Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Pro-Life Nurse Forced to Assist in Abortion

The debate over conscience protections for health care professionals resurfaced last week as the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit this week against a hospital that forced a pro-life nurse to assist in the abortion of a 22-week old baby.

Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a Catholic nurse, was threatened with "insubordination" charges and the possible loss of her job if she did not participate in the abortion. According to the ADF, the woman seeking the abortion was in stable condition and did not require an immediate abortion. While the hospital knew of Cenzon-DeCarlo's objection to abortion since 2004, they refused to call in another nurse for the job. The ADF reports details just how traumautic this experience was for the nurse:

As part of her nursing duties, Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced to watch the doctor remove the bloody arms and legs of the child from the mother’s body. She was also forced to treat and deliver the bloody body parts of the 22-weekold preborn child to the specimen room.

Imagine the horror this nurse was forced to experience: she was witness to the killing of a baby who already had eyebrows and eyelashes, working vocal cords, and active brain waves.

Regardless of where one stands on abortion, or the "right to choose," the majority of Americans agree that health care professionals have a right to choose as well - to choose NOT to participate in the killing of innocent human beings at their youngest moments in the life.

Thankfully, the ADF has stood up to remind Mount Sinai Hospital, and others all across this country, that the First Amendment protection of religious freedom applies to everyone, even pro-life health care professionals.

President Bush put in place a conscience protections rule before he left office in January 2009, but Obama has since proposed the rule be repealed.


Capitalism is a human instinct

Excerpt from Michael Medved

The yen to build wealth in a market economy not only survives every sort of economic crisis and business scandal but also endures the most ferocious attempts at political repression. The Cultural Revolution in China raged between 1966 and 1976 and represented one of history’s most savage efforts to uproot and obliterate the business instinct. Literally millions of those identified as “class enemies,” “revisionists” or “running dogs” suffered violent attack, imprisonment, torture, rape, confiscation of property, and execution. Senior Communist Party historians now acknowledge that “in a few places, it even happened that ‘counterrevolutionaries’ were beaten to death and in the most beastly fashion had their flesh and liver consumed by their killers.” The most authoritative estimates of the number of murder victims suggest 500,000 in the years 1966-69 alone --- a total collection of corpses easily exceeding in number the well publicized hordes who simultaneously partied at the Woodstock Festival.

Nevertheless, a quarter century later the Chinese regime not only tolerated but celebrated the same business values and pursuit of profit that had formerly provoked unspeakable persecution and even mass cannibalism. As the brilliant French economist Guy Sorman observes in his latest book, “Economics Does Not Lie” (2009): “It is a remarkable historical event that the largest country in the world, under the guidance of a Party that tried to reinvent economics from scratch in the 1960’s, has admitted that, after all, there is only one economic system that works: the market economy.”

While others might claim that the survival of business values in China stems from the long national tradition of honoring merchants and artisans, Sorman asserts that the impulse to seek profit and self-improvement is entirely transnational. “After banishing the pursuit of wealth for fifty years,” he writes, “the Party now encourages it. It is once again permissible in China to work in order to make money. Indeed, this is the only authorized and encouraged activity. We see that the Chinese have the same aspirations as other peoples. From the poor peasant to the dynamic entrepreneur, everyone wants to improve his lot and that of his children. The homo economicus is a universal being, found in all civilizations.”

The Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe may have shed even more blood in its futile effort to wipe out that “universal being.” The Nobel prize-winning novelist and historian suggesting that some 60 million “kulaks,” or independent farmers, died at the hands of Lenin and Stalin for the crime of working for themselves rather than the state; official Soviet-era low-range estimates say “only” 700,000 met their doom. In any event, the survivors and heirs of that nightmare regime now co-exist with an aggressive business elite more flamboyant, corrupt, and ambitious than the most notorious captains of industry in America’s gilded age.

Just five years after the collapse of the old Soviet Union and the new independence of its one-time satellite states, I traveled to Warsaw for a lecture to an international media conference at the Palace of Science and Culture. This monstrous building, the tallest in Poland and the eighth tallest in the European Union, has dominated the local skyline since its construction began in 1952, and it sprawls over four square blocks with its various wings and subdivisions. Originally known as the “Joseph Stalin Palace of Science and Culture,” it featured a special throne room from which later Soviet dictators could watch the proceedings of Community Party congresses that convened regularly in the Congress Hall.

By 1994, the Poles had discovered the best possible way to insult Stalin’s evil ghost. Every day a veritable army of peddlers and merchants surrounded the Palace, setting up literally thousands of booths to sell every sort of merchandise from shoes to food to cameras to wigs to cigarettes to pirated CDs to traditional handicrafts. The intense haggling exemplified capitalism in an especially vital, even elemental form; after nearly fifty years of ideological efforts to suppress these instincts, the mobs around Stalin’s former Palace reveled in their newfound ability to buy and sell.

The people of every age who came out every day to sell all manner of junk in 1990’s Warsaw didn’t intend to make a self-conscious, pro-capitalist statement, or with the expectation that they’d get rich. They seized the chance to do business in the public square to earn a few zlotys, and to savor the festive communal atmosphere and the unstoppable energy of that moment in their history.

My own singular adventure in ground-level business building similarly stemmed from a lust for personal adventure and experimentation rather than any conscious commitment to a free market agenda. At age 17 in the summer of 1966, having completed my freshman year at Yale, I needed to earn some serious money for my continued education to supplement my parents’ contribution and my National Merit Scholarship. I initially used the university’s alumni association to secure a minimum-wage bank job near my family’s home in West L.A., but my boredom in the institution’s copy room quickly led to disaster. I liked to play around with the bank’s bulky, primitive Xerox machine, trying to produce some artistic photographic collages, but managed during my second week of employment to set the contraption on fire. The resulting blaze did no serious damage to the building but it definitively ended my banking career and led to desperation regarding my wealth-generating prospects for the rest of the summer.

Rather than doing nothing while I checked the want ads, I began auditing an American history class at the summer session at UCLA and quickly devised a scheme to try to sell notes and “study guides” to the more than 500 students who attended the lectures. I took class notes in the morning, walked over to the library to type them up on master mimeograph sheets (in a barbaric era long before the advent of laptops) and then made enough copies to hand out to every student in the class during the first week. At the bottom of the thorough notes I also began a countdown till the end of the free notes—hoping that the bulk of the huge class would become so addicted to my services that they’d buy a subscription to my newly launched company, “Stratford Study Guides.” (named for the Bard of Avon, and the classy anglophilic sound of the designation).

Everything worked beautifully and I began to sell subscriptions, but the entire scheme came close to collapse when the professor (very reasonably) objected. He could have thrown me out of the lecture hall since I’d never registered to attend or even audit his course, but instead he merely protested that my virtually word-for-word transcriptions of his talks violated his copyright and led students to ignore him since they could count on my very detailed notes. To settle the dispute, I suggested that Stratford Study Guides would become real study guides – still transcribing his lectures more or less verbatim, but leaving at least four blanks in each sentence that the students would need to fill in for themselves. For instance, I might report that: “To support the ratification of the Constitution, ____________, James Madison, and ______________ wrote a series of brilliantly argumentative essays known as ____________.”

The lecturer loved (and, more importantly, authorized) the new approach and by the middle of the summer term the overwhelming majority of students in the class had purchased one of my subscriptions. By working frantically and constantly (I can still smell the sharp alcohol tang of the master mimeograph sheets and recall their slimy feel) I managed to hand out the previous day’s lecture notes to all subscribers (as I punched their cards) at the conclusion of every daily lecture. I also began offering tutoring services (at the suggestion of some of my customers) to assist in preparation for midterms and finals. These personalized sessions led to a brief but thrilling summer romance (unfortunately not with my wife Diane, who was still in Middle School at the time and didn’t start UCLA till four years later).

The summer’s experiment with Stratford Study Guides did wonders for my self-confidence, selling ability, historical knowledge and bank account. As the term came to an end and I prepared to return to New Haven, several satisfied customers and even the initially dubious professor approached me as potential investors with the idea of perpetuating and expanding my little business. If I stayed behind at UCLA, why not replicate my successful formula in other large lecture courses by hiring a group of note-takers who could prepare study guides at my direction? Perhaps I could make some deal with the university book store to help distribute the lecture-based material, plus other student aids that I could generate to help prepare for tests and even term papers.

In one sense, I loved the idea of staying back in California and building my own business but my mother persuaded me that it made no sense to suspend my own college education so I could help other students make easier progress toward their degrees. I did hope to keep “my company” (there was no incorporation or anything of the kind) going until I could resume directing its operations the following summer, so I sold it to a friend of mine with the understanding that he’d continue running Stratford Study Guides in some capacity. I believe the purchase price for my going concern amounted to the princely fee of $50, which ended up as a total waste for the new tycoon who quickly abandoned the whole effort due to lack of focus as his UCLA course demands intensified.

Like my mom, my father wanted me to return to Yale but he watched my business develop with particularly keen interest. He had begun plotting to leave his corporate and government jobs to open his own high tech business providing “hybrid opto-electronic devices” – a far more sophisticated line of products than mimeographed lecture notes. Within three years, he’d successfully launched MERET (MEdved REsearch and Technology) and then my kind brother Jonathan also caught the entrepreneurial bug. At the University of California, Berkeley, he enjoyed conspicuous success with a company called “Meshuggeneh Brothers”--- even though none of his real life meshuggeneh (crazy) brothers managed to help him with it. He delivered over-stuffed, over-priced deli sandwiches he made from food he bought in bulk to dorm rooms and frat houses at Cal to help fortify his fellow students who needed nourishment during late night study. Jonathan has gone on to build a fruitful and internationally recognized career as a venture capitalist in Israel.

In all of these oddly assorted family enterprises we certainly hoped to make money but, like most others inspired by the romance and adventure of business, we also looked for other sorts of pay – for my father, the respect (and in fact awe) of his physicist colleagues when he turned out products they deemed impossible to produce, for Jon the grateful joy of a hungry dorm bound fellow-student into a huge, freshly prepared pastrami and rye at two in the morning before a major test, and for me the heart-fluttering experience of offering a tutoring session about Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the Great Compromise of 1850 while a buxom California co-ed listened with rapt attention and dewy, admiring eyes. Business, even in its most rudimentary sense, builds more than profits – it builds relationships.

The importance of those relationships intensifies during periods of financial turmoil and uncertainty, helping to explain the stubborn survival of the business ethos through every crisis and challenge. “Considerable courage and perseverance are required to start and keep a good shop running,” writes Joseph Epstein of Northwestern University. In responding to Napoleon’s ill-considered dismissal of the British as a “nation of shopkeepers,” Epstein extolled the skill and determination required to “keep shop” – reminding me that even my dad, with his several dozen employees, referred to his fiber optics company as his “shop.” As Epstein wrote (in the Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2009): “Running a good shop is a service to one’s community, of much greater value, in my view, than the work of two hundred social workers, five hundred psychotherapists, and a thousand second-rate poets – and more honorable than the efforts of the vast majority of the members of Congress. A nation of shopkeepers, far from being the put-down Napoleon thought, sounds more and more like an ideal to which a healthy country ought to aspire.”

That aspiration to build and defend businesses arises from the very core of our humanity and for many Americans involves an important religious component. One of the most famous of all Biblical verses (Genesis 1:27) declares: “So God created Man in His image, in the image of God he created him…” Jewish sages have never understood the reference to connote a physical resemblance between man and God, but rather to emphasize the Godlike gift of creativity. As the Creator busies Himself eternally with the business of constant making and shaping, bringing order out of chaos (a universe once “formless and void”), so human beings, in His likeness, feel the constant urge to create, to connect and organize.

This creative urge gave rise to capitalism, with artisans and craftsmen (who used their own divine power to shape precious things with their hands) playing a decisive role. Historians often cite the 13th Century development of the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe along the Baltic and North Sea as the beginnings of medieval mercantile system. Certainly, goldsmiths (who skillfully shaped the most precious of metals according to their will) became the first bankers, making clear the creative essence of a modern financial system.

The current system will adjust to its shocks and catastrophes and continue to create, harnessing the God-given impulse of humans everywhere. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek put the turmoil in an appropriate perspective: “What we are experiencing is not a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of finance, of democracy, of globalization and ultimately of ethics,” he writes. “The simple truth is that with all its flaws, capitalism remains the most productive economic engine we have yet invented. Like Churchill’s line about democracy, it is the worst of all economic systems, except for the others.”

On a more ebullient note, Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954), the Scottish immigrant founder of Forbes magazine, once memorably declared: “Business was originated to produce happiness.” To produce happiness, maybe not, but to pursue it--- most certainly.


"Never write anything down"

That's advice that's been given to many people over the years and it may be wiser than ever these days, particularly for Australian employers. Many people are unable to acknowledge their own limitations and a lawsuit could follow if those limitations are mentioned in a recoverable way. Australian worker-protection and anti-discrimination laws mean that nothing written down about an employeee or job applicant is private

Have you ever had that creeping feeling that the reason you didn’t get a job was because someone, somewhere stuck a big knife in your back? Managers who seemed fine up until the day you left suddenly turned toxic when the reference checker called. Or perhaps an enthusiastic recruiter cooled on you after seeing your racy photos from Indy on Facebook?

The amazing thing is that you can act on your suspicions and apply to see the notes made about you during the recruitment process. That’s right. Under the existing Privacy Act you can apply to an employer or a recruiter to find out what has been said about you. And now under the Fair Work Act there could be more to check for but more on that later.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers senior associate, Bronwyn Maynard, says candidates can just apply directly to the employer or recruiter. There is no third-party process. Ms Maynard says there are some exemptions such as where the records include personal information about others or it is commercially sensitive. There is no set timeframe for employers to follow but Ms Maynard says expecting an answer back within 30 days is reasonable.

You can check to see any notes made about you during the recruitment process are accurate and relevant. If not, you can request any inaccuracies be corrected. If you deem the information “irrelevant”, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner. I did call the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and as far as they know, no one has ever made a complaint.

I will pass on what a hiring manager confided to me as a good example of info that could be deemed irrelevant. Sitting at a lunch this guy told me he didn’t hire a woman for a receptionist role because she had too many “friends” on Facebook and he was worried she would be spending all her time updating her posts. If he included this in notes made about the candidate and the candidate applied to see those notes, a claim could follow.

Social networking websites are hot with those sourcing candidates so using them to screen candidates is not a stretch. Indeed, Ms Maynard actually knows of a company that was none too happy when it discovered its line managers were collecting candidate info from social networking websites. She said the company “implemented formal policies [to] forbid the use of social media as a research tool for candidate information gathering – as they deemed this type of personal information to be illegitimate and irrelevant to their business.” “Importantly, employers must remember that these privacy obligations apply even if the information gathered was obtained from a public source as would be the case for many personal details included on an individual’s blog, twitter, Facebook or MySpace page,” she said.

The Privacy Act also requires employers and recruiters to tell you they have collected personal information about you; explain the purpose of gathering the information and let you know who else will see the information.

Ms Maynard says the Fair Work Act, which came into effect on July 1, 2009, offers candidates added protections. Under the “General Protections” section of the Fair Work Act, employers and recruiters cannot treat someone adversely for exercising a workplace right. Put in the recruitment context, this could mean that if you had made an unfair dismissal claim or worker’s compensation claim in the past, this information could not be used to discriminate against you on the job hunt.

Okay, so there is nothing to stop a savvy line manager or recruiter from not including incriminating items in their notes on a particular candidate. However, one HR manager told me she and colleagues struggle to comply with the Privacy Act so those notes are out there waiting for you.


The hate that dare not speak its name

Islamic terrorists identify their motivations and deeds as Islamic -- including Koranic references -- but we are not supposed to mention that, apparently. Comment from Australia below by Janet Albrechtsen

LANGUAGE police should stop tiptoeing and call these terrorists what they are: Islamo-fascists. The bodies of slain Australians in Jakarta were not yet back in the country when a new report warned us last week against referring to Islamo-fascists as -- dare one say it -- Islamo-fascists. If we want to reduce alienation and radicalism among young Muslims we must watch our language, says A Lexicon on Terror, a book compiled by the Victoria Police and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Multicultural Foundation head Hass Dellal told The Age that the wholesale branding of Islam with violence and extremism was of great concern. Speaking at a conference last week Stephen Fontana, the assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism co-ordination, said that "a comment we think is harmless, some communities read as an attack".

Would someone kindly lock up these language police for crimes against the English language? An attack is what happened in Jakarta when innocent hotel guests were murdered at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. And it is, quite literally, the bleeding obvious to point out that the perpetrators of the carnage are a group of Islamist militants who twist the tenets of Islam to suit their ideological purposes. They seek to bring down democracy in Indonesia and punish Western nations for fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, with the ultimate aim of creating an Islamic caliphate. Yet while these terrorists go to great lengths to promote their Muslim identity and their militant Islamist ideology, it seems we are not allowed to mention that now.

There is nothing wrong with crafting careful language when dealing with terrorism. For years political leaders have used terms such as Islamist terrorist or Islamo-fascist to carefully distinguish militants from the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims. But there is a difference between being careful and being cowardly. The kind of zealous language policing endorsed by the Victoria Police and the Multicultural Foundation encourages us to hide from the truth.

Their new whitewash language is not just daft, it's dangerous. Clarity of language is a critical tool if we are serious about uncovering and understanding militant Islam. After so many attacks and the murder of so many innocent people, why would we cower from identifying the drivers of their Islamist extremism?

Yet there was too much cowering and not enough clarity from Attorney-General Robert McClelland when he addressed the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last week. Endorsing the language police's Lexicon of Terrorism project, the A-G's speech was littered with references to "violent extremism", "violent extremists", "violent extremist messages", "extremist beliefs" and "extremist ideology". McClelland was too frightened to construct a sentence that included the word Islamism. Instead he quoted from Ed Husain, in his book The Islamist, who has no problem referring to "Islamist extremists". Apparently the A-G believes it is acceptable for a Muslim to speak with factual accuracy but the rest of us must resort to meaningless generalities for fear of radicalising Muslim youth.

The suggestion from McClelland and senior police that using terms such as Islamo-fascists may drive young Muslims into the arms of jihadists is dubious. I'm willing to wager that those drawn to violence have other matters on their minds and other forces pulling them towards violence than the language employed by Westerners.

If we submit a questionnaire to young would-be jihadists asking them to list, on a scale of one to 100, the reasons they might choose jihad over, say, becoming a pastry chef or a train driver, I'm guessing none are going to suggest they are fed-up with the way Westerners used the term Islamo-fascist. Instead, they may list matters such as hating democracy, achieving glory for Islam and Muslims, destroying the infidel enemies around them, wanting to bring to account those countries that sent infidel troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and so on. That's what the present generation of Islamist terrorists tells us and it may be useful to take them at their word.

In the A-G's woolly world, how exactly does a newspaper report on Islamic militancy if the only acceptable phrase is "violent extremism"? The Australian's Sally Neighbour has done a stellar job reporting on the role played by Islamic boarding schools such as al-Mukmin at Ngruki in Solo, Central Java, in the violent campaign to set up an Indonesian Islamic state. Described by its co-founder and Jemaah Islamiah leader Abu Bakar Bashir as "a crucible for the formation of cadres of mujaheddin" with a mission "to nurture zeal for jihad so that love for jihad and martyrdom grow in the soul of the mujaheddin", it becomes clear that Islam is used to fuel violence among young Muslim men.

As Neighbour reported last week, "The Ngruki school and others linked to JI -- chiefly the Darul Syahadah ('house of martyrs') and Al Muttaqin schools, both in Central Java -- have produced no less than dozens of young recruits linked to a string of terrorist attacks, starting with the first Bali bombings in 2002." Would the A-G have us refrain from reporting the truth, that a handful of radical Islamic schools is a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists?

There are no such sensibilities about calling a spade a bloody shovel when Christian extremists firebomb abortion clinics. No concerns about wholesale branding of Christianity by using the Christian word. Nor is there a fear that using the word will radicalise young Christians. In other areas, too, we don't shy away from using descriptors to explain extremism.

The US Department of Homeland Security had no misgivings about producing an intelligence assessment in April headed Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment. The nine-page report, which predicts a surge in violence given the present economic and political climate of the US, is littered with references to "right-wing terrorist and extremist groups".

Yet when it comes to militant Islam, we are asked to whitewash our language, tiptoeing around the truth for fear of offending and radicalising Muslims. One might have been forgiven for thinking we had long ago rejected this nonsense of letting the Islamist tail wag the Western dog. Since September 11, politicians of all hues have been falling over themselves to make it clear that the perpetrators of violence are fringe-group Islamist extremists who exploit Islam for their own ideological, anti-Western purposes. Politicians have made it clear specifically to praise, and seek the support of, moderate Muslims.

Wait on. Dellal told The Age that we should also avoid using the term "moderate Muslim" because it suggested to Muslims that they were not true to their faith. When the word moderate is labelled as a menacing, you know the thin blue line of the language police has become a perilously thick one.



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

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

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


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Must not satirize Muslims

It was pretty game for a Jewish comedian to do it but he does after all satirize just about anybody. But one can't expect Arabs to understand the rich tradition of Jewish comedy, of course

Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after being threatened by a militant Palestinian group angered at its portrayal in the film Brüno. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, said in a statement released to a Jerusalem-based journalist that it was “very upset” that it featured in the film starring Baron Cohen’s homosexual fashionista alter ego. “We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man,” it said. “The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”

The London-born comic is taking the threat seriously and has improved security for himself and his family in preparation for violent reprisals.

The group is alleged to be responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings. It has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States. Baron Cohen’s Austrian character ridicules the Martyrs’ Brigades when he attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the organisation.

His character is shown telling Mr Abu Aita: “I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al-Qaeda is so 2001.” Brüno then suggests that Mr Abu Aita remove his moustache, explaining: “Because your king Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa.”

The group condemned the use of the interview with Mr Abu Aita. “This was a dirty use of our brother, Ayman, and we don’t accept that the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is part of the film,” the statement said. Mr Abu Aita claims that he was tricked into appearing in the film and that he is no longer involved with the Martyrs’ Brigades. He has threatened to sue Baron Cohen. “This man, I think he is not a man,” Mr Abu Aita said. “He is not saying the truth about me. He lied.”

Mr Abu Aita’s lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios alleging that the Martyrs’ Brigade reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and the homosexual association could get him killed by the Palestinians.

Mr Abu Ahmad said: “This joke is very dangerous. We are not in the United States, we are not in Europe, we are in the Middle East and the world operates differently here.” Aaron Klein, the WorldNet reporter who received the statement from the Martyrs’ Brigades, said: “These are terrorists. They are against feminism, gay rights and abortion. Once I asked them what would they do if they found out one of their members was a homosexual. They said they would cut off his head.”

Baron Cohen also angered Orthodox Jews during the filming of Brüno in Jerusalem when he nearly provoked a riot as he strutted down the street in a sexed-up Hasidic outfit with skintight shorts.


“Look at the evil people in the world — Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Stalin — what do they all have in common? Moustaches”

“Is it a coincidence that all the good people have long hair, like Jesus, and like hippies and, you know, Rod Stewart”

“Vassup! Being gay is the new coolest thing, so that’s why I’ve come to the gayest part of America — Alabama”

“How cool is Jesus? Is He cooler than the Backstreet Boys?”

“The rise of club music, the fall of apartheid — coincidence or not?"


No smiling, no hugging

Things sure have changed since I was a kid. It used to be okay to smile. Encouraged even. And hugging someone was considered nice, friendly, compassionate.

Today, in my home state of Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, is discouraging smiles. No, not just discouraging smiles, wiping them out entirely. The DMV is telling people not to smile — or say “cheese” — when getting their photos taken for their drivers' licenses. If they do smile, the picture cannot go on their license and they have to take another.

And all over the country, public schools are banning hugging.

Why the official suppression of friendliness and good cheer? Well, in schools the administrators apparently cannot tell a friendly hug from a sexual grope, or a jovial high-five from a bullying slap. So they're outlawing all touching.

When I was in school, I don't remember any rules against hugging or holding hands or even kissing — unless folks got carried away. And we trusted teachers and principals to make the judgment as to what was going too far. Now, any touching invites what one administrator calls a “gray area.”

The DMV may have a better excuse to suppress smiles and grins and such: They are developing facial recognition software, and smiles get in the way. It's all to protect us from identity theft, they say. And yet isn't it odd that protecting us makes us less human? Can that really be protection?


A teachable moment indeed -- because of a cop who refused to grovel

Comments below by Pat Buchanan

Sunday, professor Louis Henry Gates retreated from his threat to sue Sgt. James Crowley. Friday, President Obama retreated from his charge that the Cambridge cops "acted stupidly."

As Crowley has not budged an inch -- his arrest of Gates was correct, and there will be no apology -- there is no doubt who won this face-off. Game, set, match, Crowley and the Cambridge cops. It is, indeed, as Obama said Friday, a "teachable moment." .... the two most powerful black elected officials in the U.S., with no hard knowledge of what happened, came down on the side of a black professor, their buddy, against a white cop and his department, implying racial motivation in the arrest of Gates.

Yet there is still not a shred of evidence for their rush to judgment. Crowley's partner in the arrest was a black officer who said he stands "100 percent" behind Crowley and that Gates acted "strange." And watching TV coverage for a week, this writer has yet to hear one cop anywhere condemn Crowley's handling of the incident.

Outside the fevered imagination of Louis Henry Gates, then, where is the evidence Crowley engaged in racial profiling? The victim here is Sgt. Crowley, not professor Gates. Crowley is the one defamed as a "racist" and "rogue cop." He is the officer whom Gov. Patrick implied perpetrated "every black man's nightmare." He is the cop on the Cambridge force who, Obama told the nation, "acted stupidly."

If anyone has grounds for legal action, it is Crowley. Indeed, upon what grounds would Gates sue? That he was wrongly arrested, when Crowley, his black partner, the Cambridge P.D., the police union and 1,000 cops would gladly come to Cambridge to testify that Crowley went by the book? Moreover, no one says Crowley abused Gates in any way. And there were witnesses in the street to the arrest. And Crowley apparently had his mike open, and a recording of the incident exists.

But if Obama's racial reflexes served him badly Wednesday night, his political instincts served him well him on Friday. For he must have sensed that this confrontation was shaping up as three powerful black men coming down hard on a white cop with a stellar record who had only done his conscientious duty. Obama picked up the phone, called Crowley, regretted his choice of words about him and the Cambridge P.D., walked into the press room and told the nation Crowley was a "good guy," he himself had misspoken, that he and the sergeant had talked about getting together for a beer. It was a goodly slice of humble pie the president ate there, but it was a class act. To ask more would be churlish. As for Patrick and Gates, they, too, should eat a little crow.

The president's decision to go before the White House press corps also suggests Obama is acutely aware of the political peril here. For while his black support is rock solid, his white support is soft. And Americans will usually side with an Irish cop over a Harvard don, especially when the professor is pulling rank and the cop is right.

"This isn't about me," says Gates. Sorry, professor, it is about you. You have shown the country why William F. Buckley won laughter all over America when he wittily observed that, rather than be governed by the Harvard faculty, he would prefer to be governed by the first 300 names in the Cambridge telephone directory.


Elderly Brits kept impoverished by a socialist government that spends most of its money on a myriad of bureaucrats

Retired elderly better treated in Romania and Poland!!?? That's "caring" British socialism for you

Britain has a higher proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line than Romania, figures show. The elderly in this country are among the poorest in Europe, according to a breakdown by charities. Only in Estonia, Latvia and Cyprus are the aged more likely to be among the poorest in society. The comparisons, based on EU figures, follow a decade in which pensioners have been slipping down the league table of wealth in Britain.

This is largely because state benefits for the worst-off pensioners have slipped behind those available to the other poorest group in society, single mothers. Ministers have also acknowledged that elderly people with their own incomes and homes suffer because of the impact of soaring council tax bills.

The figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm, were compiled by the charities Age Concern and Help the Aged. They reveal the proportion of pensioners in each EU country who live on incomes below 60 per cent of average.

The measure does not identify how many older people have plentiful material goods such as houses and cars despite low incomes, and is often regarded as a measure of equality rather than real poverty. But the charities said they were useful to show the number of older people who are at risk of living in poverty.

In Britain nearly one in three over-65s, or 30 per cent, are on incomes below the poverty threshold. That is lower only than the 51 per cent in Cyprus, 33 per cent in Latvia, and 33 per cent in Estonia.

Britain’s 30 per cent is equal to the 30 per cent poverty risk rate in the other Baltic republic, Lithuania. In comparison, only 19 percent fall below the threshold in Romania and in Poland that figure is just eight per cent. The elderly also fare considerably better in Germany where the proportion below the poverty line is 17 per cent, in France 13 per cent and Holland 10 per cent.

Least likely pensioners to be poor are in the Czech republic, where only one in 20, five per cent, falls below the 60 per cent poverty line.

The figures also show that pensioners are more likely to be poor in Britain than other groups. While pensioners here come fourth from bottom of the table, for child poverty Britain ranks fifth from bottom and for poverty risk among adults under 65 ninth.

The study comes ahead of a major Government review of pensioner poverty due to be published this week. The charities said other research has shown that older people are skipping meals to save money and two out of five cannot afford to buy essential items.

Age Concern director Michelle Mitchell said: ‘Even before the recession set in, many older people were not keeping up with the pace at which the general wealth of the nation has increased.’



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

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

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


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hollywood's new McCarthyism

HUAC was the House Un-American Activities Committee. It preceded Joe McCarthy but had similar aims and procedures

There are indications [that McCarthyism] could be happening again. Not in committee hearings, but in the way that people’s politics and origins are being examined. We are seeing a new kind of fear — that unless a producer has a product that fulfils certain criteria, it won’t get made. It could be political, it could be old-fashioned political correctness but the film has to pass a test that, basically, is a matter of genre. The mere suggestion that the subject does not fit someone else’s idea is enough for it not even to get to a story conference. As Larry Gelbart, who wrote the M*A*S*H TV series, put it to me: “HUAC was a bad dream — but one we are dreaming again.”

The mood is no longer anti-communist, although it could easily be, and is not confined to America. In fact, those two factors came into play a couple of months ago in the shape of Ken Loach, the left-wing British director, who, had he been working in Tinseltown 60 years ago, would surely have been blacklisted, and cast into oblivion.

Loach, that believer in freedom of speech and thought, persuaded the organisers of this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival to refuse £300 from the Israeli Embassy to bring over an Israeli writer so she could see her work on the screen. If the money were accepted, he said, the festival should be boycotted. Even worse, the festival organiser, not only agreed, but said Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community”. Which film community? It was true HUAC stuff, reminiscent of the time when puppet organisations were set up in Hollywood virtually to pledge allegiance to the committee.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs sought to put the festival right. “The idea that he (Loach) should lend himself to this denial of a film-maker’s right to show her own work is absolutely appalling.” But that was exactly what HUAC did. The terrible thing is that the thought was there in Edinburgh. Eventually the festival met the expenses.

In Hollywood, the signs are perhaps less obvious. Studios don’t exist as they did when the moguls (with the exception of Sam Goldwyn) capitulated to HUAC, rather than be branded as communists themselves. But the operations are now run by multinational corporations, which do not take kindly to big business being attacked on screen. Meanwhile, film-makers are scared of being dubbed non-PC. The arrival of Barack Obama has no doubt strengthened that feeling, as has the presence of black senior military figures. There is a perception that to get movies made, it is necessary to exploit that situation — out of fear, perhaps, that minorities will resent the idea of a white male presuming to have one of those jobs.

Ever since the Harrison Ford movie Patriot Games, it has become virtually the norm for the senior admiral (general/air force commander/ judge) in a film to be black. In the brilliant TV series, The West Wing, which would never have got past the HUAC censors, the defence chief was also black. The incoming president was Hispanic.

Women have never had as many opportunities. For every harridan in The Devil Wears Prada, there is a Desperate Housewife, and actresses such as Dame Helen Mirren who played an editor in State of Play.

In isolation, these are honourable developments, but what lies behind them is worrying. Shortly before his death two years ago, my friend, the screen writer and director Melville Shavelson, who produced a documentary about the HUAC days, told me: “I couldn’t get a movie made today because I would have to please too many people. I wouldn’t be allowed to say that someone from a racial minority in high office was bad. I wouldn’t be able to upset the makers of my breakfast cereal. I couldn’t give the idea that I support Israel.” And that from a man who made a film starring Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson and John Wayne about the foundation of the state of Israel (Cast a Giant Shadow).

Gregory Peck was one of America’s most attractive actors. Long after I wrote his biography, he told me: “Nobody wants to give me work, even old man parts — because I like to add lines which they think could be dangerous for 21st-century audiences.” Peck had been featured on Richard Nixon’s famous “enemies list”. “Now,” he said, “they think I am too establishment.” He died in 2003.

The traffic is not all one way. Ed Asner, who was well known as the editor in the television series Lou Grant, and is a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, said that there was still a bias against those perceived as left-wing. Asner believes that the series was cancelled, despite getting top ratings, because of pressure from the network, which thought he was involved in the “wrong” kind of politics.

Looking back, Larry Gelbart recalled, as a young man, sitting in a producer’s office and seeing the executive offering an agent work for a client — and then watching him check a sheet of paper. “ ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘We can’t use him’. The paper was his blacklist.” As he now says: “Being on the blacklist was a badge of honour.” But it is one that any surviving blacklistee could do without. And, for people in the film business today, one with a health warning attached.


New tolerance movement needed?

In much of what is considered the period of enlightenment up to today, people and governments have been slowly realizing that intolerance is an evil that cannot be allowed if one is maintain a person's basic human rights without aggression. Religious intolerance was responsible for untold deaths and for people being forced by the state to only worship as the state allowed or risk being executed, imprisoned, mutilated and robbed. Racial intolerance has likewise caused millions of deaths, family separations, thefts, mutilations and imprisonment.

There has been a great deal of talk of tolerance in America throughout our years as nation, yet tolerance has had a hard time being accepted. Various races, cultures, genders and religions have been unacceptable to many and the outcome usually has made prejudice manifest itself in laws of aggression against the intolerable minority.

As people have become more enlightened about the equality, or at least the peaceful toleration, of the races, genders, cultures, sexual preferences and religious preferences America has learned to deal far more fairly towards all people.

Unfortunately people today in too many ways are far less tolerant then they were at the founding of our nation. Most people used to have the mindset that as long as you minded your own business and didn’t steal, defraud or harm another human that you should be left alone. They may not have agreed with you about what charities you supported, or failed to support, but they would never use force to make you support their preferred charity.

