate.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blaming `Israeli insanity' for imprisoning Gazans overlooks the central role of the polite, Western peace process

I think the article below is a bit idealistic but it makes some good points about the status of Gaza etc. Arab attacks on Jews long predate the statehood of modern Israel -- they go back to Mohammed himself in fact -- so keeping the two groups apart is an understandable strategy

Many people are profoundly angry with Israel for its air assaults and ground invasion of Gaza. It is unquestionable that the war, now in its thirteenth day, has in the short term caused terrible suffering and in the long term will intensify divisions in the region. And yet, in the widespread condemnation of Israel for attacking Gazan territory, one key question has gone unasked: why does the Gaza Strip exist as a separate entity in the first place?

Liberal commentators in America and Europe, alongside European leaders such as Nicolas Sarkozy and to a lesser extent Gordon Brown, have slated Israel over its recent airstrikes. They have called on the Israelis to `respect Gaza's integrity' or to keep their `Hands off Gaza!' (1). This may come off as radical: standing up to the powerful Israeli military on behalf of the beleaguered 1.5million Palestinians who live in Gaza. But, in truth, there is a deeply uncritical and even conformist streak to this supposed solidarity with Gazans. The outraged critics of Israel accept the Western-imposed idea that Gaza, in effect a glorified refugee camp, should be a distinct pseudo-statelet for Palestinians, separate from Israel and even from the Jews. And yet this separation is the very condition that keeps Gaza impoverished, unfree and in a state of permanent conflict with its bigger, more powerful neighbour.

Critics attack Israel for its use of force in Gaza. Yet they implicitly support the partitionist and sectarian underpinnings of the Middle Eastern `peace process', which has upped the ante between Israel and Gaza. Facilitated by Washington and Brussels over the past 15 years, the peace process has been based on the idea that Israelis and Palestinians must be permanently separated - that is, the Middle East must be partitioned. The Oslo Accords of 1993, overseen by then US President Bill Clinton, called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and affirmed `a Palestinian right of self-government within those areas through the creation of a Palestinian Authority'. The Roadmap for Peace of 2003 - drawn up by the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - called for a `permanent two-state solution' and demanded `clear, unambiguous acceptance' of this solution from both Israel and the Palestinians (2).

The central theme of the peace process is always that Israelis and Palestinians cannot possibly live together in a democratic federal state, and thus there must be a `permanent' separation which must be kept in check by `formal monitoring mechanisms' overseen by the international community (in the words of the Roadmap for Peace) (3). This divisive dynamic, far from ushering in a new era of peace, has heightened sectarian tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. And nowhere is this clearer than in Gaza.

Life in Gaza has never been pleasant. Around 25 miles long and six miles wide, this tiny piece of land, about twice the size of Washington DC, is home to 1.5million Palestinians. The borders of the Gaza Strip were defined by the armistice lines between Egypt and Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that followed the dissolution of the British mandate of Palestine and the creation of Israel. The Gaza Strip was never intended to be a legitimate state or independent territory: rather it became home to thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war. The vast majority of the 1.5million Palestinians who live in Gaza today are direct descendants of those refugees. Gaza was occupied by Egypt from 1948 until 1967, when it was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War; it was occupied by Israel from 1967 until 1993, when the Oslo Accords handed authority to the newly-formed Palestinian Authority. Under both Egypt and Israel, the Palestinians of Gaza suffered political repression. But, remarkably, the situation in the Strip has worsened under the peace process.

The peace process, with its demand for a `permanent' separation between Israel and the Palestinian territories, has had a dire impact both economically and politically on Gaza. In economic terms it has led to greater impoverishment in the Strip; in political terms it has further entrenched divisions between Arabs and Jews.

One of the first consequences of the implementation of the Oslo Accords in 1993/1994 was the sealing of the borders between Israel and Gaza. Where Gaza had once been considered a hopefully temporary grouping of refugee settlements created by the war of 1948, with Oslo it was suddenly elevated to the status of a semi-sovereign territory under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. What had previously been seen as a ghetto for refugees was now heralded as a distinct cultural entity worthy of `respect' and `celebration'. Nothing better captured the cynical nature of the peace process, its effective transformation of Palestinian defeat into something positive, than this transformation of Gaza from a territory created by default to house displaced Palestinians into part of a new `Palestinian homeland'.

After Oslo, the borders between Israel and this newly defined territory were immediately strengthened. In 1994, the first year of Oslo implementation, Israel began building a 60km-long barrier between itself and the Gaza Strip. The barrier, completed in 1996, consisted of wire fencing with posts, sensors and buffer zones (4). This separation fence can be seen as a physical manifestation of the peace process and of Oslo: the brute expression of the idea that underpinned the peace negotiations, which was that Israel and the Palestinians must be partitioned off, separated by `monitoring mechanisms'.

The economic impact on Gaza was disastrous. The raising of new and stronger borders between Israel and Gaza deprived the Strip of its main source of income, which came from Palestinian day labourers who had previously crossed the `green line' to work in Israel. As part of its post-Oslo fencing off of Gaza, Israel began to impose `generalised border closures' which prevented Gazans from moving from the Strip to work in southern Israel. As one account notes, these closures `disrupted previously established labour and commodity market relationships between Israel and the Strip' (5). As a result, between 1992 and 1996, after the First Intifada of 1987 to 1993 had died down and the new structures of the peace process took over, economic output in the Gaza Strip declined by one-third. This led to high unemployment in Gaza. According to one American study, in 2001 GDP in Gaza had declined 35 per cent to a per capita income of $625, and 60 per cent of the population were living below the poverty line (6). Today, Gaza is on an economic par with sub-Saharan Africa.

Alongside economic impoverishment, the peace process deepened the political divide between Israelis and Palestinians. With its focus on separation, the Western-sponsored process gave rise to new and more brutal forms of sectarianism. Thus in the 1990s, the presence of Jewish settlements in Gaza became an explosive political issue. Gazans frequently protested against the settlements, and Palestinian militants launched attacks against them. In 2005, the Israeli military, following a plan drawn up by Ariel Sharon, used force to dismantle all the settlements and to remove every Jew - 9,000 in total - from Gaza. Scenes of distraught Jewish families being dragged from Gaza, while Palestinian onlookers cheered, captured the deep sectarianism that had been unleashed by the peace process.

Again, such actions were a logical consequence of the Oslo Accords and later the Roadmap for Peace, which was built on the notion that there could be no progress until both sides `clearly and unambiguously' accepted the need for a `permanent two-state solution' (7). The result of an all-Arab Gaza is that, in that small corner of the Middle East, Palestinians and Jews are more hermetically sealed from one another than at any other time in modern history. Such a state of affairs can only have contributed to the sense that Gaza and Israel are two totally opposed blocs: different, cut off, forever conflictual. To borrow a phrase from history, Gaza under the peace process has been turned into a `bloody trap' for Palestinians.

In recent days, Israel has been criticised for transforming Gaza into a `jailed state'. In truth, it is 15 years of international intervention under the guise of enforcing a `peace process' that has imprisoned Gaza. Washington and Brussels have effectively imposed a multicultural solution on to the Middle East, where the emphasis is on preserving both sides' sense of national identity through separation and constant monitoring. And if divisive multicultural policies can be explosive in cities in the West, imagine the impact they can have on a volatile part of the world like Israel/Palestine. Israel should be strongly criticised for its recent attacks, but only criticising Israel, without interrogating the role played by Western powers in legitimising new forms of partition and storing up the potential for violence, is intellectually irresponsible. More than that, it leaves unchallenged the idea that the ghetto of Gaza is a fit place for 1.5million people to live in, and the notion that Arabs and Jews must be separated into their own statelets.

The international community's meddling has further divided the people of the Middle East. And in many ways, such meddling has also inflamed Israel's attacks on Gaza: feeling itself losing control of affairs in the Middle East, Israel is lashing out in an out-of-control fashion in an attempt to assert its authority and keep the fenced-off and volatile Gaza in check. A genuine peace can surely only emerge if the people of the region are free to mix and work together, and possibly even to come up with their own political solutions, free from the cynical intervention of the international community and the shallow solidarity of Western activists. The widespread demand to `Free Gaza' overlooks the fact that such an entity, created by default, surrounded by hasty borders, monitored by UN officials and around 300 Western NGOs, and increasingly treated as a permanently separate semi-official state, can never be free. [I think the egg is now permanently scrambled, however -- JR]


British police can't object to gipsy camp...because it's "racist" to do so

Police have been told they cannot object to a planned gipsy camp in a picturesque village - because to do so would be 'racist'. Council chiefs have ruled that the local force's professional opinion 'breaches the Race Relations Act'. The decision meant that councillors considering the planning application were not told how officers had been called to another local camp 109 times in just two years.

The row centres on the tiny village of Bletsoe (population 281) in North Bedfordshire. Early last year residents learned that the owner of a farm on the edge of the village had applied for permission to build four 'gipsy and traveller' pitches on his land. They formed an association to combat the plans and were delighted when Bedfordshire police joined them by writing a letter of objection to the council.

The police's hard-hitting letter detailed their dealings with three other gipsy sites in the county. Over a two-year period to January 2008, officers visited the three sites a total of 210 times. One site was visited 109 times. The police were called out to deal with reports of fights, arson, assaults, stolen vehicles, violent disorder, anti-social behaviour, theft, child abduction and use of weapons. Chief Superintendent Andy Street wrote: 'The numbers, and nature, of incidents are not atypical for traveller sites. The likelihood of such sites causing problems for those living in close proximity is highly probable.'

However, Bedford Borough Council refused to take the letter into consideration when deciding whether to approve the site. Officials claimed that including it in the summary given to councillors would leave the authority open to a prosecution for racial discrimination. So they returned the letter to the police and refused to let councillors see it. As a result, the police were forced to withdraw their objection.

Bletsoe resident Colin Deas, 72, a retired businessman who grew up in the village, said: 'It seems to me that there are some things you simply cannot say if you are talking about travellers. 'I am sure that the police would be allowed to say there was fear of increased crime if they were talking about a new housing estate. So what's the difference?' Bedford's act of censorship is the latest illustration of how politically- correct councils appear to be appointing themselves as our 'thought police'.

Only last week the Mail revealed how nearby Mid-Bedfordshire council labelled more than 3,000 local residents of the village of Stotfold as racists when they objected to a gipsy site. They had simply expressed worries that the site could increase traffic, cause property prices to fall or increase noise levels.

Although councillors rejected the Bletsoe traveller camp plans last year, the landowner has now appealed and the case will be heard again next month. A spokesman for Bedford council said: 'The police objection was treated very seriously. 'Legal advice indicated that the objection was not a material planning consideration and should not be reported to committee. In the light of such clear advice it was considered appropriate to return the correspondence to the police.'


More fraudulent official statistics from the acolytes of Stalin in socialist Britain

True scale of juvenile offending masked with "creative maths"

The true scale of juvenile offending is being masked with "creative maths" by the Government, it's own former head of youth offending has warned. Rod Morgan, the former chairman of the Youth Justice Board, said up to 20,000 fines handed to youngsters are "inextricably" excluded from official statistics. He accused ministers of a "smoke and mirrors" exercise to portray a positive image that the number of children entering the justice system had fallen.

It comes as the Conservatives pledge to strip the control of crime statistics from the Home Office in a radical shake-up, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Writing in this newspaper, Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said ministers and officials would also lose the ability to see the figures in advance in a bid to end accusations of political influence and boost public confidence.

In another blow over the Government's reputation on handling statistics, Mr Morgan said a boast that it has hit a target of cutting the number of juveniles entering the justice system for the first time failed to include thousands of youngsters handed fines.

In November, the Youth Justice Board, which oversees the management of youth offenders for the Government, announced there had been a 10.2 per cent cut in such number since 2005/06 - twice the target of five per cent - down to 87,367. But Mr Morgan said the figure excluded juveniles handed an out-of-court fixed penalty - of which there were up to 20,000 in 2007/08. Conversely the fines figure was included in the larger statistics of Offences Brought to Justice, including both juveniles and adults, which presents a picture of more people being punished for their crimes. He said were the figures added in to the first time statistics, the "trumpeted" 10 per cent reduction would be "wholly or largely wiped out".

Mr Morgan, who chaired the YJB between 2004 and 2007, accused the Government of "creative maths", adding: "It does no credit to our criminal justice statistics to perpetrate smoke and mirror exercises of this nature."

The Home Office faced intense criticism in an ongoing row with the UK Statistics Authority this week, which accused it of making "unsubstantiated" claims and "inappropriate" conclusions over knife crime figures released last year. It has led to the watchdog announcing official figures on childhood obesity, NHS waiting times and house prices will now also be investigated. Control over crime figures would be removed from the department and handed to the Office for National Statistics, under a Tory Government.

He said: "Labour have proved themselves serial manipulators of official statistics. Their obsession with covering up, rather than facing up to, problems has meant serious violent crime has only got worse. "A new approach is required. We propose two radical reforms of crime statistics. "We will remove responsibility for compiling and publishing recorded crime statistics and the British Crime Survey from the Home Office and place it with the Office for National Statistics. "We will abolish pre-release access that Ministers, officials and special advisors have to crime statistics, so that they will no longer get more advance notice of the contents of statistical publications than the public, the press or Opposition MPs."

Mr Grieve also revealed that a claim by Gordon Brown last summer that CCTV in Newcastle had cut crime by 60 per cent was based on a study from 1995.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The First Time Entrants data shows the numbers of young people entering the formal criminal justice system. "Penalty notices for disorder can be issued when there is no admission of guilt for minor offences - therefore receiving one does not make a young person a 'First Time Entrant' to the criminal justice system. "The distinct nature of penalty notices for disorder is to prevent young people from being criminalised too early - yet being a serious enough measure to deter them from offending. "Penalty notices for disorder offer an opportunity to provide swift justice to avoid drawing a young person further than necessary into the Criminal Justice System for low level offences and anti-social Behaviour."


Canadian Law Prohibiting Polygamy Faces Challenge

It had to happen

Canada's anti-polygamy law will likely be facing a legal challenge now that the leaders of the controversial polygamous sect in Bountiful, near Cranbrook, British Columbia, have been arrested. Winston Blackmore, the "bishop" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and James Oler are facing criminal charges for practicing polygamy.

Wally Oppal, BC's Attorney General, announced at a press conference that Blackmore and Oler were arrested yesterday by eight plainclothes RCMP officers. The two men were later released on their own cognizance after being charged. The two cooperated with the arrest and agreed to the release conditions that they surrender their passports, stay in British Columbia and not enter into or perform any "plural marriages." The two men are scheduled to make their first court appearance January 21. They are the first men to be charged with polygamy since the 1800s, even though police have known of the situation in Bountiful for more than 60 years.

Up until now law-enforcement officials have been hesitant to arrest practitioners of polygamy under fears that the law would not survive a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On at least two previous occasions the RCMP have recommended that arrests be made, but the Crown denied the recommendation, saying that the ban on polygamy would likely be struck down.

The estimated population of Bountiful in 1998 was 600 and has since grown to about 800. Most of the residents are descended from only half a dozen men who practice what is called in the breakaway Mormon sect "multiple marriage" or "celestial marriage." Blackmore claims to have had 26 wives and more than 108 children. The mainstream Mormon church formally renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

In 2006, the Vancouver Sun released information stating that Utah's Attorney General is collaborating with British Columbia's Attorney General in attempting to deal with polygamy and the alleged abuse in Bountiful. But pressure has been growing in Parliament, especially since the institution of homosexual "marriage," to change the law to allow for polygamy.

In 2007, Richard Peck, a criminal lawyer and BC special prosecutor reviewed the results of a police investigation and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge the group with sexual abuse or exploitation. He warned that the defendants would likely claim religious freedom as a defense. Peck recommended that the BC Attorney General petition the courts to determine if Canada's ban on polygamy is constitutional.

Pro-family advocates have long warned that the erosion of legal marriage in Canada, as well as in other western countries, starting with no-fault divorce and most recently with the institution of homosexual "marriage" and civil unions, would lead to the legalisation of polygamy. Indeed, following the invention of same-sex "marriage" in Canadian law, the federal Justice Department under the Liberal government produced a report suggesting the legalisation of polygamy.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

As PC parents say traditional nursery tales are too frightening ... why fairy stories should be scary (because that's what children want)

Snow White is what the BBC would call 'hideously white'. And as for her seven friends, well it is hardly PC to make unpleasant allusions to their height. No doubt, it is horribly sexist to tell little girls that their greatest happiness could be found in marriage to a handsome prince. And do we really want to scare the kiddies with stories of grannies who turn out to be big bad wolves? Shouldn't Cinderella be rejoicing in the fact that her father married more than once - and how very 'lookist' to notice that the two awful step-sisters are ugly!

Yes, it has happened. Fairy stories - those wonderfully rich guides to life for centuries - have finally been ditched. Researchers have discovered that parents no longer read them aloud to their children because they are 'too scary' and because they are 'politically incorrect'. Some 3,000 British parents have been surveyed, revealing that more than a quarter of mothers now reject fairy stories in favour of books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

I have nothing against that tale, which is a good preparation for life in the food-obsessed Britain of Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. It is a charming book, in which readers are invited to open flaps and see that the caterpillar has consumed a list of sensible fruit and vegetables. But having read it about 250 times to my youngest child, I can say that it isn't particularly interesting. Whereas, as soon as any of my children have been old enough to enjoy collections of fairytales, I have been happy to read to them for hours and hours.

I wish I could meet those parents who think that they are helping their children by withholding knowledge of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother's fascinating teeth, of Hansel and Gretel, or Cinderella or Rapunzel. These stories, which are replicated in almost all the cultures of the world, have been part of the shared experience of childhood for generations. Many of them were collected up by a pair of ingenious German brothers, the Brothers Grimm, during the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Grimms were really interested in the origins of European languages but in the course of their research they realised there was a rich fund of folk stories being handed on from generation to generation in the country districts of German-speaking Europe. They found much which horrified them, just as it would shock social workers today - incest, child murder, bullying, abuse of all kinds. Many a Baby P or Shannon Matthews story in the Black Forest villages was found, as were many teenage pregnancies, and many abusive parents or grandparents among the boot-faced Teutonic peasantry.

