The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

The primary version of "Political Correctness Watch" is HERE The Blogroll; John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Dissecting Leftism, Education Watch, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Recipes, Australian Politics, Tongue Tied, Immigration Watch, Eye on Britain and Food & Health Skeptic. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing). See here or here for the archives of this site.

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.


31 January, 2013

Political correctness hasn't blinded the French public to Muslim realities

A survey in one of France’s largest newspapers has found that the country holds largely positive views of Jews and a generally negative opinion of Islam.

The study, published Jan. 24 in the left-leaning Le Monde, reported that a decisive majority of French citizens consider Judaism and Christianity “tolerant,” while an even larger number consider Islam “intolerant.”

According to the survey, carried out by the Ipsos polling institute, 72 percent of the French consider Catholicism either “completely” or “fairly” accepting of other groups, with 66 percent sharing similar attitudes toward Jews. Seventy-four percent see Islam as intolerant.

Published Jan. 24, the survey also found that eight out of 10 French people believe Islam is trying to impose its views on others, with 74 percent describing the religion as “incompatible” with French values.


Dawkins causes Twitter row with Islamic barbarian jibe

Not content with upsetting the Jewish religion, Professor Richard Dawkins, the celebrated atheist, has now annoyed some Muslims.

Speaking about the damage caused to the library in Timbuktu, in Mali, he described those who burnt it down as Islamic Barbarians.

His comments have been interpreted as being derogatory to Islam and insulting to followers of the religion by some on the social networking site Twitter.

The best selling author of The God Delusion and Oxford Professor, Tweeted that “Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu's priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians”.

His comments were met with a backlash with many people condemning him of unfairly attacking Islam and ignoring the many acts of vandalism carried out by Christians.

But he hit back saying: “Some people (perhaps 1st language not English) think I was calling ALL Muslims barbarians. No. I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians.”

The row is reminiscent of a storm he caused last year when he was accused of making a “profoundly anti-Semitic” remark by criticising the Old Testament.

Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, claimed that a remark in Prof Dawkins’s The God Delusion, likening God as portrayed in Jewish scriptures to a fictional villain, was based on centuries of prejudice.

He said that although Prof Dawkins does not believe in God, he was nevertheless a “Christian atheist” as opposed to a “Jewish atheist”.

Prof Dawkins, an Oxford evolutionary biologist, dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous” and said he was not “anti-Jewish” just “anti-God”.


We must shine a light into the dark corners of Britain's  secret state

The Coalition should ditch the Justice and Security Bill, which would cover up Britain’s complicity in torture

When I worked on the City pages of The Daily Telegraph a quarter of a century ago, we young reporters were advised by Christopher Fildes, the paper’s legendary financial columnist, to take note of three corporate sell signals.

The first concerned the chief executive. If he purchased a string of racehorses, it meant that he wasn’t concentrating on the job and had got ideas above his station. The second was the appearance of a fountain in the head office foyer, a sure indication of extravagance and frivolity. Finally, Mr Fildes urged us to view with distrust all companies that shifted to a lavish new headquarters. Too often for comfort, he asserted, such a move presaged disaster.

When I moved to cover politics, I soon realised that the same rule applied in the public sector. The textbook case concerns the Home Office, which notoriously descended into a dysfunctional shambles after it moved from its headquarters in Queen Anne’s Gate to gleaming new offices in Marsham Street eight years ago. Likewise, the government Whips Office lost all purpose after being shifted from its historic 12 Downing Street base.

Something went wrong with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) shortly after it moved into its hideous new HQ, whose rear end overlooks the Thames with the same elegance and charm as the stern of an expensive cruise liner. I am not talking about the operational errors, of which one of the most recent has been the failure to grasp, despite warning signals, the role played by al-Qaeda in the Syrian uprising until too late. Far more troubling have been the structural problems that emerged after the existence of SIS was formally acknowledged in 1994 – by curious coincidence the same year as the building in Vauxhall was opened.

The first of these has been the propinquity between the intelligence and political establishments, a normal state of affairs in authoritarian states but always very troubling in democracies. This became manifest after 1997 under New Labour, when for a time SIS and the Blairite machine in effect merged. New Labour spin doctors travelled to Vauxhall to brief intelligence chiefs on how to conduct their public relations. Meanwhile, SIS shockingly tolerated New Labour’s use of secret intelligence as political propaganda.

This process reached its apotheosis in the notorious Iraq dossier of September 2002. Ten years have passed since the start of that catastrophic conflict and still questions remain to be answered. The Chilcot Inquiry, which was supposed to answer them (then again, perhaps it wasn’t) appears to have sunk without trace.

The second problem involves British complicity in torture. Like the repudiation of traditional intelligence methods that led to the Iraq fiasco, this had its origins in the merger between the security elite and the political class after 1997.

Bear in mind that Margaret Thatcher, when prime minister, had refused to countenance the use of evidence gathered under torture. This doctrine was turned on its head by Tony Blair’s government. After 9/11, though under pressure from the United States, British intelligence officers (from both SIS and the domestic intelligence agency MI5) were still barred from carrying it out themselves. But a new convention permitted them to seek evidence gathered under torture.

In particular, Britain became heavily complicit in what is known as extraordinary rendition, or the kidnap and subsequent torture of individuals as a matter of state policy. It goes without saying that this activity is against the law, and wholly contrary to our international obligations as a signatory of the United Nations Convention against torture.

Reports of British involvement leaked out at an early stage, but for a very long time were denied by ministers. Foreign secretary Jack Straw exploded in indignation when Britain was accused in 2005 of being party to the CIA extraordinary rendition programme: “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also, let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there is simply no truth that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition, full stop.”

Mr Straw has since gone quiet in the face of a mass of overwhelming evidence. This silence brings me on to the Justice and Security Bill, whose committee stage will today be debated in the Commons. A superbly researched Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet titled Neither Just nor Secure, by Anthony Peto QC of Blackstone Chambers and the Conservative backbencher Andrew Tyrie, argues that the Bill may stop the truth ever emerging about British involvement in torture. It enables government secretly to present evidence in civil cases, without allowing the other party or his or her lawyers to see it. The other party can never even know, let alone challenge, the evidence presented against him. A judge will decide whether the evidence should be heard in open court.

Second, the Bill blocks the courts from using the information-gathering legal principle known as Norwich Pharmacal. “This would make it harder,” argue the authors, “to uncover official wrongdoing in matters such as extraordinary rendition.”

Third, the authors demonstrate that the mechanisms set up by John Major in the Intelligence Services Act of 1994 to make the security services accountable have failed. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is beyond incompetent. It is supposed to oversee the security services. In 2007, the hapless ISC found no evidence of complicity in any extraordinary rendition operations in a notorious report from which, it has now emerged, 42 vital documents had been withheld. The Gibson Inquiry into rendition, set up by David Cameron in 2010, was just as useless and has now been abandoned.

Successive ISC chairmen (the former foreign office minister Kim Howells has been the worst) have been bossed around by government, and shown a feeble-minded naivety. “In recent years,” the authors note, “a string of appointees have come out of Government to chair the Committee only to return to the front bench afterwards.” Nothing in the Justice and Security Bill remedies this toothlessness.

John le Carré once wrote that “the only real measure of a nation’s political health” is the state of its intelligence services. For much of the last century (as readers of Mr le Carré’s novels can surmise) they have manifested a distinctive British integrity, ruthlessness, tolerance, eccentricity, and breathtaking heroism when required.

But, if Mr le Carré is right, something must have gone wrong with 21st-century Britain. Few sensible people would deny that we need effective security services, nor that the great majority of people who work for them are highly capable and patriotic, condemned by the nature of their work to stay quiet about their achievements and the bravery of what they do.

But the best intelligence officers admit that British complicity in torture has amounted to a thoroughgoing betrayal of our values, acted as a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, and made intelligence gathering more difficult. Deepening the secret state is a step in the wrong direction. The objective of any decent government should be to expose as much of the truth as we can about British involvement in torture, not to hush it up. It’s time for the Coalition to ditch its shameful little Bill.


State funding for political parties leads to arrogance, corruption and authoritarianism

One of the saddest consequences of the Westminster expenses revelations is that sensible people are now wondering whether there might, after all, be something in the idea of state funding for political parties. Perhaps you are one of them. Perhaps you imagine that, for all its disadvantages, it would at least take some of the sleaze out of the system. Perhaps you have reluctantly concluded that it would be a lesser evil than making parties dependent on trade unions and wealthy donors. If your thoughts are trending that way, my friend, look at what is happening in Brussels.

Since 2003, the European Parliament has paid for pan-European political parties. There are currently 13, and each is funded in proportion to the number of MEPs who support it. The little ones might get a couple of hundred thousand euros a year. The behemoths – the Party of European Socialists and the European People's Party – qualify for several millions.

Europe's various fascist movements recently buried their mutual loathing for long enough to set up such a party, which means that they qualify for, by my reckoning, a little under €300,000 a year.

Most MEPs have reacted with drooling horror. But, under the current system, there is no question that the BNP, Jobbik and the rest are eligible for their share. The best legal brains in the European Parliament examined the matter, but could find no loophole. Shaven-headed losers who spend their time trolling blogs from their mothers' basements are as entitled to representation as anyone else, and their representatives can't be distinguished in law from other duly elected MEPs.

When the law doesn't serve their purpose, Euro-integrationists are quick to discard it. They are currently amending the rules so that a party can be deprived of funds if it fails to uphold 'European values'. Who will determine whether it meets the criteria? In the last analysis, a plenary vote of the European Parliament. In other words, the question of whether a party qualifies will be in the hands of its political opponents, who will have a direct financial interest in barring it since, if it is dissolved, its share of the funding will be divided among the other parties.

If that doesn't alarm you, it should. The de-registration of opposition movements is the favoured tactic of dictators the world over. Most autocracies now hold regular elections: Iran, China, Zimbabwe. But participation in those elections is restricted to approved parties. A Polish MEP, shocked by the current proposal, told me: 'This is exactly what the Communists did. They didn't ban elections. They just banned the people they didn't like from contesting the elections'.

Depriving a party of funds is not the same as preventing it from fielding candidates, of course. But the principle has now been established that some parties, in effect, get to sit in judgment on others. ‘Ah, but this is aimed only at the far Right,’ say supporters. This is not the moment to rehash my argument about how the parties in question might just as well be designated ‘far Left’: they subscribe to an ideology called ‘Third Positionism’, whose roots lie in Strasserism and National Bolshevism, describe themselves as ‘beyond Left and Right’, and want authoritarian governments, high tariff walls, regulated economies, confiscatory taxation and the repatriation of immigrants.

That, though, is a discussion for another day. I really shouldn't have to distance myself from the parties in question. It is surely enough to note that we are abandoning a law-based system for an arbitrary one. Who is to say which parties might are 'anti-European'? Today, it's the BNP. Tomorrow it might be UKIP. The day after, perhaps, the Conservatives.

Yet people are afraid to complain because they know that their objections, however phrased, will be caricatured as sympathy with the fascists. Here, for example, is Nick Lowles from Hope Not Hate commenting on UKIP’s principled opposition to the system: 'It's bad enough that almost £400,000 of taxpayers' money is going to line the election war chest of Nick Griffin and his extremist chums. But what really sticks in the throat is that Nigel Farage and his party are prepared to sit back and let this happen.' Here is the almost unbelievably small-minded Labour MEP Mary Honeyball: 'UKIP shows true colours by refusing to oppose EU funding for far-right parties.'

For the sake of full disclosure, let me declare an interest. I am involved with running the trans-national conservative alliance, the AECR. I like to think that we are doing useful work spreading free-market doctrines in Europe, and encouraging the rule of law in the former Soviet Union and the Arab Spring countries. But, obviously, I would much rather that there were no such things as state-funded parties. Conservative MEPs voted against their establishment, and would vote for their abolition. If there were way of returning our funds to the taxpayer, we would do it tomorrow, but there isn't: if we didn't exist, our share of the budget would simply be divided up among the other parties. That's how state funding works: everyone is, in effect, forced to take part.

As for the idea that subsidies are an antidote to corruption, look at the countries in Europe which rely on it most heavily: Greece, Italy, Belgium. I'm afraid that, human nature being what it is, once people know that there is a subsidy to be claimed, they start arranging their affairs around qualifying for it. And, of course, being able to compel donations by law, rather than having to solicit them politely, does nothing to make politicians more modest.

To present the choice as being between plutocratic donations and state funding is quite misleading. The Internet has made it possible for parties to raise large sums in small denominations. More than three million Americans contributed financially to the recent Obama election fund. The average donation was $85. British and European parties should try to do the same. And if they can't manage it, well, they'll just have to learn to get by with less.



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

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

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


30 January, 2013

British government is forced into a "secret justice" U-turn after protests in House of Lords

Kenneth Clarke will today perform an embarrassing U-turn over his plans for secret courts.

The former Justice Secretary will announce that judges will be given full control over when to hold secret hearings – overturning the original legislation which would have allowed ministers to take these decisions.

He will also introduce changes to enable judges to revoke secret courts at any point in proceedings.

A source last night confirmed that the Cabinet minister will lay down amendments to the controversial Justice and Security Bill to ‘reflect concerns’ made when the legislation was discussed in the Lords in the autumn.

Despite Mr Clarke’s capitulation, critics including Tory MP David Davis are likely to argue that the proposals are still a threat to centuries-old liberties.

And yesterday it emerged that another MP is planning to lay down further amendments after calling the Bill ‘neither just nor secure’.

The Government argued that plans to allow some courts to sit in secret to hear evidence from spies were vital for national security.

It said the moves were essential to allow the state to defend itself in civil cases – notably against accusations of being complicit in torture – without having to disclose sensitive intelligence material to claimants.

But in November, the Lords inflicted a series of defeats as rebel Tories and Lib Dems joined Labour to oppose the changes.

Today Mr Clarke, who despite being no longer Justice Secretary  is still guiding the Bill through Parliament, will lay down a series of amendments giving in to the peers’ main concerns.

The main changes are that judges, not ministers, will have the right to decide what is heard in secret – even in cases of national security – and will be given the power to revoke ‘closed material proceedings’ at any point.  And plaintiffs in civil trials will be granted the right to request a secret hearing, not just the Government.

The proposals have come in for serious criticism from many Conservatives worried about the implications for civil liberties.

A report published on Monday by senior Tory MP Andrew Tyrie and leading QC Anthony Peto said the plans would undermine centuries of open justice.

They said that, unless the Government rewrites its proposals to hold court cases covering national security behind closed doors, it risks eroding Britain’s moral standing in the world.

‘The Government must make major changes to the Bill or risk prejudicing both Britain’s system of open justice and our moral standing in the world,’ it added.

MPs will scrutinise the legislation line by line this week and are expected to report to the Commons by mid-February. Mr Tyrie, who also chairs the Treasury Select Committee, is planning to table amendments of his own, including restricting the powers of judges to order secret hearings.

He also said the Bill should have a clause limiting the life of the legislation to five years and said parties excluded from the hearing should receive a summary of the national security-sensitive material.

He added that, when secret hearings are approved, judges should be able to use their discretion in balancing justice and national security to determine whether evidence should be disclosed.


"High speed rail" coming to Britain  -- very slowly

A sad comparison with the past

Should ministers have been expecting acclaim yester- day following the announcement of the high-speed rail link extension, they will have been sorely disappointed.  For instead of praise, they were greeted by a chorus of disapproval.

Some critics complained that the £33 billion HS2 project — which aims to carry fast trains between London, the Midlands and the North — is too costly for a time when the Treasury is mired in debt.

Others worried about the environmental damage and the blight on property values near the proposed route.

The Government’s claim that the line will re-balance the economy between the North and South has also been met with angry scepticism.  Indeed, some say that it could have precisely the opposite effect, enabling the capital to draw in more commuters from further afield.

But there is a fundamental problem with the planned North-South rail link: why on earth is it going to take so long to build?

According to the Government’s timetable, the first section, running from London to Birmingham, will not open for at least another 13 years.

And the second section — connecting the Midlands to Leeds and Manchester — will not be ready until 2033, two decades hence. Britain won two world wars in less time.

This lack of urgency dramatically contrasts with the dynamism shown by our Victorian forefathers, who first built the railways in the 19th century.

With a sense of boldness that is too often absent today, they constructed a vast network of lines, viaducts, bridges, embankments and stations that was the marvel of the world and helped to cement Britain’s position as the leading global economic powerhouse.

The creation of the Great Western Railway is a classic illustration of this innovative Victorian spirit.

The project was masterminded by the brilliant Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He was only 27 when he was appointed to the job of chief engineer for the railway, yet in just five years, beginning in 1835, he constructed a new line from London to Bristol — undaunted by any obstacle in his path.

At Maidenhead, his railway crossed over the Thames on a viaduct of brick arches whose vaults were so shallow that, according to his detractors, they were certain to collapse.  The bridge still stands as solidly as ever, easily bearing the weight of inter-city trains.

Similarly, at Box Hill in Somerset, he was confronted by the problem that his proposed route had to go through solid stone.

With typical enterprise, he used gunpowder to blast his way through part of the hill, then assembled an army of men equipped with picks and  shovels to excavate the rest of the tunnel.

Unlike today’s high-tech engineers, the men had to work by candlelight and relied on steam pumps to remove the water that sometimes threatened to engulf them.

It is said that a tonne of candles and a tonne of gun-powder were used every week in the construction of the Box Hill tunnel, the longest in the world when it opened in 1840.

For all Brunel’s astonishing gifts, which were also reflected in his construction of the pioneering Clifton suspension bridge over the river Avon, he was not a unique figure, but  part of a truly wonderful  19th-century culture of drive and innovation.

Compare the leisurely programme for the construction of HS2 with the zeal shown by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the chief engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works in London, at the height of the Victorian era.

Deeply concerned about the spread of cholera through the capital because of primitive, stinking drains, he embarked on the creation of a huge network of sewers.

In just six years, from 1859 to 1865, he built 450 miles of sewers under the capital (the proposed HS2 route covers just 350 miles). It was a tremendous feat that involved the use of 320 million bricks.

Bazalgette insisted on approving every design himself, even down to the diameter of individual pipes. It is a tribute to his diligence that the system still works so well.

The same flair and energy can be found in Thomas Telford, whose masterpiece was the magnificent suspension bridge over the Menai straits. Opened in 1826, the bridge linked Anglesey to North Wales for the first time.

It can be found in epic structures such as the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland, designed by Sir Benjamin Baker. With its unique design of huge cantilever arms supporting the span of the 1.6?mile-long railway, it was the first major structure in Britain to be built of steel. Yet it still took less than seven years to construct.


Antisemitism in Ireland

Sarah Honig, a recent Israeli visitor to Cahersiveen, a charming little town in County Kerry, wrote yesterday in the Jerusalem Post of being asked in its main street for a donation by three teenage boys carrying large signs saying "Free Palestine".  When asked from whom Palestine was to be freed, they replied "The Jews". "Are you sure", she asked, "that this money wouldn’t fund terrorists and murderers?" She was thrown by the response: "What do you have against Palestinians? What have they done to you? They are only against Jews. Jews are evil." One of them helpfully added that the Jews "crucified Our Lord".

Honig then met the teacher, who explained he had brought them out during school hours as part of a class project "to further a humanitarian goal" by inculcating a commitment to charitable work. He "nodded in agreement without a word of objection" when she told him of the children’s remarks about Jews.

Those of us who publicly address the one-sidedness of the Irish take on the Middle East are used to ill-informed and/or bigoted politicians and activists (particularly but not exclusively republican or of the Left), but the Catholic Church has been having a pernicious effect too, particularly through its official overseas development agency, Trocaire, an Irish word meaning compassion.

The charity was launched in 1973 by the Irish bishops laudably to "give whatever help lies within its resources to the areas of greatest need among the developing counties", while domestically making "us all more aware of the needs of these countries and of our duties towards them." Nowadays it is more fashionable and majors on gender equality, Aids, climate change and human rights, with particular emphasis on the rights of Palestinians.

Trocaire’s blatant bias on Israel was addressed in an article a week ago by Richard Humphreys, a Dublin Labour councillor and one of the few dissenting voices . He discussed its relevant on-line educational pack for secondary schools, which had a Palestinian flag on the front page and inside two harrowing stories of Israeli wrongdoing through Palestinian eyes. There was no mention of rocket attacks on Israel: the blocade of Gaza was designed "to punish Hamas". "The more I read of the Trocaire pack, the more it seemed to be a case of four legs good, two legs bad. Palestinian victims and Israeli oppressors."

When he made contact with Trocaire he was told they had withdrawn the resource for review and had decided not to revise it but instead to focus on the issue of boycotting produce from Israeli settlements. Because there is nothing on labels to distinguish settlement goods, this in effect means a boycott of all Israeli produce.

Why, asked Humphreys, should Israel be singled out? "Do Trocaire really believe that Israel is the worst human rights offender on the planet?" Did the country get no credit for its record on the rights of women and gays, on free speech and on religious freedom, which so contrast with the Palestinian regime. Now Christians are under attack in the Arab world, he suggested, "you would have thought that persecution of Christians would be a bigger issue for the Catholic bishops and their aid agency".

I don’t know if the Carersiveen school had made use of the Trocaire educational pack, but it’s a fair guess that they had. Certainly, its pupils’ campaigning zeal can only be heightened by the charity's call to lobby retailers to boycott Israeli goods. The Irish bishops, who are mostly punch-drunk since the child abuse scandal and few of whom seem brave, either approve of their charitable funds being spent on anti-Israeli propaganda rather than saving Christians from persecution, or are hiding under their collective duvet.

It’s no wonder that the Israeli Foreign Ministry sees Ireland as the most anti-Israeli and, indeed, anti-semitic, country in Europe.  The bishops should be ashamed that – in the name of compassion – they allow their charitable arm to disseminate hatred.


The 'Pansi-fication' of the Male Left

Leftist, liberal, and progressive men are ushering in the greatest pansi-fication and weakening of our nation in the modern era.

Awkwardly refusing leadership in times of real crisis, the men of the left, are allowing women and children to literally be the mouthpiece and driving force behind the cause. They do so dishonestly, disingenuously, and they do so without discernment.

In recent days the president hid behind the letters of four children that he claimed, "were really smart" to help shape his approach to reforms he claimed constitutional authority over, to implement in response to recent shootings. (Not ever having it cross his mind that perhaps the co-equal legislative branch of government was designed for such purposes.)

The letters asked him the penetrating policy questions like, "Will you please stop all gun violence?" Or, "Please get rid of guns, 'no guns, no guns, no guns, no guns.'"

Yet the executive order wand he waived will likely increase gun violence, at least on law abiding people.

Also this week Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta--no doubt acting on behalf of the President--decided unilaterally to push the women of America into front line combat roles in our nation's wars. Note that it is a man who unilaterally makes the decision, without input of military leaders, or the vote or voice of women in America at large.

I spent hours of broadcast time this week, on my daily radio show, (that reaches in excess of 300 cities) asking the women of America their thoughts on the decision. Of the hundreds of email, phone calls, tweets, and facebook messages returned I could not get one woman--not one--who would personally say she was willing to go. And in overwhelming ratios--last count close to 29 to 1 women believed it was not even proper for women to be put into combat scenarios. I might also add that amongst the responses included, were a large percentage of active duty women.

This week also noted the 40th commemoration of the historically laughable piece of adjudication known as Roe v. Wade. A case so thoroughly debunked on its grounds that law schools across America poke mockery at it's existence. Nonetheless the fraud of judicial activism that it is, continues to be celebrated as an important step for women... but mostly by men.

"Reverend" Harry Knox of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice, being foremost among them.

"Reverend" Knox claimed this week, "The right to abortion has given women enhanced spiritual development and more joy in life." He added, "That by supporting legal abortion, the RCRC is picking up the mantle God is calling us to carry."

That's right folks, the good "reverend" is saying abortion makes life peaches for the lady-folk, and that by advancing the killing of the pre-born he's doing God's work.

Evidently the "reverend's" perspective as a man, runs fairly counter to women in general. On Friday, with no prearrangement at all, I opened up my phone lines and allowed any woman the right to say anything they wished to the "reverend" directly. Over three hours, all but one woman had actually had an abortion. None who had, confirmed Knox's assertions. Only one supported Knox--but not in the literal meaning of what he said--but by claiming that he must have been taken out of context. (That woman later admitted that she supports abortion on demand, though she has never had one.) You can hear the stories of these women here: Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3. (They include women whose husband had forced them to get an abortion, and a woman who had been twice raped by her father at 13 and 14 and was forced to have consecutive abortions by the same father.)

It was a heart-breaking reality to see this man, "Reverend" Knox, lie about how women truly feel about abortion--especially given the reality that in 98% of all abortions women indicate that a man in their life is the primary reason they are choosing abortion as opposed to welcoming an innocent child into this world.

Also publicly defying Reverend Knox's absurd, distorted, deceptive, lies were the ladies of "Silent No More." These are post-abortive women who led the more than half-million throng in this week's March For Life. It is also important to note that the March For Life this year, at close to 600,000, out paced the 400,000 who turned out for President Obama's inauguration.

I am not sure why they are doing so, but it is clear that the men of the political, theological, and cultural left have become weak of mind, will, and temperament. Hiding behind the legitimate but uninformed voices of children to put anti-consitutional reforms into place on the issue of keeping our society safe, hiding behind political correctness that argues for sameness instead genuine equality to protect our nation from its worst enemies, and claiming God would be pleased, when women themselves know God's truth otherwise, in the killing of their own children--the men of the left resemble nothing like men at all.

Rather they most strongly resemble a strange effeminate characteristic. Weak when God made them strong. Dumb when God designed them to discern. And dishonest when our culture needs them to be truthful.

They are in short very little of anything God made them to be, and it is the women and children in our nation and in our future who will suffer most!



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

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

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


29 January, 2013

37 jailed killers walk out and flee: Alarm over security at Britain's open prisons as figures reveal 175 inmates absconded last year

Dozens of dangerous criminals including murderers, rapists and paedophiles are simply walking out of prison.

Last year 175 inmates left open prisons or disappeared while on day release, the equivalent of one every other day. The list of violent offenders who have absconded over the last three years includes 37 murderers and five rapists.

Among them is rapist Ivan Leach, a predatory paedophile and ruthless robber whose criminal record stretches back three decades. The tattooed thug is suspected of breaking into a woman’s home and raping her while on the run.

Others include a man who stabbed a teacher to death while high on lighter fuel and a teenager who killed a ‘Good Samaritan’ who tried to stop a robbery.

Last night the MP who uncovered the figures asked how criminals guilty of such serious offences could be allowed to roam free.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: ‘People will be astonished that it is possible for about 40 murderers and rapists to have absconded in three years.

‘The public expect to be protected from serious offenders, and the fact that so many can abscond is outrageous and unacceptable.

‘These are the most serious of offenders and, as far as I’m concerned, those guilty of murder should be behind bars for life, not put in a position where they can abscond at will.

‘People who have been convicted of rape simply should not be just walking the streets.’

He added: ‘What is frightening is that we don’t know how many of these committed offences while they were absconding. We don’t even know whether they are still at large.

‘It shows that far too many people are not being properly punished for their crimes. The public will be shocked and appalled.’

The vast majority of the convicts disappeared while in relatively relaxed institutions after serving a long period in prison.

Many of them were allowed to leave during the day to undertake work placements or work in charity shops in an attempt to prepare them for freedom.

According to the Ministry of Justice figures, 679 prisoners absconded between 2009/10 and 2011/12.  They included 149 robbers, four kidnappers, 15 guilty of grievous bodily harm, and three of attempted murder.

A further four were convicted of manslaughter, 22 of possession of firearms or knives, and two had threatened to kill. In Government terminology, ‘absconding’ is different from ‘escaping’ as it does not require climbing a wall or digging a tunnel.

Mr Davies mocked the distinction, adding: ‘It’s like Yes Minister. The public will be delighted to know that these people haven’t escaped – they’ve just absconded.’

The figures prompted claims that officials are failing to get the balance right between protecting the public and rehabilitating criminals.

David Green, of think tank Civitas, said: ‘These figures simply reaffirm that the Government does not attach the weight it should to the safety of the public. ‘These are people who are given day release in preparation for ultimate release, and then go missing; or people who are put into open prisons where they should not necessarily be.

‘It is concerning that murderers are contained in these groups.’

The figures show that the number of ‘absconders’ has fallen from 269 in 2009/10 to 175 last year.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: ‘The annual number of absconds has reduced significantly over the last several years with the number in 2011/12 being at the lowest levels since central records began.

‘Of those prisoners who do abscond, the majority are quickly recaptured, returned to closed conditions and referred to the police for prosecution.’

A spokesman for the Prison Service admitted that a small number of those who abscond are never returned to jail.


One in four violent criminals gets just a CAUTION as police wrongly let off sex offenders and burglars

One in four violent criminals is cheating justice by escaping with a caution, magistrates warned yesterday.  They are among tens of thousands of crooks, including sex offenders and burglars, wrongly let off with a 'slap on the wrist' by police.

New figures showed one in five sex offenders are also cautioned as well as an astonishing one in 20 of offenders with more than 10 previous convictions.

Experts fear officers are widely misusing cautions because they cut down on paperwork and improve crime detection figures.

The criminal justice sanction was originally aimed at first-time offenders caught committing relatively low level offences.

But there are concerns that police under pressure to deal with offences quickly are handing out cautions in the wrong circumstances.

The proportion of proven offences dealt with outside the court has more than doubled over the past decade, from 15 per cent to more than 30 per cent.

More than 112,000 cautions were given in 2011-12 for indictable offences, which are serious enough for trial in the crown court.

These included 14,137 cautions for violence against other people and 1,419 cautions for sexual offences.

John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, said: 'Cautions are being misused and there is no transparency.

'It is alarming that so many offences which impact so seriously on victims are being dealt with behind closed doors.'

'The line is quite clear. We are responsible for sentencing offenders, and the police are responsible for catching them. It seems to us the police are extending their powers.'

The latest figures show half of all cautions are given to offenders who have committed previous crimes.

Among them are six per cent of cautions handed out to career criminals who have committed at least 10 previous crimes.

Magistrates are concerned that cases dealt with by cautions and other out-of-court sanctions are not open to public scrutiny.

It is also impossible to make defendants pay compensation if the case is not brought before a magistrate.

It emerged last week that serial burglar Jason Dernbach, 24, from Woking, Surrey, was given a caution despite admitting 113 burglaries and car break-ins over a three-year crime spree.  He was already serving a four-and-a-half year sentence for six burglaries when he admitted the new offences to the police while behind bars.

Other high-profile cases include that of Carl Bielby, 25, a sex offender from Hull who targeted schoolchildren using Facebook.  He was given a warning when he was caught suggesting the use of sex toys to an 11-year-old. He went on to target other schoolchildren and was jailed last year.

In Birmingham, Junior Mohammed Oakes, 28, was cautioned for assault and possessing a knife.  He was convicted this month of murdering the mother of his three children in a 'savage and prolonged' knife attack.

In 2011, a joint report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was 'disquiet' over the use of out-of-court sanctions.

It revealed that in some police force areas, more than 40 per cent of all offences brought to justice were dealt with outside the courts.

It examined 190 cases dealt with outside the courts and found inappropriate decisions were made in a third of cases.

It said the most common problem was that cautions and other out-of-court sanctions were being used for prolific offenders.

Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall, who has national responsibility for cautions, said the use of cautions and similar sanctions has declined.  He said: 'The vast majority of those who receive a caution for a first-time minor offence do not go on to commit further offences.

'Officers need to ensure a caution is appropriate to the offence [and that] it is in the public interest.'

Theresa May, the home secretary, has said she wants the victims of crime to have more say in how perpetrators are punished when they are dealt with outside the courts.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'I am already looking into how police cautions are being used.

'We shouldn't remove the right for police officers to exercise discretion but the public are right to expect that people who commit serious crimes will be brought before a court where very tough sentences are available.'


Why feminism is a dirty word, by Bake Off star

It is unlikely she would ever be mistaken for a radical firebrand. And now Mary Berry has made her traditional views on gender equality absolutely clear, with the pronouncement: ‘Feminism is a dirty word.’

The star of The Great British Bake Off said she does not want women’s rights and is ‘thrilled to bits’ when men offer to look after her.

Although the 77-year-old has never made any secret of her traditionalist family values, her comments have been seized upon by some women, who accused her of being ‘ignorant’ about feminism’s achievements.

But Mrs Berry, who has published  70 cookbooks in a 46-year career and had three children, said: ‘I would always stand up for women but I don’t want women’s rights and all that sort of thing.

‘I love to have men around and I suppose if you’re a true feminist you get on and do it yourself. I love it when someone says, “I’ll get your coat” or, “I’ll look after you”, or offers you a seat on the bus. I’m thrilled to bits. I’m not a feminist.’

Mrs Berry, who was praised for her elegance last week when she wore a blue silk gown and pearls at the National Television Awards, has been married to retired bookseller Paul, 80, for 46 years. She has two surviving children – one son, William, died in 1989 – and four grandchildren.

Asked if she believed feminism means ‘shouting at men’, she said: ‘I don’t like that at all. I respect them, I don’t like shouting.’

She added: ‘Feminism is a dirty word. You’ve got to persuade them [men] gently to do things and, of course, when they come back they say, “Oh, wasn’t that fun?”’

Mrs Berry, who with her daughter Annabel Bosher, 40, runs Mary Berry And Daughter which sells a range of sauces and dressings, appeared to criticise female employees who take their full maternity leave entitlement, saying: ‘I had about five weeks off and now I think, gosh, they haven’t half cottoned on to it.

‘You have a year off, and you don’t have to tell them whether you’re coming back or not.  ‘It makes it terribly difficult for the small employer to employ young women, young married women or [women] with children.  'You’ve got three in the department and they all go to have children and you’ve got to leave the job open.’

Mrs Berry’s comments have been attacked by some women.  Writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who has described herself as a ‘leftie liberal, anti-racist, feminist’, said: ‘They show an ignorance of the power relationship between men and women.

‘They also show an ignorance of what feminism is.  ‘I am a feminist and I cook for my husband every night – and I make very good cakes.’


Why do you need pliers to open a toothbrush packet? Difficult packaging afflicts people of all ages

Terry Wogan only tells the half of it below.  I need a Stillson wrench to open some things!  -- JR

Standing in the bathroom with a new toothbrush still in its packet, I think: ‘Ah, I will restore my dentures to their pristine glory.’ But can I remove the toothbrush from its packaging? I cannot.

I bend it this way and that. I squeeze it and I pull it. I wrestle with it. I would need pliers to make any progress. The plastic packaging is moulded solid.

Indeed, it is almost soldered at the back. It has, in short, defeated me. I’m 74, and it is true that as you get older, your aged fingers begin to lose their strength.

But this problem with packaging is not confined to old geezers like me. It is universal — it afflicts people of all ages. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 85 per cent of consumers experience frustration with modern packaging.

Of the 500 people who took part, 425 said they found packaging difficult to ‘open, tear or rip easily’.

And I received a big round of applause earlier this month on the BBC series Room 101 when I nominated packaging to be consigned to oblivion.

Consider the tinned sardine or the pilchard, for example. You squeeze your finger into the ring-pull, dis-locate your digit, break your nail… then the damn ring-pull snaps off and you have to use a tin opener anyway — all for a sardine.

The humble tin of beans is exactly the same. Another ring-pull mechanism. It should be simple but it can take your finger off.

At home we have a little plastic yoke that you insert in tins with ring-pulls — but it doesn’t always work.

Then there are bottles. I can remember when it was easy to open a bottle of medicine or a jar containing tablets. Then someone invented the child-proof bottle. Child-proof? Adult-proof more like. They are the bane of modern life.

You read the label and follow the instructions to the letter. There is an arrow showing you the direction in which to twist. You press, you twist. It won’t come off. Press, twist. Nothing. You keep doing it. It doesn’t work. You are red in the face from trying — hot tears of frustration streaming down your blazing cheeks.

I tend to hand the thing to my wife, Lady Helen. She has stronger fingers than me.

And what about milk cartons? No matter what I do, for some reason I always end up with a bit of milk down my shirt front. In fact, Tetra Pak cartons in general are problematic. I gather they’ve made a fortune for the family that invented them. Think how much more money they could have made if they had ever found a way of getting the things to open properly.

Do you remember those little plastic triangles of milk they used to have on aeroplanes? I use Aer Lingus frequently and I could never get the triangles to open properly to put the milk in my tea. I’d struggle to tear off the cap and then cover a nun on the other side of the aisle with milk.

When I was a boy there was less fuss about packaging — probably because there was less packaging, and what there was mostly just good old-fashioned plain brown paper.

My late father had a shop and it seemed that everything then was more accessible and easy to get at. Life was less complicated. Bottles were used and returned. Four pounds of potatoes came in an open paper bag, not a sealed plastic one. They were happy days.

But recently I heard about plans to sell individually wrapped bananas. Has the world gone mad?

Bananas come in their own distinctive yellow packaging, thoughtfully provided by Mother Nature  herself. It is packaging, I might add, that I am actually capable of removing. Bananas don’t need to be shrink-wrapped, heat-sealed or otherwise interfered with. What next I ask you? Coconuts encased in  Perspex? Individual eggs in tins?

The temptation, of course, is to take a penknife to packaging. Or a machete even. But most packaging is so fiendishly contrived as to defeat even a blade. And you have to be very wary or you’ll take a finger off. In my declining years I keep away from the penknife.

Try breaking into a leg of lamb or a joint of beef. Pressurised jars of jam or preserves? Forget it. Confectionery? You would need the strength of an ox to open a packet of sweets. Nuts are no different. How many times have you scattered them near and far as you struggle to prise them open?

Personally, I am fond of a crisp but gaining entry to a pack of salt-and-vinegar requires the skill and dexterity of the master safe-cracker.

Many people over Christmas will have suffered from the ordeal of attempting to open presents. I say attempt because, like toothbrushes and razors, toys seem to come encased in plastic that has been moulded for eternity.

And as if the plastic isn’t enough, toys are often secured with twine of such tensile strength that you could make a zip-wire of it. The poor child has not a hope of getting access to the gift — leading to an infernal ballyhoo and tears before breakfast.

As for my toothbrush, I did get it open eventually. I had to use scissors, though. If they had failed I would have resorted to the garden shears.



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

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

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


28 January, 2013

Promiscuity OK in homosexual marriage, says BritGov

A touch of realism?  Homosexuals are notorious for promiscuity

Plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in Britain could pave the way for the concept of adultery to be abolished in law, experts have said.

Under the Government's draft Bill only infidelity between a man and a woman constitutes adultery.

So while the law would give same-sex couples the right to wed, they would not be able to divorce their partner on the basis of adultery if their spouse went on to be unfaithful - unless they cheated with somebody of the opposite sex.

It also states that a straight person who discovered their husband or wife had a lover of the same-sex could not accuse their unfaithful partner of adultery in a divorce court.

Lawyers and MPs have argued that the distinction over adultery - which arose after Government legal experts failed to agree on what constitutes sex between same-sex couples - would cause confusion.

They warned it would create inequality between heterosexual and homosexual married couples who found themselves in the divorce courts, and said it would likely result in adultery being abolished altogether as a grounds for divorce.

The lawyers who drafted the Government's Bill managed to swerve the contentious question of what constitutes sex between homosexual couples by adding a clause which states that only 'conduct' between a married person and a person of the opposite sex would constitute adultery.

Leading divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag told the Daily Telegraph the impact of the clause could lead to the concept of adultery to being scrapped from law altogether.

She said abolishing the act of adultery as a basis for divorce would be the only 'appropriate and balanced' way to deal with the distinction between same sex and straight couples arising from the new Bill.


Why can't we laugh at the old jokes any more?

A 'racist' joke in Fawlty Towers has been cut because it might offend. Well, it might - if you didn’t get the joke

John Cleese and cast in Fawlty Towers. Lines like the major’s might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk, and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t

Strange place, the past. It appears to have been full of people who had next to no understanding of 21st-century mores. For some reason, they all seem to have carried on as if it didn’t remotely matter how their 20th-century attitudes and language would be judged by us, their descendants and superiors, in 2013.

This week the BBC was confronted with this problem when airing a repeat of Fawlty Towers. The episode had a scene with the words “wogs” and “niggers” in it. The old major, played by Ballard Berkeley, is explaining the difference between the two. The line gets a big laugh from the studio audience. Or it used to. This time, the BBC cut the line out.

The reason given was that it contained language that might offend. Well, I’m sure it might, if you didn’t get the joke. The joke's on the major. At first it looks as if he’s about to scold someone for being racist – but then he turns out to be racist himself. So we laugh at him. The joke’s actually quite PC.

But still it was cut, because these are words the BBC now feels uncomfortable airing, certainly at 7.30pm. It’s happened before. In 2007, a joke about gay men being sticklers for cleanliness was removed from a repeat of Porridge. It makes you wonder what’s next for the cutting-room floor.

Take Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In 1979, Life of Brian was thought shocking because it mocked man’s weakness for superstition and doctrine. Today, I suspect a broadcaster would be more shocked by the scene in which a male character is ridiculed for his desire to change sex. “I want to be a woman,” he says. “From now on, I want you to call me Loretta… It’s my right as a man… I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them… Don’t you oppress me…” Plainly, we’re meant to find him absurd, and to agree with the male colleague who grumbles about the man’s “struggle against reality”. (“What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?”)

Given the outrage this month when the columnist Suzanne Moore joked about transsexuals – and the even noisier outrage when another columnist, Julie Burchill, used the phrase “chicks with d----” – I doubt such a scene could be written today. Lynne Featherstone, a Lib Dem minister, demanded that Burchill and her editor be sacked. What would she do with John Cleese? Hang him by his tonsils from Tower Bridge?

Soon, we’ll start to find Nineties comedy failing the 21st-century rectitude test. For some, this process has already begun.
Last year, Word magazine ran an article claiming that the “Scorchio!” sketches in The Fast Show – first broadcast in 1994 – were xenophobic. “Humour born of bored English comedians sat in luxurious holiday villas,” it growled. “Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish people all sound the same! How hilarious.” Maybe if the BBC repeats The Fast Show it could edit those sketches out. I’m pretty sure the Ralph & Ted ones were OK. Hang on, though – the joke is that a man has an unspoken crush on another man. Is that homophobic? Oh dear. Future generations are going to be very cross with us.

Lines like the major’s in Fawlty Towers might not be very nice. None the less, this is how a lot of people used to talk (it’s how quite a few people still do talk), and it’s not much use pretending it isn’t. Because that’s what this type of editing is: a pretence.

George Orwell, incidentally, used to write disparagingly of “the pansy Left”. He was, by 2013 standards, homophobic. Should publishers erase his prejudice from his essays? Or would that be a little, well, Orwellian?


Diversity With Conceit

 Suzanne Fields
The diversity warriors, with no sense of humor and short on irony, keep looking for victims in all the old places. President Obama, advertising his inaugural address as a call to unity and a "coming together as one people," rounded up the usual suspects as if nothing in America had changed since Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall.

The suffragettes at Seneca Falls in 1848, the marchers at Selma in 1965 and the resisters at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 all led the way toward tolerance, but the president spoke of their sacrifice as if frozen in a time warp of old grievances and tribulation. Even elevating the barroom brawl at Stonewall to landmark status with voting rights for women and the civil rights revolution is a few inches over the top.

Obama's frantic search through his binders of women, looking for names to fill low-level positions for women to make it look "more like America," veers from the ridiculous to the theater of the absurd.

The search for such phony diversity is of a piece with the culture. Consider, for example, the HBO hit "Girls." Lena Denham, its creator, was scolded for not casting a black actor as one of the show's characters.

Since her characters -- college-educated, privileged young women with rich parents -- are drawn from the writer's own personal experiences, they're logically all white. But the chastened Denham responded with satire, intended or not: This season begins with Hannah, her leading character, taking a black boyfriend who is a conservative Republican. She criticizes him with cliches, assuming he prefers friends with guns. She says she never noticed he was black.

When the spoiled liberal white girl discovers how awful it is that two out of three men in prison are black, the Republican boyfriend thanks her for tutoring him in the difficulties faced by black men. She's not sure if he's being sarcastic.

Making fun of white liberal condescension is rare on screens small and large, and hasn't been done with flair since Tom Wolfe satirized the "radical chic" of composer Leonard Bernstein, who served Roquefort cheese balls wrapped in crushed nuts to the revolutionary Black Panthers, who ran through his luxury Manhattan penthouse in leather pants and tight black turtlenecks, titillating his guests like a "rogue hormone." Like the lumpen proletariat, "victims" must be brought together for "collective action."

The president who gave his inaugural address on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was in no mood for good humor or challenging cliches and bromides. Nor did the man who invented eloquence inspire with the soaring rhetoric of the prince of the civil rights movement. He echoed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and quoted a few lines from Abraham Lincoln, but he was determined to make the day more political than presidential, more prosaic than poetic, more pompous than patriotic and proud.

He suggested that our mothers and daughters are still unable to earn a living equal to the pay of men, even though statistics make clear that whatever gender gap remains, it's a gap created mostly by women making choices and trade-offs that are different from those of our fathers, husbands and sons. Historian Jay Winik observes that the president's speech was one that "could have been given 50 years ago."

The president continues to appeal to separation, to division, to littering the national landscape with regiments of straw men and women in the name of the politics of polarization. Intolerance and prejudice certainly remain in the culture, but no longer as a national attitude and not without corrective appeals to public exposure and legal remedies.

The visual trumped the verbal at this inauguration. If the speech failed to express unifying commonalities, the television camera surveying the crowd in Washington told the real story, of children raised to the shoulders of their parents, of beaming black, white and brown faces of young and old, of the gorgeous harmony of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir lifting the music of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the sky, and of the beautiful Beyonce belting out "The Star Spangled Banner" (even if she did lip-synch it).

A grace note was provided by Richard Blanco, the young Cuban poet, speaking of the "many prayers, but one light breathing color onto stained glass windows."

They made it a day to be proud of America. Only an authentic grudge could not see the idealism that brings us together beyond political partisanship. This was the real and natural diversity that animates Lincoln's "mystic chords of memory," reaching out to "the better angels of our nature." Not even a president stuck in a time warp could spoil that.


A Religious Taboo

Can we at least agree that reports of al-Qaeda’s death have been greatly exaggerated? You’ll recall that Peter Bergen, a director at the New America Foundation and the national-security analyst for CNN, began pronouncing AQ dead last summer. At the Aspen Institute, he even gave a speech titled “Time to Declare Victory: Al Qaeda Is Defeated.” He defended this thesis repeatedly, including in a debate with me on Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN.

President Obama has not gone quite that far. Prior to the election, in stump speeches round the country, he said al-Qaeda had been “decimated.” And even in his inaugural address this week he claimed that “a decade of war is now ending.” (He also spoke of “peace in our time” — a phrase made infamous by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Munich in 1938. Is it possible Obama did not know that? Worse, is it possible that he did?)

The evidence that AQ is alive and lethal is abundant. To cite just a few examples: the French ground war in Mali against AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and associated forces, the hostage-taking in Algeria by self-proclaimed jihadists closely linked to AQ, the surge of AQ-connected fighters in Syria, and, of course, the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi by AQ-affiliated groups.

I do not stress this to disparage anyone. Nor do I intend to pat on the back those of us who have maintained that AQ and other jihadist groups are neither dead nor dying but rather evolving in ways that merit both study and concern. Serious analysts sometimes arrive at wrong conclusions. But serious analysts acknowledge their errors, attempt to determine what data or misassumptions led them astray, and work to reshape their narrative in conformance with reality. Serious analysts are acutely aware that no strategic mistake is more dangerous than telling yourself you are winning when you are not.

Last weekend, I spoke with someone I’ll identify only as a senior American military official. It required no prompting from me for him to express his frustration over top officials in the Obama administration’s continuing to insist that the global conflict is “receding.” Challenging that notion is difficult because within the administration it is forbidden to speak or write openly about the ideology of those fighting us. To do so, the official said, would be “inflammatory,” requiring discussion of the role of fundamentalist Islamic theology. In a sense — the literal sense — what we have here is a religious taboo.

The irony is glaring: American officials can kill our enemies (mostly with drones). They just can’t analyze, criticize, or challenge the beliefs that motivate them. Fighting a kinetic war is permitted, but waging a cognitive war is prohibited. If we are to avoid defeat, we need to be fighting both.

Closely related to the “AQ is dead” thesis is the “Muslim Brotherhood is moderate” thesis. The most recent contradictory evidence: videos of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi three years ago, when he was a leader of the MB, urging parents to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them, for Zionists, for Jews. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshipping him.” In addition, he called Jews and Israelis “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Here in Israel, where I’m spending a few days reporting, few people were surprised by those remarks. And, to be fair, vicious and even genocidal Jew-hatred has echoed throughout the Middle East at least since World War II, when Arab lands were barraged by Nazi propaganda (as meticulously documented by historian Jeffrey Herf) — and within secular as much as Islamist regimes. That fact, however, can hardly be reassuring.

Among the reasons for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s (narrow) reelection victory this week: A majority of Israelis have come to the conclusion that at this moment no Palestinian who wields power is willing to negotiate with them, much less make peace with them. That situation will not change as long as so many Arabs and Muslims deny Israelis both their history (Israelis are, unquestionably, living in a part of their ancient homeland) and their humanity (which is what is intended when Morsi talks of “apes and pigs”).