Many of our earlier countrymen and women rightly were intolerant with the horrific institution of slavery (unfortunately not enough), still even while their government had laws in place supporting the crime of slavery, very few would ever have thought to use force to keep a person from medicating themselves as they saw fit. When they knew the person was using drugs or alcohol recreationally they wouldn’t consider it a crime, even though much of this type of drug use was seen as a vice. In this respect they were far more tolerant of their neighbor’s freedoms then we are today.

People were tolerant of the right to defend oneself and their family by not using the aggression of government to keep anyone from being armed. They knew that if they were to remain secure then it was an obligation to train in the skills required for responsible firearm ownership. Certainly they recognized that to be armed and skilled in the use of firearms was not just what got them dinner. They knew firearms were for self-defense and as a last resort a defense against tyrannical government. We should all keep in mind that keeping and bearing arms is not an act of aggression. In fact it is an act of defense.

Before airlines stopped armed passengers from boarding aircraft in the name of safety, hijackings of American aircraft were all but unheard of. September 11th, 2001 shows just how much safer America has become from this policy. We fear guns in the hands of our neighbors more than we fear our government. Yet which should we be more intolerant of? Citizens boarded aircraft with guns and virtually no hijackings occurred. Citizens were disarmed and not only did hijackings occur, but also this failed policy ended with over 3000 dead. I vote we trust citizens with guns. Let’s stop the intolerance against citizen gun owners.

It really is a timely question, “What should we tolerate.” The answer, as individuals, is whatever we prefer to tolerate and what we cannot tolerate we can work to change through example and persuasion. But if what we are intolerant of doesn’t harm anyone or steal from them, but is what we consider an immoral act then using the force of government to enforce our morality is an immoral intolerant act of aggression.

A recent example of this is our own President Bush calling to have Congress pass legislation to outlaw same-sex marriages. Thomas Jefferson said “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” He was referring to the things that government should have authority over and what it, under no circumstances, should seek to control. Marriage in general and same-sex marriages as well should not be within the purview of government regulation, recognition or control. Marriages neither pick our pockets nor break our legs and according to the First Amendment should never come under the control of government.

Marriages are spiritual acts between people and their higher power not acts to be aggressively regulated against non-violent individuals. To marry, a person must have to have permission from the state and pay the state money for a license. Few acts by our government are so openly intolerant of people’s rights. If for some reason we believe we are protecting people from disease, or lord knows what, then how come we don’t license everyone who has sex and charge them with criminal penalties for those who have sex without a license. Is the licensing and regulation of marriages and who can or cannot marry beginning to seem like an intolerant act of aggression against peaceful people? It should.

As I suggested in the title of this essay we need a new tolerance movement. Either we are a country of free responsible adults or we are a nation of intolerant wimps and busybodies who must have government force peaceful people to adhere to our version of morality.

Let’s keep in mind one thing though as we consider using the force of government to impose our morality upon all. Someone else may consider your peaceful lifestyle to be immoral and worthy of forceful government intervention to prevent you from doing what neither picks someone’s pocket nor breaks someone’s leg. Maybe then we will all recognize the need for a New Tolerance Movement!


Another crime-fighting bright idea flops in Britain

There's nothing nearly as effective as locking them up for a LONG time -- as they do in many parts of the USA. Bright new ideas for penal reform never stop coming but they never work -- as I have noted previously

A radical US-style court initiative in which judges monitor each criminal’s progress after sentencing has failed to cut reoffending rates. The results are a blow to supporters of specialist community justice courts who had hoped for better results in preventing criminals returning to a life of crime.

Community courts involve a hands-on approach by judges who monitor offenders once they have left the dock and on-site agencies to help to deal with the underlying problems behind criminal behaviour such as drugs or housing. But reconviction rates for offenders dealt with by the North Liverpol and Salford community courts were marginally worse than those who went through an ordinary court in Manchester.

Of offenders who went through the North Liverpool court, 38.7 per cent were convicted of a further crime within a year and 38.3 per cent of those dealt with at Salford, compared with a reoffending rate of 37 cent in the Manchester court.

The position was even worse on breaking the terms of punishment. “Those in North Liverpool and Salford combined were significantly more likely to breach sentence conditions than those in Manchester,” said a report.

One reason for the higher breach rate in North Liverpool may be linked to tougher monitoring of offenders by probation officers, who adopt a more rigorous approach than those in Manchester, it suggested. However, the official study said there was an indication that the initiative might reduce slightly the number of crimes committed when a criminal reoffends.

The North Liverpool Community Justice Centre opened in September 2005, and cost £5.4 million to establish and costs £1.8 million a year to run. The smaller project in Salford cost £150,000 to set up and cost £100,000 a year to run.

Based on the Red Hook Community Justice Centre in New York, the courts use a multi-agency approach, referring offenders on-the-spot to professionals who deal with their specific problems, from housing to addiction. They also seek local residents’ views on particular problems and appropriate punishment.

The idea was supported enthusiastically by Lord Woolf when he was Lord Chief Justice and by David Blunkett, when Home Secretary, who both visited the Red Hook centre, were impressed with its work and decided to create a similar community justice court in England. The Ministry of Justice said: “This report looked at reoffending in the first year of the initiative when community justice was in a very early stage of development — the initiative will need more time for the effects to bed in to give a true picture of reoffending rates.” Ministers have already abandoned plans for a network of the community courts, saying there was no money to fund them.


British regulators don't know how to regulate social workers

Now tell us something we didn't know already

The competence of Ofsted to inspect children’s services and help to protect young people from abuse and neglect has been challenged by the Government’s child protection chief. Sir Roger Singleton used his first interview in the post to warn ministers that too many Ofsted staff lacked the skill and experience to hold social workers to account and drive up standards. If matters did not improve and inspectors failed to win the respect of social workers it would be “all too easy” for their judgments and recommendations to be ignored, he warned.

Ofsted took responsibility for inspecting children’s services in April 2007. Concerns over its performance were raised a year later when it emerged that inspectors had given Haringey a clean bill of health months after the death of Baby P, who was on the child protection register and under the watch of its social workers. He died of horrific injuries in August 2007. Ministers refused to accept that the death meant Ofsted was not up to the job of inspecting children’s services, although a new system of regulation was swiftly adopted.

Sir Roger, who was made the Government’s first chief adviser on the safety of children in March, welcomed the changes but said that problems remained. “Obviously, it makes it all too easy for those who are inspected to ignore the results if they don’t have respect for the inspectors. It is important Ofsted works to build its regard and respect in this area. It is not in any of our interests to have a view that they are not competent,” he said.

He said that he had heard “quite a lot of dissatisfaction from the field” about the work of inspectors that could no longer be ignored. The main complaint was the “high rate of variability” in what they knew about vulnerable children and safeguarding in particular. “It is difficult to think there is not some substance to it,” he said.

Sir Roger, a former chief executive of Barnardo’s, noted that Ofsted had recently announced plans to hire 20 or more inspectors with direct experience of children’s social care as a sign that it recognised its problems. Ofsted also announced that it has appointed John Goldup, a former senior social worker from Tower Hamlets, as a director. He is the only person with experience of child protection to reach board level. “It will be necessary to improve the range of skills and experience that Ofsted inspectors have in relation to children’s social care,” Sir Roger said.

Fears over Ofsted have also been sounded by MPs including Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, who has twice asked Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector, to give evidence on the performance of children’s services.

The Conservatives are reviewing Ofsted’s future and do not rule out taking away its role to inspect children’s services. “Ofsted is basically a schools’ inspectorate that is conducting a paper exercise when it goes to children’s services departments,” said Tim Loughton, the Tory children’s spokesman. “They don’t go out on the beat. They stay in the office and look at files. They simply don’t have the right people.”

Ofsted rejected any suggestion that it needed to improve its performance. Roger Shippam, its director for children, said: “We do not recognise the criticism that Ofsted lacks social care expertise. It is understandable that there is much anxiety surrounding the inspection of social care at the moment, especially following the death of Baby Peter.”

SOURCE. More details of how hopeless and corrupt the system is here


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

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

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


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Of course “Hate Crime” laws don’t protect whites!

Police are investigating a brick with an offensive message thrown into the window of an East Austin home. The brick, thrown through a 4-year-old boy’s bedroom window, read “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.”

The homeowner, Barbara Frische, who is white, said she has lived in the home for 10 years. Now prepare your brain for the Newspeak as the Austin PD attempt to explain why this nakedly racial incident, um, well, isn’t…
Police have not classified this incident as a hate crime, said Austin Police Sgt. Richard Stresing, because hate crimes target an individual specifically because of an identifying characteristic, like race. Police say the incident has been classified as criminal mischief and deadly conduct.

Incidents found to be based on race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or gender are flagged as hate crimes, Stresing said, so they can be referred to the Department of Justice.
As always let’s play the fun game of “What if this happened to a Black person?” And I think it becomes pretty clear that there is at minimum a double standard occurring here.

Funny how often attacks against whites are summarily dismissed as “not hate crimes” or “possible hate crimes” when if the same attack occurred against one of our more delicious minorities the same officials that pooh-pooh hate crimes against whites might very well injure themselves attempting to call it a hate crime, no qualifications necessary.

As the inspiration for this blog recently stated in what may be the most gaffetastic testimony ever given Ag Eric Holder said…
Under questioning, Attorney Gen. Holder was surprisingly forthright in admitting that the hate bill is not intended to protect everyone, or even the majority. He said only historically oppressed minorities were to benefit. This means Jews, blacks, homosexuals, women, etc. Holder made it clear that if a white Christian male, including a serviceman or police officer, was the victim of a violent hate crime by any minority he would have to find redress from traditional law. He could not avail himself of the triple penalties and rapid government/justice system response given a protected minority.
As The Kvetcher wrote recently the whole purpose of the modern “hate crimes” bills are to show that: The Blood of Some is Sweeter Than the Blood of Others

Welcome to your ethnic cleansing white folks, there will be no hate crimes investigation as you are not of the preferred color, sorry!


Tips for identifying a racist

I am a racist. Not because of racist jokes I do not say or acts of discrimination I do not commit. The reason: I am White. That was the message preached loud and clear at a forum I attended recently at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Titled “Unveiling White Privilege,” the forum’s purpose was to examine “the impact of our racism and colorism on the quality of our relationships,” while also addressing “the barriers created by unacknowledged privilege.”

According to the moderators, all whites are racist even if we don’t know we are. We have benefited from a system stacked against individuals of other races. We hold prejudices we may not even know exist. We have thrived in a nation built on the backs of hard-working and repressed “people of color.” Never mind the millions of Irish, Italian, Russian, or Eastern European immigrants, all Whites, who suffered intense bigotry while working in the sweatshops and coal mines of this country to make a better life for their families.

After this was all made clear, we worked to define a variety of terms. Racism, according to the moderators, was “prejudice plus power.” Confused? See, a black man can never be racist. He may hold prejudices against people of other races or his own race for that matter, but he has never held the power in society necessary to act upon that prejudice.

One of the moderators, herself white, acknowledged and embraced her self-identification as a racist. Interestingly, the other moderator, the daughter of an Irish mother and Mexican father, did not identify as half-racist. “I’m either Chicana or Latina and how I identify changes by the day. It just depends on how I’m feeling,” she said. There was no mention of her Irish roots in this identification.

We then went around the room, saying what came to mind when the word “racism” was spoken. The first few responses were probably typical of what would be uttered on most college campuses: “Attorney General John Ashcroft. . .the KKK. . .” And then I decided to speak up. “Jesse Jackson,” I said politely. The moderators turned. The room fell silent. “Why do you think that?” I was asked.

“Well,” I responded. “He holds prejudices against other blacks, as well as whites and other ethnic groups.” I gave the example of when Jackson called Conservative black activist Ward Connerly “Strange Fruit” the same term used by whites in the Old South to describe blacks who had been lynched.

“Yes, but you see,” the moderator informed me, “he can’t be racist because he holds no power.” “No power?” I asked. “He had the power to swindle millions of dollars out of American corporations by threatening them with consumer boycotts based on shoddy accusations of civil rights violations.”

The moderator leading the exercise was clearly getting upset. “But he holds no governmental power,” she corrected. As proof of this type of power, she did not accept my argument that the IRS has continually looked the other way regarding Jackson’s creative accounting practices for his Rainbow Push Coalition.

It was not the factual basis of my claim she was disputing. It was the title I had assigned to Jackson she had a problem with. He is not a racist. Blacks cannot be racist. Even against other blacks. And especially not against whites.

Furthermore, this wasn’t about Jesse Jackson, I was informed. This was about me and my own racism. “As a white person, it’s not your place to determine whether Jesse Jackson is a racist,” the other moderator added. “This is a discussion that needs to take place within the communities of color.”

I came away from the forum agreeing with the moderators on one key issue. Racism is alive and well in America. It infects our college campuses, our hiring decisions, even the communities we live in. This forum was proof of that.

We did not find consensus on just who is racist, however. I am not a racist. Yes, this nation has its past sins to grapple with, including slavery, which we may never recover from. But I will not nor should I take responsibility or feel guilt for the color of my skin or my ethnic heritage. To do so would dishonor all of those who have gone before me who fought endlessly to put an end to racism in all of its forms.


British "elf 'n safety" madness even hits the Greenies

What has been "safe" for years suddenly became unsafe

Organisers of Europe’s biggest eco-awareness event have had to cancel their 15th annual festival after police and the local council raised safety fears days before it was to start. The Big Green Gathering (BGG), which was due to be attended by up to 20,000 people paying £125 per ticket, may now have to go into receivership, leaving thousands out of pocket.

Described as a “celebration of our natural world” in a village fête atmosphere, the festival combines practical advice and demonstrations on sustainable lifestyles combined with entertainment powered by the wind and the sun. Visitors to the event are shown how to become self-sustaining, including how to build their own houses and grown their own food.

The five-day festival was due to open on Wednesday but the organisers surrendered their licence yesterday after concerns, including issues involving road and fire safety, could not be resolved with police and the local council.

Directors of the BGG, which has been running since 1994, are furious. Penny Kemp, a director, told The Times: “Our barrister has said it appears the council, police and regulatory authorities have leaned heavily on the road closure people to make sure we don’t get the order.”

She added that some of the reasons given for not allowing the event included the fire precautions not being good enough, even though they were the same as last year when the festival went ahead.

An inspector at Avon and Somerset Police refused to say what exactly their concerns were. Mendip District Council was due to go to the High Court in London today to apply for an injunction to stop the gathering in the Mendip Hills going ahead.

Thousands of adults had paid £125 for a ticket and £50 for their children to attend. The Big Green Gathering is designed for people within the green movement who wanted a festival focused on green issues. According to its website, The Big Green Gathering is for “people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children’s future and life in general. It is a celebration of our natural world and our place within it. As such it is a place for enjoyment, learning and fun. Unhealthy activities are not encouraged. The only things taken in excess should be love, peace, joy and friendship.”

This year, Gardener’s World, BBC’s Ethical Man and many other environmental experts were said to be going to help people to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ms Kemp added that they had a multi-agency meeting on Thursday and as far as they were concerned everything was still going ahead. But as they had to cancel the event at such a late stage they may have to go into receivership as they had paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds, including £27,000 to the police. She said: “We hope to be able to pay people back, but I just don’t know. It is desperately sad that a peaceful event enjoyed by thousands of people over many years has been stopped by the police and the council for what I think are unjust reasons.”

The directors of the Big Green Gathering issued a statement saying that they had “taken extensive legal advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers” and had been left with “no option” but to surrender their licence. “The event will now not take place and the directors advise and request that no one who was intending to attend the event should attempt to do so as the site is now closed and it is likely that they will be turned away by the police. “It is our intention to avoid any confrontation or public disorder in regards to this and it is our earnest hope that all of those involved will follow this advice. “It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all concerned.”

Avon and Somerset Police would only say: “It has been cancelled. The reasons are on our website.” The statement said: “Police are warning people planning to attend the Big Green Gathering 2009, that the event has been cancelled due to a number of contributing factors that could not be overcome. “Today (Sunday, July 26) organisers of the Big Green Gathering surrendered their licence to Mendip Council. “Avon and Somerset Police worked with the event organisers as well as our multi-agent partners, and subsequently went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that this event took place. However, due to a number of issues including road and fire safety that could not be resolved the event organisers surrendered their licence. “Police would now like to advise any persons planning on travelling to the area for this event not to, they will be turned away.”

Big Green Gathering Chair Brig Oubridge said: "At the multi-agency meeting on Thursday 23rd July, we were still negotiating with the police and the council under the genuine belief that things were progressing and we were continuing to spend money on infrastructure, wages and security. "If they knew they were going to cancel the event, we can only conclude that this drive to increase expenditure appears to be a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Big Green Gathering. "The injunction served on the Big Green Gathering was primarily addressing the fact that the Big Green Gathering did not obtain the necessary road closure despite the fact that the Highways Agency had previously indicated that this would be done.

"The Big Green Gathering has been running an event since 1994 and never before has public safety been an issue. The BGG has an exemplary record on health and safety and crime levels have always been low for the number of people on site."


British bureaucracy runs amok yet again

A surfboard is a ship?

Canoes, surfboards and dinghies are to be given the same legal status as cruise liners and oil tankers in a clampdown on reckless behaviour at sea. Unpowered craft including sailboards and bodyboards are to be reclassified as ships to bring their users within regulations for merchant shipping.

Users face prison and fines of up to £50,000 if they are held liable for any accidents. A family in a dinghy or a beginner oarsman could be prosecuted if they collided with a swimmer. Anyone out on the water would be liable to a random breath test. The change was initially prompted by pressure to reduce accidents involving reckless use of jet skis, which have caused nine deaths in the past ten years. But the Department for Transport has infuriated many of Britain’s four million water sports enthusiasts by proposing to extend the regulations to unpowered craft. All watercraft would be classed as “ships” and thus bound by safety regulations enshrined in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1995. Surfers and canoeists in particular are adamant that they should not be subjected to such legislation.

Mark Wesson, a member of the British Surfing Association’s executive council, said: “We shall certainly be opposing this, and goodness knows what holidaymakers are going to make of this. It may put a lot of people off investing in a surfboard.”

Rob Barber, owner of a bodyboarding school in Newquay, Cornwall, suggested that the plan was too bizarre to enforce. “Common sense says you don’t go out on a surfboard when you are drunk — it’s not something you do,” he said.

Jason Smith, editor of Canoe and Kayak magazine, said: “There is a clear difference between a powered and an unpowered craft and it seems draconian if someone is in the sea in a beginner’s-style kayak after drinking a beer and then they may be prosecuted. I don’t think readers will like it one bit.”

Gus Lewis, legal officer at the Royal Yachting Association, the governing body for dinghies, yachts, rigid inflatable boats and sailboards, said everyone at sea should follow the same safety rules. But he said the association did not support new drink-driving rules for amateur sailors, since it is already an offence to behave in such a way as to endanger a ship or an individual.

Mr Lewis questioned whether the laws should apply to canoes and surfers. “We would include windsurfers, though, for we would say they navigate waters. If you got injured by a windsurfer or a dinghy, you’d be angry if they were somehow above the law.” The proposals, in a consultation paper, are intended to close a legal loophole identified in the Court of Appeal four years ago. Judges overturned the conviction of Mark Goodwin, of Weymouth, Dorset, who nearly killed a man when riding a jet ski. They ruled a jet ski was not a seagoing ship, so not subject to the merchant shipping legislation. The new rules would bring Britain into line with a Convention on International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea.

Most yacht and speedboat owners already comply with the equivalent of a highway code for the sea, and until the judgment most people thought both motor and sailing boats were governed by the rules. A spokeswoman for the DfT said the intention was to “prevent the irresponsible few from spoiling the fun of everyone else”. She added: “Everyone should be free to enjoy themselves on the water in the knowledge that there are sanctions to deal with those who would put their safety at risk.”



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

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

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


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Monday, July 27, 2009

The British class war never stops

The Leftist government constantly looks for any means it can find to tear down the middle classes

Shocking new details of a stealth tax of up to £600 for householders with views of any kind, patios, conservatories and even a nearby bus stop are revealed for the first time today. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show millions of homes have already been secretly assessed by Labour in preparation for council tax hikes expected to target the middle class after the Election. Homes have been given 'value significant codes' which will make virtually every desirable feature taxable.

Although not every home has been assessed, so far nearly 100,000 householders face being penalised simply for having a scenic view from their windows. Even those who have a mere glimpse of a river, hill or park - or any other pleasing outlook - stand to pay more under a special category for 'partial scenic views'. Worst hit among the 11 types of view are likely to be the 26,346 assessed so far as enjoying a full sea view and the 21,709 who overlook a golf course or farmland. People with garages, conservatories and patios - and even parking spaces - are also in the firing line.

While the list is by no means complete, the figures indicate the chilling detail with which the inspectors are examining Britain's homes. The documents also reveal the sheer pettiness of the new rules. Balconies are divided into those up to three square metres, three to five square metres and so on. The 'Conservatories' category even covers lean-tos and differentiates between single and double-glazed.

The Valuation Office Agency, which is compiling the massive database of every home in England, has divided the three-quarters of a million people with conservatories into four groups. The 115,610 with double-glazed conservatories will be hit harder than the 43,821 with single glazing.

People with patios could be in for a shock. A total of 4,932 homes have been registered as having 'value significant' patios - Whitehall jargon for big ones, perhaps with built-in barbecues. There are likely to be tens of thousands more.

Others who enjoy living in a peaceful area will soon have to pay for the privilege. A total of 38,081 homes have so far been given the coding of TQ, which tells council tax chiefs that they live in a quiet street or cul-de-sac.

The UP code for those with good access to public transport, such as those living near a bus stop, may find their council tax goes in the same direction - up.

Some of the details released by the VOA resemble a manual for taxing rich householders till the pips squeak. About 13,000 homes with pools are listed, with separate categories for indoor and outdoor; as are 1,731 equestrian paddocks; 4,933 stables; 2,863 tennis courts; and 2,268 penthouses.

The system gives all 23million homes in England one of about 100 'dwelling-house codes' for each type, from modest council flats up to mansions. It takes account of architectural styles: brick, thatch or stone fascias, sash windows, age periods and size. If and when the revaluation takes place, tax will be calculated through a vast and complex formula which uses these codings. Householders with one or a number of the features could see their council tax band move up by one or possibly two levels. Moving up from Band D to Band E could mean a rise of around £300. Moving up to Band F could result in a £600 increase.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Caroline Spelman said: 'Gordon Brown's council tax inspectors have been caught red-handed preparing the way for massive tax rises on middle England after the Election, to fill the black hole in Britain's ruined public finances. There is now cast-iron proof of a council tax revaluation by stealth. 'Only Labour would think of taxing people for looking out of their own windows. Conservatives will scrap these tax-raising plans and abolish tax inspectors' rights of entry into your home.'

The Government has spent a staggering £13million on the VOA's scheme to build the new database. Ministers have secretly renewed a multi-million-pound deal between the VOA and leading property website Rightmove to access sale prices and floorplans for tens of thousands of homes. The Treasury refused to say how much information the VOA received from Rightmove, whose website has a databank comprising 400million pages of information. In addition, the Government has spent £3.7million on a US computer system that can pinpoint households on a map and list information gleaned from house-to-house inspections....

In 2005, Ministers shelved plans to revalue property, originally set for 2007, over fears of a backlash from voters who could face massive council tax rises. However, they have not ruled out going ahead with the revaluation if Labour wins the Election.

Window taxes and similar attempts to make people pay for household features have long caused controversy. In 1696, a tax on windows was introduced to replace the Hearth Tax based on the number of fireplaces in a property, which was abolished because people resented inspectors snooping in their homes. The Window Tax was assessed from outside, making it cheaper to levy. But people avoided it by blocking up windows, and it was abolished in 1851.


How Britain's cultural elite rejects middle-class values and censors debate

Conservatism as heresy

The BBC maintains the absurd myth that it is always politically neutral, but occasionally one of its senior employees writes or says something that lets the cat out of the bag. In an article earlier this week in the BBC's in-house journal, otherwise known as The Guardian, the Corporation's controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, wrote: 'We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.'

Left-of-centre thinking! Are you shocked? Even surprised? I confess I am not. Despite ritual denials, I had assumed that the minds behind the BBC's somewhat depleted drama output were sympathetic to Left-wing ideas rather than Right-wing ones. In a similar way, many of the people who run BBC news or current affairs programmes evidently have Left-wing leanings.

Imagine that you were a brilliant young playwright who had conceived a play about the destructive psychological effects which abortion can have on women. Mr Stephenson or his sidekicks would not clap you on the back. You would be shown the door, if you had ever been let through it. The Right-wing authors who have written for the BBC over the past 30 years can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. John Osborne, who began as an anti-Establishment firebrand with Look Back In Anger and ended his days as a grumpy Tory, was given some airtime in his dotage.

Then there was Ian Curteis. His play about the Falklands War, which was sympathetic to Margaret Thatcher, was binned by the BBC, and finally shown after 15 years as a kind of historical curiosity. The decks would have been immediately cleared had he portrayed Lady Thatcher as a bloodthirsty warmonger.

Most of the BBC's culture programmes have a left-of-centre perspective. For example, the contributors invited to appear on BBC2's Newsnight Review almost invariably belong to the soft Left. The occasional Right-winger is allowed on, though he or she may feel obliged to fall in with the prevailing Left-wing consensus.

It would be silly to single out the BBC for blame. The Corporation merely reflects a general takeover of our culture by the Left. It is difficult to think of any leading novelist, poet or playwright who could be even vaguely described as Right-wing. Tom Stoppard? Ronald Harwood? Only at a pinch.

Art is more difficult to define in political terms. All that can be said is that the BBC tends to celebrate fashionable post-modern artists, many of whom have little ability other than the power to shock, while ignoring immensely gifted artists whose work is more traditional.

Over the past 30 or 40 years, the Left has captured the citadels of our culture. I don't mean the old formidable communist Left, which is dead and buried, but a trendy soft Left whose world view is promulgated by The Guardian and the BBC. This is the club which aspiring members of the cultural elite are required to join.

What is fascinating is that during most of the 20th century the Left did not exert a stranglehold over our culture. Three of the four writers who are generally seen as the fathers of modernism could reasonably be described as Right-wing, sometimes dangerously so. T. S. Eliot became a devout Anglican and small 'c' conservative. The poet W. B. Yeats flirted with Mussolini, while the American writer Ezra Pound became, I regret to say, a paid-up fascist. Two of the greatest English poets of the last century, W. H. Auden and Philip Larkin, ended their days on the Right. Auden, like Eliot, rejected the atheism of his youth, and embraced religion. Some of Larkin's political views were extremely Right-wing, and would probably lead to his being banned by the BBC were he around today.

Both Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, two of our finest mid-20th-century novelists, were firmly of the Right, though neither of them had much time for the Tory Party. Waugh famously said that 'the trouble with the Conservative Party is that it has not turned the clock back one second'.

Of course, I am not pretending that all the great writers of the 20th century were Right-wing. Far from it. The Bloomsbury group, whose members included Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, were the intellectuals forebears of the modern liberal-Left. Bernard Shaw was a socialist, as was H. G. Wells. Waugh's friend, the novelist Graham Greene, moved increasingly to the Left, and ended his days as a trenchant anti-American.

All I am saying is that throughout most of the 20th century there were Left-wing writers and Right-wing writers who argued and differed and were sometimes friends. There was a debate. There were choices. What we have now is a Left-wing literary monopoly, many of whose members apparently believe that it is impossible in the modern age to be a great writer and Right-wing.

You may say it is wrong to attach labels such as ' Right-wing' and 'Left-wing' to all authors. But every writer is in some sense political, even one as apparently removed from great events as Jane Austen. When Elizabeth Bennet lets fly at the odiously snobbish aristocrat Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride And Prejudice, Austen is celebrating middle-class virtues of plain-speaking and honesty against ignorant aristocratic pretension. That is a political point.

To return to the BBC's Ben Stephenson, he doubtless sees himself as an iconoclast challenging the status quo. But in fact he is part of the status quo, conforming to the Leftist beliefs that predominate in the BBC. Courage lies in questioning the status quo. That is what artists are supposed to do. Members of our cultural consensus huddle within their ramparts, terrified of promoting ideas or thoughts they deem unacceptable.

Perennial themes in the Corporation's increasingly sparse drama are the evils of poverty, the excessive power of the State and the smugness of the bourgeoisie. I grant these can be rewarding, but there are many other important things going on in our society. Yet these would not be considered proper subjects for a BBC play.

The increasing power of the State could be examined not so much on account of its passion for surveillance as because of its apparent desire to end up by employing every worker in the country. The breakdown of the family, which partly explains the squalor, violence and human degradation visible in many of our towns, would be a fertile subject for drama. So might the social and cultural transformation brought about by uncontrolled immigration.

But the liberal-Left consensus, nourished by The Guardian and the BBC, believes in an ever-expanding public sector. It does not place much value on marriage. It is relaxed about mass immigration. So three subjects which concern many people are ruled out. They cannot even be addressed. It is equally hard to imagine a BBC play that grappled with the harmful effects of abortion, or showed religion in a sympathetic light.

We live in a cultural monopoly mediated by the BBC. Most writers believe more or less the same. Discordant voices are excluded, or at best muted. For much of the time a Leftist elite talks to itself in endless circles. All this helps to explain my feeling that we live in a narrow, boring, self-satisfied little country.


The British police have been trained to hate the middle class too

Company director arrested for attempted murder after rescuing son being beaten by yobs

A company director has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after confronting a gang of yobs who were attacking his stepson. Colin Philpott, 58, allegedly stabbed a 16-year-old in the chest during the incident in the front garden of his £500,000 Tudor-style house.

He had awoken late on Friday night to discover stepson Alex Lee being beaten by the group of teenagers. Mr Lee, 25, had gone outside to stop the gang from vandalising Mr Philpott’s Jaguar car. Mr Lee was said to have then been punched and kicked in the head, suffering a broken nose and concussion for which he needed hospital treatment.

Susanne Philpott, 51, says her husband – who owns an escalator cleaning company – rushed out to defend her son with a letter-opener he had grabbed from a shelf. It was then that the teenager was allegedly stabbed five times. He was taken to hospital and was last night said to be stable.

When police arrived at the five-bedroom house in Crowthorne, Berkshire, Mr Philpott was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Five youths, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage.

Mrs Philpott said: ‘My son and I came out at about 11pm after hearing a bang and we saw two young guys outside our house. ‘They returned 15 minutes later – with three others – and all were visibly drunk. I took a digital camera and told them that if they vandalised anything else I’d take pictures as evidence. ‘One said that he would kill me and burn down my house. I was terrified and when Alex tried to calm him down, the other four got worked up and they all attacked him. Alex ended up on the ground with all five of them on him, kicking him in the head and stomach. I was so frightened for him that I screamed for Colin, who was in bed.

‘He came running out – still barefoot and half asleep – and saw the mess Alex was in so ran back into the house. He grabbed the first thing he saw, which was a letter-opener, and confronted the boys. ‘They attacked Colin and I saw one stumble into the road as Colin screamed for me to call the police. When the police arrived and then arrested Colin, I was gob-smacked. ‘It was heartbreaking to see him handcuffed and carted off like a common criminal. He is a hardworking, honest family man and was only trying to protect us.’

The mother of two, who works as a training consultant, said the quiet neighbourhood had been blighted by teenagers attacking cars and defacing gardens for several months. She claimed that just days earlier, Mr Philpott’s £30,000 S-Type Jaguar had been smothered with hair gel while it was parked on the driveway. ‘We have had lots of trouble with vandals and they have targeted us twice within a week. The worst thing is that I am now terrified in my own home. ‘The police have installed a panic button but I still don’t feel safe. My husband and I had a holiday planned but now I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my 22-year-old daughter on her own. ‘I just can’t get over how one minute you’re happy and everything is fine and the next your life has been turned upside down by some mindless yobs.’ ....

Other residents said gangs of youngsters had ripped up flower beds, thrown eggs at them and thrown objects through open windows. Neighbours have reported the anti-social behaviour to the local council and a councillor is said to have asked Thames Valley Police to take action.

Last night the force confirmed that Mr Philpott had been released on bail, pending possible charges.


The selective meddler

Good to meddle in Israel; bad to meddle in Iran

In foreign policy, President Barack Obama has demonstrated a disturbing propensity to curry favor with our adversaries at the expense of our friends.

The Czechs and Poles are rightly concerned that they will be sacrificed on the altar of better U.S. relations with Russia. And the Israelis fear that the Obama administration’s desired opening to the Muslim world will be achieved at their expense. Mr. Obama’s attempted bullying of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a case in point.

Mr. Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister on March 31. Shortly thereafter, the Obama administration confronted Israel’s new leader in a very public way regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area partially controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. This was an extremely unusual way for an American president to greet the new leader of a liberal democracy that’s a close ally of the U.S.

The Obama administration was not satisfied with a series of understandings crafted by the Bush administration that, while not freezing settlements, had nonetheless achieved a significant reduction in settlement construction. During a May press conference with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”

Subsequently, Mr. Obama demanded that Israel freeze construction in east Jerusalem. Of course, Mr. Netanyahu rejected Mr. Obama’s demand. He declared that Jerusalem is an open, undivided city “that has no separation according to religion or national affiliation.” Mr. Netanyahu added that “we cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem.”

If Jews were prohibited from buying property in New York, London, Paris or Rome, there would be an international outcry. Why, Mr. Netanyahu wondered, should the standard be different for Jerusalem?

Mr. Obama is woefully wrong if he believes that his confrontational style will provide an incentive for the Palestinians and the members of the Arab League to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. It will simply reinforce the long-standing Arab belief that the U.S. can “deliver” Israel if it only has the will to do so, thereby reducing Arab incentives to make concessions in direct negotiations with Israel.

As if on cue, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority, announced that he would not negotiate on any issue with the new Israeli government until Mr. Obama’s settlement conditions are met.

In addition to the building freeze in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Mr. Abbas insisted on four other unilateral, non-negotiable concessions: First, an independent Palestinian state; second, that Israel pulls back to its pre-June 1967 borders, minus a Palestinian land bridge between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; third, a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; and fourth, resolution of all permanent status issues on the basis of the 2002 Abdullah plan calling on Arabs to normalize relations with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The “right of return,” in particular, is a non-starter.

If Mr. Obama seeks a Palestinian Arab state, he is going about it the wrong way. The fact is that Mr. Netanyahu has endorsed a two-state solution and an end to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank—as long as the Palestinians accept Israel as a legitimate Jewish state and cannot militarily threaten it. Israel has been willing to accept a two-state solution since the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine in 1947, but the Arabs have refused. They are not interested in creating a separate Palestinian Arab state but in destroying Israel as a Jewish state.