The point is that the stories were not a way of covering these things up. They were a way of projecting children's and families' fears and coming to terms with them. Children are born into a world of fear. We do them no service by trying to eliminate that from their lives. One of the most basic of all fears is the fear of the dark. Any child has it. Fairy tales pepper the darkness with threats - with witches or fairies who come and steal children away during the hours of shadow. By concentrating entirely upon the Very Hungry Caterpillar's very boring diet before bedtime, we do not stop the shadows being scary.

We merely fail to confront our children's fears of the dark or investigate those areas of childhood that for generations we all found frightening. We live in a world where the abduction and abuse of children are common occurrences. Hansel and Gretel, lured to their fate by an old lady who lives in a house of sweets, could be real children. Their stepmother in the story wants to get rid of them, encouraging their father to take them into the woods to get lost. Maybe in today's world their stepmum's latest partner would want them to get lost in a bleak modern high-rise flat, but their fate is the same.

Children are right to fear the break-up of their families - it is the central, most awful phenomenon of our day. I say that in full penitent consciousness that I am a divorced father who walked out of a marriage when my first two children were teenagers. Lucky children get on with their parents' new partners. The huge majority in such cases face very great difficulties and they do not have the emotional vocabulary to deal with it. That is why the fairy story - of the wicked stepmother or the 'granny' who turns out to be a wolf - are so helpful: they allow us to project our fears about family break-up.

Mankind is a story-telling species. Our national cultures, our sense of who we are as groups are sustained by great myths. Our religions are a set of shared stories. Fairytales are also an absolutely vital part of our shared life together - only this time not as big cultural or national groups but in the most basic group of all, the family.

Twenty-first century women have advanced, it should be acknowledged, beyond the fantasy that they are kitchen drudges who will one day turn into princesses by capturing the heart of the most handsome prince in the world. But that does not mean we would live richer lives without any knowledge of these stories whatsoever. The lessons given out by fairy stories are not bad ones, whatever some timorous parents might feel today. Goldilocks was idiotic to invade the three bears' house, and learnt a useful lesson about other people's property in the process.

The story of Snow White, even when sentimentalised by Walt Disney, remains one of the most enchanting ever told - but it is also useful. The apple offered by the witch, the drug offered by a friend before a night out clubbing - what's the difference? Snow White is my kind of girl, eternally dreaming of the prince who will magically awaken her - but, before that, being the cheerful companion of grumpy, sneezy old men such as myself.

Rapunzel is - to use a word which is overused perhaps nowadays - 'empowered' by her lovely long hair. The envious older woman tries to hold her back - how many daughters know that to be true when they think of the possessive part of their own mother's love for them? By literally letting her hair down, Rapunzel escapes and finds happiness. That isn't just a fairy story for millions of girls who have escaped the constraints of a tyrannical mother/witch - it's what really happens.

Fairytales teach us from an early age that family life is complicated and often painful. They are not sentimental but they reinforce the idea that love is central to life, both as the glue which binds good families together and as the means by which we can escape or transcend the bondage of bad family life. I can honestly say that if I was forced to throw away all my books and keep just one, I would hang on to a collection of fairytales, not merely for their entertainment value but for what they teach about life.


Britain's obsession over "bin sinners"

Overfill your garbage bin and you'll be treated worse than a shoplifter

Families who overfill rubbish bins are to face bigger fines than those imposed on drunks or shoplifters, the government has told local authorities. New guidance instructs councils to impose fixed penalties of "not less than 75 pounds " and up to 110 in what the opposition has attacked as a "new stealth tax". The offences for which householders can be fined include leaving ajar the lid of a wheelie bin, putting out a bin the evening before collection or leaving the bin in the wrong place.

Although the government has previously claimed that it leaves local councils to decide on the level of fines, the Fly-capture Enforcement manual, produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stipulates that fixed penalties for offencesinvolving "waste receptacles" must range from 75 to 110 pounds. It suggests a standard fixed penalty of 100, adding that "if a notice is not paid, it is essential it is followed up". The penalties are higher than the 80 pounds on-the-spot fines levied by police for offences ranging from being drunk and disorderly to shoplifting.

Local councils have been sharply criticised for taking harsh measures against trivial misdemeanours. Earlier this year, Gareth Corkhill, a Cardiff bus driver, was given a criminal conviction after being taken to court when he refused to hand over a 110 pounds on-the-spot fine by council inspectors who found the lid of his wheelie bin open by 4in.

Eric Pickles MP, the shadow local government secretary, said Labour was creating "an army of municipal bin bullies hitting law-abiding families with massive fines while professional criminals get the soft touch". He added: "It is clear Whitehall bureaucrats are instructing town halls to target householders with fines for minor breaches. "Yet with the slow death of weekly collections and shrinking bins, it is increasingly hard for families to dispose of their rubbish responsibly. It is fundamentally unfair that householders are now getting hammered with larger fines than shoplifters get for stealing."

The environment department, headed by Hilary Benn, said on-the-spot fines were "intended to be an alternative to prosecution". A spokesman said: "Local authorities wanted flexible fines that they can relate to the severity and frequency of the offence and offender. Ultimately the fines are there to act as a deterrent." According to Phil Woolas, the environment minister, local councils face extra costs of 3.2 billion over the next five years to fund recycling measures, which would equate to a 150 pound council tax increase. [If it costs money to recycle stuff, what's the point?]


Why Jack couldn't climb the beanstalk: How health and safety rules even affect British children's pantomine

Once upon a time, preparing for the panto was a lot of fun for the amateur dramatic group. Everyone would muck in and even if the scenery was sometimes a little rough around the edges, all would soon be forgotten amid the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd on opening night. But now health and safety regulations have turned just getting the show on to the stage into such a performance in itself that members of the Brierley Hill Musical Theatre Company in the West Midlands are living in fear of being shut down before the curtain goes up.

A mind-boggling list of 20 conditions not only orders them to ensure all scenery is free from sharp edges, but also warns them to keep records of the interval ice cream to ensure it is stored at -18C. On arrival at the venue, they should also check each day that milk for the cast's tea is being kept at less than 8C.

One year, even 'Jack' was restricted on how far he could scale his beanstalk. The beanstalk was 30ft tall but Jack would only have been allowed to climb 4ft from the ground provided he wore a harness. So the idea was abandoned and he just gazed up at it instead.

Meanwhile, they are called on to marshall the actors in their forthcoming production of Dick Whittington, which is due to open on Saturday, with near military precision. One chaperone must be provided for every 12 children under 16 performing in the show, and they also have to ensure that cast members do not enter the props storage area in case they get tangled up or struck by objects. The directive also states they must escort youth members to and from the stage, in accordance with chaperone procedures, and inform the audience before the performance if pyrotechnics are to be used. All users of curtains and drapes have to be officially listed, and once the performance is over, the am-dram group must board the orchestra pit over as soon as possible to stop people falling in.

Today Graham Smith, the group's chairman, branded the rules as 'health and safety gone bananas'. 'It's an extremely large amount of work for us to handle. It's difficult enough getting the rehearsals, costumes and scenery organised without all this red tape on top,' he said. 'The amount of forms we have to fill in is a nightmare. 'What worries me is that with all this to do, we could forget something and someone will stop us from performing. It's putting everyone on edge. 'We put three shows on a year and it used to be a lot of fun. Now you've almost got to be a lawyer to do it and I've had to stop taking principal parts to cope with it all.'

Mr Smith, 59, a training manager, also claims that Brierley Hill Civic Hall's backstage facilities are 'poorer than Cinderella's kitchen' making it all the more difficult to meet the health and safety requirements. One of them is that separate dressing arrangements for all performers under 16 have to be agreed with venue managers, but he said: 'In order to accommodate the adults and children in a cast, all local groups using the hall have to spend hours creating extra dressing room facilities by putting up tents and curtains. 'When I was in the chorus of our last show, Oliver! in October, I had to get changed in a store room and go into the toilets in the foyer for a wash after the show. That's how ridiculous it is.'

The 100-strong am-dram group, which was first formed 60 years ago, has also bought a freezer because it does not trust the reliability of the venue's, Mr Smith said.


Single father turned away from British swimming pool... because health and safety rules say he can't supervise his two sons

A single father was left stunned after he was turned away from a swimming pool when staff told him he could not provide proper supervision for his two sons. Phillip Smith and sons Jake, aged five, and Aiden, three, were not allowed to enjoy a swim at the leisure centre because under-eights must be accompanied on a one-to-one basis by adults. He was told sessions were available for single parents with more than one child, where there is extra supervision available, but these were early in the morning at weekends or during school hours in the week.

Mr Smith, 37, from Killamarsh in Sheffield, who is separated from his sons' mother, accused the leisure centre of 'discriminating against single parents'. He said: 'As a fireman, I'm highly trained and expected to be able to provide first aid at emergencies. 'To say I cannot cope with looking after my two sons at a swimming pool is just mad.'

After they were turned away from Sheffield's Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Mr Smith took his sons to nearby Ponds Forge instead, where they were both allowed in. Mr Smith said: 'A change of policy is in order. I do feel strongly about discrimination in any form. 'This policy limits the options of single parents to an unacceptable level when they have every right to take their kids swimming whenever any other parents might wish to go. 'I discussed the situation at length with the duty manager explaining that I am a firefighter and well able to supervise my own children. 'The manager refused to do anything but hide behind policy.'

Sheffield International Venues, which runs both venues, said different policies on parental supervision were in place at its pools 'based on facilities present and a risk assessment'. An SIV spokeswoman said: 'All three Sheffield International Venues with swimming pools follow recommendations from the Institute of Sport and Recreational Management (ISRM) regarding guidelines for parental accompaniment of young children. 'Policies do vary from venue to venue and are based on facilities present and a risk assessment following the institute's guidelines. 'The recommendations are designed for the safety of children in swimming pools and are in no way discriminatory to lone or single parents. 'They are there to encourage and facilitate parents and other childcarers, including single parents, to safely bring their children swimming. All venues are committed to ensuring the safety of all customers.

'At Ponds Forge children under the age of 8 years must be accompanied in the water at all times by a responsible person (16 years or older). 'Children under the age of 4 years must be accompanied by a responsible person (16 years or older) on a one-to-one basis unless they are using the baby pool area only. 'In this case Ponds allows one adult to supervise two under 4's. Children aged between 4 & 7 years must be accompanied by a responsible person on a maximum two-to-one basis. 'Hillsborough Leisure Centre operates on a one on one basis for children under the age of eight since there is no separate toddler pool. 'However, special sessions are held in off peak times where this rule is relaxed to make it accessible for lone and single parents/carers.'



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, January 09, 2009

Every Jewish child now a target

The "Australian" headline (7 Jan. 09) should make it very clear. "Every Jewish child now a target". If that is not a monstrous statement then what is? If that is acceptable rhetoric in anyone's world view, or in any way justifiable, then the world has gone stark raving mad. again.

Will anyone speak out against this or is everyone so terrified and/or stupefied by terrorism that even such a statement will go unchallenged? Or has the Western world totally lost its moral compass, presenting therefore ripe pickings for the forces of evil to take control? The leaders of the free world need to make a strong statement against such threats to their citizenry.

The Israeli army does not target Palestinian children. It does everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties. It drops pamphlets warning Palestinian civilians out of harm's way, it sends sms messages warning Palestinian civilians of impending actions. It risks sending in ground troops when the air force could do the job with fewer Israeli casualties. Obscenely, the Hamas terrorists shelter amongst children, old people and the most vulnerable of civilians, in schools, mosques, churches and hospitals, because they are playing their media card, counting on the world's sympathy to pressure Israel, to prevent Israel from achieving her clearly stated objectives. Israel's objectives are to stop missiles being lobbed from Gaza into Israeli civilian populations, to stop the smuggling of arms through tunnels from Egypt and to put an end to terror.

"Every Jewish child is now a target" is a lie. Every Jewish child has always been a target for Hamas and the rest of the Islamofascist world. They fail to kill many Jewish children simply because Israeli children and indeed all Israeli civilians, are protected by warning sirens, bomb shelters and safe rooms. They and the adults around them are all trained to respond quickly (usually they have about 15 seconds ) to the sirens which herald the incoming missiles from Gaza. Outside Israel, Jewish schools centres and synagogues all over the world are forced to employ additional security. But these terrorists have tragically succeeded too.

Who can forget the Hatuel family, the mother, (8 months pregnant) driving her her 11 yr old, 9 yr old, 7 yr old and 2 yr old daughters from school, all of whom were shot dead at point blank range by Islamic terrorists? Point blank! Did anyone stop to ask what kind of human being could point a gun at a sweet and innocent, two year old baby girl and pull the trigger? What kind of grievances justify such an act of barbarity? Who can forget Kobi Mandell, 13 yrs old and his friend Yossi, 14, playing hooky from school who were murdered, stoned to death by Palestinian terrorists? Who can forget the massacre at the Sbarro Pizza restaurant in Jerusalem which killed 15 Jewish civilians mostly mothers and children and injured 130 others. And on and on it goes... Witness the celebrations in the Arab territories and throughout the Arab world, when Jewish people are murdered. What a sight to behold. Imagine a people celebrating the cold-blooded murder of women and children. Celebrating! Making heros and heroines of suicide bombers and childkillers! What kind of mentality does this suggest ?

When two soldiers accidentally strayed into Ramallah and were taken to the police station, a rioting mob of Palestinian youths came in and lynched them. They beat the soldiers to death, throwing their mutilated bodies into the street. From the window of the police station you can see, in photos taken at the time, the bloodied hands of one of the murderers, held up proudly at the window! What about the Passover massacre where families were gathered at the Park Hotel in Netanya for a Passover dinner when a suicide bomber detonated his bomb in the crowded dining room and murdered 30 people? Particularly present were elderly Jews who didn't have relatives, and other families with their children? Are these justifiable acts of an aggrieved people? But on and on it goes.

Many Israeli civilians have been killed, wounded and traumatised by terrorist actions over many years. Many Jews too, from Buenos Aires to the USA, Britain and Europe, the Near and Far East have been targeted along with non-Jews all over the world. We know this, we have ample tragic evidence, don't we?

What a deceptive statement to say that "Now" every Jewish child is a target. What about Mumbai, where but for the courage of a nanny, a two year old Jewish boy would be dead? He has been orphaned of course because the Islamic terrorists did succeed in torturing and murdering his mum and dad! And why? Not because they were Israeli. They were religious Jews and therefore, as the stated aim of Islamofascism, the most valued of targets. It's all the Jews they are after. Why? Well, of course because we Jews are all pigs and apes, non-believers, who by virtue of our faith are deserving of subjugation and death. What about all the other innocent victims of terrorist abominations? What is their crime?

The western media is entirely complicit in the lies and deception of Islamic terrorists, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and in the Lebanon, Hezbollah under Nasrallah and then the countless Islamic terrorist groups all over the world. They therefore are responsible for encouraging and exacerbating the situation. They too have the blood of innocents on their hands. By their selective reporting, bias and lust for exciting, dramatic images and stories no matter how fictional, by their near total ignorance of the complexities of the ME conflict, they have misrepresented the facts and caused public opinion to turn against the true victims of the conflict, the Israeli people, the Jewish people all over the world, indeed all freedom loving people and they have also damaged the Palestinian people who are being held to ransom by terrorist Islamic gangsters.

This is the reality, unpalatable as it may be. So for those who are too intellectually lazy to bother with the facts, for those who believe every picture published in the press and every sad story about Palestinian suffering ever told to justify the horror and terror of our times, this is the message. For those who are too frightened and thus prefer a state of denial to facing the truth, it's time to wake up, to question and to realise that now is the time to stand up and be counted, now is the time to fight for the truth, for our freedom and for our very lives. Now before it's too late!


End the cant and hypocrisy

From Jerusalem:

Anyone seeking a case study of the forces of good facing evil incarnate would not find a better template than our current confrontation with Hamas. And yet, having for years endured bias and the application of double standards from the amoral international community, we are pained that much of the global media continues relating to us in a malevolent and hypocritical manner. In lieu of being commended for defending ourselves against terrorists, we are portrayed as the heartless killers while the barbarians committed to murdering us are depicted as innocent victims.

Self-styled liberals refuse to face the brutal truth that that our Hamas neighbors have created a criminal society based on death and destruction. Like the Nazis, Hamas is committed to destroying the Jewish people and willing to transform its own citizens into martyrs to promote this goal. "A Palestinian who kills one Jew will be rewarded as if he killed 30 million," proclaimed Hamas legislator Fathi Hamad at a press conference. Whereas we grieve over the death of fellow Israelis and innocent Palestinians, Hamas celebrates the murder of both - the first as "apes and pigs," the latter as prized martyrs of Allah whom they gleefully exploit for propaganda purposes.

An independent state of Palestine is not Hamas's primary goal. Its charter unequivocally prioritizes the destruction of the Jewish state and killing as many Jews as possible: "The annihilation of the Jews in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine," said Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu Ita recently on Al Aksa TV. Only last week on Hamas TV, masked women clad in explosive belts and holding rifles vowed to become "martyrs" and blow themselves up among the "apes and pigs." From kindergarten, their children are brainwashed to sanctify their lives by becoming martyrs to the cause of killing the hated Jews.

In our desperate quest for peace, we elected successive governments which tried to achieve "peace in our time" by appeasing these fanatical terrorists - even unilaterally dismantling Jewish settlements which were subsequently transformed into launching pads for intensified missile attacks on our civilians.

During the past year, our government entered into a truce with Hamas despite repeated proclamations by its leaders that they accepted a cease-fire only to regroup and obtain more sophisticated weapons from Iran to be employed at a time of their choosing. Even that "truce" was never honored and Hamas continued targeting Israelis.

When Hamas formally abrogated the "period of calm" and began intensifying missile attacks, Israel finally responded militarily. Despite unprecedented efforts to minimize civilian casualties, even warning Palestinian noncombatants in advance of an attack, civilian loss of life in war is inevitable. However, had the IDF, with its enormous firepower, been targeting civilians as the biased media alleges, tens of thousands would have fallen. Besides, in the midst of hostilities, would the truckloads of humanitarian aid to Gaza have been approved?