Perhaps you’ll object that Morsi has not broken Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and that he helped broker a ceasefire in the most recent battle between Hamas and Israel. I would respond: Morsi is not stupid. He is not prepared to win a war against Israel today or tomorrow. He is desperately in need of financial aid from the U.S. He is putting his interests ahead of his values — for now.

At the same time, he’s working to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, the factions that rule Gaza and the West Bank respectively, and to create a united Palestinian government. Hamas, of course, is committed to the elimination of Israel — and to the elimination of as many Israelis as possible. Hamas is not planning to moderate that position. On the contrary, it expects Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to more openly support “resistance,” which means the use of terrorism and other violent means to weaken and eventually annihilate Israel. (Abbas recently told a Lebanese television station that before World War II, the Nazis and the Zionists collaborated.)

Can we at least agree that reports of the death of the peace process have not been exaggerated — and that Israelis’ constructing apartment buildings in and around Jerusalem, their capital, is not the reason why?



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

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

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


27 January, 2013

More antisemitism from the British Left

A Liberal Democrat MP faces expulsion from the party for saying ‘the Jews’ had not learned from the murder of six million in the Holocaust, in their treatment of the Palestinian people.

David Ward, MP for Bradford East, wrote on his own website that he was ‘saddened’ that they ‘could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians…on a daily basis.’

He defended his comments in interviews saying they were a ‘just a statement of fact and said ‘it appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.’

His remarks were made ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, although Mr Ward who said he had attended events to remember its victims and had visited Auschwitz twice.

He has been summoned to a meeting with party whips on Monday, but today insisted he did stood by the statement and its timing and claimed it was ‘regrettable’ he had been reprimanded.

Mr Ward wrote yesterday: ‘Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.’

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: ‘This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.’

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than one million people, mostly Jews, were killed – many shot, starved or victims of the gas chambers. Homosexuals, political dissidents and the handicapped were also victims.

The MP, who said he had attended a Holocaust memorial event in Bradford yesterday which was ‘extremely moving’ said he hoped the chief whip would respect his views.

In an interview yesterday he said: ‘What better day to raise the issue of learning from one of the worst examples of inhumanity.’ He told The Commentator website: ‘It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.’

On his website, Mr Ward said he had ‘signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day’ and describes Auschwitz as ‘the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history.’

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: ‘I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence - these comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics.’

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: ‘We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience.

‘For an MP to have made such comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is even more distasteful, and we welcome the fact that the Liberal Democrats have sought to disassociate the party from David Ward's comments.’

Tory MP Robert Halfon said his comments were ‘a tragic trivialisation of real evil.’ He said ‘It should be remembered that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely and yet has faced a barrage of 7000+ missiles from Hamas and been the victim of hundreds of terrorist suicide bombers and been attacked by all its neighbours in 1948, 1967 and 1973.’

Mr Ward has previously described Israel as an ‘apartheid regime.


British teachers may face dismissal under human rights laws if they refuse to promote gay marriage in schools

Teachers could lose their jobs if they express views that they oppose gay marriage, it has been revealed.  It is feared that they could be sacked for refusing to promote same sex weddings despite reassurances from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

A senior source in Mr Gove's department said that the ultimate decision over whether teachers could lose their jobs would be down to the European Court of Human Rights rather than the Government.

News of the Mr Gove's fears come as the Coalition prepares to publish a bill legalising same sex marriage today.

Opponents to the proposed law say that those who take a stand over the issue could face the sack under law.

In a report compiled by the Coalition for Marriage campaign group, human rights lawyer Aidan O'Neill QC said that schools may have the right to sack staff who refuse to promote gay marriage in class, according to the Daily Telegraph.

But legal advice given to Equalities Minister Maria Miller suggested that staff would not be forced to act against their beliefs.

A Department for Education spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: 'Schools will not acquire a power to dismiss teachers who refuse to teach views about gay marriage which are against their conscience.'

But a DfE source added: 'These (decisions) are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain and Britain isn't in control of this.'

Mr Gove is said to be fully in favour of the gay marriage bill but is also said to oppose teachers being forced to endorse it.

He is expected to tell schools and councils that the Government will oppose attempts to discipline teachers for their views.

David Cameron has fast tracked the bill which could allow gay marriage from as early as next year.

It would see exemptions for the Churches of England and Wales, and other faiths, to opt out if passed.

Ministers have insisted they will ensure no discrimination claims can be brought against faith groups which choose to opt out. It is understood the 2010 Equality Act will be amended to do this.

The Church of England will get a ‘quadruple lock’ of measures to prevent legal challenges, under which it will be illegal to allow same-sex weddings on CofE property.


The Blood-Smeared Glass Ceiling - Women in Combat

For cowardice beyond the call of duty, Leon Panetta has shamed himself and his country.  In one of his last acts as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta today will revoke the last of the policies that prevent women from serving in combat arms.

Make no mistake about it: this action isn’t about civil rights, equal opportunity, or any of the laudable things America has done in the past fifty years to remove false barriers within the military. This is different. It’s a purely political act that will make our military — and the military families liberals claim to venerate — much weaker than they are today.

Panetta is acting in response to feminists’ demands that women be able to serve in any capacity men do because they will be denied promotion to the higher ranks if they lack combat experience. It’s true that there is a huge number of women of flag rank among the services, some at the top four-star rank. But there surely is a “glass ceiling” in the combat arms that women haven’t broken through.

The problem with this statement of the issue is that the military “glass ceiling” is streaked with blood. If women are to be warriors — and thus earn the right to command other warriors — they have to train like men, live like men, and be able to survive the intense dangers of the modern battlefield as many men do. If they don’t, they cannot gain the respect and admiration that commanders of warriors must have to be effective. Should they be permitted to do that?

There are two components to the question. First and foremost is whether the presence of women will add to or detract from the readiness and capability of the unit to perform its mission. The second is a moral question: Will having women serve in harm’s way benefit our military and society at large?

The question of benefit to society has been mooted politically. To even suggest that women are different from men in important ways — such as the instincts for motherhood and nurturing — is to be outside the realm of permissible political thought. To ask whether those natural instincts should be subordinated to the skills of war is unthinkable, at least to those who want to “gender neutralize” the military.

So we are left with the first question, which has to be answered with a resounding “no.”

Even the Clinton administration had sense enough to keep women out of most of the combat arms. In 1991, legislation lifted the historic ban on American women serving in combat. Congress, under pressure from feminists, declared that women should be able to serve on combat ships and in combat aircraft and told the Defense Department to come up with a scheme to implement it and other criteria for women in combat.

In 1993, Clinton Defense Secretary Les Aspin promulgated DoD policy that allowed women to serve in all but a few categories. First, from assignments at lower than brigade level in units whose principal purpose was combat. Next, where the cost of providing women privacy (in berthing on ships, for example) was prohibitive. In addition, they could be prohibited from serving in units co-located with combat units.

Women were barred, under Aspin’s policy, from long-range reconnaissance and special forces and where job-related physical requirements would necessarily exclude the vast majority of women. Note that all women were barred: there was no exception made for those few who could meet the tough physical and mental standards it takes to qualify for spec ops.

Over the intervening twenty years, women have served in more and more combat roles. They serve as fighter pilots in the Navy and Air Force, and were aboard every Navy warship except submarines until, just a little over a year ago, they were allowed to serve on subs as well. The Army has gradually — and in contravention of Aspin’s directives — allowed women into more and more combat roles.

Panetta’s action will probably complete the destruction of the warrior culture on which the success of our military depends. That culture, developed over the past two thousand years or so, is not uniquely American but our brand of it is. Our warriors take pride in what they do because they do it for America and because they do it better than anyone else. Thus, one of the most important parts of that culture is the objective standards someone has to meet to qualify to join the combat arms.

Every Marine in a rifle platoon, every pilot in a squadron, every special operator has had to meet the standards set for all the others. At least they did until the services began to cave under political pressure to enable women to join combat units.

Perhaps the worst example is what happened to the Navy after the 1990 “Tailhook Convention” scandal in which naval aviators acted like, well, every fighter pilot who ever lived. They drank too much and did dumb things such as publicly shaving the legs of some too-willing ladies they’d invited. It was a frat party worthy of Animal House, but no worse.

Liberals — led by California’s Babsy Boxer and a few others — raised a media feeding frenzy and the Navy’s pusillanimous leaders caved in to their demands. The result was that the Navy let its standards slip in order to shove women into combat roles. Lt. Kara Hultgreen was pushed through training and certified for combat, the first female naval aviator to reach that qualification. But she was certified despite the fact that her superiors knew she wasn’t ready. Hultgreen was killed when she lost control of her aircraft attempting to land on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 1994. The Navy learned its lesson, and its standards were restored.

Eleven years ago I wrote about the danger of “gender neutralizing” the objective tests for entry into combat arms. That article reported on a British Ministry of Defence study authored by Brigadier Seymour Monroe. In that study, Monroe reported that when the British were trying to fit women into combat roles, they “gender neutralized” — i.e., lowered — their standards so that women who couldn’t qualify under the men’s standards did so under their own.

Who can doubt that the Obama Pentagon will do exactly the same? Why should the men accept anyone — woman or man — who can’t make the same grade they did? They shouldn’t, and they won’t. It will destroy unit cohesion and pride.

That is the principal objection to what the Obama Pentagon is up to. And it will have two effects, both of which are a threat to our national security.

First, by pushing standards down to enable women to qualify, Obama’s Pentagon will reduce the units’ ability to fight. Our guys — and I use the term with malice aforethought — win because they’re better trained and more capable than the enemy. Whenever you reduce the qualifications, you reduce the level of capability and the unit’s ability to win. To lower standards is to increase the risk of defeat.

Second, whether or not standards are relaxed, allowing women into combat arms will break the spirit of many of our warriors whether they be ground pounders, airmen, or sailors.

Our guys do what they do — and do it so well — in part because they’re guys who are members of the most exclusive club in the world: the warriors, the real 1%’ers. Their club’s membership has been 100% men since before Thermopylae. These men understand that they are different — mentally and physically — from women and want to stay that way. They have wives and girlfriends at home. They don’t have them as fellow warriors who they train and fight alongside.

To put women among them would force them to break with their ancient customs, traditions, and beliefs. In short, it would fundamentally change what they are and how they function in combat. The price will be paid in resignations, in declining re-enlistments, and in lives and battles lost.

There’s one more aspect to this, which is the strain Panetta’s act will put on military families. When he decided to allow women to serve on submarines, a lot of Navy wives were really angry. They know their men, and they know that our elite submarine force would become a fleet of submersible Love Boats, and, in too many instances, they have.

What higher price will more military families pay when women are allowed into the rest of the combat arms, serving in remote places in tough conditions with the men beside them?

Panetta’s decision has to be stopped by House Republicans. They can do it if they bar the use of any authorized or appropriated funds for DoD to implement the Panetta policy, a provision that should be in every bill they pass until it becomes law. If they don’t, we should throw the lot of them out.

That’s so short and clear that not even the House can muck it up. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.


Somewhere over the rainbow in a utopia called Europe

"The genie is out of the bottle: the fight for our country's liberty starts today," said Nigel Farage this week. He is the leader of the UK Independence Party, a party whose members British Prime Minister David Cameron once dismissed as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists".

Well, they are running the asylum, now. Cameron's speech on Europe finally promised what Farage had long been seeking, and what was once unthinkable: a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

It is amazing what some decent polling will do. The UKIP has surged lately, claiming as much as 16 per cent support - in some polls even sitting above the Tories' coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats.

Cameron has a problem with conservative voters jumping ship and Conservative backbenchers jumping down his throat. The forces of populism and party have finally cornered him.

This isn't really about policy. It's not even about the EU's failings, which are undeniable. It's about a pervasive sense of British alienation from the European project; a sense that belonging to the EU denies Britain its sovereignty. It forces it to do things like accept European immigrants. That's why Farage can speak with a straight face of Britain reclaiming its "liberty" as though it's the beginning of World War II. What is Britain if it can't deny the invading hordes from Poland?

Beneath every argument Britain will now have about Europe is an unstated, but essentially important fact: that deep down, most Britons don't feel very European. They do not see a continent of fellow European citizens. They see a continent of foreigners who now have an unwelcome claim on their lives and their space.

Britons have long had a reputation for that separateness. The trouble, though, is they are far from alone. In fact they are a mild case. Head east to Greece, where the financial crisis is really biting and you'll meet Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party, which has claimed parliamentary seats and now consistently sits third in polling. There has been a spike in anti-immigrant violence, much of it ignored by sympathisers in the police force. But beyond the violence, this is a solidarity movement. Hence Golden Dawn's "solidarity projects": food for the poor, employment services, blood drives - available to Greeks only. Yes, Greeks don't feel especially European either.

The EU can talk all it likes about better economic integration. Indeed, it is right to do so. But there's a problem here that is being laid bare in different extremes in Britain and Greece. Economic integration rests ultimately on social commitments. Economies work because the people within them feel connected enough to make sacrifices for each other; to redistribute wealth within them, perhaps even to bail each other out of trouble. This relies on something that Golden Dawn in its crudely violent way understands instinctively: solidarity. Economics, like politics, is very much about identity.

Hereabouts Europe has a problem that might just be insurmountable: it doesn't exist. It never really has. It's a term with no clear story and no clear meaning. To see this, you need only take a moment to examine a euro note and consider the artwork. Note the series of generic, non-descript arches and bridges. This is a continent with some of the world's most stunning, iconic architectural landmarks, all of them instantly recognisable symbols, and yet none of them symbolise Europe. The exquisite architecture of Westminster has no business being on any legal tender used in Paris. The Colosseum is an awesome monument with an awesome history, but to tell its story properly you would have to spend much of the time talking about Africa.

However you approach Europe, its identity is elusive. It can't be geographic because it simply becomes Asia at some entirely arbitrary point. It's not ideological because, depending on where you are, it is the wellspring of both communism and market liberalism. Christianity seems a good candidate until you consider that most Christians aren't European and that so many of Western Europe's churches are empty (and that's before you worry about any Catholic-Protestant complications). It could almost be secularism, but you would have to pretend Orthodox nations like Greece with strong establishment churches are the same as France with its staunch anti-clericalism. And on it goes.

This is precisely the appeal of parties like Golden Dawn. Neo-Nazism is not just about racial or ethnic supremacy: it's about returning to some imagined natural, organic way of being. It's an attempt to reclaim something real in an environment that seems contrived and imposed. Europe, by contrast, is never described as "us". Europe is them - distant bureaucrats who do things to you rather than for you. Europe doesn't run blood drives. Europe doesn't feed poor people in your area.

These are the consequences of deformed globalisation, where economics globalises out of step with sociology. If Europe wants to command the genuine commitment of its members, with all the sacrifice that entails, it needs to offer its people an identity. Currently, there's no telling what that would be, or who exactly is willing to fight for it. It's dead easy, though, to say who'll fight against it.



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

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

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


25 January, 2013

A wedding ring still matters in Britain

With it, a man can be ripped off. Without it, a woman can be ripped off.  If British divorce laws had not been so punitive towards men, the couple below might have married and the woman would have got something out of it.  As it is, an Englishman who marries is a supreme optimist

A woman who lost her home and business when she split from her partner of more than three decades is a victim of sexist property laws, a top judge said yesterday.

Pamela Curran, 55, had worked with Brian Collins, 52, at his kennels and cattery.

But after their relationship ended in 2010, a county court judge ruled that she had no right to a share in the business, or the home where they had lived together.

Pamela Curran, 55, was left penniless when her 30 year relationship with Brian Collins, 52, ended but has been given the right to appeal a ruling that said she had no right to share the business or the home where they lived

Miss Curran was left penniless, with her belongings placed in storage while she stayed with any friends who could take her in.

But she is now able to appeal the ruling after judge Lord Justice Toulson said she is a victim of unfair and old-fashioned property laws that are biased against women of her age and position.

‘Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early fifties, having very much made her life with the respondent for over 30 years. The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation,’ he said.

‘Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant’s position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is.’ The Court of Appeal heard that the couple began their relationship as teenagers in the Seventies, and remained ‘an item’ until their split three years ago.

They lived and worked together at Haven Boarding Kennels and Cattery near Ashford, Kent, which was bought in Mr Collins’s name in 2007.

Miss Curran said she had ‘trusted’ in her partner that, if they ever split up, she would be given a ‘fair share’ of the property and business, bought for a total of £750,000. However, when the case reached the Central London County Court last May, Judge Hazel Marshall concluded that the couple had not established a business partnership.

Miss Curran told Lord Justice Toulson yesterday that she had put a lot of hard work into making the business successful, but was left with nothing to show for it.

'Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early 50s, having very much made her life with the respondent for over 30 years.The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation. Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant’s position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is'

He added that, given Judge Marshall said she believed Miss Curran was essentially a truthful witness – and that Mr Collins himself had at times suggested to third parties that the business had truly been a partnership – Miss Curran should have permission to bring a full appeal against the initial decision.

Mr Collins was neither present, nor represented at the hearing.

A report published by the Law Commission in 2007 had recommended that property laws be reformed as they were unfair to those in Miss Curran’s position.

The body wanted to  give those in cohabiting relationships the same rights as married couples in order to ‘reflect the growing prevalence and public acceptance of cohabitation’.

However, the Government announced in 2011 that it had no plans to change the law.


We'll take adoption away from councils: Minister warns town halls that bar would-be parents

Power-mad British social workers finally being confronted

Councils which turn away would-be adoptive parents for spurious reasons face being stripped of their right to run the service, ministers will warn today.

New powers will allow the Government to crack down on authorities which fail to play their part in tackling a ‘chronic’ national shortage of prospective adopters and a backlog of 4,600 children waiting to be adopted.

Ministers are concerned that would-be parents are coming forward to adopt only to be told ‘they are not wanted’, in some cases purely for geographical reasons.

Some parents are turned away because the council they approached has no need of more adopters – even though shortages nationally are acute. Reasons given to parents include ‘we are not recruiting within our own city council’ and ‘we were out of their area’.

Others fail because of arbitrary barriers, such as being overweight or too old.

Recent reports revealed how couples who hope to adopt are being told that one of them must give up their job.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson will today outline plans to create new powers for ministers to intervene in councils which fail to recruit more adoptive parents and consider the needs of children nationally.

They could be stripped of their role recruiting and assessing potential parents and instead required to deal with voluntary agencies to find them.

Mr Timpson said: ‘There are over 4,000 children waiting to be adopted nationally but year-on-year local authorities are not recruiting enough people to give them stable and loving homes. We cannot stand by while children’s futures hang in the balance.’

He said local authorities ‘must now demonstrate that they are up to the challenge or we won’t hesitate to intervene’.

Recent figures from Ofsted reveal how only one in eight of the couples and individuals who try to adopt children are approved by social workers, meaning that more than 22,000 would-be adopters vanish each year.

Ministers have promised to sweep away barriers to adoptive parents over recent months, including race bars which have seen white parents routinely rejected as adopters of black or Asian children.

The barriers to adoption have helped push down the number of children who find new families from 20,000 a year in the 1970s to few more than 3,000 now.

In further measures being announced today, £150million will be restored to local authorities from cuts elsewhere to spend on adoption reforms.

Referring to the plan for voluntary agencies to become involved, David Simmonds of the Local Government Association said: ‘Removing councils from the process of recruiting and screening potential adopters could adversely impact on the very children and potential adoptive parents the Government is trying to protect and should only be considered as a very last resort.’


British oldsters' social fundraiser for elderly care home cancelled after council tells them to pay £100 for BOUNCERS

A group of pensioners have been banned from holding a singalong concert at their local community centre – unless they hire security.

The event was organised by 78-year-old Alma Morris to raise funds to help save the threatened  venue.  She wanted a bar so some of the 100-plus elderly guests could enjoy a sherry but was told by council officials that, if alcohol was involved, she would need two bouncers.

The former caretaker, from Sandyford, Staffordshire, said: ‘I don’t know what they think might happen in a room full of pensioners – it’s ludicrous.  ‘We just wanted to put on a nice night of singing.

‘Some people like to have a drink at these things but there is certainly not going to be any binge-drinking going on.’

The decision has angered residents because Stoke-on-Trent Council has pledged to support them in their attempts to take over local community halls.

Mrs Morris said booking Goldenhill Community Hall would cost £120 before paying an extra £100 for security – eating straight into any potential profit.

Eric Jankowski, 82, said: ‘It's not about ticking boxes but making a sensible decision. A load of OAPs in their 70s and 80s are hardly likely to go wild are they? We just want to have fun like everyone else.

‘Now it seems that some jobsworths are, as usual, spoiling the party. It's such a shame that people don't seem to have any common sense anymore.

Denise Harding, 72, said: ‘They don't have doormen or bouncers on the door at my local pub when my son takes me on Thursday afternoons and they have a bar there. ‘Why does the community centre need one? It doesn't make any sense to me.’

Tom Simpson, 55, who is secretary of Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents' Association, said: ‘If they were organising drunken booze-ups then I could understand but not with fund-raising events like this one.

‘I think the council needs to consider every event on merit and it is hard to fathom why they have to pay extra for security.

‘The bar staff are already city council employees. I'm sure if there was a problem they would be capable of calling the police. We have never had anything like that happen before.’

Peter Price, the council's resident director of services, said that he and Councillor Ruth Rosenau would make a final decision on the security guards after looking over the profit and loss margin in the coming months and a council spokesman confirmed it was investigating the matter.


British city attacks the messenger

There can’t be many drivers who haven’t  become exasperated at the proliferation of potholes on our roads.  And now one has come up with an eye-catching way of highlighting the problem.

But the mystery motorist, who has painted the words ‘fix me’ next to a number of the craters in Swanage, Dorset, could face prosecution if caught.

Martin Hill, maintenance manager for highways at Dorset County Council, said: ‘We have found several potholes marked in this way. It is illegal and anyone caught doing it could be prosecuted.

‘We haven’t received any enquiries about these potholes and our local inspection team had already identified them before the markings were made.

‘They have been added to the work schedule for the next week. It’s important to note the roads in Swanage are in no worse state than the rest of the country.’



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

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

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


24 January, 2013

A father's love can set up his daughter for life

Steve Biddulph says some generally sensible things below but seems unaware of  the great potential treasure in father-daughter relationships:  The  "Daddy's girl" phenomenon.  Very little caution or wisdom is needed where that exists

At a time when girls are under unprecedented assault from our increasingly sexualised culture, there's at least one very welcome change - we're finally waking up to the vital importance of dads.

Today's young fathers spend three times as long with their children each day - talking, playing and teaching them - as the fathers of just one generation ago. And if they do it right, they're a powerful force against the online porn, the girls' magazines, the ads and all the explicit TV programmes that are encouraging our daughters to grow up too fast.

Indeed, girls with an involved dad have been found in many studies to do better at school and have higher self-esteem. They're also less likely to become pregnant too young or have problems with alcohol or drugs.

For a girl, Dad is her personal ambassador from the Planet Male. If she has a good relationship with him, she's unlikely to settle for less from the other males in her life, or allow herself to be manipulated. Put very simply, psychologists have discovered that it's good mothers who make girls feel secure - but it's good fathers who are vital for their self-esteem.

As a father to a grown-up daughter, I've been through the challenges of raising a girl during these difficult teenage years.

And as a child psychologist, I often gave talks on dads; there's always a point where I see women around the auditorium quietly shedding a tear.  Some are remembering their childhood with a much-loved and caring dad, but some are grieving for the relationship they never had.

Too many fathers have failed their daughters, whether because they were confused about their role, or just too busy, or - worst of all - not sufficiently interested.

Things may have improved, but some of today's dads are still just as much at fault. The daughters of these men carry a lack of fathering as a deep wound. In revenge, they're rude and rebellious in their teenage years, often sleeping around, taking drugs or abusing alcohol.

At the same time, the girls often blame themselves for the breakdown in the relationship, concluding: 'If Dad's too busy to have time for me, it must be that I'm boring and not worth it'.

A father who is less than engaged can also affect his teenage daughter's choice of boyfriends. As a substitute, she'll often gravitate towards older men - with regrettable consequences.

By definition, a much older boyfriend is more likely to be domineering, calling all the shots in the relationship.

Considering that a girl aged between 14 and 18 is still forming her identity, there's a strong chance that she'll put all his needs first and actually look to him to define her.

Poor fathering can even affect girls on a physical level. Although cases of early puberty - at seven or eight - are rare, it's now known that it can be brought on by the stress of having a father who's violent, suicidal, alcoholic or drug-dependent.

Teenage girls are searching for their own identity and can get quickly irritated by their fathers, especially if he appears critical of her and unapproachable

Bizarrely, too, early puberty can be brought on by having a stepfather. This is not because stepdads engender stress per se, but probably because an unrelated male in the home affects girls' hormones in ways we have yet to understand.

Very early on, a girl decides whether her dad (or stepdad) is one of two things: a source of safety and protection, or a source of danger and threat.

Her conclusion is likely to affect her relationships with men for the rest of her life. This is so important that lately I've come to believe that every father of small children should make a silent pledge to himself: 'I will never hit or hurt you. I will strive never, ever to frighten you.'

We men should always try to use a softer voice with small girls. Their hearing is more acute than that of boys - so they often think you're shouting at them when you think you're just sounding firm. Our physical strength, meanwhile, can be channelled to give delight.

A dad who gets down on the floor to play with his small daughter, being a horse for her to ride or a monster that she can defeat, not only reinforces his daughter's sense of safety but also gives her a higher capacity for excitement.

These early games will make her more likely to want to have adventures later on. In addition, researchers have found that little girls who play rough-and-tumble games with their dads are less likely to be affected badly by stress in the future.

If you show a toddler that you can be happy, exuberant and even silly at times, then you'll almost certainly increase her capacity to be happy as she grows up.

And if you ask for - and listen to - her viewpoint from an early age, she'll develop the sense that she's both intelligent and worthwhile.

There's no escaping the fact, however, that even terrific father/daughter relationships can come under stress when girls reach 13 or 14 and start developing into young women.

These days, fathers are far more aware than they used to be of the dangers of sexual abuse. This has led to a new problem that probably affects most dads: they start backing off from their teenage daughter and neglect to give her hugs.

Some fathers will even stop spending as much time with their daughter, or become irrationally angry with her - for the simple reason that she's starting to look sexually attractive.

This sends out a confusing, hurtful signal: 'He doesn't like me any more; he's weird and uptight around me.'

Some girls react by thinking they're at fault themselves; others try to turn themselves back into little girls again by acting cute and helpless rather than increasingly adult and confident.

Even if a father copes well with his daughter's changing appearance, he can find that without meaning to, he's frequently pressing all the wrong buttons and making her fly off the handle.

That's because, somewhere around the age of 13, a girl seems to become mentally unstuck. We shouldn't really blame her.

At this age and stage of development, her body is trying rapidly to rewire her pre-frontal cortex - the most complex part of the brain, which controls both her ability to calm herself down and to pay attention.

Meanwhile, the part of her brain called the amygdala - the centre of impulsive and emotional reactions - can take over in a flash if she's feeling pressured, distracted or stressed.

One minute, she can be kind and caring; the next, she can be thoughtless and self-obsessed. She may make promises but forget to keep them.

She can lose all perspective, become wildly over-emotional and cave in to undesirable peer pressure. This is normal - but most fathers find this stage very trying.

My advice to them is first to remember that your daughter loves you and would miss you for ever if you died. Second: bear in mind that she can often find you very irritating.

That's because you tend to criticise and find fault with her, and you do it at the worst times. How do I know this? Because in hundreds of family therapy sessions, convened to find out why a teenage girl is causing trouble, there's been one common factor: a father who criticises his daughter, starts fights with her and can't accept that she has different points of view.

The truth is that she's searching for her own identity, and acutely sensitive at this time to any of your attempts to control her. So when you lose it, she double-loses it, and everything goes haywire.

Daughters have to be treated gently. Accept that sometimes she's unhappy with you. Ask her what you've done wrong but don't try to defend yourself when she tells you - that's a male reflex, and it doesn't work with girls.

Instead, see if you can work out what emotion lies behind what she's saying. Is she sad (i.e. because you're going away again), angry (you didn't keep your word) or afraid (you drive too fast)? Then, even if you've been a faultless father thus far, try doing something radical: admit that you could actually change a little to accommodate her.

The biggest mistake we men tend to make when we're fighting with our teenage daughters is to use what I call 'you' accusations. 'You don't help around the house.' 'You're lazy.' 'You're not going out in that dress!'

'I' messages work far better because they take heat out of a situation by exposing our vulnerability.

For example: 'I was worried when you didn't get home at the time you agreed. I need to know I can trust you.'

This is not an attack, because it starts with 'I' and not 'you'. It invites a teenager to be caring, rather than to defend herself.

Even: 'I'm angry because the kitchen was a mess, and I had just tidied it up' is better than: 'You messed up the kitchen!'

Note that I'm not suggesting for a moment that you let your daughter get away with slovenly, dangerous or disrespectful behaviour.

Sometimes, for instance, children learn from TV and the way people talk at school that it's somehow cute or normal to be rude. If so, you'll need to teach your daughter that rudeness always wounds - and that if it takes hold, people will be bleeding all the time.

Talk the subject over with the whole family present, and get everyone to agree that no one talks disrespectfully to anyone else - parent to child, child to parent, child to child. In the face of teenage angst and turmoil, one temptation for many dads is to treat their daughter like a princess.

Fathers who are cash-rich but time-poor often buy expensive gifts and hand out wads of money; they may also arrange for others to do all the household chores.

The end result is a grown-up girl with an emotional age of two who thinks nothing of having tantrums if they help her get what she wants.

TSO, or terminal self-obsession, is a dreadful fate for any girl because one day she'll eventually collide painfully with reality.

The best cure is to begin imposing boundaries - softly but firmly - and to demand that she starts pulling her weight.

Finally, the father of a teenage girl must bear in mind that he's a male role model - at least to her. That means dressing well, smelling good and refraining from telling rude jokes in front of her.

Adolescent girls have acute sensibilities: even if they swear and tell gritty jokes themselves, they don't like to see their fathers behaving in a similar way. They're also hyper-alert to the way you behave with other females.

So treat all women with courtesy and kindness, and you'll help her set the bar high for the boys and men in her own life. Modern womanhood is tough: all too soon, your daughter will need to become self-reliant, clear-thinking, emotionally strong, good with people and responsible for her own life. A good dad gives her a head-start that lasts for ever.


Europe's Orwellian idea of free speech and a free press

Control is freedom, apparently.  Hegel (the inspiration of both Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler) would agree.  But Hegel was a European, I guess

Today’s totalitarian ideas are always disguised as righteous plans to ensure “fairness” and “social justice” and they often start in Europe. Then the US Democrats drool over them and scheme to sneak them into the US.

The latest in Europe is to take much more control over the media. German flagship daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has a piece called: EU Advisers Wish To Monitor Media More Strictly.

A group of EU Commission advisers say, “Europe’s freedom of the press is in danger” and so Europe has to act. Right!

The advisers are calling for stricter state monitoring of the media. According to the FAZ, the group says, “Some media outlets should be financially supported.” And others not?

Anyone living in Europe following the media to any extent knows that Europe’s traditional mainstream leftist media are in dire straits. A number of center-left dailies have recently bitten the dust, and so we suppose they are now looking for generous handouts.

The FAZ writes that stricter monitoring by the EU state would “ensure pluralism and quality”. The group of advisors proposes that the “European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights should monitor freedom of the press and free speech in member states”. You see, today there are media outlets out there who feel their rights to free speech are being infringed because citizens are no longer interested in paying for their crap. Now the government should force citizens to pay for crap that nobody wants - through subsidies.

The advisors also say an “independent monitoring agency“ made up of scientists could be set up. The advisers say that “more pluralism must be achieved, especially in the online media“.

The advisory group is hardly made up of lightweight bureaucrats. It includes former German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin (who once compared President George W. Bush to Hitler) and Latvia former President Varia Vike-Freiberga. Däubler-Gmelin for example is calling on Europe to require its member states to have “independent media panels that would impose fines, force counter views, or revoke media licenses”, and to make sure these member-state media panels “abide to European values”. Sounds like free-speech policing to me.

The advisers believe that “freedom of the press is threatened by political powers, excessive commercial power, new business models, changing media landscape and the rise of new media.”

The FAZ writes:

"One particularly large problem the advisers find is the creeping loss of quality in reporting, as Ms. Vike-Freiberga showed. Among other things, it arises from the new media like in the Internet where anyone is allowed to disseminate information. “For this reason the group also proposes that it is also essential for the state to support unprofitable media are essential.”

The panels also says that media should comply to a code of conduct and guidelines for publishing.


Don't mention the war: Censorship row as BBC cuts "racist" lines from classic Fawlty Towers episode

Amazing that they could tamper with anything so perfect.  I always rather liked the Major.  He was a very believable character

It is the episode of Fawlty Towers best remembered for the line ‘Don’t mention the war’ and John Cleese’s silly walk when impersonating Hitler.

The references have proved controversial before, but when The Germans was repeated on BBC2 on Sunday evening it wasn’t our European neighbours that the corporation was worried about offending.

Instead, the episode was edited to omit racist language – only for some viewers to then complain that the BBC was ‘airbrushing history’.

In one scene one of the hotel’s permanent residents, Major Gowen, uses derogatory terms to describe black people. It was included in the episode’s first airing in October 1975, but this time around the major’s words were edited out.

The scene involves Basil Fawlty and the major, played by actor Ballard Berkeley, exchanging their normal pleasantries before the conversation moves on to Basil’s wife Sybil and women in general.

The major tells Fawlty about the time he took a woman to see India play cricket  at the Oval. He then says: ‘The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. “No, no, no,” I said, “the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs”.’

Several years ago there were concerns that the episode would never be shown again because of the offensive words. However, recent editions of The Complete Fawlty Towers DVD, distributed by BBC Worldwide, have not been edited and included the segment that was cut by the BBC on Sunday.

Some fans took to the BBC’s Points Of View message board yesterday to say they ‘despaired’ at the ‘unnecessary’ editing.

One wrote: ‘You can’t airbrush history away and I doubt if anyone but the terminally thin-skinned could be offended by the major, a character we’re clearly supposed to laugh at rather than with.’

Another posted: ‘The point is that the major is a racist old bigot, incongruous with modern society – even in the Seventies. The audience isn’t supposed to agree with him, they’re supposed to laugh at him. The whole episode is about xenophobia in various forms – it’s social satire. I instinctively dislike the airbrushing of history.’

A third viewer wrote: ‘So how sad BBC you have finally succumbed and lost the guts to transmit the episode of Fawlty Towers “The Germans” in its original form. The major’s speech of his experience of going out with a woman to the Oval is one of the funniest things ever.

‘You edited it because it includes the W-word and the N-word. Let’s face it, the whole episode and much of Fawlty Towers is racist by today’s standards and misogynistic, but above all it is hilarious.

‘We are all grown up, you know. We, the vast majority of us, can laugh at this without being racists.

‘It’s about time you grew up BBC, and trusted your audience. We know what is acceptable and what is not and what is funny and why, and the fact it is of a time which is now long past. We understand context, the major is a figure of fun, he doesn’t whip up hatred.’

Fawlty Towers was written by and starred Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth. The Germans was the sixth episode of the 12 that were made and was voted number 11 in Channel 4’s One Hundred Greatest TV Moments in 1999.

The series has continued to entertain families since being made in the 1970s and was in 2000 voted by industry professionals to be the best British series of all time.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are very proud of Fawlty Towers and its contribution to British television comedy.

‘But public attitudes have changed significantly since it was made and it was decided to make some minor changes, with the consent of John Cleese’s management, to allow the episode to transmit to a family audience at 7.30pm on BBC2.’


Australia:  Conservative Federal leader says Leftist Government's draft anti-discrimination laws amount to censorship

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces an election-year free speech battle if she presses ahead with planned anti-discrimination law reform.

And Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has criticised the federal plans to streamline laws against discrimination, saying they would clash with state laws and could create uncertainty for Queenslanders.

Ms Gillard defended the draft laws as "most worthy for consideration" and urged people to have their say on the proposals.

Almost 600 individuals and groups have made submissions to the draft Bill, which will be scrutinised by a Senate inquiry today and tomorrow.

A wide range of critics are lining up to pan the laws, with employer groups and human rights lobbies warning the changes could see people found to have breached the law if they merely "offend" someone.

Others have complained the proposed laws give too many exemptions to religious organisations to discriminate against single mothers or gay people.

The Bill is meant to merge and simplify five existing laws against age, disability, race, sex and other forms of discrimination. But it includes some new forms of discrimination at work, including on "medical history" and "social origins".

The new laws also change the definition of discrimination to include comments that "offend" or "insult" someone.

Mr Abbott said the proposals would amount to censorship by the Government and were against the "DNA" of his party.

"We do not need any additional restrictions on free speech in this country. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear," he said while campaigning in Brisbane.

"Not for nothing are we called the Liberal Party.

"The last thing we need is anything that shuts down legitimate debate in this country."

Mr Abbott said the Government had been "hectoring" and "bullying" those who criticised it, including in the media.

Independent Tony Windsor said he was unlikely to support the legislation in its current form and said he had received a large number of complaints about the proposed changes.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has called for changes to the Bill to protect the right to free speech.

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties said in a submission to the inquiry that the Bill "repeatedly and unjustifiably encroaches on free speech".

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will tell the inquiry today the changes will make it easier for employers to be accused of discrimination.



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

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

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


23 January, 2013

The tyranny of equality laws

If you have old-fashioned views or use archaic language at work, expect to be reprogrammed by the new overseers of equality.

‘Balancing religious and other rights is horrible work, which somebody’s got to do. Strasbourg reminded us on Tuesday that it does it as well as anyone else.’ This was how a Guardian editorial summed up the Strasbourg court’s judgement last week on discrimination claims brought by four devout Christians. The Independent claimed that the judgements showed the court’s ‘usefulness and general good sense’.

The cases involved four people sacked for expressing religious beliefs in various ways: a registrar, Lillian Ladele, who refused to officiate at same-sex civil partnerships; a relationship counsellor, Gary McFarlane, who didn’t want to work with gay couples; a nurse, Shirley Chaplin, who refused to stop wearing a small crucifix on a chain; and an airline employee, Nadia Eweida, who refused to stop wearing a small cross. Eweida won her case; the other appeals were dismissed.

While the liberal broadsheets supported the judgements, the Daily Mail advanced a Eurosceptic stance by denying that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg was the right place for religious-freedom cases to be determined. But the newspaper didn’t question the right of domestic courts to determine such matters. Indeed, the Mail argued for more court scrutiny, specifically of the medical evidence for the health-and-safety justification given by National Health Service (NHS) bosses for denying nurse Shirley Chaplin the right to wear a cross. Finding a mainstream commentator who questions the right of courts, domestic or European, to rule on workplace behaviour is as hard as finding a uniformed nurse with a visible crucifix.

The ever-expanding world of equality

In recent years, governments have subjected the workplace to a slew of equality and anti-discrimination laws. Now codified in the Equality Act 2010 and supplemented with human-rights legislation, the reach of the legislation has enabled Muslim schoolchildren to claim a right to wear a jilbab and other schoolchildren have claimed the right to style their hair with cornrows. Gay couples have used the act to challenge bed-and-breakfast owners who turned away unmarried guests. The legislation has also been used by many campaigners to challenge welfare cuts, library closures and university tuition-fees to name but a few.

It is not always immediately apparent what these challenges have got to do with equality or anti-discrimination laws. But the legislation readily lends itself to support those who claim to have been subjected to some unfairness on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. The ambit of these laws is so wide that there is scarcely a workplace or service-delivery decision that cannot be challenged under the Equality Act.

This is not to say that these challenges always win. Nobody keeps statistics and, in any case, many challenges are compromised before they become public, whether or not they have any merit. The 25 per cent success rate from the four applicants in last week’s cases may even have been higher than normal. What matters is that employees, employers and citizens generally are constantly subject to the threat of legal action under the Equality Act. The possibility of a claim under the Equality Act is there when an employer or school draws up a dress code, when an employee addresses a colleague, or when a service provider makes a spending cut.

The constant threat of a claim

A recent survey of 1,000 workers by the solicitors Allen & Overy highlights the extent of the problem in the workplace. Some people refer to a person who is wholly or partly of non-white descent as ‘coloured’; indeed, some people describe themselves as such. When asked if the term ‘coloured’ was offensive, 50 per cent of respondents said it was, but 38 per cent said it was acceptable. The journalist who wrote up this survey for the Law Gazette under the heading ‘Office banter is not black and white’ noted how the black person who was deeply offended at being called coloured could bring a harassment claim if the conduct was unwanted and causes offence. He also noted that the average tribunal award for race discrimination is £102,259, payable not only by the employer, but in some circumstances shared by the employee as well.

Six-figure damage awards may require pretty serious and persistent conduct, but that misses the point. The employees who have not accepted modern modes of address could find themselves subject to discrimination claims that would cause considerable worry and anxiety regardless of whether the claims succeeded. The Law Gazette article also noted how the gesture of anonymously giving a colleague a St Valentine’s Day gift can amount to sexual harassment where the conduct is unwanted. The lovesick optimist who persists in his pursuit could land his employer in an employment tribunal where the average award for this conduct is £9,940. So the unwanted box of chocolates could turn out to have been very expensive. The price we all pay is even greater, although impossible to quantify, when ordinary human interaction can become the subject of expensive and potentially ruinous litigation.

The four cases ruled on in Strasbourg were about weightier matters than office banter or boxes of chocolates, but they show the extent to which the workplace has become a legal hot potato. It is a strange world that allows an employer’s uniform code to result in hearings before an employment tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and then the European Court of Human Rights. It is even stranger to note that Ms Eweida’s claim against British Airways (BA) failed in each of the three domestic courts, for different reasons each time, but succeeded by a five-to-two majority in Strasbourg. And it succeeded not because of any bright line of principle that could in future guide employers to know whether their dress code was lawful or not. It succeeded in Strasbourg because ‘the court has reached the conclusion in the present case that a fair balance was not struck’. Equality legislation requires all employers, big or small, to throw themselves at the mercy of judicial discretion.

The decline of discrimination

Eric Pickles, the Lib-Con secretary of state for communities and local government and the minister who has criticised some court decisions for curtailing religious freedom, said he supported the Strasbourg court’s dismissal of the claims brought by Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele. McFarlane lost his job with Relate after saying during training that he would not be able to provide sex therapy to gay couples. Ladele was disciplined by Islington Council in north London when she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnerships. Pickles supported these decisions with reference to the need to provide public services on a non-discriminatory basis and he proceeded to say that he could just remember the days when in Bradford there were signs saying ‘blacks need not apply’. Pickles is 60 years old, so is referring to signs that appeared more than 40 years ago.

In her introduction to Blackstone’s Guide to The Equality Act 2010, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC notes that ‘when the model for our anti-discrimination laws was first developed, a sign saying “no Irish, no blacks, no dogs” in the window of a bed & breakfast, or a job advert saying “women need not apply” were commonplace around the country’. Similarly, she notes ‘offensive descriptions of, and hostile attitudes towards, disabled people were also commonplace’. But she, like Pickles, is talking about a different era.

Society has moved on and the attitudes that Pickles and Kennedy refer to as existing decades ago no longer exist, save in the eccentric. Those attitudes no longer have any social force. The misguided office worker who uses inappropriate office banter is a more likely target for a discrimination claim today than the employer who would turn away ‘blacks’. And where a Christian hotelier turns away a gay couple, it’s a safe bet that there will be other hotels and guest houses up the road that will not. This is not to say that all forms of unjustified discrimination have been eradicated, but it is to say that the need for the widespread intervention of the law as sanctioned by the Equality Act is anachronistic and creates far more problems than it solves.

Why the interest in equality today?

Ironically, as the need for anti-discrimination laws has waned, so governments of all persuasions have wedded themselves to an ever-expanding Equality Act agenda. There is as much chance of Eric Pickles repealing some equality legislation as there is of Gary McFarlane providing same sex counselling. Why?

The answer cannot be practical. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the BA decision, nobody can doubt BA’s efforts to accommodate Eweida’s religious beliefs. BA’s dress code had for some years caused no known problems to any employee, including Eweida, who for two years appears to have worn a cross concealed under her clothing without objection. When she complained BA offered her a temporary administrative position which would have allowed her to wear the cross openly without loss of pay. Yet despite those efforts, the Strasbourg court found BA’s decision unlawful. The lesson for employers is that to avoid legal challenges they may as well count angels dancing on a pinhead.

The amount of time and money tied up in drafting and implementing anti-discrimination policies is already substantial. The Allen & Overy survey found that 55 per cent of workers had read their employer’s ‘dignity at work’ policy (a figure I found surprisingly high). It then noted that ‘38 per cent of them had received training on it’ (ditto) in circumstances where an ‘all reasonable steps’ defence would require an employer to do more than just have a policy on a shelf or on its intranet. The report notes that workers ‘need regular training on its implications and their legal liability’.

And therein lies the explanation for today’s prevalence of equality legislation and codes. We live in an era where the powers-that-be do not trust employers, employees or any ordinary person – that is, you and me - to treat each other fairly. Neither do they trust organisations to provide services fairly. ‘Workers need regular training on dignity at work’ is code for saying that workers need to be re-programmed in how to think, talk and behave. Laws, anti-discrimination policies, codes of behaviour and training courses on ‘dignity at work’ become the order of the working day. The non-legal framework within which ordinary human behaviour has traditionally been negotiated is replaced with a legal one from on high. And for those who transgress: see you in court.

The many judgments that courts and tribunals will give on the many claims that are brought will do nothing to provide the clarity on equality legislation that employers understandably claim they need. There cannot be clarity to the many and diverse situations that arise in the workplace. Different staff for different reasons will always want to dress and work differently and for different reasons. It is endemic in equality legislation that the courts cannot establish rules of law that will enable people to know in advance what decision the courts will make. What equality legislation does is transfer power from the workplace to the courtroom. It takes power away from employers, employees and service users and vests it in judges. As I have argued previously, these laws also stifle any proper debate about the important issue of tolerance, religious or otherwise, by fostering intolerance.

The Guardian talks about the ‘horrible work, which somebody’s got to do’. I do not see ‘balancing religious and other rights’ as ‘horrible work’. I see it as an opportunity for there to be a genuine debate in the workplace and elsewhere about tolerance. Left to their own devices, and without the threat of legal proceedings, most staff would resolve their differences amicably. Somebody has got to do it, but it shouldn’t be the courts. The misanthropic argue otherwise.


Denmark says that both men and women's haircuts must cost the SAME PRICE

How deliberately blind to sex differences can you get?

Denmark, which like its Nordic neighbours prides itself on promoting equal treatment for men and women, has taken gender equality all the way to the beauty salon.

A ruling last month by Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment effectively stated that price differences between men's and women's haircuts were illegal.

It ordered a salon advertising women's haircuts for 528 crowns - £59 - and men's haircuts for 428 crowns - £48 - plus an extra fee for long hair, to pay 2,500 crowns - £281- to a woman who had filed a complaint.

Now, a trade organisation for hairdressers has called the decision absurd, saying it will become a nightmare to set prices for customers and warning of 'pricing chaos'.

'It takes, quite simply, longer time with women,' said Connie Mikkelsen, chairwoman of the Danish organisation for independent hairdressers and cosmeticians.

The board's decision has been appealed and a court will determine whether hairdressers need to find a new way to charge for their services, in the length of time, or the standard of the cut.

'Measuring time will lead to a discussion of hair length - what is medium length, and what is long. It will end in a series of conflicts with customers,' Mikkelsen said.


Lincoln: the racist imperialist war-monger Hollywood loves

Don’t be surprised. No Hollywood movie about Lincoln has ever come near the truth, and as long as Yankees control the industry, no movie ever will.

The present film focuses on the political manoeuvrings by Lincoln in 1865 to have the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, meant to prohibit slavery, passed in what was left of the House of Representatives, a rump that was left after the secession of the Southern States.

In effect, Lincoln was trying to rewrite a constitution under which he intended the South would have to live again, but giving the South no voice in drafting the amendment. The amendment would later be forced through for ratification in post-war legislatures in Southern States under military occupation. The passage of the 13th Amendment made the Irish 1801 Act of Union look like a monument to representative democracy.

How much did Spielberg get right on this? Well, imagine the British Conservative party writing a film script about Irish history and you will understand what happens when Yankees do Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln had a record from the moment of his inauguration of smashing up the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Picturing him now as being careful to get a new amendment just right is a bit precious.

But the truth is that Lincoln was a racist, war-mongering, anti-liberty, blood-soaked imperialist liar. Lincoln has been deified to justify the conquest and occupation of the sovereign States of the South by the financially-driven vested interests of the North. The truth is, the war was about tariffs and not about slavery.

First I will have to deal with the misunderstandings about slavery as the cause of the war. Here is the American historian Dr Clyde Wilson, writing in Chronicles Magazine in 2011:

‘It is now established with Soviet party-line rigor that the War was “caused by” and “about” slavery, and nothing but slavery. This is not because the interpreters of history in 2011 are more knowledgeable and objective than those of 1961 [the centennial of the war]. Quite the reverse is true. The new orthodoxy does not result from new knowledge. Slavery has been elevated to the centre place of the war because Americans are obsessed with race and devoted to the emotional and financial rewards of victimology. But slavery does not belong there.’