The Obama approach in the Middle East is predicated on what might be called the Arab “grievance narrative,” which holds that Israel was created as a result of Western guilt about the Holocaust. It is also based on the idea that, as the president suggested in his Cairo speech, there is moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Palestinian “dislocation.”

Such language illustrates an inability to make distinctions. Arabs launched a war against Jewish self-determination and the state of Israel long before any Israeli “occupation” of their lands. When Israel seized land in a defensive war, it was the Arabs, not the Israelis, who kept Palestinian “refugees” in limbo for three generations to await Israel’s destruction.

As Mr. Netanyahu reminded Mr. Obama after the latter’s Cairo speech, the Arab claim that Israel was a land grab by the great powers to salve the collective conscience of the West after the Holocaust is a slander. On the contrary, he observed, Israel’s right to its homeland rests on the longstanding historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. This right was ratified by the unanimous and legitimizing votes of the League of Nations and the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members, and validated by over 60 years of Israel’s successful, democratic statehood.

Israel’s “right to exist” was expressed best by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban in 1981. He wrote, “Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair, awaiting acknowledgment. . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

Mr. Netanyahu might also have added that Israel’s control of the West Bank (territory that should properly be called “disputed” rather than “occupied”), was the result of defeating the Arab powers who initiated the Six Day War of 1967. The status of aggressors and defenders is not interchangeable. Neither is the status of victorious powers and defeated ones.

Nonetheless, Israel has taken unilateral steps toward peace, steps not reciprocated by the Palestinians. When Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, dismantling 21 settlements and displacing over 9,000 residents, it conducted the most comprehensive test of the “land for peace” concept in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet Israel was rewarded with the creation of a terrorist enclave governed by Hamas, rather than the peaceful, responsible neighbor Israel would need in order to accept a Palestinian Arab state.

Unlike Hamas, the corrupt Palestinian National Authority that holds sway in the West Bank has nominally accepted Israel’s right to exist but has never given up the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” That right, if implemented, would mean the end of Israel’s existence.

Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians requires compromises on both sides. U.S. pressure on Israel, without any on the Palestinians, will not achieve the desired outcome.

Earlier this summer, the president justified his decision to downplay even rhetorical support for the Iranian protesters who rose up against their government and its fraudulent election. He did not wish the U.S. to appear to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs. He apparently feels no similar constraint when it comes to Israel.


An old Australian way to deal with Arab attacks

To Reginald Messenger, it was "just something that had to be done". He was a trooper in the 6th Light Horse Regiment at Beersheba in 1918 when he took part in what is emerging as one of the darkest, and and most overlooked, chapters of Australian military history. Known as the Surafend massacre, it involved 200 Anzac troops, some from the famed Australian Light Horse, who retaliated for the murder of a New Zealand soldier by razing a Bedouin village in Palestine and murdering between 40 and 120 of its inhabitants.

"Dad told me about it numerous times," Reginald's son, Oliver, said. "He said that they were camped next to this Gyppo village and one day they woke up to find that some of their blokes had their throat cut and their things stolen. It had been going on for some time - the Gyppos would steal from them all the time - and so they decided to do something about it, because no one else would."

One night in December 1918 the soldiers surrounded the Bedouin village of Surafend, emptied it of woman and children, then fell upon the men with bayonets and heavy sticks. "Dad never expressed any remorse about it," Mr Messenger said. "I gather that they had put up with it for too long. They were good soldiers, those blokes, but they didn't put up with any shit."

The incident occurred shortly after the end of World War I, and has been all but obliterated from the official record. Just three pages of H.S. Gullet's 844-page official war history mention it, and neither the NSW Returned and Services League nor the Light Horse Association had heard of it.

A new book, called Beersheba, by the journalist Paul Daley, re-examines the Surafend massacre, and the long shadow it cast over the legend of the Light Horse, famed for their 1917 cavalry charge at Beersheba. Daley says that, after the massacre the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Edmund Allenby, "wiped his hands" of the Light Horse, even maliciously withdrawing citations and decorations. "Dad said that after the incident, a general - perhaps it was Allenby - addressed the men and called them cowards," Mr Messenger said. "But the men just counted him out [counted loudly, in unison]. They just drowned him out, you know?"

A spokesman for the Australian War Memorial, said: "The Anzac legend is an uplifting one but, like all legends, there are some unfortunate aspects. But this doesn't detract from acts of heroism and bravery."



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

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

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


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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hooray! The Brits catch and jail yet another lying bitch

But she only got 18 months so will be out in 9. I noted another such incident just days ago. So much for the feminist assertion that women don't make false rape claims

I gather that some of my American readers think it sounds bad for me to call the woman a bitch. My question is: If not her, whom? This blog is, after all, a defiance of political correctness

A woman who falsely accused her ex-boyfriend of rape when he broke off their relationship was jailed yesterday for her 'vile lies'. Louise Johnson, 37, drove Andrew Tutty to the brink of suicide after he was arrested and suspended from his job. After accusing the care worker of the rape, Johnson then took out an injunction against her former lover whom she claimed was continuing to harass her. The mother-of-one then contacted police again to claim Mr Tutty had turned up at her home with a knife, ordered her to strip and then threatened to rape her.

Yesterday a judge told Johnson she was guilty of telling 'lies of the most vile kind' as Mr Tutty told of the 'devastating' impact of the case on his life. The 41-year-old was arrested twice, had his DNA swabbed and spent two-and-a-half months on police bail until he was able to prove his innocence when CCTV proved he was with his son at a train station 160 miles away when Johnson claimed he turned up at her home with the knife.

Mr Tutty, from Dudley, West Midlands, said: 'I couldn't believe it when I was arrested by the police. It was devastating - especially as I was suspended from my job over it. 'It has been a long slow two years during which my name has been dragged through the mud. I have been through hell. 'It has been a nightmare and I would not be on this earth if it had not been for the support of friends and family. I would be six feet under.'

The couple met through their jobs as carers at a residential care home for disturbed young people. They had only been going out for two months before Mr Tutty ended the relationship in March 2007.

Alka Brigue, prosecuting, said Johnson took Mr Tutty's decision to finish the relationship 'very badly'. He was first arrested on suspicion of rape in July 2007. Johnson claimed he had forced her to perform a sex act on him but the incident never took place. The following month Johnson took out the injunction and a short time later Mr Tutty was arrested again after she claimed that, armed with the knife, he arrived at her home in Tividale, West Midlands, ordered her to strip and threatened to rape her.

Miss Brigue said: 'Johnson claimed he turned up at her home and assaulted her. He took clothes off and attempted to rape her. 'She said there were blows to various parts of her body from his hands and fists. He also brandished a knife.' Wolverhampton Crown Court heard at that precise time Mr Tutty had been filmed on CCTV boarding a train in Gosport, Hampshire, with his son.

In a victim impact statement filed with the court, Mr Tutty described how Johnson's lies caused him 'considerable distress and discomfort'. He has since been reinstated to his job.

Johnson then complained she had received a string of text messages from Mr Tutty and that he had again assaulted her but, at the time, he had been attending his mother's 67th birthday party before going straight to work. Analysis of Johnson's phone suggested she had sent the messages herself, a source said.

The court heard Johnson had made a string of allegations against other people over the previous 12 years. It is understood she had accused a man of raping her in 2005, although charges were never proceeded with.

The court heard Johnson suffered from a personality disorder. Samantha Powis, defending, said Johnson had suffered from abuse as a child. Her alleged tormentor was acquitted after a trial. Miss Powis said Johnson 'accepts these were gravely serious allegations and they not only undermined him but those who make genuine complaints.' Johnson admitted perverting the course of justice. Judge Nicholas Syfret QC told her the two arrests had a 'huge impact' on the life of Mr Tutty.

Jailing her for 18 months, Judge Syfret said: 'He felt suicidal and it affected his work. These allegations were not only embarrassing but they meant he was suspended fromdoing his job.' The judge said there were people who felt 'there is no smoke without fire' and, while he was completely innocent, they would believe there was some truth in the allegations. 'There was not a word of truth in what you said,' the Recorder told Johnson.

'A colossal strain was put on police resources while they investigated these complaints and you also undermined the causes of genuine people who had been the subject of serious complaints.' He told her only a custodial sentence could be justified because the offence she had committed made it notoriously difficult for women who had been raped to get justice.


Family Court Injustices to Men

Did you know that a family court can order a man to reimburse the government for the welfare money, falsely labeled "child support," that was paid to the mother of a child to whom he is not related? Did you know that, if he doesn't pay, a judge can sentence him to debtor's prison without ever letting him have a jury trial? Did you know that debtor's prisons (putting men in prison because they can't pay a debt) were abolished in the United States before we abolished slavery, but that they exist today to punish men who are too poor to pay what is falsely called "child support"?

Did you know that when corporations can't pay their debts, they can take bankruptcy, which means they pay off their debts for pennies on the dollar, but a man can never get an alleged "child support" debt forgiven or reduced, even if he is out of a job, penniless and homeless, medically incapacitated, incarcerated (justly or unjustly) or serving in our Armed Forces overseas, can't afford a lawyer, or never owed the money in the first place?

Did you know that when a woman applying for welfare handouts lies about who the father of her child is, she is never prosecuted for perjury? Did you know that judges can refuse to accept DNA evidence showing that the man she accuses is not the father?

Did you know that alleged "child support" has nothing to do with supporting a child because the mother has no obligation to spend even one dollar of it on a child, and in many cases none of the "support" money ever gets to a child because it goes to fatten the payroll of the child-support bureaucracy?

These are among the injustices that the feminists, and their docile liberal male allies, have inflicted on men. The sponsor was former Democratic Senator from New Jersey and presidential candidate Bill Bradley.

His name is affixed to the Bradley Amendment, a 1986 federal law that prohibits retroactive reduction of alleged "child support" even in any of the circumstances listed above. The Bradley law denies bankruptcy protections, overrides all statutes of limitation and forbids judicial consideration of obvious inability to pay.

Most Bradley-law victims never come to national attention because, as "Bias" author Bernard Goldberg said, mainstream media toe the feminist propaganda line, among which is the epithet "deadbeat dads." But one egregious case did make the news this summer. Frank Hatley was in a Georgia jail for more than a year for failure to pay alleged "child support" even though a DNA test nine years ago plus a second one this year proved that he is not the father. The Aug. 21, 2001, court order, signed by Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledged that Hatley is not the father but nevertheless ordered him to continue paying and never told him he could have a court-appointed lawyer if he could not afford one.

Hatley subsequently paid the government (not the mom or child) thousands of dollars in "child support," and after he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers and reduced to living in his car, he continued making payments out of his unemployment benefits. But he didn't pay enough to satisfy the avaricious child-support bureaucrats, so Perkins ruled Hatley in contempt and sent him to jail without any jury trial. With the help of a Legal Services lawyer, he has now been relieved from future assessments and released from jail, but (because of the Bradley Amendment) the government is demanding that Hatley continue paying at the rate of $250 a month until he pays off the $16,398 debt the government claims he accumulated earlier (even though the court then knew he was not the father).

This system is morally and constitutionally wrong, yet all the authorities say the court orders were lawful.

Another type of feminist indignity is the use in divorce cases of false allegations of child sexual abuse in order to gain child custody and the financial windfall that goes with it. Former Vancouver, Wa., police officer Ray Spencer has spent nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of molesting his two children who are now adults and say it never happened. The son, who was 9 years old at the time, was questioned, alone, for months until he said he had been abused in order to get the detective to leave him alone. The daughter, who was then age 5, said she talked to the detective after he gave her ice cream.

There were many other violations of due process in Spencer's trial, such as prosecutors withholding medical exams that showed no evidence of abuse and his court-appointed lawyer failing to prepare a defense, but the judge nevertheless sentenced Spencer to two life terms in prison plus 14 years. Spencer was five times denied parole because he refused to admit guilt, a customary parole practice that is maliciously designed to save face for prosecutors who prosecute innocent men


Obama: Tilting at Racial Windmills

In an interview published December 10th in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, Barack Obama stated that one of his top priorities as president will be to put an end to racial discrimination in the criminal-justice system. This pledge is consistent with his oft-repeated campaign promise to “eliminate disparities in criminal sentencing,” most notably “the disparity between sentencing [for] crack and powder-based cocaine,” which Obama said was “wrong and should be completely eliminated.” At a presidential primary debate in January 2008, Obama asserted that blacks and whites “are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences…for the same crime.” On another occasion he sounded a similar theme: “We have certain sentences that are based less on the kind of crime you commit than on what you look like and where you come from.” Though neither the media nor the McCain campaign dared to challenge any of Obama’s presumably sacrosanct pronouncements about racism in the justice system, the fact remains that every one of those pronouncements was an unadulterated falsehood.

Long ago, the injustices which Obama references certainly existed, particularly in the South. But it hardly seems appropriate for a supposedly forward-looking President—who founded his entire campaign on a platform of “change” —to continue fighting yesteryear’s battles again and again. Simply put, black offenders do not receive stiffer penalties than white offenders for equivalent crimes—not today, and not at any time in recent decades. The most exhaustive, best designed study of this matter—a three-year analysis of more than 11,000 convicted criminals in California—found that the severity of offenders’ sentences depended heavily on such factors as prior criminal records, the seriousness of the crimes, and whether guns were used in the commission of those crimes. Race was found to have no effect whatsoever. In fact the researcher, Joan Petersilia, was forced to admit that these results contradicted conclusions she had drawn from an earlier study—in which she had not taken prior convictions and the use of firearms into account.[1]

The criminal-justice process is composed of a number of stages, or decision points, at which law-enforcement personnel such as police and judges must decide how to proceed (i.e., whether to make an arrest, whether to convict or acquit a defendant, or whether to impose a harsh or a mild sentence). Contrary to popular mythology, there is no evidence of racial discrimination at any of these decision points. Black overrepresentation is almost entirely at the arrest stage—reflecting the simple fact that the “average” black breaks the law more frequently than the “average” white. The National Crime Victimization Surveys, conducted annually by the Census Bureau, show that statistically the “average” black is far more likely than the “average” white to be identified, by a victim or witness, as the perpetrator of a violent crime. This racial gap, moreover, is approximately equal to the racial gap in actual arrest rates. “As long ago as 1978,” says Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald, “a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests—a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes.”

At all the decision points subsequent to arrest, the outcomes are virtually identical for blacks and whites alike—and the slight differences that do exist tend to favor blacks.[2] In studies that consider all relevant variables—such as the defendant’s prior criminal record, the severity of the crime in question, the offender’s demeanor with police, whether a weapon was used, and whether the crime in question was victim-precipitated—no differences have been found in sentencing patterns, either in relation to the victim’s race or the offender’s race.[3]

In 1983, the liberal-leaning National Academy of Sciences found “no evidence of a widespread systematic pattern of discrimination in sentencing.”[4] In 1985, the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology concluded that a disproportionate number of blacks were in prison not because of a double standard of justice, but because of the disproportionate number of crimes they committed.[5] That same year, federal government statistician Patrick Langan conducted an exhaustive study of black and white incarceration rates and found that “even if racism [in sentencing] exists, it might help explain only a small part of the gap between the 11 percent black representation in the United States adult population and the now nearly 50 percent black representation among persons entering state prisons each year in the United States.”[6] In a 1987 review essay of the three most comprehensive books examining the role of race in the American criminal-justice system, the journal Criminology concluded that there was little evidence of anti-black discrimination.[7] A 1991 Rand Corporation study found that a defendant’s racial or ethnic group affiliation bore little or no relationship to conviction rates; far more important than race were such factors as the amount of evidence against the defendant, and whether or not a credible eyewitness testified.[8] This same study found almost no relation between a defendant’s race or ethnicity and his or her likelihood of receiving a severe sentence.[9] A 1993 study by the National Academy of Sciences agreed that race had a negligible effect on sentencing.[10] Also in 1993, a study of federal sentencing guidelines found no evidence of racially disparate punishments for perpetrators of similar offenses. The seriousness of the crime, the offender’s prior criminal record, and whether weapons were used accounted for all the observed interracial variations of prison sentences.[11]

In 1995, Patrick Langan analyzed data on 42,500 defendants in America’s 75 largest counties and found “no evidence that in the places where blacks in the United States have most of their contacts with the justice system, that system treats them more harshly than whites.”[12] A 1996 analysis of 55,000 big-city felony cases found that black defendants were convicted at a lower rate than whites in 12 of the 14 federally designated felony categories.[13] This finding is consistent with the overwhelming consensus of other recent studies, most of which indicate that black defendants are slightly less likely to be convicted of criminal charges against them that white defendants.[14] Liberal criminologist Michael Tonry wrote in his 1996 book Malign Neglect: “Racial differences in patterns of offending, not racial bias by police and other officials, are the principal reason that such greater proportions of blacks than whites are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.” The following year, liberal criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen concurred that “large racial differences in criminal offending,” not racism, accounted for the fact that blacks were likelier than whites to be in prison and serving longer terms. [15]

In short, notwithstanding Barack Obama's professed concerns about "discrimination" in the justice system, it is entirely demonstrable that even two and three decades ago charges of racial inequities were largely chimeras without basis in objective reality. Nothing in the criminal-justice literature of the past decade indicates that anything has changed in that regard.

As noted above, president-elect Obama has complained that the penalties for possession of crack cocaine, a drug most often used by poor blacks, are much harsher than the penalties for possession of powder cocaine, whose users are typically affluent whites. The implication is that the imposition of harsh anti-crack penalties was rooted, at least initially, in racism. But the Congressional Record shows that such was not at all the case. In 1986, when the strict, federal anti-crack legislation was being debated, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)—deeply concerned about the degree to which crack was decimating black communities—strongly supported the legislation and actually pressed for even harsher penalties. In fact, a few years earlier CBC members had pushed President Reagan to create the Office of National Drug Control Policy.[16]

Incidentally, Obama fails to mention that the vast majority of cocaine arrests in the U.S. are made at the state—not the federal—level, where sentencing disparities between cases involving crack and powder cocaine generally do not exist; indeed, only 13 states punish crack convictions more harshly than powder convictions, and the differentials are much smaller than those on the federal level. Furthermore, drug possession accounts for fewer than 2 percent of all offenses that propel individuals into federal prisons. Those most likely to be incarcerated for drug convictions are not mere users, but traffickers who are largely career criminals with very long rap sheets.[17]

Moreover, it is reasonable to wonder why Obama feels compelled to speak out about alleged inequities vis à vis federal cocaine penalties (which he says discriminate against blacks), but is silent on the matter of federal methamphetamine-trafficking penalties—which, it could easily be argued, discriminate heavily against whites. Heather MacDonald explains:
The press almost never mentions the federal methamphetamine-trafficking penalties, which are identical to those for crack: five grams of meth net you a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. In 2006, the 5,391 sentenced federal meth defendants (nearly as many as the [5,619] crack defendants) were 54 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black. But no one calls the federal meth laws anti-Hispanic or anti-white.
In the final analysis, Barack Obama’s assertions about inequities in the justice system ring absolutely hollow today, just as they have rung hollow for at least a quarter-century. To be sure, it is possible that the president-elect is ignorant of the facts presented herein and, as such, is simply parroting the misinformation to which he has been exposed. Another possibility is that Obama is entirely aware of the actual facts but has elected instead to play the time-honored political game of fabricating pernicious “injustices” that allegedly plague an entire demographic of “victims”—and then positioning himself as the hero who will save the day. Neither of those two scenarios casts the president-elect in a dignified light.


The Consequences of Government Intrusion into Prices

By Jon N. Hall

Prices are set by billions of people constantly making trillions of decisions about what they need, what they can afford, and what is important to them, i.e. their values.

But that's only how prices work in some pure, laissez-faire, free enterprise system. Such a pure system hasn't existed in America since at least the advent of FDR. More and more, government comes between buyer and seller and subverts the sensitive mechanism of price -- a mechanism at the very heart of commerce and the economy.

Where price is especially sensitive is in the realm of essentials, such as food and fuel. If there's a shortage of an essential, its price immediately soars -- unless the government intrudes. Government can stop upward spirals in the price of essentials with price controls and price gouging laws. But such measures can cause supply to run out even sooner or drive sales underground.

Last summer, when the price of petroleum went through the roof, politicians called for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In other words, drive down the price at the pump by creating more supply. But this would have been a misuse of the SPR as it is for emergencies only; high prices aren't an emergency.

Just as government tries to keep some prices low, it tries to keep other prices high.

For instance, during the Great Depression FDR destroyed livestock and perfectly good food just to keep prices high. (This, while many Americans were hungry.) And now we see the government trying to prop up the plunging price of housing.

Government, though, is partly responsible for the turmoil in housing prices. Sure, there were unscrupulous actors in the private sector, but government also played a leading role in the housing drama. From the creation of Fannie Mae in 1938, to its "privatization" in 1968, to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, to the historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve in the aftermath of 9/11, government has intruded into the housing market, and therefore into housing prices.

The Community Reinvestment Act was a major culprit in that it forced banks to abandon their time-honored lending standards, such as requiring hefty down payments. The CRA is an egregious case of government intrusion into a price, i.e. the price of money, loans. With money so cheap, the heightened demand "manufactured" by the CRA made home prices soar. Stan Liebowitz of the Journal observed: "If substantial down payments had been required, the housing price bubble would certainly have been smaller." Now that the housing bubble has popped, some in government want to shore up falling house prices rather than let the market sort out those prices.

This is yet another instance of the government picking winners and taking sides. In this case they've sided with buyers (especially first-time buyers), who benefit from the deflating price of housing. That the price of housing may be too high, or that America might be "overbuilt", or that some folks just aren't responsible enough to be homeowners seems not to have occurred to the government. Government simply decided that more Americans should own homes -- it was social engineering on a grand scale.

Price is at the heart of the mess in the financial sector, as well. Treasury Secretary Geithner created the Public-Private Investment Program to determine (by means of Geithnerian "price discovery") the price of the famous "toxic assets" that have so bedeviled the banking industry. But banks showed little interest, and now PPIP has been postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile, foreclosed properties sit unoccupied and untended and wide open to squatters and vandals while their values plummet. Some former owners even trashed their homes before vacating. And some homes have had to be demolished for the sake of surrounding communities.

Government has its fingerprints all over the rise and fall of housing prices. But politicians refuse to admit their mistakes, blaming it all on the private sector. They tell us that "only government" can fix the problem, even though government caused much of it. (Check out the free streaming videos of Peter Robinson's interview of economist Thomas Sowell on the housing bust at National Review Online. They're terrific.)

We speak of "wage and price controls" as though they were two different things. But a wage is a price: the price of labor and services rendered. And in the sphere of wages and fees, government again intrudes into price. Government does this by subsidizing certain activities and enterprises with direct outlays (education, health-care); requiring folks to buy things, like health insurance (the individual mandate); and siding with one faction over another (Card Check). All such efforts are either designed to keep prices high, or simply end up doing so. The recent bailouts of GM and Chrysler are mostly about the government propping up the price of UAW labor.

The enterprises where we see the most rampant inflation are where government is most involved. This is especially so in the health-care and education industries.

Mandated employee benefits jack up the price of employment, which gets passed along to the consumer. Minimum wage laws are the government dictating a price. And the federal minimum wage is scheduled to go up on July 24th -- in the middle of a recession!

Government intrusion into the tender mechanism of price is actually an imposition of the values of one group onto everyone else. If the geniuses in Washington happen to think everyone should be paying a higher price for burger flippers (minimum wage law), then that's the way it going to be -- and we'll all be paying more for fast-food. Those most willing to impose their own values onto everyone else comprise the political left. (Yet, it is this same political left that tells us we shouldn't make "value judgments".)

The consequences of government intrusion into prices include: shortages; unemployment; inflation; loss of industry due to offshoring; and artificial prices that foul the real market.



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

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

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


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fathers DO matter: Scientists claim they play crucial role in child's development

And fathers can be VERY important to daughters. Those daughters who become "Daddy's girl" (i.e. who have a very indulgent father) seem to develop a psychological strength and confidence that lasts them all their lives

In a world where advances in cloning and genetics are threatening to make men redundant, scientists finally have some reassuring news. A study has shown that fathers play a crucial in family life - and that without a dad present in the crucial first stage of life, offspring grow up to be less sociable.

Although the findings come from a study of animals, it adds to the growing evidence that fathers influence the way children develop. Previous studies have shown that girls reach puberty younger, become sexually active earlier and are more likely to get pregnant in their teens if their father are absent when they were young, New Scientist magazine says. Other work has suggested that sons of missing dads have lower self-esteem later in life.

The latest study looked for biological changes in laboratory mice when they were raised without fathers. A team at McGill University, Canada, used a strain of mice which, like people, are usually monogamous and tend to rear their young pups together. They removed the fathers from some of the mouse pups three days after birth until they were weaned at 30 to 40 days old. The scientists, led by Dr Gabriella Gobbi, then analysed the behaviour and brain cells of the pups - and compared them to mice brought up with both parents.

Brain cells in the 'single parent' mice had a muted response to the 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin, a feel-good chemical released in the brain during sex or moments of intimacy. That meant they were less likely to feel positive when in the company of others. The fatherless mice were also more anti-social.

'Usually if you put two animals in the same cage they investigate and touch each other, but when we put to animals deprived of a father together they ignored each other,' said Dr Gobbi.

The scientists are unsure whether the same biological changes take place in human children raised without a father - and whether the findings are applicable to people. In the strain of mice used in the experiment, the fathers lick and groom the young pups more than the mothers do. Because grooming affects the development of pups, it could be the lack of physical contact that cause the changes in the brain, the researchers say.

The finding follows another study which showed that men experience a huge surge in oxytocin after a child is born. Dr Ruth Feldman of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel tested oxytocin levels of 80 couples before a child was born and six months afterwards. She found that levels of the feel-good chemical rose in mothers and fathers after the arrival of a child.

The chemical affected the parents in different ways. Mothers with the highest levels spent much longer gazing at their children, stroking and kissing them and speaking in a "sing song" voice, she found. Dads with the highest levels played more with their child than fathers with the lowest levels. 'Fathers and mothers contribute in a very specific and different way,' she told the magazine. She believes fathers may be 'biologically programmed' to help raise children.


PETA as racketeers

To some Americans, PETA may seem like a caring organization. Sure, you may say, they are a bit extreme -- but it's in defense of animals, after all. ... But have you stopped to consider just why PETA picks certain targets to go after?

Maybe it makes sense that they've gone after McDonalds and KFC -- until you wonder: Why McDonald's and not Wendy's, and why KFC and not Popeye's? ... And why go after MasterCard instead of Visa or American Express -- or the Gap instead of ... whoever else sells Gap-ish stuff?

The answer, of course, is money. PETA took in more than $34 million in 2008. Much of the money comes through legal kickbacks and grants, via their "partners". Much of their money comes from selling PETA's "seal of approval." And interestingly, many of PETA's "recommended products" also happen to directly compete with the companies they attack.

For example, PETA went after MasterCard for sponsoring the Ringling Bros Circus, and launched a "NastyCard" campaign. PETA then entered into a deal with VISA to offer a PETA Platinum card. And, of course, PETA received 1 percent of purchases made with a PETA branded VISA card. That's big money -- all for doing essentially nothing.

PETA also went after IAMS dog food, launching an "IamsCruelty" campaign. This, despite the fact that IAMS has been recognized as a leader in animal welfare advocacy. Interestingly, though, it turns out that PETA receives 8 percent of all proceeds from a partnership they have with a "holistic" pet food.

Over the last several years, PETA has grown from a radical fringe group that claimed to care about animal rights, into an organization that uses its influence to shake down companies -- and to build multi-million dollar fundraising relationships with "partners".

In fact, it seems PETA is so busy making money that they forgot to help animals. According to www.PETAkillsanimals.com, PETA found homes for less than one out of every 300 animals, and they killed 95% of the dogs and cats in their care.

To say PETA is a questionable organization is being nice...to say it is a sham is more accurate. They used PETA a fur-loving burlesque queen, Dita von Teese, as a spokesmodel without any homework to find out she loved fur.

In her book, von Teese wrote "Who wouldn't love an opportunity to don a cuff of mink given them as a gift, or to wrap a luscious stole of fox around her shoulders on a chilly day? (I guess there are some people out there that wouldn't want to, but I am definitely not one of them!)" Isn't that one of their pet, sorry for the pun, causes - going after fur?

"PETA's totally aware of me," Von Teese told People Magazine back in 2007 before perf orming – in fox fur for a Macy's Passport AIDS benefit, adding "I'm not working with PETA to tell people to be vegetarians or to stop wearing fur. I am there to strictly speak about spaying and neutering your pets."

The animal-rights organization says it was aware of Von Teese's fur affections before approaching her to star in its campaign.

Combine the fact they will use mafia type tactics to bleed companies, rarely actually help animals, and look past core issues to hire a spokesmodel only illustrates how much they are a sham. Sadly, the media on the left fail to illustrate this point.


Saudi Arabia The world’s largest women’s prison

In an article on the liberal website Minbar Al-Hiwar Wal-'Ibra (http://www.menber-alhewar1.info), reformist Saudi journalist and human rights activist Wajeha Al-Huweidar described Saudi Arabia as "the world's largest women's prison." She added that unlike real prisoners, Saudi women have no prospect of ever being released, since throughout their life, they are under the control of a male guardian – their husband, father, grandfather, brother or son.

Huweidar and other women activists recently launched a campaign against the Saudi Mahram(1) Law, which forbids women to leave their home without a male guardian. She told the Kuwaiti daily Awan that the campaign, whose slogan is "treat us like adult citizens or we leave the country," was officially launched at the King Fahd Bridge, connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where the women demanded to cross the border without a guardian.(2)

The following are excerpts from Al-Huweidar's article:

Prisoners Can Be Released From Prison – But Saudi Women Can't

"The laws of imprisonment are known all over the world. People who commit a crime or an offense are placed in a prison cell... where they serve their sentence. [When they complete it], or get time off for good behavior, they are released... except in cases [where a person is sentenced] to life imprisonment or death. In Saudi Arabia, there are two additional ways to get out of prison early: by learning the Koran or parts of it by heart... or by getting a pardon from the king on the occasion of a holiday or a coronation – after which the prisoner finds himself free and can enjoy life among his family and loved ones.

"However, none of these options exist for Saudi women – neither for those who live behind bars [i.e. who are actually in prison] nor for those who live outside the prison walls. None are ever released, except with the permission of their male guardian. A Saudi woman who committed a crime may not leave her cell when she has finished serving her sentence unless her guardian arrives to collect her. As a consequence, many Saudi women remain in prison just because their guardians refuse to come and get them. The state pardons them, but their guardians insist on prolonging their punishment.

"At the same time, even 'free' women need the permission of their guardian to leave their home, their city or their country. So in either case, the woman's freedom is [in the hands of] her guardian."

Prison Inmates Are Stripped Of All Authority Over Their Lives – And So Are Saudi Women

"As is customary in prisons throughout the world, inmates are stripped of all authority and sponsorship over their own [lives]. All their movements are monitored and controlled by the jailor. The prison authorities decide their fate and see to their needs, until the day of their release. This is also the usual situation of the Saudi woman. She has no right to make decisions, and may not take a single step without the permission of her jailor, namely her guardian. But in her case the term [of imprisonment] is unlimited.

"The Saudi Mahram Law turns the women into prisoners from the day they are born until the day they die. They cannot leave their cells, namely their homes, or the larger prison, namely the state, without signed permission... Although Saudi women are deprived of freedom and dignity more than any other women [in the world], they suffer all these forms of oppression and injustice in bitter silence, [and with an air of] suppressed anger and death-like dejection. Saudi women are peaceful in the full sense of the word, but so far the Saudi state has not appreciated their [noble] souls, their patience, and their quiet resistance..."

"The Clerics, Whom the State Has Authorized to Oppress the Women, Regard Their Silence And Patience As [a Sign of] Mental Backwardness"

"The clerics, whom the state has authorized to oppress the women, regard their silence and patience as [a sign of] mental backwardness and emotional weakness... Thus they have [allowed themselves] to increase the 'slumber' of oppression over the decades... They suffocate [the women] in all areas of life by means of oppressive laws [enforced by] the religious police, who follow them everywhere as if they were fugitives from justice. The laws pertaining to women have turned them into objects on which sick men can release their violent and sexual [urges].

"These Saudi clerics deny the Saudi women every opportunity to find a job, get an education, travel, receive medical treatment, or [realize] any [other] right, no matter how trivial, without the permission of their jailor, that is, their guardian – [all] based on oppressive fatwas sanctioned by the male [leaders] of the state."

Our "Mothers and Grandmothers ...Enjoyed Much Greater Freedom... Saudi Arabia Has Turned Itself Into the World's Largest Saudi Prison"

"[It is interesting to note that] the mothers and grandmothers [of today's Saudi women] had all these rights, and enjoyed much greater freedom [than today's women] – as did all Muslim women in past eras, such as the wives of the Prophet. [None of these women] were subjected to this oppressive Mahram Law, which is not based on the tenets of Islam and in fact has nothing to do with Islam.

"How blessed is Saudi Arabia, the humane kingdom, which has turned itself into the world's largest women's prison. [This is a land] which permits any man, without preconditions, to take the role of jailor, and which has turned its women into prisoners for life, when they have done nothing to deserve it."


When Journalists Say There Is No Such Thing As Truth Then the World Is in Big Trouble

By Barry Rubin

A reporter just wrote me a letter that contains a single sentence which I think reflects on why the Western world is in such trouble today. After understandably discussing such real problems of reporting as short deadlines, complex issues, and the duty of the reporter to report what people say, the letter concludes with this sentence: “And when it comes to the Middle East, one man’s [obscenity deleted] is another man’s truth.”

Woe to us that a journalist thinks this way. Of course, this is very similar to the older version that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Recently, I heard that latter one from the Danish ambassador to the Council of Europe who said that Hamas and Hizballah were like the Danish resistance in World War Two. I replied, among other things, that I don’t remember the Danish or other World War Two European resistance movements bombing German kindergartens and glorying in getting Danish civilians killed as human shields. I also don't think that the Danes and other European resistance movements were attempting to commit genocide on the Germans. I do believe it was the other way around.

(PS: More Danes fought in the German army than in the Resistance, and that was true of other countries as well. Forgive me for remembering who was the main victim of terrorism and "freedom fighter" terrorists then and today. But I digress)

That a European country—and one of the more astute ones, to make matters worse--is represented by someone like that says something pretty sad about the state of the world today.