Most casualties could have been avoided had Hamas not deliberately located its missile launchers, weapons factories and arms caches in densely populated residential areas, schools, mosques, hospitals and homes, cynically utilizing women and children as human shields. Hamas representative Fathi Hamad openly told Al-Aksa TV: "Palestinians formed human shields of women, children, the elderly and the mujahedeen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It was as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death like you desire life." Not surprisingly, those human rights groups continuously castigating Israel refuse to concede that such behavior would qualify as war crimes under international law.

NO COUNTRY whose citizens are continuously under missile attack from its neighbor would match the restraint displayed by Israel. I take no pride in this because I believe that the government's failure to respond earlier was unconscionable. It emboldened Hamas terrorists, accustomed the world to accepting that as long as many people were not killed, launching missiles against Israel was "tolerable" and effectively eliminated our deterrent capability. Moreover it doomed close to a million citizens in the South to becoming refugees in their own land as they took refuge from missile attacks which, by any benchmark, were acts of war.

Now, in a rare display of unity so far including even the most dovish Knesset parties, Israelis have affirmed that the outcome of this conflict must ensure that their citizens will never again be targeted by missiles. An imposed unilateral cease-fire with Hamas that fails to implement this would be akin to the US and its allies consummating an unconditional truce with a victorious Taliban in Afghanistan.

That is why international public opinion is so important. If the victims who defend themselves by killing Hamas terrorists and the perpetrators who target and kill innocent civilians are viewed as morally equivalent, that would represent a clear victory for the global jihadists.

Regrettably, there are sectors of the international community who once again are burying their heads. While the United States, Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia hold Hamas responsible, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for invading Gaza and employing "disproportionate" force and harming civilians.

Other Europeans, led by the retiring head of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, also accused Israel of responding in a disproportionate manner. One can only speculate how Sarkozy would have reacted had neighboring Belgium been launching thousands of missiles targeting French civilians. Or the Russians, whose response to the Chechnya uprising and mauling of Georgia hardly qualifies them to preach to anyone about proportionality.

Hamas is not a terrorist splinter group. It is the controlling authority in Gaza and determines what happens. Were it to curtail missile attacks and come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state, a cease-fire would instantaneously come into effect. Until then, it is responsible for every single Palestinian casualty.

Besides, since when is proportionality determined as tit for tat? And how does that apply to an entity which proclaims that its objective is to destroy the Jewish state? Would the inadvertent death of noncombatants become "more justifiable" if only more targeted Israelis were killed? Does Israel have to experience a mega massacre before implementing deterrence? What sort of sick thinking is this? As Barack Obama said in June when he visited Sderot, "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

Today, as never before, we need the international community to act in a responsible manner. We therefore appeal to our friends and people of goodwill everywhere. Raise your voices now and support our struggle to overcome terrorism. Hamas is not merely another brand of Taliban. It is also the surrogate of Iran. If Western governments appease this criminal organization at the expense of the security of Israel, they strengthen the forces of global jihad, signal moderate Muslims that it is futile to resist the fanatics and expose citizens in their own capitals to increased bombing attacks.


Yes, it's anti-Semitism

by Jeff Jacoby

CRITICIZING ISRAEL doesn't make you anti-Semitic: If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn't seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel's military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn't only the Jewish state's policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.

Demonstrators chanted "Nuke, nuke Israel!" and carried placards accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and bearing such messages as: "Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust? Happy Hanukkah." To the dozen or so supporters of Israel gathered across the street, one demonstrator shouted: "Murderers! Go back to the ovens! You need a big oven."

The Arab-Israeli conflict induces strong passions, and the line that separates legitimate disapproval of Israel from anti-Semitism may not always be obvious. But it's safe to assume the line has been crossed when you hear someone urging Jews "crossed when you hear someone urging Jewscrossed when you hear someone urging Jews "back to the ovens."

The Danish website Snaphanen posted a photo the other day of a pamphlet being distributed in Copenhagen's City Hall Square. On one side it proclaimed: "Never Peace With Israel!" and "Kill Israel's People!" On the other side: "Kill Jewish people evry where in ther world!" The leaflet's spelling left something to be desired, but its message of genocidal anti-Semitism couldn't have been clearer.

Likewise the message in Amsterdam on Saturday, where the crowd at an anti-Israel rally repeatedly chanted, "Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas." And the message in Belgium, where pro-Hamas demonstrators torched Israeli flags, burned a public menorah, and painted swastikas on Jewish-owned shops.

Only marginally less vile is the message that has been trumpeted at demonstrations from Boston to Los Angeles to Vancouver: "Palestine will be free/ From the river to the sea" -- a restatement in rhyme of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped from the map."

Let's say it for the thousand-and-first time: Every negative comment about Israel is not an expression of bigotry. Israel is no more immune to criticism than any other country. But it takes willful blindness not to see that anti-Zionism today -- opposition to the existence of Israel, rejection of the idea that the Jewish people are entitled to a state -- is merely the old wine of anti-Semitism in its newest bottle.

The hatred of Jews has always been protean, readily revising itself to reflect the idiom of its age. At times, it targeted Jews for their religion, demonizing them as Christ-killers or enemies of the true faith. At other times, Jews have been damned as disloyal fifth columns to be suppressed or expelled, or as a racial malignancy to be physically exterminated.

In our day, Jew-hatred expresses itself overwhelmingly in national terms: It is the Jewish state that the haters are obsessed with. "What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people," the British commentator Melanie Phillips has written. "First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear."

The claim that anti-Zionism isn't bigotry would be preposterous in any other context. Imagine someone vehemently asserting that Ireland has no right to exist, that Irish nationalism is racism, and that those who murder Irishmen are actually victims deserving the world's sympathy. Who would take his fulminations for anything but anti-Irish bigotry? Or believe him if he said that he harbors no prejudice against the Irish?

By the same token, those who demonize and delegitimize Israel, who say the world would be better off without it, who hold it to standards of perfection no other country is held to, who extol or commiserate with its mortal enemies, who liken it to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, who make it the scapegoat not only for crimes it hasn't committed, but for those of which it is a victim -- yes, such people are anti-Semitic, whether they acknowledge it or not.

Criticize Israel? Certainly. But those who so loudly denounce Israel in its war against Hamas are siding with some of the most virulent Jew-haters on earth. They may tell themselves that that doesn't make them anti-Semites. But it does. "When people criticize Zionists," Martin Luther King said in 1968, "they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism."


How 4,000 British civil servants are paid an estimated 133m pounds a year despite not actually having a job

Socialists treasure their bureaucrats

More than 4,000 civil servants are being kept on the Whitehall payroll despite having no work to do, it was revealed yesterday. They include nearly 3,000 tax inspectors who continue to be employed under the title 'presurplus staff'. Other terms used by Government departments to describe the thousands without work include 'people action teams', 'redeployment pools', 'priority movers' and 'career transition centres'. It means an estimated 133million of taxpayers' money was spent employing 4,634 'pre-surplus staff' assuming the average civil servant salary of 28,622. The figures, revealed by the Tories from parliamentary questions, are likely to deepen public resentment over the featherbedding of public employees.

It comes at a time when many thousands of private sector workers are facing the threat of redundancy or are struggling to find new jobs. State workers also benefit from guaranteed pensions - a privilege lost by millions in the private sector. Yesterday, Marks & Spencer employees were the latest to be told that their final salary pension benefits are to be scaled back as the company announced a wave of job cuts.

Francis Maude, Tory Cabinet Office spokesman, said yesterday: 'The New Year brings with it worrying uncertainty for millions in private sector jobs who are really concerned about what Gordon Brown's recession will mean for their families and the ability to pay their mortgage. 'Yet Labour ministers are treating Whitehall like a glorified job creation scheme. Mr Brown talks about creating 100,000 new jobs, but in reality public cash is being wasted on bureaucrats doing nothing. 'It is not fair to waste taxpayers' money in this way. Ministers should either scrap these non-jobs or get these civil servants back into productive work and restore their dignity.'

HM Revenue & Customs - the troubled department which, on top of its tax collection duties distributes benefits in the form of tax credits - employs 2,874 'pre-surplus staff', defined as 'individuals whose post or work is no longer being carried out in a particular location, no longer being done by that office or where such changes are planned in the future'.

At the Ministry of Defence - which has come under fire for endangering troops by cutting spending on vital equipment including body armour - 830 civilian staff are in its 'redeployment pool', while the Foreign Office has 212 staff in its 'corporate pool'. The Home Office has 62 'staff without posts', and Hazel Blears's Communities and Local Government Department has 56 employees allotted to 'people action teams'. Jack Straw's Ministry of Justice has 53 'priority movers' - a description given to staff 'without fixed posts' - while in Hilary Benn's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 89 employees have nothing to do.

The figures provide only a snapshot of how many staff do not have work at any one time and do not reveal how long employees were defined as 'pre-surplus'. Most of the numbers were disclosed during the summer, and include workers who were finishing jobs but had not been allocated new ones, and staff awaiting the start of a new posting. The figures for the Foreign Office, also include those on maternity leave. However, the data does provide a clear indication of the level of idleness in Whitehall at any one time. In addition, all departments failed to give details of employees' ranks - whether staff were from IT departments or in politically important Whitehall roles. And although the staff did go into the office, there were no details provided about the type of duties they performed there.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said last night: 'The number of civil servants has fallen in every quarter over the past four years. 'The figure for staff in non-permanent posts includes mothers returning from maternity leave and people returning from overseas postings waiting to be assigned a new role. 'It is ludicrous and offensive to suggest that these people are sitting around doing nothing.'



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Winner of the 2008 Award for Political Incorrectness is...

The man who took on feminist lies about aggression

It's that time of the year -- Christmas carols, shiny-wrapped presents, surprise visits by long-lost in-laws. And of course, our announcement of the annual Award for Political Incorrectness. Previous winners of this highly-sought after prize include California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who took up the dicey issue of paternity fraud; columnist Phyllis Schlafly ("Shame on members of Congress who lack the courage to stand up to feminist outrages."); and Mark Inglis, the double-amputee who conquered Mt. Everest.

Last year's unanimous winners were Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty, the former Duke lacrosse players who bravely overcame a firestorm of rape hysteria unconscionably fanned by the media and university activists. Let's open the envelope for 2008.

This year's award goes to an unassuming university professor who has devoted his career to the understanding and remedy of family violence. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and was elected president of the National Council on Family Relations and the Eastern Sociological Society. Needless to say, his resume is lengthy and impressive. When he began his research in the 1970s, the public was well-acquainted with the stereotype of beer-swilling men who bullied their wives. That was the good professor's assumption, as well. But when he published his research findings in 1975, everyone was amazed -- women were just as likely as men to engage in partner violence. When he did follow-up surveys over the following 20 years, the gender-equal results confirmed his original research. More surprising, when other researchers studied homosexual relationships, they found lesbians had the highest rates of partner aggression. There was a problem, but not with the research itself. The burgeoning feminist movement had staked out the domestic violence issue as its cri de coeur. The feminists had ginned up their own theory: Domestic violence is a hate crime perpetrated against women. Gloria Steinem said it best: "The patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself."

But what if all the research paints a completely different picture, showing heterosexual women are equally likely to aggress, and the highest rates of battering are found among lesbians? Obviously the hate crime theory goes out the window, and Steinem's breathless claim seems pretty far-fetched, as well.

So what's a good feminist to do about the good professor's research? Well, why not start a whispering campaign? Anything for the cause of female empowerment, right? So feminists at his university organized telephone ring accusing him of being a misogynist. He was picketed repeatedly. At the University of Massachusetts, a group of shouting and stomping women prevented him from delivering a guest lecture. (Yes, these are the same women who claim to be working for a more peaceful and tolerant society.)

In Canada, Pat Marshall, chairwoman of the Commission on Violence Against Women, made this charge to a reporter about her meeting with the professor's wife: "I have never met a woman who looked so victimized." But when the writer called the woman, she said she had never been struck. Marshall was later forced to apologize.

When the professor was elected president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, a group of feminists stood up and walked out as he began his presidential address. And the threats continue to this day -- recently one of his PhD students was told she would never find a job if she did her doctoral research with him.

In the face of such opposition, many academics would go into another line of research, or begin to skew their data to be politically acceptable. But he would have none of that. Rather than being cowed by the threats, he opted to expose the motivations behind the attacks. In one interview, he charged the criticisms of his work are "justifications of violence by women in the guise of feminism. This is a betrayal of the feminist ideal of a nonviolent world."

Then he went on to shed the light of truth on their tactics. Writing last year in the European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research, he cast the spotlight on how feminist academics conceal, deny, and distort the evidence. Then he detailed the ways in which feminists have corrupted the research on female-perpetrated abuse, even scheming to obstruct research funds that might identify female offenders. Finally he took aim at researchers who have "let their ideological commitments overrule their scientific commitments." Interested persons can read this no-holds-barred paper here. (pdf)

Congratulations, Dr. Murray Straus, director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. You are the winner of the 2008 Award for Political Incorrectness.


Photographers criminalised as British police abuse anti-terror laws

Fury as stop-and-search powers are used to block and confiscate legal pictures

Reuben Powell is an unlikely terrorist. A white, middle-aged, middle-class artist, he has been photographing and drawing life around the capital's Elephant & Castle for 25 years. With a studio near the 1960s shopping centre at the heart of this area in south London, he is a familiar figure and is regularly seen snapping and sketching the people and buildings around his home - currently the site of Europe's largest regeneration project. But to the police officers who arrested him last week his photographing of the old HMSO print works close to the local police station posed an unacceptable security risk.

"The car skidded to a halt like something out of Starsky & Hutch and this officer jumped out very dramatically and said 'what are you doing?' I told him I was photographing the building and he said he was going to search me under the Anti-Terrorism Act," he recalled.

For Powell, this brush with the law resulted in five hours in a cell after police seized the lock-blade knife he uses to sharpen his pencils. His release only came after the intervention of the local MP, Simon Hughes, but not before he was handcuffed and his genetic material stored permanently on the DNA database.

But Powell's experience is far from uncommon. Every week photographers wielding their cameras in public find themselves on the receiving end of warnings either by police, who stop them under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, or from over-eager officials who believe that photography in a public area is somehow against the law. Groups from journalists to trainspotters have found themselves on the receiving end of this unwanted attention, with many photographers now fearing that their job or hobby could be under threat.

So serious has the situation become that the MP and keen photographer Austin Mitchell, chairman of the Parliamentary All-Party Photography Group, tabled an early day motion last March deploring the "officious interference or unjustified suspicion" facing camera enthusiasts around public buildings, where they are increasingly told that it is against the law to photograph public servants at all - especially police officers or community support officers - or that members of the public cannot be photographed without their written permission. The Labour MP is now calling for a photography code for officers so that snappers can continue going about their rightful business.

Yet, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers, the law is straightforward. "Police officers may not prevent someone from taking a photograph in public unless they suspect criminal or terrorist intent. Their powers are strictly regulated by law and once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order. This applies equally to members of the media seeking to record images, who do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places," a spokeswoman said.

But still the harassment goes on. Philip Haigh, the business editor of Rail magazine, said the bullying of enthusiasts on railway platforms has become an unwelcome fact of life in Britain. "It is a problem that doesn't ever seem to go away. We get complaints from railway photographers all the time that they are told to stop what they are doing, mainly by railway staff but also by the police. It usually results in an apologetic letter from a rail company," he said.

In the summer, armed police swooped on a group of trainspotters known as the Steam Boys as they waited with high-powered photographic equipment to capture a 1950s engine called The Great Marquess as it crossed the Forth Bridge near Gordon Brown's constituency home in Fife.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has also taken up the cause, highlighting the case last month of the photographer Jess Hurd, whose camera was taken from her when she was detained for 45 minutes under Section 44 while documenting a traveller wedding in London's Docklands. Last week police were filmed obstructing photographers covering a protest at the Greek embassy in London. Scotland Yard promised to investigate. Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the NUJ, said: "It's time the police realised that taking photographs doesn't automatically mean you're a terrorist. Every month the NUJ finds itself dealing with yet more cases of officers infringing journalistic freedoms and, very often, exceeding their legal powers.

"Even the police's own guidance makes it clear that there's nothing in the Terrorism Act that can be used to prohibit the taking of photos in a public place. The authorities have got to do more to ensure that those people charged with upholding the law don't keep on contravening it by trampling over well-established civil liberties."


Media deception about Christianity and teenage sex

The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.

Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in. "Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes. In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: "Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study."

Here's the rub: It just isn't true. In fact, the only way the study's author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University, could reach such results was by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers. The study is called "Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers," and it was published in the Jan. 1 edition of Pediatrics.

The first to notice something lost in the translation was Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of both the Red Cross and the National Institutes of Health. Today she serves as health editor for U.S. News & World Report. And in her dispatch on this study, Dr. Healy pointed out that "virginity pledging teens were considerably more conservative in their overall sexual behaviors than teens in general -- a fact that many media reports have missed cold."

What Dr. Healy was getting at is that the pledge itself is not what distinguishes these kids from most other teenagers. The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. As she notes, when you compare both groups in this study with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking. Here are just a few:

- These teens generally have less risky sex, i.e., fewer sexual partners.

- These teens are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy, or to have friends who use drugs.

- These teens have less premarital vaginal sex.

- When these teens lose their virginity they tend to do so at age 21 -- compared to 17 for the typical American teen.

- And very much overlooked, one out of four of these teens do in fact keep the pledge to remain chaste -- amid much cheap ridicule and just about zero support outside their homes or churches.

Let's put this another way. The real headline from this study is this: "Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge."

Now, whatever the shock that might occasion at CBS or the Washington Post, it comes as no surprise to parents. Most parents appreciate that a pledge of virginity -- a one-time event that might be made at an emotional moment in a teen's life -- is not some talisman that will magically shield their sons and daughters from the strong and normal desires that grow as they discover their sexuality. What these parents hope to do is direct these desires in a way that recognizes sex as a great gift, which in the right circumstances fosters genuine intimacy between a man and a woman and at its freest offers the possibility of new life.