‘The Union never did anything before, during, or after the War with the welfare of black Americans foremost in mind.’

Though of course, Yankees hated slavery. Why? Because in their view slaves were a non-Anglo-Saxon element who had corrupted the South, and left white Southerners – the Cavaliers of America -- both free and prosperous, and therefore independent of Northern Puritanism. For the Yankees of the mid-19th century, writes Dr Wilson, ‘It wasn’t that the black man had too little liberty; it was that the Southern white man had far too much.’

Which takes us to the question of tariffs as the cause of the war. In his book, The Real Lincoln, Prof Thomas DiLorenzo makes the case that the North invaded the South in order to hold onto the tariff revenues which the wealthy, exporting South was forced to pay to subsidise Northern industry.

Higher tariffs for his crony capitalists were the key plank of Lincoln’s 1860 election platform. He had no interest in ending slavery. What he wanted was to exploit the South for tariff revenues, and stop the South buying cheaper manufactured goods abroad.

Increased tariff revenues would also help finance Union expansion into the West, where the Lincoln administration was overseeing the eradication of the Plains Indians in the interest of the President’s cronies in the railway industry. Example: on December 26th, 1862, Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in American history, 39 Sioux prisoners executed by Union soldiers in one day.

As Paul Craig Roberts, an American economist and former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, has written, if the South could be free of the North, ‘Northern manufacturers would be seriously hurt, and maybe bankrupted.’

This is what Yankees meant when they said they wanted to ‘preserve the Union.’ They wanted to preserve the Southern people as captives to Northern business and banking interests. Following the election of Lincoln, the Southern states decided it was time to exercise their undeniable right to secede from the union, just as their grandfathers had seceded from the British Empire.

But let’s get to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which people here persist in imagining freed the slaves. It did not, nor did Lincoln intend it should. Slavery was constitutional and Lincoln knew it.

There were legal and moral ways to end slavery, but turning loose on the Southern people men such as Ulysses S Grant, a meat-grinder of a killer, was not one of the ways.

In effect, what the Emancipation Proclamation did was announce that slaves in territory not controlled by the federal government would be freed, but in any territory controlled by Union forces, slaves would not be freed.

In fact, many slaves who ended up in the hands of the Yankee soldiers were not freed, but were forced to work at the worst jobs in the army camps: ‘Welcome to Yankee slavery, here, clean the latrine.’

So ending slavery was not the point of the proclamation. Nor was it Lincoln trying to overcome resistance in Washington to freeing slaves. Rather, Lincoln knew that by 1863, almost no white men were left working on Southern farms and plantations. They were all away fighting. Women and children kept the farms working.

At the time, it was assumed Lincoln calculated that once the slaves heard they had been ‘freed,’ they would rise up and slaughter the white women and children.

The slaves of course never rose and slaughtered anyone, despite Lincoln’s efforts. Why they didn’t, I do not know. Perhaps they were more Christian than I, and perhaps you, would have been in the same circumstances.

Lincoln’s imperialist war ended with 620,000 young men dead (including one-quarter of all white men in the South between the ages of 20 and 40), the economy of the South destroyed, and the South an occupied territory without civil rights or legitimate government for nearly a generation.

Even Virginia, home of Washington, Jefferson and Madison, and the oldest representative democracy in the New World, was reduced by the Yankees to an occupied territory called ‘Military District No 1.’

Orwell should have told this story, not Spielberg.


Australia:  Free speech denied to Geert Wilders

The obvious question is, what are they afraid of? Is it fear of violence, or vandalism, or simply fear of association?

Debbie Robinson, a small business operator who describes herself as an ordinary citizen, wants to bring to Australia a Dutch political leader who is a supporter of democracy, freedom of religion, feminism and gay rights. But when she started making arrangements all she encountered was fear.

"In Sydney, venues that were initially available were cancelled or would not take the booking when they realised who the speaker was," she told me. She provided a list of rejections: the Hilton Hotel, North Sydney Leagues Club, Sydney Masonic Centre, Wesley Convention Centre, Luna Park Function Centre, the Concourse at Chatswood and the Sir John Clancy Auditorium at the University of NSW.

"I offered a church-based venue in Sydney a donation and their reply was, 'You could offer $4 million and we would not accept your booking'."

Finding venues was not her only problem. "Earlier in the year I approached APN Outdoor to arrange a four-week run of bus ads in Sydney. The artwork was forwarded to them and I was quoted a price for the job . . . Then I was advised they would not be able to run the ad as it was too political and would result in the buses being damaged and defaced. They would not say who would do the damage."

The same happened in Perth, where Robinson lives, when venues declined to take her booking, including the Burswood Casino. When she tried to organise a payments system for the tour, she was rejected by Westpac. The bank, which has been courting the Chinese Communist government for years, wanted nothing to do with this Dutch democrat.

"I was organising an e-way payment system with Westpac to link to the website of the Q Society [the sponsor of the tour]. I received a call from a manager who said the Westpac Risk Management Team had decided the material for sale was offensive and inappropriate and therefore they would not proceed with the e-way system. I asked to speak to the manager responsible and was told he was on leave."

The Dutch MP causing so much concern is Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party of Freedom (PVV), the king-maker in Dutch politics over the past two years. When Wilders withdrew his support for the government last year, it collapsed and a national election was called.

A month after that election, in which the PVV polled a million votes and won 16 seats, Wilders was scheduled to be in Australia. The trip was cancelled after it was sabotaged by the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen.

The minister then had the gall to write an opinion piece, published in The Australian on October 2 last year, in which he claimed, "I have decided not to intervene to deny [Wilders] a visa because I believe that our democracy is strong enough, our multiculturalism robust enough and our commitment to freedom of speech entrenched enough that our society can withstand the visit of a fringe commentator."

Reality check: Bowen's department sat on Wilders' visa application for almost two months, then acted only after the minister received public criticism and Wilders was cancelling his trip.

No such long delay hindered the visit of Taji Mustafa, a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an apologist for jihad, when he made a speaking tour in Australia last September while Wilders was being frozen out. When questioned in Parliament, Bowen replied: "Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been proscribed in Australia . . . This entry permit was issued in accordance with the normal procedures for British nationals."

Apparently, the anti-Western Hizb ut-Tahrir is not "fringe", nor worthy of an excoriating opinion piece, but the leader of a party that won 24 seats, 1.4 million votes, and 15 per cent of the vote in the Dutch 2010 election represents an extremist fringe.

People are entitled to loathe Wilders, or shun him. They are also entitled to support him, or hear him. The problems encountered with his visit illustrate the double-speak, double-standards and fear that exists when it comes to the subject for which Wilders is notorious - confronting Muslim extremism.

Neither Wilders nor the PVV have ever been involved in violent conduct, yet he has lived under 24-hour police protection for the past nine years, since two Muslim fundamentalists were arrested after a siege in 2004 and charged with planning to assassinate him.

When Wilders comes to Australia next month for speaking engagements in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, he will be accompanied by five Dutch security officers. The venues will not be revealed until 48 hours before each speech.

Wilders believes Islam is a political ideology, not just a religion, and should be compared with totalitarian belief systems. He has compared the Koran to Fascism and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. He advocates ending immigration by Muslims because the Netherlands was losing its demographic and social stability. For this he was taken to court for hate speech. He won, but the case occupied three years.

Wilders is opposed to what he calls the Islamification of Europe by a combination of demography, immigration and accommodations by multiculturalism that are not reciprocated by Muslims. Two other Dutch political activists who were similarly critical of Islam were subject to numerous assassination attempts. One was murdered, the other fled to America.

Debbie Robinson believes the fear she has encountered in Australia merely confirms her reasons for arranging Wilders' visit: "With every refusal I asked why, and was almost always informed that management had concerns about the repercussions. The audience was never the issue. The issue was offending Muslims. Looking at the number of cancellations and refusals it is apparent the Islamic community are not getting their message across about being the religion of peace."



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

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

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


22 January, 2013

Britain's legitimation crisis

Peter Saunders

What happens when the citizens of a country lose trust in those in key positions of authority and responsibility?

When I was growing up in England in the 1950s, there was a widespread (and perhaps slightly naive) faith in the integrity of people in authority. The local bank manager was a man (always a man) of the highest standing. Nurses (always women) were angels of mercy committed to altruistic ideals of public service. The virtue of priests and vicars was unquestioned; ditto the honesty of political leaders. The BBC was the ultimate voice of truth. And if you needed to know the time, you asked a policeman.

Not anymore.

The rot began with the revelations of sexual abuse perpetrated (and then covered up) over many years by priests in the Catholic Church.

Shortly after that, the bankers were exposed as greedy and dishonest, trading in debts which they knew to be toxic, and conspiring to distort market lending rates so they could squeeze out bigger profits and bonuses for themselves at the expense of their customers.

Hot on the heels of the banking crisis came the revelations about Westminster MPs fiddling their expenses. British voters discovered their elected representatives had been embezzling thousands of pounds from taxpayers by claiming to live in houses they rarely frequented, or by submitting expenses for dredging their moat, building a duck house, or even paying for their husband’s porn. Several of them ended up in jail; many more probably should have.

Next came the exposure of serious neglect and abuse in the nation’s hospitals and elderly care homes. One investigation last year reported that hospital patients were being left in their own excrement and denied access to drinking water. Another suggested that nurses with impressive paper qualifications often lacked compassion, a sense of vocation, or even basic caring skills.

Then the BBC came under the spotlight - first, when allegations surfaced of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile and others on BBC premises, and then when the Corporation responded to criticisms by falsely and recklessly accusing a senior Conservative politician from the Thatcher years of involvement in a child sex abuse scandal without bothering to check the veracity of its ‘evidence.’ Meanwhile, the nation’s press has been put through the wringer by the Leveson inquiry which has exposed the grubby practices by which the popular newspapers feed their readers’ appetites for scandal and titillation.

Most recently, it has been the turn of the police. First we learned that, following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 (when 96 football supporters were crushed to death on overcrowded terraces), officers systematically falsified their accounts to exempt the police from any responsibility or blame. Then it came to light that a cabinet minister forced to resign for allegedly insulting police officers in Downing Street had done no such thing. They’d ‘fitted him up.’ Many of us have assumed for a long time that the cops might ‘massage the evidence’ to ensure that a villain gets convicted, but when even cabinet ministers get ‘stitched up like a kipper,’ nobody can feel safe.

Now it may be that those in authority were always flawed. Perhaps the nurses 50 years ago weren’t angels, the local bank manager had his fingers in the till, and the priests were never as innocent as we supposed. But the important point is that we didn’t think this was the case. We respected authority figures back then. We believed the country was in the hands of decent, honest, virtuous people, people we could trust.

That trust has now collapsed as, one after another, the pillars supporting our civic culture have crumbled. It has been displaced by a weary cynicism. Whether a liberal, democratic nation can survive mass disillusion and distrust (what the Marxist theorist, Jürgen Habermas, once aptly called a ‘legitimation crisis’) nobody knows. But I think we’re about to find out.


Convicts owe £1.8billion in fines as 'free pass' makes a mockery of the British justice system

More than £140million is owed to the taxpayer by criminals who have been kicked out of Britain, lost or who have died.  The shambolic management of court fines and compensation orders means foreign criminals have been deported despite owing vast amounts to the taxpayer.

The sum is part of a colossal £1.8billion which has not been collected in court fines and compensation orders. Critics said the figures showed criminals were being given a ‘free pass’ to ignore financial penalties.

Figures released by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) showed the total debt owed at the end of the 2011/12 financial year was more than £1.8billion. That compares with £484 million which was collected from criminals.

More than a billion pounds is accounted for by compensation orders - court demands for criminals to hand over the proceeds of criminal enterprises.

In 2007 the amount of uncollected confiscations orders stood at £507million. It is now £1.2billion.

Another £154million has been successfully hidden from collectors and cannot be recovered despite ‘forensic’ financial investigations. Around £40million cannot be collected because of ongoing appeals.

Officials also admitted that £278million is owed in interest on money that has not yet been paid.  And they said £141million related to individuals who were ‘deceased, deported or cannot be located’.

HMCTS said it is looking for a private debt agency to help collect outstanding fines and confiscation orders.

Much of the money is likely to be written off. More than £65 million was written off in 2011/12, compared to £50million a year earlier.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘There’s no point in dishing out fines if criminals simply fail to hand over what they owe.  ‘If offenders can easily ignore penalties or are given a free pass, then it makes a mockery of the justice system.

‘A huge amount of money remains outstanding, the authorities must do a far better job of collecting cash rather than just writing it off the money when it is too late.’

A Public Accounts Committee report two years ago complained about ‘lax’ financial controls at the Ministry of Justice, the department which oversees the courts.

The Ministry of Justice said the value of outstanding money owed was down from £1.9billion a year earlier.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: ‘We are determined to take action which will ensure criminals are made to pay what they owe.

‘We’ve done a good job of collecting the smaller fines- £484 million last year - and we are not giving up on the larger debts which have been more difficult to recover.

‘Enforcement agencies are also working with authorities in other countries and hiring specialist teams to track down hidden assets which make up a substantial part of the larger debts.


British food folly:  Horses

A French chef working in Britain comments

I was raised in France on a diet that included horse. I still savour the  memory of Saturday lunchtime, when tiny Maman Blanc dashed about her kitchen, steaks sizzling in a pan of foaming butter.

These were steaks of horse, rather than beef. My mother had five hungry mouths to feed, we were poor and horse was the cheapest of meats. Free if you happened to own one.

My grandfather owned two. They were big, broad Percheron horses used to plough the land. It was a tough job but they were built for it.

My grandfather cherished those horses. He looked after them, fed  and watered them and provided them  with a home. They seemed pretty happy, but when they reached the  end of their lives he would have no qualms about eating them. He loved a chunk of horse.

This will be disturbing reading for many because Britain is a nation  that does not eat horse meat – though that’s not quite true now as it transpires many have been eating horse without knowing it, devouring the flesh in supermarket burgers and other beef products.

The supermarkets have swept their shelves clean and simultaneously  sent thousands of jokes galloping on  Twitter, including the announcement that a woman who ate a horse burger ended up in hospital. Her condition was said to be stable.

But behind the scandal, I detect the unappetising taste of hypocrisy. Many British people like to pretend food doesn’t come from animals.  Consumers are overly fussy and precious and hate to think what they are eating once grazed on our land or swam in our waters.

All of this has helped lead to the demise of the high street butcher and has brought tough times for farmers who see their crops go to waste because their apples are not perfectly round, or their carrots have one too many bumps.

Poor old Mother Nature has yet to earn the respect of the British. And still we are shocked at the suggestion of waste.

It is only a week or so since a report – Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not –revealed that up to half the world’s food goes in the bin rather than on the plate. However, education is at the root of the problem.

Horse can be eaten and is a good source of protein. I know to an Englishman this may sound rather confusing, but I love horses and I also love horse meat. I feel the same way about pigs and pork, cows and beef, hens and chicken.

But as a chef and as President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, I take my responsibilities seriously. It goes without saying that if you are to kill an animal it must be in the most humane way. This will also result in better taste and texture because the animal is not stressed.

The horse is a thing of beauty but it is still something to eat, a source of protein far superior to much that pleases the British palate.

Consumers of chicken burgers, made from the meat, beaks, feet and claws of battery-farmed poultry might disagree, but hear me out.

In France there is an agreement –unwritten of course –  between owner and animal: you look after it during its life, and when it dies it feeds you.

The British stroke their pets. In France, we stroke them but we also eat them.

Mind you, the British have a healthy appetite for other animals such as cute lambs, with mint sauce.

Horse is not only eaten in France, where 15 per cent of the population still consume horse steaks bought from specialist horse butchers. It is eaten in China and Japan. It is eaten in Scandinavia. You will find it on the tables of Belgium, while the average Italian devours about 2lb of horse each year.

And who exports their old horses to be eaten on the Continent? Yes, the British. Again, it seems hypocritical.

I was discussing the subject with Matthew Fort, the food writer and a judge on BBC1’s Great British Menu (on which horse has never appeared). Matthew agrees we should not spare the horse from the British plate but come to terms with consuming it.

Indeed, horse meat is lean and rich in iron. There is the slight taste of game and it is incredibly tender. It is similar in colour to beef and has great character due to its sweetness and acidity. It is an interesting meat,  which I am sure could cook like boeuf  bourguignon – slowly with wine.

What a great shame it is not eaten in Britain. Though that has not always been the case. You may be surprised to know the British did eat horse.

In the days when it was the main form of travel and horses were used in mines, poor Britons viewed the  animal in the same way as the  French, namely a solid, hard-working beast that would eventually provide  a few meals.

In Britain during the Second World War it was not rationed, though butchers needed a licence to sell it. One butcher in Yorkshire continued to sell horse right up to the mid-Fifties, and its fat was bought by home bakers for cakes and pastries.

Can it make a comeback? Will British chefs take on the challenge of cooking horse meat for their guests? Will they create a dish such as cheval bourguignon, maybe cooked with a British red wine?

It’s a good bet that one day it will be on the menu


Australia: Watchdog call for softening of new hate laws

AUSTRALIA'S discrimination watchdog wants the federal government to water down its new hate laws to avoid litigation over workers' water-cooler chats.

Discrimination has been redefined as "conduct that offends or insults" in the government's draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill.

But Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs thinks the broad definition will spark too many lawsuits.

She said the words offend and insult "have to go".  "There is no need to set the threshold so low," she said.  "I would suggest the government consider taking the words 'offensive' and 'insulting' out (of the legislation).  "It does raise a risk of increased litigation".

Professor Triggs said discrimination cases should be based on the higher test of "intimidation, vilification or humiliation".

The Gillard government has drafted the new law to combine and update five sets of legislation banning discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, age or disability.

Professor Triggs said the words offend and insult had been "buried" in Section 198 of the Racial Discrimination Act, which will be replaced by the new legislation.

"Now it (the new legislation) extends that attribute to all areas (of discrimination)," she said.

"Probably what we'll see is an amendment to the exposure bill, taking out offensive and insulting."

The draft law says a person has been discriminated against if someone treats them "unfavorably" on the grounds of "protected attributes" that range from gender to race, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation.

It defines "unfavorable treatment" as harassing someone or "other conduct that offends, insults or intimidates the other person".

A Senate committee inquiring into the draft bill has already received 587 submissions from organisations including churches, employers, unions, mental health agencies, disability groups and state governments.

A spokeswoman for acting federal Attorney-General Jason Clare yesterday refused to say if the wording would be changed.  "The main objective of this project is to simplify and consolidate many laws into one," she said.  "If the Senate inquiry identifies the drafting goes well beyond this, the Government will closely consider those recommendations."

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has told the Senate inquiry the the new laws could damage freedom of speech.

"The use of subjective language such as 'insult' and 'offend' in the statutory definition of 'unfavourable treatment" may be interpreted to set a low threshold test for discrimination," he said.

"(This) will result in unmeritous complaints and lack of alignment with international human rights benchmarks that focus on the need for equality, rather than merely on the social value of being polite".

Queensland's Anti Discrimination Commission also wants the legislation be rewritten, so a "reasonable person" would have to find the conduct insulting or offensive.

Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commission, however, wants to keep the words "insult and offend" and add others as well.  "To provide greater certainty, this clause could also include the words humiliate, denigrate, ridicule or degrade to describe some of the specific types of behaviour that constitute unfavourable treatment," it told the inquiry.

The NSW Government has told the Senate inquiry the broader definition of discrimination "places unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech".  "The words 'offend' and 'insult', in particular incorporate a very low threshold of unfavorable treatment," its submission says.

Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark warned that people could be accused of discrimination over what they say in private conversations held in a public place, such as a club or office.

"Many people may be subjectively offended or insulted by the simple expression or manifestation of views different to their own," he told the inquiry.

"To make such expressions of views in workplaces, schools, clubs and sports prima facie unfavourable treatment and hence discrimination ... appears to substantially erode freedom of expression."

The Law Society of South Australia told the Senate inquiry it "condemned" the new definition.  "The robust expression of opinions, short of incitement to hatred, is a strength of our social and legal system," its submission states.

"It should not be curtailed to protect subjective offence that individuals may feel when their beliefs or attitudes are criticised."



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

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

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


21 January, 2013

So What’s Wrong With Hate Speech Laws?

Any serious discussion of “hate speech” laws should start with a consideration of George Orwell’s prophetic look into the future—specifically the book Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Recall that in Orwell’s book, Big Brother sought to control not only all thoughts but also to language used to form thoughts. To that end, he created the language of “Newspeak,” described as “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.”

In a separate essay, Orwell explained that Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar.

In the book, this suits the totalitarian regime of the “Party,” whose aim is to make any alternative thinking a “thoughtcrime” or, in the language of Newspeak, a “crimethink.”

The language of Newspeak removes any words or possible word constructs which describe the ideas of independent thinking, freedom, rebellion, disagreement, or unapproved values. The underlying intent of Newspeak, of course, is that if something can’t be said—because the words have been criminalized, banned, or no longer exist—then it is hugely more difficult to think.

There are many lessons to be drawn from Orwell here. Law itself represents society’s standard of conduct, defining acceptable from unacceptable behaviour. The end goal of any criminal law is the elimination of certain specified behaviour. If this is the case—as we know it is—what can we make of a law that bans the mere utterance of certain words.

For those comfortable with this, the ever-expanding use of “hate speech” laws is no cause for alarm. But let me pose a few questions.

Having opened the Pandora’s Box of hate speech laws, and in light of the endless supply of unwanted, stupid, and obnoxious ideas and speech, why not expand these laws to eliminate any speech the state deems bad for society? Having legitimized the banning of certain “dangerous” or “hurtful” words—where do we as a society stop?

Orwell once famously said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” This sentence, I think, sums up the essence of free speech in a truly free society. He and others believed that without the freedom to offend, free speech and free thoughts cannot exist.

Ideas are indeed sometimes dangerous things, especially ideas that seek to challenge or even change the current status quo or existing orthodoxy. Indeed, is there really any point in having certain protections for freedom of speech if there is only freedom to express the most popular or current politically correct ideas and opinions?

The punishing of speech and the expression of certain offensive ideas is a classic slippery slope.

It starts so disarmingly with baby-steps, then gradually gains speed, and in time, gives birth to a society where free speech is no longer free and people whisper words they believe are true for fear of punishment or retaliation. I suggest that unless strong voices are heard—and heard loudly—we may very well usher in a new era of state-enforced censorship, and darkness.


Taking offence is a British national sport

The price we pay for freedom is letting silly insults or harmless asides roll off us - so, two words of advice to all the transsexuals “offended” by Suzanne Moore: man up!

The journalist Suzanne Moore was writing a thoughtful article about the pressures on women in a hyper-sexualised society when she reached for a comparison, as writers do. Moore suggested that, increasingly, women felt they should look like “Brazilian transsexuals”.

You knew exactly what she meant. The Brazilian transsexual and the Thai ladyboy are both shorthand for a kind of streamlined, ravishing ultra-femininity. Those of us whose idea of personal grooming involves a quick Bic [razor] in the bath, rather than a waxed deforestation followed by a litre of yak butter, can only marvel at the sheer effort which those chaps who have joined our gender bring to the business of being a woman.

Personally, I would be thrilled to be mistaken for a Brazilian transsexual. So much foxier than a Hobbit in Boden [clothing shop] or a mum in pyjamas on the school run. Suzanne Moore meant no offence. It was not the Brazilian transsexuals who were the object of her concern: she was worrying about women who feel miserable because they don’t measure up to supermodels. She might just as easily have asked, “Why do our daughters need to look like Barbies?”

I bet she wishes she had. There would have been no hysterical complaints from wounded members of “the Barbie community”, claiming to have been trivialised or marginalised or stigmatised. So far, plastic dolls with implausible boob-to-hip ratios have not organised to lobby angrily for their minority rights, though you never know.

Unwittingly, poor Suzanne incited the ire of transsexuals on Twitter, where indignation spreads like a forest fire. On social media, it takes a matter of minutes for an innocuous aside to be inflated to “bullying”. Formerly a very grave charge, in our brave new world of tolerance, bullying now basically means: “They said something I don’t like.”

An organ called Pink News demanded that Moore apologise for what it solemnly called “her recent transphobic outburst”. Just to add to the atmosphere of sweet reason, Julie Burchill wrote an article for the Observer, defending Moore and machine-gunning what she called “bed-wetters in bad wigs”.

Shamefully, the editor added injury to insult, pulling the Burchill piece from the website after it had had been published: a move that was simultaneously repressive and useless. Then Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone weighed in, calling for Burchill and the Observer’s editor to be sacked. I think you may have got the wrong country, Lynne love; this is Britain, not Communist China.

So, a perfectly valid comparison is blown up into “a transphobic outburst”. A decent writer wrongly accused of bullying refuses to apologise for an imaginary offence and is then bullied into closing her Twitter account by the Monstrous Regiment of the Thin-Skinned. I’m afraid that this is where political correctness has got us. Taking Offence is the new national sport, and the moral high ground is so bloody crowded it’s more bad-tempered than Waitrose [high-end supermarket] car park on a Saturday.

We shouldn’t need to worry how our remarks are perceived, not unless they threaten a real person. No more than an airport worker need be afraid she will be suspended for wearing a cross into work. This is a free country, and the price we pay for that freedom is letting silly insults or harmless asides roll off us.

The thin-skinned Offence Brigade would do well to remember the advice of the great Thomas Carlyle: “No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence.”

Oh, and two small words of advice to all the transsexuals “offended” by Suzanne Moore: man up!


Some reflections from an old Curmudgeon

When leading politicians and commentators describe everything or at least compare everything to sporting matches, pop concerts and Hollywood movies, something is definitely wrong.

The more I read about the past and sympathize with their complaints about the breakdown of civilization and the arrogance of youth, the less I understand the events around me.

Professional people perhaps brilliant in one field should not claim expertise in other or all fields of human endeavour.

As soon as I hear squeaky voices of young commentators on television I switch the channel back to the movies of the 1930s and 1940s for comfort and wisdom.

I am told that the untrained throaty singers who now are presented as serious artists are the result of more than fifty years of tradition.  I would rather say they are the result of the domination of dumb-bell radio disk-jockeys, lack-lustre recording studio executives and neurotically-bored listeners.  In retrospect, elevator music was closer to the classical composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Only thirty years ago you could travel nowhere without a driving license as proof of identity.  Today without tiny little i-phones and reading-pads you have no identity to prove.

The newspapers, the television reports, and the hand-held information sources display multiple terrorist outrages in the Near and Middle East, massacres in the major cities of Western Europe by unassimilated immigrants into the third generation, and numerous individuals and groups arrested days or weeks before planned atrocities against airliners, public spaces, and peace-activists, yet I am supposed to believe the clash of cultures is a right-wing hoax.

Someone boasts of two years preparation for an informative study of this or that.  I give myself ten to fifteen years to reach the point where I can start to focus clearly on the subject.

The novel is not dead, as pundits have proclaimed every decade for the past hundred years, only readers able to sustain long narratives with complex plots and deep intellectual discussions of ethics and morals.  So too short stories which require intense meditation and multiple readings.  Most unlikely to survive are our contemporary education system, collections of apothegms and aphorisms.

I went to the first rock'n'roll show at the Brooklyn Paramount on the first morning and received a free 45" recording of "Greasy Spoon."  Alan Freed pounded on a telephone book to get the "big beat."  People jumped out of their seats to dance in the aisles. I decided then and there, in my self-righteous adolescence, to withdraw from popular culture completely.  I have been true to my word ever since.

Is there really a world-wide clash of cultures, or is it a clash between culture and barbarism in my own mind?

Six degrees of separation, or seven or five, does it matter?  I spoke to a friend by phone short while ago whose relative had two children in Sandy Hook, Elementary School, one of whom was killed and the other survived in a different room.  Someone else I know lives in Aurora, Colorado, just a few streets from the mall where the Batman shooting took place.  My son was on jury duty around the corner from the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, and saw, heard and smelled the terrorist attacks.  The world is too small for comfort, even when you live at the very outermost fringes of the Antipodes. 

What frightens me most, however, are the trivializers of mass serial murders, the rationalizers of fanatical religious groups and nationalists, and the obfuscation of rational and efficient responses to such situations.  They dominate the press, pontificate in the universities, parade their ignorance in the halls of power, and make spectacular films using all the latest technology to perpetuate their lies.

What are the greatest threats to the peace and stability of the world today?  The arrogance of power, the self-confidence of fools, and the illusion of rationality.  What are the best ways to survive the next decade, with some degree of probability?  The humility of preparedness, the patience of wisdom, and the certainty of eventual crisis; in other words,  historical realism, social responsibility and moral determination.

Four places to be most careful today: (1) the borders of Syria and its neighbours, (2) the joint between the two parts of Mali, (3) the enclave of Gaza, and (4) the inner sanctum of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

There are many heroes on the front lines protecting the bases of civilization.  Our reporters and academics fail to see it: they call them victims and participants in illegal wars.  In the eyes of the post-modernists, war has become a war crime: justice no longer counts for anything.

When whales run aground, many hundreds of people rush to protect them and lead them back into safe waters.  The pod hurtles itself against the shore again, and then again.  The gesture of the rescuers is noble, but futile; nature is cruel and stupid.

There are many places where women are abused and murdered on a regular basis.  Some commentators call the perpetrators idiots.  I call them savages.  Idiots don't know what they are doing.

Before we discover if there is intelligent life on other planets, we should search for it here on earth.

Truth is neither absolute nor rarely self-evident.  There is a truth, to be sure, but it needs to be minutely analysed, set in historical context and carefully interpreted.  That is why in court you are asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

If common sense were truly common, we would not need parents or schools; instincts would be enough.

This old communists hawking Spartacus and those ancient veterans of the barricades with People's Voice for sale show all the practical fervour of Jehovah's Witnesses handing out The Watchtower.  They have the wax-caste visages of Lenin in his tomb on Red Square or the holiday photographs of Trotsky on his Mexican tour.  They believe they resemble the figures on the tee-shirts they wear.  The power of faith.

Sometimes I put a book or article into the hands of a friend.  He looks blankly at my face.  He cannot understand what it is I have done.  He turns the object over, then hands it back, as though it were an unwanted sandwich or children's toy. 


Australia:  Breakfast cereal company ads raise question marks about "Discrimination"

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon's department says Weet-Bix manufacturer Sanitarium - which advertises for job candidates who share its "Christian-based principles" - is not a religious body, but would not say whether the company's actions were unlawful.

Sanitarium was founded and is operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is not required to lodge the company's financial reports.

A number of its online job ads require successful candidates to have Christian principles. A cereal machine operator job ad says: "If you share our passion for what we do . . . and you are aligned with our Christian-based principles, this will be a great opportunity for you."

A Sanitarium spokeswoman has told Fairfax Media that religious belief "was not a condition of employment".

It is an offence to publish an ad that indicates an intention to unlawfully discriminate under a number of laws. But religious bodies can lawfully discriminate against people with various attributes, including religious belief, unlike other groups. A draft human rights bill retains most of their legal rights to discriminate.

A spokeswoman from the Attorney-General's department said Sanitarium was not a religious body because it was not "established for religious purposes" but could not say whether Sanitarium's ads were unlawful.

"The relevant question is how that preference is applied in practice," she said. "For example, refusing to hire a person merely because they are of a particular faith, gay or divorced, could constitute discrimination, but requiring employees to act in accordance with a particular code of conduct may not be."

The Federation of Community Legal Centres' Hugh de Kretser said most people would consider the ads discriminatory: "If the government thinks Sanitarium isn't a religious body, it should act to stop these discriminatory job ads."



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

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

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


20 January, 2013

Hooded 'Muslim Patrol' vigilantes remove alcohol from drinkers and tell women to cover up as they stalk London suburb

Police are investigating reports a gang claiming to be Islamic vigilantes have been confronting members of the public and demanding they give up alcohol and women cover their flesh in their 'Muslim area'.

The hooded men, who call themselves Muslim Patrol, have been filmed walking London's streets and calling white women 'naked animals with no self respect.'

The group is also shown taking 'evil' booze from revellers and film a cyclist being treated after a road accident, claiming they were injured because they were unclean.

In one exchange a member of the group says: 'We don't care if you are appalled at all', before calling themselves 'vigilantes implementing Islam upon your own necks'.

They have uploaded videos to their YouTube channel with the most recent three-minute clip causing a stir online. 'The Truth About Saturday Night', which was uploaded on Sunday, has already been viewed more than 42,000 times.  Scotland Yard says it is investigating.

It was shot on a mobile phone at night in what the Met say is Waltham Forest, London, with a number of men seen shouting 'this is a Muslim area' towards white Britons they've confronted.

The video, which first appeared on The Commentator, states: 'From women walking the street dressed like complete naked animals with no self respect, to drunk people carrying alcohol, to drunks being killed in the middle of the road, we try our best to capture and forbid it all.'

One scene shows the hooded yobs forcing a passing man to put a can of lager away, telling the stunned gentleman they are the Muslim Patrol and that alcohol is a 'forbidden evil'.

They then tell a group of women 'they need to forbid themselves from dressing like this and exposing themselves outside the mosque'.

On another occasion, a woman takes offence to their requests and tells them they are in Great Britain at which point they respond by saying 'they don't respect those who disobey God'.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organisation which campaigns for a peaceful co-existence among communities, has condemned the group's behaviour.  He said: 'We live in the UK and we are governed by UK law, there should be no mob rule. If people are involved in this behaviour then it is worrying but it is an isolated incident.'

The vigilante video follows an earlier clip made by the group where they protested against adverts for push-up bras by High Street retailer H&M.

In the clip they say: 'The Muslims have taken it upon themselves to command the good and forbid the evil and cover up these naked people.'

They then show a number of adverts for the product which has been sprayed over and also film themselves pouring petrol over one advert and setting it on fire.



Nice to see that Allison Pearson (below) has read some Chaucer but her mastery of modern English grammar is deficient.  I have reproduced her heading above exactly as I found it.  "Princes Charming" was needed.  But, grammar aside,  what she says is reasonable

I never knew his name, but the memory of his act of chivalry will still be keeping me warm when I’m in my red rubber chair in the nursing home watching reruns of The Rockford Files.

In the mid-Eighties, I was on a down escalator at King’s Cross when the heel of my shoe got stuck. With the bottom of the escalator fast approaching, I stepped out of the shoe and hopped with one bare foot onto the concourse.

Appearing from nowhere, my verray parfit gentil knyght retrieved the errant footwear, came towards me and dropped to one knee. Proferring the shoe, he said with a smile, “You shall go to the ball.”

Well, it worked for me. If Prince Charming happens to be reading this, I’d like to thank you, kind Sir, for that swift act which brought such grace and – yes – wit into a dreary commute. For a moment, instead of feeling like a worker drone, I was Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, with a chiffon scarf and Cary Grant to tease me.

How depressing to learn that acts of chivalry are now so rare that, as highlighted in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, women view them with outright suspicion.

Ladies, what a catastrophic own-goal! And who can blame men if they hesitate before offering to help with a heavy case, knowing that they risk getting the feminist death-stare in return? Perhaps those of us who are happy to be patronised by a beefy guy, if it means he will lift a double-buggy onto a bus, could wear a Willing Damsel in Distress badge?

The decline of chivalry has led to a coarsening in society. Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, is to make a timely call for a General Certificate of Character Education (GCCE). To be introduced in all secondary schools, it would give students a grounding in self-control, responsibility, punctuality, kindness and tidiness.

To that list I would add playfulness, which, for both sexes, is the most highly regarded quality in a potential mate. Undoubtedly, a certain playfulness and charm left life the day man decided not to hold a door open for woman. The mistake was to see chivalry as oppressive when, all along, it was just good manners dancing.


Another British woman jailed for crying rape to cover up cheating

A woman who cried rape to cover up cheating on her partner with a taxi driver has been jailed for two years after the infidelity was exposed.

Gaynor Cooke, 41, claimed she had been subjected to a horrific ordeal in the front seat of a taxi cab in 2003 and reported the incident to police at the time. She was also swabbed for DNA evidence.

In her 18-page statement, she said the rape had made her depressed and suicidal.

It was not until eight years later that police found a match after a taxi driver from Nottingham was arrested for an unrelated incident.

Cooke, formerly of Nottingham but now of Corby, Northamptonshire, was told about the match and the taxi driver was charged. He was due to face trial at Nottingham Crown Court in February 2012.

The driver denied the charge, claiming that he had only had consensual sex with women in his home when he was a single man in 2003.

At the time, Cooke said she was "pleased" a suspect had been identified and could finally could have "justice".

Cooke originally kept up her lie when visited by a policewoman, saying she intended to proceed with her complaint and had nothing to add to her original statements.

But the lie was eventually exposed when police went to speak to Cooke about the case and a couple in the St Ann's area of Nottingham told them the rape had been a lie to cover up her cheating on her husband.

When police told Cooke about the couple's allegation, she admitted "you have got me". She later confessed that she had been having problems with her partner and had a one-night stand with the cab driver.

She said she had made the false allegation when she realised her husband was angry when she returned home.

After the lie was exposed, the taxi driver was "completely exonerated" and instead Cooke was charged with perverting the course of justice between October 25, 2003, and January 20, 2012.

She wiped away tears as Recorder Shaun Smith QC sent her to prison for two years after she admitted the offence.

He read to her extracts from statements she had given about her "ordeal". In these she had claimed: "Since I was raped in 2003, I feel my life has been changed for ever. I'm depressed after what happened to me and often feel suicidal."

The judge told her: "It's a complete pack of lies. It may only have been for a short period of time, but you have destroyed an innocent life."

The court heard the taxi driver had been suspended from work as a result of the charge. The stress of the court proceedings had taken a toll on his health and he had been unable to return to work.  "It was a humiliating experience for him," said Prosector Grace Hale.


Australian "Hate-speech" law is fundamentally unjust

Several years ago I wrote a book about vermin, the kind defined by the third meaning in the Macquarie Concise Dictionary. Researching the book required me to sit in courts for months and go out and interview dozens of people. The heroine of the book was a teenager named Tegan Wagner who had been gang-raped by a group of young Muslim men. She came from the Shire and as her case was nearing an end, and I was nearing completion of Girls Like You, the notorious Cronulla riot took place.

It was December 11, 2005. Wagner was there. "When I heard about it, I wanted to go," she told me at the time.

"I'm a Shire girl. I've been going to Cronulla for years. I'd seen first-hand how people get treated, not by the local Lebanese, but by the Lebanese Muslims that come in from places like Bankstown and Riverwood. They treat our beaches like a sleazy nightclub. They treat young women like garbage. And as soon as you say anything, they are on their mobile phones, to 50 of their closest friends, and their mates come down and outnumber people. If it's guys, they will beat them up. If it's girls, they will terrorise them."

After the riot, and the following violent rampage by Muslim men in convoys of cars, I interviewed dozens of people from the Shire and they all gave me variations of what a teacher at Cronulla High School told me: "It's so disturbing that the images [of the riot] distributed around Australia and the world never mentioned the beatings, the provocations, the filth. They were not even discussed.

"Every girl I know has either been harassed or knows someone who's been harassed. It's not just young girls. I've been followed on numerous occasions. It's just constant harassment. The word 'slut' gets used all the time."

None of this was aired at the time. The media's story had one theme, the Shire's white racism. A deafening silence about the real cause of the tension came from the feminists, much the same people now so indignant about white male misogyny.

Seven years later, nothing has changed. Now Fairfax Media is supporting the complaint by the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, that nobody is being jailed for hate speech, which means the anti-discrimination laws should be toughened. The prime example used by Fairfax Media in its coverage was Alan Jones.

In the week before the Cronulla riot, Jones described the young Muslim men who for years had been sexually harassing women on the beach as "vermin" and "mongrels" who "rape and pillage". That was the context of his comments, a context which dropped away entirely as a prosecution for hate speech by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal dragged on for seven years. No mention was made in Sunday's news reports of the far more sinister and contemporaneous example of public hate speech on September 15 last year.

During a demonstration that turned violent in Sydney, some protesters carried provocative placards including one infamous message, "Behead those who insult the Prophet". Many wore headbands with Arabic script exhorting jihad. Among the chants was, "Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell".

Another telling moment came in the aftermath of the demonstration when supporters of a Muslim man charged with assaulting police refused to stand when the magistrate entered the court. It was a calculated act of disrespect for Australian law.

One hopes the parliamentary inquiry ordered by the Premier, which will consider diluting the section of the Anti-Discrimination Act that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of serious racial vilification, will be alert to the way in which anti-discrimination and anti-vilification laws are abused.

Vexatious or zealous litigants, such as religious fundamentalists, have only marginal interest in the outcome of their complaint. It is the threat of formal complaint, and the complaint process itself, with the burdens of compliance, which is used as a weapon against opponents.

As if to confirm every warning made before the previous Victorian Labor government introduced laws on anti-vilification, the first major test of the law came when Muslim fundamentalists sought to use it as a weapon against Christian fundamentalists.

This proposal by O'Farrell is part of the latest push by the political class, of which he is a fully paid-up member, to increase the power and reach of the political class. In Canberra, the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, has released a draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012, which seeks to introduce an expanded never-never of nebulous categories of discrimination offences. It includes speech that "offends" or "insults". It extends the categories of potential discrimination to "political opinion" and "social origin".

Every aspect of the draft law is biased towards expanding the possibilities of complaint. It will make it easier for complaints to be lodged.

Shockingly, the draft bill reverses the onus of proof. A person accused of discrimination will be deemed guilty until the claim has been dismissed. The bill then even requires defendants who have been found not guilty to pay their own legal costs.

Complaints will be heard by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which is desperate to increase its relevance, and the Federal Magistrates Court, which already has more than enough of a caseload. The draft federal bill has been submitted to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is due to report on February 18.

In NSW, the parliamentary inquiry ordered by the Premier will conduct public hearings in April.

Both these proposed changes to the law are being treated as paradisaical by the human rights industry.

This alone should send an alarm to the rest of the community.

It should also alarm the parliamentary inquiry but it never seems to occur to the members of the political class - politicians, staffers, lobbyists, bureaucrats and lawyers - that the extension of the government power via micro-management, regulation and compulsion has been cumulatively unceasing for more than a century to the point of social, legal and moral sclerosis.



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

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

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


18 January, 2013

It is the 'aspirers’ who deliver Tory majorities – so the British PM must put himself on their side

For anyone who doubts that David Cameron is determined to govern alone after the next general election, let me recount a tantalising conversation we had in the early days of his premiership. In it, Cameron observed ruefully that perhaps only two Conservative prime ministers had governed without Liberal support of one kind or another: Margaret Thatcher and Benjamin Disraeli. The point is arguable – Stanley Baldwin, for example, won a huge majority in 1924, by which time Liberal Unionism had been completely assimilated – but the observation is telling. These conservative giants were multi-election-winning prime ministers running “pure” Tory governments, and no one should doubt that Cameron is determined to follow in their footsteps.

Thatcher and Disraeli, though wildly different in many ways (she rather austere and a scientist, he exotic and literary) had significant political similarities. Both were outsiders who first challenged and then began to represent the Establishment. Their most successful periods came when they were making the transition from radical to conservative, during which time they embodied that quintessential British conservatism which believes sustained social progress can only be built on the bedrock of tradition.

Their political strategies were based around policies that allowed the disfranchised to fulfil their aspirations, to move up in the world and pursue their ambitions. This is the true essence of British social mobility: encouraging and rewarding people who try to better themselves.

Disraeli offered these aspiring classes political liberty: the chance to vote, to take part. Cynicism undoubtedly played a role in his passing the 1867 Reform Act, and he was rewarded with defeat by Gladstone in 1868, but doubling the electorate set the tone for victory in 1874. It broke down the barrier between the fast-emerging middle classes and the traditional party of the landed gentry, marking the start of the era of Conservative political dominance.

A century later Thatcher offered economic liberty, the chance to “get on” – to use a favourite phrase of my father’s, an Irish immigrant, ex-socialist and true Thatcherite – for people born with energy but no resources, ambition without wealth. That is what the right-to-buy, curbs on union power and cutting income tax signified.

Both strategies involved taking on the unchecked power of those in authority, even in their own party. In Disraeli’s case this was the landowners, initially through the abandonment of protectionism and then through the expanded suffrage. For Thatcher it was just as important to break through the pessimistic corporatism of the Tory “Wets” as it was to loosen the grip of militant unionism.

Winning the next election starts with identifying who today’s aspirers are. For Thatcher it was Essex Man, for Disraeli the property-owning urban householders. The people who will decide the next general election live in the classic British housing estate, something between the suburbs and the council blocks. As political attitudes polarise around Britain’s geography, they are increasingly situated in the Midlands, the North and the great cities.

Often with younger families, these voters “work hard and do the right thing” but sometimes wonder why they bother. Living in cramped homes, they just about make the family budget go round. They are surprisingly socially liberal, or at least tolerant, but concerned about the security of the institutions they rely on, such as their local communities and good public services. They are ambitious to work, earn and get promoted, yet always dogged by the fear of losing their job. These are the modern version of the people who delivered Disraeli and Thatcher their majorities.

Electoral victory depends on the aspirers believing that the Conservative Party is on their side. When I was director of the Conservative Research Department before the last election, we would get regular updates on focus-group research. The most illuminating were the picture boards that participants were asked to choose: if we were doing well, the young family, struggling under the weight of responsibility but with great ambitions for their children, was selected. It meant we were on their side. But if we were doing badly, the dreaded posh family in front of a mansion would come up – Conservatives were only on the side of rich people. Those two images tell you almost everything you need to know about the history of the Conservative Party’s electoral performance.

Today’s aspirers support Conservative policies on welfare, crime and immigration and are pleased we have dropped some of our more retrograde attitudes, but they are crying out for a policy platform that will help them realise their hopes as well. Our target voters are concerned about whose interests we will govern in, but unconvinced that Labour has learnt its lessons. We need to give them positive reasons to vote Conservative. So here are three proposals that would allow the aspirers to enjoy a standard of living comparable to people who are no more virtuous than them, but who happen to be better off.

Calling for more house-building is rarely popular with Conservatives, but Britain’s restrictive planning system has led to a disastrous shortage of family homes, with aspiring voters the hardest hit. A big bang approach is needed, with councils being obliged to set aside land to accommodate 3 per cent annual housing growth, homeowners allowed to add a storey without planning permission, and – most radically – allowing anyone who doesn’t own a property to buy a piece of the 50 per cent of Britain’s land that is unprotected, and build their own home on it.

My second proposal would give families more flexibility over the family budget. It involves taking the £4 billion annual budget that supports child care for the under-fives and wrapping it up into a one-off cash payment of at least £4,000 for every child, with the authorities able to take control of this money if a family is too dysfunctional to use it properly. These funds are currently spent on the state’s priorities, not parents’, and this policy would give aspiring parents much greater control over how they care for their children.

Finally, we need to think imaginatively about helping people get a job. Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare-to-work reforms are working, with private-sector employment rising and unemployment falling even during tough times, but long-term unemployment remains a concern. The purpose of any Conservative government should be to ensure that people get a fair opportunity when they do the right thing, so the next Tory manifesto should promise anyone who has been unemployed for two years or longer, around 400,000 people, a subsidised private-sector job for six months. Refusing a job, or refusing to work properly, would bring a loss of unemployment benefits. Politically, it would show that the Conservatives would always help anyone who wants to work but who, through no fault of their own, is struggling to do so. Nothing would send a clearer and more positive signal about whose side we’re on.

Disraeli and Thatcher demonstrated that the best way to overcome people’s suspicions of Tory motives is to have a policy platform that allows ambitious people to challenge the established order. In his 2012 party conference speech, David Cameron recognised that a future majority depends on showing the aspirers that the Conservative Party is determined to spread privilege, not simply defend it. That means creating a ladder for people to climb, and, if necessary, forcing it back into place against those who would prefer to pull it up.


'Thank you Jesus!': Exultant cry of BA check-in clerk who finally wins her court battle over right to wear a cross

British Airways check-in clerk Nadia Eweida triumphed over the airline yesterday after a six-year battle to wear her cross at work.

Her right to profess her religious belief should have trumped the airline’s powers to mould its image by imposing petty uniform rules on its staff, European judges declared.

A ‘jubilant’ Miss Eweida, who had lost at a string of hearings in Britain, said her first reaction to the ruling had been to say: ‘Thank you, Jesus.’

But her victory came as three other Christians lost claims at the European Court of Human Rights. Nurse Shirley Chaplin, who wanted to wear a cross with her uniform, was told that her bosses were right to remove her from the wards because of the importance of health and safety for NHS patients.

And two Christians who were sacked in gay rights disputes were both properly dismissed, the Strasbourg court ruled.

Lillian Ladele, a registrar with Islington council, had declined to conduct civil partnership ceremonies. Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, had been reluctant to give sex advice to gay couples.

The judgment in Miss Eweida’s case is likely to open the way for Christians to declare their faith by wearing or displaying the cross at work, unless their employer can show a good reason why they should not.

But the Government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said employers would be confused.

It called for new laws from Westminster on the rights of religious believers to demonstrate and practise their beliefs in public.