Regarding that dangerous kind of claim: People who murder civilians on purpose and organizations which have a strategy of mass murder are terrorists. The fact that these same organizations seek to put into power repressive dictatorships makes them even less like anything that might be called freedom fighters.

People who try their best not to murder civilians or to inflict suffering on them as an end in itself and who seek to create democratic governments with liberty are freedom fighters.

Those responsible for the Terror in the French Revolution, Nazis, Stalinists, Hamas, al-Qaida, etc., can be called terrorists. That list was not meant to be exhaustive.

Individuals can act in a terrorist manner but if the movements in which they participate are freedom fighter movements, they will limit, restrain, and punish such people. In terrorist groups—like say the PLO historically—such acts were glorified and rewarded.

Moreover, this concept is equally dangerous in implying that popularity is a rationale for crime. The government of the Third Reich was genuinely popular among its citizenry. When genocide was committed recently in Rwanda, it enjoyed broad support. Many such examples of such behavior can be offered. This, too, is a terrible and even criminal assumption.

Now obviously if one wants to try to come up with complex situations regarding the issues discussed briefly above where the answers aren’t so easy, this can be done without difficulty. But this does not prove such distinctions don’t exist, just that they are not always simple ones.

Democratic countries have rogue individuals, they make mistakes, and governments may have to be reined in by the rule of law. But that doesn’t make them the same as those for whom terrorism is their basic philosophy and strategy.

Regarding the newer version of this concept as voiced by the reporter in his letter, it is even worse. No, truth is not just a matter of opinion, even in the Middle East. And the belief that it is so has been one of the diseases so damaging contemporary intellectual life, politics, and international affairs.

There is something accurately to be called truth and even if we cannot quite reach it, the aspiration to try and the determination to attain the closest possible approximation should be the basis of academic and intellectual and professional life.

All civilizations have been working for a long time to come up with ways to do this. Western civilization has tried especially hard and succeeded—I’m tempted to add, up until recently?—in doing so.

What are these methods? Here are a few. For any statement, claim, or argument:

--Examining the internal consistency.

--Its compatibility with known facts and accepted postulates.

--Occam’s razor, the idea that excessive complexity can indicate an inaccurate explanation (thus, distrust in conspiracy theories)

--Usefulness in predictability, if it accurately describes the workings of some mechanism it should be able to tell us something about what has happed in the past and in the future.

--Replicability, can the result from the hypothesis be duplicated.

--The reliability of sources used.

--The accumulation of very specific evidence which all can pass the tests mentioned above.

--The construction and testing of hypotheses to see if they fit the facts and work.

--Extremely high standards of personal integrity including constant self-examination to see if one's personal viewpoint was getting in the way of being accurate.

--A willingness to change one's mind in light of additional facts.

--A reusal to hide relevant facts even if they contradict one's thesis

--Discussion and exchanges of ideas with others in the context of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other things to ensure that ideas can battle it out and the truth emerge to the best possible extent.

[I’d be happy to hear your additions and, of course, a great deal more could be written about each of the points above.]

We call these things: logic, reason, the scientific method, the product of the Enlightenment; the Greek philosophical, Talmudic analytical, and the Scholastic methods; and many other names.

But recently, these have been shoved aside by the idea that truth is relative, there is no truth, and everyone’s opinion (narrative) is of the same value.

So it’s no accident that someone who thinks this way would give equal time to what my correspondent referred to as (expletive deleted). Actually, (expletive deleted) usually gets the upper hand. Nowhere do we see this more than in the Middle East and the “scholarship” and “journalism” applied to this part of the world.

Let me suggest an experiment. Take an apple or other handy piece of fruit or vegetable. Hold it in one hand. Then take a very sharp knife. Hold it in your other hand.

Then, say out loud: One man’s [expletive deleted] is another man’s truth.

Next, assuming that the location of the piece of fruit is a matter of personal opinion which has no relationship to spatial dimensions, slash out with the knife until you fall to the floor bleeding profusely.

Congratulations, you now understand the effect of such a doctrine on the Middle East.



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

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

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


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Racialist outrage and embarrassment in Cambridge!

What an outrage! What an embarrassment! A couple of nights ago [actually it was midday], Cambridge, Massachusetts policemen, responding to a call from a concerned neighbor, arrived at the house of Harvard Prof Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to find a couple of chaps pushing in at the front door.

What, in that policeman’s shoes, would you have done? I would have done exactly what the chap in question did: “Wot’s all this?” followed by a demand for some identification.

Here comes the outrage, and the embarrassment. 95 percent of it belongs to Harvard’s famous Professor of Afro-American studies, who responded to the request for identification with “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” and then, having produced the requested documents, embarked on making a loud scene with the police outside his house. Result: arrest for disorderly conduct, handcuffs, and a free ride in a police cruiser. The other 5 percent of the outrage and embarrassment, I hasten to add, belongs to the Reverend Al Shaprton (I always giggle a little at that conjunction: “reverend” and “Al Sharpton,” don’t you?) and other representatives of what Michael Meyers, in one of the best pieces about the incident, called “the race industry.” Gates should “skip the histrionics,” Meyers advised in his column in the New York Daily News.

Calling the cops when one sees suspicious activities underway is exactly what good neighbors do. It is what a woman who works nearby did – and all indications are she acted in good faith. When cops follow up on such a report by asking suspicious persons who’ve seemingly gained entry to a vacant house to present ID, they are doing their jobs.

Nevertheless, Gates and the race industry spokesmen who’ve rushed to his defense have leaped to the fast conclusion that this was an incident of racial profiling – and that one of America’s most famed black academics was a victim of police misconduct. Choice reaction by the Rev. Al Sharpton: “I’ve heard of driving while black, and I’ve heard of shopping while black. But I’ve never heard of living in a home while black.”

Give me a break. Mr. Meyers, alas, is unlikely to get a break in this case. Instead, we’re going to get a cartload of hypersensitive articles like this one from The Washington Post, which reports Professor Gates’s side of the story at great length but leaves the police version hanging in a limbo of racist implication.

Who knows how long this rancid little melodrama will run. If entities like The Washington Post and professional race baiters like Sharpton manage to gin up the race engine sufficiently, it may last quite a while. Apparently Gates has asked for a personal apology from the Cambridge police: I hope he does not get it.

Two points. The first cannot be properly investigated in the present climate of racial hypersensitivity, so I bequeath it to a future historian of American culture. You can scarcely find a mention of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that does not assure you of his eminence and scholarly distinction. Don’t believe it. To call him second rate is a calumny upon respectable mediocrity. He is a desperately pedestrian scholar who, except for the accident of skin color, would be lucky to be teaching at the University of Southern North Dakota, Hoople. Instead he is the Yada-yada-yada Professor of racial grievance &c &c at Harvard. Some future anthropologist will set the record straight.

The second point concerns Gates’s favorite (really his only) intellectual gambit: playing the race card. His scholarship is concerned with nothing else, and he has just demonstrated that his academic interests are all of a piece with his amour propre. Gates claims to want to push beyond racialism, but his every move, personal as well as intellectual, depends upon and reinforces it. The philosopher Sidney Hook summed up some of the liabilities of this attitude:

as morally offensive as is the expression of racism wherever it is found, a false charge of racism is equally offensive, perhaps even more so, because the consequences of a false charge of racism enable an authentic racist to conceal his racism by exploiting the loose way the term is used to cover up his actions. The same is true of a false charge of sexism or anti-Semitism. This is the lesson we should all have learned from the days of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Because of his false and irresponsible charges of communism against liberals, socialists, and others among his critics, many communists and agents of communist influence sought to pass themselves off as Jeffersonian democrats or merely idealistic reformers. They would all complain they were victims of red-baiting to prevent criticism and exposure.

Wise words. It’s a pity that the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University has yet to take them to heart.

UPDATE: So now the President of the United States, when not busy wrecking the US economy or bowing to tyrants, involves himself in police matters. Yes that’s right, folks, when asked about GatesGate, Obama said that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” by arresting a chap who was loudly abusing them. Way to go, Pres!


Part of the police reaction:

Cambridge Police Department Commissioner Robert C. Haas said in a press conference late Thursday that his department was "deeply pained" by the president's comments yesterday. "We take our professional pride very deeply. ... And when I talked to the officers... you could see they were really stunned," Haas told reporters, adding that they took "those comments to heart" and "were very much deflated."

Haas said the department "deeply regrets the situation" but also stood behind Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested Gates for disorderly conduct. "I believe that Sgt. Crowley acted in a way that's consistent with his training and national standards," Haas said. "I don't believe in any way that his actions were racially motivated." "Based on what I have seen, he maintained a professional decorum through the entire situation and maintained himself in a professional manner," Haas added. Haas said a professional panel will be assembled to investigate and analyze the incident, and added that, "The whole story hasn't been told."

Sgt. Tom Fleming, director of the Lowell Police Academy, told ABC News today that Crowley has been teaching a class to cops on racial profiling at the academy for the last five years. "Jim Crowley is what we call a squared away guy. He's a really good role model for young cops and he was selected to teach this racial profiling class by the former police commissioner of Cambridge, Ron Watson, who is black," Fleming said.

Crowley and his union slammed the president today for his comments about the incident at Gates' house last week. Obama "was dead wrong to malign this police officer specifically and the department in general," Alan McDonald, the lawyer for the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, told ABC News today.

Crowley also chimed in, saying that the president's characterization was "way off base. ... I acted appropriately," Crowley told WBZ Radio in Boston Thursday. "I support the president of the United States 110 percent," Crowley told WBZ. "I think he's way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts, as he himself stated before he made that comment."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that the president was not calling the Cambridge police officer stupid when he criticized his actions in the Gates incident. On whether the president regrets the use of his words, Gibbs said: "No. He was not calling the officer stupid. The situation got out of hand."


There is of course much, much more on this issue now that Obama has poked his ill-informed nose into it. I am not going to link to it all but see here and here for instance. Apparently neighbors who heard and saw the racket have confirmed that Gates was very abusive and obstructive and that the police acted only after great provocation. But now that the race card has been played any attempt at rationality in the matter is probably pointless.

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Infantile defacing of the Bible is sad for the defacers not for the Bible

It shows how poorly they have been taught the wonderful stories and great truths of the Bible. Unlike the Koran the Bible does not require enforced respect. It is is just there for those who are blessed to drink of its wisdom and feel the liberating power of its messaage

A publicly funded exhibition is encouraging people to deface the Bible in the name of art — and visitors have responded with abuse and obscenity. The show includes a video of a woman ripping pages from the Bible and stuffing them into her bra, knickers and mouth. The open Bible is a central part of Made in God’s Image, an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) in Glasgow. By the book is a container of pens and a notice saying: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”

The exhibit, Untitled 2009, was proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church, which said that the idea was to reclaim the Bible as a sacred text. But to the horror of many Christians, including the community church, visitors have daubed its pages with comments such as “This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all.” A contributor wrote on the first page of Genesis: “I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this.”

The Church of Scotland expressed concern, the Roman Catholic Church called the exhibit infantile, and a Christian lawyers’ group said that the exhibition was symptomatic of a broken and lawless society.

The exhibition has been created by the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, in association with organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims. Mr Schrag, the gallery’s artist in residence, said that he did not believe in God, but that his research for the £7,000 show had underlined his respect for people of faith.

The community church, which celebrates “racial, cultural, linguistic, sexual, gender and theological diversity”, had suggested the “interactive” Bible and pens and Mr Schrag, 34, said he had been intrigued. “Any offensive things that have been written are not the point of the work,” he said. “It was an open gesture. Are those who say they are upset offended by the things that people write, or just by the very notion that someone should write on a Bible?”

The artist, a Canadian who took a master’s degree at Glasgow School of Art, said that human rights were at the centre of the show. “If we are to open up the Bible for discussion, surely we have to invite people to speak out,” he said. “Art allows us to discuss difficult things, and Goma allows difficult discussions to take place — that is why Glasgow is at the cutting edge of contemporary art.”

Jane Clarke, a minister of the community church, said she regretted the insults that had appeared. “The Bible should never be used like that. It was our intention to reclaim it as a sacred text,” she said. While the exhibition’s supporters insist that the exhibit promotes “inclusivity” and should break down barriers between orthodox religion and gay and transgendered people, most contributors have paid scant regard to matters of sexuality.

One writer has altered the first line of the Old Testament from “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” to “In the beginning, God (me) I created religion.” Another has written “The Gospel According to Luke Skywalker”. The main sentiment, however, is rage at Christianity. “F*** the Bible”, one message says.

Last night the producers of the exhibition indicated that the most offensive pages would be removed, but Christians expressed outrage and disbelief that the show had been staged at all. “This is symbolic of the state of our broken and lawless society,” said Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre. “We have got to a point where we call the desecration of the Bible modern art. The Bible stands for everything this art does not: for creation, beauty, hope and regeneration.”

The Church of Scotland said it condemned any sacrilegious act. “We would discourage anyone from defacing the Bible,” a Kirk spokesman said. A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “One wonders whether the organisers would have been quite as willing to have the Koran defaced.”

A video by Roxanne Claxton forms a second element in the exhibition. It shows a young woman ripping pages out of the Bible and stuffing them in her knickers and bra, and in her mouth. The film showed “the word as power”, Mr Schrag said. “Roxanne gave a performance where she ate a Bible and it became part of her.”

Made in God’s Image is part of a series of exhibitions focusing on human rights organised by Culture and Sport Glasgow, part of the city council. The division’s chief executive is Dr Bridget McConnell, wife of the former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell.


Jerusalem -- one city, undivided

by Jeff Jacoby

LATE LAST WEEK, the Obama administration demanded that the Israeli government pull the plug on a planned housing development near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. The project, a 20-unit apartment complex, is indisputably legal. The property to be developed -- a defunct hotel -- was purchased in 1985, and the developer has obtained all the necessary municipal permits.

Why, then, does the administration want the development killed? Because Sheikh Jarrah is in a largely Arab section of Jerusalem, and the developers of the planned apartments are Jews. Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first black man to move into the previously all-white residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.

It is impossible to imagine the opposite scenario: The administration would never demand that Israel prevent Arabs from moving into a Jewish neighborhood. And the Obama Justice Department would unleash seven kinds of hell on anyone who tried to impose racial, ethnic, or religious redlining in an American city. In the 21st century, segregation is unthinkable -- except, it seems, when it comes to housing Jews in Jerusalem.

It is not easy for Israel's government to refuse any demand from the United States, which is the Jewish state's foremost ally. To their credit, Israeli leaders spoke truth to power, and said no. "Jerusalem residents can purchase apartments anywhere in the city," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. "This has been the policy of all Israeli governments. There is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the west of the city, and there is no ban on Jews building or buying in the city's east. This is the policy of an open city."

There was a time not so long ago when Jerusalem was anything but an open city. During Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion invaded eastern Jerusalem, occupied the Old City, and expelled all its Jews -- many from families that had lived in the city for centuries. "As they left," the acclaimed historian Sir Martin Gilbert later wrote in his 1998 book, Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, "they could see columns of smoke rising from the quarter behind them. The Hadassah welfare station had been set on fire and . . . the looting and burning of Jewish property was in full swing."

For the next 19 years, eastern Jerusalem was barred to Jews, brutally divided from the western part of the city with barbed-wire and military fortifications. Dozens of Jewish holy places, including synagogues hundreds of years old, were desecrated or destroyed. Gravestones from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery were uprooted by the Jordanian army and used to pave latrines. Jerusalem's most sacred Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. It wasn't until 1967, after Jordan was routed in the Six-Day War, that Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and religious freedom restored to all. Israelis have vowed ever since that Jerusalem would never again be divided.

And not only Israelis. US policy, laid out in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognizes Jerusalem as "a united city administered by Israel" and formally declares that "Jerusalem must remain an undivided city." US presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, have agreed. In former President Clinton's words, "Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city, with assured freedom of access and worship for all."

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said much the same thing. To a 2008 candidate questionnaire that asked about "the likely final status Jerusalem," Obama replied: "The United States cannot dictate the terms of a final status agreement. . . . Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided." In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Council, he repeated the point: "Let me be clear . . . Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Palestinian irredentists claim that eastern Jerusalem is historically Arab territory and should be the capital of a future Palestinian state. In reality, Jews always lived in eastern Jerusalem -- it is the location of the Old City and its famous Jewish Quarter, after all, not to mention Hebrew University, which was founded in 1918. The apartment complex that Obama opposes is going up in what was once Shimon Hatzadik, a Jewish neighborhood established in 1891. Only from 1948 to 1967 -- during the Jordanian occupation -- was the eastern part of Israel's capital "Arab territory." Palestinians have no more claim to sovereignty there than Russia does in formerly occupied eastern Berlin.

The great obstacle to Middle East peace is not that Jews insist on living among Arabs. It is that Arabs insist that Jews not live among them. If Obama doesn't yet grasp that, he has a lot to learn.


The Truth About Hate Crimes

I’ll grant supporters of hate crimes legislation one thing: they certainly understand the tactical advantage of being hateful when accusing others of hate. This weekend, after the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Bill, I posted several articles on Facebook and my blog questioning the claim that Matthew Shepard was murdered solely because he was gay.

Although the media and gay rights activists treat it as conventional wisdom, this claim has always been in dispute. Shepard’s murderers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, admitted from the start that they were on a drug binge at the time of the killing. In 2004, McKinney told ABC News that Shepard's murder was not a homophobic hate crime, but a robbery gone wrong. “He was pretty well-dressed, had a wallet full of money,” Aaron McKinney said of meeting Shepard. “All I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him...Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Later that night, after assaulting Shepard, McKinney violently attacked two straight men. If homophobia was the only thing fueling McKinney’s rage, what was the motive for his second round of assaults?

But don’t raise these points with supporters of hate crimes legislation. After I posted the articles, I was called “stupid” and a “hate monger.” One commenter—after saying she’d like to punch me in the face—claimed that I was “defending his killers who so brutally murdered him.”

That’s not surprising. Supporters of hate legislation always accuse opponents of secretly cheering the crimes. After George W. Bush vetoed a hate crimes bill, the NAACP put out a campaign ad featuring the daughter of James Byrd, the victim of a racist murder in Texas. She said Bush’s veto made her feel like her father was “killed all over again.”

The ad failed to mention that the killers had already been sentenced to death, making an additional conviction for “hate” less than worthless. In Shepard’s case, the judge in Wyoming—the supposedly knuckle-dragging, redneck, homophobic state that gave us Dick Cheney—sentenced his killers to two consecutive life terms. (They were spared a death sentence after Shepard’s parents spoke out against it.)

When will hate legislation supporters acknowledge that the perpetrators of these crimes received the maximum punishment—without also being found guilty of “hate”? What is a hate crimes law supposed to accomplish that hasn’t already been done?

A quote from Casper Star-Tribune reporter Jason Marsden might explain a few things. "We knew in the newsroom the day [Shepard’s murder] happened, this is going to be a huge story, this is going to attract international interest," Marsden told ABC. “I remember one of my fellow reporters saying, 'this kid is going to be the new poster child for gay rights.’”

So there you have it. Hate legislation supporters have used Shepard’s murder as proof that gays are regularly targeted for their sexuality and need special protections under the law—protections not granted to other victims. They fear that if the facts about the case are widely known, they will lose their “poster child” and their credibility. And they’ll use reckless charges of “hate” in order to keep the truth under wraps.


Atheists in the Capitol's Foxhole

by Chuck Norris

I'm a fighter for the freedoms of speech and religion. They are our constitutional rights -- what the First Amendment is all about. But those freedoms don't give atheists the entitlement to eliminate or revise America's religious heritage in the new $621 million taxpayer-provided Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

This month, the House and Senate passed identical resolutions approving the engravings of the national motto ("In God We Trust") and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent places in the Capitol Visitor Center -- a 580,000-square-foot facility under the Capitol -- where 15,500 guests visit each day.

Spearheading the measures were Rep. Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who are leaders who also have drawn attention to the oversight of religious heritage in the CVC. The YouTube video of Forbes addressing the House on this matter -- called "Our Judeo-Christian Nation" -- has received about 2.5 million hits to date, making it one of the most widely viewed floor speeches in YouTube history. Also, some of the 19 omissions and inaccuracies in the CVC can be seen on the YouTube posting called "War on God."

Engraving the motto and pledge in the CVC sounds so basic and reasonable, doesn't it? Apparently not to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics, which filed suit in an effort to prevent the engravings.

According to The Associated Press, the Freedom From Religion Foundation says its lawsuit is based upon the foundations that "both the motto and the words 'under God' in the pledge were adopted during the Cold War as anti-communism measures. Engraving them at the entrance to the U.S. Capitol would discriminate against those who do not practice religion and unfairly promote a Judeo-Christian perspective." (I guess that also transforms our coins and bills, which have "In God We Trust" on them, into Christian tracts?) How preposterous!

Some members of Congress who supported the measure are already denouncing the claims as ludicrous. "This lawsuit is another attempt by liberal activists to rewrite history and deny that America's Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Lungren said he was expecting a lawsuit but called the claims "patently absurd."

And Forbes recently stated in an official memo from his offices: "This lawsuit sheds light on the lengths that a small minority will take to remove our nation's faith history from this generation and future generations of Americans. I, along with many Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, intend to fight this unabashed and dangerous effort to silence our nation's history. Truly even our Pledge of Allegiance and our national motto are not spared from these efforts. Our Declaration of Independence states that our rights are 'endowed by our Creator.' If the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are successful, they will succeed not only in removing the history for which our fathers and founders sacrificed so much, but also in removing the very source our Founders believed provided our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

So, could the lawsuit prevail and prevent the engravings in the CVC? Are you kidding? Mark my words: If a few liberal judges get the case and we the people do nothing, it will. And then that precedent will be used to extend their next argument -- that our national motto, "In God We Trust," is unconstitutional.

That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol's communications officer (202-228-1793 or emalecki@aoc.gov) and also their representatives to inform them about what they think of the engraved national motto and Pledge of Allegiance within the CVC. While you're at it, remind them that you, the taxpayer, paid for that $621 million facility and that you think some corner of its 580,000 square feet deserves to be dedicated to a permanent display of the Capitol's rich religious history.

Atheists might not be found in every foxhole, but the bunker called the Capitol Visitor Center has a couple of them in there right now. I think it's time that Americans let them know not only that the motto and pledge are at the heart of our country but also that whitewashing God from the walls of history is actually an unfair promotion of atheism and an injustice to all that is America.


Is tolerance of failure a virtue?

An interesting theory below -- but much in need of statistical backup. It seems to be true, for instance, that MOST of the smaller populations of the developed world deliver unusually large (per head) contributions to science, culture etc. Scotland, New Zealand and Austria are, for instance, often cited in that regard. And many of the innovations and discoveries coming out of the USA emanate from people not born there

For a nation with 0.3 per cent of the world's population, Australia is grossly over-represented at the top of a huge range of fields: across science, business, sport and the arts. Which is odd, given that we also - inexplicably, to other cultures - are fond of failure.

Visit the United States and you enter a far more competitive nation, one quick to rank and grade, with too many winners to waste much time with the losers. Its culture encourages striving, certainly, but never failure. In Japan, and many other Asian cultures, failure is usually considered shameful, implying you did not work hard enough. One finds respect for failure in Britain - particularly resigned failure, the sticking to one's post - but also the lingering shadows of a class heritage uncomfortable with displays of naked effort.

Australia, by contrast, adores a valiant attempt to beat impossible odds. We view Gallipoli, our greatest military failure, not just with reverence but with pride. We say, "Have a go, mate," because we believe that it doesn't matter if you fail, so long as you try.

This has obvious historical roots. Australia was founded as a penal colony after the American model, but where Massachusetts offered fertile soil and temperate rainfall, this land was so unforgiving that supplies had to be sourced from Batavia, now Jakarta, to allow those who made it across on the First Fleet to survive until the arrival of the Second. The European population here grew far more slowly, despite the British forcibly relocating far more Europeans. In the Americas rebellion led to freedom and the birth of a new nation; here, at Castle Hill and then Eureka, uprisings were brutally crushed.

In 2009 we still bear the belief that the greatest honour belongs to the underdogs, and that their failure is not a mark of their flaws, but an account of the greatness of their challenge.

And perhaps this is why sport is the exception to the rule: why we distance ourselves from Rupert Murdoch and Russell Crowe, but revere Don Bradman and Steve Waugh.

An athlete's success is largely dependent upon how hard she is prepared to work to make the most of her natural talents: the playing field is generally level, the environment neutral. Of course, throw in an unfair environment - Don Bradman fending off head-high deliveries in Bodyline, or Australia II tacking her way toward the America's Cup after 132 years of American domination - and we are in raptures. Show us Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, who arrived at the 2000 Sydney Olympics having never seen a 50m pool, whose only two competitors in his heat were disqualified before the start of the race, who was then asked to swim it regardless, the only man in the pool, and who attacked it with such vigour that he almost drowned in the last 15 metres - well, we have ourselves a hero.

The wonderful irony of Australia's veneration of the trier above the champion is that it has given us great numbers of both. For there can be no success without the risk of failure, and in a culture that metes out little social punishment for failure, that risk is worth taking. There is, therefore, perhaps no more valuable aspect of our national character than the historical belief that it's not your fault if you fail; that it's OK to fall short so long as you gave it an honest crack.

But it is 2009. For most of us the Australian landscape has been tamed. Droughts do not ruin us; they merely make our lettuces more expensive, and restrict our garden watering to Sundays and Wednesdays. Our children, our workplaces, our pursuits - all have never been safer. We are part of a networked planet and have suffered the inevitable cultural dilution that implies. We watch American movies, featuring champions, not battlers.

The danger we face today is that we no longer face any great dangers. In a padded, pre-warmed world, where all the corners are encased in rubber and there are handrails beside all the steps, can one still plausibly blame the environment for failure?

When our challenges are so relatively benign - not survival, but positive superannuation returns - can we continue to view those who fail as honourable for having tried? If we cannot, if we drift so far that the idea of the Aussie battler begins to seem quaint, even risible, then we may risk losing the underpinning of our great national success: the unspoken permission to fail, if only you try.



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

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

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


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

BBC executive says corporation should foster 'left-of-centre thinking'

A senior BBC executive has claimed that the corporation should foster "left-of-centre thinking", leading to accusations of political bias from the Conservatives. Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning, said that the corporation should encourage "peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking."

According to its own royal charter, the BBC must "be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output".

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, said: "What Ben Stephenson said was a clear breach of the BBC's impartiality obligations. "No journalist or editor should be following a political agenda, let alone someone as senior as a controller." Mr Hunt said that he had written to Mark Thompson, the BBC Director General, "asking for an immediate retraction and apology".

Peter Whittle, the director of The New Culture Forum, a right-leaning think tank, said: "The political slant in the non-news output of the BBC is for many harder to detect but is actually far more insidious and damaging in the effect it has on our cultural drift."

Mr Stephenson made the comments in a newspaper article in which he responded to criticism from Tony Garnett, a television producer, who accused the BBC's drama department of changing "in ways which have coarsened both it and wider culture." He wrote: "If we didn't all think differently, have different ideas of what works and what doesn't, wouldn't our lives, and more importantly, our TV screens be less interesting? We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking."

He later denied that he had meant the comment to have a political meaning. "Like 'left-field', it is a phrase that I use with frequency when talking to the creative community to encourage them to develop and approach their ideas from a completely new perspective," he said.

A BBC source said that executives believed that their casting of Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London, in an episode of EastEnders, proved that they did not have a left-wing bias.

Meanwhile, a report yesterday said that the licence fee should be shared with other broadcasters, because the BBC was failing to fulfil its public service remit. The paper, by Frank Field MP and David Rees, argued that the licence fee should be put in the hands of a new independent commissioning body. Broadcasters, including the BBC, would then pitch ideas for public service programmes to the body and be awarded funding accordingly. BBC One, BBC Three, Radio 1 and Radio 2 should all be put up for sale, it added.


Sonia Sotomayor and the Future of Anti-Islamist Speech

The United States holds a unique advantage in the fight against radical Islam: buttressed by the First Amendment, Americans' freedom to speak and write about the Islamist threat is unmatched anywhere in the Western world. However, such protections can suffer at the hands of judges who seek to mold the Constitution according to their own personal preferences. With Sonia Sotomayor nearing confirmation to the Supreme Court, there is no better time to explore which judicial approaches are most likely to weaken First Amendment rights.

Three qualities in particular should set off alarm bells for those concerned about free speech:

* Advocacy of the "living Constitution" model. When judges are "amending the Constitution and other laws as the judges see fit," a straightforward statement such as "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" can become disturbingly pliable. If legal reasoning could be found to restrict political speech (e.g., McCain-Feingold), could not the same fate befall other types of speech?

* Citation of foreign law. This increasingly popular trend on the Supreme Court should put fear in the heart of anyone intent on protecting anti-Islamist speech, as practically every Western country has hate speech laws on the books, many of which have been employed against critics of Islamism. Just ask Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn, Oriana Fallaci, Geert Wilders, and a host of others.

* Fixation on group identity. Those who see the group, not the individual, as the central building block of society are more likely to curtail individual rights for the purpose of mollifying certain racial, ethnic, gender, or religious groups. Such thinking undergirds European-style hate speech laws.

Unfortunately, all three of the above qualities are reflected, to some extent, in Sotomayor's past remarks. A sampling: "Our society would be strait-jacketed were not the courts … constantly overhauling the law," she wrote in 1996, effectively offering a thumbs-up to legislating from the bench — where, as she once put it, "policy is made." Furthermore, she asserted recently that "foreign law will be very important in the discussion of how to think about the unsettled issues in our own legal system"; she also has cited foreign cases in her decisions. Finally, her musings on the virtues of the "wise Latina woman" and the possibility that gender and ethnicity "will make a difference in our judging" do not bode well on the identity politics front.

Radical Islam will never be defeated without the freedom to discuss faith and culture frankly — even if it means offending some Muslims. With hate speech laws and grievance tribunals, much of the West is on the wrong path. America must not follow — not for a single step.


Hooray! Another lying bitch goes to jail

This is one aspect of British law that it pretty good. They do jail women for false rape claims -- though not long enough in my view. The woman should serve the same time that a man would have got

A mother was jailed for two years yesterday for crying rape against a man she met on a dating website. Jennifer Day, 34, who made the false allegation against former boyfriend Andrew Saxby after a row, was told by the judge that she had undermined efforts to treat genuine rape victims fairly and sympathetically.

The court also heard that Mr Saxby was subjected to 'degrading and upsetting' examinations while being held by police for ten hours. Judge Ian Graham said the investigation had wasted £4,000 of taxpayers' money and 270 police man hours.

He added: 'The police have put great stores on providing sympathetic treatments of women who make genuine complaints of rape and you abused that. 'You have undermined and jeopardised the efforts that are being made about the need to treat genuine victims of rape properly, fairly and sympathetically. 'The offence is in itself a serious one, it has terrible consequences potentially and actually for the victim and wider implications for those women who have genuinely been raped.'

Day, a former nurse, from Corringham, Essex, split up with the father of her four-year-old daughter in 2007 after he had an affair with their lodger, Basildon Crown Court heard. She began drinking heavily to cope with the rejection and using dating websites. In September 2007 she met Mr Saxby, who worked for the Ford car company, through the Dating Direct website.

They began a relationship, but the court heard that she was also seeing another man. In January last year, the couple rowed after Mr Saxby accused her of having another man at her home. Afterwards, Day dialled 999 and accused Mr Saxby of rape. He was arrested in front of his colleagues and taken to the police station.

Judge Graham said: 'It was an extraordinary performance which involved deliberate untruths as the jury found.' The court heard that Mr Saxby was released without charge after Day dropped the allegation, although she still maintained it was true. She was found guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice last month.

During the trial, the court heard how Day had a history of making up stories. The jury was told that while working at Royal London Hospital in East London as a nurse, she suffered stress-related hair loss and led her colleagues to believe it was cancer.

Rebecca Lee, mitigating, said Day had been under a lot of strain following the break-up of her relationship with the father of her daughter. She said: 'She got involved with dating websites and going out when her daughter was staying with her former partner, going out to pubs and engaging in what she would call risky behaviour and behaving totally out of character.' Day apologised unreservedly for the allegation, the court heard.

But the judge rejected calls to suspend the sentence. 'Mr Saxby is a completely respectable man who had formed a relationship with you and had shown considerable affection and kindness of the kind you said you craved,' he said. 'His reward was to be the subject of this completely false complaint.'

Day burst into tears as she was taken down to the cells.



By Ezra Levant

How would censorship work in the Internet age? Australia gives us a sneak preview of the gong show that ensues when medieval thinking is applied to a wired world.

Australia’s government nannies have officially banned 1,370 web sites. They’ve drawn up a blacklist, just like the medieval index of banned books. Right now it’s a voluntary pilot project to which Internet service providers can submit. But if the trial run is deemed a success and made law, anyone who links to a blacklisted site can be fined $11,000 a day. That means it will be a crime not just to provide the contents of a web site, but to merely reproduce its address.

That’s not just like banning books. It’s like banning books, and banning saying the banned book’s title. It’s a lot of banning.

But here’s the tricky part: the government won’t even say what those 1,370 banned web sites are. It’s secret. So there are 1,370 web sites out there that could result in your criminal prosecution in Australia. But you won’t find out what they are — until you link to one of them. That’s right out of Alice in Wonderland. The pretzelian logic goes like this: if the Australian government were to list those 1,370 banned web sites, then not only would they be breaking the rules themselves, but that list would serve as an advertisement. Out of the billions of web pages on the Internet, 1,370 would be given special attention, inviting anyone curious to check them out.

Of course, people who compile the secret blacklist know what’s on it. But apparently they can be trusted not to succumb to the temptation to look at the sites. And the list was sent to selected Australian Internet companies for a trial run. That didn’t work out quite as well. The list was leaked to Wikileaks, the web site that specializes in publishing confidential documents, especially embarrassing internal government memoranda.

And that’s when things got even weirder. Wikileaks published the entire blacklist on one of its pages. So now that Wikileaks page, too, has been added to the blacklist. It’s number 1,371.

Needless to say, I was tempted to skim the names of the banned sites. Most of them are porn sites, and some have names that suggest child pornography, which is a crime. But that’s what we have courts for. The Australian blacklist wasn’t written by a court; there was no hearing where evidence was brought that these sites were criminal sites. A group of busybody human rights activists simply wrote the blacklist. Sounds Canadian, actually.