This is not the prevailing view, of course. And these parents know it. Far from conformists living in a comfortable world where their beliefs are never challenged, these families live in an environment where most everything that is popular -- television, the movies, the Internet -- encourages children to grow up as quickly as possible while adults remain locked in perpetual adolescence.

Nor do these families believe their children are better than other kids. Unlike the majority of health experts and their supporters in the press, however, they don't believe that the proper use of the condom is the be all and end all. For these parents, the good news here is that the striking behavioral differences between the average American teen and the two teen groups in this study show that homes and families still exert a powerful influence.

That, alas, is not something you're likely to read in the headlines. For when it comes to challenging the conventional wisdom on issues of sexuality, the American media suddenly become as coy as a cloistered virgin.


Caution needed in criminalizing spanking

A lawyer attempts a middling approach to the spanking debate below. Mirko Bagaric says that any harm in it needs to be proven before it is banned but that it is in principle bad -- so should be resorted to only when smacking clearly seems the lesser of two evils. I think that those comments come close to a justification of the status quo in most places

To smack or not to smack children? The issue will continue to divide the community until a reasoned and informed policy is adopted. Is a zero-tolerance approach to child discipline the mother of all nanny laws, constituting an unreasonable incursion into family matters, or should the law step in to "save" children subjected to any degree of physical chastisement?

The strongest arguments against any type of smacking are that it leads to serious forms of abuse and teaches children that violence is acceptable. However, these arguments have not been empirically validated.

There is a vast difference between the occasional controlled, strategic disciplinary tap on the bottom and an uncontrolled violent assault. It is absurd to think that adults aren't morally sophisticated enough to recognise this difference. The law recognises that it is acceptable to use reasonable and moderate force to chastise children, and while there is no firm line between acceptable and excessive force, few parents are investigated, let alone convicted of child assault.

There is surprisingly little concrete information about how smacking affects children in the long term. There is strong evidence suggesting that violent criminals are disproportionately subjected to smacking as children. However, nearly all adults who were smacked as children don't grow up to be murderers, rapists or even road ragers.

About three-quarters of Australians were smacked as children and it is incontestable that we live in a society which strongly disapproves of demonstrably harmful violence.

The only way to sensibly deal with the smacking issue is to rationally look at the interests of all parties concerned against the backdrop of accepted moral principles and empirical data regarding the effects of smacking. We need reliable, wide-ranging objective data on the long-term effects on children of minor levels of chastisement. Data about the impact of serious assaults on children is useless (unless it shows that small taps lead to two big whacks). That is already illegal and will remain so. If the research shows that children who are subjected to mild levels of smacking do not disproportionately experience psychological or behavioural problems, then smacking should be permissible.

However, until such data is available the default position is that smacking is morally wrong. Smacking proponents have not rebutted the starting principles that we should avoid intentionally inflicting pain and that certain (physical) pain carries more weight than remoter forms of harm (in the form of the distress caused by out-of-control children to parents). Still, like all moral principles, the prohibition against smacking is not absolute. There are worse forms of physical harm than smacking and no kid is more important than the next. It follows that it is OK to smack where it is the only way to protect the child or another person from serious physical harm.

In the meantime, both sides of the smacking debate need to make sure that they stick to the facts and don't abuse the rest of us with their spin - for this, no amount of smacking would be too great.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More on "Liberal Fascists"

By Jonah Goldberg

Hallelujah! The Bush nightmare is over. The dark night of American fascism is giving way to the dawn of hope, the Age of Obama. The forces of truth will once again prevail and the crypto-Nazis will be banished to their caves. That pretty much captures a large segment of current liberal conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic.

Over the course of his presidency, President George W. Bush and his supporters have been called fascists and Nazis thousands of times in books, articles, documentaries and by legions of poster-wielding 'progressive' youths with open-toed shoes and closed minds. Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone. For more than 70 years the Left has hurled the F-word at anyone who gets in its way - Stalin invented this tactic to de-legitimise socialist opponents, including Leon Trotsky, assassinated for leading a 'fascist coup'. As early as 1946, George Orwell wrote that: 'The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable".'

Today, a better working definition of a fascist might simply be a conservative who's winning an argument. But what if fascism means something more than 'bad'. What if fascism was not, and is not, a Right-wing phenomenon at all?

For instance, what were the motivating passions of fascism? For starters, there was the cult of unity. The Nazis mastered the spectacle of the crowd to project an aura of unity, equality and common purpose. Submitting yourself to the movement was sold as a cleansing, redemptive, fundamentally spiritual experience. Such spectacles were made possible by the cult of personality, the faith that a great leader would rise from among 'us' and bring everyone together. Well, where have we recently seen enormous rallies of ecstatic followers?

According to The New York Times, Barack Obama's own recruiters were trained not to talk about issues, but to 'testify' about how they 'came to Obama' the way one might normally talk about coming to Jesus. 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' Obama told mesmerised crowds. 'Unity is the great need of the hour,' he insisted. We need unity, he explained, 'not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential [empathy] deficit that exists in this country'. Or as his wife, Michelle, put it: 'We need a leader who's going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.'

It's worth noting that in the Anglo-American tradition, unity is not, in fact, the highest political value. That's why we have constitutions, separation of powers and independent courts. The hero in the Anglo-American tradition is not the mob, but the man who stands up to it. And yet the cult of unity remains seductive, particularly in chaotic democracies. One way it manifests itself is in the myth of the Third Way, one of Tony Blair's enthusiasms.

It's ironic how the Left is always ready to brand a conservative who steps off the politically correct reservation as a fascist, but sees nothing wrong with embracing concepts that fit neatly within the fascist wheelhouse. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were both sold as a Third Way that would bypass all hard choices. 'Neither Right nor Left!' was a central fascist slogan. The trouble with the Third Way is its core assumption that any hard choice is a 'false choice'. Economic growth and environmental regulations, socialised medicine and medical innovation, none of these things is at odds with one another so long as the right enlightened geniuses are in power.

The brilliance of the Third Way is that it sounds like a slogan for centrists and moderates, but is really a utopian vision for rule by benevolent masters. Nonetheless, it's also important to remember that fascist isn't necessarily synonymous with 'evil'. Militarism during the first third of the 20th Century was seen as the best means of organising society. Since then, liberals have been searching for a moral equivalent of war that would inspire citizens to drop their personal ambitions and, in President Woodrow Wilson's words, 'marry their interests to the state'.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal of the early Thirties was just such an enterprise, complete with militarised work, environmental and youth programs - the New Deal was initially hailed by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as a great fascist undertaking. These days, you cannot open a newspaper or magazine without finding some earnest liberal hoping, predicting or begging that Obama will launch a 'new New Deal'.

Obama styles himself after FDR and insists Americans must rally behind his agenda the way the 'greatest generation' fought the Second World War. But today, the desire to find a moral equivalent of war that will bind the individual to the State manifests itself in unlikely places. Consider the ever-increasing emphasis on 'the children'.

Ever since Plato, the idea of capturing the hearts and minds of children has fascinated social planners. Mussolini cast himself as a 'schoolmaster' to the nation, while in the Soviet Union a prize was given by the State in honour of a boy who informed against his mother and father. Late last year, a British energy company created a website to teach children how to become 'climate cops' and turn in their own parents.

Hillary Clinton summarised the attitude well when she insisted Americans 'have to start thinking and believing that there isn't really any such thing as someone else's child'. In her book, It Takes A Village, she reveals that babies of all classes are born in a state of crisis so profound that immediate state intervention is required. They need immediate aid from the 'helping professions' since even wealthy parents feel stress and 'we know that babies sense the stress'. If ever there was a utopian goal for government, the elimination of parental stress must be it.

Like so many progressives, Clinton seems ignorant of how her ideas might come across to people who don't already agree with her. For instance, those with a memory of Orwell's 1984 might be disturbed by her idea that the government should mount giant television screens wherever 'people gather and have to wait'. The screens would play, on a continuous loop, official instructions on how to care for your children.

Across the Western world, the politically correct micro-managing of daily life continues to intensify. In Britain, closed-circuit cameras, once used in the name of security, are now used to police everything from dropping litter to eating in your car. In Australia last month, a local government ruled that its beaches must be cleansed of sharp seashells that might cut children's feet. In Canada, thought-crime prosecutions are becoming routine.

It's also worth recalling that the mania sweeping Britain and parts of America for bans on tobacco, alcohol, fattening foods, non-organic foods and non-local foods has significant antecedents in Nazi ideology. Hitler Youth manuals proclaimed that 'nutrition is not a private matter', a slogan that summarises vast swathes of the eco-Left's propagandising. Nazis led the world in researching organic foods and alternative medicines (the concentration camp Dachau boasted the largest alternative and organic medicine research lab in the world).

Heinrich Himmler was an animal rights activist and proponent of 'natural healing'. Hitler and his advisers discussed the need to move the entire nation to vegetarianism as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism.

Even though we are greeted every day with countless stories of 'political correctness gone mad' we tend to dismiss them as solitary or silly. But the reality is that they fit into a bigger picture, a coherent Left-wing agenda. The idea is that there can be no safe harbours from politics. If 'you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem'. And it's up to the State and the social engineers to solve problems - whether you like it or not.


Why Liberals Still Think Like The KKK

The Democrat-led KKK opposed the liberation of blacks. The "anti-war" Leftists of today oppose the liberation of everyone else

Anyone who spends time reading message boards related to online news articles today can see things that are readily self evident. One of these self evident truths is that today's political and theological left still very much represent the racism they did when they initiated a secret society named the Ku Klux Klan. They do so in the policies they argue for and more importantly in the criticism they level against those who are brave enough to take action. Their anti-war extremism is one of the most telling signs. But don't merely take my word for it. Here is a sample from the Jerusalem Post from an American named John Ash:
I never realized Israel and its supporters had so many people who cheer on killing and destruction. The enthusiasm for the "brave IDF" is kind of weird when you consider that the air force is dropping bombs on defenseless people and the army is invading with tanks and artillery. The Gazans have not one airplane or tank, so where is the bravery in bombing and invading a defenseless area?
From another American poster who goes by LibertarianSoul:
I am so sick of this "war". Isreal has gone too far this time. Our country needs to let Isreal go it's own way. What is wrong with you people over there???? You've been fighting for thousands of years. When will it end? As a Jew, does God want you to kill Muslims? As a Muslim, does god want you to kill Jews? God will judge all of you in the end and I would think that judgement will not be in either of your favor. This is ridiculous.
These small samples were just the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of comments made. Yet here's the problem... When the party of left-wing America founded the Ku Klux Klan they did so because they wished to seize the rights of an entire people group, intimidate them into voting for the candidates they decided, and for anyone so messy as to get in the way they became people who did not deserve to live. One of the sitting members of the Unites States Senate who participated in Klan activity still sits seated by the same party that founded the Klan. His name is Robert Byrd. Power--even if gained through ruthless means--was the absolute objective to the Klan, and the Democrats who founded it.

The same historical parallel could be made by the ruthless rise of Adolph Hitler and his hatred based upon a person's race, skin color, or disability. For no better reason than to satisfy a dark perversion of his soul and to insure the kind of power that absolute fear instills in followers Hitler manipulated his own people to reach his objective, and to take lives. It should be pointed out that assisting him towards that goal was the patriarch of the newly revived (with granddaughter Caroline's Senate bid) Kennedy legacy. Joe Kennedy the father of Robert, John, and Edward sought to convince those at the end of World War I and through the duration of World War II that U.S. involvement by force was wasted effort, a task we could not make impact in, and ultimately the morally wrong thing to do.

It was Joe Kennedy then like his off-spring today who always threatened to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. military force. Force--I might add--that has never sought to expand the boundaries of our own "empire." And usually more times than not it was force that was used to liberate people, grant freedom to persecuted groups, and to topple genuinely evil concepts like Nazism, Facism, Totalitarianism, Communism, and on our own shores of slavery.

Thus the anti-war crusaders, and "progressive left" (as they like to view themselves) argue endlessly about the tragedy of collateral damage, innocent lives lost, and rights of the victims caught in crossfire. Yet ne'er do they speak to the atrocities being committed prior to the engagement of the enemy. In America, none of the anti-war groups that wished to see Bush impeached, said even a word about Saddam's brutal crimes against his own people.

Some of these anti-war extremists even argued to me personally that the Civil War was not a war that deserved to be fought. That slavery would have been a better alternative to war. This said to my face by those who are members of the political party that founded the KKK.

Israel is the area of greatest hypocrisy for these types. For while they utter complaints about innocent "Gazans" who may have perished never once do they bring attention to the fact that it is the Palestinians own militant arm of terror that places those civilians in harm's way to begin with. American leftists never fail to mention body counts of those killed in war, but never do they find it convenient to mention the numbers of innocents lost by the original acts of terror that precipitate that engagement.

Since the official "cease fire" between Gaza and Israel thousands of missiles have been launched at southern Israel. Hamas--an avowed terror group who goes so far as to publish their goals and objectives online--has made calculated moves to place their base of operations in places they believe they won't be found--hiding in civilian areas.

Israel has taken on the difficult task of re-entering Gaza, going house to house to seek and destroy Hamas members, equipment, and resources so as to protect its own population. In one of the most notably noble acts one can undertake in war, they even telephoned those living near the Hamas targets prior to the bombing raids to allow them time to safely remove their families from the areas. Despite that generosity Hamas has continued its all out assault and shows no sign of stopping. We would do well to pray for quick and successful raids in the region, and praying that the only loss of life that is encountered are by Hamas members directly. In doing this we can hope that less lives will suffer.

Because the alternative to not doing it looms as significantly greater loss for both sides involved. And that is what Liberals have trouble understanding.


French intellectuals collaborated happily with the Nazi occupier in WWII

The history of France under German rule during World War II is a depressing tale of collaboration, corruption and subsequent denial that taxes the will of even the most determined Francophile.
Writes Mark Falcoff in his WSJ book review of Frederic Spotts' The Shameful Peace.
Perhaps not surprisingly it was not a French scholar but an American one, Robert Paxton, who produced the first serious examination of the period (1940-44). Now comes Frederic Spotts, a British writer known for his studies of German history. With "The Shameful Peace" he lifts the lid on one of the least known -- and most shameful episodes -- of the period: namely, the role of artists and intellectuals in occupied France.

The first effect of the armistice was to convert the French capital into a kind of vacation paradise for the German occupier. . Representatives of leading Nazi figures, notably Hermann Goering, sacked the homes of wealthy Jews for masterpieces of art -- an expedition in which some of the city's grandest art dealers were pleased to assist. Even low-ranking German functionaries partook of the feast. "I never lived so well anywhere," a secretary-typist later recalled. "We could buy what we wanted. . . . [It was] the most wonderful and unforgettable time of my youth."

One area where the Germans completely understood what they were about, however, was in the co-opting of the French cultural establishment. What made the French experience of German occupation so different from that of, say, Poland or Czechoslovakia or Greece was that Hitler, far from trying to eradicate French national culture, chose to nourish it as a distraction from his other demands. . The most obvious minions of Berlin were fascist or protofascist intellectuals who had been at war with French democracy long before the armistice. . Here there could be no surprises. Other writers, however, had not been fascist proponents in the 1930s and simply went with the flow. As novelist Jean Giono put it with great economy of words: "I prefer being a living German to a dead Frenchman."

At a time when both food and fuel were painfully scarce, many cultural figures preferred to live well rather than poorly. The list here is far longer -- a virtual "Who's Who" of the French artistic world [including Picasso, often cited as a principled anti-Fascist, and Celine, often quoted by our detractors as an example of someone with obviously superior francophone sensibilities, artistic prowess, lucidit‚, and so on]. [Cocteau's] record of the times, Mr. Spotts writes, "gives the impression that the Germans he knew were visiting tourists rather than officers of an invading army."

. The need to nourish the myth of la France combattante -- the cornerstone of Gaullist ideology -- required far fewer collaborators than actually existed. The myth was also necessary to wrest the nimbus of Resistance from the communists, who claimed exclusive rights to it. Then, almost before anyone knew it, anti-Americanism became the ideology of choice for French intellectuals and artists, bringing both left and right happily together.
An excerpt on France's "blindness to several cardinal truths about the Occupation":
.the Occupation yielded its secrets only slowly and partially. The story remains complex and confusing, without a satisfying conclusion. Biography is still sanitized; history continues to be rewritten; silence prevails over candour. "The true France was not at Vichy, the true France never collaborated." So spake President Sarkosy as late as May 2008, on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War. But though the myths continue to be officially perpetuated, everyone in France knows they are false. Consequently there remains what de Gaulle once referred to as "a dull pain in the depths of our national consciousness'.

For all that has been written about the subject, for all the continuing [unease] and for all the importance of the issues involved, if you want to know how artists and intellectuals survived, worked and adapted, or if you want to have some idea of what cultural life was like and what policies were followed by German and Vichy authorities, you will have difficulty finding answers.

.Failure to understand the importance of culture in a nation's life was not a mistake Hitler made. For him culture was not peripheral but central to his Occupation policy. In the arts he saw a narcotic to be used to pacify the French and make them amenable to collaboration while he was busy with his war in the Soviet Union. So he not only allowed but actively encouraged a rich artistic life... At the . time there were . artists who socialized with the Enemy and in some cases toured Germany as Hitler's guests as though unaware that the two countries were still at war.

.After the war the German ambassador in Paris during the Occupation made the astonishing claim that "it would be extremely difficult to name any notable French artist who had not supported collaboration'.

Playing outdoors protects young eyes from myopia

The differences reported below do seem to be quite stark and well controlled so the "safety" freaks who try to stop almost all outdoors childhood play may be damaging the vision of those children

The hours spent in front of the PlayStation or at the computer play no role in ruining a child's sight, with Australian researchers finding that being cooped up indoors is what gives children glasses. Children should spend two to three hours a day outside to prevent them becoming short-sighted, says a study by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Vision Science. A comparison of children of Chinese origin in Australia and Singapore, which has the highest rate of myopia in the world, found the only significant difference was the time spent outdoors.