Miss Eweida, 61, had been told by British Airways that she must remove the cross she wore with her uniform, even though the airline was happy for Sikh men to wear turbans and bracelets and for Muslim women to wear headscarves.

After her victory she said: ‘I’m overwhelmed, but jubilant. When I heard the result I literally jumped up and down for joy and said “thank you, Jesus”.

The Daily Mail revealed in 2006 that Nadia Eweida had been suspended for wearing a cross

The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian was sent home without pay in September 2006. Her suspension provoked a public outcry after it was reported by the Daily Mail.

The airline allowed her back to work in February 2007 under new rules allowing the cross and the Star of David to be displayed with uniforms.

However a series of British tribunals and the Court of Appeal said the airline had been right and she had been wrong.

Yesterday the Strasbourg judges said that while BA had a right to protect its corporate image, ‘Miss Eweida’s cross was discreet and cannot have detracted from her professional appearance’.

Government lawyers opposed her claim and the three others in Strasbourg. British officials said the Government is bound to uphold the decisions of the British courts.

However yesterday David Cameron tweeted that he was ‘delighted that the principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld – people shouldn’t suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs’.

Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu welcomed the ruling. ‘Christians and those of other faiths should be free to wear the symbols of their own religion without discrimination,’ he said.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who has backed the right of Christians to declare their faith, said of Miss Eweida’s victory: ‘I’m delighted that the principle of it has been upheld by the European Court.

‘The Prime Minister has said we would change the law if it wasn’t. Our lawyers are still looking through the judgement but their view is it is not going to be necessary to have to change the law.’

The judges added: ‘There was no evidence that the wearing of other, previously authorised, items of religious clothing, such as turbans and hijabs, by other employees, had any negative impact on British Airways’ brand or image.

Moreover, the fact that the company was able to amend the uniform code to allow for the visible wearing of religious symbolic jewellery demonstrates that the earlier prohibition was not of crucial importance.’


Serial criminals who avoid jail outnumber the British prison population: 90,000 with ten or more convictions escape with slap on wrist

More than 90,000 burglars, muggers and other serious criminals with ten or more convictions escaped with a slap on the wrist when they committed another offence last year.

Incredibly, the number of serial law-breakers who avoided a jail sentence in this way is greater than the 83,000 inmates currently behind bars.

The hardened criminals instead received fines, community service or a fully suspended sentence for crimes such as violence against the person, theft and sexual offences.

The analysis was produced by the newly-established Centre for Crime Prevention. 

The report, produced using the Government’s own figures, shows that, in 2011/12, 140,168 people who were punished for a serious new offence already had ten or more convictions.

Yet, only 49,136 of them were sentenced to immediate custody. Despite their appalling criminal records, the remaining 91,032, almost two-thirds of the total, were given yet another chance by the police or the courts.

The beneficiaries included almost 15,000 offenders given a conditional discharge, nearly 22,000 let-off with a fine and 7,243 cautions or final warnings.

And some 68,000 of the 108,000 criminals with 15 or more offences were given a non-custodial punishment.

Mr Cuthbertson said that since the financial crisis began – leaving ministers short of funds to build new prison places – the courts have failed to lock up an increasing number of serious, repeat offenders.

In 2006/07, the number of serious offenders who avoided prison despite more than ten previous convictions or cautions was only 71,301 – which means it has rocketed by a quarter in five years.

The figures reflect the lurch towards ‘soft justice’ in the later years of the Labour government. This continued under Kenneth Clarke after the Coalition came to power. He made it clear that – in order to save money – he wanted the courts to send fewer convicts to jail.

But his replacement Chris Grayling has taken a tougher line since taking over at the Ministry of Justice in September, and immediately declared that ‘prison works’.

Last week, Mr Grayling announced the closure of six ‘old and uneconomic’ prisons, but pledged to make sure there were enough spaces for the courts to send whoever they wanted to jail. He also unveiled plans to build a 2,000 space prison.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘These figures are highly selective. They fail to recognise that the average prison sentence length has increased by more than a year in the past decade and the use of out of court disposals is down by nearly 40 per cent.

‘Criminals should be in no doubt they will be punished for their crimes and those who commit the most serious offences will receive severe sentences.’


Religious rights to stay in Australia

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has assured religious groups they will have the "freedom" under a new rights bill to discriminate against homosexuals and others they deem sinners, according to the head of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Under current law, faith-based organisations, including schools and hospitals, can refuse to hire those they view as sinners if they consider it "is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion".

Ms Gillard has met Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace several times, and he says she assured him "she has no intention of restricting freedom of religion" when it comes to religious groups' legal rights to discriminate in hiring and firing.

Discrimination by religious organisations affects thousands of Australians. The faiths are big employers, and the Catholic Church in particular is one of Australia's largest private employers.

They rely on government funding but because of their religious status are allowed to vet the sexual practices of potential employees in ways that would be illegal for non-religious organisations.

Labor often claims to represent progressive values and is led by an atheist, but the government has gone out of its way to placate religious organisations on this issue.

The woman who will be steering the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill through the Senate, Finance Minister Penny Wong, is a committed Christian and a lesbian.

Senator Wong said this week that Labor was "seeking to balance the existing law and the practice of religious exemptions with the principle of non-discrimination".

It is believed that senior Labor ministers have been making similar promises to the Christian lobby since Kevin Rudd was prime minister.

Before she was elected in 2010, Ms Gillard promised Mr Wallace in a filmed interview that she would protect the school chaplains program and that under her government "marriage will be defined as it is in our current Marriage Act as between a man and a woman".

She said that "we do not want to see the development of ceremonies that mimic marriage ceremonies".

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is adamant that the church should retain its rights to discriminate, but Anglicans are divided.

The more conservative Sydney diocese claims its right to discriminate against gays and lesbians and others whose "lifestyles" offend religious beliefs, Bishop Robert Forsyth of South Sydney said.

But social welfare charity Anglicare practises the opposite, South Australian branch chief executive, the Reverend Peter Sandeman said.

"Jesus didn't discriminate in who he associated with and helped and neither should we," Mr Sandeman said. "At Anglicare South Australia, we introduced a formal policy welcoming and supporting inclusion and diversity nearly a decade ago."

Jews "don't have a position on this", Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils did not respond to questions.

Labor's Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill was an attempt to consolidate the law, "not completely re-invent the anti-discrimination system", a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said.

"We are proud to be introducing important new protections from sexual orientation discrimination. While there are some exemptions, this doesn't detract from these important changes".



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

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

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


17 January, 2013

Ninth Circuit Court Gets One Right

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has a well-earned reputation as the hippiest, dippiest, most-reversed appellate court in these United States.

It’s where the Pledge of Allegiance gets scrutinized for possible eradication, at least, the “under God” part. But every so often, the Court gets something right.

On December 22, a unanimous Ninth Circuit panel reversed a federal district judge’s order to evict the Boy Scouts from their longtime camp and local headquarters in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The ruling came in a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2001 on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple, who basically accused the Boy Scouts of holding traditional values.

In 2003, federal District Judge Napoleon A. Jones Jr. ruled that the Boy Scouts were a religious organization  and therefore ineligible for a public lease.  Judge Jones somehow ignored the Supreme Court’s Dale decision in 2000 upholding the Scouts’ right to their own moral standards.  He also ignored the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantee.

Facing mounting legal costs, the weasel San Diego City Council bailed in 2004, agreeing to pay their tormentors nearly $1 million in legal fees.  The Scouts stayed on the property and fought on, and although the Scouts finally prevailed, the Ninth Circuit’s opinion makes it clear that the case should have been tossed on arrival, not hanging over the Scouts for 11 years like a sword of Damocles.  None of the plaintiffs or their children ever actually tried to use the facilities and had no demonstrable “harm.”

The Court initially erred in concluding that the Scouts had barred the plaintiffs from using the property – giving the couples standing – and the case went forward. However, the plaintiffs admitted that they had not tried to use the facilities because they break out in hives if they’re within a canoe’s length of anyone in a neckerchief.  They didn’t put it this way, but that’s the gist.

In a concurring opinion, the Ninth’s Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote, “Revulsion for a group so intense that one cannot bear to be on property they manage cannot, in a tolerant society, be deemed harm sufficiently concrete as to confer standing to sue.”

That’s a relief, because otherwise, people could sue every time they’re annoyed by someone with a contrary opinion. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the Left’s overall approach to dismantling the First Amendment in the name of “tolerance.”

In the case, Barnes-Wallace vs. City of San Diego and Boy Scouts of America -- Desert Pacific Council, the aggrieved couples claimed that the Scouts’ exclusion of atheists, agnostics and homosexuals as members or volunteers constitutes unlawful discrimination on public property.

In a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in defense of the Scouts in the San Diego case, American Civil Rights Union General Counsel Peter J. Ferrara summarized the absurdity of the plaintiffs’ claim of injury:

“[T]hey did not suffer any loss of recreational enjoyment caused by the Boy Scouts. That was caused by the Plaintiffs themselves in refusing to use the facilities open to them. Quite to the contrary, it was the Boy Scouts who spent millions of dollars of their own funds precisely to offer recreational enjoyment open to them. The ‘emotional harm’ is the purely psychological injury of being offended by the traditional moral values that the Boy Scouts hold, and uphold. This does not remotely amount to standing under the precedents of this Court.”

In 2010, the Supremes declined to hear the case, and it bounced back to the Ninth, where oral arguments were heard most recently in June 2011. In the December 2012 ruling, Judge William C. Canby, Jr. wrote that the city of San Diego did not violate the California or United States Constitutions or the San Diego Human Dignity Ordinance in granting the Scouts a new 25-year lease in 2002 for the use of 18 acres of the park for an annual rent of $1, plus a $2,500 annual “administration fee.”

 The city also did not err in granting the Scouts a rent-free, 25-year agreement in 1987 to use nearby Fiesta Island in Mission Bay Park to build a Youth Aquatic Center.

The Ninth’s opinion notes that the Scouts’ purpose in building the facilities, which include $1.7 million in capital improvements to Camp Balboa and another $2.5 million to Fiesta Island, was not to “advance religion” but to “provide facilities” for camping, swimming and other “youth activities,” open to all –including the plaintiffs.

In dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims, the Court cited the “Lemon test” from the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman U.S. Supreme Court case: “to be constitutional, the government conduct at issue must: (1) have a secular purpose, (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and (3) not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

The plaintiffs failed miserably to prove that the city violated any of these conditions.

Although it took more than a decade, the Left’s chosen vehicle to bully the Boy Scouts turned into a lemon.


'Mosque buster' claims he can stop 'tide of Islam' by giving free advice on how to block building plans for new places of worship

A planning lawyer and self-styled 'mosque buster' claims he is fighting to stop the 'tide of Islam' by successfully blocking plans for the building of mosques across the UK.

Gavin Boby, once linked to the far-right English Defence League, boasts he has already blocked plans for 16 out of 17 mosques being built.

Under the banner of the Law and Freedom Foundation, he calls for people to come to him for free professional legal help in opposing mosque proposals and claims that Islam encourages paedophilia, sexual abuse and pimping.

He claims to help followers resist planing applications for mosque developments by raising opposition with councils.

The 48-year-old says in a video posted online: 'If anyone out there knows of an application for a new mosque, a cultural centre for some phoney community centre or some multi-faith inter-faith harmony institute then let me know.'

Mr Boby, from Bristol, runs a planning consultancy but also provides legal assistant for those who oppose mosque developments, according to the Sunday Times.

On the foundation website he claims to have stopped the construction of 16 out of 17 mosques in total.

These include mosques in York, Blackpool, Bolton, Ealing and one in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which was to replace 'the beautiful old Jolly Sailor Pub', according to the site.

Mr Boby reportedly launched the service with a mock-up of the Ghostbusters logo - swapped for Mosquebusters - in which the ghost was replaced by hate preacher Abu Hamza.

Vacancies for volunteers were posted on the EDL website.

EDL has since endorsed the Law and Freedom Foundation, saying it is a 'great organisation' on Twitter and referring its followers who have a proposed mosque in their area to Mr Boby.

In the website's 'about section' it explains the three threats to the survival of state authority in Britain and Europe.

The third, it reads, is : 'Ethnic division, particularly between Islamic and non-Islamic society, and the violence at the heart of Islamic doctrine. This is the most visible problem, and the one that people will blame.

'Political and intellectual elites are undermining law or freedom. So we need to take what action we can to preserve them ourselves.'

Mr Boby has written an online guide that show how local citizens can make a legal case against mosques.

In the guide it reads: 'Let councils know that they're on the hook for their decisions. Be relentless. Push.'

He also suggests opposing an Islamic centre on the grounds of 'parking congestion', 'disturbance' and 'community relations'.
The Jolly Sailor pub in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which Mr Boby described as 'beautiful' and 'old'. There were proposals to turn the pub in to a mosque but Mr Boby helped block the plans

The Jolly Sailor pub in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which Mr Boby described as 'beautiful' and 'old'. There were proposals to turn the pub in to a mosque but Mr Boby helped block the plans

His advice is rooted in legal arguments, as he continues to suggest emphasising the proposed project will 'cause unacceptable pollution' from traffic and is a hazard to schoolchildren as it will 'bring outsiders with no connection to the area'.

He appears to be driven by an apparent ideological hatred of Islam, referring in a video posted on YouTube to recent sex abuse cases, and claims mosques are 'not like churches' and are instead used to instruct followers to commit acts of paedophilia, sexual abuse and pimping.

He says: 'Islamic doctrine permits, encourages and to a certain extent mandates Muslim men to take non-Muslim women as slaves to be used for sex.

'In order to stop the Islamic doctrine, which is the root of this problem, you have to prevent further mosques from being built.'

Councils contacted by the Sunday Times said Mr Boby had not been instrumental in blocking the development of local mosques.

Mr Boby told MailOnline: 'I are (sic) extremely proud that, when these concerned neighbourhoods approach us for help, we enable them to use the laws and consultation procedures that exist for their protection.'

A spokesman for the EDL said: 'We support his organisation wholeheartedly and send many people from different communities with different issues concerning mosques in their area.'


I'll protect faith from attack by militants who hate religion, says British government minister

Traditional religious freedoms are under assault from the ‘intolerance of aggressive secularism’, a Cabinet minister will warn today.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will today attack court rulings against the right of Christians to wear crosses at work and legal action to prevent prayers before council meetings.

He will insist that faith provides a ‘clear moral compass’ for society and declare that the Coalition does ‘do God’, unlike the last Labour government.

Mr Pickles’s comments come on the day of a crunch verdict from the European Court of Human Rights, which will rule whether four Christians were discriminated against at work – including two women who claim they were forced out of their jobs for wearing the cross.

He is vowing to change UK law to support the right of people to discreetly display a symbol of faith in their workplace if their case is rejected.

Addressing the think-tanks British Future and Policy Exchange in London, Mr Pickles will say: ‘Faith provides a clear moral compass and a call to action that benefits society as a whole. At a time when Christians are under attack for their beliefs in different parts of the world, I am proud of the freedom of belief that exists in Britain.

‘But in recent years long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion have been undermined by the intolerance of aggressive secularism: taking people to task for wearing a cross or a rosary, beginning costly legal actions against council prayers – as if they had nothing better to do.

‘We’re committed to the right of Christians and people of all beliefs to follow their faith openly, wear religious symbols and pray in public.’

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said that it would be ‘clear discrimination’ to allow employers to ban the cross whilst letting those of other faiths wear symbols and clothing from their religions.

He added that it would ‘further accelerate the undermining of this country’s Judeo-Christian foundations by aggressive secularism and naive multi-culturalism’.

In his speech, Mr Pickles will also reiterate previous demands that all immigrants should learn English, saying it is ‘incomprehensible’ that no one speaks the language in one in 20 households. Parents who do not ensure their children learn English are ‘condemning them to a limited life’, he will say.

He will attack the ‘old statist policies’ such as the decision to pay for translation ‘instead of trusting people to learn the language’.

‘People should be able to talk to and understand one and another in a nuanced way. The reality is you need English to succeed. We all miss out, our country is the poorer, if people can’t speak our language, if they are unable to participate or make an economic contribution.

‘English is the passport to prosperity the world over. From Mumbai through to Beijing every striving parent is trying to get their kids to learn English,’ he will add.


 CofE 'will be sued over gay marriage': Human rights law 'undermines' Cameron plans

David Cameron’s plans for gay marriage will leave churches open to being sued under human rights legislation unless they agree to same-sex unions.

Legal advice sent to the Prime Minister says that churches that refuse to marry homosexuals would be banned from using council facilities such as village halls.

The paper, written by Aidan O’Neill – a leading human rights lawyer at centre-left Matrix Chambers – also says that Christian teachers who refuse to take classes discussing gay marriage could be legitimately fired.

Parents who support traditional marriage would be barred from fostering or adopting and would have no right to prevent their children being taught about gay marriage in school.

Most explosively, the document argues that the exemption granted to the Church of England by the Coalition Bill to prevent it having to conduct gay marriages is ‘eminently challenge-able’ in the European Court of Human Rights since the established church has a legal obligation to marry anyone in their local parish.

And it warns that the Government’s insistence that protections are put in place for other religious groups who don’t want to marry homosexuals could be undermined by evolving European human rights law.

It emerged as senior Government sources confirmed that a Commons vote on gay marriage is planned before mid-February.

Details of the legal advice are contained in a letter from former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey to the Prime Minister.

Lord Carey warns that the plans will lead to ‘serious and wide-ranging conflict between religious institutions and local authorities’ and argues that the legal opinion ‘demonstrates why the legislation is unworkable’.

He concludes: ‘These proposals are divisive, have no mandate and are poorly thought-out.’

Mr O’Neill’s legal opinion, which was commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage, points out that local authorities have a legal obligation to uphold the Equalities Act, giving them the right to bar churches and employees who uphold a traditional view.

A Government source said: ‘It is precisely because the Church of England has a legal duty to marry that we have created a legal lock to ensure this doesn’t apply to same-sex couples.’

A Downing Street source said the Prime Minister would ‘press ahead’ with the plans over the next month and that No 10 ‘has legal advice of our own’.



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

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

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


16 January, 2013

A new Spielberg film lionises him for freeing the slaves. But American historians are now asking: Was Lincoln racist?

He was worse than a racist.  His trashing of the constitution showed that he cared only about power.   He just used slavery as a pretext to maintain Federal power.  In his famous letter to Horace Greeley he admits as much

The film currently taking America by storm begins with a black Union cavalryman pausing from the slaughter of the Civil War to recite the Gettysburg Address by heart as the president who gave it trudges past through the mud.

And it ends with Abraham Lincoln in quiet triumph, his work done in seeing slavery banned throughout the nation, and the Confederacy of the American South brought to its knees.

Breaking off from a discussion with colleagues about giving blacks the vote, Uncle Abe — played by Daniel Day-Lewis — heads off to a night at the theatre with Mrs Lincoln, and a fateful encounter with assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s sweeping epic about the 16th President of America’s triumph over slavery, won a commanding 12 Oscar nominations last week and is leading the field for this year’s Academy Awards, with Day-Lewis hotly tipped for the best actor accolade.

Weaned — as every U.S. schoolchild is — on the notion of Lincoln as a towering, morally spotless leader in America’s history, the Oscar grandees are unlikely to vote against it: it seems almost treasonous to stand in the way of this lump-in-the-throat, desperately worthy celebration of the man who has been dubbed the ‘Great Emancipator’.

Unfortunately, say historians, its portrayal of America’s most revered president is about as accurate as the notion that an ordinary soldier could have recited the Gettysburg Address from memory when the speech only became famous in the 20th century.

Not only, they say, has Spielberg’s lengthy drama grossly exaggerated Lincoln’s role in ending slavery, but it has also glossed over the president’s rather less likeable qualities.

Very definitely a man of his times, say historians, Lincoln was — certainly by today’s standards — a racist who used the N-word liberally, who believed that whites were superior to blacks and who, having jumped on the emancipation bandwagon rather late in the day, wanted to pack the freed slaves off to hard new lives in plantations abroad.

To say you might not pick up on any of this from the almost saintly portrayal in the film is putting it mildly. Critics have been mesmerised by Day-Lewis’s compelling performance. Meanwhile, political commentators have even dared hope the film might restore Americans’ shattered confidence in their political leaders.

The film is based on a best-selling biography, Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which Barack Obama has revealed he read during his first term as president.

Spielberg bought the film rights to the book before it had even been finished, and handed it to a screenwriter, Tony Kushner, who considers Lincoln to be the ‘greatest democratic leader in the world’.

It focuses on just four weeks near the end of Lincoln’s life when, in January 1865, he twisted arms and used underhand political tactics to persuade Congress to approve the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, thereby formally abolishing slavery across the nation.

Spielberg's film has been rated highly as cinema, but as history it 'leaves something to be desired', according to historians

Both Spielberg and his screenwriter have insisted this film is the definitive account of the defeat of slavery. ‘We were enormously accurate,’ said Kushner.  ‘What we’re describing absolutely happened.’

Sadly, historians have been less impressed than the critics by such assurances. One after another has risked breaking step with national sentiment by declaring that Lincoln wasn’t quite the great liberator after all.

‘As cinema it’s very, very good. As history it leaves something to be desired,’ says Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book on Lincoln and slavery.

He said the film severely distorts how slavery came to be abolished by concentrating solely on what politicians were doing in Washington.

For the 13th Amendment, he points out, originated not with Lincoln but with a petition campaign by a formidable group of abolitionist feminists called the Women’s National Loyal League.

Spielberg portrays the president as the devoted foe of slavery, but Professor Foner says Lincoln occupied the middle ground on the issue.

Privately, he expressed his ‘dislike’ for it, but in public stressed that he didn’t want to abolish it, but only stop it from spreading.  Preserving the Union, he said in a key speech, was far more important than emancipating slaves.

But his position changed and he hardened in his opposition to slavery, especially after he saw the strategic advantages of freeing the millions of slaves behind enemy lines, many of whom could then come and fight for his Yankee army.

Other historians have taken a much harder line on Lincoln, pointing out his opposition to inter-racial marriage and even to blacks serving as jurors.

Historian Henry Louis Gates has called him a ‘recovering racist’. Other African-American experts on the period agree.

Lincoln told racist jokes, enjoyed black minstrel shows and had no time for the arguments of hardened abolitionists that the races were equal under God.

During a famous 1858 Senate debate, for instance, Lincoln spoke of a ‘physical difference’ between blacks and whites that ‘will  forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality’.

He went on: ‘There must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favour of having the superior position assigned to the white race.’

As for giving them the vote, Lincoln only saw it as desirable for the more ‘intelligent’ blacks.

Spielberg’s film depicts Lincoln as ready to use every power at his disposal to free slaves, but the reality was that he envisaged a fate for them that sounded little better than their life on the cotton plantations of the South.

He supported so-called ‘black colonisation’, backing unsuccessful schemes to send willing freed slaves to new lives — still toiling in the fields under blazing suns, of course — in countries such as Haiti, Panama and British Honduras.

Supporters say he only did it to persuade Congress to agree to freeing the slaves, but new evidence from, of all places, the National Archives at Kew in South-West London, suggests not.

Even after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 — which announced that all those enslaved in Confederate territories would be freed for ever — he approved plans in tandem with the British to set up freed slave settlements in what are now Belize and Guyana.

What really seems to have annoyed African-American historians in particular about Spielberg’s film is its portrayal of Lincoln as the great white emancipator freeing the helpless blacks.

(Curiously, the director got into similar trouble from some fellow Jews over Schindler’s List, about the courageous German businessman Oscar Schindler’s rescue of concentration camp inmates).

‘This is not mere nit-picking,’ history professor Kate Masur wrote in the New York Times. ‘Mr Spielberg’s Lincoln helps perpetuate the notion that African-Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation.’

In fact, not only did 150,000 black soldiers fight in the Civil War, but some freed slaves became crucial members of the abolition groups who were pushing for emancipation decades before Lincoln took up the cause.

Passionate abolitionists such as the freed slave Frederick Douglass, newspaper editor William Garrison and heiress Angelina Grimke were the real heroes and heroines of the struggle to end slavery, but their names are largely lost to history now. They don’t even get a mention in Spielberg’s version of events.

Also absent is Harriet Beecher Stowe, a clergyman’s daughter and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is a fierce attack on slavery and the best-selling novel of the 19th century.

If you are searching for the single person who really brought down slavery in the U.S., say many historians, you need look no further than her.

But with some 16,000 books written about him — including 20 published in just the past few months — Americans remain obsessed by Lincoln. It’s not hard to see why.

‘He saved the American Dream and he lived the American Dream,’ explains one historian, Harold Holzer, who has been involved in no fewer than 42 books on the great man.

Raised in a log cabin in Illinois with very little education, Lincoln rose to the highest office in the land and took the helm of a teetering nation in its hour of need.

And there are few more tragic and dramatic moments in U.S. history than Lincoln’s assassination on Good Friday, just five days after winning the Civil War.

He was undoubtedly a remarkable president who kept the U.S. intact and presided over the end of slavery.

Whether he deserves the unadulterated hero worship of Spielberg’s Lincoln seems rather more questionable.


Don't mention (that we won) the war: British government 'doesn't want to upset Germans during First World War centenary events'

To adapt one of the most famous lines in British TV comedy: ‘Don’t mention that we won the war’.

The Government is said to be against a series of celebratory events for commemorations from next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War - in order to avoid upsetting Germany.

War author Sebastian Faulks said the tone of events must be ‘modest, inclusive and reverential of others’ - while a source on the planning team said ministers are keen ‘not to upset the Germans’.

‘Celebration is completely the wrong note, certainly for 2014, although it might be more relevant in 2018,’ Mr Faulks, who wrote the 1993 First World War novel Birdsong, told The Sunday Times.

‘A degree of humility is needed, initially particularly, as this was an avoidable calamity.’

Other committee members believe the Government should commemorate at least one battle to show why Britain went to war - instead of highlighting the slaughter of a war that cost 16million lives.

Respected First World War historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan said the events should be a mixture of victory celebrations and commemorations of lost lives.

He told The Sunday Times: ‘Germany has almost as great a sense of guilt about this war as it does about the Second World War.

‘Therefore we don’t put ourselves in the wrong in German eyes by opposing German imperialism, by opposing the Kaiser’s regime.’

German leaders are scheduled to attend many ceremonies with the Allies – including memorial events to mark the declaration of war in August 2014 and the Battle of Gallipoli in 2015.

The Battle of the Somme will be marked in July 2016 and Passchendaele in 2017, reported The Sunday Times. The events will end with the Armistice Day centenary in November 2018.

Meanwhile the British Commission for Military History wants Andrew Murrison, who is handling the centenary events for Prime Minister David Cameron, to include the Battle of Amiens.

A spokesman for the group of military historians said the junior defence minister should consider the August 1918 battle, which marked the end of the Western Front stalemate.

The BBC has insisted that it will mark the occasion with ‘a wide range of programming’ and it ‘will not be politically correct coverage’.

Mr Murrison would not comment on whether the Government is worried about upsetting the Germans.


"Blackadder" preserves the right of Britons  to be insulting: Ministers agree to amend laws after campaign led by Rowan Atkinson

Ministers agreed to scrap a law outlawing ‘insulting words or behaviour’ last night after a campaign led by comedian Rowan Atkinson.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced a dramatic U-turn yesterday saying the government would ditch the contentious words from the Public Order Act amid fears that they are strangling free speech.

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star led a coalition of campaign groups complaining that the legislation has been abused by over-zealous police and prosecutors to arrest Christian preachers, critics of Scientology, gay rights campaigners and even students making jokes.

The government caved in yesterday after suffering a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords before Christmas.

Mrs May told the Commons that the word ‘insulting’ would be removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.

She told MPs: ‘Looking at past cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions could not identify any where the behaviour leading to a conviction could not be described as “abusive” as well as “insulting”.

'He has stated that the word “insulting” could safely be removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions.

‘We will issue guidance to the police on the range of powers that remain available to them to deploy in the kind of situations I described, but the word “insulting” shall be removed from Section 5.’

The climbdown was welcomed by civil liberties campaigners.  Tory MP David Davis said: ‘I welcome this sensible decision by the Home Secretary. The only effect of this law was to chill public debate and depress freedom of speech.’

Reform Section 5 campaign director Simon Calvert said he was “very pleased” by the Government’s statement, adding: ‘This is a victory for free speech. People of all shades of opinion have suffered at the hands of Section 5.’

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It should not be the police’s role to intervene when someone feels they have been insulted and the Home Secretary and her Coalition colleagues should be applauded for accepting this important change.’

Comedian Rowan Atkinson blamed the law, introduced in 1986, for creating an ‘outrage industry’ and a society of an ‘extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature’.

The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the most egregious abuses of the old law.

A sixteen-year-old boy was arrested under the legislation for peacefully holding a placard that read ‘Scientology is a dangerous cult’, on the grounds that it might insult followers of the religious movement.

In 2005, an Oxford student was arrested for saying to a policeman: ‘Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?’.

Thames Valley Police said the arrest had taken place because he had made ‘homophobic comments that were deemed offensive to people passing by’.

Gay rights campaigners from the group Outrage! were also arrested under the Act when they protested against supporters of the Islamist fundamentalist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was calling for the killing of gays, Jews and unchaste women.

In a victory for the Mail, the Bill also contains a commitment to shake-up Britain’s lopsided extradition laws.

The legislation says there will be a so-called ‘forum bar ‘which means more suspects are likely to face trial in the UK - rather than be packed off to America.

A hearing will take place before a judge to examine the details of any offence which the Americans want to end in extradition.

If prosecution is possible in both the UK and abroad, the courts will have the power to bar prosecution overseas. This will be done of it is ‘in the interests of justice’.

Supporters believe that - if the ‘forum bar’ had already been in place - Asperger’s sufferer Gary McKinnon could have been spared his decade-long fight against extradition. He was only saved, in October last year, after the Mail’s lengthy Affront to British Justice campaign.


Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Psychologist claims 'empty' comments makes them unhappy

Praising children with phrases such as ‘well done darling’ may damage their confidence, a leading psychologist has warned.  Stephen Grosz claims that comments such as ‘you’re so clever’ or ‘you’re such an artist’ could also hinder their future performance at school.  He says that such ‘empty praise’ causes children to be unhappy as they feel they cannot live up to the false expectations.

Instead he advises parents and teachers to bestow compliments less frequently and use phrases that congratulate children for ‘trying really hard’.

Mr Grosz – who has practised as a psychoanalyst, a type of psychologist, for 25 years – said: ‘Empty praise is as bad as thoughtless criticism – it expresses indifference to the child’s feelings and thoughts.

‘Admiring our children may temporarily lift our sense of self-esteem but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self.’

He also cites research showing that children who were heavily praised were likely to perform worse at school.

Psychologists from Columbia University asked 128 pupils aged ten and 11 to solve a number of maths problems

Afterwards, some were told: ‘You did really well – you’re so clever.’

But the researchers told the other group, ‘You did really well – you must have tried really hard.’

Both groups of children were then given more difficult questions and those who had been told they were clever did not do as well as the others.

In fact, the researchers found they even tried to lie about their results when asked about the experiment. Mr Grosz has written a book about human behaviour, The Examined Life, which includes a  chapter entitled How Praise Can Cause Loss Of Confidence.

He says that when collecting his daughter from a nursery near their home in North London, he heard an assistant tell her: ‘You’ve drawn the most beautiful tree. Well done.’

Later, after she had done another drawing, the same assistant said: ‘Wow, you really are an artist.’

In his book, Mr Grosz writes: ‘My heart sank.  'How could I explain to the nursery assistant that I would prefer it if she didn’t praise my daughter?’

He added: ‘If you go to the local nursery you’ll hear this kind of stuff sometimes mixed in with teaching: ‘‘Oh, your drawing looks so like a Miro, darling" [the Spanish painter and sculptor].

‘And so you get this mix of praise and teaching. I find it, to be blunt, aggressive.  'Because it’s saying: I don’t want to  engage with you as a person; I want to just praise you.’

Mr Grosz believes that many adults were heavily criticised when they were young and are now anxious to show they are different.

But instead of overpraising children, he said parents should try to build their confidence gently.  ‘Just listen to what your child wants to tell you, about what they’re interested in and what they’re passionate about,’ he added.



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

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

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


15 January, 2013

A moment of truth on Britain's  welfare state

A system intended to promote social solidarity has had the opposite effect

I'm sure it is entirely coincidental, but since this column's pre-Christmas diatribe against the lie perpetrated by politicians of all parties - that present welfare provision can be sustained into the indefinite future - there has been a positive epidemic of truth-telling. Members of the Cabinet are now falling over one another to warn that present entitlements and universal benefits must be regarded as a thing of the past: that it is not only the workless dependency culture that needs to be dismantled, but also the system of automatic payments, which has expanded to encompass the entire population regardless of need.

Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms and the benefit cap passed last week are designed to see to it that those in work will never be worse off than those who are not. They are the least contentious aspect of this. In spite of Labour's politically suicidal attempts to attack them, these moves have the support of virtually every sentient being in the country.

But it is the vast, comprehensive payments structure into which we are all eventually drawn, however great our private means, that is becoming untenable. Steve Webb, the pensions minister, jumped right in this week: early retirement in the public sector would soon be out of the question, the pension age will increase with life expectancy, and pensioners will have to expect to use their savings to pay for elderly care. With an ageing population, he said, the sums just don't add up. And Nick Clegg, of all people, actually suggested that any political party "committing not to touch a single hair on the head of benefits for the most affluent people. will be found out".

As lots of people keep saying, all of this is really nothing more than a return to the original Beveridge conception of welfare as a safety net. The model we actually have of the welfare state as an all-embracing system that offers benefits to every member of society for at least some part of his life was established by the post-war Labour government, which wished to use it as a form of socialist wealth-redistribution.

The pernicious effects of this are not just economic, but also social and moral. Abandoning the "safety net" principle meant that instead of treating poverty (or "want", as Beveridge called it) as an emergency in need of temporary assistance, it would be regarded as a permanent condition caused by endemic social "unfairness" (as Gordon Brown called it) in need of everlasting support.

This transformed the function of welfare: it would not be simply a government policy of saving people from destitution when they fell on hard times. It was to be a national unifying programme that would bind all members of society into a network of interdependence. Everybody would benefit, so everybody would have a stake in the programme. The corollary of this notion that everyone should get something from the welfare state - however much he earned - was that everyone should pay into it. So the rich would get ever-increasing state pensions and all the perks that went with them, while the low paid would have to pay tax and contributions at an ever-higher level.

This was supposed to reinforce a sense of social solidarity (as the EU calls it) and communal responsibility. In fact, it has had precisely the opposite effect. Before the Second World War, a married man with a family earning the national average wage paid no income tax, nor was there any state welfare system for supplementing low wages. Would anyone like to suggest that solidarity and mutual responsibility in working-class communities is stronger now than it was then? Not only has the sense of community been undermined by the belief that only the state is obliged to respond to need, but the welfare system has become a divisive force, creating resentments between those who are thought to be overly dependent on it and those who are trying not to be. (It is precisely those resentments that the Tories are likely to benefit from politically.)

Perversely, increasing taxation on the low paid has helped to pauperise them, thus making it more likely that they will need help from the state in the form of tax credits or housing benefits. What ministers are finally coming round to saying - almost in so many words - is that not everyone should partake of the welfare state however rich they are, and not everyone should have to pay for it however poor they are. Indeed, Coalition policy is moving, albeit in baby steps, in this direction: taking more of the low paid out of tax and at least breathing the possibility of - someday, maybe - removing the more absurd universal benefits from wealthy pensioners.

It is something of a mystery, given their timidity over this issue, why the Tories chose to plunge right in with the least justifiable universal benefit cut: the removal of child benefit from higher-earning families. Child benefit was introduced to replace the old child tax allowance because - back in the day - only the affluent paid income tax and so only they got any advantage. Now that virtually everybody has to pay some income tax, the child tax break could be brought back to help further relieve the tax burden on low-income families, and the question of giving cash "handouts" to high earners would not arise. Instead, we will now be the only developed country in the world that makes no fiscal distinction between those who have children and those who do not. Tax breaks for child care (which may or may not happen) are no substitute for a child tax allowance that could be claimed by either parent, and so would not discriminate against stay-at-home mothers.

In another startlingly frank contribution to this debate (again from a Liberal Democrat, oddly enough), Norman Lamb, the care services minister, has said that pensioners should be advised to use their savings to buy private care protection packages. These insurance policies could be used to "top up" care home fees if pensioners wanted to buy better quality services than provided by the state minimum. Ah, now there is the phrase that is the key to the future: "top up", and more specifically, "top up insurance". As in the United States, where pensioners buy Medicare Advantage policies to - all together now - "top up" the basic provision of Medicare, so we shall have to open the way for this sort of solution.

Insurance that is only for topping up elderly care or NHS treatment could quickly become so popular and competitive that its premiums would be widely affordable. It would be in the interests of insurers to see to it that policyholders got value for money, which would help drive down the cost of services. It would break the state monopoly of provision, giving pensioners and patients some real choice and power. So maybe losing the universal monolithic welfare state isn't bad news at all. If ever there was a moment to make that argument, this is it.


British injustice

The Jimmy Savile affair has shed grim light on procedures and systems that are woefully inadequate

Like the most unsparing barium meal, the Savile affair has forced its brutal way through the body politic, revealing only malady, dysfunction and failure. Last week's reports - one by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC, the other by the Crown Prosecution Service - reek of the autopsy lab and formaldehyde. Yes, they give a measure of belated dignity to Savile's victims by taking them seriously at last. But the reviews do not - cannot - offer justice.

If they symbolise anything, it is not redress and fairness, but their conspicuous absence. There are few forms of solitude so merciless as the loneliness of those who are abused but not given a hearing. As recently as 2009, two years before Savile's death, the CPS missed the chance to prosecute him in relation to three victims. In 2008, a woman who had been molested by him in the Seventies made a complaint to Sussex police, who reportedly discouraged her from persisting on the grounds that he was a "big celebrity" who would make "mincemeat" of her in court.

So, having turned the BBC upside down, the Savile case is now coursing through the law and order system, undermining public confidence in police and prosecution alike, sowing doubt at every turn.

It is a storm of suspicion and recrimination that the system can ill afford, in this age of institutional fragility. Parliament is still clearing the debris of the expenses scandal, the press wrestles with the consequences of the hacking controversy and the Leveson Report, the financial sector continues to reel from the crash, the bailing-out of the banks and the consequent loss of faith in capitalism. A society's institutions give it shape and meaning, enshrining its continuities and codes. To discover that they are dilapidated, decayed or otherwise grossly deficient is traumatic for those they serve as well as for those who work within them.

The Savile case has compounded a creeping lack of confidence in the justice system. In the last week alone, a senior Met officer has been convicted of misconduct in a public office after offering to sell information about the News of the World hacking inquiry. Stephen Lawrence's brother, Stuart, has launched a legal action against the Met, alleging that he has been stopped as many as 25 times because of his ethnicity. Several of the newly elected police commissioners are already embroiled in rows about the employment of cronies. On Tuesday, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met Commissioner, was cross-examined by the Commons home affairs select committee about the extraordinary Andrew Mitchell case, now under fresh investigation. When I interviewed the Prime Minister for last week's Sunday Telegraph, he did not conceal his shock and fury that an email supporting the claims against Mitchell should have been "sent by a police officer posing as a member of the public".

Some politicians - especially on the Left, but also the new breed of Magna Carta Tories who have become disproportionately obsessed by civil liberties - take ill-concealed delight in the discomfiture of the police. The Prime Minister is emphatically not among them. It is too often forgotten that Cameron cut his Whitehall teeth not only at the Treasury, working for Norman Lamont, but also as special adviser in the mid-Nineties to Michael Howard, who redefined and transformed the role of Home Secretary. In Howard's view, it was no longer politically feasible or morally defensible to treat the job as managerial: the Home Secretary had to address the public's growing frustration with the justice system.

True Tory modernisers are uncompromisingly tough on law and order. This robustness is the flipside of the compassion at the heart of Cameron's vision of the "Big Society", but has barely been given expression during the Coalition era to spare the feelings of the Lib Dems. The appointment of Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary in May 2010 gave Nick Clegg his "sixth Lib Dem Cabinet member", but was also at odds with the needs of the time. Chris Grayling is much better suited to the role, and was pleasantly surprised on arrival to discover that Clarke had not done as much as he feared: liberal rhetoric had not been matched by liberal action.

The task for Grayling and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is a huge one, made more challenging by the political realities of Coalition and the fiscal realities of 2013. Between them, they must do more with less; make the police more accountable, more visible and more responsive; build more prisons and declare (as Howard did) that prison works; make rehabilitation complementary to, rather than a substitute for, punishment; open up the probation system; and reform the prosecution service.

It is a formidable inventory, at least as demanding as Michael Gove's education reforms or Iain Duncan Smith's welfare revolution. At its core must be a campaign of persuasion, and one that will take many years. In all sorts of ways, the citizen has lost confidence that the system operates on his behalf and in his interests. Grayling's announcement at last year's Tory conference that householders will have the right to fight back against burglars addressed at last a deep sense of resentment that the criminal's interests were better protected than his victim's. It is no less important that a black man feels he can walk the streets or drive his car without being stopped arbitrarily; and that the victim of an assault by a celebrity who has the courage to come forward not be told that she will be crushed in court. In some areas, greater toughness is required; in others, much greater sensitivity. At all times, the objective must be to enhance public trust in the system.

In several great American cities, this has been achieved by a nuanced combination of zero tolerance and excellent links with community organisations. Small wonder that Cameron was keen to hire Bill Bratton, the former police chief in New York and Los Angeles, to take over the Met - only to be thwarted by Home Office regulations. But the fact that the PM seriously considered the idea shows how keen he is to administer shock therapy.

If Cameron gets the second full term that he wants - at the helm of a fully Conservative government - you can count on law and order and the justice system being central to its strategic objectives. The Savile affair has shed grim light on procedures, systems and cultural assumptions that are woefully inadequate. It has further eroded trust in institutions that depend absolutely upon public support and collaboration.

What a grotesque irony that a man who made his name supposedly "fixing it" did nothing but break everything he touched. But in the end, the power of celebrity trumped the majesty of the law: that is a bleak admission for any society to make. The nation's jester made fools of us all, identifying and exploiting the weaknesses in the system with ruthless success. In the absence of true justice, the only honourable response - beyond contrition and reviews - is to repair that system, and confidence in it, as if starting from scratch.


A strange definition of rape in Britain

It was consensual sex but he lied about himself.  There must be millions of rapists in Britain at that rate

Two women, chatting on social media, as you do. One confides in the other that she fears her husband is having an affair - would her friend, whom she has never met in real life, be so kind as to pop round to her house and see if she can persuade her husband to have sex with her and thus prove his infidelity?

Well of course, says the on-line friend, happy to oblige. And oblige she does. Obviously in some circles nipping round to a total stranger's house to have sex with him is considered perfectly normal - indeed, enjoyable. She enjoys it so much that she returns several more times to `test his fidelity'. She even filmed the encounter and sent the tape to her on-line friend. Her on-line friend offered her money for this service, something she accepted, though the money failed to materialise.

Now before you fall into the trap of assuming that I am saying that prostitutes don't have the right to be protected by rape laws - I'm not. I'm merely making the point that this was a woman for whom sex held so little intrinsic meaning that she was prepared to repeatedly have sex with a total stranger and treat it as a commodity that could be paid for. For the benefit of the sisterhood, naturally.

However, the on-line friend was becoming greedy, and encouraged her to have ever more adventurous sexual encounters with her husband. Who did she turn to in her hour of need, on becoming alarmed by this turn of events? Why the husband of course, so good and amicable was her relationship with him by this time. He said he would `kill his ex-wife' and in due course reported that he had done so. At which point our victim turns to another of the sisterhood. `Oh my', she cries, `I'm responsible for the death of a woman.'. `Woe is me!'

Did I just say victim? Indeed I did. For the sisterhood carted her off to the local police station, and in due course they transferred her to the cosily lit and comfortable rape interviewing suite. Rape? Ms Raccoon - did you say rape? Oh, I did. For the husband has just been given seven years in jail for rape and placed on the sex offenders list for life.

You see our victim, who was perfectly content to repeatedly sleep with a total stranger; was perfectly content to provide photographic evidence - presumably so the poor sap could be divorced and denuded of his life and children; perfectly content to take money for this service; and perfectly content to turn to him for protection when she felt threatened, was `utterly traumatised' and `bravely came forward' when she discovered that the husband and the `on-line wife' were one and the same person.aye, he'd lied, tricked her even. Possibly verged on blackmail and coercion, but in these days where nothing less than a signed affidavit absolving the male of all consequences of having had sex is sufficient to prove informed consent - he was charged because he lied about himself and tricked her into bed and thus found guilty of rape.


Australia:  A "misogyny" double standard.  Only conservatives can be misogynist, apparently

Federal conservative leader Abbott is now routinesly accused -- for spurious reasons -- of misogyny.  But real misogyny from a Leftist leader has earned no condemnation at all

IMAGINE the furore if Tony Abbott were accused today of allowing pornographic movies to be played at his wife's birthday party, upsetting members of her family so much they left the venue. Consider the outrage if the Opposition Leader then admitted that, yes, those videos were played and he thought it was a great laugh, the birth of a "legendary story" for the boys.

In the wake of Julia Gillard's denunciation of sexism last October, in an outburst so impassioned it rapidly became the parliamentary version of Madonna - an international phenomenon recognisable by a single word: "misogyny" - it is highly likely Abbott's leadership of the Coalition would be dead by the end of the day.

Presenting evidence of Abbott's sexism, the Prime Minister even called him out on looking at his watch while she was speaking. One wonders, then, how the Labor women who have subsequently spent much of the summer warning us of Abbott's "problem with women" would react to the Opposition Leader's hearty public endorsement of a video called Freaks of Nature as entertainment in mixed company.

But these tawdry events did happen. And they did involve an opposition leader. The only difference is that man was Mark Latham.

Latham outlined the distasteful details himself in his 2005 memoir, The Latham Diaries. Granted, by then he had retired from politics and was no longer Labor's problem. But rumours of his unsavoury attitudes and behaviour - which would surely fit the definitions of sexism or "a problem with women" as they are being wielded today - were rife long before then. And while some of those stories may have been muddled, exaggerated or even fabricated, Latham confirmed enough of the general flavour, with gusto, in his book: how he and mate Joel Fitzgibbon, now the chief government whip in the House of Representatives, spent a cheerful night out in a pole-dancing venue in Melbourne; how he blasted the current Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, with "five minutes of swearing" after a factional dispute; how Jenny Macklin was "as useful as pockets in underpants"; how unattractive the women of the Canberra press gallery were.

And yet nobody spoke out. Certainly they didn't take to the floor of parliament to let fly publicly about misogyny. Sexism is not some strange, virulent strain of the flu, only recently discovered; the stories that seem so distasteful today would surely have been as unpleasant to Labor women then. But they sucked it up and stayed silent.

The reason, of course, is partisan politics. And it illustrates why Australian women should be alarmed, rather than excited, about the prospect of a historic federal election in which women's interests and the women's vote are set to take centre stage.

Sexist behaviour cannot and should not be defined by whether or not the perpetrator is on your team. A pathological, criminal hatred of women - or misogyny in its traditional meaning - is far too serious to become a political plaything. The lawyer in Julia Gillard must know this. In her private moments, this woman who has made many personal sacrifices, and brushed off countless cruel smears and slights, to blaze a trail for women to The Lodge must appreciate it too. But the hardened political street fighter will ignore it anyway.

Given what is at stake - her government - perhaps this is understandable. Certainly, it is no different from what generations of political hard men, the warriors who live by the "whatever it takes" credo, would have done. Indeed, that Gillard has demonstrated she can play the game as roughly and remorselessly may be considered by some as a triumph of feminism in its own right.

She has tempted Abbott on to unfamiliar and dangerous territory - a place where he must somehow disprove the amorphous charge that he has "a problem with women" - and she will want to keep him there, under fire. This week proved what a treacherous and unforgiving position the Opposition Leader is in. When his formidable chief of staff, Peta Credlin, gave a character reference for her boss, recounting how she had been reassured as a self-described "right-wing feminist" by Abbott's positions on IVF and abortion, and had enjoyed his support during her own IVF travails, an intensely personal story was immediately decried as playing politics.

Asked about the Credlin interview, Roxon replied: "It's clear from these sorts of stories that Mr Abbott does have a problem with women." In other words, we are moving into a bizarre cycle where anything Abbott says or does to demonstrate that he values women will be held instead as proof against him, and character references from female friends, family and colleagues will be similarly dismissed.

And there's the red flag for women. When only some female voices are acceptable as representatives of "what women want", how is that respectful of women? If we truly respect women's right to the vote, and their intellectual capacity to grapple with issues and come to their own conclusions, and their equality with men generally, then we have to accept the sometimes uncomfortable reality that they will sit across the political spectrum, depending on what their own priorities are, just as men do.

The simple truth is there is no such thing as the "women's vote" and any attempt to pretend there is can usually be revealed to be a political ploy to support another group of sectional interests.

Witness the way Barack Obama's victory in this year's presidential election was immediately embraced by liberal feminists here and elsewhere as conclusive evidence that women vote as a bloc on certain issues. "Threaten women's reproductive rights and they will vote against your arse," thundered a headline on influential women's website Mamamia.