Many banned sites are merely offensive, but not illegal. And some sites are perfectly innocuous. For some secret reason, the web site www.vanbokhorst.nl is on the blacklist. If you’re not in Australia, feel free to give that one a click. It’s not a pornographic site. My Dutch is rusty, but it appears to be a web site for a forklift rental company in Holland.

How did Van Bokhorst get on the blacklist in Australia? Nobody knows because the process was kept secret, even from Van Bokhorst. It’s unlikely that Van Bokhorst had any Australian customers. But that’s not the point. Someone is making these clandestine decisions about what Australians can or can’t see.

We’ve seen this sort of censorship in other countries — and not just from the likes of communist China. Thailand brought in a similar blacklist in the name of protecting its citizens from child pornography. But — surprise! — within months, the blacklist had other web sites on it, including 1,200 banned for criticizing the Thai royal family. A secret list, in the hands of a government, practically guarantees that sort of political abuse.

Australia’s trial-run blacklist has plenty of questionable items on it, and not just Dutch forklift companies. Hundreds of Internet poker sites are banned. Poker, unlike child pornography, is not a crime. It may be a vice, but how to handle that is a political debate. Australia’s blacklist ends that discussion with force.

And now a web site about abortion politics is on the blacklist. You can probably guess which side of the debate is being censored, but either way, it’s abominable censorship.

That blacklist was sold as a way to stop child porn. But that’s the thing about slippery slopes, isn’t it; you don’t really see the dangers until you’ve started sliding into them.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission wants an Internet blacklist, too. It wants to expand Canada’s cybertip.ca to cover political sites, not just child porn sites it targets now.

We associate book burnings with witch trials and the Nazis, not with mild-mannered bureaucrats. But book burnings in the 21st century require no matches — just self-righteous censors and a somnolent public.


These proposals were put up by the previous conservative government as an anti-pornography measure but the recently-elected Leftist government has embraced them as a way of barring ANY site that they regard as "undesirable". Because of widespread opposition and ridicule from both sides of politics, however, they are unlikely to become law


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

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

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


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Israel wins one in Europe

Israel finally won one last week in an international human rights court. On Thursday, the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one’s freedom of expression.

The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, has some 47 member states and is independent of the European Union. The court is made up of one judge from each member state, and the rulings of the court carry moral weight throughout Europe.

On Thursday the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 that the French court did not violate the freedom of expression of the Communist mayor of the small French town of Seclin, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, who in October 2002 announced at a town hall meeting that he intended to call on the municipality to boycott Israeli products. Jews in the region filed a complaint with the public prosecutor, who decided to prosecute Willem for “provoking discrimination on national, racial and religious grounds.” Willem was first acquitted by the Lille Criminal Court, but that decision was overturned on appeal in September 2003 and he was fined €1,000.

His appeal to a higher French court was unsuccessful, and as a result he petitioned the European Court of Human rights in March 2005, saying his call for a boycott of Israeli products was part of a legitimate political debate, and that his freedom of expression had been violated.

The court, made up of judges from Denmark, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Macedonia and the Czech Republic ruled that interference with the former mayor’s freedom of expression was needed to protect the rights of Israeli producers.

According to a statement issued by the court on Thursday, the court held the view that Willem was not convicted for his political opinions, “but for inciting the commission of a discriminatory, and therefore punishable, act. The Court further noted that, under French law, the applicant was not entitled to take the place of the governmental authorities by declaring an embargo on products from a foreign country, and moreover that the penalty imposed on him had been relatively moderate.” The one dissenting opinion was written by the Czech judge.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor hailed the ruling Sunday, saying it provided important ammunition for those challenging on legal grounds calls frequently heard in Europe for a boycott of Israeli products, as well as calls for a boycott of Israeli academia. “It is now clear that in every country in Europe there is a precedent for calling boycotts of Israeli goods a violation of the law,” Palmor said. “This is an important precedent, one that says very clearly that boycott calls are discriminatory. We hope this will help us push back against all the calls for boycotts of Israeli goods.”


Somalia comes to Minnesota

The attitudes and behaviour that wrecked their own country continue in America

Ahmednur Ali's family fled the chaos and violence of their West African homeland Somalia in the 1990s, eventually making their way to Minnesota like thousands of their compatriots. While many of the estimated 32,000 Somalis who settled in the state have struggled to adapt, Ali flourished, blazing a path to Minneapolis' Augsburg College on a soccer scholarship by age 20. He studied political science and aspired to a political career modeled on President Barack Obama's.

He was shot and killed last September outside a busy community center where he worked part-time as a youth counselor, and prosecutors said the 16-year-old accused of killing him was part of a gang.Ali was one of seven Minneapolis-area Somali men killed over a 10-month period, and authorities believe all were killed by fellow Somalis. Police say it's too simple to tie all the killings to Somali gangs, which have lured hundreds of young community members to their ranks in recent years.

Those in the insular community willing to speak out, however, disagree. "It was all gang activity, totally, 100 percent," said Shukri Adan, a former Somali community organizer who estimated in a 2007 report for the city that between 400 and 500 young Somalis were active in gangs. "The police don't want to say that but everybody else knows that."

Despite anger and despair over the killings in Minnesota's Somali community - the nation's largest - police and prosecutors have struggled to catch and try the killers. Few witnesses have stepped forward because of a fear of reprisal and deep-rooted distrust of authority. More than half of Minnesota's Somalis are living in poverty, according to state statistics, and many complain that authorities are biased against Somalis because of their Islamic faith.

Last month, prosecutors dropped the murder charge against the teenage boy in Ali's case after one witness backed out and another apparently fled the state.

Gangs like the Somali Hot Boyz, the Somali Mafia and Madhibaan with Attitude have grown more active in recent years, said Jeanine Brudenell, the Minneapolis Police Department's Somali liaison officer.

The recent spate of killings started in December 2007, when two Somali men, ages 27 and 25, were found shot to death at a south Minneapolis home. No arrests have been made in that case. They culminated last September, when a man was fatally shot outside of the Village Market Mall, a cluster of Somali-owned businesses and a popular destination for local Somalis. Investigators believe the shooter was retaliating for the death of his cousin, one of the other slain Somalis. The mall shooting was the only of the seven slayings for which anyone was convicted - 23-year-old Hassan Mohamed Abdillahi.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he hoped the conviction would show local Somalis that the law is on their side, and spark new progress in closing the other cases. "We have a job to do to convince people they can trust us," he said.

A gang expert in California said economic and social factors are more likely to blame for the spike in gang activity than any spillover of violence from war-ravaged Somalia. "When there's unemployment and poverty and lack of external support, there's gangs," said Jorja Leap, a social welfare professor at the University of California Los Angeles and former gang adviser to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators in a separate criminal investigation have said they've also had trouble penetrating Minnesota's Somali community. The FBI is looking into the disappearance in recent years of up to 20 young Somali men, mostly from Minneapolis, believed to have been recruited into Islamist terror groups back in Somalia.

The first sign of progress in that investigation came this week with the indictment on terrorism charges of two young Somali men, at least one of whom is accused of traveling to Somalia to fight.

Elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada, police and community officials have reported an increase in Somali gang activity. In and around Edmonton, Alberta, six young Somali men have been slain in the last six months. The leader of a small Somali outreach group there said the deaths are seen as evidence of a growing gang problem, and that they've led to better cooperation between Somalis and police. "It seems like the community now is getting to the point where we are trying to give information to the police, and they are sharing information with us," said Mohamednur Mardowe, who heads the Brotherhood Community Support Service Association.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, which has the second largest U.S. population of Somalis, have also seen growing evidence of Somali gangs, said Sgt. Chantay Boxill.

Ahmednur Ali's sister, Hindia Ali, said she hopes her fellow Somalis will stand up against the violence. "I don't think any Somali person wants killing to continue," she said. "We all want this violence to stop."


Britain's secretive Leftist government

I smile when I hear this Government insisting that it is committed to openness about its own behaviour (MPs’ expenses, Iraq inquiry passim).

This is partly because I was a member of the senior Civil Service when the Freedom of Information Act was formulated in 1999 and I remember all the whispered discussions about how to circumvent it (never write anything down, don’t keep minutes of sensitive meetings), and partly because I have just emerged from a gruelling battle to make use of Britain’s information laws and have found the odds stacked firmly against me.

My Whitehall stint ended seven years ago after Downing Street tried to blame me for the misbehaviour of Stephen Byers, the Transport and Local Government Secretary at the time, and his spin doctor, Jo Moore.

The Government eventually made a public apology to me and paid substantial compensation, but I was curious to find out who had picked me as a scapegoat, and who had led the smear campaign against me when I refused to go quietly.

So in April 2006 I filed a subject access request for all the information the Government held on me and expected to get it within the 40-day deadline specified by the Freedom of Information Act. Some hope. The Government didn’t even reply within 40 days let alone provide the data.

When I asked why it was not sending me the information, I triggered a mildly surreal sequence of excuses that went on for two years: we have faulty IT equipment; manpower shortages; new priorities; “I am on holiday in France, R. Smith, Data Controller”; pressure of other business; change in IT supplier; the need to consult widely; Christmas leave commitments; third-party interests; concerns over data security . . .

I was patient and polite, but I was being fobbed off. I complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which enforces the information laws, and it replied that the Government “is likely to have contravened the Act”. Months went by and I heard nothing more.

When I rang, the ICO said that it had mislaid the case file. I asked for a meeting. At ICO headquarters in Wilmslow, Cheshire, I found an understaffed, cowed and demoralised organisation with nothing like the clout and resources the job demands. Staff members told me that they were stressed, overworked and scared of challenging the Government (which pays their wages).

Around this time, a friend in the Civil Service informed me that ministers were holding discussions about destroying the information I had asked for, potentially a criminal offence. When I asked about this, the Government’s departmental knowledge officer, Richard Smith, wrote: “No information is held relating to discussions or correspondence regarding the provision or non-provision of the information you requested.”

But I later discovered that he wrote on the same day to another official: “We have needed to consult widely on this request because of the nature of the data we hold . . . Please regard this as confidential and not for passing on to Martin Sixsmith.”

I urged the ICO to demand that the Government hand over the data. The ICO threatened enforcement action, but the Government did not reply. So the ICO set another deadline, which the Government also ignored. When the Government failed to meet a third deadline, the ICO moved it back again.

It was clear that the Government was accustomed to bullying and ignoring a toothless ICO, and that the ICO had no stomach to take it on. It was not until September 2008, after some vigorous lobbying from me, that the ICO finally agreed to issue an enforcement notice. Surprise, surprise, the Government still refused to comply and the case was sent on appeal to the Information Tribunal, the FoI equivalent of the High Court.

I thought that I was getting somewhere now, but if the ICO was bad, the tribunal officials were worse: communications from its proper officers were shambolic, contradictory and semi-literate.

When the case opened at Crown Chambers in the Temple, the Government was calling the shots. I requested that proceedings be held in public, as permitted by the act, but the Government’s QCs harangued the chairman into closing the doors, and the public (including me) were locked out.

I asked how much taxpayers’ money had been spent contesting the case — the Government was represented by two QCs, the ICO by one, and the panel of judges included a further two QCs — but I was told that it was not in the public interest for me to know this. One of the lawyers told me later that the figure was in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The information I was seeking had no bearing on national security but, because it was politically embarrassing, the Government was prepared to spend three years and substantial public funds to keep it secret. If I weren’t so bloody-minded, the ICO would have caved in and the Government would have got away with it.

But last month, three years after it all began, a heap of documents landed on my doormat. They are heavily redacted, but they show that senior civil servants backed up the view that Stephen Byers misled Parliament and that it was Alastair Campbell who circulated false information about me.

Campbell’s language is delightfully choice: it might turn up in the rantings of Malcolm Tucker in the next series of The Thick of It.

I am still trawling through the contents of the documents — they will provide a story for another day — but for now the lesson is clear: there is no truth in the rumour that the Government has embraced openness and honesty.


Socialist America Sinking

by Pat Buchanan

After half a century of fighting encroachments upon freedom in America, journalist Garet Garrett published "The People's Pottage." A year later, in 1954, he died. "The People's Pottage" opens thus: "There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom."

Garrett wrote of a revolution within the form. While outwardly America appeared the same, a revolution within had taken place that was now irreversible. One need only glance at where we were before the New Deal, where we are and where we are headed to see how far we are off the course the Founding Fathers set for our republic.

Taxes drove the American Revolution, for we were a taxaphobic, liberty-loving people. That government is best that governs least is an Americanism. When "Silent Cal" Coolidge went home in 1929, the U.S. government was spending 3 percent of gross domestic product. And today? Obama's first budget will consume 28 percent of the entire GDP; state and local governments another 15 percent. While there is some overlap, in 2009, government will consume 40 percent of GDP, approaching the peak of World War II.

The deficit for 2009 is $1.8 trillion, 13 percent of the whole economy. Obama is pushing a cap-and-trade bill to cut carbon emissions that will impose huge costs on energy production, spike consumer prices and drive production offshore to China, which is opting out of Kyoto II. The Chinese are not fools.

Obama plans to repeal the Bush tax cuts and take the income tax rate to near 40 percent. Combined state and local income tax rates can run to 10 percent. For the self-employed, payroll taxes add up to 15.2 percent on the first $106,800 for all wages of all workers. Medicare takes 2.9 percent of all wages above that. Then there are the state sales taxes that can run to 8 percent, property taxes, gas taxes, excise taxes, and "sin taxes" on booze, cigarettes and, soon, hot dogs and soft drinks.

Comes now national health insurance from Nancy Pelosi's House. A surtax that runs to 5.4 percent of all earnings of the top 1 percent of Americans, who already pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes, has been sent to the Senate. Included also is an 8 percent tax on the entire payroll of small businesses that fail to provide health insurance for employees. Other ideas on the table include taxing the health benefits that businesses provide their employees. The D.C.-based Tax Foundation says New Yorkers could face a combined income tax rate of near 60 percent.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called George III a tyrant for having "erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." What did George III do with his Stamp Act, Townshend Acts or tea tax to compare with what is being done to this generation of Americans by their own government?

While the hardest working and most productive are bled, a third of all wage-earners pay no U.S. income tax, and Obama plans to free almost half of all wage-earners of all income taxes. Yet, tens of millions get Medicaid, rent supplements, free education, food stamps, welfare and an annual check from Uncle Sam called an Earned Income Tax Credit, though they never paid a nickel in income taxes. Oh, yes. Obama also promises everybody a college education.

Coming to America to feast on this cornucopia of freebies is the world. One million to 2 million immigrants, legal and illegal, arrive every year. They come with fewer skills and less education than Americans, and consume more tax dollars than they contribute by three to one. Wise Latina women have more babies north of the border than they do in Mexico and twice as many here as American women. As almost all immigrants are now Third World people of color, they qualify for ethnic preferences in hiring and promotions and admissions to college over the children of Americans

All of this would have astounded and appalled the Founding Fathers, who after all, created America -- as they declared loud and clear in the Constitution -- "for ourselves and our posterity."

China saves, invests and grows at 8 percent. America, awash in debt, has a shrinking economy, a huge trade deficit, a gutted industrial base, an unemployment rate surging toward 10 percent and a money supply that's swollen to double its size in a year. The 20th century may have been the American Century. The 21st shows another pattern.

"The United States is declining as a nation and a world power with mostly sighs and shrugs to mark this seismic event," writes Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in CFR's Foreign Affairs magazine. "Astonishingly, some people do not appear to realize that the situation is all that serious." Even the establishment is starting to get the message.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Should President Obama Control The Internet?

President Barack Obama wants to control the internet. And if our President has his way, this website may soon be under legal attack from the White House.

Since the internet’s emergence in the private sector (it actually began in the public sector, through developments at the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1960’s), officials in our U.S. Government have generally viewed the internet as a good and necessary thing.

In 1996, when former Sun Microsystems Officer John Gage began a movement to get high-tech companies involved in providing internet infrastructure for the world’s schools, libraries, and clinics, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore marked the first ever “NetDay” celebration by traveling to Concord, California, and spending the day re-wiring a high school campus with computer cables. Similarly, both President Clinton and President George W. Bush pushed for “every school in America” to be connected to the world wide web, and internet connectivity generally flourished around the globe under the leadership of both Presidents, and by both public and private funding means.

But today, things are different. After approximately seven months in office, President Obama controls, in varying degrees, General Motors, Chrysler, and a variety of financial services companies. He is seeking to control, among other things, the health care industry, the energy industry, and the amount of money that business executives are paid by their employers. And now it appears that the President who ran the most successful, web-savvy political campaign in world history, wants to curtail what other people can do online.

Cass Sunstein, an American legal scholar and Harvard Law Professor, has been appointed by President Obama to head up the “White House Office Of Information And Regulatory Affairs.” His title is sufficiently broad and ambiguous, but he wields plenty of power. And with advance copies circulating of his new book “On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done,” Americans who still care about their rights to “freedom of speech” should be paying close attention.

You owe it to yourself to review what has been reported in both the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal about Mr. Sunstein, and the ideas that he advances in his book. And while we don’t know precisely what Obama and Sunstein will be doing, many of the thoughts that Mr. Sunstein expresses about the internet seem consistent with President Obama’s proclivity to control things, generally.

Perhaps most disturbing is Mr. Sunstein’s vision for the future of web content, as he argues for a so-called “notice and take down” law. Under this provision, those who operate websites - - The Washington Post, radio stations, private bloggers, and perhaps even you, yourself -we would all be required “take down falsehoods upon notice” from the U.S. government.

And not only would the original content of websites be scrutinized by the government for “falsehoods,” website operators would also be held responsible for the content of “posts” created by the website’s visitors and readers. At first blush it may seem that, for a web operator to be held accountable for content generated by “posters,” is completely untenable. But that may very well be Mr. Sunstein’s goal - - to create an “untenable situation” for website operators - given his assertion that “a ‘chilling effect’ on those who would spread destructive falsehoods can be an excellent idea..”

But who shall determine what, exactly, is “true” and “false?” Mr. Sunstein laments the supposed “lie” that emerged during last year’s presidential race, that “Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.” Despite that fact that a friendship between Obama and known domestic terrorist William Ayers was something that both men acknowledged, Sunstein alludes to the notion that this was one of those “destructive falsehoods” of the sort that needs to be policed.

As I was recently talking about this matter on-air at Arizona’s NewsTalk 92-3 KTAR radio, a caller to the show observed that “there’s no way this could be legal, or constitutional..” Thoughtful Americans of all sorts will immediately view this situation through the lenses of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

But issues of “legality” don’t seem to matter, at times, with the Obama Administration. In March of this year, there was nothing illegal about executives of the AIG Corporation being paid bonuses that they earned from their employer, but they were harassed and publicly belittled, nonetheless. President Obama himself demonized them, while dozens of Obama supporters “demonstrated” in front of the private residences of the executives, alleging that it was “unfair” for those executives to be making “so much money.”

In a similar way, it appears that the Obama Administration may be ushering-in an era of harassment for website operators. Regardless of what U.S. courts may or may not say about this in the future, a “notice and take down” letter from the White House could have quite a “chilling effect” for today.


Britain's love-affair with homosexuality again

A doctor has been removed from an adoption panel because she refuses to endorse applications by homosexual couples. Dr Sheila Matthews, who is a Christian, was told that her beliefs on gay adoption were incompatible with equality legislation and council policies. The paediatrician had asked to be allowed to abstain from voting in cases involving same-sex couples. But that led to her being barred from the panel altogether.

The married mother of one said she had been 'made to pay for being honest and upholding my personal integrity'. 'I don't feel that placing children for adoption with same-sex couples is the best place for them,' said the 50-year-old doctor. 'As a Christian, I don't believe it's an appropriate lifestyle and I don't believe the outcomes for children would be as good as if they were placed with heterosexual couples.'

Dr Matthews said men and women brought different skills to parenting, with mothers more nurturing and fathers more challenging. She said children of gay adoptive parents would be more likely to be bullied. 'Professionally and personally I cannot recommend placement in a same-sex household to be in the best interest of a child, despite what politicians may have legislated for,' she said.

For the past five years she has analysed medical examinations of prospective adoptive parents on behalf of the panel to establish whether the candidates were healthy enough to provide longterm care for a child. Dr Matthews would then take part in the vote to decide if the candidates should be approved. In the past, Dr Matthews had abstained from votes on same-sex parents.

But in February a homosexual couple applied to the panel - the first to do so following the introduction of equality legislation at the end of last year. Dr Matthews was happy to interpret for the panel the couple's medical assessments but was barred from participating after saying she would abstain from voting. Northamptonshire County Council told her she had been replaced on the panel because of the ' significant problems' her views created for the adoption service. In a letter she was told that her stance went against complying with the law and would not help the council attract the widest range of suitable adopters.

She has appealed against the decision and says she may be forced to go to an employment tribunal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The Christian Legal Centre is backing her case and has referred it to Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister.

The council said it was ' communicating' with Dr Matthews, who lives in Kettering, but could not comment further. More than 3,200 children were adopted in England last year - 90 by gay couples.


Australia: A tale about feminism with an amusing ending

AFTER writing a letter of complaint recently, I baulked at signing my name, writes Jenny Letchford. Should it be Ms or Mrs? N.B.: "Whinger" is British/Australian slang for a whiner or someone who complains excessively. It is regarded as childish behaviour

Only which to choose? They all carry so much baggage. Technically I am a Ms, but this has bra-burning connotations and makes me sound like a pushy feminist. Miss sounds half naive ingenue, half old spinster; and Mrs is a bit Stepford Wives. Which would make my letter sound less whiny and more consequential?

Thirty years ago our feminist forebears also thought it unfair that men were addressed as Mr, their marital status obscure, while women were identifiable as either married or a spinster. To stop this blatant sexism, the feminists decreed that all women should be Ms. But not all agreed and we kept all three. Now, whenever a woman fills out a form, she must choose from one of three labels. If only we could remove the stigma associated with Ms and make it a universal, one-size-fits-all title, rather than the abhorrence it is deemed by some.

The leaders of the European Union recently banned the titles Miss and Mrs because they were not considered politically correct. The bureaucrats in Brussels decided the words were sexist, so they issued guidelines in the hope of creating gender neutral language. The guidelines warn against politicians referring to a woman's marital status. (They also deemed the terms Frau and Fraulein, Senora and Senorita and Madame and Mademoiselle sexist, and banned them, too.)

The guidelines in the EU's new pamphlet Gender Neutral Language order politicians to address female members by their full name only. Wouldn't Ms be so much easier?

In Australia calls have been made to reopen the republican debate because we have matured so much as a nation. But what about reopening the feminist debate so that on official forms we choose from two titles, Mr and Ms, not four?

Feminism has brought about enormous changes for women, including equal opportunity and pay in the workforce and access to positions of power, maternity leave and child care. Surely we ought to adopt the feminist title in tribute to our forebears.

As for my letter? I put my husband's name at the end - no title. If they wish to reply, they'll know he's a Mr. And he can look like the whinger.


Child sex abuse victims in Scotland failed by care system, says NSPCC

Social workers are too busy harassing middle class families over minor infractions to be bothered about real problems

Child sex abuse victims in Scotland are being failed by an over-stretched care system, the NSPCC warns. A report by the charity reveals that therapeutic services for children and young people are overwhelmed and says that victims could be left with mental health problems because they are not receiving adequate help.

In Scotland, the NSPCC estimates that there are currently 5,188 youngsters who have been sexually abused and are seeking therapy. However, there are only 134 therapeutic services available across the country.

Debbie Allnock, co-author of the report, said that more work needed to be done to establish the true picture in Scotland, but a UK-wide investigation gave a “snapshot”. This revealed a “postcode lottery” in service provision with only one support programme for every 25,000 children in the UK.

The charity claims that each year at least 55,000 sex abuse victims face behavioural and mental health problems. The 508 services in the report are so over-stretched that many stop taking new patients, while those who secure treatment often have to wait up to a year for it to begin.Teenagers are more likely to miss out on therapy as they are less able to access services for adults and may be considered too old for support on a child protection plan.



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

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

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


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Pre-birth babies found to have memories

They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But they can remember. The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation - or about two months before they are born. "In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later," said the research, which was released Wednesday.

Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation.

On five occasions during the last eight weeks of their pregnancies, the women received a series of one-second buzzes on their bellies with a "fetal vibroacoustic stimulator," a hand-held diagnostic device used to gauge an unborn baby's heart rate and general well-being.

The baby's responses - primarily eye, mouth and body movements - were closely monitored over the weeks with ultrasound imaging to gauge "fetal learning" patterns. The researchers found that the babies acclimated themselves to the sounds and vibrations to the point that they no longer bothered to respond - a process known as "habituation." "The stimulus is then accepted as 'safe' " by the babies, the study said.

The team also found that the tiny test subjects actually improved these skills as they grew older, with those who were 34- or 36-weeks old clearly showing that they had become familiar with the hum outside the womb. "The fetus 'remembers' the stimulus and the number of stimuli needed for the fetus to habituate is then much smaller," the study said.

"It seems like every day we find out marvelous new things about the development of unborn children. We hope that this latest information helps people realize more clearly that the unborn are members of the human family with amazing capabilities and capacities like these built in from the moment of conception," said Randall K. O'Bannon, director of education and research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

A call to NARAL Pro-Choice America for comment on the implications of the research were not returned.

The Dutch medical team, meanwhile, said its findings could help obstetricians track the healthy development of unborn babies during pregnancy. The research was published in Child Development, a medical journal.

Scientists have been curious about fetal responses to sound for decades. The first real study of "habituation" occurred in 1925 when researchers discovered that fetuses moved less when exposed to a beeping car horn. Since then, door buzzers and even electric toothbrushes have been used to help researchers understand the fetal environment - and the response of the unborn to such influences.

Beeps and buzzes were not always the tools of choice. In 2003, psychologists and obstetricians at Queen's University in Canada found a profound mother-baby link. In a study of 60 pregnant women, they found that the unborn babies preferred the voices of their own mothers - both before and after birth.

The heart rates of fetuses sped up when they heard their mother reading a poem, and slowed down when they heard a stranger's voice - evidence of "sustained attention, memory and learning by the fetus," said Barbara Kisilevsky, a professor of nursing who led the research.

The Queen's group has also investigated fetal response to the father's voice, concluding that if men try a little pre-natal vocalizing to their offspring, the newborn will later recognize the father's voice.


The Bible proved right again

The revelation came to Professor Andrew Parker during a visit to Rome. He was in the Sistine Chapel, gazing up at Michelangelo's awesome ceiling paintings, when a realisation struck him with dizzying force. 'A Biblical enigma exists that is on the one hand so cryptic it has remained camouflaged for millennia, and on the other so obvious one cannot miss it.' The enigma is that the order of Creation as described in the Book of Genesis, and so powerfully depicted in the Sistine Chapel by the greatest artist of the Renaissance, has been precisely, eerily confirmed by modern evolutionary science.

Such was the starting point of Parker's jaw-dropping new book, The Genesis Enigma: an astounding work which seeks to prove that the ancient Hebrew writers of the Book of Genesis knew all about evolution - 3,000 years before Darwin. It takes a journey back through aeons of geological time, and also into the minds and imaginations of the ancient Israelites.

Andrew Parker is a leading scientist in his field: a research fellow at Oxford University, research leader at the Natural History Museum, and as if that weren't enough, a professor at Shanghai's Jiao Tong university. As a scientist he never paid much heed to the Book of Genesis, assuming, like most of his colleagues, that such primitive mythology - which is believed to have been compiled from several sources between 950 and 500 BC - has long since been 'disproved' by hard scientific fact. But after his Sistine Chapel moment, he went back to look at Genesis in more detail. And what he read astonished him. It was even, he says, 'slightly scary'.

Somehow - God alone knew how - the writer or writers of that ancient text had described how the evolution of life on earth took place in precise detail and perfect order.

It is always disturbing and haunting to encounter an ancient wisdom that seems to anticipate or even exceed our own. More fanciful writers immediately start to theorise wildly: that those who built the pyramids, or Stonehenge, must have been guided by super-intelligent aliens, that sort of thing.

Andrew Parker, a scientist and proud of it, has no time for such twaddle. But he does gradually come to understand, in the course of his investigations, that our ancestors of thousands of years ago, though they may not have had iPods and plasma-screen televisions, nevertheless possessed a wisdom that was, quite literally, timeless: as true now as it was then.

In the Book of Genesis, God first and most famously creates heaven and earth, but 'without form', and commands: 'Let there be light.' A perfect description of the Big Bang, that founding moment of our universe some 13 billion years ago, an unimaginable explosion of pure energy and matter 'without form' out of nothing - the primordial Biblical 'void'.

He then creates the dry land out of the waters, but it is the water that comes first. As Parker points out, scientists today understand very similarly that water is indeed crucial for life. When 'astrobiologists' look into space for signs of life on other planets, the first thing they look for is the possible presence of water.

On the third day, we are told: 'God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so."' Now factually speaking, grass didn't evolve until much later. In the Triassic and Jurassic epochs, the dinosaurs knew only plants such as giant conifers and tree ferns. But since grass did not in fact evolve until much later, a sternly literal-minded scientist would declare the Bible wrong, and consign it to the nearest wheelie bin.

But wait a minute, says Parker. If you take 'grass, herb and tree' to mean photosynthesising life in general, then this is, once again, spot on. The very life forms on earth were single-celled bacteria, but the first truly viable bacteria were the 'cyanobacteria' - those that had learned to photosynthesise. As a result, they began to expire oxygen, creating an atmosphere that could go on to support more and more life. They were the key to life on earth.

Naturally, says Parker, 'the ancient Israelites would have been oblivious to any single-celled life form, let alone cyanobacteria', but 'grass' as a loose description of life forms that photosynthesise?

On the fourth day, Genesis famously becomes confusing. On the first day, remember, God has already created light, and made Day and Night. But it isn't until day four that he makes the lights in heaven, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser the night. Hang on - so he made 'Day' three days before he made the Sun? Houston, I think we have a problem.

Yet the writers of Genesis were just as well aware as us, surely, that the sunrise causes the day. You don't need a degree in astronomy to work that one out. What on earth did they mean? Here, The Genesis Enigma comes up with a stunningly ingenious answer. For Parker argues that day four refers to the evolution of vision. Until the first creatures on earth evolved eyes, in a sense, the sun and moon didn't exist. There was no creature on earth to see them, nor the light they cast. When Genesis says: 'Let there be lights... To divide the day from the night,' it is talking about eyes.

'The very first eye on earth effectively turned on the lights for animal behaviour,' writes Professor Parker, 'and consequently for further rapid evolution.' Almost overnight, life suddenly grew vastly more complex. Predators were able to hunt far more efficiently, and so prey had to evolve fast too - or get eaten. The moment that there were 'lights', or eyes, then life exploded into all its infinite variety.

And yet again, that's what Genesis says happened, and in the correct environment too. In the sea. For on the very next day of Creation, the fifth day: 'God said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life."' That is exactly what happened. Life that had hitherto been lived in the dark, by simple, slow-moving, worm-like creatures, erupted into dazzling diversity. We know all about it from the world famous Burgess Shale fossils. They were discovered in the summer of 1909 by one Charles Doolittle Walcott, on holiday with his family in the Canadian Rockies. Walcott began to chip away at the shale with his geological hammer, and quite by chance stumbled upon one of the greatest finds in all science.

For the shale records what happened on our planet around 508 million years ago, long before the first dinosaurs: the 'Cambrian expolosion,' which most scientists now think was indeed the direct result of the evolution of vision. The life-forms discovered look like nothing else: fabulous, phantasmagoric, alien beings. One had five eyes, and a long wavy snout with jaws on the end. Another looked like an octopus with its head stuck in a beaker, and another can only be described as 'a swimming pea with a pair of beady eyes, bull's horns, a pair of "hands" and a fish's tail.' Others resemble balls of spines, vase-shaped pin-cushions, or badminton shuttlecocks with chameleon-like tongues. Anyone who doubts the power of evolution by natural selection only has to look at the Burgess Shale fossils.

How does Genesis describe the teeming aquatic life of the Cambrian explosion? 'And God said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life." ' Immediately following the creation of vision.

How did the writer/writers know that life suddenly diversified into this rich and staggering variety, under the oceans, not on land? Why would a very much land-based people, pastoralists and shepherds, even think like this?

After the Cambrian come the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian periods - or the appearance of 'great whales', as Genesis succinctly puts it. How better to describe those epochs which gave us such monsters of the deep as Dunkleosteus, a carnivorous armoured fish whose appearance, says Parker, was 'simply terrifying'. Some 35ft long, 'the size of a small coach', with massive, bone-crunching jaws, even its eyes were armoured.

And after the sea monsters come the birds, the animals, cattle, and finally, homo sapiens. All present and correct, and all still in the right order. Once again, 'In describing how the planet and life around us came to be, the writer of the Genesis narrative got it disturbingly right'....


Science: Theists Need Not Apply

Religious bigotry is alive and well in the scientific community, as evidenced by its response to President Obama's decision to appoint Dr. Francis Collins as the head of the National Institutes of Health. Though renowned for leading the team of scientists that successfully mapped the human genome, Dr. Collins is making headlines for something else: his faith. In spite of his professional qualifications and accomplishments, many in the scientific community are less than enthusiastic about the President's decision to appoint a self-described evangelical Christian to lead the world's leading organization for scientific research.

This skepticism results from a prejudice against a theistic worldview that has become entrenched in the scientific community—an irrational attitude born of historical ignorance and intellectual myopathy that is increasingly dismissive of moral questions and ethical concerns.

The idea that a tension exists between science and theism is relatively new. The most brilliant philosophical minds of the western intellectual tradition—dating all the way back to the time of Plato and Aristotle—operated on the assumption that our existence came into being through the actions of a divine creator, described as the First Cause or Unmoved Mover. For centuries after, theology reigned as queen of the sciences, and scientific inquiry was animated by the belief that human reason was a gift imparted by God so that man might gain knowledge about Him, His attributes, and the laws which govern His creation.

Without this belief that the physical world is the result of an intentional design governed by fixed laws—laws which we discover through reason and experience—there would have been little cause to engage in scientific pursuits. Faith in the goodness of God's creation and the intelligibility of its design inspired history's great minds to forge ahead into new worlds of knowledge and discovery.

Indeed, many of the great heroes of science pioneered their discoveries under the auspices of this inspiration. Groundbreaking advances in astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, genetics, and other fields of knowledge were made by men dedicated to systematically investigating God's creation—men like Copernicus, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Kelvin, Mendel, and Faraday.