The study, conducted on the centre's behalf by Australian National University and Sydney University researchers, challenges the prevailing assumption that near work, such as watching television, reading a book or playing computer games, ruins vision. Ian Morgan from the ARC Vision Centre yesterday said exposure to daylight appeared to play a critical role in limiting the growth of the eyeball, which is responsible for myopia or short-sightedness.

Professor Morgan said it had been apparent for a couple of hundred years that more educated people were short-sighted, but the research suggested spending some hours a day outdoors could counteract the myopic effects of study. "Video games are as ineffective as reading on vision," he said. "Computers are pretty neutral, watching television doesn't seem to affect vision. The only difference we could find is the amount of time spent outdoors. "As you are involved in intensive education through to studying at university, you ought to be conscious of this well into your mid-20s."

The research says about 30 per cent of six-year-olds in Singapore are short-sighted enough to need glasses, compared with only 3 per cent of Chinese-Australians. Both groups spend the same amount of time studying, playing video games, watching television and reading books. But Singapore children spend an average 30 minutes a day outdoors compared with two hours in Australia.

Professor Morgan said similar trends were seen in India, with 5per cent of rural-dwelling Indians being short-sighted compared with 10 per cent of their urban cousins and 65 per cent of those living in Singapore.

Myopia is increasing in urban areas around the world, and is described as an epidemic in parts of east Asia, with Singapore the world capital. Australia has a level of myopia more commonly found in the Third World, with only 0.8 per cent of six-year-olds of European origin being short-sighted. They spend on average three hours a day outdoors.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Overdue change in the Netherlands

New realism about minorities on the Left

Something fairly remarkable is happening in the Netherlands, writes John Vinocur.

Two weeks ago, the country's biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch "tolerance." .If judged on the standard scale of caution in dealing with cultural clashes and Muslims' obligations to their new homes in Europe, the language of the Dutch position paper and Lilianne Ploumen, Labor's chairperson, was exceptional. The paper said:

"The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance." Government and politicians had too long failed to acknowledge the feelings of "loss and estrangement" felt by Dutch society facing parallel communities that disregard its language, laws and customs.

Newcomers, according to Ploumen, must avoid "self-designated victimization." . Instead of reflexively offering tolerance with the expectation that things would work out in the long run, she said, the government strategy should be "bringing our values into confrontation with people who think otherwise.". "Without a strategy to deal with these issues, all discussion about creating opportunities and acceptance of diversity will be blocked by suspicion and negative experience."

And that comes from the heart of the traditional, democratic European left, where placing the onus of compatibility on immigrants never found such comfort before. It's a point of view that makes reference to work and education as essential, but without the emphasis that they are the single path to integration.

Rather, Labor's line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society's social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders' becoming Dutch. . Indeed, Ploumen says, "Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally." Immigrants must "take responsibility for this country" and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, "The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship. "We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society."

And the obligations of the native Dutch? Ploumen's answer is, "People who have their roots here have to offer space to traditions, religions and cultures which are new to Dutch society" - but without fear of expressing criticism. "Hurting feelings is allowed, and criticism of religion, too."

.[One uncynical] explanation (that comes, remarkably, from Frits Bolkestein, the former Liberal Party leader, European commissioner, and no friend of the socialists, who began writing in 1991 about the enormous challenge posed to Europe by Muslim immigration): "The multi-cultis just aren't making the running anymore. It's a brave step towards a new normalcy in this country. "


Britain's misguided social "services"

The satirical Jeremy Clarkson mocks their badly misdirected efforts

When I was a keen young reporter on a local newspaper, I was dispatched to the council house of a young woman who'd called and said her home had been overrun by cockroaches. Home turned out to be the wrong word. It was a structure of sorts containing nothing but upturned boxes and several children who looked like they'd walked straight off the set of Kes. As we tried to sort out a family picture, it transpired that the woman had absolutely no idea which kids were hers and which ones belonged to what I'd taken until that point to be a puddle of lard but was in fact her sister. Nor did she have the first clue what cockroaches were. "You know what they do?" she said. "They burrow into kiddies' heads, lay their eggs and the kiddies end up with a head full of spiders."

That was 30 years ago, and you might imagine things on the sink estates of grim northern towns were much better these days. But no. Over the Christmas holidays we read about the Mansfield couple who went on a seven-hour drinking binge with their sick-encrusted baby. The father was an extraordinary-looking creature who appeared to be part mouse, part pipe cleaner, and the mother had six previous drunk-and-disorderly convictions. Plainly, then, they are entirely unsuitable parents, and unless the social services continue to keep a close eye, their poor child will wake up one day in a box under a bed and it'll be Shannon Matthews all over again.

I was therefore delighted to read last week that the government is going to take action to make life that little bit better for the children of this great nation. However, it is not talking about increasing its vigilance on children who are made to eat only what they can find in the heroin-laced stairwells of the tower blocks in which they live, or those who are sent out to exchange stolen car radios for six-packs of Rohypnol. Instead, it will be employing a vast army of men and women with clipboards who will come round to your house when your child is two to make sure it can speak properly. This is bound to be a worry if you are Glaswegian or the love child of Ant and Dec.

The initiative is being developed in response to a report that found some two-year-olds were unaware they had a name, let alone what it was. And that one in 10 of all children in deprived areas didn't know a single nursery rhyme.

Hmmm. I've given this some thought, and I can't see the problem. Nursery rhymes are cruel and terrible things full of stories about dismembered sheep and the bubonic plague. You have Simple Simon, who was obviously a retard, Hickory Dickory Dock, which is just rubbish, and Wee Willie Winkie, who ran through the town in his nightclothes, peering through the windows of children to see if they were in bed. Clearly, the man was a paedophile, and the less two-year-olds know about such things, the better.

In fact, I applaud any parent who hides these sordid and frightening stories and encourages their children to play Grand Theft Auto instead. But I very much doubt the parka army with its clipboards will share my views. Nor do I expect it will concentrate its efforts in areas where children are in real need of help.

In the same way that airport security people blunderbuss their antiterrorism efforts across the board, which means they are just as likely to jab a digit in the back of Harry Potter as they are a sweating Afghan with wires poking out of his shoes, social workers are just as likely to target the local vicarage as they are the sink estate. Indeed, they've already said as much. Someone called Jean Gross, who is spearheading the government's drive to make children learn nursery rhymes by the time the umbilical cord is cut, says that such problems also affect middle-class families, especially if their undertwos spend long periods in mediocre childcare while both parents work hard to pay off a big mortgage.

I find this a bit terrifying because I remember, when my children were young, having them examined by someone who didn't know them, didn't know us and could summon, with the stroke of a ballpoint, a government machine that could at worst take them away and at best give them a problem with a Latin name that they'd spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome. And all because they didn't know Humpty Dumpty was not an egg, or a fatty, but a civil war cannon.

I actually know one couple who, quite wrongly, had their child taken away. And could have it back only if they lived in secure accommodation with 24-hour surveillance. It remains the most barbaric example of a useless and dangerous system that now is set to get even worse.

When it comes to the rearing of a child, there is no definitive right and wrong. Social workers - whom I admire for the most part - will continue to be too cautious in some cases and too heavy-handed in others. Mistakes will continue to be made, which is fine if you are a shelf-stacker or you pick vegetables for a living. But when your mistake devastates a family, it is absolutely not fine at all.

If we go back to the children I encountered 30 years ago in that cockroach-infested house, it's entirely possible they are all now in jail for selling ketamine to toddlers. But it's also possible (just) that they are university professors. And let's finish with the example of a young girl whose father was an abusive alcoholic and whose mother became so fed up that she shot him dead in front of the child. Every rulebook in the world would say she should be taken into care. She wasn't. And she grew up to be Charlize Theron.


Another example of that wonderful government "planning"

The Australian city of Brisbane is suffering severe water rationing while a major dam in the region is overflowing! Beat that! Why? The Left-run State government built the dams and the pipelines but forgot about the treatment plants!

A $900 MILLION pipeline pumping water from the Gold Coast to Brisbane is operating at full capacity while the Hinze Dam continues to send millions of litres of water over the spillway each day. The Southern Regional Pipeline was commissioned last month and in the past six weeks has been sending 70 million litres of water a day north via the Molendinar treatment plant. About 50 million litres of water is diverted to the Mt. Crosby treatment plant to dilute the foul-tasting water Brisbane residents have encountered following the big storms late last year. The other 20 million litres is sent to Logan residents.

SEQWater Grid acting chief executive Barry Dennien said no more water could be sent to Brisbane. "The capacity constraint from the Hinze Dam is not the amount of water in storage," he said. "It's really about how much you can get out of the treatment plant, and we've got the treatment plant running flat out at the moment."

Between 200 and 260 million litres of water are pumped from the Hinze Dam each day to the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the capacity of the grid had to be weighed against the cost to households. "We will continue to augment our water supply infrastructure but we must balance any extra supplies against extra cost to consumers," Mr Lucas said.

While water restrictions have been suspended on the Gold Coast, Brisbane residents continue to face high-level restrictions. Gold and Sunshine Coast residents can do everything from washing their boats and cars to topping up the pool and water gardens. But Brisbane residents can use the hose for no more than half an hour once a week. That has not stopped Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke saying that Brisbane should keep its hands off water from the overflowing Hinze Dam. He was concerned that the water going to Brisbane would see the region forced back on to water restrictions. "It's crazy. We've been send- ing 50 megalitres a day for over six weeks. Brisbane doesn't need it," he said."

Opposition LNP spokesman Tim Nicholls said the water grid was flawed and better planning would have reduced the need for water restrictions. "The whole purpose of the water grid is to re-allocate the water throughout the region," he said. "If it were working properly you would think there would be equal amounts of water available whether you lived in Brisbane, or the Gold Coast, or at Pine Rivers or Redcliffe."

However Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the opposition was being hypocritical. "I'm surprised the opposition is calling for the Gold Coast to send more water to Brisbane when it has repeatedly told people there and on the Sunshine Coast that they were getting a raw deal," he said. "This is despite the fact that in recent years both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts were in drought and would have been able to benefit from the water grid now in place:"

The article above by Mitch Gaynor appeared under the heading "Coast's water let spill" in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 4 January, 2008

Child homicide rates reduced if spanking banned?

This is totally illogical. Because feral parents injure their children, everybody else is to be restricted? Ferals ignore the law anyway. Injuring a child is already an offence. There is no need for further laws -- just better enforcement and better vigilance over feral parents

Child homicide rates could be slashed if parents are banned from smacking their children, according to new research by Australian doctors. Revealing that a third of child homicides are caused by "fatal child abuse" linked to corporal punishment by parents and carers, psychologists have called for smacking to be outlawed. Of the 165 cases of child homicide committed in New South Wales W between 1991 and 2005, 59 were caused by physical punishments with young fathers and stepfathers the biggest culprits.

The call is being backed by Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive officer Joe Tucci, who said the risks associated with physical punishment were too great to allow smacking to continue. "I believe there is a link between the community acceptance of physical punishment and children who end up being killed," he said. "If you look at some of the cases in Victoria over the last four of five years, those kids that were physically beaten the carer who did it started off trying to physically discipline them and went too far.

New Zealand - which banned smacking in 2007 - and the US are the only comparable nations in the world with higher rates of child homicide than Australia, and lead researcher Dr Olav Nielssen from Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital said it was time for Australia to follow international lead. "A third of the homicides were due to fatal child abuse and any measure that reduced it is worth considering it," he said. "Everyone laughed when Sweden introduced it (smacking bans) 30 years ago, but in the 15 years after they did they didn't have a single case of fatal child abuse and a lot of other countries have followed suit. "I think most families could give it up and find other ways to control and discipline children and maybe one of the things we have to think about is alternative ways to train vulnerable families in better parenting skills."

As well as being responsible for a third of child homicides, Dr Nielssen said hitting children created a circle of violence with abused children often becoming bullies at school and involved in anti-social behaviour in the community. He said smacking bans, combined with strong public education about ways to better discipline children, would make the biggest difference in reducing Australia's child homicide rates. Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Nielssen and his colleagues also called on colleagues to act on the first signs of mental illness among parents to save young lives.

They found 27 instances where children were killed by someone during psychotic illness, which may be reduced if doctors recognised and treated the first episode of psychosis. Five children also died after carers gave them methadone, leading for calls to end "take away" doses of methadone so that the treatment was only provided to adults under supervision.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, January 05, 2009

Stuff white people like

They're self-important and ironic. They love organic food, Tibet and Noam Chomsky. They loathe corporations, their parents and Fox News. Christian Lander tells Nathalie Rothschild about the rise and rise of `white people'.
`It amazed me when I looked around and saw the reaction of all these people who considered themselves open-minded. They all thought the exact same way and I wanted to tell them "you're not open-minded, you're progressive and there's a difference". The same people would assume that every single conservative point of view was wrong and evil. I'm not a conservative by any means, but I see value in discourse and actually listening to the other side, whether they're wrong or right. But they wouldn't listen at all. They were as intolerant as the people they hated.'
Christian Lander, author of the hit blog and bestselling book Stuff White People Like, is telling me about the time Ann Coulter, the skinny, blonde, right-wing American commentator, came to speak at Indiana University when he was a student there. His fellow, right-on students only attended Coulter's speech so that they could shout abuse at her and try to shut the whole event down. They had little time for anyone whose outlook clashed with their own liberal sensibilities and passion for `tolerance'. `That contradiction just really irritated me', the Canadian-born Lander says from his home in Los Angeles. `And it really stuck with me and I guess inspired some of the anger that comes out in my blog and book.'

The very funny Stuff White People Like holds up an unflattering mirror to upper middle-class liberals. You know the type: dressed in shorts and Free Tibet t-shirts, they drive their Obama bumper sticker-adorned Toyota Priuses - iPods blazing `black music that black people don't listen to anymore' - to their local farmer's markets. There, they stuff organic veggies and free-range chicken into reusable shopping bags, before getting ready for yoga class, followed by an oh-so-ironic 80s night or a dinner party with friends.

Of course, you don't have to be white to be one of the `white people' that Lander satirises. As he says, `this is fundamentally about class, though there is a race element to it for sure'. He explains that `white people' is shorthand for those `who don't have to worry about paying the rent, who have followed college degrees that are based more on their interests or appearing smart than on any actual economic application. They are people who are doing things that appear to be beneficial to the world but are essentially just being used as status symbols.'

One such thing is working for non-profit organisations, which, as Lander's book explains, `white people like doing for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it gives them a sense of self-importance. They can tell their friends and parents that they are "helping" society, not just working to make money.' In the long run, however, such work can become lucrative, because `nonprofits retain their top executives by paying a salary competitive with similar positions in other industries. So you can be working at a non-profit and still make six figures, and you don't have accountability or pressure. White people can't lose!'

But some white people find easier ways of being charitable. As Lander's entry on `awareness' explains: `They firmly believe all of the world's problems can be solved through "awareness" - meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, magically causing someone else, like the government, to fix it.' The fact that you can raise awareness through things like dinner parties, marathons, t-shirts, concerts and wearing bracelets allows white people to `keep doing the stuff they like, except that now they can feel better about making a difference', whether it's to the environment, poverty, Africa or political prisoners.

Perhaps it is white people's fondness for self-deprecating humour (entry #103) that has propelled what Lander started as a jokey blog for his friends (`I only have about 25', he jokes, self-deprecatingly) into cult status in less than a year. It all started with a silly Instant Messaging chat between Lander and a childhood friend about what white people could possibly be doing when they're not watching the HBO show The Wire. They bandied ideas around and came up with things like `going to therapy, watching plays, getting divorced, going to yoga'.

It's not just white people, Lander tells me, who engage in these kind of activities, but they're `branded as white because they require so much money'. He believes part of the appeal of his blog is that it updates the yuppie concept. Yet his hilarious list of stuff white people own, do, say and think doesn't only apply to urbanites; it also applies to people who live in suburbs and college towns, and who hate all the `commoners' they are surrounded by.

Whereas the yuppies of yesteryear worked hard to obtain flashy expensive cars, watches and briefcase-sized mobile phones, the stuff white people like today reveal a desire for, as Lander puts it, `an altruistic status'.

Lander explains that The Wire, set in Baltimore and widely praised for its realistic portrayal of the gritty side of urban America, is loved by white people because of its authenticity. This theme - the search for authenticity, and the lengths white people go to in order to be recognised as an appreciator of authenticity - runs right through Stuff White People Like (which is subtitled `The Definitive Guide to The Unique Taste of Millions').

The problem, says Lander, is that `authenticity is not a renewable resource. We're not building any more Brooklyn brownstones or cities that look like London or Paris. We're building cities like Dallas. Authenticity is finite - and there's a lot of people with two last names competing for it.' (Note: for Lander the double-barreled surname is not, as it might be in Britain, a signifier of upper-class poshness, but rather of a person born to `progressive parents' who see it as sexist only to pass on the father's name to their child.)

The mass-produced, mainstream and modern might be described as the three forbidden Ms for the many white people who strive to express their individuality in strikingly similar ways. But behind their often conceited struggle for uniqueness there is, paradoxically, a desire to conform. These two desires are not easily united, and the impossible pursuit of being an individual while at the same time fitting in leads to a particularly angsty, narcissistic, snobby, duplicitous and guilt-ridden personality type.

White people don't want to be seen as elitist, yet they are at pains to elevate themselves above the masses. They care about the poor, but frown at doing anything that bears a whiff of `redneck' behaviour. Sometimes, their love of irony (entry #50) inspires white people to get together for `white trash' night, where they will do things like eat Kentucky Fried Chicken and drink Bud Light. `These events allow white people to experience things they are supposed to hate, all while feeling better about their own lives, decisions, and cultured tastes', writes Lander.

White people also love to hate chains and big corporations. But of course, they prefer to direct their ire at corporations that make stuff that they (and Naomi Klein) don't like, such as Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Halliburton, rather than at corporations that make stuff they do like, such as IKEA, Apple and Whole Foods.

White people are also sensitive about appearing racist. To this end, they love to have black friends (entry #14) and dream of being invited to `an authentic "African-American" experience such as a Baptist church or a barbecue restaurant in a neighborhood they are afraid of'. White people love ethnic diversity (entry #7) when it comes to food and cultural events, but they send their kids to private school `to avoid the "low test scores" that come with educational diversity'. And of course they feel guilty about this fact.