The argument there, and elsewhere, was that women overwhelmingly rejected Mitt Romney because of a string of repugnant attacks by Republicans on reproductive rights.

To be sure, exit polls revealed a significant gender gap; the US President enjoyed an 11-point margin with women voters over Romney, although that was actually a two-point drop in the endorsement he received from women in 2008. But consider this: among white women only, the gender gap reversed and was even larger (14 points) in favour of Romney. More than half of all women in this category (56 per cent) favoured the conservative, despite the baggage of Tea Party extremists in the GOP, over Obama.

The President was saved by his ability to bring out the black and Hispanic vote in massive numbers, and his awesome standing among women in those categories.

From a women's perspective, what can we read into this result? That white American women are traitors to their sex and black and Hispanic women make better feminists? More likely, voters made their choice according to an array of factors, with ethnicity and socio-economic status being at least as important as sex.

Similar factors will have an impact in the Australian federal election later this year, and will be particularly influential in some key seats. But the same polling that gives us the "Abbott has a problem with women" headline already points to a similar diversity in the way Australian women will vote. Throughout last year, about 40 per cent said they preferred Gillard as prime minister, while about one-third favoured Abbott and one-quarter were uncommitted, indicating they may not like either particularly much.

That is hardly a uniform "problem with women" or evidence of misogyny. And the oft-overlooked "uncommitted" category - which remains markedly higher than in previous election years - may give an indication as to what women really want.

Perhaps discerning women want to hear about what these leaders will actually do for them, in policy terms. Perhaps they feel irritated, even demeaned, by this hysterical nonsense about whether or not the candidates "like" women, coupled with sinister but unsubstantiated whispers about what rights they intend to take away. Both leaders' relatively high disapproval ratings suggest voters generally are sick of negative smears.

Abbott's greatest vulnerability here may be that he is yet to release policies on a number of areas that might engage women, and particularly show them how a Coalition government would make their day-to-day lives and the lives of their families better in practical, "real world" terms.

However, as a prolific writer and speechmaker never shy of an impassioned debate, he has left a rich seam for his opponents to mine and quote, often selectively, to fill the void. Having chosen to put his religious faith, including his friendship with Cardinal George Pell, into the public sphere, it is now necessary for him to clarify whether and how he intends to keep those beliefs separate from policymaking - and then get on with it. Just like men, the majority of women couldn't care less what religion their leader practises, provided it doesn't impinge on them or their family.

Meanwhile, the danger for Gillard is that Labor's stoking of an artificial gender war, to stage a character assassination, will look increasingly opportunistic. Where are the policies to tackle income equality, improve community and health services, or promote women's economic security, particularly when they are most likely to be the ones juggling the care of children, ageing parents and family members with a disability?

Given this government has just drastically reduced the incomes of almost 100,000 single parents (most of whom are women), while its female Families Minister assured them that she could live on $35 a day, they are fair questions. Women certainly have the right to ask whether this newfound angst about sexism in all its forms will continue after the next election. Indeed, will it spell any meaningful change or improvement at all in the lives of Australian women?



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

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

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


14 January, 2013

A new height of absurdity for the Church of England

CoE plan to bless gay couples' civil partnerships... But they may be told to take solemn declaration to remain celibate for life (!)  If Welby allows this he is off his rocker

The Church of England is considering allowing gay couples to have their civil partnerships blessed  in church.  Insiders have told The Mail on Sunday that a top-level panel of bishops set up to review the Church's policy on homosexuality is actively discussing the issue.

If the reform is approved, vicars would be permitted to conduct a  formal blessing service in church for a same-sex couple who have earlier 'tied the knot' at a register office.

But any move to relax the ban on such blessings would provoke the biggest split yet in the Church, which is already reeling from rows over women and gay bishops.

One option the panel is expected  to consider is a compromise under which gay couples seeking a blessing could be asked to declare they intend to remain celibate, in line with official Church teaching.

But this could create a backlash among gay couples, who would regard it as demeaning to be quizzed about their private lives.

A source close to the working party said that a 'wide-ranging discussion' was under way covering a 'whole range of options' and recommendations will be made to the House of Bishops later this year.

The working party of five bishops is meeting amid unprecedented pressure on the Church over its  policies on homosexuality. Growing numbers of liberal clergy, including the Dean of St Paul's cathedral Dr David Ison, are openly calling for formal ceremonies for gay couples.

Christina Rees, a member of the Church's 'cabinet', the Archbishops' Council, said: 'If this happens it is long overdue. If we allow something, it is only logical that we can bless it.'

But traditionalists warned that a lifting of the ban on blessings would cause even deeper ructions than those over women bishops or by the Church's decision before Christmas to allow clergy in civil partnerships to become bishops. One said: 'If the bishops lift the ban on blessings it will be far more serious than the divisions we have seen so far.'

The issue will be one the most contentious facing the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, when he takes up his post next month.  Although he opposes the Government's plans to introduce gay  marriage, he has signalled that he may soften his views.

He said last year he would 'prayerfully and carefully' rethink his  traditionalist stance and underlined his support for civil partnerships.

The Church allows clergy - and now bishops - to enter into civil partnerships as long as they promise to remain celibate. But it has always banned formal blessing services for civil partnerships. It also opposes the Government's plans to introduce civil gay marriage, which it says undermines the traditional understanding of the institution as between a man and a woman and threatens its place in the establishment.

The Government's determination to push through its reforms for civil same-sex marriages has opened the Church to accusations that it is out of step with society. Many clergy believe a move by the Church to bless civil partnerships would offer a middle way that might assuage its critics.

The Church's original ban on blessings was spelt out in a statement it released before civil partnerships - such as that between TV presenter Clare Balding and Radio 4 announcer Alice Arnold - were legalised in 2005.

The statement said sex should be confined to marriage. It added that because many people in same- sex partnerships would not be celibate, 'it would not be right to produce an authorised public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships.

'In addition, the House of Bishops affirms that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.'

'If the bishops lift the ban on blessings it will result in deep divisions of a kind that has not been seen in the Church of England for centuries. People are already close to setting up an alternative Church.'

But the statement added that people in such partnerships should be treated sensitively and many clergy do already pray for them in church. Some clergy also flout Church law by quietly carrying out unofficial blessings, and conservatives accuse liberal bishops of turning a blind eye.

A vicar caused a major row in 2008 when he conducted a service for two gay priests using the traditional wedding liturgy, including an exchange of vows and rings.  The Rev Dr Martin Dudley, the vicar of St Bartholomew the Great in East London, was heavily censured by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, but was not sacked from his post.

Traditionalists said last night that the Church should not lift its ban on such blessings even if the civil partners involved pledged to remain celibate.

One senior cleric said: 'Many in the Church will never believe civil partnerships are moral.

'There is an element of unreality about treating gay civil partnerships as a celibate arrangement, and it puts the Church in a very difficult position if it is required to ask intimate questions. If the bishops lift the ban on blessings it will result in deep divisions of a kind that has not been seen in the Church of England for centuries. People are already close to setting up an alternative Church.'

But Mrs Rees called for blessings to be introduced and said the Church should think hard before asking gay couples about their private lives.  She said: 'We need to debate this fully before deciding whether we should put any further requirements on couples in civil partnerships.'

Sources stressed that no decisions had yet been taken by the bishops' working party on whether or not to lift the ban on blessings, and the House of Bishops would have to consider any recommendations sent to it before sanctioning any reforms.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: 'To presume that these discussions will even find a way into the final conclusions of the working party is pure speculation. Meanwhile the Church of England continues to serve this country and its people through daily acts of devotion in schools, hospitals, churches and communities.'


BBC hostility to Christianity again

With its decision to move the Radio 2 Sunday evening hymns programme to 6am - yes, you read that right, six o' clock in the morning! - the BBC might as well just admit it hates church-lovers, our old culture of hymn-singing and communal worship.

Why not scrap the programme altogether? What will simply happen is that the audience will fall off the cliff and the Darwinist atheists at the Beeb will be able to claim religious shows are even more unpopular than they have already made them.

For some of us, Sunday Half-Hour has long been part of the rhythm of the week. Sunday evening is when you start to ease your mind out of weekend mode and reapply yourself to thoughts of work. Hymns helped that process.

Sunday evening is deep-rooted, distinctly British, the light closing in to the strains of The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Has Ended. Well, that's one favourite that will no longer be played. It would sound a bit daft before dawn.

Last year Radio 2 imposed a new presenter on the programme: Diane Louise Jordan, formerly of Blue Peter. She has talked down to her adult audience as though they are children. The hymns are still OK, but the links have been as spiritual as a primary school lesson.

Radio 2 says Sunday mornings have a higher audience. That ignores the programme's aesthetic fit with eventide, its echo with the Anglican tradition of Evensong.

If Radio 2 Controller Bob Shennan ever went to church before breakfast on Sundays, he would not hear hymns. He would find services solemn and entirely spoken.

There is no point complaining to Mr Shennan or to the Corporation's chairman, Lord Patten, who, as a Roman Catholic, may have limited interest in Anglicanism.

We must simply hope Classic FM or some other broadcaster spots its chance.

I have no doubt that a grown-up programme of hymns on Sunday night, with beautiful liturgy, intelligent musical footnotes and a mature presenter, could succeed.


More than 1,000 priests sign letter claiming gay marriage is biggest threat to religious freedoms since the reformation

More than 1000 priests have signed a letter voicing concerns about how same-sex marriage will threaten religious freedoms and may even lead to Catholics being excluded from jobs.

In the letter, which is one of the biggest open letters of its type ever written, the priests claim that same-sex marriage could threaten freedoms in a way that was last seen during centuries of persecution of Catholics in England.

The letter, signed by 1054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and other senior Catholic figures, expresses fears that the simple acts of practising or speaking about their faith will be severely limited.

They even claim the freedom to speak freely from the pulpit could be at risk.

Published in The Daily Telegraph, the letter goes as far as to compare David Cameron's proposed changes to the meaning of marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to divorce Catherine of Aragon sparked centuries of upheaval between Church and State.

Their fear is that Catholics who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs - in the same way as Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th century.

It said: 'After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

'Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

'It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.'

The Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to marry, is due to be published this month.

The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan, one of the signatories, told The Daily Telegraph: 'I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it, that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.'

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: 'We have been very clear that our plans for equal marriage will fully protect the freedom of religions bodies to preach, teach and put into practice their beliefs about marriage.'


Australia:  Conservative government of NSW moves to strengthen "hate" laws

The controversial commentators Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt are due to be called before an inquiry that will consider strengthening anti-discrimination laws to make it easier to convict people for serious racial vilification.

The inquiry was ordered by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, who is concerned there have been no successful criminal prosecutions in the history of the NSW laws and that they have fallen out of step with community expectations.

The move is likely to inflame the debate over freedom of speech, amid warnings that broadening the laws could be dangerous and unacceptable.

It is understood Jones and Bolt are on a witness list drafted by the inquiry, which will hold public hearings in early April.

Last month, Jones was ordered by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal to apologise on air for describing Lebanese Muslims as "vermin" and "mongrels" who "simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that's taken them in".

In September 2011, Bolt was found by the federal court to have contravened the federal Racial Discrimination Act in newspaper columns which accused prominent light-skinned Aborigines of choosing to identify as black for personal gain.

The parliamentary inquiry will focus on Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, which deals with the criminal offence of "serious racial vilification" and requires proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" for a prosecution.

Penalties of up to $5500 and six months' jail apply to anyone found guilty of inciting "hatred", "serious contempt" or "severe ridicule" of a person or group by threatening physical harm to them or their property or inciting others to do so on the basis of their race.

The vilification laws have been in place in NSW since 1989. According to figures supplied by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, 27 complaints have been referred by the board for criminal prosecution since 1998 the period for which records are available. But none were prosecuted as the Director of Public Prosecutions did not feel the burden of proof required by the legislation would have been achieved.

A spokesman for Mr O'Farrell said it was "questionable" whether this section of the act "constitutes a realistic test or is in line with community expectations".

"The Premier has therefore asked the [parliamentary law and justice] committee to report on whether section 20D is effective and if not, provide recommendations that will improve its efficacy with regard to the continued importance of freedom of speech," he said.

In NSW complaints about racial vilification must first be brought to the Anti-Discrimination Board, which will attempt to resolve them through conciliation.

If that fails the board's president may refer a complaint to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal if it is deemed an unlawful act or, in the case of serious racial vilification, to the DPP.

The inquiry was welcomed by the secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, who said serious racial vilification should be treated differently from actions or material that simply causes offence. "It is treading on free speech but it's speech which has very direct consequences," he said. "And it's quite right to criminalise that sort of speech".

The president of the NSW Anti- Discrimination Board, Stepan Kerkyasharian, said the inquiry was overdue. "It's a great opportunity to deal with this matter," he said.

The chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, said the NSW law was "completely ineffective in that for all practical purposes it is impossible to prove the elements of the offence in any specific case".

But director of the Legal Rights Project at the Institute of Public Affairs Simon Breheny, warned against broadening the law.

"The government is justified in restricting threats of physical harm," he said.  "The current Section 20D is therefore appropriate as far as it restricts conduct of this kind. However, any weakening of Section 20D risks impacting on our fundamental right to free speech."

The NSW inquiry comes amid the furore about a proposed overhaul of federal anti-discrimination laws, which would make it unlawful to offend a person. The draft laws have been criticised by the former chief justice of NSW, Jim Spigelman, who believes they risk putting Australia in breach of its international obligations to protect free speech.



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

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

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


13 January, 2013

British dependents

Feminist rejects 'misogynist' tag for Australian conservative leader

I never thought I would agree with  Eva but the distinction she makes below is perfectly proper.  Just because conservatives believe (with excellent scientific evidence) that some sex differences are genetically encoded, that does not make them "misogynist"

A PROMINENT feminist has knocked the idea that Tony Abbott is a misogynist and says some of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's policies are sexist.

Author and academic Eva Cox says the opposition leader, who last year was accused in a high-profile speech by Ms Gillard of holding sexist and misogynistic views, is "not feminism's worst enemy".

"He is a somewhat inconsistent, confused conservative with the attached sexist views on gender roles, which he seems to be trying hard to minimise," Ms Cox wrote on website The Conversation.

"He is not in my terms a misogynist."

Ms Cox said she was sticking to "the useful distinction" between a view of gender as the basis for entrenched discriminatory differences, and those who have a pathological deep dislike of womenkind and an antipathy to what they may stand for.

"Abbott fits the first, but not the second category."

Ms Cox said the prime minister may be Australia's first female national leader, but "she has real flaws in her feminist credentials".

The academic noted that at the time of Ms Gillard's verbal attack on Mr Abbott, her Labor government was cutting the incomes of almost 100,000 single parents.

She said she was concerned that issues of the leaders' personal traits and mudslinging could weaken debate over "good social policies".

"This is the area where real gender issues arise and neither party is focusing on addressing income inequality, and inadequate welfare and community services," Ms Cox said.


Huge legal splurge by British animal charity under scrutiny

Funds spent on top lawyers, not cats and dogs

  Senior figures at the RSPCA have been summoned to see the charity watchdog to defend their decision to spend £326,000 on prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt

The RSPCA was reported to the Charity Commission by MPs and peers last month for controversially funding the successful prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt. Mr Cameron is a local MP in the area where the Heythrop hunts.

Now it has emerged that the charity's senior executives have been called in by William Shawcross, the Commission's chairman, for "an early meeting" to discuss its "prosecutions in general and the case in particular".

The hunt and its members were fined £6,800 after admitting four charges of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs last month.

But District Judge Tim Pattinson drew attention to the fact that the cost of the private prosecution was nearly ten times more than the defence costs of £35,000.

The group, which included Lord Heseltine and Tory MP Simon Hart, reported the RSPCA’s 18 trustees to the Commission for breaching a “duty of prudence” which governs the actions of all charity trustees under charity legislation.

They told the watchdog that they had “concerns about the motivation for bringing this prosecution” and questioned why the RSPCA engaged three barristers as well as firm of specialist insurance solicitors when it had its own in-house legal team.

In a reply to the letter sent on Tuesday this week, Mr Shawcross said: “Given the concerns raised by the judge, by yourselves and by others, we are seeking an early meeting with the RSPCA to discuss their approach to prosecutions in general and to this case in particular.”

He continued: “The RSPCA is an independent charity and has a long history of bringing prosecutions in furtherance of its purposes. This is permitted under the charity’s governing document.

“In carrying out their duties, all charity trustees must act reasonably, in the best interests of their charity and in accordance with its aims and purposes.

“When considering prosecutions, trustees must always consider whether bringing a prosecution is a reasonable and effective use of the charity’s resources, what are the prospects of success and whether the public interest is served.

“The exercise of the duty of prudence, to which you refer in your letter, embodies all the responsibilities of trustees.   “So long as trustees act in accordance with these requirements, their decisions would not normally be a matter of regulatory intervention by the Commission.”

The “duty of prudence” is a duty to conserve the property of the trust. It is not a duty set out in the Charities Act 2006 or any other statute, but reflects principles defined through cases dealt within the courts.

Last night Mr Hart, who is a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “I am pleased the Charity Commission is treating this with the seriousness that it deserves.


No Oxygen, Please, for This Show

Some black morality

Television is getting a little unreal. First, the idea that Al Gore would sell out to Al-Jazeera sounded like an April Fools' joke. Then the Oxygen network -- that supposedly uplifting women's channel founded in 2000 by Oprah Winfrey -- announced it was producing a reality show called "All My Baby's Mamas" starring an Atlanta rapper and former drug dealer named "Shawty Lo," alongside his 11 children and their 10 different mothers.

This story didn't originate on a satire site like The Onion. Oxygen promoted this videotaped puddle of stupidity with a YouTube highlight reel featuring the rapper (real name: Carlos Walker) unsuccessfully attempting to name his 11 kids as quiz-show music plays. Rush Limbaugh suggested this sounded like New York Jets football star Antonio Cromartie, who had trouble naming his nine kids by seven women on HBO's "Hard Knocks" documentary series in 2010.

This plot was so objectionable and senseless that the entire political spectrum has united against it. Leftist Boyce Watkins called it "a platform for ignorance." Liberal Clarence Page asked "Lincoln freed us for this?" Upset with the black stereotyping, citizen activist Sabrina Lord posted a petition on Change.org demanding "Shawty-Lo Must Go," and the Parents Television Council and their grass-roots army joined in that effort.

Conservatives smell the decline and fall of Western civilization in this kind of "reality TV" sensationalism.

As the criticism and petition signatures piled up, Oxygen locked down. They sidestepped the show at the winter press tour with TV writers in favor of touting their other new programs, like one called "Fat Girl Revenge." They lamely claimed their YouTube video was "hacked" instead of official, and claimed it was very early in the development process, although it was expected to air this spring. They insisted it was a special, not a series.

But when pressed hard enough, a network publicist didn't back down with Fox News. "Oxygen's one-hour special in development is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society ... It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life. Oxygen Media's diverse team of creative executives will continue developing the show with this point of view."

Critics can't say this familial mess isn't reality in the sense that Walker actually created this twisted trail. The names of the mothers have been changed to make better television -- one is nicknamed "Jealous Baby Mama" and another "Shady Baby Mama." This is odd, because they're can't be anyone "shadier" than our aspiring TV star Shawty-Lo, sneaking around to the point that he dishonorably piled up ten "baby mamas."

Wouldn't you think that somewhere in this chain that Baby Mama Five or Six would have been warned away by the rest of the roster?

Since he has no shame, 36-year-old Shawty-Lo is now dating a 19-year-old. His oldest child is 21.

No one by now expects "reality TV" to offer us role models. Instead, these shows careen recklessly around the culture and celebrate dysfunction. Sadly, for women under age 30, more than half of their babies are born out of wedlock. Among blacks, the rate soars to more than 65 percent. Oxygen isn't making this show as a morality play, some kind of "Scared Straight" documentary. Like almost every other reality show, this network surely will just set a stage for outsized drama and squabbling and yelling and crying.

Early in the controversy, Oxygen Media senior vice president Cori Abraham hoped that the show would provide "over-the-top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about ... leaving the man of the house to split his affection multiple ways while trying to create order ... but sharing your man with several opinionated women is bound to create issues."

In short, they see this as a black edition of TLC's "Sister Wives," without the actual lobbying for polygamy. For this show and this format to fly, viewers will have to embrace the characters and root for them to succeed -- which means the stars will be celebrated for ruining their children publicly. There's nothing like national humiliation.

This ridiculous concept should be dumped by Oxygen, and Oxygen should be dumped by cable systems. But Oxygen is now owned by the cable giant Comcast, so a very large wave of public shame is the only hope we have that this show gets cancelled. The fact that people are having to write petitions about this train wreck only proves that the TV industry will always "think" its way to an idiotic-sounding new low.


EBT Abuse: The Cash-for-Drunkards Program

Michelle Malkin

From New York to New Mexico and across the dependent plains, welfare recipients are getting sauced on the public dime. Drunk, besotted, bombed. But while politicians pay lip service to cutting government waste, fraud and abuse, they're doing very little in practice to stop the EBT party excesses. Where's the compassion for taxpayers?

You see the signs everywhere: "We accept EBT." Fast-food restaurants do. Clothing retailers do. Auto repair shops, liquor stores and even sushi joints are joining the club. "EBT" stands for the federal government's electronic benefits transfer card, which is intended to provide poor people with food stamps and cash assistance for basic necessities. The two separate programs were combined into one ATM-like card designed to reduce the "stigma" attached to Nanny State dependency, and -- voila! -- an entirely new method of mooching was born.

If the idea was to eliminate the embarrassment of life on the dole, the social justice crowd succeeded phenomenally. Last weekend, the New York Post blew the lid off scammers who brazenly swiped their EBT cards "inside Hank's Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx." Out: Cash for clunkers. In: Cash for drunkards!

My home state of Colorado has seen similar abuse. Last year, local TV station 9NEWS reported that more than $40,000 was withdrawn from ATMs in metro-area liquor stores despite prohibitions against such spending. Colorado EBT users also splurged at Denver's Elitch Gardens amusement part, Disneyland, Universal Studios in Los Angeles and on the Las Vegas strip.

In New Mexico, Jim Scarantino of Watchdog.org reported that in just a three-month period, EBT cards were used at multiple liquor stores, girly bars, smoke shops and casinos both inside and outside the state. Californians are notorious EBT fraud artists; some $70 million in EBT funds were withdrawn from outside the state's borders over the past several years, including nearly $12 million taken out in Las Vegas. Watchdog.org kept tabs on government workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin nabbed in EBT fraud rings and schemes.

Several state legislatures have barred EBT spending on these vices, along with tattoo parlors, lottery tickets and cigarettes. Last February, President Obama signed GOP-backed welfare reform measures into law aimed at closing the so-called "strip club loophole" and preventing welfare recipients from blowing their cash benefits on booze, porn and gambling. But that law doesn't go into effect until next year. And many politicians are just shrugging their shoulders, muttering "Whaddya gonna do?"

Here's a radical idea: How about making taxpayer protection a priority for once and, yes, getting serious about strengthening the stigma on bottomless entitlement dependency and entitlement abuse?

According to the Department of Agriculture, illegal food stamp use costs the public upward of $750 million a year. A report by the Government Accountability Institute last fall revealed that "few security measures are in place to monitor EBT card fraud. ... Nationwide, the USDA has approximately 100 investigators policing over 200,000 authorized EBT retailers." In Florida, the report noted, 63 investigators carry the burden of policing more than three million EBT users.

Excuse-makers for the welfare-takers emphasize that both eligibility fraud and EBT card trafficking fraud are minuscule. But a bottle here, a case there, a pole dance here, a lap dance there, and soon it all starts to add up. With food stamp rolls exploding under both Republican and Democratic administrations while enforcement resources shrink nationwide, EBT has taken on a whole new meaning: Exploitation of Broke Taxpayers. Shame.



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

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

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


11 January, 2013

The perils and pitfalls of bringing up daughters

The blind  leading the blind below.  Biddulph is no scientist and a feminist blaming "society" just shows a lack of any real understanding of how things work.  Both are right that girls face conflicting pressures that can make then insecure and unhappy but do either of the writers have the faintest inkling of the best preventive for such feelings:  A father?  No mention of fathers at all below.  A father can very easily make a daughter into a "Daddy's girl" and a Daddy's girl will go through life serene that she is adorable.  Not all fathers are good for that but nor are all mothers good for their daughters

Kate Figes

Steve Biddulph's warmth, common sense and easy style have turned him into one of the world's most popular parenting gurus. His book Raising Boys has sold more than 4 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. So it was perhaps only a question of time before he would turn his attention to girls. Raising Girls is his latest book.

When he says that "Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault", he is right. Young girls have become a soft target for big business; messages propagated through television and advertising tend to accentuate female sexualised imagery and their bodies rather than their brains. Consequently, everywhere a young girl goes "she sees messages that make her feel that she is not good enough", Biddulph says on a YouTube promotional video. Spot on, Steve.

The distress of young girls is clearly visible in the rising rates of mental health problems, binge drinking, eating disorders and the rampant growth of bullying in our schools. Girls are now expected to be all things - attractive, thin, good, successful, happy, kind, loving, self-sufficient; perfect, in other words, within an imperfect world that still does not give women the equal status they deserve.

Biddulph's advice to parents is full of common sense. Avoid toys that imply to a girl that looks and clothes are what matter. Dress young girls in outfits that are practical rather than too girly. Surround your daughter with other adults, aunts or friends to whom she can talk when she cannot talk to you, for the mother-daughter relationship can be notoriously difficult. All of which is good counsel that could equally well be applied to boys.

What worries me is that the wider context appears to be missing, in which girls are still socialised to be good and enabling of others, rather than competitive and capable of achieving their own dreams.

Most girls lack a grasp of basic feminism to help them understand that many of their experiences are the result of growing up in a profoundly unequal world, and therefore not their own fault. Parents can only do so much.

I am the mother of two daughters, aged 23 and 19. I am probably better equipped than most to cope, with two decades of research into family life and adolescence behind me, several published books on the subject and an upbringing steeped in feminism. Yet I still find it hard.

My daughters are intelligent, capable, beautiful, ambitious and kind people and I couldn't be more proud of them. But I also see how they cannot help but internalise the message that they are not attractive, thin or sexy enough, and need regular, repeated reassurances that they are, in fact, utterly stunning.

I see how hard it is for young women of their generation to be honest about who they are and what they want from life, to confront others and say what they think rather than what they feel they ought to say just to be liked. I see how girls are still socialised to be selfless, stepping back from opportunities with the presumption that "she doesn't deserve it", or "isn't up to it", whereas young men never think twice about their right to achieve.

And I see how so many young women still assume that their needs come behind those of the boys they form relationships with, absorbing the message that they are lucky to have been chosen at all, when they are the ones who should be doing the choosing.

I have no doubt that countless girls are growing up profoundly confused by the conflicting messages they are given. Take sex. On the one hand they are as entitled to sexual exploration and fulfilment as the boys. They feel sexy and are understandably interested in sex. They are encouraged by the boys to reveal body parts that can be instantly messaged from phone to phone. But the prevailing ethos is still that "good" girls "don't". "Slag" is the number one insult hurled at girls by both sexes and rumours almost always trash another girl's reputation. Boys are never tarnished in the same way.

Girls know they have to succeed, too, on their own merits. They are, on the whole, doing better than boys at school, according to exam results. But without a strong constitution, solid academic ambition, and a few healthy middle-class female role models who are also mothers thrown in for good measure, girls easily succumb to the notion that it is only the sexier and more attractive women who thrive.

Girls are human beings so they get just as angry as the boys but they are not allowed to express that anger. Research on siblings shows that girls fight just as much as boys when they are within the safety of their own homes. But when they get out into the wider world, girls fight half as much. So they "bitch bully", knowing how to wound each other exactly where it will hurt the most because they cannot express their rage and their impotence in any other way without compromising their reputations as "good" or "nice". Girls pull each other back when they strive to achieve, or in girl talk, "get too up themselves".

Raising girls - and boys - in a world that is still so profoundly unequal in the treatment of men and women requires a very particular kind of parenting. We have to work harder to help both our sons and our daughters understand how we are socialised to behave in certain ways according to our gender. Because it is only when we find the strength as individuals to chip away at those pernicious stereotypes that we can hope to change them.

It's funny how - if sales of Biddulph's previous books are matched by this one - it might only be once a man starts talking about these issues that their importance moves to centre stage. But if that's what it takes, then go Steve, go. In the end, every girl is somebody's sister, mother or wife.


British planning restrictions as a threat to grandparents

Grandparents face spending their retirement “propping up their kids and grandkids” unless they agree to support new development that would make housing more affordable, the planning minister has warned.

It is “immoral” that young people are being priced out of the housing market because of a lack of cheap homes, Nick Boles told The Daily Telegraph. The housing shortage is a bigger threat to “social justice” than poor education and unemployment, he said.
In a speech on Thursday, Mr Boles will say that greenfield land must be built on. He will announce a scheme that will enable communities to receive funding for new facilities if they agree to support new housing developments.

By setting out the moral arguments for new development, his language marks a significant hardening in the tone of the Government’s attacks on “Nimbys”. It also shows the frustration among ministers that reform of the planning system has not sparked a building boom.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph before Thursday’s speech, Mr Boles said people had to recognise that “either they will spend their retirement propping up their kids and their grandkids, or they can accept more development so their grandkids don’t have the problem”.

“I genuinely think that the single biggest way in which we are failing to deliver social justice in this country at the moment is unaffordable housing – more than schools, more than jobs, more than benefits,” he said.

The minister, who is regarded as close to David Cameron and George Osborne, added that it was simply “immoral” that young people had to wait for so long to save a large enough deposit to buy a home.

In his speech, Mr Boles will say: “I am afraid that we have a simple choice. We can decide to ignore the misery of young families forced to grow up in tiny flats with no outside space. We can pass by on the other side while working men and men in their twenties and thirties have to live with their parents or share bedrooms with friends.

“We can turn a blind eye while Margaret Thatcher’s dream of a property-owning democracy shrivels. And shrug our shoulders as home ownership reverts to what it was in the 19th century: a privilege, the exclusive preserve of people with large incomes or wealthy parents.”

Mr Boles will claim that the inflation in house prices in recent decades has been unacceptable and was caused by artificial restrictions on building. He will highlight figures showing that if the price of food had risen in line with housing over the past 30 years, a chicken would cost £47 and a jar of coffee £20.

“In the 1990s, the average person setting aside five per cent of their income each week could save up a deposit on a house after eight years,” he will say. “Today it would take the same person 47 years.”

The planning minister will add that the public must accept that more building is required on greenfield sites, saying: “We’ve got plenty of undeveloped land to spare.” He told this newspaper: “We need to build more, not all of it can be satisfied by empty homes and 'brownfield’ sites, so we will need to build quite a lot on currently undeveloped land. England is not massively overdeveloped.” He added: “I am not a critic of Nimbys. My job is to create a system that persuades them not to object but to get involved.

“We have comprehensively failed to persuade people to embrace the level of house building that is required. We are in this terrible vicious circle where we have built ugly stuff, which does not involve local people and does not bring them any benefit in terms of improved local infrastructure or anything else. They hate it and so they fight any further proposals tooth and nail, perfectly understandably. And the process of fighting it means much less land gets planning permission and the value of land goes through the roof. So the cost of building becomes completely unaffordable, so people build c--p.”

Under plans to be announced on Thursday, local people would keep up to 25 per cent of revenues from a Community Infrastructure Levy which builders pay to win planning permission to spend on community projects, such as a village hall.

“Work out what you want, where you want it, what you want it to look like, the money that enables you to reopen the municipal pool,” he Mr Boles said. He insisted that he understood opposition to development and had personal experience of fighting it: his father was the head of the National Trust. “I was a Nimby once, and my entire family were,” he added.


Massive rise in bill for foreign aid consultants: Department for International Development pays £46m despite crackdown

British bureaucracy at its finest

The amount of British overseas aid money lavished on consultants jumped by 45 per cent in just one month – despite a high-profile ‘crackdown’ on the practice being launched at the same time.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening ordered an ‘emergency audit’ of her department’s use of consultants last September following a public outcry.

But figures reveal that spending on so-called ‘technical and advisory services’ jumped from £31.7million in September to £45.9million the next month.

A Whitehall task force has been set up to monitor spending at the Department for International Development, which is in line for a 30 per cent budget increase this year.

The Treasury is concerned about the department’s capacity to handle the vast increase without presiding over millions of pounds of waste.

Miss Greening is considering whether more of the consultants’ work could be done by civil servants.

She has also demanded to see any contract worth more than £1million. Previously officials could wave through contracts worth up to £40million without seeking ministerial consent.

The latest figures will also underline concerns about the decision to pour billions more into foreign aid, with the budget to rise from £8.65billion to £11.3billion this year.

Dfid sources last night insisted the department had already mapped out exactly how the influx of cash would be spent.

A source also stressed that the spending on consultants in October had already been in the pipeline before the crackdown was launched. Much of it is said to be a legacy of Labour’s profligate years in office, when spending on consultants soared to £1billion a year.

Official figures show how some firms are making millions from Britain’s aid budget.

The so-called ‘poverty barons’ include PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which was paid more than £4million in October alone, while Adam Smith International pocketed £5.8million.

Large payments also went to a number of major foreign consultancies, such as the US-based ABT Associates, which was paid £2.1million.

Tory MP Peter Bone said he was ‘appalled’ by the amount of money spent on consultants.

He said: ‘The public are told overseas aid goes on building water wells in Africa and other worthy projects. I think people will be shocked to learn so much of it is going into the pockets of large consultancy firms.

‘It does also raise further questions about the huge increase planned in overseas aid.’


Europe’s dogmatic ruling class remains wedded to its folly

Proclamations of the euro’s salvation owe more to ideology than to the facts

Power certainly does tend to corrupt, as Lord Acton famously noted, but it also distorts character, and therefore action, in other interesting and significant ways.

Members of the political class consider themselves exempt from the routine constraints that apply to their fellow citizens. They feel certain that they are making extraordinary sacrifices, and therefore deserve exceptional compensation (this emotion is the psychological trigger that sets off a great deal of low-level corruption). Once in government, they are soon part of a parallel reality, in which they live and breathe a separate world than the one experienced by voters.

Though this dichotomy is powerfully present at Westminster, it is worse by far on the European mainland, where a barrier between civil society and the state-funded political elite was erected several decades ago. It was this elite that made the collective decision to piledrive through European monetary union at the end of the last century. It literally cannot conceive that the euro might fail, a state of mind that has generated a series of arresting epistemological consequences.

The European elite now constructs reality around the euro, not the other way around – a method that involves all manner of ungainly manoeuvring and deceit. For reasons of space, I can only highlight a few recent examples. Last November, Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, told a news conference that he was “totally and absolutely convinced that the worst [of the euro crisis] has passed”. The following month, Olli Rehn, the vice-president of the European Commission, insisted that the Cassandras “have been proved wrong” over Greece, and the euro area more generally.

In his new year predictions, Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, followed Rajoy and Rehn in pronouncing that “we have seen the worst of the euro-area crisis”. So did the euro-friendly BBC, whose economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, foretold the recovery of the single currency in 2013. Then, on Monday, the European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, came out with this ex cathedra pronouncement: “I think we can say that the existential threat against the euro has essentially been overcome.”

The basis for all these remarks seems to be the pledge by the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, to buy unlimited amounts of sovereign debt, the so-called “Draghi Put”. It is true that, since this intervention, bond yields in Greece and Spain have fallen sharply. But the fundamental problem remains unaltered, namely that European nations enjoy the benefits of a single currency but lack the discipline of a single state. Without such a single uncontested authority (including a single Treasury, single revenue-raising system, and the legitimacy which can only come from a homogeneous electorate), the existential threat to the euro continues to exist, and it is absurd to claim it does not.

I guess that Messrs Monti, Rehn, Draghi and Rajoy are sophisticated enough to grasp this; so their obfuscation has deeper roots. The problem is that European and British leaders tend to come from rival intellectual traditions. In Britain, empiricism – most closely associated with Hume, though its roots can be traced back to William of Ockham and others – is the native inheritance. Empiricism insists that all knowledge of fact must be based on experience. Most European schools of philosophy claim the exact opposite, namely that ideas are the only things that truly exist. This school of metaphysical idealism can be traced back through Hegel (for whom history itself is the realisation of an idea) and Kant to Plato.

Anglo-Saxon empiricism and the idealism found on the Continent therefore prescribe directly opposite courses of political conduct. Empiricists are trained in scepticism and caution: if you put your hand in the fire once, you will not do so again.

Idealists, by contrast, are much less likely to renounce a course of conduct or set of beliefs because reality gets in the way.

Empiricists, alert to the lessons of history and conscious of man’s tragic imperfection, are wary. So they concentrate on specific rules – honesty, decency, accuracy, compassion to friends or care for a particular community. Idealists tend to embrace grand plans for social reconstruction or for general human salvation. They are much less worried by rule-breaking, especially if they believe that it serves the greater good.

It is this underlying philosophical disposition that explains the continued reverence felt by the European political class for the euro, when empiricists would have given up long ago. Indeed, it is impossible to avoid a certain grudging respect for the imperishable optimism of the single-currency enthusiasts, their absolute refusal to be deterred by adversity and contrary evidence. (This is something they have in common with the American neo-cons, unrepentant despite the twin calamities of Afghanistan and Iraq, and still urging fresh fields for armed intervention.)

But it should be remembered that these European leaders are doing something very cruel indeed. The euro has caused mass misery and suffering on a scale not seen in peacetime Europe since the early 1930s. In Greece, with 58 per cent youth unemployment, the hopes of an entire generation have been wiped out. Spain is facing the same predicament.

I am sure Mr Barroso is a kind, liberal man. But there is a comparison between the European Commission president and the fascists and communists who turned so much of the history of 20th-century Europe into a story of pure horror. All had been captured by a great enticing idea. For Mr Barroso, it does not ultimately matter how many tens of millions lose their jobs, how many businesses are destroyed, how many communities are ruined. For him, the critical thing is that his economic system survives its “existential” crisis. This sense of priorities means that it is fair to compare him to a doctor who tries to save the cancer, but does not care about the patient.

Most of us would view a monetary experiment which has led directly to the bankruptcy of entire countries, and the ruination of so many lives, as an unqualified failure. But the European political class is determined to retain its insane financial architecture, regardless of human considerations. From this side of the Channel, we must continue to muddle along in our boring, matter-of-fact way: to hope that it all works out for the best, while making prudent provision in case it does not.



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

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

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


10 January, 2013

"Happiness" as an  elite excuse for stalled economic progress

Aside from the things technological progress provides (flatscreen TVs, cellphones, etc.)  most people have not had a rise in their standard of living for many years.  "Don't worry.  More money would not have made you happier anyway" is the patronizing elite response.

Relatively poor people are at least as happy, if not happier, than those who are better off. That seems to be the message of two recent reports, one looking at happiness around the world, the other looking at wellbeing in the UK. But while ‘poor but happy’ seems a cliché that many are willing to embrace, the drive to emphasise happiness over wealth deserves more critical attention.

A recently released Gallup poll has placed some of the poorest countries of the world - including Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador - at the top of the happiness stakes. In November, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest update on the National Wellbeing programme. Not only have life-satisfaction scores remained ‘broadly stable’ in spite of the recession, but deprived areas seem to be home to some fairly happy people (provided they have trees to look at).

Those unfamiliar with the happiness agenda might be surprised at the huge impact it has had; it’s everywhere, from Oxfam to Coca Cola, from the World Bank to UK educational policy. Like the furore surrounding self-esteem in the 1990s, there has been a widespread push to affirm happiness’s importance. Almost every social ill has been said to be remediable through raising ‘subjective wellbeing’ or happiness levels.

Indeed, a 2012 report produced by the Children’s Society argued that ‘a low level of subjective wellbeing’ puts young people at risk of poor mental health, social isolation, likelihood of victimisation and involvement in ‘risky behaviours’. Richard Layard, the UK’s unofficial ‘happiness tsar’, has even claimed that unhappiness is Britain’s ‘worst social problem’.

But the official focus on happiness in recent years was not a response to growing unhappiness in society. In fact, according to happiness advocates themselves, nothing much has changed. And therein lies the ‘paradox’: despite ‘massive economic growth’, the proponents of the happiness agenda say, there has been no increase in happiness. For those unconvinced, graphs are often helpfully included, depicting a stagnating ‘happiness rate’ plotted against a steadily climbing GDP.

The conclusion frequently drawn, as the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon did last April, is that less attention should be paid to traditional monetary indicators of ‘so-called progress’, and more to what makes people (sustainably) happy. British prime minister David Cameron agrees, stating back in 2006 that ‘we have to remember what makes people happy, as well as what makes stock markets rise’. While this idea of shifting attention to ‘what really matters to people’ is often touted as radical, it is important to note that the modern happiness project has always been a top-down initiative. While existing as an idea within the establishment for decades, the politics of happiness was taken up by American positive psychologists in the late 1990s and was quickly embraced by individuals and groups closely connected with UK policymakers, who only then sought to enlist the approval of the general public.

The adage that money can’t buy happiness may seem daft as a guide for policymaking, but it’s been extraordinarily influential since the late 1990s. In addition to the high-profile introduction of an ONS initiative to add ‘wellbeing’ to its national accounts, the current UK government founded a Behavioural Insight Team, which advocates ‘nudging’ people into making decisions more conducive to happiness. A host of policies, from an increased emphasis on treatments like cognitive-behavioural therapy in mental health services to the introduction into the school curriculum of classes designed to foster ‘emotional wellbeing,’ have been justified through recourse to happiness expertise.

Cameron’s commitment to happiness upon taking office in 2010 was dismissed by some as a cover for government spending cuts. In fact, it was no mere political spin. The more uncomfortable question is why groups which should have been in opposition to the happiness agenda found themselves in agreement with it.

There are many reasons why happiness, thus conceived, was widely embraced. Most significantly, many implicitly accept Margaret Thatcher’s famous mantra that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism (TINA). If we cannot hope to change society in real, material terms, then individual minds and behaviours become some of the few sites open to change. With the political outlook narrowed in this way, ideas like ‘rediscovering happiness’ as the ultimate goal of society can sound radical, utopian even. They also offer a way of bypassing uncertain political identities, connecting with people using the lowest common denominator. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy?

But constructing issues in such broadly agreeable terms makes it difficult to imagine how they might be challenged or opposed. Everyone seemingly agrees that ‘money can’t buy happiness’.

The problem with the politics of happiness is that it abstracts this emotion from individual and social experience, and makes it into a flat, measurable policy objective. I have no idea what the future holds, in the same way that no one in 1800, if they had been handed a ‘happiness survey’, would have rated themselves less happy in the expectation of modern innovations like access to electricity. Each generation finds happiness in accordance with the world they take for granted. As a measure of ‘progress’, happiness defaults to an affirmation of the present as the best of all possible worlds.

This has led some proponents of the happiness agenda to dismiss material progress as a ‘hedonic treadmill’; ‘happiness adapts’, they say, and we will not become any happier should we attain the material objects of our desires. Humanity’s extraordinary resilience and tendency to make the best of a bad situation is used as a justification for maintaining low horizons.

The fact that this dismissal of material progress has faced so little opposition speaks to how profoundly disoriented the project of radical change has become. At one time, the expansion of wealth was viewed as a great boon for mankind: ‘For our demands are moderate’, wrote the Irish socialist James Connolly in 1907: ‘We only want the earth!’

The promise to give people a better life was also once one of the principal claims made for capitalism. But unable to expand and generalise wealth, and lacking clear alternatives, today playing down the benefits of material wealth is a rational strategy for the capitalist class. It is useful to remember that the wealthy in Victorian England, too, were known for looking down on the consumption habits of the working classes, pointing out they would not be so destitute if they would only be more frugal with their meagre wages.


Richard Cohen Explains Conservatives

Dennis Prager

On the last day of 2012, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen inadvertently clarified two huge matters regarding the left.

The first was the ignorance about conservatives and conservatism that permeates the left. The second was the primary reason decent people identify with the left: the effective caricaturing and demonizing of the right. Were it not for caricature and demonization, most otherwise intelligent and decent people would not be on the left.

This is what Cohen wrote in his column, "Republicans Adrift:"

"It is conservatism that is both intellectually exhausted and nearly indefensible. It is the movement of the ideologically ossified, of gun zealots and homophobes, of the immigrant-phobic and the adamantly selfish. It insists that government must be small (an impossibility!), education must be local (a stupidity) and that debt, no matter what the reason, is immoral and reckless. The movement has lost its reliable monster. Godless communists have been replaced by the church ladies of Planned Parenthood. History giggles."

This caricature of conservatism was penned not by some anonymous contributor to the comments section of MoveOn.org, but by a longtime liberal columnist of the Washington Post.

Let's begin:

"Intellectually exhausted and nearly indefensible. It is the movement of the ideologically ossified ... "

All one has to do to show how ignorant this description of conservatism is to cite the names of the two conservative columnists at Cohen's paper, the Washington Post: George Will and Charles Krauthammer. Are these men "intellectually exhausted" and "ideologically ossified"? Are their views really "nearly indefensible"? I mean no insult when I say that the intellectual gap between the columns of those two conservatives' and the columns of their liberal colleagues is quite substantial.

Even outside the Washington Post, where are the liberal Charles Krauthammers and George Wills? Or the liberal intellectual equivalents of Daniel Henninger and his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal; or Jonah Goldberg and his colleagues at National Review? And what about Commentary and the Weekly Standard? Are they, too, "intellectually exhausted"? And name one black liberal thinker who inhabits the same intellectual universe as Tom Sowell, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, Clarence Thomas or Larry Elder, just to name a few black intellectual giants of the right.

"... of gun zealots and homophobes, of the immigrant-phobic and the adamantly selfish."

I have never attended an NRA meeting, let alone been a member, but I happen to think that it is a good thing when good people are armed. Am I "gun zealot"? And if there are "gun zealots," are there not "anti-gun zealots"? Or is zealotry a conservative monopoly? That I suspect is exactly what Cohen believes -- just as he undoubtedly believes that there are religious zealots but no secular zealots.

As for "immigrant phobic," Cohen got carried away here, too. Virtually every prominent conservative voice wants an increase in immigration - of legal immigration, of people who can contribute to America's development. It is illegal immigration that conservatives oppose. Is that distinction too subtle for Cohen to appreciate?

"Adamantly selfish" may be Cohen's corker. Conservative Americans give more charity and volunteer more time than liberal Americans (controlling for income level). On what possible basis, then, does Cohen make the charge -- as false as it is defamatory -- that conservatives are "adamantly selfish?"

Conservatism "insists that government must be small (an impossibility!) ..."

America has been great in large measure precisely because it has understood that the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. Moreover, the real "impossibility!" is not small government but the left's ever bigger government. It is neither economically nor morally sustainable, as we are seeing both in Europe and here in America.

"... and that debt, no matter what the reason, is immoral and reckless."

This is just demagoguery. Conservatives have little problem with manageable debt: a level of debt that does not rob from future generations, and debt that does not jeopardize America's supremacy in the world. And "no matter what the reason" is almost a lie. It depends entirely on the reason. The last time we had the debt percentage of the GDP we have now was World War II -- and conservatives believe that was a fine reason to get into debt, just as the Cold War was.

"The movement has lost its reliable monster ... Godless communists."

What an admission by a leading liberal -- first, that communism was not a real evil, just a "reliable monster" for conservatives, on a par with "church ladies of Planned Parenthood." Second, that "Godless" is a joke, not a real threat to the moral foundations of society -- as if the death of Christianity in Europe didn't lead to Fascism, Nazism and Communism.

"History giggles."

This is pure leftism. Since Karl Marx, the left has believed with religious certitude that its views are inevitable. "Scientific socialism" Marx called it. Everything opposing the left will end up in the dustbin of history, said Lenin.

We'll see if history giggles at Cohen or Krauthammer.


The Other America Is Still There

Despite the flood of bad news, including 47 million people on food stamps amid a growing underclass, there’s a whole other America out there, swimming under the polluted media like a whale under a stormy sea. You know it’s there because a dorsal fin surfaces from time to time.

One dorsal fin is the enormous outpouring of gifts, cards and assistance to victims of natural (Hurricane Sandy) and manmade (Newtown school massacre) disasters. Just the other day, I noticed a giant book in a Chick-fil-A restaurant in northern Virginia for people to sign to let the people of Newtown know that lots of people are praying for them. That’s the same company that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said should be banned from his city because the founder believes in God’s definition of marriage.

A few years ago, an underreported story was the massive surge of private charity to aid Gulf communities shattered by Katrina. Churches that were hundreds of miles away “adopted” congregations, sending money and teams to help them rebuild homes and sanctuaries.

According to a December 2012 Gallup poll, despite an increase in the number of people claiming no religious affiliation, “the United States remains a largely Christian nation; more than nine in 10 Americans who have a religious identity are affiliated with a Christian religion.” If even a fraction of these folks read the Bible, they’ll notice that it differs sharply with the values served up by the decadent media culture.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys’ 6’-2”nonpareil receiver Michael Irvin terrified defenders, except for the Redskins’ Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green. The 5-9 Green gave Irvin all that he could handle. Off the field, the two men could not have been more different, with the outspoken Christian Green founding a charitable foundation while Irvin became synonymous with bad behavior.