Over time, however, the scientific community came to question whether the advancement of human knowledge might be better served by separating itself from ethical constraints arising out of religious beliefs. The idea that man should be guided by transcendent moral principles in his quest for answers to life's mysteries, the idea that some boundaries should not be crossed, was an intolerable thought. Scientists wanted to answer the question "can I?" without having to ask "should I?"

Hence today, when a man who professes faith in the Risen Christ is given the reigns of America's preeminent scientific organization, eyebrows raise in skepticism. Prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins go on late-night TV talk shows to denounce the ridiculous notion that any intelligent person, let alone a scientist, could actually embrace the fantastic teachings of the Bible. Believing that the world is the result of an intentional act of creation on the part of a benevolent and loving God is likened to believing in unicorns or the tooth fairy—Peter Pan fantasies embraced by those too young or too dumb to cope with the cold hard facts of reality.

Regardless of the specifics of Dr. Collins's Christian identity, the idea that his faith impedes his fitness to serve as the head of the NIH operates on the absurd premise that only atheists and agnostics are capable of being good scientists. One might argue the precise opposite of this. If, as previously stated, the origin of scientific inquiry was based upon the belief that the physical world operates according to fixed and intelligible laws, one might ask what kind of foundation underlies a scientific worldview which denies an intelligent design or an ultimate purpose? If there's no designer, no fixed laws, no first principles, then there is no real meaning—no context in which to evaluate the value and significance of newly acquired knowledge. When there is no acknowledged moral source to draw a clear line between the permissible and the forbidden, then human curiosity and ambition are left as the only arbiters of science's use.

Those who profess a commitment to science while rejecting a belief in God want to expand the breadth of scientific inquiry without being subject to ethical constraints. Inevitably, this kind of thinking leads to manipulating or destroying the weaker among us in order to empower the stronger. This is the philosophy that has animated some of our history's most gruesome acts of scientific "experimentation," and it is espoused today by none other than President Obama's "science czar," John Holdren, who has advocated forced abortion and mass sterilization in the name of environmental responsibility.

If this is the kind of ideology that results when the age-old relationship between faith and science is destroyed, then Dr. Collins's "embrace" of religion is the least of America's troubles.


British Muslim imposes his religion on others

Muslim care home owner bans oldsters from eating bacon sandwiches. But publicity forces a backdown, as usual

A Muslim care home owner has been branded 'a disgrace' after banning his pensioner residents from eating bacon. The 40 pensioners - none of them Muslim - were shocked when all pork products were cut off the menu by owner Dr Zulfikar Ali Khan. He stopped deliveries from the butcher who supplied the home for years and instead ordered halal-meat only from another firm.

It meant that the elderly residents at the 40-bed Queen's Care Centre in the pit village of Maltby, near Rotherham, missed out on traditional favourites like bacon sandwiches, sausage and mash, ham sandwiches and sausage rolls.

But the move has brought a furious reaction from the 37-strong staff - and the families of residents. Said a relative of an elderly resident : 'This is a disgrace. The old people who are in the home and in their final years an deserve better. 'They are paying customers who are making profits for this man. The least he can do is give them their favourite food. 'Bacon butties and bangers and mash is traditional English food and that's what these people want, it's shocking that they should be deprived of the food they like on the whim of this man.'

Said one member of staff , who asked not to be named: 'Only halal meat was delivered to the home and all pork products such as bacon, ham sandwiches, pork pies, sausages and even lard were stopped. 'He did not consult the residents or seek their approval. Bacon sandwiches are a favourite here. 'It's also quite wrong that someone should impose their religious and cultural beliefs on others like this.

'For many years meat has been supplied by Crawshaws, a Rotherham family butcher but that contract ended two weeks ago and since then only halal meat has been delivered along with other products with brand names you would not recognise. 'We were told that if people wanted pork products we could go out and get them, but in reality this has not worked. 'We only have halal meat on the premises and so this is all we had to serve to residents because there is no other meat in the building.'

When asked about the decision, Dr Khan, who has owned the home since 1994, suggested that the halal meat had been brought in for Muslim staff - but he is believed to be the only one the only in the building. He said staff had misconceptions about the situation and added : 'As soon as we realised residents were not getting what they wanted it was resolved at a senior staff meeting a week ago. 'We will be ordering all types of meat . It is complete nonsense. The residents are free to have whatever they want.

'Regarding meat we are moving from Crawshaws to Browns Meat Supplies - a British company which supplies all kinds of meat. 'There has been one delivery of halal meat and people have misunderstood the concept. As soon as I realised this I held a senior staff meeting which was minuted and I made it abundantly clear that residents could have any meat product or food they wished. 'I agree it would be quite wrong for someone to impose their religious or cultural beliefs on others, but this is not the case.'

Said a former member of staff who still has connections with the home: 'I believe Dr Khan intended to serve only halal meat at the home but has had to think again because of the row. 'The staff have been very unhappy and the manager has just left, one of several to go in the last few years.'



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

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

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


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

More vindictive and totally unreasonable British police behaviour (1)

They are not the friendly Bobbies of old. They are now Left-trained thugs who see ordinary people as the enemy. A couple who tidied up a garden were thrown into a riot van for attempted burglary. But if you get your car stolen the British police just yawn

A judge has blasted a waste of taxpayers' money after a couple who picked up items of rubbish from the garden of an abandoned house were thrown into a riot van for attempted burglary. Public-spirited Richard and Lynne Small, both 38, believed they were helping the environment when they recovered leftover junk from the garden near their home in Hull, East Yorks. They collected a pair of old boots, a hose-pipe, a plant, half a shoe lace and used tins of paint from the empty property and used a wheelie bin to carry the trash to their home just a few yards down the road.

But they were left stunned and humiliated when they were arrested, handcuffed and bundled into a police van after being confronted by four officers. After a five-month ordeal ending at the city's Crown Court the couple were finally released without charge. And the case judge has condemned the decision to pursue the matter as a sickening waste of taxpayers' money.

Bricklayer Richard said: 'We couldn't believe it when they slapped handcuffs us and threw us in a riot van. You'd think we'd robbed a bank the way we've been treated. 'When it finally got to court we were charged with the lesser offence of theft by finding and refusing to take a drugs test. We'd refused the drugs sample because we'd done nothing wrong. 'All we did was pick up a bit of litter, we were doing a public service. We'd just been on a walk and thought we could use some of the stuff. It was an eyesore. 'It's been very distressing. The police should be arresting criminals.'

The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence when the pair appeared at court and their barrister Paul Genney said: 'This was rough justice. It is a gross matter of overkill. 'One would question the reason for the arrest and as for the request to take a drugs test one can well understand their indignation.'

Recorder Paul Isaac formerly entered not guilty verdicts on the theft charges but gave the couple six month conditional discharges for refusing the drugs test. He said: 'This is all unfortunate. It does seem to me to bring this matter to the crown court is something of a waste of public resources. 'Whatever the rights and wrongs, your defence that you have taken these items believing them to be abandoned would likely have been accepted by any sensible jury.'

A spokesman for Humberside Police said: 'We had received a call from a member of the public saying they believed two people were stealing from the house. 'We followed procedure and now the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have decided not to continue the case.'


More vindictive and totally unreasonable British police behaviour (2)

They are not the friendly Bobbies of old. They are now Left-trained thugs who see ordinary people as the enemy. An offence to invite your friends to a BBQ via Facebook??

Riot police raided a 30th birthday barbecue because they thought the organiser, who had invited his friends via Facebook, was staging a rave. Four police cars, a riot van and a helicopter moved in on Andrew Poole's gathering which was taking place in a field owned by a friend. The coach driver had invited 17 guests to an 'event' on his social networking page by private invitation and was about to light the barbecue when the gazebo suddenly started flapping wildly and the sound of chopper blades filled the air.

The gazebo under which the party guests were gathered because it had started to rain. Then the police riot van arrived...

A police helicopter circled the field several times before four police cars and a riot van stormed into the field in a small village near Sowton, Devon. Eight officers wearing camouflage trousers and body armour then jumped out and ordered the party to be shut down or everyone would be arrested.

Andrew, of Exeter, Devon, said: 'It had started to rain so we had gone in under the gazebo. All of a sudden there was this noise in the sky - I honestly couldn't believe it. 'The thing then hovered over us for about 25 minutes, watching 15 people eat. They told us to take down the sound system and said everybody's got to leave. 'It was 4pm and we hadn't even plugged the music in yet. We tried to reason with them, and even offered for them to take the power lead for the sound system, but they were having none of it.

'It was on private land. We were nowhere near anyone. We weren't even playing any music. What effectively the police did was come in and stop fifteen people eating burgers.'

Andrew had spent £800 for the hire of the generator, marquee and food. The guests arrived at 3pm but soon after a police helicopter generated a huge dust cloud which covered his BBQ in debris.

Andrew said: 'The police had full-on camouflage trousers on and body-armour, it was ridiculous. There was also several plain-clothes officers as well. "I told them it was my 30th birthday. I said "this is a once in a lifetime event for me, please don't ruin it". But they kept on insisting I had been advertising it as an all-night rave on the internet.

'But I'd created an event, and 17 people had confirmed as guests, I did put the times on it as "overnight" in case people wanted to sleep-over. 'They were still banging on saying it was advertised on the internet. They wouldn't accept it wasn't a rave. It was in a completely isolated field.

'We'd actually faced the speakers away from the village just in case nosy-neighbour types complained. But someone must have seen us putting up the marquee and phoned the police.'


British Christian teacher tells of race slurs by Muslim pupils aged 8

Must not object to Muslim bigotry and hate

A teacher claims he has been sacked for reprimanding pupils who made racist remarks about his being a Christian. Nicholas Kafouris said he lost his £30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the 'openly racist' behaviour of pupils as young as eight. He said the predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class, and hailed the September 11 terrorists as 'heroes and martyrs'.

Greek-born Mr Kafouris, 40, taught for more than ten years at Bigland Green Primary in Tower Hamlets, East London, where according to the most recent Ofsted report 'almost all' the 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language.

He is taking the school, its headmistress and assistant head to an employment tribunal where he will claim he was forced out after highlighting the rise in racism among pupils.

In 2006, said Mr Kafouris, he brushed against a boy while giving him a book. 'He said rather brusquely to me, "Don't touch me, you're a Christian". I found this very offensive.' Later that year, he said children aged eight and nine in his class praised the suicide bombers in the 9/11 attacks. 'In late November and December 2006, many various unacceptable and openly racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks were being made by many and various children in Year 4,' he said. 'These included, "We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up", "the Twin Towers bombers are heroes and martyrs", "we hate the Jews" and "we hate the Christians".'

And in January 2007, he claims some pupils 'expressed delight' that a child had died when a wall collapsed on him in London. When asked why, he said one of the children replied: 'Because he's English.' The following month, during a religious education lesson about Jonah and the whale, he claims one of the pupils asked if Jonah was a Jew, before shouting: 'I hate the Jews, they're our enemies.'

Mr Kafouris says he completed 'Racist Incident Reporting Sheets' and notified headmistress Jill Hankey in writing about each incident. But he claims his concerns were ignored because she wanted to maintain the school's 'good' Ofsted rating.

Mr Kafouris, who is unmarried and has no children, was also reprimanded for handling a discussion about religion with a child 'inappropriately', which he denies. He says assistant head Margaret Coleman accused him of shouting at pupils and telling them Muslims had produced suicide bombers - claims he rejects.

'I believe after I complained to the head about the racist and religious discrimination incidents, I suffered victimisation,' he says. 'I also suffered less favourable treatment and incurred harassment by the head and assistant head. 'The two people above created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, threatening, humiliating and offensive environment for me at my work.'

Mr Kafouris says the way he was treated brought on stress and depression, and that he was forced to take time off work. He was finally dismissed because of his absence, on April 30 this year. A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council, on behalf of the school, said: 'The governing body stands by its decision and we believe all the correct procedures were followed.'


Hatred of Australia's big-two supermarkets

This is very reminiscent of the hatred that Leftists direct at Wal-Mart in America. Success is hated. And there is absolutely no substance in what they say below. There are smaller supermarket chains with different business models such as IGA (stressing convenience) and Aldi (stressing ultra-low prices) and there is nothing stopping anyone who wants to shop at one of those. They all have plenty of outlets. People go to Woolworths because they like the Woolworths model (lots of choice) and they obviously are prepared to pay for that. "Choice" just ASSUMES that price is all that matters. If that were so, everyone would be going to Aldi.

Note: "Choice" is similar to Britain's "Which". It is a consumer reports organization but has recently come under heavy Leftist influence: Another example of the Gramscian "long march"

AUSTRALIA has the highest grocery inflation in the Western world and our powerful supermarket duopoly has a big role to play, experts warn. Commanding up to 80 per cent of the nation's $90 billion grocery market and a large percentage of the fuel market, Coles and Woolworths have little incentive to discount, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says.

The stranglehold on the market came under fire this week when Coles announced a food-for-fuel promotion requiring customers to spend $300 on food to get a 40c per litre discount of fuel. Woolworths matched the offer within hours, The Courier-Mail reports. Independent petrol station owners claimed the move was designed to squeeze out the competition. The number of independent fuel stations has plummeted from 7000 to 5500 in five years. [It has been shrinking for decades]

Christopher Zinn, the spokesman for consumer group Choice, said petrol discounts shouldn't be taken at face value. "You always have to consider how the supermarkets subsidise this - they aren't giving things away out of the kindness of their hearts, you usually pay to make up for your savings elsewhere," Mr Zinn said.

At the end of last year the ACCC released its Grocery Inquiry, which concluded there were insufficient incentives for Coles and Woolworths to truly discount. The report also noted that Australia had the highest rate of grocery inflation of all OECD countries. The report said if one of the big players discounted, the other matched it quickly, meaning there was no good chance for either to win new customers from the discounting effort.

The Retailers Association national executive director Scott Driscoll said the retail war was not between Coles and Woolworths - it was "the big two versus everyone else". "There are no other developed countries in the world where two big players control the market to the extent these two do," Mr Driscoll said.

But Monash University's Australian Centre for Retail Studies program director Steve Ogden-Barnes said Coles and Woolworths were competing like never before, to the advantage of consumers. The expansion of ALDI had offered a sizeable alternative to the big names and enhanced competition. "We have seen the quality of robust competition in the marketplace improve to a quality we haven't seen in a long time," Mr Ogden-Barnes said. "Coles and Woolworths are responding to that and I think they are in a very public battle for their market share."

But he said the duopoly was here to stay and he urged consumers to make it "work for them" by studying catalogues and shopping around. "Put aside your loyalty and capitalise on the competitive environment," he said.


Australia: Fear of social worker terrorists

Cases where children are in REAL danger are "too hard" for most social workers so they concentrate on harassing middle class parents over minor infractions. So the woman below had grounds for her fears

THE family car has never been more sinister. Until the first baby expired from organ shutdown after being left to bake in a hot car, who knew such a thing could happen? Until gamblers without babysitters started leaving their children in carparks so they could play poker machines, who knew such neglect was taking place?

Back in the innocent Australia of the 1970s, the family car was considered an extension of the living room. As kids we played in them, made cubbies in them, slept in them and, yes, waited patiently for our parents in them. The car was a happy place, roads were quieter and the term "road rage" had not been coined. Not only were you not constrained by law to wear seatbelts during travel, kids frequently drove for long hauls while lying flat along the back parcel tray of the Holden HR, admiring the skyview through miniature venetian blinds.

If Dad hit the brakes, the fun increased as you tumbled from your makeshift perch and on to the backseat. And if your parents hopped out of the car to get supplies, we waited in the car, sometimes for hours, for them. In fact this writer has been known to joke that, for a time, she was a carpark orphan.

After playing 18 holes of golf with me along as their disinterested caddy, my parents would head into the golf club with their friends for refreshments and maybe to put a few dollars into the poker machines. After about 10 minutes, out my father would come with a KitKat and a packet of Smith's chips to pacify me as I waited alone, in the car, while they socialised with their mates. It wasn't against the law for me to be there. It was against the law for me to be inside the clubhouse.

Now a mother myself, I too feel the urge to just leave the kids in the car for a sec when I run in to post a letter, pay a bill, grab some milk or pay for petrol. This apparently makes me a bad mother - something I felt all too keenly when I left my unwell, sleeping child in the car while I dashed through rain into a bakery to order a christening cake.

When I returned there was a man taking down my number plate number and abusing me. Frightened I might never see my daughter again, I thanked him "for caring", dashed home and burst into tears as I waited for DOCs [the notorious NSW child welfare agency] to call.



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

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

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


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anti-Catholicism at The New Yorker?

Too often in our culture, accusations of bigotry — of being anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-gay, what have you — are themselves presented with so much hatred and venom that they raise the suspicion that the accuser himself is bigoted, harboring an unhealthy and disproportionate animus against his targets. Father James Martin of America magazine has done a blog post that provides an excellent example of how to raise the issue in a serious and charitable way. He discusses a New Yorker humor piece by Paul Rudnick:

Pondering a possible screenplay using nuns, Rudnick muses that they can be “dictatorial, sexually repressed and scary.” A grumpy elderly nun at a convent gift store looks like a “bat” or a “long fossilized chimp.” “‘I hate this!’ the chimp yipped,” he writes about the elderly woman. . . . Rudnick admits that the prioress of Regina Laudis, which he visits to do a full two days’ research, is “kind and helpful,” but most of the article depicts the nuns — scratch that, all nuns — as at best cartoonish, at worst absurd.

And he quite reasonably asks: It’s a humor piece, but come on. Does anyone think that any other religious group or class would be subjected to the same treatment? Can you imagine someone writing, for example, “Rabbis can be dictatorial, sexually repressed and scary”? How about comparing a Muslim woman to a “bat” or a “chimp”? . . . No way.

Martin is careful not to demonize Rudnick, which makes his conclusion all the more persuasive:

Mr. Rudnick is a talented and funny writer. His books and screenplays are usually delightful. I’m sure he’s a decent and caring guy, and I’m sure he meant no harm with his piece. But to mock, belittle and, let’s face it, reduce to less than human a class of people for a derisive laugh — no matter what your religious beliefs are or aren’t — should be named for what it is: bigotry.


The latest British injustice: How you could be acquitted and still face huge bill for costs

This makes the mere act of inititiating a prosecution a punishment for a crime of which you may be innocent. Costs will not be awarded in your favour if you use a private lawyer rather than a government one. And the government ones are so poorly paid that only the least competent ones would take on the work. And only the poor are eligible to use a government lawyer anyway. So this is yet another sly attack on the middle class by a hate-filled Leftist government

Plans to reform the legal aid system and cut almost £200 million from its budget have brought warnings of a two-tier justice system: one for the rich and another for the poor. For the first time, acquitted defendants in criminal trials will have to bear the bulk of their costs if they instruct someone other than a legal aid lawyer to defend them under the reforms. Defendants who are convicted in the Crown Court will be means-tested and forced to pay back some or all of their legal bills.

Details will be outlined next week of a new round of reforms to bring in fixed fees for legally aided family cases and “reverse auctions” for criminal legal aid contracts.

The measures, which have provoked fierce opposition from judges, lawyers and MPs, are part of an overhaul to save £193 million over three years from the £2 billion a year legal aid scheme. Some call it the biggest crisis in 60 years of legal aid.

Kim Hollis, QC, vice-chairwoman of equality and diversity on the Bar Council, said: “These proposed changes will set back the advances and benefits of access to justice brought by the legal aid scheme over decades. Overnight, a two-tier system will be created, whereby those who can afford to pay the best lawyers will be able to have their interests properly and fairly represented in court. But those who cannot will be left to the mercy of the spending cuts, the result of which is that high-quality advocates cannot afford to practise and are leaving in droves.”

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, told The Times that he also wanted to cut the £127 million a year in legal aid that is spent on expert witnesses in court, including interpreters. The costs of such experts in criminal and civil trials are included in solicitors’ legal aid costs. Mr Straw said that family cases in particular had become much more complex and needed to be simplified. “Costs have shot up and this is now a very expensive system.”

Critics say that plans for fixed fees in family cases, to be outlined next week by the Legal Services Commmission, which runs legal aid, will hit vulnerable children and families. They claim the new rates will lead to barristers earning up to 30 per cent less and drive the most experienced out of legal aid work, causing delays in children and family cases.

The commission intends to move ahead with controversial plans for “reverse auctions” of legal aid contracts for police station work. The contracts will go to bidders offering “best value”, with low bids a key factor. More than 6,000 solicitors have signed up to protest on Downing Street’s website. They say that the plans will be disastrous for legal aid, drive down standards and decimate the defence service. The Conservatives have promised to suspend the reforms if they win the general election.

In an attempt to defuse the row, Lord Bach, the Justice Minister, is expected to delay the timescale for testing the plans, The Times has learnt. “The timetable is not yet fixed,” he said. He robustly defended the reform package, which is aimed at achieving value for money within a tight budget and ensuring that legal aid helps as many people as possible. “Spending on legal aid in the last 20 years has increased from £835 million in today’s prices — an average annual real terms growth of about 5 per cent — one of the fastest-growing areas of public expenditure.”

He said he was determined that criminal legal aid should not squeeze the funds available for other kinds of help, and that was behind the drive to cut costs. Convicted defendants should pay towards their own costs if they could afford it, he said. Defendants who chose not to use legal aid and were acquitted should no longer be able to claim back all their costs. But for civil cases, eligibility limits had been increased by 5 per cent to “help those most in need”. He said: “Up to 750,000 extra people could become eligible for [legal aid] help and representation.”

The Government has also boosted funding for advice centres and other “not for profit” agencies, which now stood at £80 million compared with £24 million in 2001-02.

Carolyn Regan, chief executive of the Legal Services Commission, said: “Our aim is to ensure access to justice for a greater number of people through advice, help and representation in court, from high-quality practitioners or the not-for-profit sector.” Many more people were now being helped, she said. The total had doubled in five years to more than one million.


Obama shows he can do straight talk -- but not to Muslims

Why couldn't the US President talk tough in Cairo like he did to the Africans

SPEAKING in Ghana on Saturday, Barack Obama lectured Africans on local repression, corruption, brutality, good governance and accountability. The startling contrast to his June speech in Cairo was revealing.

Stroking Muslim and Arab nations has become the hallmark of the US President's foreign policy. In Egypt, he chose not to utter the words terrorism or genocide. In Egypt, there was nothing "brutal" he could conjure up, no "corruption" and no "repression". In Ghana, with a 70 per cent Christian population, he mentioned "good governance" seven times and added direct calls to "make change from the bottom up". He praised "people taking control of their destiny" and pressed "young people" to "hold your leaders accountable".

He made no such calls for action by the people of Arab states, despite the fact not a single Arab country is free, according to the latest Freedom House global survey. Before the Muslim world Obama donned the role of apologist-in-chief. Over and over again his examples of shortfalls in the protection of rights and freedoms were American: the "prison at Guantanamo Bay", "rules on charitable giving (that) have made it harder for Muslims to fulfil their religious obligation", impediments to the choice of Muslim women to shroud their bodies.

Christian Africa was to be treated to no such self-flagellation. In a rare tongue-lashing for Africans from any US president, he chastised: "It's easy to point fingers and to pin the blame of these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense helped to breed conflict ... but the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy ... or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants ... tribalism and patronage and nepotism ... and ... corruption."

He might equally have said to the Arab and Muslim world: "It's easy to scapegoat Israel and blame your problems on the presence of Jews -- albeit on a fraction of 1 per cent of the territory inhabited by the Arab world -- but Israel is not responsible for poverty, illiteracy, torture, trafficking, slavery and oppression rampant across your countries." But he did not.

In Ghana he pointed to specific heroes who had exposed human rights abuse, singling out by name a courageous investigative reporter. In Egypt, though journalists and bloggers are routinely threatened, jailed and worse, no such brave soul came to mind.

In a Christian African nation he said: "If we are honest, for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes."

To the Arab and Muslim world he could have said: "Since the day of Israel's birth Arab and Muslim countries have made conflict with Israel a part of life, warring over land and manipulating whole communities into fighting in the name of Islam to render the area Judenrein."

Instead, he turned on the only democracy in the Middle East and said the presence of Jews on Arab-claimed territory -- settlements -- was an affront to be stopped. It didn't matter that agreements require ultimate ownership of this territory to be determined by negotiation or that apartheid Palestine is hardly a worthy pursuit.

From Ghana he chided Africans: "No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end."

For an Arab and Muslim audience he cooed: "America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities, which are also threatened."

Ghanaians will likely turn the other cheek, secure enough to take it and even be grateful for the spotlight. But Obama's double standard is not a victimless crime. The disparity between the scolding he gave in Ghana and the love-in he held in Cairo illuminates an incoherent and dangerous agenda.

In his lofty but empty rhetoric in Ghana, Obama promised "we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst", pledged "a commitment ... to sanction and stop" warmongers and embraced the Zimbabwe non-governmental organisation that "braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person's vote is their sacred right".

These are devastating words for Iranians struggling valiantly to keep the hope of democracy alive but forced to bear witness to the contradiction. Betrayed, they have watched the Obama administration pledge to move forward on negotiations with illegally ensconced Iranian thugs, at the same time their victims are being rounded up, tortured and readied for show trials in advance of certain execution.

On Friday, Obama, and the rest of the G8 with his blessing, announced that thinking about more sanctions on Iran can wait until September. And then we can expect yet another round of UN Security Council dickering over minimalist responses to more Iranian stalling tactics, until an Iranian nuclear weapon is inevitable.

Though it is 2202 days since the UN's atomic energy agency first declared that Iran was violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Obama pretends that legitimising those same nuclear-proliferating fascists makes it likelier the clock will stop ticking. Iranians standing up for their allegedly "sacred rights" know Obama has it exactly backwards. Speechifying about "our interconnected world" and "common interests" in Ghana was cold comfort to the voices of Muslim dissidents and Jewish victims deserted in the Obama wilderness.


Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship

Essentially impermeable to evidence

"Harder to kill than a vampire." That is what the sociologist Joel Best calls a bad statistic. But, as I have discovered over the years, among false statistics the hardest of all to slay are those promoted by feminist professors. Consider what happened recently when I sent an e-mail message to the Berkeley law professor Nancy K.D. Lemon pointing out that the highly praised textbook that she edited, Domestic Violence Law (second edition, Thomson/West, 2005), contained errors.

Her reply began: "I appreciate and share your concern for veracity in all of our scholarship. However, I would expect a colleague who is genuinely concerned about such matters to contact me directly and give me a chance to respond before launching a public attack on me and my work, and then contacting me after the fact."

I confess: I had indeed publicly criticized Lemon's book, in campus lectures and in a post on FeministLawProfessors.com. I had always thought that that was the usual practice of intellectual argument. Disagreement is aired, error corrected, truth affirmed. Indeed, I was moved to write to her because of the deep consternation of law students who had attended my lectures: If authoritative textbooks contain errors, how are students to know whether they are being educated or indoctrinated? Lemon's book has been in law-school classrooms for years.

One reason that feminist scholarship contains hard-to-kill falsehoods is that reasonable, evidence-backed criticism is regarded as a personal attack.

Lemon's Domestic Violence Law is organized as a conventional law-school casebook — a collection of judicial opinions, statutes, and articles selected, edited, and commented upon by the author. The first selection, written by Cheryl Ward Smith (no institutional affiliation is given), offers students a historical perspective on domestic-violence law. According to Ward:

"The history of women's abuse began over 2,700 years ago in the year 753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. ... The laws permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb. The law became commonly know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common Law in most of Europe."

Where to begin? How about with the fact that Romulus of Rome never existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology — the son of Mars, nursed by a wolf. Problem 2: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with any law about wife beating, nor has anyone ever been able to locate any such law. It is now widely regarded as a myth, even among feminist professors.

A few pages later, in a selection by Joan Zorza, a domestic-violence expert, students read, "The March of Dimes found that women battered during pregnancy have more than twice the rate of miscarriages and give birth to more babies with more defects than women who may suffer from any immunizable illness or disease." Not true. When I recently read Zorza's assertion to Richard P. Leavitt, director of science information at the March of Dimes, he replied, "That is a total error on the part of the author. There was no such study." The myth started in the early 1990s, he explained, and resurfaces every few years.

Zorza also informs readers that "between 20 and 35 percent of women seeking medical care in emergency rooms in America are there because of domestic violence." Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, indicate that the figure is closer to 1 percent.

Few students would guess that the Lemon book is anything less than reliable. The University of California at Berkeley's online faculty profile of Lemon hails it as the "premiere" text of the genre. It is part of a leading casebook series, published by Thomson/West, whose board of academic advisers, prominently listed next to the title page, includes many eminent law professors.

I mentioned these problems in my message to Lemon. She replied: "I have looked into your assertions and requested documentation from Joan Zorza regarding the March of Dimes study and the statistics on battered women in emergency rooms. She provided both of these promptly."

If that's the case, Zorza and Lemon might share their documentation with Leavitt, of the March of Dimes, who is emphatic that it does not exist. They might also contact the Centers for Disease Control statistician Janey Hsiao, who wrote to me that "among ED [Emergency Department] visits made by females, the percent of having physical abuse by spouse or partner is 0.02 percent in 2003 and 0.01 percent in 2005."

Here is what Lemon says about Cheryl Ward Smith's essay on Romulus and the rule of thumb: "I made a few minor editorial changes in the Smith piece so that it is more accurate. However, overall it appeared to be correct." A few minor editorial changes? Students deserve better. So do women victimized by violence.

Feminist misinformation is pervasive. In their eye-opening book, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies (Lexington Books, 2003), the professors Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge describe the "sea of propaganda" that overwhelms the contemporary feminist classroom. The formidable Christine Rosen (formerly Stolba), in her 2002 report on the five leading women's-studies textbooks, found them rife with falsehoods, half-truths, and "deliberately misleading sisterly sophistries." Are there serious scholars in women's studies? Yes, of course. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist at the University of California at Davis; Janet Zollinger Giele, a sociologist at Brandeis; and Anne Mellor, a literary scholar at UCLA, to name just three, are models of academic excellence and integrity. But they are the exception. Lemon's book typifies the departmental mind-set.

Consider The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World (2008), by the feminist scholar Joni Seager, chair of the Hunter College geography department. Now in its fourth edition, Seager's atlas was named "reference book of the year" by the American Library Association when it was published. "Nobody should be without this book," says the feminist icon Gloria Steinem. "A wealth of fascinating information," enthuses The Washington Post. Fascinating, maybe. But the information is misleading and, at least in one instance, flat-out false.

One color-coded map illustrates how women are kept "in their place" by restrictions on their mobility, dress, and behavior. Somehow the United States comes out looking as bad in this respect as Somalia, Uganda, Yemen, Niger, and Libya. All are coded with the same shade of green to indicate places where "patriarchal assumptions" operate in "potent combination with fundamentalist religious interpretations." Seager's logic? She notes that in parts of Uganda, a man can claim an unmarried woman as his wife by raping her. The United States gets the same low rating on Seager's charts because, she notes, "State legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001." Never mind that the Ugandan practice is barbaric, that U.S. abortion law is exceptionally liberal among the nations of the world, and that the activism and controversy surrounding the issue of abortion in the United States is a sign of a vigorous free democracy working out its disagreements.

On another map, the United States gets the same rating for domestic violence as Uganda and Haiti. Seager backs up that verdict with that erroneous and ubiquitous emergency-room factoid: "22 percent-35 percent of women who visit a hospital emergency room do so because of domestic violence."

The critical work of 21st-century feminism will be to help women in the developing world, especially in Muslim societies, in their struggle for basic rights. False depictions of the United States as an oppressive "patriarchy" are a ludicrous distraction. If American women are as oppressed as Ugandan women, then American feminists would be right to focus on their domestic travails and let the Ugandan women fend for themselves.

All books have mistakes, so why pick on the feminists? My complaint with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes; it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do not get corrected. The authors are passionately committed to the proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a backlasher and an anti-feminist crank.

Why should it matter if a large number of professors think and say a lot of foolish and intemperate things? Here are three reasons to be concerned:

1) False assertions, hyperbole, and crying wolf undermine the credibility and effectiveness of feminism. The United States, and the world, would greatly benefit from an intellectually responsible, reality-based women's movement.

2) Over the years, the feminist fictions have made their way into public policy. They travel from the women's-studies textbooks to women's advocacy groups and then into news stories. Soon after, they are cited by concerned political leaders. President Obama recently issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls. As he explained, "The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy." He and Congress are also poised to use the celebrated Title IX gender-equity law to counter discrimination not only in college athletics but also in college math and science programs, where, it is alleged, women face a "chilly climate." The president and members of Congress can cite decades of women's-studies scholarship that presents women as the have-nots of our society. Never mind that this is largely no longer true. Nearly every fact that could be marshaled to justify the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls or the new focus of Title IX application was shaped by scholarly merchants of hype like Professors Lemon and Seager.

3) Finally, as a philosophy professor of almost 20 years, and as someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and intellectual integrity, I find it altogether unacceptable for distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers to disseminate falsehoods. It is offensive in itself, even without considering the harmful consequences. Obduracy in the face of reasonable criticism may be inevitable in some realms, such as partisan politics, but in academe it is an abuse of the privileges of professorship.

"Thug," "parasite," "dangerous," a "female impersonator" — those are some of the labels applied to me when I exposed specious feminist statistics in my 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? (Come to think of it, none of my critics contacted me directly with their concerns before launching their public attacks.) According to Susan Friedman, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, "Sommers' diachronic discourse is easily unveiled as synchronic discourse in drag. ... She practices ... metonymic historiography." That one hurt! But my views, as well as my metonymic historiography, are always open to correction. So I'll continue to follow the work of the academic feminists — to criticize it when it is wrong, and to learn from it when it is right.



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

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

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


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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Hate Crime Bill - Barack Obama's Assault Upon "Equal Justice for All"

While America's attention is focused on the Sotomayor hearings, the Senate Democrat leadership, at Barack Obama's behest, is about to sneak through another brutal assault on small-d democratic sensibilities even more insidious than the "wise Latino woman," herself. The highly charged "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009" (S. 909) would make it a federal crime to violently attack anyone you hate. Unless, of course, the anyone you hate happens to be a white heterosexual.

That's right, S. 909 -- aka, the "hate crimes bill" -- being pushed through by the Obama Administration as one of its highest legislative priorities would make it a federal crime to commit a violent act against anyone based on race or gender orientation -- unless the race was Caucasian and the orientation was towards the opposite sex.