In the world of the class of people Lander writes about, things like iPod playlists, DVD collections, sneakers and juice brands take on a strikingly fetishistic character. Such things are seen as revealing a person's true nature and world outlook and are even thought to help make the world a better place. In truth, of course, such a highly individualistic, lifestyle form of politics doesn't affect any real change.

Ultimately, the white people Lander pokes fun at (and, as he admits to me, a lot of the time he is poking fun at himself) belong to a social stratum and generation that has had a very easy ride. Society has been so good to them that they have very little to complain about or revolt against. Their protests, therefore, either take on a very personal character or they are done in the name of `other people'.

So `hating their parents' (entry #17) - either for being too strict or too laid-back - is compulsory for white people, and this is something they can only come to terms with by going to therapy (entry #146). They are also keen to liberate other people, like Tibetans, even if they know little about such peoples' history. Tibet is the ultimate white cause; it has `celebrity endorsements, concerts, t-shirts, bumper stickers, Buddhism, and a simple solution', writes Lander. (T-shirts are a recurring theme in Stuff White People Like.)

Lander believes that today `there is a profound distrust in politics': `For example, I can't imagine that we can really fix the environment in my lifetime. And so the only response is to try and control everything in your immediate environment as much as possible. So if your house is green, you've done your part and you can sleep at night. That's what seeds so much of the selfishness of all of this.'

What bothers Lander is not green politics in itself but the way people do minor things in the name of `saving the planet' and then use this as a way of proving their moral superiority. On vegetarians, he says: `I think it's fantastic when people cut back on red meat because it contributes to a whole host of environmental problems, but I think taking it too far, constantly trying to guilt people who eat red meat into thinking that they're awful people or using it as a status issue, is a mistake and it's so full of pretentiousness and so ripe for satire.'

What Lander has got a beef with is that `green issues are so class-based' and that white people only want to be green because they can afford to. They don't really want to sacrifice anything, but `just want some sort of new technology that allows them to maintain their lifestyle, like drive a car with a different motor but not get rid of the car'. `I live in Los Angeles', he says, `and I don't drive a car'.

Though he is right to criticise the moral posturing and superiority complex of trendy, recycling cyclist types, it's a shame that Lander doesn't seem to recognise that material comfort and not having to make sacrifices are in fact laudable goals.

One of the `money fixes' Lander brings up in his book is carbon offsetting. `As much as white people would love to be able to do everything in an Earth-friendly way', he writes, `the reality of their needs sometimes just doesn't match up to current environmental options. For example, when a white person needs to travel to India for a yoga retreat, they are going to have to get on a plane and in the process release tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Though simply avoiding air travel would be a good way to solve this, that's just not a fair thing to ask. Fortunately, there are carbon offsets.'

Unfortunately, Lander seems to laud a society in which people suppress their desire to experience the good life in favour of the obscure goal of `saving the planet'. His focus on the hypocrisy of `white people' gives the impression that their goals are honourable, but their means of achieving them are not. I would say the opposite is true: there is nothing honourable about wanting to reduce one's footprint and presence on the planet, but there is something admirable in buying new gadgets and stuff to make our lives more comfortable. Fortunately, however, humour rather than political campaigning was always Lander's number one priority with Stuff White People Like. `What people do with [the book] is up to them', he tells me. `It can't change the world, but if it gets people talking about class and race, that's great.'


Substandard housing built by Leftist emptyheads

Looking good at the time is all that matters to them

RESIDENTS of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart. Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day "blitz" organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity. Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

A forthcoming legal battle over Fairway Oaks threatens the reputation of a charity envied for the calibre of its celebrity supporters, who range from Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt to Colin Firth, Christian Bale and Helena Bonham Carter. The case could challenge the bedrock philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity, claiming that using volunteers, rather than professional builders, is causing as many problems as it solves.

April Charney, a lawyer representing many of the 85 homeowners in Fairway Oaks, said she had no problems taking on Habitat for Humanity, despite its status as a "darling of liberal social activists". She said the charity should have told people that part of the estate had been built on a rubbish dump. One man pulled up his floorboards to find rubbish 5ft deep under his kitchen. Other complaints include cracking walls and rotting door frames that let in rats and ants. Many residents have complained of mildew and mysterious skin rashes.

One resident said her children were suffering from skin complaints. "The intentions are good, but when the politicians and big-shot stars have left we're stuck with the consequences. This house looks pretty but inside it either stinks or sweats," she said.

Judy Hall, the charity's local development director, said recently that it had been dealing with about 30 complaints. She added that skilled work was carried out by professionals.

Some residents dismiss their neighbours' worries. Diennal Fields, 51, said people did not know how to look after their homes: "It's simple stuff: if there is mildew, don't get a lawyer, get a bottle of bleach."


Australia: Racist attacks on Indians in Melbourne

The notoriously corrupt Victoria police fudge like fury on racial matters so when they say that "no specific ethnic group" is targeting the Indians, you have to decode it. In all the cases I have heard of, the attackers have been African. So my decoding of "no specific ethnic group" would be: "Mostly African, with a few Pacific Islanders and one white"

INDIAN students are being terrorised by gangs of thugs in Melbourne's suburbs in racially-motivated attacks. The number of crimes being committed against Indians, mainly in the western suburbs, has so alarmed police and the Government that several taskforces have been formed in response. The problem is being widely reported in India, threatening Victoria's multi-million-dollar foreign student industry. Police, the Government and the Indian consulate have joined forces to try to protect Indian students and residents, some of whom are moving out of the western suburbs because they no longer feel safe.

With almost 35,000 Indian students studying in Victoria last year, The Times of India has hosted forums on whether Melbourne is safe, saying the suburbs had "increasingly turned unsafe with a good number of attacks on migrant youth". The Times also reported last year: "Some of these crimes bear the us-and-them racial overtone."

Footscray, St Albans and Sunshine are trouble hot-spots, with police increasing their presence at train stations to curb the violence. Founder of the Footscray-based Bharat Times, Dinesh Malhotra, said crimes against Indian residents and students had risen in the past year. "Sunshine is pretty bad, quite violent for the Indian residents and the students," he said. He said Melbourne was not a racist city and it was a minority who were targeting Indian students for bashings and robberies.

Community leaders said Indian students were considered a soft target because they were not aggressive and often carried the latest gadgets such as mobile phones and iPods. As they were required to pay full fees at university and colleges, most worked to support themselves and were often travelling alone on public transport at high-risk times such as late at night.

Commander Trevor Carter said police had been aware of the problem for 12 to 18 months. "There was a range of victims, but people of Indian backgrounds were over-represented in the crime statistics," he said. Police launched an operation, code-named Repped, to have a strong presence around train stations to curb gangs.

Commander Carter said there was no specific ethnic group targeting the Indian students. Police would not release figures on how many attacks on Indian students had been recorded.


Racist poison from the Left

Last week the unspeakable Mumbai killers were asking who among their victims were British or American. This week Monash University is hosting the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association's "Re-Orienting Whiteness Conference". Connect the dots for yourself between foolish western academics with killing ideas and terrorists killing for ideas.

The keynote address, and public lecture, by Professor Ann Curthoys [The Curthoys family are old Commos from way back] is called "White British, and Genocidal." When the Conference settles down to work, after the Welcome to Country, there are academic contributions such as these:

"White Colonialism in the Early Childhood Field";

"Cultural Contagion in the Eye-To-Skin Encounters of Inter-Racial Sexuality";

"Whiteness and the Working Mother";

"Brown bully, white class; brown teachers exposing whiteness to white students";

"The Good White Nation Once More Made Good: Apology for Atrocities to the Stolen Generations";

"Re-orienting Racism. `Raggers' and `Rednecks' in Relation to a Proposed Islamic School";

"From Henry Parkes to Geoffrey Blainey: A Stronger and Persistent Strain of White Australia."

For real misery try an American whiteness studies academic journal called Race Traitor - "treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity"; "The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race ..."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Gender Mainstreaming": A Silent Revolution Dismantling Civilization

"Gender mainstreaming," an ideology that proposes to erase the foundational unit of western society, the natural family, is being infiltrated into laws and institutions around the world under the rubric of "equality" legislation and guidelines, says author Gabrielle Kuby. Kuby, the author of a 2003 book, endorsed by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, warning Christian parents of the danger of the Harry Potter book series, has written on the threat of the work of ideologues on the far left who are working to create a "new man" who can arbitrarily decide whether he is a man, a woman or some other "gender" unrelated to the natural distinctions of biology. "According to them," she writes, "there are not two sexes, but six or more, depending on sexual preference." "Behind the facade" of equality, "lurks the general attack on the moral standards to which we owe the Western culture. Without it, neither the family nor Christianity can survive."

In her article, "Gender Mainstreaming - The Secret Revolution," to be published in German in this month's edition of Vatican magazine, Kuby warns that the new ideology is being carefully inculcated into international law and particularly into the materials made available to educators to create school curricula. Kuby writes, "This view of freedom and sexuality, according to the will of the UN, EU and most European governments is to be imprinted onto the minds of children from the nursery onwards."

In the case of one national government, Germany's, the "gender mainstreaming" ideology is part of the guiding principles of every ministry of the government. The homepage of the German government's Ministry of Science says, "The Federal Government has established an equal opportunities policy based on the political strategy of gender mainstreaming as a universal guiding principle."

Kuby's contention is supported by John Smeaton, head of the UK's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who wrote this weekend that people in Europe who adhere to traditional Judeo-Christian values and ideas are under threat by anti-family ideologues working to enforce their anti-family policies and silence dissent. "Pro-life and pro-family campaigners," he wrote, "must expect to see the publication of documents, funded by the European Union, which promote abortion, euthanasia and other anti-life and anti-family practices - with a special emphasis on zero tolerance for dissent."

Kuby's thesis also corresponds with that of Babette Francis, a long-time campaigner for life and family at the international level who in 2004 told LifeSiteNews.com that the fight over the definition of "gender" has become the cornerstone of UN and other internationalist ideology. This ideology also links closely to the efforts of the international agencies to impose legal abortion on countries in developing nations. Francis said that the gender ideology was first raised at a seminal conference on women, Beijing +5, in 1995, when delegates argued that gender was a socially malleable concept and that human beings could not be restricted to the mere biological categories of male and female. The argument was that there is a "continuous spectrum and that there were all kinds of genders."

Kuby also relates that the gender ideology first found fertile ground when it was brought forward by a powerful group of feminist and lesbian NGOs at the Beijing conference. Since then gender mainstreaming has been pushed into international law with the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights of Nice (2000). As a negation of the traditional values of the family, Kuby writes, "abortion follows automatically as part of the global agenda" of the gender ideologies.

Kuby concludes with an admonition that Christians fight the incursions of the new ideologies. "At this stage of history, the main attack of evil is in the field of sexuality. Christians need to meet the enemy there, otherwise they will have lost. If the young generation is pushed into moral degeneracy, the human condition of family and faith will be further destroyed and abortion will never be overcome."


Karl Lagerfeld defends fur industry saying 'beasts' would kill us if we didn't kill them

Karl Lagerfeld is no guru of mine but I think he is largely right on this one. He is certainly an authority to many

The fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has defended the fur industry saying it is justified because the "beasts" fur comes from would "kill us if they could." The Chanel supremo said it was "childish" to even discuss the issue of wearing fur in a world where eating meat was normal.

German-born Lagerfeld, 75, a contemporary of the late Yves Saint Laurent, said that he did not himself wear fur. But he defended the practice, saying there was "an industry who lives from that". Hunters in the north "make a living having learnt nothing else than hunting", he said, "killing those beasts who would kill us if they could."

Animals should be killed "nicely" if at all possible, said Lagerfeld, who admitted to being queasy about eating meat. "I can hardly eat meat because it has to look like something what it was not when it was alive," he said. He concluded: "In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish." ....

A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) described Lagerfeld as a "dinosaur" who had got his facts wrong. She said: "Karl Lagerfeld is a fashion dinosaur who is as out of step as his furs are out of style. "The vast majority of fur these days comes not from hunters as he suggests, but from Chinese fur farms, where no law protects the millions of animals who are routinely beaten and skinned alive. "Lagerfeld's childish refusal to acknowledge the needless suffering behind every piece of fur and listen to public opinion means that he is being overtaken in the style stakes by an increasing number of designers who believe that cruelty has no place in fashion."


Britain shows that Leftist sex education does not work

Old fashioned approaches worked better

Affluent middle-class areas are experiencing the sharpest rises in teenagers giving birth, figures reveal. The number of teenaged mothers is rising in two out of three constituencies - and has almost tripled in some of the leafiest suburbs. Teenage maternity is also rising in two-thirds of the areas already worst affected, despite being targeted by Government policies to tackle the problem.

The damning statistics will further-undermine Labour's claims that is getting to grips with the issue through greater sex education and contraceptive use. Experts said young women are over-reliant on the morning-after pill or are having babies to copy so-called 'celebrity' pregnancies. They also claimed there is a growing distaste for abortion among well-off families.

Last month official figures showed a 2.7 per cent increase in the rate of under-18 pregnancies in England and Wales last year. Britain already has the highest teenage pregnancy levels in Europe. The latest figures uncovered by the Tories provide the first seat-byseat snapshot of the number of teenage girls giving birth. They show women aged under 20 gave birth to 42,300 babies in England and Wales in 2006.

The Nottingham suburb of Rushcliffe - whose MP is former Health Secretary Ken Clarke - saw the biggest increase in teenage births. In 2006, 44 teenagers gave birth compared with only 16 in 2002 - a rise of 175 per cent. Next on the list was the well-to-do West Yorkshire town of Pudsey, where the number of maternities to mothers aged under 20 rose from 26 to 60, or 130 per cent. And the leafy Surrey constituency of Epsom and Ewell saw a 113 per cent rise - from 15 to 32.

Other well-heeled areas which saw huge increases included Finchley and Golders Green in North London (81 per cent), Haltemprice and Howden in East Yorkshire (76 per cent), East Devon (75 per cent) and the affluent Cheshire seat of Altrincham and Sale West (73 per cent). The National Childbirth Trust wants schools to focus less on sex education and more on the realities of being a parent.

The Conservatives uncovered the figures from Parliamentary answers. Tory spokesman on children Tim Loughton said: 'Despite all the Government's smoke and mirrors on teenage pregnancy the fact is that in most parts of the country the situation is getting worse. 'Most of the areas that are already experiencing the biggest problems are seeing the number of teenage pregnancies rise.'

Former Tory frontbencher Ann Widdecombe said: 'Girls are increasingly sexually active and nobody is willing to tell them that they should not be. We are all afraid of being judgmental.' Norman Wells, director of the pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said: 'The Government's emphasis on more sex education combined with the confidential provision of contraception and the morning-after pill is counterproductive. 'It is giving the green light to girls to embark on sexual relationships when they might otherwise have refrained from sexual activity.' Nadine Dorries, a pro-life Tory MP, said there was 'no doubt' that the figures reflected an increasing distaste for abortion among the middle classes.

A large number of the constituencies with the highest increases would traditionally be considered wellheeled areas. A significant proportion have Tory MPs - usually voted in by affluent voters in suburbia or the shires.


Religious liberty

by Jeff Jacoby

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE made plenty of news in 2008, from court decisions legalizing it to the adoption of amendments banning it to the ongoing battle over Proposition 8 in the one state -- California -- where both occurred. But one front in the marriage wars rarely gets the coverage it deserves: the drive by gay activists to punish religious believers whose faith forbids homosexual relationships. Consider three (of many) recent cases:

In April, photographers Jon and Elaine Huguenin were fined $6,637 by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission for declining to shoot a lesbian commitment ceremony. The Huguenins didn't want to take a job that would have required them to disregard their Christian values. But the civil rights commission ruled that in turning down the work, they had illegally discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

Marcia Walden, a licensed counselor in Georgia, was fired for referring a lesbian client to a counselor better suited to help her. "Jane Doe" had approached Walden for help with her same-sex relationship -- a request with which Walden recognized her own religious beliefs were in conflict. Rather than provide insincere counseling, Walden referred Jane to a colleague. That colleague commended her for doing "the right thing" by making the referral, but Jane later filed a complaint, and Walden ended up losing her job.

Just last month, the dating site eHarmony agreed to begin providing gay and lesbian matchmaking services in order to settle a lawsuit accusing it of discrimination. eHarmony was founded by evangelical psychologist Neil Clark Warren in 2000 and had never provided a same-sex option. ("I don't know what the dynamics are there," Warren once explained.) But rather than choose a dating service that catered to gays, a New Jersey man decided to sue eHarmony for not doing so. It was "hurtful," he said, that the site required members to register as either "man seeking a woman" or "woman seeking a man." New Jersey's attorney general jumped into the case -- and eHarmony caved under pressure.

For many gay marriage supporters, it is not enough that same-sex relationships be normalized: Any private reluctance to accept that normalization must also be penalized. Freedom of religion is the first of our liberties, the guarantee that opens the First Amendment. But religious liberty is under assault by gay activists, and the First Amendment is getting battered. It ought to be a bigger story.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Leftist "justice"

With their remarkable dissent in Dougan v. State, Rosemary Barkett and two of her Florida supreme court colleagues give a wild start to the New Year. The case arose from these facts: In 1974 Jacob John Dougan and four other members of his Black Liberation Army began implementing their plan to (in the words of the trial judge) "indiscriminately kill white people and thus start a revolution and a race war." Armed with a pistol and a knife, they picked up an 18-year-old white hitchhiker, Stephen Anthony Orlando, drove him to a trash dump, stabbed him repeatedly, and threw him to the ground. As Orlando writhed in pain and begged for his life, Dougan put his foot on Orlando's head and shot him twice-once in the chest and once in the ear. Later, Dougan made tape recordings bragging about the murder and mailed them to Orlando's mother and to the media. Sample content: "He [Orlando] was stabbed in the back, in the chest and the stomach, ah, it was beautiful. You should have seen it. Ah, I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved watching the blood gush from his eyes." Dougan was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Some 18 years after the killing, on Dougan's sixth appeal to the Florida supreme court, Justice Parker McDonald, joined by Chief Justice Leander Shaw and Justice Barkett, opine in dissent that the death penalty is a disproportionate sentence under the circumstances. The dissent includes these striking observations (emphasis added):

"This case is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case. Wrongly, but rightly in the eyes of Dougan, this killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered. His impatience for change, for understanding, for reconciliation matured to taking the illogical and drastic action of murder. His frustrations, his anger, and his obsession of injustice overcame reason. The victim was a symbolic representation of the class causing the perceived injustices."