The two men now travel together to speak at schools, hospitals and churches, spreading the word that Jesus can turn anyone’s life around—even the notorious Irvin. The two are far from unusual in that regard, with many pros giving back to their communities.

Sometimes the Big Picture can be overwhelming, especially after a disappointing election and capitulation by people that you thought were standing up for you and your values. I’m not about to turn Pollyanna and say that everything is okay, because it’s not. In fact, it’s very grim and will get worse if people don’t wake up and get more involved. We can all do something to turn things around.

A boy was walking with his father at the seashore when they encountered hundreds of starfish washed up on the beach, perishing. The boy methodically started picking them up and throwing them back. “What’s the point?” asked his father, gesturing at the magnitude of the problem. “There are too many of them. They’re all going to die.” Undeterred, the boy continued to reach down. As he threw each starfish back into the water, he said, “Not this one. Not this one. And not this one….”

Watch for those fins, stop sulking, take heart and get involved. There are a lot more where they came from.


Australian Federal government trying to muzzle the media

THE nation's media giants have slammed Labor's plans to make it unlawful to offend or insult people under the proposed overhaul of discrimination law, warning it could encourage audiences to be unnecessarily thin-skinned and outlets to restrict contentious or complex material.

In a rare united submission, the media companies say that with the exception of the section of the Racial Discrimination Act used against newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt, no existing federal law deems conduct that is simply insulting or offensive to be discrimination.

They argue that satirical material, political commentary and informative programming on matters of historical or religious sensitivity might be offensive or insulting to some but are part of the national conversation that is "essential for fostering robust social and political debate, and therefore to ensuring a healthy democracy".

"Whilst these and similar topics may be offensive or insulting to some viewers, this does not make them discriminatory," the joint submission says. "No other liberal democracy has a human rights or anti-discrimination statute proscribing conduct which merely offends or insults."

The Gillard government is proposing to consolidate five commonwealth anti-discrimination laws into one act to meet an election promise.

The Senate inquiry into the draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, put forward by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, has received more than 500 submissions, with criticism from a range of corners.

Business groups fear they will face high costs to defend claims, while some of the nation's top legal minds and human rights bodies believe it could set the bar for discrimination too low, potentially undermining free speech.

The conservative state governments of Victoria, NSW and Queensland warn the law will overlap and create conflict with state anti-discrimination laws.

The ACTU has said the laws do not go far enough and should allow punitive damages to be awarded, as they can be in discrimination cases in the US, while the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association has said that exemptions in the laws for "inherent requirements for work" could lead to pregnant workers being forced to stand for a 12-hour shift or climb ladders

Church groups have warned the plan could lead to lawsuits over religious freedom, while charity groups fear being exposed to discrimination claims by unpaid volunteers.

Media companies say in their submission they support the overall objectives of the plan to simplify anti-discrimination legislation, but parts of the exposure draft provide cause for significant concern, including because in defining discrimination the bill appears to use a subjective test of whether someone feels offended or insulted by published and broadcast content.

While SBS was able to successfully defend a 2006 claim under the Racial Discrimination Act that a documentary on the Armenian genocide in the early years of the 20th century was offensive to Turkish people, under the proposed new anti-discrimination laws the outcome would have been "dramatically different".

SBS had demonstrated that academic and historical experts believe the former Ottoman Empire was engaged in genocide.

But under the proposed new law, such matters would hinge on the subjective reaction of the viewer making the complaint, irrespective of its historical accuracy or academic merit. "Such a conclusion would have been both unjust and to the detriment of Australia's commitment to free speech," the submission says.

The submission is another sign of tension between Labor and the media.

ABC chairman and former NSW chief justice Jim Spigelman has already criticised the proposed law. But the new joint media submission is the first public criticism of the government's anti-discrimination plan by other companies, including News Limited (publisher of The Australian), Fairfax Media, SBS, West Australian Newspapers and AAP, as well as radio and television groups.

Media executives have meanwhile also campaigned against the recommendations of the Finkelstein inquiry and the Convergence Review, which have ranged from a new government-funded regulatory body to adjudicate on press behaviour to a new public interest test that could block major media ownership changes.

Late last year, Mr Spigelman warned that the section of the proposed law defining discrimination contained a subjective test of being offended. The new media submission says if this is the case, it could "produce a legal climate in which would-be complainants are encouraged to be unnecessarily thin-skinned and sensitive to offence".

"The introduction of a subjective test could create significant uncertainty for media organisations conducting prepublication review of material," it says.

"The inability of organisations to foresee what standard will be set is likely to have a chilling effect on the publication or broadcast of potentially contentious material. This will most directly affect consumers, whose access to the range of content they are able to read, hear and see may be limited."

On top of this, the proposed law could require media groups "to defend their innocence each time a member of their audience felt insulted or offended" because it put the onus on defendants to prove their innocence. The bill applies a single, simplified test of "unfavourable treatment" for unlawful discrimination; this is defined to include conduct that "offends, humiliates, insults or intimidates". The submission says the words "offends" and "insults" should be cut from the definition of unfavourable conduct.

It also says the general definition of discrimination should have an objective test and specific exceptions for content that is reasonable and in good faith in artistic performances, academic debate, fair and accurate reporting and commentary on matters of public interest. Such measures are in the racial vilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, and in the racial vilification part of the proposed law.

The Sex Discrimination Act includes the term "offended".



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

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

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


9 January, 2013

Geert Wilders’ Courageous Journey

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has released in 2012 his autobiographical account of his internationally known condemnation of, and personal conflicts with, Islam, with a forward available online by his fellow comrade in letters vis-à-vis Islam, conservative columnist Mark Steyn.  Marked for Death: Islam's War against the West and Me recounts how an individual Dutchman became aware of an aggressive and authoritarian agenda in Islam as a faith-based political ideology. 

Through personal travels to the Middle East and the example of Muslim migrants who sought not to assimilate to Holland's world-renowned tolerant culture, but rather despised and sought to dominate it, Wilders recognized the incompatibility of Islam's canonical core with a free Western civilization.  Wilders in turn personally experienced this incompatibility as his continuing condemnation of Islam brought him not the intellectual interchange due a debater in public forums, but rather personal and legal endangerment.  Yet Wilders persevered and prevailed, thereby giving an example of how the free world can once again overcome a totalitarian threat.

As Steyn writes in his forward, the Wilders "who emerges in the following pages is not the grunting thug of media demonology but a well-read, well-traveled, elegant, and perceptive analyst." 

Wilders traveled and worked in Israel following his 1981 high school graduation, beginning a lifelong passion for this country that has led to at least annual visits throughout the years, over 50 trips in all.  During this initial stay in Israel, Wilders also made his first visit to a majoritarian-Muslim country, Egypt.
Wilders was "overwhelmed by the kindness, friendliness, and helpfulness of its people." 

Yet an "overwhelming sense of fear" under the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak also possessed these people.  Additionally, their capital "Cairo was poor and incredibly dirty," making Wilders "amazed that such a place could be a neighbor of Israel, which was so clean."  One "big mistake" by Wilders here was buying a glass of water from a public water collector, leading to several days of severe diarrhea spent lying on a hostel floor for two dollars a day "in a crowded, stinking room."

Wilders' travels made him notice critical attitudinal differences between Muslim Arabs and Jews.  Understandably in the context of Israel's fight for survival amongst surrounding Arabs, "Israelis often had negative political opinions about Arabs."  Yet even Israelis who had lost loved ones to Arab terrorism "did not feel offended by the Arabs' mere existence."  In Egypt, though, the "mention of Israel inevitably produced an outburst of vitriolic hatred."  This "wrath was not confined to Israeli soldiers or politicians or to Israelis who had done them personal harm," but rather "was hatred against all Jews, even children."  It "was hard to find an Arab who spoke about Jews with anything but unconcealed contempt."

Wilders' experience with Islam at home in Holland has been no less negative.  In his chapter "Conquest," Wilders writes that mass Muslim migration is turning many Dutch neighborhoods into "cities of the prophet."  This is in emulation of Islam's prophet Muhammad and his original followers who sought refuge from Mecca in the largely Jewish settlement of Yathrib in the Arabian Peninsula in 622.  "By foolishly welcoming Muhammad and Meccan followers into their town," Wilders writes, "the Yathribians guaranteed their own extinction and the transformation of their land into Medina, the ‘City of the Prophet', which it has remained ever since." 

Wilders' writes elsewhere that Muhammad's emigration or hijra from Mecca to Medina, the orientation point of the Islamic calendar, is an "intrinsic part of Islamic culture" such that for some Muslim immigrants "Islam is meant to dominate, not to assimilate" in the immigrants' new home.  Thus, with the open encouragement of Muslim leaders like Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, "immigration is Islam's Trojan horse, paving the way for jihad" in another Islamic attempt "to conquer Europe."

The result is a "slippery slope toward full Islamization" of Europe under "creeping Shaira" as a "non-violent infiltration of our institutions, a stealth jihad."  Among many examples cited by Wilders, municipal authorities in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam as well as the nearby Belgian port of Antwerp have begun registering polygamous marriages.  Pools and beaches in diverse European countries such as Finland and Italy have also accommodated Muslim demands for strict sexual segregation with separate bathing areas. In Britain, non-Muslim women have even had to wear the so-called burkini adaptation of Islamic female body covering.

Likewise, Europe faces the depredations of many Muslims who see the continent not as a new home to settle, but rather as a foreign society to be subjugated and plundered in accord with Islam's history of raiding.  Holland, for instance, has 40 areas known as "Vogelaar neighborhoods" after a list published in 2007 by the Dutch Minister of Integration and Housing, Ella Vogelaar.  Here large Muslim communities exhibit high crime rates, particularly with respect to non-Muslim victims, vigilante enforcement of sharia norms such as those involving the "modesty" of females, and a susceptibility to riots provoked by any incident à la Rodney King.  Even state authorities such as the police only enter these areas with the greatest precaution. 

France similarly has since 1996 751 internationally known zones urbaines sensibles (sensitive urban areas or ZUS), the scene of extensive rioting in 2005 with over 10,000 destroyed cars.  Wilders describes the same phenomenon of non-Muslim "no-go" areas in Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Muslim hostility extends beyond individual criminal acts to state social services.  Some imams in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have told their congregations to avoid work and paying taxes in order to drain their host societies through welfare payments.  Similarly, a Pakistani immigrant told a Norwegian newspaper that he and his boss avoided paying taxes.

Wilders' ongoing exposure to Islam has prompted his extensive study of the same.  Wilders is a "fervent reader of the Koran," often compared by Wilders to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, banned in many countries like Wilders' Holland.  Reading the Koran for the first time, Wilders expected "to find injunctions to ‘love thy neighbor'...similar to those in the Bible, but instead...found the spite of a god who hates."

Drawing upon the analysis of many other scholars of Islam, Wilders discerns that "Islam is primarily a political ideology, not a religion."  In particular, unlike "authentic religions" Islam "does not teach the golden rule" but rather "institutionalizes inequality."  Wilders has come to the conclusion that while "many moderate Muslims" exist, the "political ideology of Islam is not moderate-it is a totalitarian cult with global ambitions."

Like others, Wilders has determined that oft-criticized "inhuman aspects form the core of Islam," thereby marginalizing any attempt to formulate a benign understanding of Islam as esoteric and largely unviable. Therefore "there is no such thing as ‘Islam with a human face,' just as there was no real ‘socialism with a human face' or ‘national-socialism with a human face.'"  "People who reject Islam's violent, intolerant, and misogynistic commandments may be moderates," Wilders analyzes, "but they are not practicing ‘moderate Islam'-they are not practicing Islam at all." 

Having traveled to Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey, Wilders recognizes the great "potential" of Muslim individuals.  Yet Wilders concludes, "Islam is the problem-and we should not be afraid to say so," thereby rejecting any attempt to "sugarcoat Islam...out of a misguided fear of offending its adherents."

Wilders has paid a price for his condemnation of Islam.  Since November 4, 2004, two days after the Amsterdam murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim, Wilders has lived under constant police protection "like a prisoner" due to similar death threats. 

"Providing permanent protection for critics of Islam," Wilders observes, "is one of the many costs a society has to pay once it allows Islam inside its borders."  Wilders also endured a prosecution in Holland for his anti-Islam statements before obtaining a critical legal victory for free speech on June 23, 2011.

Yet Wilders has ultimately obtained results.  Following the strong showing (15.5% of the vote) of Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) in the June 9, 2010, Dutch general elections, Wilders was able to demand in return for PVV support for a minority government changes in Dutch immigration policy.  Dutch policies now restrict the extent of immigrant family unification to spouses and young children, emphasize integration into Dutch life as opposed to cultural relativism, and expel residents convicted of crime. 

The Dutch government, meanwhile, denounced the 57-member state (including Palestine) Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for its calls to suppress Wilders following his legal victory.

The Dutch government has also strengthened its support for Israel, cutting support for "humanitarian organizations" supporting anti-Israel sanctions and questioning Israel's right to exist.  Along with Israel and the United States, Holland also boycotted the shamelessly anti-Israel United Nations anti-racism conference (Durban III) in September 2011.  Wilders' defiant example shows that free nations need hardly submit to Islamic threats often seen as insurmountable.


A Culture War or a War Against Christ?

 Michael Youssef

Some in the media have popularized the term “culture war,” giving the impression that the war being waged against Christianity is the same thing as a war against everything that is traditional.

But in 2013, let’s change the term. Let’s call it what it is: “A war against Christ.”

Certainly there are many American traditions rooted in Christian teaching and history. But mixing some traditions with what is purely Christ-honoring—although it may recruit support from non-Christian traditionalists or conservatives—dilutes the Christian dye.

Take for example the ACLU’s war against Christians praying in public schools while obliging Muslims the ability make their noon prayers in a school. Or Vanderbilt University’s discrimination against Christians—forbidding them from meeting on campus if they adhere to their religious principles. Or dozens of other cases that are clearly a war against Christ and His followers—pure and simple.

So let’s call it what it is.

Christians know why the world hates us. The One we worship warned us two thousand years ago. Jesus said that the reason they hate us is because they hated Him. Just look what they did to Him!

Christians should seek to understand that type of hatred. But by “understand,” I don’t mean we should wave the white flag of surrender. On the contrary, we should be worried if the secular culture were to embrace us with open arms. We ought to be wary, for example, if Piers Morgan were to one night praise the sacrificial services that Christians practice as an indication of our love for Christ and one another. Or we should be concerned if MSNBC were to run a documentary on how so many the things that civilized the world —from our educational system to the hospital movement—were ALL inspired by the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The norm is for Piers Morgan and his ilk to praise Angelina Jolie for donating a goat to an African village or applauding Brad Pitt for giving a few crumbs from his bulging table to the South African poor through the U.N.

But true Christians do not seek to give of themselves—healing the sick, feeding the hungry—so they can be recognized by the likes of CNN. In fact, if we seek the praise of those who control this world’s system—even if some of them call themselves Christian—then we have lost our reward in Heaven.

I know the desire to have the world recognize their service lures in some Christian leaders. But what they actually get sucked into is a diabolical scheme to equate their obedience to Christ to the “charitable work” of non-Christian groups.

Let them, and us, be forewarned that to crave the world’s praise is to lose something far more important: our eternal reward.

Our attitude should be to let them hate us all they want, while we will still love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

Let them malign us all they want. We will not return evil for evil. We will let our “good” defeat their “anti-Christ” schemes.

Let them denigrate our love for our Lord, and for others, all they want. They can never defeat our caring spirits. “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

We are not in a public relations war. We are in a spiritual war. Therefore, don’t wave the white flag. Don’t be tempted to cave in to their pressure.

Keep on serving. Keep on loving. Let them war against us to their hearts’ content. For we read the last chapter, and it says, “The Lord wins!”


Pope warns that selfish individuals are deliberately abusing the Human Rights Act to get what they want

The Pope has warned that human rights have become a vehicle for individuals to pursue selfish demands.

His attack was combined with a fresh appeal for tolerance of Christianity and of Christians who object to equality laws.

In a speech in the Vatican to foreign ambassadors, Pope Benedict XVI suggested human rights laws can lead to ‘intolerance or even violence towards individuals, symbols of religious identity and religious institutions’.

The Pope’s intervention comes at a time of deepening concern over the misuse of human rights laws  in Britain, and as the European Court of Human Rights comes close to verdicts on four British test cases on Christian rights.

The cases include Nadia Eweida, a British Airways check-in clerk who was refused the right to wear a cross with her uniform, and Lillian Ladele, who was sacked as a registrar because she declined to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

The Pope has been heavily critical of gay rights in Britain and denounced David Cameron’s plans for gay marriage in his New Year message.

In his latest speech, the Pope said he was concerned that human rights laws were being used by selfish individuals to trample on those with opposing views.

He said: ‘Sadly, especially in the West, one frequently encounters ambiguities about the meaning of human rights and their corresponding duties.

‘Rights are often confused with exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual, who becomes self-referential and absorbed only in seeking to satisfy his or her own needs.

‘To be authentic, the defence of rights must instead consider human beings integrally, in their personal and communitarian dimensions.’

In an apparent reference to the British Catholic adoption agencies that closed rather than follow equality laws that meant placing children with same-sex couples, the Pope added: ‘Believers, and Christians in particular, are prevented from contributing to the common good.

‘Outlawing individual and institutional conscientious objection in the name of liberty and pluralism opens the door to intolerance and forced uniformity.’

The Pope’s remarks will inevitably be seen as another attack on the emergence of so-called ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ – including gay rights – at a time when some countries, including Britain, are seeking to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

But they will please critics of the way the Human Rights Act is being implemented following revelations last week that nearly 4,000 foreign criminals, including rapists and murderers, are using its provisions to avoid deportation.

Such abuses have added to the pressure on David Cameron to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights, enshrined into British law by the Human Rights Act, but the Prime Minister’s Liberal Democrat partners are keen supporters of the Act.

In his address, the Pope observed that such major existing, recognised rights as the right to life and the right to freedom of conscience and religion were being eroded as human rights were being redefined.

He criticised the use of the false concept of human rights to ‘expand legislation which decriminalises abortion’ and to marginalise religion in social life, sometimes resulting in ‘intolerance or even of violence towards individuals, symbols of religious identity and religious institutions’.

He said: ‘In order effectively to safeguard the exercise of religious liberty it is essential to respect the right of conscientious objection.

‘This “frontier” of liberty touches upon principles of great importance of an ethical and religious character, rooted in the very dignity of the human person.

‘They are, as it were, the “bearing walls” of any society that wishes to be truly free and democratic.

Benedict XVI used his address to also call for a halt to the ‘endless slaughter’ and ‘dreadful suffering’ in Syria, warning governments that without a ceasefire in the civil war the country would soon be reduced to ‘nothing but a field of ruins’.

The Pope’s remarks came in his annual address to foreign ambassadors to the Holy See – including Nigel Baker, the British Ambassador.


'Stay at home' mothers snubbed by British government

Not that there's that many left in broke Britain

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are being urged to bring forward proposals to help “stay at home” mothers after the Coalition’s plans to overhaul child benefit and plans for a new child care tax allowance appeared to snub them.

Campaigners and Tory MPs including a former minister rounded on the Government, insisting that parents who looked after their children rather than go to work were being “discriminated against” by Coalition tax policies.

Changes introduced on Monday cut child benefit for 1.1million families where a single earner is paid more than £60,000 a year, including many which have a mother at home looking after the children.

At the same time, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister sketched out plans in the Coalition’s Mid Term Review of support for working mothers, which are likely to let working mothers claim back £2,000 per child per year to cover child care costs.

However, critics complained that the interests of 1.2 million parents who choose to stay at home to care for their children were overlooked, with only a vague commitment to help married couples through the tax system.

Several Cabinet minister are understood to have "major reservations" about the Prime Minister's failure to introduce the marriage tax break. One minister said that Mr Cameron "needs to be looking at what can be done for stay-at-home mothers as a matter of urgency."

The 52-page review included 180 policy measures which Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, have committed the Coalition to delivering by the next general election, expected in May 2015.

The document included commitments to helping people onto the housing ladder, further investment in infrastructure and a new way of funding pensions, but it was criticised by business leaders and campaigners for not including enough detail,

On tax breaks for married couples, the review included a vague commitment to “ensure that provision is made for Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain on proposals to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples”.

However, MPs and campaigners said they were are worried the wording does not actually commit the Government to introducing a tax break for married couples, only for the Lib Dems to abstain from any vote on the proposals.

Tim Loughton, the Tory MP and the Coalition’s former children’s minister, said: “There is an army of parents who work hard at home to bring up their children who are losing out on child benefit and other allowances now.

“They need a Conservative-led Government to put into practice what it said on the tin in our manifesto and deliver a transferable married couples tax allowance in the next Budget before time runs out.

“Trotting out tired mantras about accommodating the voting sensitivities of Lib Dem MPs with very different views on the family just won’t wash anymore.

“Decent parents doing a good job of bringing up their children in increasingly difficult circumstances have already waited too long for a go.”

Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mother’s Union and an adviser to Mr Cameron on childhood issues, complained that marriage was at present not supported by the tax system.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “Marriage, as the best stable environment for both couples and their children, seems unsupported by current fiscal policy.

“I call on the Government to honour their commitment to support married couples through the tax system by introducing transferable tax allowances for married couples.”

Dominic Raab MP said: “Tax breaks for childcare costs will be a massive boon for hard-pressed families, and do more for working women than Labour achieved in 13 years.

“But, we risk creating another category of ‘have nots’, and eroding family choice, unless it also applies to working couples with a stay at home Mum or Dad.”

Last night senior Number 10 sources insisted that the plan to introduce a tax break for married couples, which would benefit stay-at-home mothers, would be announced “in due course”, most likely in the March 20 Budget this year.



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

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

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


8 January, 2013

Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are ruining women. Really?

Surely feminism should be about tolerance, acceptance and ...,  asks Paula Joye

Reading an attack on Taylor Swift and Katy Perry by feminist author Camille Paglia over the weekend made me despair. By the time I’d ingested all 2000 words of crazy, I wanted to throw my cup of coffee at the computer screen.

In a story for the Hollywood Reporter, Paglia suggests that Perry and Swift are ruining women by sending our personae and values back to the 1950s. Wait? What? That’s right. Two young girls and their guitars are single-handedly destroying four decades of feminist achievement.

Her description of Taylor - who made over $US57 million last year - is unequivocal: "In TV interviews, Swift affects a 'golly, gee whiz' persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense", she wrote.

"Swift affects a 'golly, gee whiz' persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation", says Paglia.

Meaning what, Camille? You can’t be polite and show your legs at the same time? The article goes on to praise pop princess Rihanna for having an "an elemental erotic intensity, a sensuality inspired by the beauty of the Caribbean sun and sea". The same Rihanna who this week posed nude on Twitter and had the name of her ex-boyfriend – the one who beat her up – tattooed on her body. Swift, 'insincere and sinister', is damaging to women while Rihanna's behaviour is 'powerful'.

She doesn’t leave it there. Next on the guillotine is Katy Perry - not for singing songs about kissing girls and partying, but for being a desperate “cyborg cheerleader”.

"Although now 28, Katy Perry is still stuck in wide-eyed teen-queen mode", Paglia wrote. "Especially after the train wreck of her brief marriage to epicene roué Russell Brand, her dazzling smiles are starting to look as artificial as those of the ageing, hard-bitten Joan Crawford. Perry's prolific hit songs, saturating mainstream radio, hammer and yammer mercilessly”.

These are songs that earned Perry $US45million last year. Songs that made her the only female artist to have five number one hits from one album. Why are they so bad? Because she sang them in a dress made out of fairy floss? If she’d sung about drugs instead of dreams, would she be powerful, too?

Paglia’s ultimate question is this: "How is it possible that such monumental fortunes could be accumulated by performers whose songs have barely escaped the hackneyed teenybopper genre?"

Perhaps their success highlights the fact that said 'teenyboppers' are enjoying a change from the proliferation of misogynist messaging in songs. Maybe all the 'lock my girlfriend up in the trunk while I set the house on fire after tying you up because chains and whips excite you' schtick is getting a little old? It's possible that some young women are finding security in a safer, less confronting voice? Singing about Romeo and Juliet when you're sixteen years old is bad because...?

The article touched a nerve because I have two daughters and yes, at the moment, this week, they like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. I did not put them on a boat and row them to the island - they discovered the music themselves. Their albums sit in the iTunes library alongside The Beatles, Beyonce and (God help me!), One Direction. As a mother, Perry and Swift’s more innocent message has, frankly, been a delightful respite from the songs I mentioned earlier. Finally some lyrics I could explain, if asked, and video clips that I could let them watch - catchy, sugary, commercial, harmless pop. I struggle with why Paglia needs to turn it into a pile of negativity? There's no celebration of innocence in her message. We condemn it and question its authenticity - and, honestly, I find that desperately sad.

Paglia summarised with: "Middle-class white girls will never escape the cookie-cutter tyranny of their airless ghettos until the entertainment industry looks into its soul and starts giving them powerful models of mature womanliness".

Airless ghettos? There is nothing wrong with cookie-cutter. Just as there is nothing wrong with different. Or bland. Or raunchy. Or sexy. If Swift and Perry were the only influences in young women's lives, then perhaps we'd have an issue but Paglia has to give young women more credit. Just because they like a pop star and her music doesn't mean they're going to be abandon all other significant influences. It's because of women like Paglia that young girls now have freedom and choice - and it's not fair for her to wrestle it from them.

In 2013, feminism should not be about bullying other women. Surely it's more about tolerance, acceptance and inspiration... not Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s wardrobes.


British Labour party risks being seen as party for scroungers after opposing benefits squeeze, says prominent member

Labour risks being seen as the party of 'scroungers' by opposing a squeeze on benefits, according to former home secretary Jacqui Smith.

Railing against her party's position on welfare, the former minister said party activists were being told on the doorstep that Labour was lacking ideas to cut the deficit.

Ed Miliband has ordered his party to vote against freezing rises in benefit payments to 1 per cent for the next three years in the Commons tomorrow, instead of the inflation rate which is currently 2.7 per cent.

The Labour leader has argued that most of those who will be affected are in work because the cap will also apply to tax credits. He called the policy an attack on 'strivers'.

But tensions within his party emerged last month when a senior Labour figure had described the policy as 'politically suicidal' and revealed a 'caucus of new Labour figures' were set against it.

This is because it left the party open to charges that it sided with 'scroungers' and was 'in denial over the need to cut the benefits bill'.

Yesterday Miss Smith weighed in to the debate, saying: 'Frankly you can count me into this 'caucus'. It would include a large number of people [Labour canvassers] who've knocked on doors recently and been told the problem for Labour is that they think we caused the deficit and they're not yet convinced we know how we'll solve it.

'The Tories want to paint us as a party which cares more about those unwilling to work than those struggling in work.'

A number of polls showing high levels of public support for a cap have painted Labour into a corner over its opposition to a freeze which would apply across the board except for carers benefits, some disability payments and the basic state pension.

The Treasury released figures yesterday showing that by opposing cuts to welfare spending, Labour would have saddled every working family with £5,000 of national debt by the next General Election.

They claim all welfare savings, including the move to aggregate most benefits into a Universal Credit, the 1 per cent cap, changes to child and housing benefit and council tax, and a crackdown on fraud and error in the system will save £83billion by 2015-16.

However Labour say 60 per cent of those who would be affected are in work and would be left struggling.

Ahead of the vote on the Welfare Uprating Bill, David Cameron said this argument was 'very odd' as they had backed a 1 per cent pay freeze for public sector workers, who the Prime Minister said 'work hard and do absolutely vital jobs'.

Mr Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: 'The Labour party agree with the 1 per cent increase in public sector pay but they don't agree with the 1 per cent cap on welfare. It's a very odd argument to say people out of work, their incomes should be going up faster than people in work - we don't think that is right.'

Tory chairman Grant Shapps admitted there were probably 'a very small number' of 'shirkers' who preferred not to work.  But he said the system under Labour was 'blatently unfair' and so complex it prevented people working more hours.

Liam Byrne MP, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: 'This government are handing a £107,000 tax cut to millionaires but hitting millions of soldiers, nurses, cashiers and electricians with a strivers' tax that will cost them hundreds of pounds a year.'

Yesterday Ed Balls attacked the 'lies' about benefit scroungers yesterday, saying two thirds of those affects are in work, on low or middle incomes and two thirds and these are women.

The shadow chancellor also backed the Government's cap on benefits of £26,000 per family to 'get a grip on the benefits bill', but that it should be higher in London, saying it could lead to homelessness if set too low.

He said: 'There are people looking for work, who currently can't find work because the economy is in a bad state. These aren't the feckless, the work shy, people behind curtains whilst others go to work, these are striving people.

'And why should they see their incomes cut while our Prime Minister at the same time is cutting taxes for the richest people?'


From Baby P to this hospital of horrors, the Welfare State is protecting callous and incompetent staff

More than five years ago, the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly, identified at first only as Baby P, shocked the nation.

The child had suffered more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother, all of whom were jailed for causing or allowing the death of a child.

What so appalled people was not just the cruelty of these three but the neglect and incompetence of the social workers, health officials and police officers in Haringey, North London, who, despite seeing the child on some 60 occasions, had nevertheless left him to his terrible fate.

The Director of Haringey children’s services, Sharon Shoesmith, was sacked — although subsequently the Court of Appeal held that she had been unfairly dismissed. In a rare interview, she has now said she contemplated suicide in the wake of the controversy and is living on benefits because she is unemployable.

Such remarks will strike many as self-serving, turning herself into the victim, rather than the child her department so catastrophically abandoned. However, although her absence of contrition continues to jar, she makes a fair point that, while she was vilified, no one in the NHS or police lost their job over the way they, in turn, failed Baby P.

But this is all-too common in welfare services. Scandal follows scandal — and  yet hardly anyone ever seems to be held  to account.

Another example occurred at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust, where over three years from 2005 between 400 and 1,200 patients died needlessly as managers ruthlessly cut costs — particularly nursing numbers — to meet targets the Labour government laid down to win ‘foundation’ hospital status.

Doctors were diverted from critically-ill patients in order to deal with less serious cases to meet the target of discharging all patients from Accident & Emergency units within four hours of admission.

Vulnerable patients were left starving, in soiled bedsheets or screaming in pain. Some became so dehydrated they drank from flower vases. And those nurses who tried to protest were threatened by others.

According to accounts leaked at the weekend, the report on the scandal by Robert Francis QC due out this week will call for an overhaul of regulations to ensure poor managers are weeded out, and better training for nurses and healthcare assistants.

Apparently, the report will damn not just the Mid-Staffordshire management but a ‘culture of fear’ from Whitehall down to the wards, as managers became fixated on meeting targets and protecting ministers from political criticism.

Countless families in Mid-Staffordshire have been left grieving for loved ones who were, in effect, killed by the National Health Service. Justice surely required sackings going right to the top and maybe even criminal prosecutions.

Yet astoundingly hardly any of the executives who presided over the scandal was disciplined. The hospital’s director of nursing was suspended from the nursing register and then chose to retire.

Complaints about 41 doctors and at least 29 further nurses were sent to their professional bodies, yet none has been struck off.

More jaw-droppingly, others — including Martin Yeates, the Trust’s former chief executive, who refused to give evidence to the inquiry on medical grounds — have subsequently been appointed to other senior positions in the health sector.

Cynthia Bower was chief executive of West Midlands strategic health authority, whose year-long inquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire Trust wrongly rejected its alarmingly high death rates as a statistical error.

Yet one month after this report was produced, she was promoted to run the Care Quality Commission, the health and social care regulator — only to resign last February after severe criticism of the Commission’s failure to police hospitals and care homes. Well, there’s a surprise.

Most astonishing of all, Sir David Nicholson, who ran the health authority responsible for supervising Mid-Staffordshire from August 2005 to April 2006, went on to become the chief executive of the NHS.

He was recently appointed to run the NHS Commissioning Board, the key new body created to oversee GP services.

Sir David blithely dismissed the Mid-Staffordshire scandal as a one-off problem rather than a symptom of systemic NHS failings. His position is now surely untenable.

But how could he and others responsible for this scandal ever have gone on to top NHS jobs?  This is surely not so much a National Health Service as a national madhouse.

The short answer is that state-run services invariably put managers first and the public last — because as passive recipients of the Welfare State, the public have no leverage over it. The people running welfare services are accountable not to those recipients but to the State that pays their wages and keeps the funds rolling in regardless.

They use such feather-bedding to look after their own interests, protect their political paymasters’ backs — and do what those paymasters tell them.

The result is the pernicious ‘tick-box culture’ which focuses on targets that enable politicians to boast of false achievements rather than address people’s real needs. Just as this was the bane of Mid-Staffordshire, so it was in Haringey. Sharon Shoesmith’s great defence was always that ‘correct procedures’ had been followed; she even produced a pie chart to ‘prove’ her department’s effectiveness.

The Mid-Staffordshire scandal most certainly was not a one-off. As the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged, there have been four NHS scandals since then, with many other patients being shockingly neglected, bullied or abused.

Without doubt, even more such horrors are occurring in the hospital service, with more Baby P-type abuses taking place under the noses of social workers, health officials and police officers.

Part of the reason is loss of competence. Social work had the stuffing knocked out of it decades ago when it replaced specialist child care officers with general social workers. For their part, the police have become frighteningly demoralised by top-down bullying and control.

And nursing lost the plot more than a decade ago when it decided that feminism meant ‘caring’ was demeaning to women.

Yet the shocking extent of the cruelty, neglect and sheer absence of humanity now on show in the health and social services surely tells us something else. The notion that state-run services are the only way to ensure compassion is totally wrong. Altruism is a moral concept — and it is morality which has gone missing here.

Far from engendering altruism, the Welfare State has all but destroyed it. Altruism comes from acting against one’s own  self-interest in a spirit of vocation.

But the Welfare State has created a culture of entitlement. In the NHS, this has fostered an attitude among many staff that patients should be grateful for what they get. That, in turn, has encouraged a resentment which dehumanises those whose needs are seen as overwhelming.

This is seen most starkly in the systematic ill-treatment and neglect of elderly and incapable patients.

In social services, meanwhile, the obsession with equality has replaced professionalism with a paralysing political correctness. The result is that when ethnic or sexual minorities commit abuses, these offences are invariably ignored.

The Welfare State — and most particularly the NHS — is seen as the ultimate example of compassion. In fact, it leaves patients and clients powerless, while protecting and even rewarding gross incompetence, and worse, by staff.

That’s why inquiry after inquiry follows scandal after scandal. And it’s why reform of the kind demanded by this week’s Francis report is not possible without a far more fundamental change of approach.

The Government must stop bowing down to the sacred cow of the NHS and rethink the basis of the Welfare State if care services are to become, in the Health Secretary’s words, ‘worthy of a civilised country’.

Altruism and compassion have to be, once again, enabled rather than stifled.

And no amount of self-justification by Sharon Shoesmith or hand-wringing over Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust will bring that about.


How feminism is to blame for the breakdown of the family

By British Left-winger Diane Abbott!

Feminism is partly to blame for the breakdown of the family, one of Labour’s most senior female politicians has said.  Diane Abbott, the party’s public health spokesman, said that major issues facing society ‘stem from family breakdown’.

And in a surprise admission from one of the Left’s most outspoken feminists, she conceded that women’s rights campaigners have neglected the family.

Miss Abbott, a divorced mother with one son, also highlighted the harmful impact on society of internet pornography and fast food.

Perhaps most surprising, however, is her argument that Left-wingers and feminists should make family breakdown a key battleground rather than leave the issue to Conservatives.

In an interview with The Guardian, she said: ‘Those of us who came of age at the height of feminism had very mixed views about the family, since it seemed to be defined as a heterosexual thing with a certificate, children and mum at home.’

But she said the Left had to recognise that ‘some of the biggest public health issues stem from family breakdown’, explaining: ‘Doctors say to me that so many of the drug and alcohol problems they see stem from family difficulties.’

In a nod to Labour orthodoxy, Miss Abbott said: ‘When I talk about stable families, I do not only mean the heterosexual, 2.1-children set-up, but also extended families or same-sex relationships.’

But she added: ‘I still believe some kind of stable family structure is vital and that is what most people want around them. I do not think we should abandon that terrain to the Right.’

Miss Abbott’s intervention is remarkable since it echoes the views of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Miss Abbott, who stood for the Labour leadership in 2010, said local authorities should have stronger powers to ban the spread of fried chicken shops and other fast food outlets, adding: ‘For too many children, fast food is not a treat but a dietary staple.’

Miss Abbott also threw her support behind Tory MP Claire Perry’s crusade to introduce controls on viewing internet pornography.

‘Children very young, ten or 11, can go online and see stuff they could not have bought in a newsagent 20 years ago,’ she said. ‘This crude pornification is new, and leads to the objectification of the human body, especially girls’ bodies.’

Miss Abbott also said she had come to support school uniforms – traditionally opposed by the Left – to combat the modern obsession with designer brands. She said: ‘There are these young mums that do not necessarily read to their children, they do not take them to the library, but they think they are good mums because their children are dressed in brand names from top to bottom.’



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

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

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


7 January, 2013

Britain's  once great RSPCA is being destroyed by a militant tendency

The animal welfare organisation has badly lost its way under its present leadership.  I once contemplated remembering its Australian offshoot in my will but the "animal rights" fanaticism of some of its senior people cut that thought stone dead.  And that was years ago   -- JR

One must always treat lawyers with respect, so let me state at once that I have absolutely nothing against Jeremy Carter-Manning QC. From his entry in Who’s Who, I see that he was educated at St Paul’s School, called to the Bar nearly 40 years ago, and that his recreations include “food and wine”, which he pursues in the Reform Club. I have no doubt he is esteemed in his profession.

Most of us might have passed our entire lives without ever hearing of Mr Carter-Manning QC, were it not for a bill submitted for his costs at Bicester magistrates’ court last month. He charged £73,310.80 plus VAT. (His two fellow counsel added another £90,000.) Mr Carter-Manning’s services cost £300 an hour, so I calculate that he worked for roughly 244 hours on this case.

What was he doing? According to Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, which hired him, he was watching “hundreds of hours of footage” of the Heythrop Hunt to see if offences had been committed under the Hunting Act. Eventually, the RSPCA brought 52 charges against four hunt members. Two were acquitted, but two pleaded guilty to four charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, a charge so minor that it is classified as “non-recordable”. They – and the hunt corporately – were fined a total of less than £7,000.

The costs that the RSPCA submitted to the court were £326,000. The district judge, who rejected the RSPCA’s attempt to conceal this amount from public gaze, described them as “quite staggering”. Despite the RSPCA “winning”, the charity therefore had to pay most of them itself.

As I say, no blame attaches to Mr Carter-Manning QC. He must live. If he can get £300 an hour for staring at grainy amateur film to see if hounds are chasing after foxes, good luck to him. But the more one reflects on this enterprise, the more extraordinary it is.

Charities must, by law, act prudently with their funds. The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty to court, and since it regards hunting as cruel, this comes within its remit. But Mr Grant himself says that his organisation brought 2,000 prosecutions last year, at a total cost of £5 million, an average of £2,500 a go. If each of these 2,000 cases had cost the same as the Heythrop case, the RSPCA would have spent approximately £660 million on them – way beyond the means of any charity in the entire history of the planet.

So why, in terms of animal cruelty, was the Heythrop Hunt case considered more than 100 times more important than the torture of a pony, or the starvation of a cat, or alsatians, overcrowded and filthy, locked in a tower block all day, or all the other horrible things that human beings do to animals?

It wasn’t, of course. Even a fierce opponent of hunting could not make that claim. The difference is political. Under Mr Grant, who took over last year, the RSPCA is militant. The Heythrop Hunt was chosen because its country is in David Cameron’s constituency. Mr Grant has denied that he is fighting a class war: “This isn’t about accents,” he declared. But he also said to the Daily Mirror that those hunting with the Heythrop were “no different from badger baiters – apart from their accents”, so accents would seem to be on his mind. He says he wants the men to go to prison for between two and five years.

As you would expect, the RSPCA has its own legal department, well-versed, presumably, in looking at film of alleged animal cruelty. But that wasn’t good enough for Mr Grant. He had to get the QC in and pay him to watch the movies. He wanted this to be big.

A similar tendency to go for the dramatic gesture was visible when Mr Grant called for a boycott of all milk produced by farmers who had agreed to take part in the badger cull (later postponed) to help eradicate bovine – and badger – TB. People would not want to buy milk from farms “soaked in badgers’ blood”, he said. In Ramsgate, in September, RSPCA inspectors, worried about defective live animal transport, insisted on unloading sheep at the port and shooting more than 40 that they deemed unfit to travel. Two sheep also drowned in a water tank. Mr Grant has defended what the inspectors did, without qualification.

He is entitled to his views. But when you look at the main work for which the RSPCA is valued, you see that it is overwhelmingly the practical rescue and care of animals. On its website, the emphasis is on this good work, and on practical advice about disease, strays, worming etc. The RSPCA’s key “five pledges” do not mention prosecutions.

Because of its care of animals, the RSPCA is treated in a special way. Its inspectors wear uniforms, though they have no legal powers. Chief constables encourage its prosecution work. And – a little known fact – if the RSPCA brings a case and loses it, the costs of the defendants are usually borne by the taxpayer. So the RSPCA can prosecute almost without thinking. It can go to law as a marketing tool or to make a political point.

This is an abuse of the privileges our culture has traditionally granted it. These, including its many legacies, its charitable status and the patronage of the Queen, came because the RSPCA was an animal welfare organisation – and people strongly support that. Recently, it has become an animal rights organisation instead.

The doctrine of animal rights, developed by Dr Richard Ryder, who is on the RSPCA Council, regards human beings as morally identical to “other animals”, so they should never kill animals for food or clothing, let alone sport. Dr Ryder thinks that people who disagree are guilty of “speciesism”, which, like racism, is profoundly wicked. Mr Grant is highly sympathetic to these views.

A former Liberal Democrat activist, he sees his work as a political campaign. This alienates large numbers of people – farmers, horse-racing bodies, dog organisations – who work professionally with animals, not to mention officials and ministers at Defra. Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, recently told the RSPCA to be “wary” of muddling charity and politics. Relationships which once were co-operative have become confrontational.

People are naturally starting to ask by what right the RSPCA acts. Despite its policy of never killing a “rehousable” animal, it admits to putting down 3,400 animals for non-medical reasons in 2011. Its membership has fallen to only 25,000. This is a tenth of the numbers who turn out to support hunts on Boxing Day and a fortieth of the membership of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Whom, then, does it actually represent? The RSPCA website does little to attract members, as opposed to donations. It looks as if it likes to trade on its huge, historic reputation, without answering to anyone.

Over 30 years ago, a comparable takeover occurred in the Labour Party. A mass movement originally designed to advance the interests of workers was infiltrated by the Militant Tendency. Today, a movement originally designed to advance the interests of animals hangs in the balance.

By the way, I notice a postscript on the bill submitted to Bicester magistrates’ court. “Counsel,” it says, “have carried out and will carry out other work in relation to this type of prosecution in general.” If you are thinking of giving money to the RSPCA, you might as well cut out the middle man and send it straight to Mr Jeremy Carter-Manning QC instead.


Now Girl Guides consider abandoning oath to God and the Queen after 102 years

The Girl Guides are considering dropping their oath to God and the Queen, in one of the biggest shake-ups in their 102-year history.

Girlguiding UK, the parent organisation which encompasses the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, has launched a consultation that could see significant changes to the pledge girls take on joining.

The organisation's new chief executive, Julie Bentley, said yesterday: 'The promise has been part of the Girl Guides since its beginning – it is crucial and unique.

'We know from listening to our members that some people do find some parts of the oath challenging, and when members do make that oath we want them to mean it and believe it.

'Times do change, the world has changed and the way people view the world has changed. Our response is not to be stuck in a rigid way, but to respond to the needs of our membership.'

She told the Guardian that this was 'in no way a watering down of our values or moral compass'.  'Some people could be uncomfortable with a change, others might be encouraged,' she added.

The move follows a similar consultation by the Scout Association, which is also considering providing an alternative promise to welcome atheists as full members after complaints from parents and campaigners.

The consultation, which will close on March 3, is open both to members of the organisation and those outside it.

Guides currently promise to do their best, love 'my God', serve 'the Queen and country' and keep the Guides' law.

But the consultation exercise asks for opinions on a range of alternatives.

Girlguiding UK has 538,247 members, including 63,000 trained volunteers. But last year more than 50,000 girls were on waiting lists to join because of a lack of leaders.


Sweet Reason on the family from the Pope

Much of the Internet exploded in wrath over Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas greetings to the Roman curia. Delivered in those historic halls painted by Renaissance artists, the Pope’s address was given to those tasked with administering the Vatican State and serving the Catholic faithful worldwide.

“Rant!” “Hateful!” “Outrageous!” These were some of the milder expletives cast at the Pope—the ones we didn’t have to delete. This storm of abuse arose because of a papal statement extolling marriage and the natural family.

Let us carefully note what is happening here. The acknowledged leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is speaking to his brother priests about the essentials of the Roman Catholic faith. He is speaking in a forum recognized to be the sovereign territory of a city-state, known to Catholics as the Holy See.

Even so, even within these walls, the Pope is not free from abuse, much of it obscene. Those who think they can retreat behind their church walls in America, in France, in Britain, or anywhere else on earth, and ignore the world outside, need to pay close attention to what is happening to Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas message to his brethren.

Leon Trotsky, that old Bolshevik revolutionary, had a point: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” And here we see it. There is a worldwide reaction—from the U.S. and Canada to Australia and Europe—against what the Pope said. There is a virtual war declared against the 85-year old Pontiff’s words.

Even those who claim to be Catholic have taken the occasion to denounce Pope Benedict’s thoughts.

What are those thoughts that provoke such a violent reaction? He asked pertinent questions:

Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to human freedom?

The Pope went further, stating:

“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” he said. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,”

Is there anything here to provoke such vitriolic attacks? Is there anything here not expressed in mild words of sweet reason?

The Pope is saying that our natures are given us by a gracious God. That God loves us. These natures are not socially constructed nor subject to our own will. Male and female, God creates us. Is that what the shouters think is hateful?

Then, what must they think of these words: “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Do those words from the American Declaration of Independence conflict with the Pope’s Christmas message on humanity? We do not think so. Every word in the Declaration depends on and is justified by the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Surely, that nature which gives us our sexual identity is part of the understanding of what it means to be human.

In the tsunami of ink that rushed forward to denounce the Pope’s statement, it’s interesting to note—and we express profound gratitude for it—that the Deseret Newsgave the Pope’s statement a respectful hearing. This news outlet, often seen as being close to the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), seems instinctively to understand what it is like to be a persecuted minority.

It was amazing to see how Pope Benedict made use of the powerful statements of France’s Grand Rabbi. Rabbi Gilles Bernheim has issued a statement that shows how creating a right of two persons of the same sex to marry constitutes a radical threat to the idea of marriage and sexuality itself.

In citing the work of this Jewish philosopher and theologian, the Pope was showing the world there is room for leaders of different religions to align in a worldwide effort to defend marriage and family.

You may disagree with everything the Pope said at Christmas. You may think he is wrong and even argue that his ideas are outmoded. After all, President Obama agreed with the Pope’s definition of marriage and family—as recently as last May.

But you cannot reasonably argue that they are motivated by hatred, by bigotry. In embracing Protestants, Orthodox Christians and Jews, and others in a bid to shore up the crumbling foundations of human society, in speaking mildly and with charity for all, we believe that Pope Benedict XVI is speaking sweet reason.


Semper Pink: Gay Marines Protest Possibility Of Female Infantry

Beyond comment

The premier advocacy organization for gay infantry Marines released a statement today condemning the Marine Corps' plan to open up the Infantry Officers Course to female volunteers.

The San Francisco-based group Semper Pink called the plan "an affront to the traditional Spartan values which we cherish as Marines."  The group also said that female grunts "will damage the closeness, intimacy, and brotherhood that comes with infantry life."

In mid-April the Marine Corps announced plans to open up an indeterminate number of slots at its Infantry Officers Course in Quantico to female volunteers. In addition, the Marine Corps is developing physical fitness tests to establish gender-neutral standards for grunts.

Previously, women were only allowed to serve in non-combat roles.

Semper Pink spokesman Sergeant James Wagner, wearing a shirt that said "I keep my unit out of women, so keep women out of my unit," said that allowing women into the infantry would force gay Marines to deal with lifestyle choices which they disagreed with.

"Plus, we didn't join up to look at some nasty poon-tang!" he emphasized.

Sergeant Wagner also said that female infantry would be disruptive to unit cohesion.

"Suppose I happen to be out in town, and I see a male and a female Marine from my fireteam kissing," he says. "Now any time we're in combat I'll have to wonder if he's thinking of cradling me in his arms as I tell him that I love him with my last dying breath, or her skank ass."

Reactions among other gay active-duty Marines were equally negative.