Lest anyone have any doubts about Mr. Obama’s primary intention to target those who don’t share his pigmentation or gender orientation biases, the President’s own Attorney General journeyed to Capitol Hill on June 29 to set the record straight. Here, in fact, word for word, is how AG Eric Holder described the intent of the Obama hate crimes bill when put to the test by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“We are talking about, if in fact the person, we are talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of their skin color, sexual orientation, that is what this legislation is designed to cover.”

Later in the same hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) -- apparently trying to give Holder an opportunity to at least ameliorate his stated intention to override the 14th Amendment’s “Equal Protection” provision – asked the AG if the recent murder of Army recruiter Pvt. William Long by a radical Muslim constituted a “hate crime.” Nope, proclaimed Holder; Mr. Long was the wrong color. Here’s the actual quote:

“What we are looking for here in terms of expansion of the statute are instances where there is a historic basis. See, groups of people who are singled out for violence perpetrated against them because of who they are. I don’t know if we have the same historical record to say members of our military have been targeted in the same way that people who are African American …”

So, let’s get this straight: If Messrs. Obama and Holder have their way, the United States government – once fondly known as the “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” -- will begin prosecuting some of “the people” and protecting others among “the people” solely based upon said people’s skin color and sexual orientation?

Precisely. For you see, under S. 909, certain members of our society, primarily determined by the color of their skin and the lusts in their hearts, are what Obama and Holder call “protected classes.” So, under legislation now before the U.S. Senate, if you cut them, they apparently bleed more … if you hit them, they apparently bruise worse … and if you do either of the aforementioned after calling them a nasty name … well, it’s off to the federal penitentiary for you. Which isn’t precisely what the words “Equal Justice Under Law” were intended to mean when engraved upon the façade of the United States Supreme Court Building in 1932.

Let’s get down to the brass tacks here: If the American people – of all pigmentations and orientations – do not rise up as with a voice in the next several days and scream bloody murder about the horrific hate crimes bill (S. 909), we will have just handed Barack Obama and Eric Holder the deadly weapon with which to bludgeon any and all who dare defy their bigoted ideas about who is more equal than others among us. There is simply no other way to put it.

The bill has already been brought to the floor of the Senate. So, if we are not soon to cease being what John Adams termed a “nation of laws” – and descend, rather, into becoming a “nation of – some – men,” all men and women of good will had better speak up now, or forever lose their peace.


PBS whitewashes American Indian thuggery

A group calling themselves The Wounded Knee Victims and Veterans Association (WKVAVA) has issued a scathing letter to Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. The letter, faxed to PBS headquarters on May 10, accuses the organization of fronting what the group says is a distorted film on Indian history, the last in the American Experience "We Shall Remain" series. The film, entitled "Wounded Knee," describes the occupation of the historic village in 1973 by members and supporters of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Wounded Knee, the site of an Indian massacre in 1890, sits near the southern border of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service erected roadblocks around the small town after AIM members looted a store, set fires, and shot at responding emergency crews. The militants held 11 residents hostage. The occupation lasted 71 days as government lawyers tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the hostilities. Two occupiers were shot to death, although rumors persist that several victims were murdered behind the scenes during heated arguments and interrogations ordered by AIM leaders. The conflict left the village in shambles.

The group charges PBS with failure to hold "Wounded Knee" to PBS standards for editorial integrity, fairness, and historical accuracy. Many of the association's complaints center on the film's lack of information about the Wounded Knee villagers. "The real victims of Wounded Knee were the people who lived there," said Joe Trimbach, author of the book, American Indian Mafia (americanindianmafia.com). "Most of the residents were Indians. They lost everything they owned and yet they are invisible in this film. It doesn't even show the devastation." Upon learning that PBS had omitted his book from their bibliography, Trimbach contacted their legal department. PBS has since added Trimbach's book to the list. "We call Mafia, 'The history book they do not want you to read.' Well, here's a good example. We try to tell the truth about what happened and some people don't want to hear it."

JoAnn Gildersleeve Feraca, daughter of Wounded Knee residents Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve, recalled what it was like to watch the steady demolition of her community while the media appeared oblivious to the destruction. "The reporters did one of the worst disservices to real news gathering that I have ever seen. The media wanted to film a western. They created the good guys and the bad guys, and never even had to pay for ruined property and lives. And now we have a film from PBS that pays homage to the perpetrators all over again. My parents suffered greatly at the hands of their assailants. They were taken hostage. Their trading post store was burned to the ground. They even stole my mother's wedding ring and gold bracelet. My parents lost everything they had spent a lifetime building."

Among the signers of the letter are Saunie and Romona Wilson, daughters of Tribal Chairman Richard Wilson who is criticized throughout the film. The sisters plan on writing a book which they say will tell a different story about their father and about Wounded Knee. "I am upset how this film exploits historical issues painful to all of us as natives, like the boarding school era," said Romona Wilson. "My father was whipped and forced to chew soap for speaking Lakota in school. He was fluent and would speak it when he chose to. This film demonizes him by distorting his record and misreporting the facts. We intend to change that."

Paul DeMain, editor of News from Indian Country (IndianCountryNews.com), said that parts of the film "take us to a well-charted fantasyland" because it fails to hold AIM accountable. "AIM leaders Dennis Banks, Russell Means, and Madonna Thunderhawk [all featured in the film] are named co-conspirators in several murders, like that of civil rights worker Perry Ray Robinson." Robinson, a colleague of Martin Luther King, was said to be the only black man inside the village during that period of the occupation. AIM is believed to have buried his body near Wounded Knee Creek in an effort to keep his death a secret. Added DeMain, "These same AIM leaders were involved in the execution of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash. They killed her because she evidently knew about Robinson's death. Several people tried to warn producer Stanley Nelson and PBS about this. They chose to ignore us." The group has called for justice for Robinson and for Pictou Aquash who was murdered in 1975 because AIM leaders mistakenly thought she was a government informant. Pictou Aquash was a prominent figure at Wounded Knee but does not appear in the film.

Richard Two Elk, a former AIM member, was not interviewed for the film partly because of his first-hand account of the Robinson shooting. "I witnessed the incident when Robinson was shot in the leg and carried away after an argument with some of the leaders. Carter Camp knows that Robinson died after bleeding to death and he has lied about even meeting him." Camp, an AIM leader who appears in the film, defends his actions as an instigator of several gun battles during the occupation. Two Elk laments that PBS now appears to be a part of the effort to cover up the Robinson murder in order to "glorify" AIM leaders. "AIM hijacked the legacy of Wounded Knee and exploited it for their own gain. They cashed in and left their fellow Indians behind, homeless and destitute. That should have been part of the story. Now it appears that PBS has helped them get away with it. Another fact not mentioned in the film is that most of the invaders were from outside the reservation. They were not local people with local grievances."

Shawn White Wolf, CEO of White Wolf Media Group (native-view.com), judged the film to be little more than vintage AIM propaganda. "I am disgusted with this film. Producer Nelson has done nothing more than propagandize in favor of the murders, terror and violence committed by members of the American Indian Movement. This film only adds more salt to the wounds of the true Wounded Knee victims. And I ask the public schools to stop teaching our Native youth that AIM is a legitimate organization."

The group is asking PBS to make amends for shortcomings in the film. "We want equal time to dispel the myths and correct the damage done to the historical record by this documentary," said Trimbach. "We cannot let PBS or any other entity dismiss the hardships and horrors endured by the villagers and the victims. PBS owes it to the American public to get it right. In the interest of historical accuracy and fairness, they should take another look at this." Patrick LeBeau, professor of Indian Studies, Michigan State University, added that the PBS-endorsed curriculum reflects the film's distortions. "I will not brainwash my students with the AIM litany of lies promoted by these leading questions. I will teach my students how to distinguish between factual history and propaganda. And I'll use the PBS study questions as a prime example."

Ray Robinson's widow, Cheryl Buswell-Robinson, wrote a letter that accompanies the group letter to PBS. In it, she wrote, "Ray was able to connect with all sorts of people more than anyone I have ever known....I am saddened to learn that the whole history of Wounded Knee, where my murdered husband rests in an unmarked grave, was suppressed." She added that Anna Mae Pictou Aquash was an important figure at Wounded Knee. "It would have been a positive addition to the historical record to finally document other aspects of Anna Mae's life, particularly her role during the occupation of Wounded Knee. Anyone's death is a tragedy, but not to have the death acknowledged is a double tragedy."

The group plans to launch a media campaign to voice their concerns and to persuade PBS to either change or challenge the Wounded Knee film. They want PBS to have a panel discussion about how to accurately portray Indian history. Members of the Wounded Knee Victims and Veterans Association can be reached at WKVAVA@cs.com. They would like to hear from people who were inside Wounded Knee during the occupation or who would like to share information. They assure confidentiality to all those who ask for it.


Should kids be criticized?

Children tend to be cosseted much more than they once were and that does extend to sport. So some old-fashioned sports motivation directed towards a team of young Australian footballers has been much criticized -- but it worked! The team are now top dogs in their division

A FOOTY team of nine-year-olds has been branded greedy and hopeless in a scathing match report by its club. The blast was posted on the club's website after the Preston Bullants under-10s lost by just two points. The report upset many parents, while footy greats including former AFL premiership coach Ron Barassi said the comments were shocking at junior level, the Herald Sun reports. "I've followed my own son and grandson in football at those levels and I've never seen or heard anything like that," Barassi said. "That's very, very wrong. I wouldn't be doing that to under-10s." The four-time AFL premiership coach said football coaches and managers at junior levels should encourage young players and use constructive criticism.

In the Bullants blast written by coach Tim Rentos and team manager Edward Hore, the boys were roasted for what is meant to be a fun game. "Our skill level was hopeless ... we were greedy in the forward line," parents and club members were told. Bullants president Dennis McNiece last night distanced the club from the comments, saying the report was "not what Preston Bullants Junior Football Club is about". But the tactics appear to have worked, with the team undefeated since the spray, which came after a round 6 loss to Doncaster.

In their report, Mr Rentos and Mr Hore wrote: "A day of unfortunate mishaps. It all began at 9am with miscommunication and disorganisation ... a coach that wasn't organised to win the game, a manager stressed to the eyeballs and a team that depends on a certain few players to win the game week in, week out. "Our skill level was hopeless. There wasn't any kicking or handballing going to our players, our tackling, bumping and shepherding wasn't in the game."

Former VFA coach Phil Cleary, who now coaches West Coburg under-16s, said the "carping" attack was "awful" and unnecessary. "It's too negative," he said. "At under-10 I can't understand why you would want to send out a carping, negative document. It doesn't blend criticism with praise."

Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said as long as individuals weren't singled out the tactic appeared warranted and would help the boys deal with the real world, something too many parents were not doing. "Basically it was tantamount to a psychological grenade and it lifted everybody," he said. "I do think we shelter our kids a lot. I think that this is a good, gentle introduction into the reality of this world."

Family psychologist Renee Mill said such methods were a great way for boys as young as four to bond and be motivated. She said too many parents were afraid to demand improvement from their children, and expected boys to suppress their urge "to be boys". "There needs to be a place where men can just be raw men," she said. "We have to step back as mothers and say fathers are actually the role models for our boys to be male."

Mr Hore admitted yesterday some parents were initially upset but the boys took it on the chin and lifted their game. Mr Hore, whose son Terance plays in the team, said no child was singled out and the players were deemed mature enough to take the criticism. Since the spray his team had knuckled right down. "They play as a team, they listen to each other, they pat each other on the back, they talk to each other," he said.

Mr McNiece said the report should not have been published and refused to allow about 12 boys to be photographed by the Herald Sun. "The person who wrote this was not the coach or team manager at the time," he said. "He has been sanctioned by the committee and will not be allowed to write any more articles on our newsletter."

The Bullants now top the Yarra Junior Football League under-10 blue division ladder with a percentage of 272.73.


Former British magistrate cleared of rape sues his accuser for £300,000

False accusers deserve imprisonment, not monetary penalties but in this case a damages claim seems the only option. The matter should certainly be tried in court. Claiming non-consent after an interval of 7 years should never have led to a conviction in the first place

A former magistrate cleared of rape has launched a landmark legal claim for £300,000 damages against his accuser. Anthony Hunt, 66, was jailed in 2003 for after a jury found him guilty of raping a woman in her home after they both attended a flower show. He spent nearly two years on a prison sex offender's wing before his conviction was overturned. Now in a legal first, Mr Hunt wants to 'vindicate his reputation' by bringing a claim of malicious prosecution against the woman who alleged rape.

Critics say that if the bid succeeds, it could have far-reaching consequences as to whether rape gets reported to the police. They argue it will deter rape complainants from giving evidence - out of fear they may be sued if their alleged attackers are found not guilty. Mark Warby QC, representing Mr Hunt, however, said the move offered a vital legal remedy to those wrongly accused of rape. Mr Warby said: 'It is 14 years ago to the day that my client had sex with the defendant with her consent at her home at the age of 52.

'It was nearly seven years afterwards that he was arrested and first learned of her allegation of rape. 'He was prosecuted and, on a majority verdict, convicted, but his conviction was held unsafe by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and was quashed.' 'He's brought this action to vindicate himself, not only because the conviction was unsafe. 'It was a miscarriage of justice and he is suing his accuser for damages.'

Mr Hunt - who was jailed for four years - did not face a retrial as he had served 23 months and 18 days of his sentence in prison - nearly the full amount required before release. His conviction was overturned after the Appeal Court ruled the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

Claims of malicious prosecution are normally brought against public bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service which prosecute in the vast majority of cases. But Mr Hunt argued that, by giving a witness statement to Hampshire constabulary in May 2002, Mr Hunt's accuser was effectively responsible for the prosecution - and should stand trial in a civil court. The argument was rejected last year at the High Court, but now three Law Lords at the Appeal Court are deciding whether to give the go-ahead to a trial for malicious prosecution.

Mr Warby told Lords Justices Sedley, Wall and Moore-Bick that Mr Hunt was entitled to a fair trial of the issues - whether AB effectively brought the prosecution - and whether she lied. He argued that Mr Justice Blake in the High Court had wrongly ruled against Mr Hunt by taking into account 'public policy' issues - that the 'floodgates would open' if those cleared of rape could bring malicious prosecution cases against their accusers. Mr Justice Blake also wrong considered whether rape was actually committed which Mr Warby said was a matter for a jury rather than a High Court judge.

But Roger ter Haar, for AB, said: 'On the one hand if Mr Hunt's story is true, he has been subject to an enormous injustice. 'He's been to prision in circumstances where he should not have been. 'On the other hand, from my client's point of view, she's not only been the victim of rape, and had to deal with the psychological consequences of that, but she has also had to deal with the police investigation, which in the circumstances of this case cannot have been easy.'

Mr Ter Haar added that if the judges were to find in Mr Hunt's favour 'It would be a massive in road into the principle of witness immunity. 'In any case where it is one person's word against the other, witness immunity will be removed.'

At Mr Hunt's Winchester Crown Court trial for rape, jurors heard that the complainant, a special constable, had invited him into her home for a cup of tea after the Fordingbridge Show in 1995. Mr Hunt, whose civilian job was as a senior traffic warden, claimed he could not have raped his accuser as his manhood was 'abnormally small' and he could only have had sex with consent. But the jury convicted him by a majority of 10-2.

The court heard that Mr Hunt's wife, Lynn, had suffered acute embarrassment working at her antique shop near the couple's home in Blandford St Mary, Dorset. The case, listed for two days, will continue on Friday.



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

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

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


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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another foolish woman who believed the feminist drivel about "having it all" -- and lived to regret it bitterly

Every now and then I feel a pang of loss and longing that takes me completely by surprise. I might be sitting in a cafe talking to friends, or wandering around the supermarket. Then I see a mother with her child and the realisation hits me, as if for the first time - that's never going to be me. If someone had told my 25-year-old self that I would end up here - aged 45, newly married and, sadly for us both, without a hope of ever getting pregnant - I wouldn't have believed them.

It would have seemed incredible that love would take so long to find me; that becoming a mother would ever matter so much; or that my fertility - a gift that, at the time, seemed more like an inconvenience - would plummet far beyond the point at which doctors could work their magic. Yet, it is a fact my husband David and I have spent the past year learning to accept....

I had spent the whole of my adult life as a London career girl, married to my advertising agency job, with no time or inclination to settle down. Yet as soon as David, who has his own events marketing company, and I started trying for a baby, my whole perspective changed. I held my belly protectively and imagined myself walking down the Finchley Road heavily pregnant. I looked at baby food in the supermarket aisles and noticed women with their children. I imagined the warming smell of my baby's head, the tiny fingers and perfect fingernails. I imagined having a small hand to hold as I walked down the street. My world opened up with possibility.

I suppose it is little wonder that it took me until the age of 41 to find the right man and tap into these unfamiliar feelings. I'd spent most of my life dedicated to building my career. As a nine-year-old, I was never happier than when I was playing secretary; answering calls, shuffling papers and wearing an appropriately smart outfit from my mother's wardrobe. By 24, I was a strategist at a leading ad agency. I drove a Golf convertible, wore red wool suits with gilt buttons, and thought I was Paula Hamilton from the iconic TV advert. I remained very single, but I told myself - and my concerned mum - that the mews house and engagement ring would come later.

My life didn't revolve around marriage and children. My friends and I were taking our time. We were big kids in shoulder pads, and life was about working, shopping, drinking and having fun....

Busy chasing financial independence, I let my most fertile years slip by, never allowing myself to doubt that the love and babies bit would take care of itself. And so I lost the chance to have a baby I didn't even know I wanted until it was too late...

When I was 36, my ever-thoughtful stepmother suggested I freeze my eggs to give myself the chance of 'an ice baby'. But I didn't - something I bitterly regret. Not only is it a rather expensive procedure to go through for the sake of an insurance policy, but it involves confronting the possibility that you might not meet the man of your dreams before your eggs 'run out'. Few young, single women can contemplate that thought. But take it from me: if you're young, single and not in a position to have a child, you should consider it. Those eggs will remain as young as you are today, and one day they might be your only hope....

The more time I spent in the country, the more I wanted a child - and the further away it seemed to be getting. We sought help at the Lister Hospital in London, where David gave a sample and I underwent a gynaecological MOT. When the results came in, all looked well. David's sperm was good, and my hormone levels normal.

'And yet you are not getting pregnant,' the doctor said, just as I was preparing to celebrate. 'The most likely explanation is age. When a woman reaches her 40s, we have to recognise that we're working with older eggs, and I am afraid their quality declines over time. The question is what we do next.'

What she said next shook me. A woman of 43 or 44 has a 13 per cent chance of getting pregnant through IVF and a 70 per cent chance of miscarriage. 'So Lucy, your net chance of delivering a baby with IVF is around four per cent. I'm really sorry.'

But all that was academic when it came to finding an IVF clinic. A second round of tests revealed that, in just six months, my hormone levels had changed, my fertility had dropped, meaning no clinic was prepared to take me on. The odds of success were so slim that it was, they claimed, unethical to take my money. 'Have a think about it and if you're interested in egg donation, we can do that up to the age of 50.' I didn't understand. What about all those fabulous, famous fortysomethings whose 'baby joy' stories were so often in magazines.

The actress Jane Seymour and model Iman both had children at 44, actress Mimi Rogers was 45, Susan Sarandon 46, Holly Hunter 47. Each headline seemed to confirm that, yes, it was possible to put having a family at the bottom of your priority list until you were good and ready. But here's the rub - a very high proportion of babies born to women in their 40s are conceived using donated eggs from younger women. It's a secret that many will never let you in on.

I had just assumed that because I was healthy - I exercised regularly, I didn't smoke (or at least, not since my 20s) or, in the main, drink too much - that my chances were as good as anyone's. But while you can look and feel as young as you like, you can't put anti-ageing creams on your ovaries. Your eggs are the age that they are, and when they run out, there's nothing you can do about it.

I was angry - with anyone who had fallen pregnant accidentally, anyone who didn't realise how lucky they were to have a child. I was angry at the ad agency for keeping me in the office throughout my childbearing years, and at the tobacco companies who had sold me the cigarettes I'd smoked throughout my 20s, and at the government for never having had a public health campaign on the subject of increasing age and decreasing fertility.

But, deep down, I knew I had no one to blame but myself. I had never stopped to think about the bigger picture. I had never had a life plan, or even a plan beyond what my secretary scheduled in my diary. I'd stuck my head in the sand, and this was the result...

My chance to experience the profound joy of motherhood has come and gone. But to the generation of career girls who are a decade or two behind me, I would say this: don't wait for a bigger house, a better job or a more expensive car, because if you do, you're a lot more likely to miss out on the most precious prize of all - a child.



Mark Steyn on Britain and Europe

Are you getting just a teensy bit tired of the ol’ “Whither The Right?” navel-gazing? Even with our good friends at The New York Times, The Washington Post et al so eager to offer helpful advice, there’s a limit to how much pondering of conservatism’s future a chap can take. So how about, just for a change, “Whither the left?”

Exhibit A: The European parliamentary elections. The Continent’s economy has taken a far bigger clobbering than America’s: Capitalism is dead, declared Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. In France, President Sarkozy agrees, while being careful to identify the deceased as “Anglo-American capitalism”. And woe betide any Continental foolish enough to have got into bed with it: In Spain, the unemployment rate is 17 per cent and rising.

In theory, this ought to be boom time for lefties. As their jobs, homes and savings vanish, the downtrodden masses should be stampeding back to the embrace of the Big Government nanny’s apron strings. Instead, the Euro-left got hammered at the polls, the center-right survived, and a significant chunk of the electorate switched to the “far right” – the various neo-nationalist and quasi-fascist parties cleaning up everywhere from Northern England to the Balkans. My favorite of these new and mostly unlovely groupings is Bulgaria’s Attack party, mainly because of its name. I would suggest the Republican Party adopt it, but no doubt within a month or two the latest Bush scion would be claiming to stand for a Compassionate Attack movement, and governors of coastal states would be declaring themselves fiscally attacking but socially surrendering, and the whole brand would go to hell.

Perhaps it’s just as well. On closer inspection, Europe’s “far right” doesn’t seem to go very far at all. The British National Party’s parliamentary victories are a very belated breakthrough for Fascism, for which in Britain there were few takers back in the Thirties. So what do they stand for? Well, they won’t accept blacks or Asians as members. Typical right-wing racists, eh? Also, they want protectionist laws limiting the import of foreign goods. And they favor giving workers shares in their bosses’ companies. And they want to nationalize the public utilities, railroad companies and so forth. Economic protectionism. Worker cooperatives. State ownership. Boy, these right-wing nuts with their crazy ideas on free market capitalism.

If the British elections are beginning to sound like the dinner-theatre production of Jonah Goldberg’s book, you’re right – if by dinner you had in mind tripe, pork scratchings and mushy peas washed down with 14 pints of brown ale and a knife fight. Economically, the BNP is the Labour Party before the Blairite metrosexual makeover, and its voting base comes all but entirely from the old white working-class abandoned by “New Labour” in its pursuit of more fashionable identity groups. Of course, economic protectionism is not its principal appeal. But yoke economic protectionism to cultural protectionism, and you’ve got an electorally viable combination. These are bad times, but they’re not just bad economically. According to a YouGov poll, the average BNP voter is a manual worker with an annual household income of 27,000 pounds – or about 2,000 pounds less than the national median. Two thousand quid isn’t to be sniffed at, but it doesn’t explain why these voters were willing to take a flyer on an openly racist party universally reviled by the media and political class and banished from public discourse.

England has (or had) a three-party system: Labour, Liberals, Tories. But on any number of issues – the European Union, immigration, crime, the remorseless one-way multiculturalism under which what were homogenous white working-class communities 40 years ago Islamize ever more rapidly with each passing day – on all these issues, the big three parties plus the BBC and the rest of the elites are in complete agreement: We don’t want to talk about it. Since the election, the grand panjandrums of the Palace of Westminster have been competing to out-Lady Bracknell each other in professing how “horrified” they are by the BNP’s success. Such protestations are invariably accompanied by ostentatious recital of their own multiculti bona fides, nicely parodied by Ed West in The Daily Telegraph: “I was just saying how awful the BNP were to my Polish cleaner yesterday. She agreed, as did my Chinese nanny, Wen or Yen, or whatever her name is. My Brazilian catamite wasn't that bothered.”

If 15 per cent of the US electorate had voted for the American Fatherland Front or some such, you’d never hear the end of it from Le Monde and The Guardian and all the rest. But the Euro-elites have adjusted to the knuckledraggers’ lese-majeste, and are already congratulating themselves on holding the “far right”’s vote down to the low double-digits. It won’t be that low next time, but they’ll adjust to that, too. You can’t blame ‘em: It’s easier to do that than re-thinking your entire worldview, never mind trying to figure out anything you could actually do about these issues. I doubt the new kids on the block will be able to do anything, either. But, for a while, there will be votes in impotent rage, and the economic-&-cultural protectionism twofer will eat deep into the mainstream left’s base. They in turn will not change – for, in Britain and elsewhere, they have determined to celebrate diversity even unto societal death.


Race De-Baiting

With insight unusual for a Leftist, Dahlia Lithwick argues below that accusations of racism and reverse racism often obscure much deeper and more pressing questions about how our differences matter and how they should not

Poke through any lawyer's bookshelf and you'll find the beige, dog-eared copy of To Kill A Mockingbird that forever altered the course of their life. I have one too. But the book that has most changed my thinking about both law and politics in recent years is Richard Thompson Ford's The Race Card.

Ford, who teaches at Stanford Law School (and was my professor there almost 10 years ago), explores some simple questions: How can America be beset by racism if there are so few racists? How is it that every national event that touches on "identity politics" is instantly cast in familiar patterns of innocent victims and bigoted haters? If there is anything useful to be learned from the instantaneous bile that spewed forth in the first days of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, it was that America's true racists are actually few and far between. Most of us are past the race talk of the 1960s and 1970s, even though the political discourse is not.

The Race Card was and is a surprising book from a progressive thinker who has, most recently, been a strong defender of Sotomayor's role in Ricci v. DeStefano, the 2003 so-called "reverse discrimination" case involving New Haven firefighters. This book is not so much an attack on the way liberals think about race as a call for more rigor and honesty. Ford doesn't contend that there's no such thing as racism or racists. But he does wonder whether reflexively flinging down the "race card" (broadened to include sexism, lookism, fatism, and every other -ism) has helped minorities or hurt them. Whether it is Oprah Winfrey's famous ejection from an Hermes store in Paris in 2005 or the post-Katrina claims by Kanye West that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," Ford asks directly if it's useful to rush to the conclusion that racism and bigotry are always to blame.

I have read this book four times, and each time I have come away both chastened and frustrated. That's sort of the point. Ford's larger argument -- that Jim Crow calcified into housing patterns and crime patterns that explain why it wasn't pure racism that made a cab driver refuse to pick Danny Glover up outside Columbia University in 1999 -- is indisputable. But there is still blatant racism in America and sometimes it's the simplest explanation for Sarah Palin's references to "real Americans" or former Rep. Tom Tancredo's grotesque analogy between the National Council of La Raza and the Ku Klux Klan.

Although I hardly agree with everything in it, The Race Card is the book I keep coming back to, after Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech on race and as the "identity politics" pot bubbled over yet again with the Sotomayor nomination. I come back to it because Ford is trying to reframe a conversation about race and gender that has grown predictable. The book is Obama-like in its effort to understand that name-calling ends important conversations before they begin. It has taken me years to understand what being called a racist at his confirmation hearings might have done to Samuel Alito. Ford helps remind us that accusations of racism are too potent to be pressed into daily rhetorical service. Today such accusations mean both so much and so little.

One of Ford's biggest complaints is about "racism by analogy" -- the push to cast everything, from animal oppression, to discrimination against the ugly -- as akin to racism. If everyone in America is throwing down the race card in outrage, everyone is a victim. We are so accustomed to viewing everything through the lens of privilege and victimhood, we fall back on it without even thinking. Ford reminds me, sometimes painfully, that the temptation to respond to every criticism and complaint from the defensive crouch of victimhood is enormous. That's why every philandering politician checks himself into rehab, and why every piece of angry reader mail can be dismissed as "sexist." Playing whatever version of the race card you may hold relieves you of the need to hear your critics. It is an intellectual screensaver that stops us from demanding more of ourselves.

Don't get me wrong. I love To Kill A Mockingbird. I hope my great-grandchildren inherit my copy some day and that it inspires them to stand up to bigots and bullies. But I don't want them to inherit this death spiral of angry politics that we appear to be locked into -- the accusations of racism, reverse racism, and (coming soon!) reverse reverse racism that obscure much deeper and more pressing questions about how our differences matter and how they should not.


British police harass the harmless again

While they ignore real crime like car theft and assault. A mother who left children playing in park is branded a criminal after being given no opportunity to defend herself in court

A Sunday school teacher was given a police record after she briefly left her own children playing together in a park while she popped to a nearby shop. The woman had left four of her children, the eldest of whom was nine, playing while she went into the shop with her fifth child. The unaccompanied youngsters were spotted by police officers who then spoke to the woman and logged the incident with the Criminal Records Bureau.

When she later applied for a voluntary job teaching in a Sunday school at her local church a criminal records check flagged her up as a risk to children. The woman, from Warminster, Wiltshire, who asked not to be named, said: "The police made a snap judgment on my parenting, that's all it is. I haven't committed any criminal offence. It's just a snap judgment after meeting me for a minute or two in the park. "They have logged this information on the database and I wouldn't even have known it was there if I hadn't applied for a voluntary job at the local church. "It just makes me wonder how many people out there are wandering around with information on them and they don't know anything about it."

The CRB, a Home Office agency, collects information on people who apply for jobs working with children or vulnerable adults. That includes so-called "soft information" such as police suspicions or incidents when someone has been questioned but released without charge. Teaching unions and civil rights groups claim that records of unproven claims disclosed by the CRB to employers can unfairly ruin people's careers or job prospects.

Anna Fairclough, legal officer for civil liberties group Liberty, said the Sunday school teacher had never even been told she was being placed on a criminal database. She said: "This woman was never given the opportunity to comment on the allegation that that makes her a risk to children. She's got virtually no ability to challenge it because the law at the moment doesn't provide safeguards for people in this position. "If we are allowing unproven allegations we need to make sure there are safeguards in place so people's careers aren't destroyed by unfounded gossip, rumour and speculation."

Over the past five years, according to figures obtained from the Home Office by the Conservatives, a total of 12,255 disputes over inaccurate CRB checks have been upheld. That includes people applying for jobs as teachers, nurses, child minders and countless volunteers.

Last year a report for Civitas, a think tank, said the increasing use of such checks had created an atmosphere of suspicion among parents, many of whom were volunteers at sports and social clubs, and who found themselves regarded as "potential child abusers".

From October this year a new body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, will vet all individuals who work with children, even those just visiting a school such as an author or politician. It is estimated the new regime will result in more than 11 million adults being checked, one in four of the adult population.

The new body has been set up in response to the murders of 10 -year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire in 2002. Their killer, Ian Huntley, had been able to get a job as a school caretaker despite being known to police and social services.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Creeping Fascism Below is an excerpt from an article in a Scottish Leftist magazine which points out large similarities between historic Fascism and society today. I have also written to that effect

It is the subtle aspects of Fascist ideology that remain standing and develop their forms and continue their onward march despite all the military defeats suffered by Fascism’s historic regimes.

The corporate monopolisation of markets is the symptom and outcome of this onward march, but not the cause, which is the monopolisation of public reason. For Benito Mussolini this depended on stealthily “plucking the chicken one feather at a time.”2 His preferred name for the system was corporativism and a fuller understanding of this so-called ‘friendly Fascism’ and its pre-history provides a vital means to oppose the whole Fascist phenomenon.

Fascism ought to be understood as an ideologically sophisticated and creeping set of political relations that undermine free contest and the full expression of different material and class interests within society at large. From this perspective, the general geopolitical failure of Fascism only marks the end of various formally authoritarian States and certainly not the end of authoritarian State politics at a number of levels. Fascism’s more subtle progress is the true ‘clear and present danger’ to the development of democratic society or to whatever integrity democracy might still possess. The danger arises partly because one of the historical preconditions of Fascism, as theorised by Mussolini, has now been achieved thanks to the adventurism of the U.S. empire. The war on terror has given us the state of permanent, unbounded war originally dreamt up by the Italian dictator to bring about a specific economic and ideological order at home and military expansionism abroad.

That the Italian Republic, supposedly founded on the defeat of Fascism, has re-embraced the ideology under the guise of “Post-Fascism” within a parliamentary democracy is alarming. But, perhaps more alarming is that elsewhere, with no mention of any sort of Fascism, we also see the triangulation of policy towards “single purpose government”, as it is now called in Scotland. This widespread and neo-totalitarian sense of purpose favours corporations by gearing all policies towards existing markets or their creation where they do not already exist. In return, States are blessed with various stamps of approval from big business and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Despite their reputation for imposing deadly market orthodoxies across the world, the power of these controversial institutions appears to be unassailable.3 These developments are connected to the progress of Fascist ideas and opposition to them is a matter of great urgency.

Mussolini envisioned the corporative nation in biological terms as a body of non-competing and co-operative functions. In 1934, Fascists from different European countries agreed that this was the defining element of their international movement. As Francis Mulhern notes in ‘Culture/Metaculture’, the functions of corporativism, or corporatism as it is now known, are all imagined to make “their necessary, mutually non-exchangeable contributions to the health of the whole. It is accordingly anti-individualist in temper (the notion of competition between parts of the body is absurd) and also anti-socialist (the notion of a struggle between the hands and the head is equally absurd – as are democracy and equality).”4 While this mythic idea of the nation as the body coincided with the racial policies pursued by the Nazis, the bodily doctrine cannot be reduced to its most murderous convulsions. In Nazi Germany, Gleichschaltung also aimed for the co-ordination of the life of the nation and it is the deep-seated ideology of enforced co-operation and managed national solidarity which provided the underlying logic of Fascism.

Although independent trade unions were politically disabled and outlawed in Italy, top-down organised labour and welfare policies were reborn in the image of Fascist corporatism, which, if nothing else, adhered to the aristocratic ideal of noblesse oblige. According to Gaetano Salvemini, an exile from the Italian system and one of its most sensitive critics, the impact of this policy to disorganise and manipulate the autonomy of labour was to effectively nationalise it, making labour into the State’s bargaining chip in its dealings with capitalists. Imagine being threatened by your boss for using the word “ballot” in communicating with fellow trade unionists because that word alone was an incitement to industrial action. Sadly this is not an example of legalised bullying under 1930s Fascism but the experience of a member of the Public and Commercial Services Union in Britain today. One only has to think for a few moments about nation-States with their normalised anti-labour laws and activities and see these policies in the context of international capitalism to begin to see the triangular outlines of the renewed repression.