"The events of this difficult case occurred in tumultuous times. During the time of the late sixties and early seventies, there was great unrest throughout this country in race relations.. I mention these facts not to minimize what transpired, but, rather, to explain the environment in which the events took place and to evaluate Dougan's mind-set."

"Understandably, in the eyes of the victim, or potential victims, the aggravating factors clearly outweigh the mitigating; in the eyes of the defendant, his friends, and most of those situated in the circumstances of Dougan, the death penalty is not warranted and is disproportionate to the majority of hate slayings, at least where the victim is black and the perpetrator is white."

"In comparing what kind of person Dougan is with other murderers in the scores of death cases that we have reviewed, I note that few of the killers approach having the socially redeeming values of Dougan." (This apparently refers to the dissent's earlier observations that Dougan was "intelligent," "well educated," "a leader in the black community," "taught karate and counseled black youths," and once "participated in a sit-down strike in defiance of a court order" at a lunch counter that refused service to blacks.)


Influx of subsidized black renters raises tension in Bay Area

The usual stupid attempts to ignore the reality of huge black crime-rates below

As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren. In 2006, as the influx reached its peak, the police department formed a special crime-fighting unit to deal with the complaints, and authorities began cracking down on tenants in federally subsidized housing. Now that police unit is the focus of lawsuits by black families who allege the city of 100,000 is orchestrating a campaign to drive them out.

"A lot of people are moving out here looking for a better place to live," said Karen Coleman, a mother of three who came here five years ago from a blighted neighborhood in nearby Pittsburg. "We are trying to raise our kids like everyone else. But they don't want us here."

City officials deny the allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed last spring and seek unspecified damages.

Across the country, similar tensions have simmered when federally subsidized renters escaped run-down housing projects and violent neighborhoods by moving to nicer communities in suburban Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.

But the friction in Antioch is "hotter than elsewhere," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman Larry Bush. An increasing number of poor families receiving federal rental assistance have been moving here in recent years, partly because of the housing crisis. A growing number of landlords were seeking a guaranteed source of revenue in a city hard-hit by foreclosures. They began offering their Antioch homes to low-income tenants in the HUD Section 8 housing program, which pays about two-thirds of every tenant's rent.

Between 2000 and 2007, Antioch's black population nearly doubled from 8,824 to 16,316. And the number of Antioch renters receiving federal subsidies climbed almost 50 percent between 2003 and 2007 to 1,582, the majority of them black. Longtime homeowners complained that the new arrivals brought crime and other troubles. In 2006, violent crime in Antioch shot up about 19 percent from the year before, while property crime went down slightly. "In some neighborhoods, it was complete madness," said longtime resident David Gilbert, a black retiree who organized the United Citizens of Better Neighborhoods watch group. "They were under siege."

So the Antioch police in mid-2006 created the Community Action Team, which focused on complaints of trouble at low-income renters' homes. Police sent 315 complaints about subsidized tenants to the Contra Costa Housing Authority, which manages the federal program in the city, and urged the agency to evict many of them for lease violations such as drug use or gun possession. Lawyers for the tenants said 70 percent of the eviction recommendations were aimed at black renters. The housing authority turned down most of the requests.

Coleman said the police, after a complaint from a neighbor, showed up at her house one morning in 2007 to check on her husband, who was on parole for drunken driving. She said they searched the house and returned twice more that summer to try to find out whether the couple had violated any terms of their lease that could lead to eviction. The Colemans were also slapped with a restraining order after a neighbor accused them of "continually harassing and threatening their family," according to court papers. The Colemans said a judge later rescinded the order.

Coleman and four other families are suing Antioch, accusing police of engaging in racial discrimination and conducting illegal searches without warrants. They have asked a federal judge to make their suit a class-action on behalf of hundreds of other black renters. Another family has filed a lawsuit accusing the city's leaders of waging a campaign of harassment to drive them out. Police referred questions to the city attorney's office.

City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland denied any discrimination on the part of police and said officers were responding to crime reports in troubled neighborhoods when they discovered that a large number of the troublemakers were receiving federal subsidies. "They are responding to real problems," Nerland said.

Joseph Villarreal, the housing authority chief, said the problems in Antioch mirror tensions seen nationally when poor renters move into neighborhoods they can afford only with government help. "One of the goals of the programs is to de-concentrate poverty," Villarreal said. "There are just some people who don't want to spend public money that way."

Tensions like those afflicting Antioch have drawn scholars and law enforcement officials to debate whether crime follows subsidized renters out of the tenements to the suburbs. Susan Popkin, a researcher at the nonprofit Urban Institute, said she does not believe that is the case. But the tensions, she said, are real. "That can be a recipe for anxiety," she said. "It can really change the demographics of a neighborhood."


British married couples 'punished by tax system'

Married couples are thousands of pounds worse off than parents who do not live together under the tax and benefits system, according to a report by an influential think tank. Despite Gordon Brown's pledge to support "hard working families", those who marry or set up home together and establish a stable family are up to 20 per cent poorer, the Civitas study shows. Campaigners warned last night that the situation "punishes" families trying to do the right thing. A senior MP said it was "insane".

The findings will lead to further allegations that the system of benefits and tax is fuelling "Broken Britain". They will also reignite political debate over whether married couples should receive tax breaks, a policy abolished by Mr Brown in 1999 and likely to be a key battleground in the next general election. The report also found that so-called "pushy, middle-class parents" who provide a supportive home and try to find the best education for their children improved schools and communities. It said such people were "vital to the success of any society" and accused Labour of failing them.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "The current benefits system has huge inbuilt biases against socially responsible behaviour and the tax system punishes families who try to do the right thing. "Not only is this situation completely unfair, but it also undermines the creation of a better, more socially just society." The report, Individualists Who Co-Operate, said the system "penalises" couples who live together, adding to accusations that Labour's taxes and handouts are encouraging the death of traditional family structures. It found, in one case, that where a lone mother earned 10,000 pounds a year, and her partner earned 25,000, they were 5,473 worse off if they decided to live together. If the lone mother did not work, they were 4,522 worse off for cohabiting.

The report echoed claims that Government policies have led to the "perpetuation of single-parent families", adding: "Potential partners on low incomes (precisely those who can only make ends meet by combining their efforts) are discouraged from partnering (or re-partnering)." One in five of those who stopped receiving benefits did so to move in with a partner, it said, suggesting that more couples might live together if they were rewarded in tax breaks. "For many their decision to live together is a triumph of romance over economics. From their behaviour we can conjecture that, without powerful economic incentives to live separately, re-partnering would have been more common," it said.

Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "Britain suffers massively from the problems caused by family breakdown. "It is little short of insane that we have a tax and benefits system that encourages couples to live apart rather than together. This is something the Conservatives are committed to changing." Last month it emerged that a mother with a two-year-old son lost a 9,400 pound child care grant after marrying her partner. Kayleigh Tidswell-Brown, who was studying to become a teacher, and her husband Leigh were considering separating to claw back the cash.

The report found that marriage combined with full-time work was the best way out of poverty for couples with children. Research last year, from the Millennium Cohort Study, found that married parents are more than twice as likely to stay together as those who are unwed.

As Chancellor, Gordon Brown abolished married couples' allowance in 1999 and introduced tax credits that reward single mothers over couples. In his first Labour Party conference speech as Prime Minister, in 2007, Mr Brown said: "I reach out to all those who work hard and play by the rules, who believe in strong families and a patriotic Britain, who may have supported other parties but who, like me, want to defend and advance British values and our way of life.'' In his New Year address yesterday he insisted that his "guiding principle" was the wellbeing of British families and businesses, adding: "What keeps me up at night, and gets me up in the morning, are the hopes and aspirations of the British people."

The Tories are proposing a 1,000 pound tax break for married couples although there were reports in November that leader David Cameron is rethinking the plans in light of the economic downturn.

The Civitas report also suggested taking all schools out of state control, and ending taxation on savings, offering further support for those backing The Daily Telegraph's Justice for Pensioners campaign. It said that those who received more in cash benefits and tax credits than they paid in personal taxes had soared from 35 per cent of all families in 1979 to 45 per cent in the current financial year. On average each household with a total income of 25,000 paid taxes of 10,362 and received state benefits of 10,503, it found. The extent to which people depended on benefits had also deepened, with costs nearly trebling to 13 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product over the past 60 years.

A Treasury spokesman said: "As a result of tax and benefit changes since 1997, four out of 10 families now pay no net tax. The government makes no apology for targeted policies that have lifted over 600,000 children out of poverty, and greatly reduced the tax burden on working families."


Britain's "New Labour" attempts to export its police state

I lived almost five years in the UK, and during that time, I got to watch what happens to a relatively free Western society when the Nanny State crosses the line over into a police state. And make no mistake, New Labour's Britain is undoubtedly a police state these days. When I lived there, I watched as prison and/or draconian fines became a standard punishment for even the most minor of "crimes." Buy the wrong class of ticket for a train? Fine and prison. Use a garden hose during a "water shortage" (caused by leaky pipes in a country where most of the year is rainy and overcast)? Fine and prison.

Demonstrate within one mile of Parliament? Fine and prison. (This law was passed after ruling party MPs got tired of seeing angry anti-war demonstrators out of their windows on their way to work). Incidentally, this law means that most of Central London, including Trafalgar Square, is now off-limits for political speech and demonstrations. The outrage over that trick was great enough that the government has promised it will repeal the law at some point. Maybe.

Cameras popped up everywhere. Britain is the most-watched society on earth, with the government boasting that it can track you on foot, and even track your car's movements at every step of the way... and keep the information for two years. Own more than one mobile phone? The government is encouraging citizens to report you as a potential terrorist.

Are you a dark-complexioned Brazilian traveling on London's underground? Well, police may shoot you eight times in the head for no reason and then lie about you "being suspicious," but the chief of police will be "sorry" about your death -- while warning that such shootings could happen again.

Mandatory ID cards with biometric imprints have been created and implemented recently, first for new migrants to the country. Eventually, they will be mandatory for everyone. Don't have the card and cannot present it on demand to authorities? Fine and prison.

Don't have a TV license to watch television? We're watching you and we're coming to get you -- it's all in the database. The license, used to pay for the BBC, is mandatory for all TV owners and the British government is spending millions on a campaign to promote its ability to track you down. Don't have the proper car tax disk? You're being tracked, and we'll come to crush your car.

But the Labour Party government in London isn't content to stop here. It has a new idea -- let's censor the Internet!
The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to websites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said.
We have to protect the CHILDREN!
Giving websites film-style ratings would be one possibility. "This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," Burnham told the paper. Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children, the paper said.
And helpfully, the Good Minister Of What We Should And Shouldn't See offers this helpful observation:
He said some content should not be available to be viewed. "This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it."
Riiiiiight. "We" meaning government, "public interest" meaning government officials' interests, and "being clear" meaning a whole new hosts of fines, penalties and prison time for noncompliant nasties who dare to publish content Labour judges "not in the public interest."

So why am I blogging on this? Because Britain's totalitarian ruling party isn't merely interested in starting this latest revolution in its Brave New World -- it wants to export it here to the United States!
Andy Burnham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, published on Saturday, that the government was planning to negotiate with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

"The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the UK and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm," the newspaper reports the Culture Secretary as saying in an interview.
Unfortunately for the Minister, the pesky First Amendment over here would quickly put the kibosh on such a scheme (although the US government did make an attempt to implement a weaker version of censorship with the Clinton-era Communications Decency Act, which was largely stricken by federal courts. This is one carefully-wrapped package from London that the new administration should return to its sender, post-haste.

Source (See the original for links)


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, January 02, 2009

Divorce courts should start with presumption of joint physical custody

Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Executive Director of Fathers & Families, is a central figure in the new Newsweek article Not Your Dad's Divorce: How changes in child support laws, and a push by fathers for equal time, are transforming the way this generation of ex-spouses raise their children (12/15/08). The piece's author, reporter Susanna Schrobsdorff, to her credit, has a shared custody arrangement with her ex-husband. She explains:
When his parents divorced in the 1970s, they adopted the standard every-other-weekend-with-Dad setup. He remembered missing his father tremendously and didn't want that for our kids.
According to the article:
Fathers and Families believes [fathers aren't] getting a fair shake. Dr. Ned Holstein, a public health physician who heads the 4,500-member group, says it represents men who want more time for the right reasons. He attributes the fact that statistics still show that about 85 percent of primary physical custody goes to women to the variety of factors leading fathers to cede custody to mothers...

Why don't the men who are unhappy with the arrangements they have fight for more time? (Currently about 7 percent of sole custodial parents are men.) Holstein says the legal system deters them. "The lawyers are telling them, 'You can't fight this, you won't get it, and it will cost you a lot of money and heartache.'" While the numbers show that men who do fight for primary custody win as much as women do, Holstein says those cases are self-selecting: "They've been told in advance they have a chance at winning because they were Mr. Mom before the divorce-or there's an obvious problem with the mother."

Fathers and Families' Holstein argues that making kids feel at home at Dad's house is difficult when support payments can eat up as much as 40 percent of his after-tax income. They may have to leave the neighborhood for smaller quarters, leaving children's friends behind.

To change that, and to give Dads more time and an adjustment in child support according to the new laws, Holstein feels the courts should start with a presumption that there will be joint physical custody. Much of the research on the subject shows that a majority of kids who have grown up in joint physical custody arrangements report that they are satisfied with the way it worked, while kids who grew up in an "every other weekend arrangement" were more likely to be dissatisfied and want more contact with their fathers.
Some of the opposition's arguments in the article are problematic. For example, Jocelyn Elise Crowley, author of "The Politics of Child Support in America" and "Defiant Dads", says the problem with linking support payments and time spent with kids is that in some cases it can create a "less than pure incentive for fathers to ask for more time with their children."

This is a common feminist argument, and one which ignores the obvious converse--if a dad may seek 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it. Another quote:
Still, joint custody may not be for every family. Paul Amato, a leading researcher on the subject and a professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, argues that...forcing uncooperative couples into a joint arrangement could end up creating more parental conflict, which most experts agree is the most damaging part of a divorce for kids. "I do not think it's a good idea to impose joint physical custody on unwilling parents," he says. "This strategy is likely to do more harm than good."
I don't doubt that this situation isn't good, but what's the alternative? In most cases, it's the mother who doesn't want to share custody with the father. If you don't "force" joint custody, what you're essentially saying is mom gets to have sole custody and dad is pushed to the margins of his kids' lives. This is what's known as the "Hostile Parent Veto."


AR: ACLU sues over ban on unmarried adoption

More than a dozen families filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new Arkansas law banning unmarried couples living together from becoming foster or adoptive parents. The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the families in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to overturn Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month's general election. "Act 1 violates the state's legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else," said Marie-Bernarde Miller, a Little Rock attorney in the lawsuit.

The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families, including a grandmother who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild, who is now in Arkansas' state care. The plaintiffs also include Stephanie Huffman and Wendy Rickman, a lesbian couple raising two sons together who want to adopt a foster child from the state. "It's just wrong. It's an injustice," said Huffman, who lives in Conway. "I'm being denied an opportunity to provide a home for a special needs child."

The families claim that the act's language was misleading to voters and that it violates their constitutional rights. The lawsuit was filed against the state of Arkansas, the attorney general, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and its director, and the Child Welfare Agency Review Board and its chairman.

The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that campaigned for the ban, said it was aimed at gay couples but the law will affect heterosexuals and homosexuals equally. Jerry Cox, the council's president, said he will likely ask the court to allow the group to intervene in the case. Cox said he had expected a lawsuit to be filed if the measure passed. "We are confident this lawsuit will fail and Act 1 will remain on the books," Cox said.

Rita Sklar, ACLU Arkansas' executive director, said the group wanted to file the lawsuit before the law takes effect Thursday. Department of Human Services officials have said they do not expect to have to remove any foster children from their homes. The state had already barred cohabiting unmarried couples from becoming foster parents and was in the process of reversing that policy when voters approved the new ban. The law does not affect any adoptions that were finalized before it takes effect.

The ACLU had represented four plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the state's ban on gay foster parents in 2006. The Family Council had campaigned for the initiated act in response to that ruling. The lawsuit challenging Act 1 was assigned to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox, who had initially overturned the gay foster parent ban. The ACLU's suit notes that the council had pushed for the new law as part of a campaign to blunt a so-called "gay agenda," but the restriction affects heterosexual and homosexual couples equally.


Talk about surrender

Thr media took great delight in reporting the encounter between US President George W. Bush and a pair of flying shoes during his final visit to Iraq two weeks ago. But the great bastions of free speech missed the true significance of an Arab reporter throwing his shoes during a press conference in Baghdad. Bush has long maintained that it would be a fine thing to see the emergence of some basic Western values in the Arab world. Values such as freedom of expression. Perhaps the return to Iraq of a bit of shoe-throwing as the ultimate sign of Arab disgust is a healthy sign of a democracy, warts and all, taking hold. Iraqis had to wait until Saddam Hussein was dead before they threw their shoes en masse at his toppling statue.

Puerile as it is as a form of expression, Iraqis can now throw shoes freely at any leader, including the outgoing leader of the free world. So maybe Bush's final visit to Iraq is, after all, a healthy sign of democratic values taking root. What a shame those same values have, over a period of years, been uprooted in the West.

If 2006 will be remembered as the year the West rolled over when tested on free speech - think the Danish cartoons, which large swaths of the media refused to publish for fear of causing offence - two years on, things are worse.