"There is no way to describe how offended I am,"  said Staff Sergeant Tim Miller, a Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego who previously served as a TOW Gunner with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

"After almost twenty years of protesting and marching, we finally get access to the greatest sausage fest on the planet, and within six months the Marine Corps totally screws it up."Lance Corporal Evan Smith, a Rifleman with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, believed that female grunts would detract from the Marine infantry experience.

"We had a car wash last week, and I was super pumped to show all the guys the new 'Balls of the Corps' tattoo I got on my chest.  But they spent all their time staring at this female Staff Sergeant who's training with us."

"If you ask me, females just can't do the same work as males," he added. "It's basically a question of PT."

1st Lieutenant Nate Wallis, the first openly-gay platoon commander in the 1st Marine Division, was more circumspect.

"The Marine Corps is all about tradition," said Wallis, "so change doesn't come naturally to a lot of people. However, while the infantry has been gay ever since the Spartans, I think it's time we step out smartly and into the Twenty-First Century."

"Still, someday I'll tell my kids how good we had it in the Old Corps," he mused.



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

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

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


6 January, 2013

I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appals me


The Sexual Revolution started 50 years ago. At least, that was the view of the poet Philip Larkin, who wrote: ‘Sexual intercourse began ... In nineteen sixty-three ...(which was rather late for me) .... Between the end of the Chatterley ban .... And the Beatles’ first LP.’

Probably when today’s students read this poem, they understand the reference to the Beatles first LP, but need a bit of help with ‘the Chatterley ban’.

D.H.Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, had been banned for obscenity, and all the liberal-minded ‘great and the good’ — novelists, professors of literature, an Anglican bishop and sociologists — trooped to the Old Bailey to explain to a learned judge why Penguin Books should be allowed to publish it.

To my mind, Lawrence’s account of how a sex-starved rich woman romps naked in the woods with her husband’s gamekeeper is risible.

It is hard to read the accounts of them cavorting in the rain, and sticking wild flowers in one another’s pubic hair, without laughing.

Yet the great English Literature professors of the Fifties and Sixties spoke of Lady C in the same breath as the most wonderful writings of the world, and the Chatterley trial in 1960 marked a major watershed.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Mervyn Griffith-Jones, lost the case when he shot himself in the foot by asking the jury whether they considered Lawrence’s bizarre novel was something they would wish their wives or servants to read.

By putting the question in that way and referring to ‘servants’, he seemed to suggest that being loyal to one partner was as outmoded as having a butler and a parlour-maid.

With the ban lifted, Lawrence’s book became the best-selling novel of the early Sixties. And by the end of the decade, hippies with flowers in their hair, or would-be hippies, were practising free love Chatterley-style. Those who could not classify themselves as hippies looked on a bit wistfully.

Of course, Larkin — born in 1922 — was being ironical and humorous. But the 1960s were a turning-point, and the decade did undoubtedly herald the Sexual Revolution.

I was born in 1950, 28 years after Larkin. And far from being ‘rather late for me’, the revolutionary doctrines of the Sixties were all readily adopted by me and countless others.

From being schoolboys who read Lady Chatterley under the sheets, to teenagers and young men who had the Rolling Stones reverberating in our ears, we had no intention of being stuffy like our parents.

The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex. We were saying goodbye to what Larkin (in that poem) called ‘A shame that started at sixteen ... And spread to everything.’

But if the propagators of the Sexual Revolution had been able to fast-forward 50 years, what would they have expected to see? Surely not the shocking statistics about today’s sexual habits in the UK which are available for all to study.

In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried out, a small rise on the previous year, and about seven per cent more than a decade ago. Ninety-six per cent of these abortions were funded by the NHS, i.e. by you and me, the taxpayer. One per cent of these were performed because the would-be parents feared the child would be born handicapped in some way. Forty-seven per cent were so-called medical abortions, carried out because the health of mother and child were at risk.

The term ‘medical abortion’ is very widely applied and covers the psychological ‘health’ of the patient.

But even if you concede that a little less than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that more than 90,000 foetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way inconvenient.

The Pill, far from reducing the numbers of unwanted pregnancies, actually led to more.

When women neglected to take the Pill, there seemed all the more reason to use abortion as a form of birth control.

Despite the fact that, in the wake of the Aids crisis, people were urged to use condoms and to indulge in safe-sex, the message did not appear to get through.

In the past few years, sexually transmitted diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and other diseases, many of them unaware they were infected until after they had been sexually active with a number of partners.

The divorce statistics tell another miserable story. About one third of marriages in Britain end in divorce. And because many couples do not marry at all before splitting up, the number of broken homes is even greater.

This time of year is when the painfulness of family break-up is felt most acutely. January 3 has been nicknamed ‘divorce day’ by lawyers. In a moving article in the Mail recently, Lowri Turner, a twice-divorced mother of three children, wrote about the pain of waking up on Christmas morning without her children. She looks at the presents under the tree, with no children to open them, and thinks: ‘This isn’t the way things are supposed to be.’

Every parent who has been through the often self-inflicted hell of divorce will know what she means.

So will the thousands of children this Christmas who spent the day with only one parent — and often with that parent’s new ‘partner’ whom they hate.

I hold up my hands. I have been divorced. Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned.

I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the marriage bed.

There were long periods when they found marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching irritation and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply dependent upon one another in old age, and in an imperfect but recognisable way, an object lesson in the meaning of the word ‘love’.

Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinon Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.

In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling.

More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles.

The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings.

It made nearly everyone feel that they were free, or free-er, than their parents had been — free to smoke pot, free to sleep around, free to pursue the passing dream of what felt, at the time, like overwhelming love — an emotion which very seldom lasts, and a word which is meaningless unless its definition includes commitment.

How easy it was to dismiss old-fashioned sexual morality as ‘suburban’, as a prison for the human soul. How easy it was to laugh at the ‘prudes’ who questioned the wisdom of what was happening in the Sexual Revolution.

Yet, as the opinion poll shows, most of us feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with a succession of lovers.

In fact, it is having a long-lasting, stable relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong marriage.

An amusing Victorian historian, John Seeley, said the British Empire had been acquired in ‘a fit of absence of mind’. He meant that no one sat down and planned for the British to take over large parts of Asia and Africa: it was more a case of one thing leading to another. In many ways, the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties and Seventies in Britain was a bit like this.

People became more prosperous. People were living longer. The old-fashioned concept of staying in the same marriage and the same job all your life suddenly seemed so, so boring.

But in the Forties and Fifties, divorce had not been an option for most people because it was so very expensive, in terms of economic as well as emotional cost. So people slogged through their unhappy phases and came out at the other end.

It is easy to see, then, if the tempting option of escaping a boring marriage was presented, that so many people were prone to take the adventurous chance of a new partner, a new way of life.

But the Sexual Revolution was not, of course, all accidental. Not a bit of it. Many of the most influential opinion-formers of the age were doing their best to undermine all traditional morality, and especially the traditional morality of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which has always taught that marriage is for life.

A decade on from the Chatterley trial, in 1971, an ‘alternative’ magazine called Oz, written by the Australian Richard Neville and his mates, was had up, not for obscenity, but for ‘conspiracy to debauch and corrupt the morals of children’.

What brought the authors into trouble was ‘The School Kids’ Issue’, which depicted Rupert Bear in a state of arousal, and which carried many obscene adverts.

The three perpetrators of the filth were sent to prison, but the sentence was quashed on appeal.

Their defender was none other than dear old Mr Rumpole of the Bailey, John Mortimer QC — warming to the role of the nation’s teddy bear.

He said that if you were a ‘writer’, you should be allowed to describe any activity, however depraved.

Obscenity could not be defined or identified. And it was positively good for us to be outraged from time to time. 

Even the Left-leaning liberal Noel Annan, provost of King’s College, Cambridge, suggested this was nonsense. He remarked that it was impossible to think of any civilisation in history that fitted Mortimer’s propositions.

But when the Oz Three were released from prison, the Chattering Classes all rejoiced.

Of course, this was the era when the BBC was turning a blind eye to the predatory activities of Jimmy Savile, and when the entire artistic and academic establishment was swayed by the ideas which John Mortimer presented to the Court of Appeal: namely that old-fashioned ideas of sexual morality were dead. Moribund. Over.   From now on, anything goes — and it was ‘repressive’ to teach children otherwise.

The wackier clerics of the Church of England, the pundits of the BBC, the groovier representatives of the educational establishment, the liberal Press, have all, since the Sexual Revolution began, gone along with the notion that a relaxation of sexual morality will lead to a more enlightened and happy society.

This was despite the fact that all the evidence around us demonstrates that the exact opposite is the case.

In the Fifties, the era when people were supposedly ‘repressed’, we were actually much happier than we have been more recently — in an era when confused young people have been invited to make up their own sexual morals as they went along.

The old American cliche is that you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube; and it is usually a metaphor used to suggest that it is impossible to turn the clock back in matters of public behaviour and morality. Actually, you know, I think that is wrong.

One of the brilliantly funny things about the TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous was that the drunken, chain-smoking, sexually promiscuous old harridans Edina Monsoon (played by Jennifer Saunders) and her friend Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are despised by the puritanical Saffy — Eddie’s daughter.

A small backlash has already definitely occurred against that generation.   I have not conducted a scientific survey, but my impression, based on anecdotal evidence and the lives of the children of my contemporaries, is that they are far less badly behaved, and far more sensible, than we were.

My guess is that the backlash will be even greater in the wake of the whole Jimmy Savile affair, and in reaction against the miserable world which my generation has handed on to our children — with our confused sexual morality, and our broken homes.

Our generation, who started to grow up ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP’ got it all so horribly wrong.

We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason.

We may have thought it was ‘hypocritical’ to condemn any form of sexual behaviour, and we may have dismissed the undoubted happiness felt by married people as stuffy, repressed and old hat.

But we were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Two generations have grown up — comprising children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and impulses before family stability and the needs of their children.

However, I don’t think this behaviour can last much longer. The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive rethink.

At least, let’s hope so.


Should We Trust Official British Crime Figures?

You would have to be gullible

What are we to make of the following facts?  The week began with leaked figures apparently showing that ‘Recorded crime fell by at least 10% in 19 out of 43 force areas in England and Wales while budgets were cut by an average of just under 10%.’

Later came the revelation that the Prison population in England and Wales actually fell during last year – dropping by 2,869 to 83,909. Don’t get too excited The prison population is still very, very high( in 1950-51 it was 20,474, in 1960-61 it was 27,099, in 1970 it was 39,028, in 1980 it was 42,300, in 1990 it was 45,636 and in 1999 it was 64,770, passing 70,000 for the first time only in 2002).

But under Kenneth Clarke there is no doubt that, by some means or other, a way has been found to halt and even reverse the rise. The least likely explanation for this, especially under Mr Clarke, must be a tougher and more punitive justice system scaring wrongdoers back on to the path of righteousness.  So either crime really is falling (a comically unlikely solution to the riddle) or a way has been found of a) ignoring more crimes b) not sending people to prison for offences which would formerly have merited prison sentences and c) letting more people out of prison more quickly.

One hint came when, this morning (Thursday 3rd January)the ‘Sun’ newspaper revealed on page 2 (where important stories are put, which editors do not regard as exciting) that one in nine murderers is freed from prison after serving fewer than ten years of a life sentence. The figures, obtained by the genuinely conservative MP Philip Davies , showed that 275 convicted murderers were released during 2010 and 2011. Of these, 32 served fewer than ten years. Four served fewer than eight years, seven served fewer than nine. It is also the case that 35 people,  who had been convicted of homicide, killed again after being released, surely the indefensible deaths of innocents caused by deliberate state action.

My main argument is that the crime figures are fiddled for political reasons, and cannot be trusted. And , thanks to the dedicated work of Dr Rodger Patrick, a former Chief Inspector in the West Midlands Police turned academic, I can tell you how it is done.  Dr Patrick got in touch with me after I wrote about the astonishing increase of ‘Out of Court Disposals’ (OCDs) of crimes – including the use of ‘cautions’ to dispose of rape cases, in return for an admission of guilt.

He has been researching the manipulation of crime data for many years. During this time, police performance has been politically important – so bringing into operation what (unless anyone else wants to claim ownership) I shall term Hitchens’s Law   ‘Any politically sensitive statistic will be manipulated’. This sits alongside the well-known ‘Bikini Effect’, noted by Sovietologists in the 1960s, under which  the official interest in deception is so great that ‘What the figures conceal is more interesting than what they reveal’.

For example, in a period when the police are trying to obtain more money and resources, and the party in power is keen to oblige, police and state might co-operate to give the impression that crime is rising. When the government of the day is anxious to show that its ‘crackdowns’ are working, then the figures will be massaged to show that crime is falling. But the police, with other objectives, may not co-operate. Cue conflicts between different sorts of statistics. Similar things are true of inflation figures, exam results, school performance. But we will stick to crime.

Often the attempts to manipulate statistics show up when one force or another seems to be doing particularly, exceptionally well. Detection rates, for instance, sometimes rise quite spectacularly. In the case of at least one force, large numbers of supposed detections were obtained through offences being ‘Taken Into Consideration’(TICs) *after* culprits had been convicted and sentenced. Or crimes were dealt with through ‘Penalty Notices for Disorder’ (PNDs), thus avoiding the expense of a trial, but also sparing the culprit form proper punishment .  You will have to get used to quite a lot of acronyms in this discussion, for there are more to come.

TICs are supposed to be offences which accused persons admit to when they plead guilty, so that they can be sentenced for them as well, and will not be prosecuted for them in future . You can easily see how a police force under pressure to show evidence of improved performance might persuade criminals to admit falsely to such offences, thus increasing their clear-up rate. There have been instances when this has been proven to happen. As for PNDs, once again it may be useful for criminals and police, in that the police can say the offence has been dealt with, while the offender avoids prosecution and a much more serious penalty.

Then there is what Dr Patrick refers to as ‘nodding’, when numbers of burglaries and vehicle thefts ‘detected’ through TICs suddenly rises. If malpractice is exposed, the numbers then fall.

Next there is what Dr Patrick calls ‘cuffing’ ( a term taken from the trade vocabulary of conjurors, who use it to describe the hiding of objects up one’s sleeve).

This, most crucially for our discussion, is used to deflate the  level of *reported crime*. You will note that it is *reported* or *recorded* crime that is said to have fallen in the figures leaked at the weekend. This is crime actually fed into the records by police forces, who have compiled the figures themselves. It is different from the levels of crime recorded by the British Crime Survey, an opinion poll of the over-16s which has considerable faults (not least that it leaves out so many young people, who are often victims of crime) . Older figures, of arrests and convictions, are simply not comparable with either of these measures, as police are often reluctant to make arrests for ‘minor’ crimes because of the appalling bureaucracy they must then suffer; because those arrested are often not charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), when they would have been in the days when police took such decisions arrests are; and because a lot of prosecutions fail or are dropped ; and because a growing number of offences are dealt with by OCDs ( see above) including (largely unpaid) fines, farcically feeble ‘restorative justice’  and non-punitive actions such as probation or community service orders. 

An attempt was made to avoid such ‘cuffing’ when in, 2002 a National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) was introduced. This was based on the idea that the victim decided whether he or she had been the object of a crime, and what that crime was.

But around 2004, this absolute standard was altered. Instead, the police were asked to classify notified crimes according to the ‘balance of probability’. This meant that individual forces were once again free to decide whether a crime really had taken place. Sometimes senior officers cancelled crimes that had been recorded, by ruling that ‘no crime’ had taken place. A BBC survey in 2011 found wild variations among forces in how many crimes had been ‘no crimed’ (2% in one force, 30% in another) . These decisions are recorded and so fiddling is fairly easily detected.

Since this method was  exposed, forces have tended to put pressure on officers not to record an event as a crime in the first place. Thus members of the public are asked to accept that that a theft is in fact no such thing, just ‘lost property’. Or a group of burglaries in one block of flats are classified as one crime.

One way in which these figures are influenced is in the police response to reports of (for instance) stolen mobile phones. There have been cases of youngsters (with no conceivable dishonest motive as they were not insured) threatened with prosecution for making false claims that their phones had been stolen. Could this be to help keep the figures down?

Some social scientists have in any case estimated that around half of all robberies and of theft from the person are never reported to the police at all, probably because the items are uninsured and the hope of detection is very small. The fact that many people do in fact have insurance on mobile phones may have increased the number of such cases, previously unrecorded, which began to be recorded.

In one of his papers, Dr Patrick shows how levels of certain crimes dropped abruptly when particular forces adopted new policies of challenging and discouraging the reporting of certain types of crime. This was a shift from a victim-centred approach, under which the police believe you unless there is evidence to the contrary, to a police-centred approach, under which the person who reports a crime is not believed until he can produce proof of the crime.

Dr Patrick quotes Hans de Bruijn, an expert on performance measurement, saying that any system of performance management can be threatened by the activity known as ‘gaming’ ‘generally accepted as one of the failings of the Soviet centrally planned economy’. What this means is that , seeking to meet targets, those involved will distort the figures to please their political or other masters.

As De Bruijn wrote: ‘ Once a system of performance measurement has been designed and introduced, the perverse effects will, in the long term, force out the beneficial effects’.

Another method mentioned by Dr Patrick is (apart from deliberate under-recording and the conversion of post-sentence admissions into TICs, dealt with above) is ‘the shifting of efforts towards easier-to-detect offences, and the systematic redeployment of specialist officers traditionally committed to combating serious and organised crime in inner city areas to affluent suburbs’. This is known as ‘skewing’.

One thing which Dr Patrick homes in on the use of cautions and informal warnings.  ‘This resulted in many individuals gaining a police record when the evidence was insufficient to secure a conviction at court. In some cases the suspect would be unaware they were being recorded as responsible for an offence, this included serious offences such as rape and kidnapping’.  This might mean they continue in their criminal behaviour, and do much more serious things later. They also escape justice, as their crimes are dealt with through minor fixed penalties or cautions, and cannot thereafter be brought to court.

We have dealt with ‘cuffing’ , ‘nodding’ ‘skewing’ and ‘gaming’. Another method available to police forces which want to give a false impression are ‘stitching’ under which offenders are charged with crimes when there is insufficient evidence. The police know perfectly well the CPS will not pursue the charge, but can still claim that the crime has been ‘solved’ in records.

You might think that the massaging of figures could be shown openly to clash with the British Crime Survey, which for all its faults cannot be manipulated in the same way. But Dr Patrick says the Home Office has in recent years stopped asking the specific questions in the BCS , on which such comparisons could be based.

I think those who ceaselessly maintain that the official crime figures should be believed without question have to re-examine their position in the light of Dr Patrick’s research (which I have here briefly summarised from voluminous papers).


Don't let hardened criminals out early, says Justice Secretary Chris Grayling

Hardened criminals should serve more time in prison and not be granted automatic early release because locking them up cuts crime, the Justice Secretary has said.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Chris Grayling says that he would “ultimately” like to introduce a system under which only prisoners who have behaved well are released early.

Casting aside the doubts of his predecessor, Kenneth Clarke, Mr Grayling insists that putting “people behind bars reduces crime”.

However, he warns that “there are financial constraints” and that such radical changes cannot be delivered “overnight”.

The vast majority of prisoners are automatically released after serving half their sentence under rules introduced by Labour, which removed discretion within the system to release only those who had behaved well.

As a result, thousands of dangerous criminals and rapists have been returned to the streets after serving just a few years in prison.

Mr Grayling is hoping to start a “rehabilitation revolution” which will lead to fewer prisoners returning to jail after release. The move should free up prison places that can be used to incarcerate those who have not “earned” early release.

The Justice Secretary will also use sophisticated tagging technology to curtail the movement and freedom of some prisoners released early.

He says: “What people don’t particularly understand is why sentencing works in the way it does. If you get [sentenced for] 10 years, you’re out after five automatically.

“It’s not something that can be changed overnight, there are constraints on the system, there are constraints on prison places.

“Ultimately, I’m attracted by an option that doesn’t simply automatically release you at a certain point, regardless of whether you’ve behaved well or not.”

The last Conservative election manifesto described the system of sentencing as “dishonest” and Mr Grayling says today that he wants to set out the “direction” of policy to tackle this problem.

“These are not areas where you can deliver radical reforms overnight, you have to work in a direction,” he says. “My message would be that I get and understand concerns the public have over aspects of the system at the moment and I will take whatever steps I can to develop and reform the system in a way that makes that possible.

“One of the areas where possibly we’ve got increased scope in the future in monitoring offenders is GPS tagging where new technologies mean actually it’s possible to watch an offender wherever they go.” The Justice Secretary says this would toughen the regime for offenders, tighten curfews, and restrict their movements. “I get the frustration and I want the system to evolve and develop but you can’t do everything overnight,” he adds

Mr Grayling was promoted in last autumn’s reshuffle to replace Mr Clarke and his comments signal a further toughening of the Government’s approach towards criminal justice. Although repeatedly stressing the need to improve the rehabilitation of prisoners, he also backs the greater use of prison for offenders.

He says he will not cut prison places and insists that one reason that crime is falling is because more people have been in prison. “Every police force will tell you when a serial burglar is behind bars their local burglary rate goes down.”

The Justice Secretary has proposed plans for a “payment by results system” to reward voluntary organisations and companies for mentoring and turning around the lives of former criminals.

He has also established a review of the conditions in prisons and describes the ability of some inmates to watch Sky television as “crazy”.

Mr Grayling warns that it is a “challenge” to make prisons seem off-putting to criminals from “dysfunctional backgrounds.” He says that “for some young people, prison is the first stable environment and so it is a challenge for us to make it an environment that they don’t want to come back to.”

In his interview, the Justice Secretary urges the Liberal Democrats to stop attacking their Coalition partners. He describes a letter sent by Nick Clegg to his MPs calling for more attacks on the Conservatives as a “silly political document”. He is also understood to believe that the Conservatives should consider pledging to leave the European Union but warns that supporting the UK Independence Party risks “gifting” the next election to Labour.

Separately, he is drawing up Conservative plans to overhaul human rights laws, which “at the very least” will involve “curtailing” the reach of the European Court of Human Rights in Britain.


The Principles of Evanjellyfish Christianity

By Mike Scruggs

Many people believe that Evanjellyfish Christianity is rapidly displacing Evangelical Christianity in the United States and Britain. A historical analysis of this increasingly popular and trendy adaptation of Christianity reveals surprisingly deep roots and a well-established set of principles.

The first principle of Evanjellyfish Christianity is TOLERANCE. Tolerance is their ultimate, unquestioned virtue. The underlying multiculturalist principle here is that all moral or theological truths are relative and equal no matter what their source. In this chaotic system of theology, one truth is as good as another, and nobody’s truth is ever questioned—unless they believe that there are absolute truths. Believing in absolute truths is intolerant because it implies that some people are in serious error. Having to defend serious error and all sorts of nonsense and to suppress even obvious absolute truths for the sake of tolerance tends to make Evanjellyfish Christians fact and logic averse. Thus emotion always trumps facts and logic in their discourse, usually accompanied by much rambling nonsense.

Evanjellyfish Christians can become visibly shaken by the suggestion that tolerance is not an unqualified virtue. Try as one may, it is almost impossible to get an Evanjellyfish Christian to consider that perhaps they should be intolerant of evil or of moral and intellectual nonsense. That usually gives them a migraine headache. They are generally very surprised to learn that Jesus would tell a church in Revelation 2:20, “Nevertheless, I have against you that you tolerate that woman Jezebel….” Evanjellyfish Christianity is primarily informed by a belief in the innate goodness of man and the ideals of democratic egalitarianism rather than Scripture.

The second principle of Evanjellyfish Christianity is UNTHINKING CONFORMITY to majority or popular opinion, especially if supported by the mainstream media, publishing, and educational institutions. Unthinking Conformity is the backbone of Evanjellyfish Christianity. For the Evanjellyfish Christian, acceptance and respectability are more important than truth.  Knowledge or analysis that does not conform to popular and respectable opinion is avoided.  Curiously, Evanjellyfish Christians have a furious intolerance for any facts or straight thinking that might jeopardize their respectability or acceptance.  The politically correct environment of the college campus has become the ultimate training ground for enforcing the Unthinking Conformity essential to Evanjellyfishism. The fact that the Evanjellyfish positively avoids serious analysis and thinking should not be confused with stupidity, although it is often difficult to make a distinction. They are constantly in a state of denial that their slavish popular conformity is really just a form of moral cowardice.

The third principle of Evanjellyfish Christianity is LIBERTY UNLIMITED, referring to liberty of conscience. But contrary to traditional Christianity, in which there is a place for liberty of conscience on questions not addressed or given any ethical preference in Scripture, the Evanjellyfish Christian has a remarkable tendency to claim liberty in everything. Scripture is not authoritative to them. They pick what verses they like and how to interpret them. Their private interpretation of Scripture is, in fact, remarkable in its devices. Each one has a personal ethical framework geared to their own success and enjoyment of life. They bristle at any Biblical contradiction of their private, self-centered morality. Their idea of liberty of conscience is a deification of their own idols and desires. As such, it will not submit to any threatening analysis.

A fourth Evanjellyfish principle is the notion that INEQUALITY IS EVIL. It helps to remember their second principle (Unthinking Conformity) to justify this as some sort of moral law. There are, of course, many areas where some kinds of equality are preferable, such as equal justice under the law. However, the Evanjellyfish Christian expands the concept of equality to areas that make no common sense and cannot be justified by Scripture or a study of nature. They presume against God and nature that psychological differences between men and women need to be corrected to conform to their egalitarian vision of society. They even presume to overturn the divinely ordained nature of marriage and family. Economic differences seem especially unfair to them even when the difference is clearly attributable to hard work, perseverance, accumulated knowledge, greater risk taking, and special abilities. They refuse to believe some obvious facts—that many abilities have high genetic inheritability and that these abilities often have a substantial correlation with economic success. A curious characteristic of Evanjellyfish Christians is their constant demand for government mandates to enforce all sorts of silly and unreachable equality. Their approach to correcting presumed social and economic injustices is generally totalitarian.

The fifth and final principle of Evanjellyfish Christianity is PERSONAL PEACE and PROSPERITY at any PRICE. There is hardly any truth they will not ignore or suppress to achieve this. They will go along with the silliest and most inane proposals by demagogues, charlatans, and crackpots, so long as their personal peace, and prosperity can remain intact. They are incredibly vulnerable to verbal bullying in that regard. They grease the wheel that squeaks loudest however unfair or unwise. They are thrown into panic and headlong flight on the mere utterance of certain accusing words—racist, sexist homophobic, and Islamophobic, to name a few. Hearing such an accusing utterance, though it might be far from the truth, they abandon all reason and principle. They will even turn on innocent people to demonstrate their innocence. Their vulnerability to this kind of verbal bullying is known by many and used to manipulate them outrageously. They seek the appearance of righteousness rather than its reality, especially if the reality has a personal cost.  Evanjellyfish Christians are not opposed to costs as long as they are borne by other people, most frequently taxpayers. Evanjellyfish Christians are generally very compassionate with other people’s and especially taxpayers’ money.  It makes them feel good.

Evanjellyfish Christianity is not about truth; it is about avoiding and suppressing truth. It is a disfiguring distortion of Christianity, which we must vigorously resist.



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

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

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


4 January, 2013

Highly paid non-jobs still proliferating in the British state sector

Listen to the Labour Party, the unions and the BBC, and you’d think the public sector is suffering deeply from economic austerity. All talk is of ‘Tory cuts’ and ‘the public spending axe’.

This week, the new head of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, was the latest to bang the drum when she complained: ‘We seem to be locked into a vicious downward spiral of cuts. They are not working, so the Government cuts even more.’

Yet this is pure fantasy. Contrary to all the hysterical rhetoric about the shrinking state, the truth is that public expenditure and borrowing are actually rising.

In the year to October, Government spending rose by 9 per cent compared with the previous year. Admittedly, there have been some areas where there have been cuts — such as in defence — but most of the really big areas of government spending, such as welfare, health care and education, are still growing.

In the public sector, taxpayer-funded pensions remain far more generous than in the private sector, average pay is significantly higher, job security is greater and conditions are better. Even if the Government is able to implement its ‘austerity programme’ over the next five years, public expenditure will still be at the same level in real terms as it was in 2005, at the height of Gordon Brown’s spending boom before the crash.

And, for the rest of the decade, state spending will continue to swallow almost half of all economic output.

Nothing more graphically illustrates the state’s addiction to high spending than the public sector recruitment adverts carried on the website of The Guardian, the Left’s favourite newspaper.

During the profligate years of New Labour, the paper’s weekly public sector jobs supplement (often running to more than 100 pages) provided a fascinating insight into the expansion of the public sector. There were then some posts for front-line service staff. But now the countless vacancies are for the state’s growing army of bureaucrats, campaigners, managers, co-ordinators and outreach workers.

Nicknamed ‘Jobzilla’ after the all-devouring screen monster, this massive job-creation scheme still eats up a fortune in taxpayers’ money and makes a mockery of all the Left-wing shroud-waving about austerity.

The Guardian no longer publishes its weekly public appointments supplement on paper, but the jobs section of its website is full of taxpayer-funded vacancies.

In the past month, advertised jobs have included an £87,000-a-year chief executive for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Futures organisations (which boasts that it ‘delivers skills’ across the East Midlands, whatever that means) and a director of corporate communications at HM Revenue & Customs, on a salary of £120,000.

The advert contains jargon-filled prose so beloved of the modern public sector. Thus, ‘utilising a diverse range of channels to engage with our customers’ and ‘continuously developing an integrated communication strategy’, the appointee with the taxman will be ‘a team-oriented’ leader who enjoys ‘building capacity’.

It might have been thought that the HMRC, rather than beefing up the ranks of self-serving officialdom, would be setting an example of restraint at such a time. Or even making multi-billion-pound international companies pay their share in tax here in Britain.

Three new employees are wanted for the Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) project in Ealing, West London. It is funded by money from the quango the Big Lottery — which hands out Lottery money to community groups — and dedicated to ‘the emancipation of GRT people and the promotion of racial harmony and cultural exchange’.

The posts include a £27,850 Music and Arts co-ordinator, a £22,875 project co-ordinator and a £36,310 ‘Project Manager/Bid Writer’, who will be ‘responsible for devising funding proposals’ to ensure the project’s long-term viability in ‘empowering’ traveller communities.

This rubric is stark proof of how public subsidy becomes self-generating. For the advertised manager will be paid by the public to work out new ways of attracting ever greater financial support from taxpayers, all in the name of ‘addressing the root causes of equality and discrimination’.

The same self-perpetuating cycle can be seen in the area of sexual healthcare.  There is a firm called Michael Bell Associates Research and Consultancy (MBARC) which ‘specialises in work with marginalised communities, including refugees, migrants, substance misusers and sex workers’, with clients ranging from the NHS to local government.

Run by Michael Bell, vice-chairman of the London Strategic Health Authority, it is keen to expand and is recruiting two new ‘Sexual Health Commissioning Support Managers’, each on £38,000 a year, ‘to take forward current work and develop opportunities in this area’. These are positions for which the public purse is effectively paying.

Other jobs in different fields advertised in the past month have included a £29,333-a-year campaigns and identity project manager at the South Downs National Park Authority (a post that will ‘project manage the delivery of a behaviour change campaign focusing on greater use of sustainable transport and other sustainability issues’);  a £45,000-a-year ‘Financial Inclusion Manager’ at the Hyde Housing Association in South London; a £23,100-a-year ‘Community Integration Support Worker’ at Winchester Prison, dealing with ‘Substance Misuse’; and a £30,011-a-year Asylum Solicitor/Caseworker at the Avon and Bristol Law Centre, partly funded by local town halls.

Such is the addiction to bureaucracy in the public sector that local councils feel they have to be staffed with platoons of grandly named officers.

For example, Medway Council in North Kent is advertising for staff to work in its ‘Performance and Intelligence Hubs’. The exciting posts include a £40,741-a-year ‘Corporate Strategy and Performance Improvement Officer’, a ‘Performance and Improvement Analyst’ on the same salary, a ‘Corporate Business Information Officer’ and a ‘Business Information Officer’, both on £30,011-a-year, as well as a £30,011 Corporate Consultation officer and a £22,221 ‘Data Officer’.

Other local authorities are also embarking on expensive recruitment exercises at a time when several councils are squealing about Government cuts.

Showing none of the legendary Yorkshire parsimony, Barnsley Council is seeking a trio of senior new municipal officials, each of them on ‘an attractive package’ to fulfil the roles as ‘Senior Marketing Manager’, ‘Assistant Director of Information Services’ and ‘Executive Director of Corporate Services’.

It is a similar story at Waltham Forest in East London, where the council is hiring three new officers: a ‘Head of Employment’, ‘Head of Skills’ and ‘Head of Business’, all on salaries between £47,900 and £59,700.

None of these positions appears to have much to do with the front-line jobs people want the state to do, but then so much of officialdom seems divorced from the genuine needs of their heavily taxed paymasters.

Does the partly publicly funded Battersea Arts Centre, for instance, really need a £30,000-a-year ‘Organisation Coach’ to ‘facilitate staff development’? Will the lives of tenants of the Leeds Federated Housing Association be improved by a £50,000-a-year ‘Head of Social Investment’? Is Peterborough about to be turned into a dream destination by the appointment of a ‘Strategic Tourism Manager’ on a £38,961 salary?

The sad truth is that much of all this public recruitment-speak is self-indulgent spin, dressed up as marketing or public relations. It is all about public bodies seeking to boost their profiles rather than deliver better services.

Thus London Councils, the umbrella body for the capital’s local authorities, has decided to recruit a £44,910-a-year ‘Media Manager’, while Lambeth College has a vacancy for a ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ on a £47,000 salary.

Aberdeen City Council is looking for a £38,500-a-year ‘Marketing and Communications Officer’; the University of the Arts in London is offering a salary of £32,000 to a new ‘Media Relations Officer’ and Hackney feels it needs a £40,500-a-year ‘Marketing Services Executive’.

The same spirit of self-importance is betrayed in the way politicians build up their subsidised empires and surround themselves with acolytes to enhance their status. So the Tory Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is seeking a £30,000-a-year ‘Research and Support Officer’ to ‘help co-ordinate media opportunities with the press team’, as well as ‘diary arrangement and briefings for all meetings’.

Justifying the trend towards ever-higher salaries for senior figures in the public sector, civic institutions are fond of making comparisons with the pay rates for executives in the private sector. But this is hardly a convincing argument, since state managers are under nothing like the same pressures as those in the commercial world, where success is achieved by meeting customers’ needs, not by ticking boxes or mouthing fashionable jargon.

Among the array of well-rewarded posts displayed on The Guardian website over the past month have been an £88,000-a-year chief executive of the South Yorkshire Probation Trust, a £70,000-a-year Head of Management Accounting at the Cabinet Office, a ‘Director of Communities, Transformation and Change’ at Kirklees in Yorkshire — for which post a ‘competitive’ but unstated package is offered — and a chief executive at the newly created West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (salary £87,000).

These partnerships are the successor bodies to the despised and extravagant Regional Development Agencies which the Coalition said with self-congratulatory fanfare that it was removing in 2010, only to allow the agencies to be resurrected in an alternative form.

These endless lists of public sector vacancies expose the emptiness of the hysterical claims about ‘Tory cuts’. For the most part, these are uttered by the public sector’s vested interests.

The police are a classic example. The moans from chief constables and the Police Federation about ‘lack of resources’ have been deafening. Yet the Avon & Somerset Constabulary has enough money to appoint a new £25,500-a-year ‘Projects Officer’ in its ‘Organisational Development Team’, while the Thames Valley Police is seeking both a £38,562-a-year ‘Senior Learning and Development Delivery Manager’, and a £33,312-a-year ‘Leadership and Development Training Delivery Manager’.

The arrival of the elected Police Commissioners, on salaries of more than £90,000, much to the public’s indifference, has also led to a further bonanza for bureaucrats. The new Commissioner for Merseyside (the former Labour MP Jane Kennedy) has advertised for a ‘Chief Executive’ to run her office, on a salary of £70,000.

This army of public sector panjandrums is the real story of the public sector, not the chorus about ‘cuts’.

At every turn, Jobzilla seems to be as strong as ever, whether it be in the NHS — where Berkshire Healthcare Trust wants a £55,000-a-year ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ — or in quangoland, where the Independent Police Complaints Commission is advertising for two £76,000-a-year Commissioners (one in Cardiff and the other in the North of England).

Given this never-ending public sector recruitment drive, it’s little wonder the Coalition is struggling to tackle the huge public deficit. If cuts are to be made anywhere, it seems obvious where the axe should fall: on Jobzilla’s neck.


4,000 foreign murderers and rapists Britain can't throw out. . . and, yes, you can blame human rights again

Nearly 4,000 foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals are roaming the streets, free to commit new crimes.  The Government wants to deport them but admits that many cannot be kicked out because of their human rights.

A Parliamentary answer reveals that 3,980 foreign criminals who should have been sent back to their country of origin are ‘living in the community’.

The figures do not even include the handful of terrorist suspects such as Abu Qatada whom the Government is seeking to extradite.

Officials say thousands use the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’, or fears about violence in the countries they left as a way of dodging deportation.

Around 800 of the foreign criminals have been at large in Britain for more than five years.

The revelations last night prompted calls for the Government to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights so that the foreign offenders can be sent home.

Ministers admitted last year that  a string of murders and sex attacks have been committed by foreign nationals who should already have been kicked out.  Foreign criminals on immigration bail have committed three murders, three kidnappings and 14 sexual offences, including rape.  Official figures show that there have also been arrests in relation to 27 other ‘violent crimes’ and 64 thefts.

Home Office Minister Mark Harper used a Parliamentary written answer to release the most recent figures, recorded at the end of September.  He said: ‘There are 3,980 foreign nationals in the UK subject to deportation action living in the community. We continue to pursue removal in all these cases.

‘The principal barriers to removal are non-compliance on the part of individuals which means we have insufficient evidence of nationality and identity to obtain a travel document, ongoing legal challenges and the situations in countries of return.’

Home Secretary Theresa May has issued new guidance to judges saying Section 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the right to family life, should not override serious criminality in deportation cases.

But critics say that is not enough to solve the problem. Tory MP Priti Patel, who asked the Parliamentary question that led to the publication of the figures, called for the abolition of the Human Rights Act.

She said: ‘Lax immigration and border controls inherited from the previous Labour government have left this mess and the current Government must take all steps necessary, including abolishing the Human Rights Act, to get these people removed from Britain.

‘The public deserve to have a robust immigration system in place to keep them safe instead of laws and rules designed to help foreigners remain in Britain when they should have no right to be here.

‘Hard-pressed taxpayers will be disgusted to learn that they are footing the legal fees and living costs associated with this number of foreigners overstaying their welcome.’

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: ‘This is an extraordinary number. Offenders and their lawyers are clearly playing the legal system. ‘The case for pulling out of the 60-year-old ECHR gets stronger by the day. The Government is trying to give better guidance to the courts but that is most unlikely to have the necessary impact.  'The only long-term solution is to pull out of the ECHR completely and write our own human rights law.’

David Cameron has set up a review into whether a British Bill of Rights could replace the Human Rights Act, but his Lib Dem partners will oppose any move to leave the ECHR.

Ministers say they are speeding up the deportation process.

The average number of days between a foreign national offender finishing his or her sentence and being removed has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 74 in 2011.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are absolutely determined that any foreign national who fails to abide by our laws should face the consequences and in 2011 we deported more than 4,600 foreign criminals.'


London archbishop who opposes same-sex marriage announces Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Soho Masses

The Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Masses in the central London church that has held them for the past six years, London's archbishop announced yesterday.

Our Lady of the Assumption, an 18th-century church in Soho, the heart of London's gay scene, has been hosting the twice-monthly masses with the support of the local Church hierarchy.

But Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in a statement that gay Catholics should attend mass in their local parishes rather going to separate services.

'The mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church,' Nichols said, stressing there would still be pastoral care to help gay Catholics 'take a full part in the life of the Church'.

The move has been blasted by Stonewall director of public affairs Ruth Hunt, who is Catholic.  She told the BBC: 'Given what's happened over Christmas, where there were vitriolic and mean messages from pulpit about same-sex marriage, there has never been a more important time to provide a safe space for gay Catholics to pray.'

Archbishop Nichols has previously attacked the government's gay marriage Bill, labelling it 'undemocratic' and a 'shambles'.

The Vatican teaches that gay sex is sinful but homosexuals deserve respect.

The decision on the 'Soho Masses' came after sharp criticism of same-sex marriage by Pope Benedict and bishops in Britain and France, where the governments plan to legalise gay nuptials.

Nichols has spoken out in recent weeks against same-sex marriage but Church officials and a spokesman for the Soho gay congregation said the decision to stop the Soho Masses was not explicitly linked to that debate.  'We don't see any direct cause and effect,' said Joe Stanley, chairman of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council.

London's approved gay-friendly masses were launched in early 2007 while the Vatican's top doctrinal official was Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, a city with a large gay community and several gay-friendly churches.

Nichols reaffirmed his support for them last February. Since then, Levada was replaced by Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who German Catholic media have said wanted to clarify the apparent contradiction between them and Church teaching on homosexuality.

The Our Lady of the Assumption church will now become a parish for disaffected Anglicans who became Catholics in protest against moves in their churches towards allowing female and gay bishops.

Conservative Catholics in Britain have long complained to the Vatican about the Soho Masses, saying they flouted Church teaching on homosexuality, and small groups sometimes protested outside the church during the services.

The archbishop's office declined to comment on his statement or any discussions with the Vatican.


Women, discrimination, and a free society

For the first time in its history, South Korea has elevated a woman to the office of president. Newly elected Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the president and dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country from 1961 until his assassination in 1979.

During her presidential campaign, she pledged to increase government aid to single parents, expand maternity and paternity benefits, and promote flexible work arrangements in order to get more women in the work force.

In an interview with NPR, Kim Eun-Ju, director of the Center for Korean Women and Politics, noted that the South Korean presidential campaign ignored what she sees as two big problems: “One is that Korean women get paid nearly 40 percent less than their male counterparts — the biggest such disparity among the world’s developed economies. The other is that Korean women’s representation in politics ranks 108th out of 132 countries.”

Also interviewed was Kim Wan-hung, a researcher with the Korean Women’s Development Institute. She spoke of how difficult it is for any government policy to undo centuries of cultural tradition: “Men work. Women stay at home. This idea is ingrained in people’s minds. The salary differential has not been considered important. And less has been done to solve this problem in Korea than in other developed countries.”

I suppose it might be the case in traditional male-dominated Korean society that women would be deliberately paid less than men for the same job. But such is certainly not the case in the United States, where record numbers of women hold political office, are on police forces, and work in what used to be considered male occupations.

So why do we in the United States still hear about the “glass ceiling”? Why do we still hear the cry of “equal pay for equal work”? Why do we still hear about the “wage gap” between men and women? What are we to make of reports from organizations such as the American Association of University Women that “among all full-time workers, women are paid about 77 cents for every dollar paid to men”?

The wage gap between the sexes was an issue in the recent presidential election. Democrats touted Barack Obama’s signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, while Republicans pointed out that, according to 2011 White House salary records, female employees of the Obama administration earned a median salary 18 percent less than men. Similar disparities have been found on the staffs of Democratic legislators, including Obama’s former senate office.

There is no denying the fact that in the United States men, on average, earn more than women. Now, although it is true that women’s productivity was lower than men’s when physical strength and stamina were more important in the workplace, such is generally not the case nowadays. So what accounts for the “pay gap”? The main thing is marriage and children. Women who marry and leave the work force to raise children have less experience and seniority than men when they return to work. It’s not that women are paid less; they earn less. When you compare not all men and women, but only men and women who have never been married (or had children), the wage gap disappears.

But that’s not all. According to Warren Farrell in the book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap — And What Women Can Do About It, there are a number of things that account for a pay gap between the sexes:

    Men go into technology and hard sciences more than women.

   Men are more likely to take hazardous jobs.

    Men are more willing to expose themselves to inclement weather at work.

    Men tend to take more-stressful jobs.

    Men are more likely to work longer hours.

    Men work more weeks per year than women.

    Men have half the absenteeism rate of women.

    Men are more willing to commute long distances to work.

    Men are more willing to relocate to undesirable locations for higher-paying jobs.

    Men are more willing to take jobs that require extensive travel.

   Men are more likely to work on commission.

And as explained by Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum,

"In truth, I’m the cause of the wage gap — I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I’ve made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I’m not making as much money as I could, but I’m compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for."

Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do.

But now we are also told in reports such as Graduating to a Pay Gap from the American Association of University Women that “just one year out of college, millennial women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to their male peers.” They are “paid less than men are even when they do the same work and major in the same field.” The report finds that “women’s choices — college major, occupation, hours at work — do account for part of the pay gap.” However, “About one-third of the gap remains unexplained, suggesting that bias and discrimination are still problems in the workplace.”

There are two problems with this alleged pay gap.

The first is that we almost never hear complaints about a pay gap when sex roles are reversed. Female fashion models get paid much more money than their male peers. As do female porn stars. Where is the outrage? Where are the charges of bias against men? Where are the cries of discrimination? Where are the calls for government intervention to rectify the problem?

And the second is that profit usually trumps bigotry. If women have the same productivity, skill-set, and availability as men, but are willing to work for less money than men, then there would be additional profits available for the taking to any firm that hired only women.

More here


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

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

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


3 January, 2013

Foreign aid? It's a cynical, ruthless and self-indulgent con job says scathing British study

David Cameron’s controversial foreign aid target is a costly ‘con job’ designed to make the Conservative Party seem more caring, a study warns today.

In a scathing assessment, the respected centre-Right think tank Civitas accuses the Prime Minister of using billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to ‘rebrand his party and cement the coalition with the Liberal Democrats’.

The study warns that the wasteful Department for International Development is almost beyond reform and suggests it should be effectively shut down.

It says future aid spending should be handled by the Foreign Office, which takes a broader view of Britain’s interests, including trade.

The study suggests that a third of Dfid’s vast budget should be handed to the Ministry of Defence to pay for ‘dual use’ equipment such as helicopters and ships that could be used in emergency relief missions as well as combat.

And it calls for Mr Cameron’s ‘exorbitant and self-indulgent’ target to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid to be scrapped, saying there is no evidence it will help the world’s poor.

The findings come as ministers prepare to increase the aid budget by a staggering 30 per cent in the coming year in order to meet the Prime Minister’s target.

Total aid spending will rise from £8.65billion in the 2012-2013 financial year to £11.3billion in 2013-2014 – an increase of £2.65billion.

Today’s 250-page study will make uncomfortable reading for Mr Cameron, who has stuck to his pre-election aid pledge despite imposing austerity measures on virtually every other area of public spending.

The book, by journalist Jonathan Foreman, questions both the value of the extra spending and Mr Cameron’s motives for ordering it.

Mr Foreman says increased aid spending has been used by the Prime Minister to ‘detoxify’ the Tory image, describing it as ‘one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in history’.

He accuses Mr Cameron of ‘taking advantage of the real generosity of the British people’, adding: ‘A set of policies trumpeted as manifesting generosity is in fact a cynical, ruthless and morally reprehensible con job pushed by marketing gurus for whom their real-world effects in the underdeveloped world are largely irrelevant.’

Mr Foreman also suggests that Britain’s political elite, who all back the aid increase, are more interested in helping the poor abroad than at home. ‘Such people are perhaps more likely to engage with poor Africans and South Asians on their holidays than they are to encounter needy people in their own country,’ he writes.


Loan sharking: A brief defence

by Sean Gabb

The British Government has announced it will cap the rates of interest on the loans people take out to tide them over till payday. It will amend the current Financial Services Bill to give the planned Financial Conduct Authority the power to limit charges.

Now, some of the interest rates charged do look astonishing. The loan companies that advertise on Channel Five all charge about 2,000 per cent. Others are said to charge as much as 4,000 per cent. The last time I borrowed money, I paid five per cent. I avoid going into debt on my credit cards, because of the 22 per cent charged on them. It may seem heartless to defend the right to charge very high interest rates - especially as these are charged to the very poor, who then have trouble getting out of debt. However, limiting the rate of interest they can be charged is not the way to help the poor. Let me explain.

I will assume a reasonably open market in loans. We do not presently have a completely free market - lenders must be registered under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and this Act and the common law do not allow complete freedom of contract. Even so, there are many lenders, and there is no evidence of systematic collusion. This being so, the analysis of interest rate formation given in the textbooks does apply fairly well to the actual world.

The demand for loans is determined by a combination of forces. At the commercial end of the market, there are calculations about the marginal productivity of capital. At the consumer end, there is how badly people want the things that loans will buy.

The supply is also determined by more than once force. Most fundamentally, there is what the Victorian economists called the “price” of money, and is nowadays called time preference. Even assuming zero risk, people will tend to give up present use of their money only if they can look forward to a return on it. For example, seen from today, £100 is worth more to me today than a year from today - I might be dead in a year, or the pleasure I can buy next year might seem rather shadowy compared with what I can buy now. If an extra £5 is the minimum that will persuade me to defer use of my £100, then the price of my money is five per cent. There are other considerations. This price of money will be different according to how much present use is being deferred. Also, most people will save something even without a positive return. And, of course, in the absence of a proper gold standard, and often for long periods, the monetary authorities are able to create loanable funds out of thin air. But price, or time preference, is an important underlying determinant.