The year 2008 deserves to be seen as a year of anticipatory surrender, a year when the West decided to roll over on free speech of its own accord. Just in case. No threats. No demands. Just suppress controversial speech in advance, just in case it causes offence. You understand, we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. In fact, such a trashing of core Western values is difficult to understand.

In no particular order, an audit of 2008 must begin with the comments of Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, who announced in October that Islam deserved different coverage in the media compared to other religions because Muslims were an ethnic minority.

While a spokesman for Thompson tried to play down the significance of what the head of the British public broadcaster had said by claiming that his boss was not calling for preferential treatment of Islam by the media, it's hard to interpret Thompson's words any other way.

The fact that a religion is identified with one or more ethnic minorities should surely have no bearing on other people's freedom to probe, question and indeed lampoon that religion, in the same way that Christianity is regularly subjected to criticism and comedy spoofs. It is deeply troubling that in response to claims by British comedian Ben Elton that the BBC would "let vicar gags pass but not imam gags", Thompson said that it did take a different approach to Islam. A public broadcaster that openly admits self-censorship of important issues may get a mark for honesty, but the price is taxpayer-funded vandalism of Western values.

The same rank capitulation occurred in the private sector when, in August, Random House pulled the publication of The Jewel of Medina, a book by Sherry Jones that told the tale of Aisha, the child bride of Mohammed. The publisher had received no threats, just "cautionary advice" that publishing the book "might cause offence to some in the community (and) incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment". Perhaps Random House took comfort, in a "we told you so" kind of way, that the publisher who did finally print the book in Britain, Gibson Square Books, was set on fire.

But instead of surrendering to perceived threats and real violence aimed at ideas and words, the West ought to be stiffening its resolve, declaring such barbarism unacceptable in a free society committed to freedom of expression. That is not happening. When Somalia-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali arrived in Australia in early August to talk about free speech and her right to criticise Mohammed, she was still accompanied by security to protect her from those who regard violence as a legitimate response to words and ideas. Hirsi Ali won't be silenced. Neither will Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who is also surrounded by security. The release in March of his short film Fitna, which is critical of Islam, wasfollowed by a fatwa from al-Qa'ida, boycotts against Dutch products, and attempts by Muslim countries to censor the film from the internet.

In the face of real threats, the tendency to curtail free speech even before threats arrive rather than offend minority sensibilities is spreading like a virulent cancer. Recall the case of the controversial Dutch cartoonist who was arrested in May and interrogated for his cartoons that mocked Islam. At least Gregorius Nekschot did not suffer the fate of Shafeeq Latif, who was sentenced to death in June by a Pakistani judge for insulting Mohammed.

But the West is killing free speech slowly - by more subtle means - through state-sponsored censorship under the grand name of protecting human rights. The insidious role of human rights commissions was exposed in June when Mark Steyn and Canadian magazine Macleans were hauled before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for Islamophobia. While the complaint was ultimately dismissed, the fact that words warrant oversight by a state tribunal points to a rank attitude to free speech where a person is required to spend copious amounts of time and money defending words and ideas. The same thing had happened in April, when the Ontario Human Rights Commission dealt with complaints against Steyn and Macleans. And in January, when conservative commentator Ezra Levant had to defend his publication of the Danish cartoons to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission.

As Steyn wrote of his experience of heavy-handed state censorship, the media "seems generally indifferent to a power grab that explicitly threatens to reduce them to a maple-flavoured variant of Pravda ... As some leftie website put it, `defending freedom of speech for jerks means defending jerks'. Well, yes. But, in this case, not defending the jerks means not defending freedom of speech for yourself. It's not a Left-Right thing; it's a free-unfree thing".

If large sections of the media - normally devotees of free speech - cave into what the BBC's Thompson called the "growing nervousness about discussion about Islam", that self-censorship ripples out to all corners of society. After the Danish cartoons fiasco, the onus was on the West to show its spine, to reassert its faith in freedom of expression. So far it has failed on that score. Let's hope 2009 is a better year for free speech and the West's confidence in itself.

Postscript: Beaufort Books of New York is the publisher of The Jewel of Medina. Miss Jones contacted me overnight saying the following:

Dear Ms. Albrechtson,

Your article on the West's capitulation to radical Muslims on free speech was very thought-provoking-and you could have included many more examples! I applaud you for speaking out on this crucial issue. Silence is consent, the saying goes, and if we don't exercise our freedom of speech to protest these attempts to muzzle it, we will certainly lose it.

I would like to make one minor correction regarding my novel, "The Jewel of Medina." Gibson Square Books has not published it-nor, as far as I can ascertain, does publisher Martin Rynja intend to do so. Shortly after the Sept. 27 arson attempt at his London home office, Mr. Rynja issued a statement declaring that I had decided to indefinitely postpone publication of my book. This assertion, of course, was untrue. Although we have corresponded with Mr. Rynja, neither my agent nor I have been able to coax from him a prospective publication date or any indication of his intentions for the book.

My only English language publisher at this time is Beaufort Books of New York. With my consent, this courageous publisher published my book in a hurry, on Oct. 6, in order to counter the dangerous rumors that my book was pornographic. Our strategy appears to have worked, for the threats and tirades against "The Jewel of Medina" and me have ceased for the most part. "Jewel" has been published in five countries-the US, Germany, Denmark, Serbia, and Italy-with no repercussions. We have had good sales throughout. In Serbia, the book was the number-one bestseller for at least two months and continues to sell well. It will debut in Spain Feb. 4.

For more information, feel free to visit my new website. Thank you for standing up for this most important of rights-freedom of speech and expression. And thank you so much for your attention here. I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year!


Defining greed is an indulgence of its own

Complicated times provoke simple answers. As the global financial crisis keeps unfolding, the no less global intellectual elite has readily identified the culprit. Political and religious leaders, artists and even some economists are convinced greed is to blame for our economic problems. A combined Google search for "global financial crisis" and "greed" delivers no fewer than 87,900 results. But is greed really the culprit or just a convenient scapegoat? And is greed an economic category at all?

In fact, it is not quite clear what greed means, so let's look it up in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines greed as "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed". If this is anything to go by then we should all sprinkle ashes on our heads and plead guilty. Not many people in Western society could honestly claim not to own more than they need. A microwave oven? Go cook on your stove! A plasma TV? Entertain yourself with a good book from the library! A car? Get on yer bike, mate!

Is it inappropriate to include these common possessions in the definition of greed? Should one draw a line between these normal, everyday luxuries and real extravagances? Maybe so, but then you would have to define where "normal" ends and greed begins. That could be more difficult than it sounds. Take Theo Albrecht, for example. You have probably never heard of him, which shows he is certainly not greedy for attention, although he is 16th on the list of the world's richest people.

Mr Albrecht is one of the founders of the retail chain Aldi. Starting with a single corner shop in the 1950s, he has made his fortune by opening hundreds of highly profitable discount stores worldwide. But from the little that is known about him, he is still leading a simple life in his home town of Essen in Germany, collects old typewriters as a hobby and plays golf. When he was kidnapped in the 1970s his abductors insisted he show them his passport for identification because his suit looked too cheap for a man of his wealth.

Mr Albrecht's lifestyle hardly sounds like one driven by excessive greed, yet it was enough to amass a fortune of $US23 billion. Not bad for him, but probably even better for millions of his customers. The Federal Government's GROCERYchoice website recently reported that Australian consumers could not get their basic staple products cheaper anywhere than at Aldi's. They may help to make Mr Albrecht richer still, but they are certainly getting a good deal themselves. Or could it be that they are a little greedy, too?

The story of Aldi and its customers is quite revealing as it shows how meaningless it is to discuss business behaviour in categories such as greed. Would we regard Mr Albrecht as greedier if he wore more expensive suits? Or are we more likely to accept a fortune made in retail because we think we understand it better than, say, the business model of hedge funds and short sellers?

Greed as a moral category is hardly apt to describe the business world. Business people may be ingenious and clever, they may make a lot of money and strive for ever-higher margins, but this does not say anything about their personal morality. And this kind of business spirit is the engine of our prosperity. Call it greed if you want to but without it you would hardly be able to fill your dinner table. As Adam Smith famously wrote: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest."

We are ready to accept the idea of self-interest when things go well and everybody benefits. Yet as soon as things get a little more difficult, we are equally quick to blame others and call it greed. If we were honest, they probably do not behave more selfishly than we do when we do our weekly shopping, and in principle there is nothing wrong with this.

The global financial crisis might have sparked a new wave of moralistic blame games. But by playing them, we do not get any closer to understanding what actually caused our economic problems. Analysing lax monetary policy and insufficient regulatory systems would be a better way to find out about that. But why hold ourselves up with details? Claiming the moral high ground by condemning others is the easier option when things are complicated.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, January 01, 2009

N.J. rules against church group in lesbian case

The church would seem to have a good first amendment defense

A church group that owns beachfront property discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony, a New Jersey department ruled Monday in a case that has become a flash point in the nation's gay rights battle. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their same-sex union in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's Law Against Discrimination.

While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, it does not end the case. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties. "What this case has always been about from my clients' perspective has been equality," said Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple. He said they will seek an order that requires the pavilion to be "open to all on an equal basis."

Church plans to push back. Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based group that represents the Methodist organization, Camp Meeting Association, said his clients would keep pushing back against being forced to allow civil unions on the property. "Our position is the same," he said. "A Christian organization has a constitutional right to use their facilities in a way that is consistent with their beliefs."

Meanwhile, the parties in the dispute are awaiting a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the issue should be decided in the division on civil rights or in federal courts. A lower federal court has ruled that the state could consider the case. The dispute has become a rallying point for both sides in the political battle over gay unions.


Close encounter with Britain's alienating Jobcentre

Jobless executives be warned: humiliation and incomprehension await you in the State's embrace

A friend of mine - let's call her Gill - was one of six directors recently made redundant by a well-known UK consortium. Once she'd recovered from the initial shock of losing a post that she had held for 18 years, Gill set out to find another. She knew it would take time and someone advised her to register as unemployed so that her national insurance contributions would be paid. So, like you, me or any raw school-leaver, she googled "job centre" and phoned the number on the website. She was given an interview slot at a local centre and told not to be late.

There follows a tale of such humiliation, misunderstanding and Stalinist bureaucracy that, on reading it, the shivers will run up the spine of every white-collar worker in the land. When Gill turned up at the given address, she found that the Jobcentre had been relocated to another part of town. By the time she found the new office, she was five minutes late and had missed her slot. "They made me sit on the naughty chair for a bit," Gill said.

The young woman who interviewed her was ignorant but condescending in manner and kept asking Gill why she was there. She was told that in order to get her national insurance paid, she would have to apply for job seeker's allowance, which she did not want. There was no privacy in the room. All around her, Gill could hear other sad citizens getting the third degree. The offical asked Gill what she used to earn, and then - unbelievably - repeated the figure to nearby colleagues, exclaiming: "Hey, I've never had anyone in here with that salary!"

Things went from humbling to comic. Gill's circumstances did not fit any of the boxes on the official's computer screen. And if she defied classification she could not exist. "Tell me what your job was and I'll do a job search for you," said the official. "Operations director for a Footsie plc," said Gill. "It's not coming up with anything. What about `area manager'?" "Yes," sighed my friend, by this time a broken woman, "area manager will do."

Gill must prove that she was looking for work. "You have to send off three job applications a week and you need to keep an exercise book of what you are doing," said the official. "Have you got an exercise book?" "Yes," whimpered the woman, who had once managed thousands of staff and a budget of millions. "Then she told me that she couldn't really do anything for me and I was told to report back ten days hence," said Gill.

My friend, who is in her forties, went away and did what senior executives do, phoning, networking. On the day she was supposed to return, someone invited her for a speculative interview. She called the Jobcentre to tell them. They told her she must fax proof of whom she was seeing and where. "But it's informal," she said. "I have nothing to fax." "If you don't provide those details it will invalidate your claim," they warned her. Sure enough, a week later she received a formal letter confirming that they were taking back 50 pounds of contributions.

The parable has a happy ending, for Gill at least. Within two months she managed, through initiative and contacts, to create another senior post for herself within a big company. But for thousands of white-collar workers who will, as sure as night follows day, follow in her footsteps, the story will not be so happy. How many, in the dark days of middle-class recession to come, will experience similar treatment from a system that is not so much hostile as simply alien?

There was, apparently, no one at the Jobcentre that Gill visited who was experienced in dealing with her circumstances. She felt strongly enough about it to write to Harriet Harman, but has not received a reply. "I amuse myself thinking, what if it had been her? If they did a job search for her - Cabinet minister or secretary of state - they'd probably come up with cabinet maker or office secretary. "As a businesswoman, I could see a system crying out for reform. They need to step up a gear. They need people working there with a commercial background; they need to make the boxes on the computer system more flexible; they need to retrain everyone. They need basic stuff like links on the government website about paying national insurance contributions."

Recently, it was suggested that the Government was thinking of asking universities to step in to provide facilities and to counsel senior jobless people. Meanwhile, companies sacking executives are spending up to 10,000 a head on job placement consultancies as part of their redundancy package. Such firms, which prepare CVs and seek out unadvertised jobs, are - as my friend also discovered - pretty useless. "Chocolate teapot. I found another job by myself," she said.

Bright, thrusting high-achievers have been warned. Should you fall from grace, through no fault of your own, do not expect the State to offer you a safety net. Just appreciate the ultimate irony: you could build and run a better system yourself. Funny, isn't it, when that's what governments are for?


Return of the 1950s housewife in Australia?

She sews, cooks, knits, gardens and raises chooks [fowl]. The housewife is back - with younger women embracing traditional domestic crafts in droves, new figures show. Sewing machines have rocketed off shelves in the past six months, with Lincraft reporting a 30 per cent increase in sales. "There has been a definite trend happening and we have also started to see an increase in dress-fabric sales," said Lincraft spokesman Jeff Croft. "Demand for sewing classes has increased - and one of the biggest growth areas has been knitting yarn, with a 10-20 per cent increase in sales compared to this time last year."

Spotlight spokesman Steven Carey said DIY craft kits were its booming sector.

The new housewife also appears to be turning our backyards into vegie gardens, with sales of vegetables and herbs surging across nurseries over the past 12 months, according to the Nursery and Garden Industry Association. Tomatoes are hot, as are beans, peas and herbs.

New data from social forecaster AustraliaSCAN shows home-based activities are the focus for people. The survey shows a 5 per cent increase in the number of people spending time doing craft and a 4 per cent rise in people devoting time to home cooking, DIY and gardening. "There has been a substantial shift in our mindset to a more old-fashioned, frugal lifestyle - that real waste-not-want-not approach," said social analyst and AustraliaSCAN consultant David Chalke. "There are a confluence of forces - the global financial crisis, enviromental concerns and a new cocooning - which are pulling together to form the new homemaker. "That's why we are embracing the domestic crafts again," he said.


Australia: Hot air is helping nobody

As this year of global financial turmoil draws to a close, it is timely to look at the penchant of our governments, state and federal, to prick the conscience of the community on the varied social crises confronting the country. Creating a public awareness of the lifestyle impact of these problems - ranging from youth binge drinking, gambling and urban violence to homelessness - is one thing but offering shallow, aspirational, politically based solutions is something else. The reality is that a lot of these problems have been exacerbated by governments opting for political expediency, without considering the long-term consequences of their policies.

We are told, for instance, that the homeless crisis in Australia is largely a product of these troubled times, which have triggered mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and other social problems along the way. No doubt this is a significant contributing factor. But let's not forget that in NSW, for example, it was the government some years ago that changed the law covering public psychiatric care, leading to thousands of troubled people being effectively turned on to the streets. This cost-cutting move dressed up as political correctness also led to the vagrancy laws in NSW because scrapped because they were seen to demean those who chose to sleep in public places.

The effect of this was to take police intervention out of the equation and turn the problem over to charitable institutions offering a voluntary service to those who used to be known as vagrants. The upshot has been a huge spike in the number of people, many of them in their teens, now sleeping rough in our cities and towns, often in the worst of circumstances.

We are told that of the 100,000 people now classified as homeless across Australia, about 16,000 sleep on the streets and in parks. Announcing his multi-billion-dollar 2020 scheme last week, Kevin Rudd said Canberra and the states had committed to providing 50,000 affordable rental homes for low and moderate-income earners, along with 3000 homes for those who were homeless or at risk of being homeless. And those sleeping rough will also be offered accommodation under the scheme. But the problem here is that many of the growing number of people who opt, for a variety of reasons, to sleep rough choose not to have a roof over their heads. Why should that change as a result of the Government's largesse until a deeper core problem of societal behaviour is addressed?

This year also saw the Government wringing its hands at the destructive effects of gambling and binge drinking. The latter led to the so-called alcopop tax designed to make pre-mixed drinks a more expensive proposition for young people. Needless to say this was as effective as the government-inspired, multimillion-dollar, feel-good Grocery Watch scheme, and simply encouraged people to drink something else, perhaps something more potent.

What should have been addressed here was the link between government addiction to poker machine revenue, particularly in NSW and Victoria, and extended trading hours in hotels, which have frequently contributed to anti-social behaviour. After resisting the temptation for years, the Victorian Labor government followed NSW down the poker machine path in the early 1990s as it reeled under an economic crisis brought on by its own mismanagement. The Labor Government in NSW, which is in an even worse financial state, simply cannot do without its regular poker machine fix.

And while all this is going on, law and order in NSW is deteriorating, with increasing levels of urban violence. But in what amounts to an insult to the intelligence of the long-suffering NSW public, the Government of Nathan Rees responded just before Christmas by announcing a three-month amnesty for those who turned in knives and some handguns.

Meaningless gestures such as these are just a waste of time and money. What the Government needs to do is to restore the integrity of, and community respect for, its police force, which it has systematically undermined for years through a policy of political correctness. The bottom line message here is that until governments face up to the real issues at the heart of the many serious social problems confronting the community today, the solutions being touted will amount to nothing more than hot air.

With the economic gloom threatening to worsen, Rudd can use 2009 to show leadership on these issues and take the states with him down a path of real and constructive reform, or lapse back into the blame game he claims to have disowned. The choice he makes could well determine his future.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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