We must then take account of risk. The reason I can borrow at about five per cent is because I have a known record of paying my debts. And, if I cannot pay them in future, I have assets that can be seized after the appropriate legal action. The reason other people are charged much higher rates is because they have a poor credit history. Or, if they have no history, they fall into one of the categories of people who cannot easily be made to pay their debts. These categories include the young, those without assets, habitual defaulters, those who are able to move about the world or to disappear without trace, and the generally feckless.

Loanable funds are perfectly mobile. A lender can do business with people like me, or with young men without assets who have already been made bankrupt at least once. He will expect to walk away from either class of deal with the same overall return. If lenders can make more overall from this second group, they will compete with each other for business, until the rate of return has fallen to the same as can be earned on loans to the first group. Therefore, someone who is charged 1,000 per cent on a loan is not necessarily being exploited. He is being charged a premium that takes into account his perceived risk of default.

Therefore also, any cap on interest rates to those at high perceived risk of default will result in a drying up of loanable funds. As said, these funds are mobile. They will move out of markets where overall returns are lower than elsewhere. If some people cannot be charged 1,000 per cent on loans, they will not be able to borrow at all.

Or they will be able to borrow - but not from people in suits who try to collect unpaid debts through letters sent in brown envelopes and through the courts. When these people vacate a market, because of legal caps on rates of return, their place will be taken by real loan sharks - the kind of people who collect debts by threats of violence, and who, because of the risk of punishment, and the limitation of competition, will charge more than the lenders they have replaced.

For this reason, limiting interest rates will not help the poor. Indeed, even without the criminality of the loans markets that emerge in the shadow of interest limitations, this kind of law is bad. A loan is an act between consenting adults. It is of exactly the same nature as any other financial or other transaction. Any restriction in one area on freedom of association will, by example, encourage restrictions in others. It will encourage further state socialism or moral authoritarianism.

This is not to say that all is for the best in the best of possible worlds. The case made above is general. It applies to any particular state of society. But not every society has to be one in which large numbers of poor people are encouraged to get into debts they cannot pay. In England, we have an established church. Its ministers would do more to justify their privileges if they stopped arguing about woman bishops and canting about racial equality, and began preaching the virtues of thrift and sobriety. In other times and places, the poor have borrowed chiefly to cope with natural disaster or to pay grasping tax collectors and landlords. In modern England, they borrow to buy things they cannot normally afford, or are not willing to buy after saving up for them. So far as they do not spell out the obvious truths of life, the religious and moral leaders of this country - and not only in the Church of England - are failing the poor.

Then there is real action the authorities can take to reduce dependence by the poor on credit. In this country, tax is payable on incomes of just a few thousand pounds. Shelf-stackers in Tesco pay income tax. VAT at 20 per cent raises the price of all taxable goods and services. So do excise duties and tariffs. So called product safety and other regulations generally increase prices, and work in much the same way as a tax.

Worse, there is government rigging of the energy markets, which raise electricity, gas and petrol prices directly, and which - because energy is one of the main costs of bringing goods and services to market - raise virtually all other prices.

According to Christopher Booker, writing, in October 2012, in The Sunday Telegraph:

"Over the next eight years, we need to spend £100 billion on building 30,000 useless, unreliable and grotesquely subsidised wind turbines…. [F]urther billions will need to be spent on new gas-fired power stations - not only to fill the gap left by all the coal-fired and nuclear plants that are due to close, but also to provide ever more expensive, “carbon”-emitting back-up for the times when the wind drops and our turbines are scarcely functioning…. [T]he declared purpose of George Osborne’s “carbon tax”… [is to] double our energy bills."

Giving up on the fraudulent claims about man-made climate change would allow millions in this country to lead something like the lives shown in television advertisements without having to go into debt.

Or there are various forms of corporate welfare, and a tax and regulatory system, that effectively prevent millions of people from running little businesses that would lift them out of poverty. For example, no one nowadays can become a - legal - minicab driver without spending thousands up front on licensing fees and regulatory compliance. Again, no one can become a - legal - childminder without OFSTED registration that closes that occupation to everyone without high standards of literacy and administrative skill.

Or there are the effects of state-sponsored mass immigration. In a free society, there would be few border controls, and there would be some movement of people across borders. What we have at the moment is a system in which, since about 1990, upward of twenty million unskilled and often illiterate - and even violent or subversive - aliens have been encouraged to settle among us. If they work, they drive down wages at the bottom end of the employment market. If they live on welfare, they add to an increasingly regressive tax bill. Whether they work or claim, they raise housing costs by the pressure of their additional demand in a market characterised by both natural and state-made inelasticity of supply.

I repeat, it is not a desirable state of affairs in which large numbers of people borrow at very high rates of interest. But caps on interest rates do not even begin to address this problem. We can accuse the politicians behind this plan of stupidity, or of a cynical shifting of blame for a situation they have done most to bring about. Most reasonably, we can accuse them of both.


Brief Argument for English Independence

by Sean Gabb

The normal English response to Scottish nationalism is to ignore it, or to see it as an irritation, or to try shouting it down with reminders of all that shared history, or to point out the value of English subsidies and to wait for common sense to win the argument. None of these, I suggest, is an appropriate response. None takes into account that England and Scotland are different nations, and that the loudest and most energetic part of the Scottish nation has decided that the current union of the nations is not in Scottish interests. This does not make it inevitable that the union will be dissolved. It does, however, make this desirable. Scotland may or may not have suffered from the union. But the union has done much to bring England to the point of collapse, and it strikes me as reasonable to say that England can never be safe while there are Scottish members in the Westminster Parliament.

Let us take the New Labour revolution as evidence for this. Since 1997, England has been largely remodelled. There are few institutions, or administrative and legal forms, or even assumptions, from before 1997 that now make sense to anyone who has grown up since then. The gutting of the House of Lords, the altered functions of the judges, the laws to regulate political parties, and that allow unelected officials to supervise and even unseat elected representatives, the new criminal laws and new modes of criminal and civil procedure, the appointment of commissar units in every government agencies and most private corporations to impose the totalitarian ideologies of political correctness – these and many others combine to make present life in England very different from anything known before. There is also our continued and even accelerated integration into the European Union. And there has been the state-sponsored settlement of England by millions who are alien in their appearance and their ways. Every thread of continuity between the English present and past that could easily be snapped has been snapped.

Of course, this creeping revolution did not begin in 1997 – it became undeniably evident when Margaret Thatcher was in office. Nor has it been confined to England – every other civilised country has fallen into the hands of a totalitarian elite. There is an attack on bourgeois civilisation in every place where it exists, and the attack is led by those who were young in the 1970s, and has the support of a mass of economic and other interest groups. But, this being said, just think how many of the Labour ministers were Scottish. There was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, John Reid, George Robertson, Wendy Alexander, Yvette Cooper, Doug Henderson, and so on and so forth. Below the leadership, an astonishing number of Labour members of parliament or Labour Party officials had Scottish accents. The Labour Party that emerged from its troubles of the 1980s was disproportionately Scottish – and assertively Scottish. Their political ambitions lay in the Labour Party, and not in the Scottish National Party. This did not give them other than a very weak sense of British identity, and gave them no observable understanding of or liking for the English.

Now, the central fact of Scottish history has been English domination. Since the eleventh century, England has been a rich and powerful and unified nation, loyal to a government that, broadly speaking, has been accountable to it. For most of the past thousand years, Scotland has been sparsely populated and without trade. Its people have been divided by language and culture, and by political allegiance, and sometimes by religion. It would be a miracle had Scotland ever managed real independence in these circumstances. It almost never has. The 1707 political union put Scotland under an almost purely English Parliament. The 1603 union of the crowns gave Scotland, after one reign, an English King. Even before then, the most important commoner in Edinburgh had almost always been the English ambassador. Even when there was no English army stationed there, Scotland was subject to varying degrees of rule from London.

In no meaningful sense, therefore, can Scotland be independent so long as it has England as its neighbour. And this is the main significance of the New Labour Revolution, and of the disproportionate Scottish contribution to New Labour. Undeniably, this was part of an overall project to destroy bourgeois civilisation, and understanding it requires a reading of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, and all the others. At the same time, it was an attempt to make Scottish independence possible by destroying England. Divide England into half a dozen Euro-regions; set these in competition with each other for money and privilege from Brussels; fill the country with ten or twenty million aliens; make it illegal, or at least in poor taste, to refer to an English identity – and the way is cleared for Scotland to be as independent as any other small nation can be.

This would explain the rising levels of Scottish hatred seen by many English visitors. When I visited Glasgow in 1994, there was much good-natured mockery of the English. When I was there again in 1997, I was driven from a coffee bar by the hostility even of the staff. In 2000, a taxi driver had the nerve to claim he was unable to understand my accent. In 2002, when I replied to hatred with hatred, another taxi driver tried to get me arrested for unspecified drug offences. Scottish politicians and administrators cooperate in discriminating against the English. The Scottish lower classes are best avoided.

The reason is simple. If you hate someone, you may want to destroy him. But, if you want to destroy someone, it is nearly always necessary to hate him. The Scottish claim to hate us for what we have done to them. In truth, they hate us for what they want to do to us. Bearing in mind that the Labour Party remains a Scottish front, and that the Conservatives might lose the next election, the 1707 union is actually more dangerous for England than membership of the European Union.

I will ask in passing why so many English Conservatives disagree with this analysis. One reason is a sentimental attachment to facts that have ceased to exist. This leads to what I find the most bizarre claims from Conservative supporters– for example, that the European Union wants to dissolve the United Kingdom in order to absorb England, whereas the European Union is simply part of the Scottish attack on England. A less creditable motive is that many of the Conservative leaders are themselves Scottish, and an ending of the union would reveal them as foreigners in England, and confirm them as unelectable in Scotland.

Most importantly, there are the electoral considerations. In the short term, removal of the Scottish members would bring about a Conservative domination of Parliament. In the longer term, however, removal of the Labour threat would mean that English conservatives were no longer locked into voting Conservative. I do not believe that many of those who voted Conservative in 2010 felt the slightest enthusiasm for David Cameron and William Hague and George Osborne. These got into office only because a majority of the English people feared and hated the Labour Party. Take away the Labour threat, and there would be the freedom to vote other than Conservative in general as well as in European elections. Obviously, union with Scotland benefits the Labour Party. But it also benefits the Conservatives by keeping alive the Labour bogeyman.

I say, then, that the union between England and Scotland should be wholly severed. I say that there should be no customs union or common currency, no rights of movement or of settlement, no shared head of state, no coordination of foreign policy or defence. Scotland and its citizens should become as alien, under English law, as Uruguay now is.

England requires no less. Perhaps, all things considered, Scotland deserves no less.


The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

A good sermon from the Christmas season

At some point, sooner or later, all new parents experience that moment when they realize that this new little life is their unique responsibility. It can be a bit surreal. Holding your little one, it strikes you that a tremendous gift has been given to you, a gift that brings with it significant and life-altering responsibilities. I, who am a bit slow on the uptake, took some weeks to realize that I was not only able but also allowed to bundle up my tiny son in his car seat and take him out of the house to run errands.

For mothers like Mary, I imagine the realization hits home a bit sooner. What a morning it must have been the day after Jesus’ birth! Were the new parents awoken after the excitement of the previous night with the squalling cry of the newborn babe? Did the wonder of the evening before seem like a dream? Or were they too excited to sleep at all, spending the night instead intently watching their son doze peacefully? Much like my wedding day, I remember smiling so much at the birth of my children that my face actually hurt.

There has been some significant and ongoing conversation about the meaning of marriage and family in today’s society, as well as serious worry about economic and demographic trends. These topics are timely and important, but one of the perennial lessons we must take from the birth of Jesus Christ is that God is radically invested in this world. His care, to the point of sending his Son to be born, live, die, and rise again, provides us with a model for dealing with our own hopes and fears in a world so often full of despair and darkness.

One of the common concerns that drives prospective parents to put off having children is economic, specifically that they won’t have the financial resources to support a growing family. This is a worry that’s been around as long as there have been families. The complaint was prevalent in Martin Luther’s time, and he called it “the greatest obstacle to marriage.” Luther, in perhaps one of his less pastorally-sensitive moments, didn’t give much thought to such worries, but instead denounced this objection as showing “lack of faith and doubt of God’s goodness and truth.” After all, he argued, marriage and family are ordinances of God’s grace, and someone tempted to doubt that God provides for persons in this estate must instead realize “first, that his status and occupation are pleasing to God; second, that God will most certainly provide for him if only he does his job to the best of his ability.” It’s an old adage, and yet a true one, that if you wait to have children until you can afford them, then you will never have any.

Having children is, in this way, fundamentally an act of faithful hope in the face of sometimes overwhelming fearfulness about the brokenness and corruption of this world. We don’t need to look very far or very long to see stunning illustrations of human suffering and evil. It was right into the middle of this fallen and seemingly hopeless mess that the Christ child was born. Thus the classic carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” rings true: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Where evil leaves us speechless, God speaks the Word of hope and salvation.

In the same way that God sent his Son through the power of his Spirit to live, work, and die in the midst of the dust, dirt, mud, and muck of this world, we too are called to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28) in patient expectation and hopefulness for God’s purposes in this world. To the extent that we shirk this calling, unwilling to sully ourselves with the troubles and cares of parenthood, it shows a fundamental lack of faithfulness and hope, or as Luther puts it, is evidence of a people who “trust in God as long as they know that they do not need him, and that they are well supplied.”

Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, put it this way in a lecture earlier this year: “As you get past a certain level of prosperity, it will become not cost-effective to have children. If you don’t have beliefs that transcend your life you won’t have [children] anymore.” Brooks describes instead a society in “which people dedicate themselves to a higher purpose, most notably to God,” and in which therefore “people will live on into the next generation. The future of a prosperous society depends on a lot of things, but the fundamental currency of the success of any society is people, is humans. When you stop having the humans, your life is limited and your prosperity is doomed.”

Not everyone is called to have children themselves, of course. God has a plan for each individual, just as he has guidelines for how marriage and family are to be arranged. But as Christians within a larger society we are called collectively to promote the cause of life and flourishing. For many that will mean having children in a committed, two-parent household. For others it will mean the struggles of single-parenthood. So too it will mean for many the adoption and integration of those who need parents into a loving home, a particularly powerful way of modeling God’s love. For those who do not or will not have children themselves, it means offering support to those in their own families and communities that do bear and nurture children.

But key to all this is recognizing the critically important place that families and children play in the broader health of a society, and therefore the significance they have for God’s work in this world. “From generation to generation and from century to century,” Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck wrote, “the struggle against sin must be continued, and the spiritual and moral nurture must begin afresh with each person.”

Given the complex of relationships we are each born into, the family is the bulwark of civilization in this sense, and on that basis Bavinck expressed the hope that “from the family outward, blessing and prosperity will once again spread across all the nation.” This is a hope that we too ought to share in fear and trembling, as it echoes across the centuries from that little manger in Bethlehem.



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

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

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


2 January, 2013

Monumental deceit: How Britain's politicians have lied and lied about the true purpose of the European behemoth

By Christopher Booker

Forty years ago today, in what was arguably the most fateful political move ever made by a British Prime Minister, Edward Heath took us into what was then called the ‘Common Market’.

Such a step had scarcely been mentioned at the previous General Election, and the British people had very little idea of what they were letting themselves in for, other than a trading arrangement that might make it easier for us to sell our goods to our Continental neighbours.

Four decades later, the picture could scarcely look more different. We have seen that supposedly cosy club we joined transformed, step by step, into a vast, bloated bureaucratic empire, imposing its suffocating rule over 27 nations.

We have also seen it plunged into the most destructive crisis in its history — one it has brought entirely on itself by its reckless dream of locking the countries of Europe together into the straitjacket of the euro.

During those 40 years the British have never been happy members of this club. Too often we have been out of step, and even bitterly at odds, with the rest — as in our refusal to join that single currency.

But today, as the EU’s inner core of countries drive towards ‘full political union’ in a desperate bid to save their doomed euro, the British now look at this swollen political monster with fearful bemusement.

Politicians of every party talk plaintively about the need for us to negotiate a ‘looser relationship’ with the EU, while opinion polls consistently show a growing majority wanting to leave it altogether — an option that even David Cameron no longer rules out.

Even on the Continent, influential voices are now recognising that something very significant is happening in Britain, as they suggest we should perhaps be allowed something never seen before — a mere ‘associate membership’ of the EU, allowing us to continue trading with it but without all its political superstructure.

How did we come to such a pass? Are we today looking at another historic crossroads, in its own way just as fateful as the one we faced back in 1973?

The real problem the British people have had with the ‘European project’, as its insiders call it, is that they have never really begun to understand its real nature, and what was always intended to be its ultimate goal.

The chief reason for this is that our politicians have never properly explained it to us.

What makes this so much worse is that those who were most enthused by it, such as Heath, knew full well what ‘the project’ was really about — the plan to weld all Europe together under an unprecedented form of super-government.

They deliberately decided to conceal it from us, for fear that our anxieties about our loss of sovereignty might prevent them from being allowed to join.

Ten years ago, with my co-author Richard North, I wrote a comprehensively researched history of the ‘European project’.

I had already been reporting for years on the incredible damage membership of the EU was doing to British life, through thousands of crazy directives and regulations, through the destruction of our proud fishing industry and the undermining of our agriculture, which was until 1973 the most efficient in Europe.

The real story, surprisingly, goes back to the 1920s, when a senior League of Nations official, Frenchman Jean Monnet, first began to dream of building a ‘United States of Europe’, very much on the lines that decades later would shape the European Union as it is today.

After World War II, Monnet, by then the second most powerful man in France, finally set the project on its way. He knew there was no chance of bringing such an astonishingly ambitious vision into being all at once. So his plan was that it should gradually be constructed, piece by stealthy piece, without ever declaring too openly what was intended to be its ultimate goal.

At first it should be presented as just a trading arrangement, the ‘Common Market’ set up in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome. But the essence of that treaty was to create the core institutions of what Monnet always intended should one day be the ‘Government of Europe’.

The idea was to work for ‘ever closer union’.  Treaty by treaty, it would take over more powers from national governments, based on the sacred principle that once power to make laws was handed over to Brussels it could never be given back.

Ever more countries would be brought into the net, until the project reached its ultimate goal as a super-government, with its own president and parliament, its own currency and armed forces, its own flag and anthem — all the attributes of a fully-fledged nation state.

Thus, stealthily assembled over decades, would this new ‘country called Europe’ finally take its place on the world stage. What we found most shocking in researching this story was that, when Britain’s leaders first considered joining the project, they were made fully aware of this hidden agenda.

As we see from Cabinet papers and other documents of the early Sixties, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his ‘Europe Minister’ Edward Heath were put completely in the picture about the secret ‘grand plan’. But in June 1961 the Cabinet formally agreed that it must not be revealed to the British people.

In Macmillan’s words, to admit ‘the political objectives’ of the Rome Treaty would raise ‘problems of public relations’ so ‘considerable’ that they should be kept under wraps. It was vital to emphasise only the economic advantages of British entry.

Thus did Macmillan and Heath become drawn into complicity with that same web of deceit which was driving the ‘project’ itself (which is why we called our book The Great Deception).

Twice in the Sixties Britain made failed attempts to join the project — but within weeks of Heath entering Downing Street in 1970, he applied to Brussels a third time. Scarcely had negotiations begun than he learned that his future partners were already discussing the next steps along their path to full integration: a single currency, European defence forces, a common foreign policy.

Heath immediately sent word to Brussels pleading for all this to be kept quiet, because it might blow the gaffe with British voters.

For two years the negotiations continued, with Heath handing over all he was asked for, from giving away Britain’s fishing waters, the richest in the world, to become ‘a common European resource’, to the betrayal of our Commonwealth partners by excluding their goods from what had been for many their main export market.

Finally, Heath got what he was after: entry to the club — although he still pretended that the Common Market was little more than a trading arrangement.

On the day we entered, he told the British people on television that any fears that ‘we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty’ were ‘completely unjustified’.

This was a deliberate lie, as no one knew better than him and the senior Foreign Office official who two years earlier had written a secret paper on ‘Sovereignty’.

The paper chillingly spelled out how it would be the end of the century before the British people woke up to how much of their power to govern themselves and make their own laws had been given away — by which time it would be too late.

So began the dismal story which has been unfolding ever since. Already by the late Seventies, as the Common Market morphed into ‘the European Community’, we were becoming known in Brussels as ‘the awkward partner’.

Then came Mrs Thatcher’s five-year battle to win that rebate on our payments into the EU budget which, thanks to the ludicrously lop-sided conditions accepted by Heath, would have made us the largest single contributor by 1985.

In 1986 came the treaty called the Single European Act, which not only set up the Single Market but handed over to Brussels all sorts of other powers, including environmental laws which were to lead to everything from the shambles of our rubbish collections to building thousands of hated and useless wind turbines.

In 1990, nothing did more to inspire hostility to Mrs Thatcher among her European colleagues, led by Jacques Delors, than her defiant opposition to the Maastricht Treaty, designed to create the European Union, introduce the ‘social chapter’ and, above all, to launch the single currency.

As soon as he replaced her, John Major proclaimed his wish for Britain to be ‘at the heart of Europe’ and signed the Maastricht Treaty (admittedly with those vital opt-outs for Britain on the single currency and the social chapter).

But seven years later he ended up more at odds with his partners than ever, as they imposed their worldwide ban on the export of all British beef products over ‘mad cow disease’, tried to sneak us into the social chapter under ‘health and safety’ rules and laid their plans for yet another integrationist treaty in Amsterdam.

Tony Blair, too, wanted to be ‘at the heart of Europe’, as the single currency approached (which he would love to have joined), signing us up to the social chapter with its damaging working-time rules, and two more treaties, at Amsterdam and Nice.

But he too found it hard to keep up with that relentless drive for ever closer union, as it led to seven years of tortuous negotiation to create ‘A Constitution for Europe’, eventually sabotaged by the voters of France and Holland, so that it had to be smuggled in by deceit as the Lisbon Treaty (which, among much else, incorporated the Court of Human Rights into the EU).

Scarcely was the ink dry on Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s signature on that treaty than the EU was plunged into its worst-ever crisis over the euro, which today is spreading misery across southern Europe.

As always, the response of the EU’s leaders has been to call for yet ‘more Europe’, and a new treaty to force the eurozone members into ‘full political union’.

This is now leaving Britain more obviously marginalised than ever, condemned to remain in the outer ring of a club, many members of which would now be only too pleased to see the back of us.

This humiliating prospect has seen our politicians running around like bewildered sheep, bleating about the need for Britain to negotiate a ‘looser relationship’ with the EU, to get back to that trading arrangement we thought we were entering 40 years ago.

Astonishingly, this is now even being echoed as a possibility by those influential voices in Europe itself — even though the most fundamental rule of the club we joined back then was that, once powers are passed to Brussels, they can never be given back.

As David Cameron prepares to give that ‘very important speech on Europe’ he has promised us very soon, he could not do better than to meditate on the shrewdest words ever uttered by a Prime Minister about Britain and Europe. In 1973, as a junior member of Heath’s Cabinet, Margaret Thatcher made all the approved noises about how wonderful it was for Britain to join this club.

Once in office, however, she went on a painful learning curve, as she saw from the inside just what the real game was and how ruthlessly it was played. She was brought down in 1990 by an alliance of Europhiles in her party and their Brussels allies, because she was the last real obstacle to their Maastricht Treaty.

What really riled them was that she had seen through their true agenda and the disastrous course on which they were set.

With even Jacques Delors, the chief architect of Maastricht, suggesting it might be best for Britain to leave the EU, Mr Cameron should dwell on a passage from her last book, Statecraft.

‘That such an unnecessary and irrational project as building a European super-state was ever embarked on,’ wrote Lady Thatcher, ‘will seem in future years to be perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era. And that Britain?.?.?.?should ever have become part of it will appear a political error of the first magnitude.’

If Mr Cameron truly wishes to speak for the British people and our country’s future, he should bear those prophetic thoughts in mind.


British Town hall staff pay in only a QUARTER of the cost of their pensions while taxpayers fork out £6billion a year

Council workers paid in only £1 for every £4 paid out in town hall pensions last year. Nearly £6billion of the £8billion cost of the scheme came from taxpayers, an official report has found. Council workers stumped up just £1.8billion.

The research undermines claims that the public employees deserve special treatment because they pay for their own retirement benefits in a sustainable manner.

The generous final salary pensions – now largely denied to workers in private businesses – are enjoyed by council workers from bin men and canteen staff to social workers and planning officials.

The cost of town hall pensions to the public is equivalent to £386 a year for every household paying the benchmark Band D council tax.

Details of council pension costs came as Communities Secretary Eric Pickles prepared to finalise a deal with unions to try to rein in pensions spending.

Unions agreed in the summer to a new scale that will pay benefits based on career average rather than final salaries.

This will also gradually see the town hall pension age pushed up to 68 in line with the state pension age.

Brandon Lewis, a Tory local government minister, said: ‘Under the last administration, the cost of town hall pensions trebled.

'Town hall pensions were costing over £300 a year to every family and pensioner paying council tax, diverting funds from emptying bins, cleaning the streets and keeping council tax down. Hard-pressed taxpayers simply could not afford to foot an ever-growing bill.

‘This is why this Government is taking action to reduce the massive and unsustainable cost of state sector pensions, and for the first year, the cost of town hall pensions has actually fallen.’

In 1997 the price to taxpayers of town hall pensions came to just over £1.5billion, less than a quarter of this year’s bill.

Only ten years ago the contributions of employees covered almost half the full cost of their payouts.

The latest accounts show some of the reasons why the cost to taxpayers has been rising so steeply.

The scheme paid out £7.5billion to pensioners in the year that ended in March, 12 per cent up on the benefits paid in the previous year.

But the contributions paid by town hall workers dropped from £1.966billion to £1.839billion, largely because there were fewer staff.

The number of workers on the scheme fell by 66,000 during the year, partly because of 27,500 redundancies, and the number of scheme members fell below 1.6million.

A report released last July revealed that nearly one million former council staff were drawing pensions.

The situation was described as ‘a ticking financial time bomb’ by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which commissioned the study.

The group’s Matthew Sinclair said at the time: ‘The local government pension scheme faces a bleak future. Unions and councils need to be realistic.’

Union leaders insisted the scheme was ‘viable and strong’.


Anti-Semitism in the UK is on the rise again

A report published this week by the Community Security Trust (CST) shows that anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have risen in the months January- June 2012, compared with last year’s figures.

In the first six months of this year, 513 potential incidents of anti-Semitism were reported to the CST; of which the CST deemed 299 cases to be anti-Semitic.

In comparison to 2010 figures, evidence from the report suggest two opposing trends; an increase in reported incidents in London and similarly a large fall in the number of incident reports in Greater Manchester.

Figures suggest that anti-Semitism across the capital is heavily on the rise, a total of 148 incidents were recorded by the CST in the first half of 2012, a 48 percent increase when compared to 2011 figures (100).

In terms of monthly incidents, March 2012 saw a significant rise in anti-Semitic incidents with a total of 73 cases being recorded by the CST. According to the report, the ‘total appears to have beeninfluenced by the reactions to the terrorist shooting at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School in Toulouse, France’. Two –thirds (49) of incidents were reported on or after 19 March 2012 and may have reflected ‘a greater motivation on the part of British Jews to report anti-Semitic incidents’. 

Breakdown of incident categories:

In the first half of 2012, CST recorded 33 violent anti-Semitic assaults, one of which was so serious it was classified as extreme violence – meaning it posed a threat to life or constituted grievous bodily harm (GBH). 

There were 28 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property in the first six months of 2012. There has been a rise in the number of direct anti-Semitic threats recorded by the CST (19) in 2012, compared with 15 threat incidents in January to June 2011.

Of the total incidents logged by the CST, the majority fall under the category of abusive behaviour which can range from anti-Semitic graffiti, one-off hate mail, and anti-Semitic verbal abuse.

Abusive behaviour accounts for 217 of the incidents recorded, a massive 10 percent increase from the 197 incidents documented in the first half of 2011. CST identified three incidents of mass-produced or mass-emailed anti-Semitic literature between January-June 2012.

Incident victims for the first half of 2012

-       136 incidents in which victims were random Jewish individuals in public

-        67 incidents involved victims who were visibly Jewish – wore religious or traditional Jewish clothing

-        36 incidents involved abuse shouted at a passing vehicle

-        12 incidents at Jewish Schools

-        11 incidents involved Jewish staff or schoolchildren on their way to or from school

-        7 incidents involved Jewish schoolchildren or staff at non-faith schools

-        14 incidents affecting Jewish academics, students, student unions or other student bodies (nine on campus, five off campus)

-        21 incidents involved synagogues

-        15 incidents targeted synagogues congregates or rabbis on their way to and from prayers

-         5 incidents involved a prominent Jewish individual or public figure

-         2 desecrations of Jewish cemeteries

One of the starkest statistics from the breakdown of victims is the total number of incidents (30) which took place in or around a schooling environment. Does this suggest that a younger generation of Britons are succumbing to racial hatred or discrimination among their peers?

Who are the perpetrators?

Of course while difficult to identify each individual or group guilty of such anti-Semitism within the UK, the CST report did record some statistics based on ethnicity, age and gender.

-        In 76 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents -  57 percent were describes as white-north European, 29 percent as South Asian, 13 percent as Arab or north African and 1 was described as black.

-        In 139 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents – 79 percent were male perpetrators, 18 percent were female and perpetrators in four incidents were mixed groups of males and females

-        In 118 of 299 anti-Semitic incidents – 63 percent were adults, 35 percent were describes as minors and three incidents of mixed groups of adults and minors.


Australia's main government broadcaster (ABC) sets lower standards bar

DRAWING comparisons to pedophiles to attack your opponents is acceptable under the ABC complaints process - held up as the ideal model by media inquiry head Ray Finkelstein - but has been ruled out of order by the newspapers' existing regulatory body.

Mr Finkelstein recommended in his government-commissioned review of the media industry earlier this year that the self-regulatory Australian Press Council should be overhauled in line with the ABC model.

But two decisions this week reveal the APC is tougher on commentators who compare opponents with pedophiles.

On Tuesday, The Australian reported that the ABC had dismissed a complaint by its former chairman, Maurice Newman, against science broadcaster Robyn Williams, who made a comparison between climate change deniers and pedophiles last month. An ABC spokeswoman said the complaint was dismissed because the editorial context of the segment was reasonable, meaning "harm and offence" was justified.

Today, The Australian publishes an adjudication by the APC about an opinion article in the newspaper by the libertarian conservative commentator James Delingpole about the Australian wind-farm industry.

The article quoted an unnamed sheep farmer who said that the "wind-farm business is bloody well near a pedophile ring. They're f . . king our families and knowingly doing so."

The APC upheld the complaint, concluding that because pedophilia was a "very serious and odious crime" the comments were "highly offensive".

"The council's principles relate, of course, to whether something is acceptable journalistic practice, not whether it is unlawful," the adjudication says.

"They are breached where, as in this case, the level of offensiveness is so high that it outweighs the very strong public interest in freedom of speech. It was fully justifiable in the public interest to convey the intensity of feeling by some opponents of wind farms but that goal did not require quoting the reference to pedophilia."

Two other complaints about the Delingpole piece published on May 3 were also upheld by the APC, however several others were denied on the basis they were "not of a kind on which the council could make a decision".

Mr Finkelstein declined to comment on how the regulatory body he decided needed to be overhauled had been harder on such a similar issue than the ABC's own complaints process.

Newman had complained to ABC boss Mark Scott that Williams had failed the broadcaster's "public interest" test.

During a November 24 broadcast of The Science Show, Williams said: "What if I told you that pedophilia is good for children, or that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, to be encouraged? You'd rightly find it outrageous. But there have been similar statements coming out of inexpert mouths again and again in recent times, distorting the science."

An ABC spokeswoman again defended its decision when asked if the APC adjudication meant the ABC might review it. "The ABC acknowledges there are climate scientists who question the core thinking about climate science. The ABC gives them . . . air time. The weight of our coverage, however, rests with the weight of the broad consensus, focusing on the extent of the impact of climate change and the speed and nature of human interventions required in response."



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

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

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


1 January, 2013

The black Florence Nightingale and the making of a PC myth: One historian explains how Mary Seacole's story never stood up

She was just a good-hearted woman who ran a bar

She is regarded as our greatest black Briton, a woman who did more to advance the cause of nursing - and race relations - than almost any other individual.

On the Crimea's bloody battlefields, she is said to have saved the lives of countless wounded soldiers and nursed them to health in a clinic paid for out of her own pocket.

Her name was Mary Seacole, and today she is almost as famous as that other nursing heroine, Florence Nightingale.

For decades after her death in 1881, Seacole's story was largely overlooked, but for the past 15 years her reputation and exploits have undergone a remarkable rehabilitation.

Schoolchildren are taught about her achievements and for many, Seacole, born in Jamaica in 1805 to a white Scottish officer called Grant and a Creole woman from whom Mary learned her 'nursing skills', is seen as a secular saint.

Numerous schools, hospitals and universities have rooms or buildings named after her, and shortly she will get her greatest tribute yet: an 8ft tall bronze statue is to be erected to her memory in the grounds of St Thomas's Hospital, facing towards the Houses of Parliament.

The £500,000 memorial - larger than the statue of Florence Nightingale near Pall Mall - will show Seacole marching out to the battlefield, a medical bag over her shoulder, a row of medals proudly pinned to her chest.

There's just one problem: historians around the world are growing increasingly uneasy about the statue, amid claims the adulation of Seacole has gone too far.

They claim her achievements have been hugely oversold for political reasons, and out of a commendable - but in this case misguided - desire to create positive black role models.

Now Seacole is at the centre of a new controversy with the news that the story of her life will no longer be taught to thousands of pupils.

Westminster Education Secretary Michael Gove has decreed that instead they will learn about traditional figures such as Oliver Cromwell and Winston Churchill.

So is it unfair to reduce her standing in this way? Not according to several historians.

'The hype that has built up surrounding this otherwise worthy woman is a disgrace to the serious study of history,' declares William Curtis of the Crimean War Research Society.

His views are shared by Major Colin Robins, a Fellow of the Historical Society who recently wrote a paper for an academic journal stating that Seacole is the 'subject of many myths', arguing that numerous 'facts' concerning her life are simply untrue.

Indeed, Major Robins singles out the teaching of some of the stories about Seacole as 'irresponsible' and 'certainly not history'.

Meanwhile, leading the charge against the statue being placed at St Thomas's is Lynn McDonald, a history professor and world expert on Florence Nightingale, who feels Seacole is being promoted at the expense of Nightingale.  'Nightingale was the pioneer nurse, not Mary Seacole,' says McDonald.

'It's fine to have a statue to whoever you want, but Seacole was not a pioneer nurse, she didn't call herself a nurse, she didn't practise nursing, and she had no association with St Thomas's or any other hospital.'

So are these protests justified? Was the real Mary Seacole the heroine she has been made out to be?

Textbooks used for the current National Curriculum say that in her twenties, Seacole married a Jamaican merchant called Edwin Seacole and they travelled around the Caribbean, Central America and England until his death in 1844.

Seacole then set up a 'hotel' in the town of Cruces in Panama, where she is reputed to have treated cholera victims.

With the outbreak of the Crimean War later that year, Seacole was determined to offer her nursing services to the British and, when she was turned down, paid her way to the peninsula out of her own pocket.

Once she had arrived in the Crimea, Seacole tried to work for Florence Nightingale, who supposedly turned her away. Instead, she established her 'British Hotel' - part boarding house, part medical centre - from where she sold alcohol, hearty food and ran a daily clinic, as well as tending to the sick on the battlefield, even under bombardment. For all this, she was awarded the Crimea Medal.

After the war ended, Seacole returned to Britain, so impoverished she had to declare bankruptcy.

However, such was her reputation a benefit fund was established for her, which received the blessing of Queen Victoria. By the time she died in 1881, Seacole had retreated into obscurity and not until recently was she 'rediscovered' as a heroine of Crimea.

That is the version of events taught to schoolchildren in recent years. Unfortunately, many key details are either untrue or stretch credulity to breaking point.

Part of the problem is that much of the historical record concerning Seacole comes from her autobiography, which contains downright inventions, including meetings with people whom she could never have encountered.

Other key details have been embellished or invented by contemporary accounts. And although Seacole is championed as a black heroine - voted greatest Black Briton of all time in a 2004 poll - she was actually three-quarters white.

Her mother was mixed race and her father white. In her book, Seacole claims her skin is more 'yellow' than black, and she displayed more pride in her white Scottish ancestry than her black Jamaican heritage.

Furthermore, although one observer noted that she was 'a few shades darker than the white lily', her skin colour seems to have attracted remarkably little attention from those she helped in the Crimea.

However, today, Seacole's skin colour is seen as being vitally important - and stated as the reason the War Office rejected her offers of assistance.

Seacole did wonder whether she was a victim of racism: 'Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?' she asked.

But although race could have been a factor, Seacole was more likely to have been rejected because of her age - she was 50 when she volunteered - and the type of home-made medicine she practised, which was regarded as quackery by the medical establishment.

Seacole herself admitted that when she treated the sick in Panama she made 'lamentable blunders' so she 'lost patients which a little later I could have saved'. She even administered highly toxic lead acetate as an attempted treatment for cholera.

And she knew her lack of qualifications made the Army wary. 'I am not for a single instant going to blame the authorities who would not listen to the offer of a motherly yellow woman,' she wrote.

Another myth beloved of the politically correct telling of Seacole's story is that her offers of help were personally rejected by Florence Nightingale. Once again, this is untrue.

In her autobiography, Seacole says she was not interested in working at Nightingale's hospital at Scutari and instead only asked the celebrated 'Lady of the Lamp' for a bed for the night, which was duly granted.

Throughout her life, Seacole spoke warmly of Nightingale, although the feeling was not mutual. Nightingale regarded Seacole's British Hotel 'as something approaching a 'bad house", and believed that although she was 'kind to the men .... and did some good', she 'made many drunk'.

'Anyone who employs Mrs Seacole,' Nightingale wrote, 'will introduce much kindness - also much drunkenness and improper conduct, wherever she is.'

Yet if the haughty Nightingale cared little for her, there is no doubt Seacole was a favourite among the men. Despite its high prices, her 'hotel' (more a glorified hut) was a popular place to eat, drink ..... and drink some more.

'All the men swore by her,' wrote one, 'and in case of any malady would seek her advice and use her herbal medicines, in preference to reporting to their own doctors.'

But the idea that she ran a clinic or some sort of hospital is a gross exaggeration.

There was no accommodation at the 'hotel', and although she may have dispensed herbal home-made medicines to alleviate symptoms of ailments such as diarrhoea, the idea that a single woman working alone and away from a hospital could have done anything to combat an illness as deadly as cholera is far-fetched in the extreme.

In truth, Mary Seacole was more of a mother figure to the officers and men. She was well-liked and she undoubtedly did at some point go onto a battlefield dispensing comforts such as wine and doing her best to deal with the odd injury.

It was her popularity that led to a benefit fund being set up for her when she returned bankrupted to Britain - much to the chagrin of Nightingale, who felt Queen Victoria had been misled into supporting the campaign.  'A shameful ignorant imposture was practised on the Queen,' she wrote privately.

And contrary to many historical accounts, Seacole was never awarded a Crimea Medal for her efforts. Although she often wore the medal, her name does not appear on any of the official rolls.

Although some would say she was morally deserving of recognition –- and indeed a statue - for her warm heart and personal courage, the story of Mary Seacole has been spun out of all proportion, her memory hijacked and her achievements embellished in order to provide a role model.  It may be good politics, but it is poor history.


It's no wonder the British public are losing faith as figures show some police officers would rather look after their own narrow interest than protect the public

By Dai Davies

When the Coalition embarked on its austerity programme to tackle Britain’s colossal fiscal deficit, Labour warned in doom-laden terms that cuts in police budgets would lead to soaring crime and public disorder.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, claimed austerity would lead to ‘Christmas for criminals’.

But the forecasts were wrong. Far from undermining the work of police, the cuts have in fact seen Britain become a safer place.

This just proves what I have always argued: in the fight against crime, the use of resources is more crucial than the size of the budget.

In my career, I served as head of the Royal Protection Squad and as Chairman of the Police Superintendents’ Association in London.

And that experience taught me the importance of efficiency over mere numbers. That is why I believe the Coalition is right to press on with reform of our police forces.

As the Home Office figures imply, there is far too much waste and inefficiency, reflected in outdated working practices, enfeebled management and excessive bureaucracy.

Some police have lost sight of their central purpose: to protect the public. Instead of serving those who pay their wages, they can end up looking after their own narrow interests.

The publication of the figures yesterday has thrown the focus once more on the running battle between government and police, which exploded into life in the Plebgate affair that cost Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell his job.

He was, of course, accused of swearing at officers in Downing Street and calling them ‘plebs’. After a month of intense pressure, the Police Federation got their scalp.

But last week it emerged that an email giving an eye-witness account of the confrontation came from a police officer who hadn’t even been present: round two to the Government.

Over the weekend damaging stories have emerged which can only give further impetus to reform. The revelation that 23,000 police staff have second jobs does not surprise me. Time and again, I have come across officers with second jobs in the ‘pseudo-security’ business.

What raises my eyebrows is that some seem to think they can combine police work with being undertakers or pole dance teachers.

This eagerness to take on extra jobs shows how under-worked some personnel are.

When I was in the force, I worked up to 12 hour days, sometimes six days a week. I was too exhausted to take on any other duties.

But I wouldn’t have thought it right to serve another master: policing is meant to be vocation, not just a job. A job on the side is bound to interfere with an officer’s commitment – indeed, there are suspicions that shift patterns are being organised in some stations to accommodate moonlighting staff.

Outside employment can mean staff are not available for sudden emergencies. Nor is there any justification for it: police enjoy reasonable pay, pensions, holidays, career progression and conditions which are the envy of those in the private sector.

Just as worrying is a study which shows police are ‘visible and available to the public’  just 11.8 per cent of the time. The rest of the working day is taken up with paperwork, meetings, court appearance, and backroom duties.

It is a huge misuse of resources, and a prime reason why the public is losing faith in police is that they rarely see bobbies on the beat.

The retreat to the station is all the more reprehensible when forces now employ a huge support army to take away the bureaucratic burden from front-line officers.

The vast expansion of support staff seems to have done nothing to free up more officers to go out on patrol.

This is partly because of the disastrous introduction by the Labour Government of Police Community Support Officers.

With just a fraction of the powers of sworn constables and little of the experience, these ‘plastic bobbies’ have been a hopelessly inadequate replacement.

Just as regrettably, the growing reliance on PCSOs encourages a spirit of self-importance among officers who are taught to believe daily patrolling is beneath them.

The police must bring back their traditional ethos of serving the public, not themselves. Too much of the Police Federation’s rhetoric smacks of naked self-interest.

When the Metropolitan Police was created in 1829, the first Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne said the force had to demonstrate ‘absolute impartial service to the law’, and must retain the support of the public at all times.

‘The police are the public and the public are the police,’ he said, stressing the ideal of policing by consent. That ethos should be as relevant today as it was nearly two centuries ago.


We’ve brought back fairness to welfare in Britain

No longer will hard-working taxpayers have to pay for Labour’s benefits profligacy, says Iain Duncan Smith

Labour’s legacy on tax credits tells a sorry story of dependency, wasted taxpayers’ money and fraud. At the most basic level, Labour used spending on tax credits as an attempt to gain short-term popularity. It knew what it was doing – this was a calculated attempt to win votes. Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.

Yet pumping up welfare transfers not only increased people’s dependency on the state – worse still, it pushed the public finances almost to breaking point. Between 2003 and 2010, Labour spent a staggering £171 billion on tax credits, contributing to a 60 per cent rise in the welfare bill.

Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10 billion. Small wonder really, given that the system was wide open to abuse. In 2008 Gordon Brown increased the income disregard in tax credits to £25,000. That meant any claimant could claim they had increased their earnings by an additional £25,000 – a substantial amount by anyone’s standards – before their award would be reassessed. It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this benefit for personal gain.

Little attempt was made to clamp down on potential fraudsters. In the year before the last general election, only 34,000 checks were carried out on what were deemed high-risk awards. In the DWP today, we carry out around 30,000 checks a month on what we consider "high-risk claimants”.

Even for those in genuine need of support, tax credits were not fit for purpose. They were haemorrhaging money while at the same time trapping people in a system where those trying hard to increase the amount of hours they worked weren’t necessarily better off. What sort of a message does that send to someone who is trying to get on?

The system I inherited punished hard-working taxpayers and was in need of reform. Welfare spending had increased by a massive 60 per cent under the last government, rising even before the recession hit.

By 2010 this was costing every household in Britain an extra £3,000 a year. That is too much to ask from Britain’s hard-working majority.

As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is not cruel to expect people to work; getting people into work is vital not just for them, but for all of us.

This Government is returning fairness to the welfare system. We are taking 2.2 million people out of tax and getting public spending under control, in a way that helps the poorest into work. Universal credit is designed to make work pay at each and every hour – 1.5 million people will keep more money as they increase their working hours, on average seeing an extra 14 pence in their pocket out of every single pound earned.

This is a dynamic reform, which will benefit hard-working people across the country.

As a result of the last government racking up such huge debts, taxpayers have had to foot the bill. This Government is on the side of hard-working taxpayers, the people across the country working in the private and public sectors who have seen their pay frozen or cut, as businesses have struggled to keep them in work. And all the while these people have watched those on tax credits or benefits see their income rise, outstripping their earnings.

Hard-working people have felt the impact of an economic mess left by the last government, and do not deserve to be hit twice – having to pick up the bill for ever-increasing welfare spending at the same time. The sad truth is that despite leaving Britain with its worst deficit in living memory, Labour is now voting against the measures this Government is bringing forward to reduce our debts. Labour voted against the benefit cap, against reducing the cost of housing benefit, against universal credit and now Labour will vote against the Uprating Bill in the new year.

Labour’s argument – it doesn’t think it’s fair. It would rather see benefits increase more than wages.

What we get from Ed Miliband now is merely platitudes; he says Labour would try to bring the welfare bill under control. The question every taxpayer should ask Ed Miliband is this: what is fair about making taxpayers who, in a time of growth, paid for Labour’s extravagant welfare system, now pay for further rises to benefits? The answer Mr Miliband, is nothing.


Australia: How did the wrong man get mistaken for a mental health patient?

Easy if you know the full facts and not just the politically correct ones:  Because he was an Aborigine.  "Itinerant" is a common euphemism for an Aboriginal street-dweller.

Aborigines are very complaisant:  They tend to say what they think you want to hear.  So he answered to the name that they called him by and went along with them generally.  That the W.A. police did not recognize that shows how ignorant they are.  There is a special technique for getting a straight answer out of an Aborigine:  Give NO indication of the expected answer.

There is a large Aboriginal presence in W.A. and the police often lock them up, sometimes controversially so you would think that they would use that technique routinely.

ALL the facts below fall into place if you know Aborigines.  A pity the the W.A. police don't

Details surrounding the wrongful detainment of a man who was administered with powerful antipsychotic drugs when mistakenly identified as a patient who had absconded from Graylands Hospital have been revealed.

The insight into the incident comes as the Mental Health Minister Helen Morton admits the incident could instigate changes in policies and procedures.

The 22-year-old man who was wrongly detained has since been in contact with police and the health system and tests have revealed that he is no longer being affected by the wrongly administered drug, Clozapine.

Mrs Morton said the man was in a public place at 3am and was behaving in an unusual manner.  "That gave rise to suspicions that he was the man," she said.

While Mrs Morton also said there were other circumstances at the time that gave "a very clear suggestion that he had recently absconded from a hospital" she would not provide details of these circumstances.

She said while the wrongly detained man and the man he was mistaken for had "completely different names" at times, he responded to the involuntary patient's name.

"He responded to his name with "yes" and also he was asked if he would like to go back to the hospital and he said "yes."

Mrs Morton said a photograph was not provided to police on this occasion when looking for the man.

She said after the man was administered Clozapine in tablet form, he was then taken to the absconded man's room.

"It was in the process of being taken to his room that it became known to the staff that he wasn't the patient," Mrs Morton said

"It was recognised that he was not the patient by both another member of staff who recognised him and he was also unaware of where his room was in the hospital,  and given that he'd been there for a number of months or the involuntary patient had been, staff became quickly aware that they had the wrong patient.

"He had an adverse reaction [to the antipsychotic medication] and within two hours of being back at Graylands he was admitted to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital."

The wrongly detained man, who is understood to be itinerant has since been offered accommodation, which he has declined.

Mrs Morton said the clinical review that was currently being undertaken and would be completed by January 4 would show whether the fault lay with the policies and procedures or with the people implementing them.

"There are some amazingly stringent processes and procedures that are required both when a person is being admitted and when a person is being administered schedule four drugs and those policies and procedures are currently being reviewed in light of this and also whether those policies and procedures were followed correctly by the people concerned," she said.

Mrs Morton reiterated her comments that she would consider compensation for the man.  "On the face of it, there is every suggestion that this is a compensable case," she said.

As well as a clinical review, there are two other reviews being done which could see changes made to procedures and policies.

Mrs Morton said the state government would provide support to the man to "take the matter further" but would not say whether that would include providing legal advice.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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