In Fascist Italy of the 1930s, public institutions called corporations were to support co-operation and consultation between different interest groups, between labour and capital and between various economic sectors. In reality they were unrepresentative talking shops, the real function of which was to dignify a range of coercive policies. Followers of the Marxist, Antonio Gramsci would call this passive revolution, whereby “in lieu of attaining support for what it is doing, a government instead decides to act as if it alone were the origin of social change.”5 Yet the rhetorical element of co-operation and consultation remained central to Fascist practice. So attractive was the ideal of corporatist State to its proponents that they wrote admiringly of its company-like functions before the public corporations were even brought into dubious existence. Perhaps the reality is best summed up by Salvemini in his 1936 book ‘Under the Axe of Fascism’. For Salvemini, to find real co-operation and genuine consultation taking place through corporatist institutions was like “looking in a dark room for a black cat which is not there.”6

With this history in mind the obvious question for trades unions and other pressure groups in civil society today is how far has advanced capitalism adapted itself to the same logic of disempowered, disabled yet highly symbolic communication? There is a growing body of research on international development which suggests that the outcomes of participatory processes and public deliberation about policy are in fact preordained by the wisdom of the international financial institutions such as the World Bank.7 It should be asked, therefore, how far do citizens become institutionally formed and incorporated by processes that allow us the pleasure of expressing our views, and sometimes taking action, but only in return for the finally demoralising experience of being overcome by the carefully structured imbalance of actual power?

But if such a bleak perspective is valid, it is too easy to lay the blame on big business or some overly abstract notion of “the system” when corporatism is a particular rot that can set in almost anywhere. It can be seen in the paternalistic ethos of politicians, and in the dealings of “sweetheart” trade unions that function more like an arm of management, or in any number of individuals and ad hoc groups that grasp opportunities to represent or to lead the course of policy without examining the issue of meaningful democratic accountability.8 However compelling one may find Naomi Klein’s account of the ‘Shock Doctrine’9, shock tactics are not necessarily required to ignite the slow burning processes of corporatism. Trying to address these difficult issues here leads gradually towards a key distinction between freedoms of expression, on the one hand, and how the terms of communication may or may not be defined by the public interest, on the other. We live in an era that rather robotically celebrates individuals: individuals as spokespeople for the ‘voiceless’; inspired, creative and visionary individuals; individuals as over-achievers, enlightened benefactors, and celebrity of all kinds. But has an actual individualism, of the kind that historians and sociologists have found at the heart of Bourgeois revolutions against feudalism, been subtly replaced by mere persona in consumerist society? Are the beneficiaries and descendents of social and political flux in the 1960s now at one with an entrepreneurial ideology which downplays the new ‘feudalism’ perpetrated by a remarkably like-minded corporate power elite?

For anyone who has been subjected to mind-numbing processes of fake consultation – in the workplace or in civic deliberation on matters like housing, health, urban planning or culture – Salvemini’s metaphor of the darkened empty room minus cat has a certain poetic resonance in relation to the way the appearance of consensus is constructed in a political and ideological vacuum. Often, this is done with the aid of key unelected personnel who, we are endlessly told, have expertise although they often appear to have descended upon us from another lifeworld where everyone gets along and power goes unquestioned. Nevertheless, it would be misleading to immediately draw a line from the original Fascist ideology of co-operation to the dispiriting operations of technocrats and today’s neo-corporatism. Moreover, the Fascist-spawned British National Party knows only too well how to exploit the void opened up by the legitimate and widespread public contempt for what passes for democratic process in Britain. The response from mainstream parties has been to co-ordinate their campaigning to exclude the BNP. If taken in good faith, this response from mainstream politicians, would be more convincing if they were able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to unfettered public reasoning.

Undoubtedly, public discussion has been substantially dumbed down by the adherence to neoliberal ideology by all the main parties and their favourite ‘opinion-formers’. The truth is that far-right populists have arguments that cannot be properly answered without raising the ghost of anti-capitalist counter arguments which, however unpopular they have become in consumer societies, remain extremely relevant. In the face of the ongoing financial crisis, witness the media silence about the continent-wide reforms to the financial system underway in Latin America.

Part of the problem of restricting public discussion along narrow ideological lines is the way that primitive xenophobia gets branded as Fascist and racist, sometimes as if those were quite simply one and the same. We should remember that Italian Fascism became officially racist, it did not start out that way. Moreover, Fascist identity politics were not quite as exclusivist as often painted. In keeping with the history of liberal imperialism they were, and remain, all about reinforcing a variegated, and historically variable, racial pecking-order.

More blindly xenophobic voices today are rather too hastily ostracised for their proto-Fascist tendencies when the crucial Fascist lineage is far more likely to be the ongoing development of coercive rationalism, certainly not confined to matters of ‘race’. Paradoxically, when brought to public discourse it is this branch of rationalism that would coercively exclude the BNP. And in doing so it implicitly reduces Fascism to its most primitive party-political manifestation and therefore misrepresents or ignores its true philosophical scope. It is also this branch of rationalism that can be seen adapting centrist politics to totalitarian-like policies such as torture, the derogation of key laws, support for undue or unaccountable police powers, and the attack on civil liberties in general. If all this is not enough to demand that we take the philosophical basis of coercive rationalism seriously, then polling evidence, suggesting that a majority of Britons agree with far-right policies when they are not known to be those of the BNP, should make us pause for thought.11

The coercive branch of rationalism celebrates the power of the mind and self-will. It neglects the social and historic complexity of the development of modern societies along with the most troubling aspects of everyday life in them. This ideological vanishing trick draws us back to the key philosophical split of the European Enlightenment: “on the one hand [there is] the Enlightenment’s association of progress with autonomous and critical self-reflection within a society based on the principles of equality, liberty and the participation of independent and rational individuals, and on the other, the identification of progress with the development of scientific/technical reason and the subordination of society to the requirements of this process.”12 This is no abstract philosophical matter. As Val Plumwood argues in her book, Environmental Culture, “reason has been captured by power and made an instrument of oppression, it must be remade as a tool for liberation.”


Episcopal bishop wants to have her cake and eat it too

You would never guess from her words that HER Bible-scorning church is the driving force behind the developing schism

The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church warned the Church of England not to foment schism in America, responding to a threat made over the possibility that the U.S. church will start ordaining actively gay bishops.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Sunday, in response to questions from The Washington Times, that calls by conservatives in the Church of England for recognition of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) over gay-related issues would wound her church, already split by the secession of conservative dioceses and congregations to form the ACNA.

She urged Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to remember the "pain of many Episcopalians in several places of being shut out of their traditional worship spaces, and the broken relationships, the damaged relationships between people who have gone and people who have stayed." "Recognition of something like ACNA is unfortunately likely only to encourage" further secessions, she said, reminding the Church of England that "schism is not a Christian act."

Bishop Jefferts Schori's remarks come amid a fight at the triennial meeting of the General Convention, the Episcopal Church's top legislative body, which began moves over the weekend to overturn the church's 2006 ban on gay bishops. On Saturday night, the church's World Missions Committee consolidated 13 resolutions into a single bill that opens the door for gays "like any other baptized members, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church."

The General Convention has a bicameral structure - divided into a House of Deputies and a House of Bishops - and resolutions require approval by both houses. The committee vote, however, was divided, with the panel's deputies - the clergy and lay members of the General Convention - voting 24-2 in favor of the bill, while the panel's bishops voted 3-2 to reject it.

The Rev. Charlie Holt, a conservative deputy from the Diocese of Central Florida, predicted the deputies would endorse the committee report, noting the numbers were not there to hold the ban. Passing the other hurdle may prove harder. Washington Bishop John B. Chane, though a longtime supporter of pro-gay causes in the church, told The Times on Sunday that rescinding the ban "will not be helpful," adding that he did not think the "effort to overturn it will be successful." Bishop Chane said he hoped the Convention would be "respectful of our differences, and that we don't leave" with the degree of rancor the church experienced in 2006 when the ban was enacted.

But pressure to block the bill has come from the church's overseas partners. On Thursday, Archbishop Williams urged the Convention not to rescind the ban, saying "I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart." Archbishop Williams declined to tell the Episcopal Church what the consequences might be if it repudiated the gay ban. But other leaders of the Church of England indicated that possible consequences would be a break with the Episcopal Church or the recognition of its rival, the ACNA.

On Friday, Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham told members of the Church of England's General Synod that their House of Bishops' Theological Committee would study the organizing documents of the ACNA. A resolution has also been proposed for debate in the next session of synod that would recognize the ACNA.


The Media and the First Amendment

The Washington Post scandal is really about double standards

Our nation's capital is abuzz over the Washington Post's recent indiscretion. The newspaper planned to host a now-canceled salon at the home of Katharine Weymouth, the Post's publisher. For $25,000, lobbyists and corporate executives would be granted exclusive access to members of the Obama administration, Congress, and Post journalists.

Pundits have condemned the Post for acting as an influence peddler. But other news publications routinely host similar events. This shouldn't come as a shock. Media corporations have always had the privilege of influencing politics without the restrictions -- like campaign finance laws -- that other corporations face.

So while this episode has been treated as a scandal of journalistic ethics, it is really about double standards. When other business corporations attempt to influence politics -- by running political ads during elections -- editorial boards rush to condemn the corporations for "buying" elections or "unduly" influencing candidates. We should be concerned, the boards say, because those corporations have too much influence over the political debate. The public needs strict campaign finance laws to protect it from that influence.

The New York Times recently featured an editorial about the Supreme Court's current major campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2009). The editorial counseled the high court against overturning precedent, referring to Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990). That case allows the government to prevent corporations from spending money on electoral advocacy. According to the Times, eliminating the government's power to ban corporate political speech "would be a disaster for democracy."

But if excessive influence is a reason to censor the speech of every other kind of corporation, then it is also a reason to censor the speech of media corporations. After all, the media spend millions of dollars each year on news stories about candidates and editorials endorsing them. This press is worth a lot. For example, the Washington Post's endorsement of Creigh Deeds is widely credited as the biggest factor in his rise from obscurity to victory in Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary this year.

So where are the editorials calling for limits on the amounts of "money" -- in the form of coverage and editorials -- media companies devote to candidates?

Of course, you'll hear no such thing from the nation's newspapers and media outlets. Media companies are exempt from campaign finance laws. Many in the press think that the First Amendment entitles them to special protections that don't apply to anyone else.

This is wrong. The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that the media's right to free speech is no greater than anyone else's. And in Austin and other campaign finance cases, the Supreme Court noted that the media's exemption from campaign finance laws was discretionary, not mandatory.

In short, the press's favored status is only as strong as Congress says it is, at least under current First Amendment jurisprudence. If, in the wake of the Post scandal, the public begins to believe that media companies are as corrupt as the press claims other corporations are, Congress's view on the matter could change. Alternatively, Congress may come up with some other reason to start limiting the freedom of the press. Congress is currently considering a bill that would throw struggling newspapers an economic lifeline by allowing them to operate as nonprofits -- thereby making their advertising and subscription revenue tax-exempt. The catch? Newspapers that take the deal would no longer be able to endorse political candidates.

This precarious position -- free speech at Congress's discretion -- is not exactly a recipe for a strong and independent press. It's tempting to think that media companies that have called for limits on everyone else's speech will ultimately get what they deserve when Congress gets around to censoring theirs. But that would be a mistake.

The press remains one of the most important bulwarks against tyranny. The solution is to protect free speech on principle, regardless of the identity of the speaker. Banning a corporation from spending its own money for political advocacy is censorship, plain and simple. The sooner the press understands this, the safer its rights -- and ours -- will be.


Britain penalizes Israel for retaliating against incessant Arab attacks

The British antisemitism genie is half out of the bottle now

In a move that threatens to strain diplomatic ties, Britain has blocked the sale of spare parts for Israel’s fleet of missile gunships because they were used in the recent campaign in Gaza.

The first country to revoke an arms licence in response to the war in Gaza six months ago, Britain told the Israeli Embassy in London that five of the export requests for parts for the Sa’ar 4.5 gunships had been rejected because the vessels had fired on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s controversial 23-day campaign against the militant group Hamas. The spare parts were intended for the ships’ guns.

An Israeli defence official said that Britain’s decision to revoke five of the 182 licences reviewed by the Government would not impair the navy’s operational abilities — but admitted that there was concern within the military that other countries might follow suit.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said the British ban was a “dangerous step for Israeli diplomatic relations”.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For Liberal Jews, Obama Is the Messiah

by Abraham H. Miller

The difference between radical Muslims and liberal American Jews is that the former seek to become martyrs, while the latter aspire to become victims. In an ironic twist of fate, radical Muslims and liberal American Jews were made for each other.

This ideological symbiosis is sufficient to give pause to the presence of intelligent design. But like all things that seem to emanate from a higher power, there is a paradoxical twist. It is not themselves that liberal American Jews want to sacrifice on the altar of victimhood; it is their Israeli brethren.

Barack Hussein Obama received nearly eighty percent of the Jewish vote and still garners strong approval among America’s Jews. In contrast, only six percent of Jewish Israelis support Obama.

Even before the election, Israeli Jews, unlike their sycophantic American brethren, saw through Obama. Israelis were the least supportive population anywhere in the Western world of the inexperienced politician turned presidential candidate.

To support Obama, liberal Jews had to engage in a set of incredible mental gymnastics. They had to ignore his twenty-year relationship with the anti-Semitic minister Reverend Jeremiah Wright. They had to ignore his strong personal relationship with the virulent anti-Zionist Rashid Khalidi. They had to ignore his statement to the Iowa caucuses that no one has suffered more than the Palestinian people. They had to ignore his support of his Kenyan cousin and genocidal strongman Raila Odinga, an advocate of Sharia. They had to ignore Obama’s own Muslim heritage. They had to ignore that anti-Israel policy experts such as Samantha Power (who now has her own special seat on the National Security Council), Susan Rice, and General James Jones had the real inside tract on advising Obama on the Middle East.

Since the election, Obama’s policies toward Israel have been treacherous, and the reaction of the liberal Jewish community can only be described as inconceivable. When Obama demanded a freeze on the settlements, including organic growth and building in East Jerusalem, the reformed rabbis could barely wait to support him. Even the Jewish Daily Forward editorialized on behalf of freezing settlements, as if the settlements were the obstacle to peace and prior exchanges of land for peace had actually resulted in the reign of peace rather than the rain of rockets.

Obama’s unwillingness to do what first world nation states traditionally do — honor the commitments and obligations of a prior administration — should have generated outrage from the Jewish community. After all, Obama summarily and capriciously dismissed the commitments the Bush administration made with regard to the settlements — commitments that were made, according to Elliot Abrams, to secure Israel’s painful withdrawal from Gaza and Northern Samaria.

If for no other reason than the inconceivable precedent that will impair all of our future international relations, liberal Jews, ever concerned about the fine points of law, should have been up in arms.

But their support for Obama was unflinching, their outrage, absent.

Obama’s Cairo speech linked Israel with the Holocaust, ignoring both 3,500 years of Jewish history and European history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The speech then went on an embarrassing rant of moral equivalence by comparing the self-imposed suffering of the Palestinians to the Holocaust. Even so, liberal Jews did not wince.


Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears

Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he'd bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car. It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker's gold.

Zipping past Fisherman's Wharf, his scanner downloaded to his laptop the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians' electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he'd "skimmed" four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.

Increasingly, government officials are promoting the chipping of identity documents as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country. But Paget's February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge.

He filmed his heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy. Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone's radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age.

"Little Brother," some are already calling it - even though elements of the global surveillance web they warn against exist only on drawing boards, neither available nor approved for use. But with advances in tracking technologies coming at an ever-faster rate, critics say, it won't be long before governments could be able to identify and track anyone in real time, 24-7, from a cafe in Paris to the shores of California.

On June 1, it became mandatory for Americans entering the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to present identity documents embedded with RFID tags, though conventional passports remain valid until they expire. Among new options are the chipped "e-passport," and the new, electronic PASS card - credit-card sized, with the bearer's digital photograph and a chip that can be scanned through a pocket, backpack or purse from 30 feet.

Alternatively, travelers can use "enhanced" driver's licenses embedded with RFID tags now being issued in some border states: Washington, Vermont, Michigan and New York. Texas and Arizona have entered into agreements with the federal government to offer chipped licenses, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended expansion to non-border states. Kansas and Florida officials have received DHS briefings on the licenses, agency records show.

The purpose of using RFID is not to identify people, says Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer at Homeland Security, but "to verify that the identification document holds valid information about you." An RFID document that doubles as a U.S. travel credential "only makes it easier to pull the right record fast enough, to make sure that the border flows, and is operational" - even though a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that government RFID readers often failed to detect travelers' tags.

Critics warn that RFID-tagged identities will enable identity thieves and other criminals to commit "contactless" crimes against victims who won't immediately know they've been violated. Neville Pattinson, vice president for government affairs at Gemalto, Inc., a major supplier of microchipped cards, is no RFID basher. He's a board member of the Smart Card Alliance, an RFID industry group, and is serving on the Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.

In a 2007 article published by a newsletter for privacy professionals, Pattinson called the chipped cards vulnerable "to attacks from hackers, identity thieves and possibly even terrorists." RFID, he wrote, has a fundamental flaw: Each chip is built to faithfully transmit its unique identifier "in the clear, exposing the tag number to interception during the wireless communication."

Once a tag number is intercepted, "it is relatively easy to directly associate it with an individual," he says. "If this is done, then it is possible to make an entire set of movements posing as somebody else without that person's knowledge." ....

When the AP asked when testing was initiated, the State Department said only that "a battery of durability and electromagnetic tests were performed" by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, along with tests "to measure the ability of data on electronic passports to be surreptitiously skimmed or for communications with the chip reader to be eavesdropped," testing which "led to additional privacy controls being placed on U.S. electronic passports ... "

In 2005, the department incorporated metallic fibers into the e-passport's front cover, to reduce the read range, and added encryptions and a feature that required inspectors to optically scan the e-passport first for the chip to communicate wirelessly. But what of concerns about the e-passport's read range?

In its October 2005 Federal Register notice, the State Department reassured Americans that the e-passport's chip would emit radio waves only within a 4-inch radius, making it tougher to hack.

But in May 2006, at the University of Tel Aviv, researchers directly skimmed an encrypted tag from several feet away. At the University of Cambridge in Britain, a student intercepted a transmission between an e-passport and a legitimate reader from 160 feet. The State Department, according to its own records obtained under FOIA, was aware of the problem months before its Federal Register notice and more than a year before the e-passport was rolled out in August 2006.


Freedom lives in the hearts of the dispossessed

Even if the Left-corrupted West seems to have forgotten its founding values

MOHAMMAD Mehdi Asghari was a fresh-faced, earnest-looking young Tehranian professional, the kind of nice young man, perhaps, whom a middle-class Iranian mother might wish for her daughter to date on a Saturday night.

His obituary notice shows him in a neat lilac-coloured polo-shirt, with his hair freshly brushed back from a hairline that was already beginning to recede. When he died in mysterious circumstances a month ago, shortly after Iran's national elections, he was just 26, an age which in today's West would probably licence him to be a Hollywood-style "boy-man", still toying with skateboards and PlayStations, drifting between careers, and living in mortal fear of relationship commitment. But according to Iran's National Portal of Statistics, when Asghari died, he was already in the older half of Iran's population. In this country which harvested several millions of its citizens in the madness of the great Iraq war - much as an earlier generation of Europeans was scythed down on Flanders' gentle fields - the young have been called upon to grow up fast. Like many of his contemporaries, Asghari had a CV well in advance of his date-stamp.

Asghari was one of that so-called Facebook generation beloved of Western colour-feature writers on Iran. He was networked; he was joined-up; he was the actuality of that much abused term, the global citizen. We know that his day job involved maintaining the elaborate network infrastructure that linked the Interior Ministry to Iran's provincial bureaucracies, so that provincial voting tallies can be sent directly to the centre without passing by anyone's else's eyes. We know too that he was an uber-geek: he had advanced certificates in software engineering from Microsoft and Cisco Systems, and in his spare time he ran a small firm training young Iranians in network software skills. (The company's website has been reduced to a single black-bordered front page still forlornly promising details of his burial ceremony.) And there are discreet suggestions that he may have been one of those many ingenious young Iranians who use their technology skills to mount campaigns in pursuit of democratic and human rights.

In grand tragedies we all become playthings of the Fates, whether or not we choose it. Following a sequence of events still known only to a few people, it seems to have fallen to the mild-mannered Asghari to be the conduit through which Iranians discovered that the national elections purportedly held on June 12 had been secretly aborted, and replaced by another ballot carried out on a computer network run out of the Interior Ministry. When in the days following the election tens of thousands of angry young Tehranians held aloft tattered photocopies of a rival electoral tally, they were, in effect, brandishing the testament of Mohammad Mehdi Asghari. If Iran should return to the ranks of states living under the rule of law - in the process establishing a new template under which Islam and democracy might co-exist peacefully - they, and we, will be in this young man's debt.

We still don't know - indeed, if things go badly in Iran we may never know - exactly how Iran's process of grand electoral larceny was managed. Conceivably it was finessed by means of the same primitive software used to debauch the Russian parliamentary elections two years earlier. (There are echoes of the 2007 Russian elections in the latest version of a statistical study by the University of Michigan's Walter Mebane.)

In any case, the precise details of the magic act are perhaps beside the point. More striking is the fact that while millions of Iranians - viscerally aware of the steady decomposition of their already deeply imperfect constitution over the previous three decades - immediately sensed the extent of the fraud that was afoot, surprisingly few Westerners did. Those who criticised the poll mostly did so tentatively, and with positively metaphysical restraint. The Washington Post organisation - the same firm that once, in more idealistic days, fancied that it had forestalled an electoral coup in the US - ran a number of paper and online pieces in effect endorsing the election result ("Get over it," counselled the headline of one). Meanwhile, journalists all over the world shrugged their shoulders at the impossibility of sorting fact from rumour out of the disorderly electronic hubbub escaping from Iran, and turned their attention to stories with better pictures and neater endings.

As a political culture we seem to have become naive and blase, at one and the same time.

For a decade of so after the fall of the USSR it was fashionable to speak in awe-struck tones of the grand new tide of democracy that was even then thought to be spreading itself over the globe like a silken sheet. It's hard to imagine anyone speaking in such confident, airy tones today. Aside from the exemplary exception of democratic Indonesia, there is hardly a corner of the globe that takes the basic principle of the ballot more seriously now than it did then.

Instead we've watched mutely as the old vestiges of the Communist International, which personified the will of the global proletariat in comrade Stalin, has been replaced by a new anti-democratic International, whose sole principle and rationale appears to be to denigrate democracy as merely the self-indulgent plaything of a few tiresome intellectuals in the enervated West. With its headquarters in Beijing, branch offices in Moscow and Tehran, and annexes in Santiago and Caracas, this new international preaches, not the liberation of the toiling masses under the banner of state socialism, but rather the liberation of the pure, whole, undivided nation-guiding state from the quarrelsome, fissiparous tendencies of its citizens. We've watched, we've fretted a little, but on the whole we've kept our own counsel.

While we've watched and bitten our tongues, it seems, it's been left to young Iranians such as Asghari - and their embattled counterparts in China, Cuba and elsewhere - to become the new global face of what used to be called Western liberal-democratic values. Sometimes it seems there's an irony of economic history according to which the developed Western nations are fated over time to become spectators to the vigour of developing ones. Who knows: perhaps a similar logic operates in the political sphere. Perhaps this new generation of young global citizens of the non-West - not having yet passed through that process of disenchantment and ennui that nowadays afflicts the citizens of the actual West - has become a kind of virtual West, holding up the values we still mutter about under our breath, but seem to have become too timid to say out loud, whether to Beijing or to Tehran.


British youngsters view Bible 'as old fashioned'

KNOWLEDGE of the Bible is in decline in Britain, with fewer than one in 20 people able to name all Ten Commandments and youngsters viewing the Christian holy book as "old fashioned", a survey said today.

Forty per cent did not know that the tradition of exchanging Christmas presents originated from the story of the Wise Men bringing gifts for the infant Jesus, while 60 per cent could not name anything about the Good Samaritan, the Durham University study found.

Youngsters were particularly disillusioned, telling researchers that the Bible was "old fashioned", "irrelevant" and for "Dot Cottons" - a reference to the church-going EastEnders' character, the National Biblical Literacy Survey 2009 showed. "It is the first recognition of something which we all knew in our gut. We knew it was there but we weren't exactly willing to face up to it," said Rev Brian D. Brown, a visiting fellow at St.John's College in Durham University.

One respondent to the survey said David and Goliath was the name of a ship while another thought Daniel, who survived being thrown into the lions' den, was "The Lion King".

Rev Brown said the survey showed the need to push for greater religious education among young people as knowledge of the Bible among the under-45 age group was in decline. "We have got to recognise that it (the Bible) is the foundation of our society, upon which our whole culture has been based," he said. "To understand it and to live in it you do need an understanding of the Bible."

Atheists, however, were not unduly worried about the decline in the Bible's popularity. "It shows really that religion is becoming less important to people," said Pepper Harow, campaigns officer at the British Humanist Association. "The fact that people have little knowledge of the Bible perhaps suggests that it's becoming less and less relevant to people in the 21st century," she said.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm about the Bible among the 900 respondents, three-quarters said they owned one and almost a third said it was significant in their lives.



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

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

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


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Ethnonationalism runs deep

So grave was the crisis in western China that President Hu Jintao canceled a meeting with President Obama, broke off from the G8 summit and flew home. By official count, 158 are dead, 1,080 injured and a thousand arrested in ethnic violence between Han Chinese and the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs of Xinjiang. That is the huge oil-rich province that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and several Central Asian countries that seceded from the Soviet Union. Uighur sources put the death toll much higher. The Communist Party chief in Xinjiang has promised to execute those responsible for the killings.

In 1989, fear that what was happening in Eastern Europe might happen in Beijing produced Tiananmen Square. The flooding of Chinese troops into Xinjiang bespeaks a fear that what happened to the Soviet Union could happen to China. Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, the Chinese, as they showed in Tibet, will wage civil war to crush secession. Already, Beijing has struggled to ensure perpetual possession of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet -- half of the national territory -- by moving in millions of Han Chinese, swamping the indigenous peoples, as they did in Manchuria.

The larger issue here is the enduring power of ethnonationalism -- the drive of ethnic minorities, embryonic nations, to break free and create their own countries, where their faith, culture and language are predominant. The Uighurs are such a people.

Ethnonationalism caused the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913, triggered World War I in Sarajevo, and tore apart the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Ethnonationalism birthed Ireland, Turkey and Israel.

Ethnonationalism in the 1990s tore apart the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and broke up Czechoslovakia, creating two-dozen nations out of three. Last August, ethnonationalism, with an assist from the Russian Army, relieved Georgia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia has its own ethnic worries in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, whose Moscow-installed president was nearly blown to pieces two weeks ago and where a Chechen convoy was ambushed last week with 10 soldiers killed.

The ethnonationalism that pulled Ireland out of the United Kingdom in 1921 is pulling Scotland out. It split the Asian subcontinent up into Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Iran, Iraq and Pakistan are all threatened.

Persians are a bare majority against the combined numbers of Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluch. Each of those minorities shares a border with kinfolk -- in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Turkey has fought for decades against Kurd ethnonationalism. If one were to wager on new nations, Kurdistan and Baluchistan would be among the favorites. And Pashtun in Pakistan outnumber Pashtun in Afghanistan, though in the latter they are the majority.

In Africa, the savage attacks on the Kikiyu by Luo manifest a resurgent tribalism, as did the horrors of Rwanda, where Tutsi in the hundreds of thousands were massacred by Hutu.

President Clinton may have apologized to the Africans for not sending troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda, but if the America of Obama is into interventionism to protect human rights, Africa in the 21st century should provide us plenty of opportunity.

Evo Morales in Bolivia, Ollanta Humala in Peru and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez are stoking the embers, goading the Indian populations, the indigenous peoples, to take back what the white man took 500 years ago. They have met with no small success.

The contrast between insouciant America and serious China today is instructive. China is protectionist; America free trade. China is nationalist; America globalist. China's economy is export-driven; America's base is consumption. China saves; America spends. China uses its foreign exchange to lock up overseas resources; America uses foreign aid for humanitarian assistance to failed states. Behaving like ruthlessly purposeful 19th-century Americans, China grows as America shrinks.

Where Beijing floods its borderlands with Han to reduce indigenous populations to minorities, and stifles religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity, America, declaring, "Diversity is our strength!" invites the whole world to come to America and swamp her own native-born.

Observing the lightning breakup of the Soviet Union, the Chinese take ethnonationalism with deadly seriousness. American's elite regard it an irrelevancy, an obsession only of the politically retarded. After all, they tell us, we were never blood-and-soil people, always a propositional nation, a nation of ideas. Our belief in democracy, diversity, and equality define us and make us different from all other nations. Indeed, we now happily predict the year, 2042, when Americans of European ancestry become a minority in a country whose Founding Fathers declared it set aside for "ourselves and our posterity."

Without the assent of her people, America is being converted from a Christian country, nine in 10 of whose people traced their roots to Europe as late as the time of JFK, into a multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural Tower of Babel not seen since the late Roman Empire. The city farthest along the path is Los Angeles, famous worldwide for the number, variety, and size of its ethnic and racial street gangs. Not to worry. It can't happen here.


Enduring Nonsense

By: Daniel Mandel

The other week, responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech that envisaged creating a demilitarized Palestinian state, perennial Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak noted, “I told President Obama that solving the crises of the Arab and Muslim worlds goes through Jerusalem.” The week before, General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, said, “Hezbollah’s justifications for existence will become void…if the Palestinian cause is resolved.”

The notion that the Israeli/Arab conflict lies at the core of Middle Eastern problems has been popular among the political class for years:

* UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: “If the issues with the conflicts between Israel and Palestine go well, [resolutions of] other issues in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria, are likely to follow suit” (January 2007).

* Jordan’s King Abdullah: “solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem, allows us to tackle the other issues around us … Whether people like it or not, the linchpin is always the Israeli-Palestinian problem” (January 2007).

* Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: “I expressed to the President the centrality of [this] conflict to the people of the region … [putting] the peace process back on track is central to enhancing the prospects of reform and the prosperity in the region” (April 2004).

* Then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair: “[Middle Eastern] terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine” (July 2003).

In fact, it was this very idea that led America in 1991, vigorous and prestigious in the Middle East after vanquishing Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, to try and terminate it.

At the time, American time and talent might have been better utilized urging Arab allies to liberalize their tyrannies or on off-setting the destabilizing constellation represented by Syria’s Assad and the Iranian mullahs.

Instead, then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State, James Baker, chose to think that solving the Arab-Israeli conflict was central and achievable – much like President Obama does today and George W. Bush did before him.

Yet, even before Bush and Baker gave international sanction to the centrality myth, history had already pronounced it a nonsense.

The Arab-Israeli conflict had no bearing on the Algerian war in the 1950s; Egypt’s invasion of Yemen, the bloody emergence of the Ba’athist dictatorship in Iraq, or the Aden Emergency, all in the 1960s; or the Libyan-Chad war in the late 1970s; or the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, which claimed a million lives; or Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1990.

Nor did it have any bearing on events that were to follow – like Saddam’s subsequent massacres of hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shia, the Taliban seizure of most of Afghanistan, or the descent of Somalia into a Hobbesian arena of rival militias.

Nonetheless, Bush and Baker convened the 1991 Madrid Arab-Israeli peace conference, which was succeeded by the Oslo process between Israelis and Palestinians. All must now agree that the results were the opposite of peace and reconciliation – in that conflict, or any other.

But Oslo’s collapse failed to induce a reappraisal of either the alleged centrality of the Arab-Israeli conflict or its capacity for resolution.

The same James Baker was to be found reinvigorating the old centrality chestnut as co-author of the 2006 Iraq Study Group, which again declared regional peace and progress to be hostage to a resolvable Arab-Israeli animosity.

However, reality still fails to oblige. Israelis, long reconciled to the idea of a Palestinian state and still largely of the view that a peace settlement would entail creating one, no longer believe that doing so will bring it peace and therefore oppose it. Negotiated withdrawals in the West Bank and unilateral ones from Gaza and southern Lebanon having failed to bring peace and acceptance, Israelis oppose more concessions.

Indeed, examining the words and deeds of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza, and the temper of Palestinian opinion favoring terrorism and rejecting Israel’s existence, the only possible conclusion is that Palestinians neither accept Israel as a Jewish state, nor revile terrorism against it performed in their name, nor see Palestinian statehood as a goal whose attainment should change either of these facts.

But supposing for a moment that none of this were true and the conflict presently resolvable, it would still be difficult to see what possible influence an Israeli-Palestinian peace could produce elsewhere in the Middle East.

* The Taliban and al-Qaeda would not lay down their arms in Afghanistan or Pakistan because of such an agreement.

* The Sudanese regime and the Janjaweed militia would not end their slaughter of black animists in Darfur upon news of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.

* The Islamic Courts Union in Somalia would not desist in its efforts to dominate the country, let alone dispatch an ambassador to Israel.

* The Iranian regime would not revise its determination that Israel must be wiped from the map, just because Israel would now be sharing it with a neighboring country called Palestine.

* Islamist terrorists would still shed the blood of Hindus in India, Buddhists in Thailand and Catholics in the Philippines. And they would still shed the blood of fellow Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey.

This being the case, declaring that the Israeli-Palestinian impasse lies at the heart of regional turbulence and global threat is not an assertion about the importance of producing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Rather, it is a formulation whose origins lie in hostility to Israel’s existence, a hostility that precludes the prospect of terminating the conflict even as it blames Israel for it.

It is an insinuation of Israeli illegitimacy and guilt, made by the devious (Abdullah, Mubarak) and restated by the credulous (Ban, Blair). Into which category President Obama falls remains to be seen.

Interestingly, President Obama shied away from explicitly calling the Arab-Israeli conflict the core issue in the Middle East in his Cairo speech last month: there, it became the second of four such issues, the other three being unspecified “violent extremists” (al-Qaeda and their ilk), nuclear proliferation and democracy (more precisely, the lack thereof) in the region. Nonetheless, the pride of place the Obama Administration is giving the Arab-Israeli issue; the overt connection it has drawn between it and the resolution of other matters, like Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons; and its endorsement of the Arab demand that Jews stop moving to the West Bank and even eastern Jerusalem, are all hallmarks of a belief in its centrality.

Burying the myth of Arab-Israeli centrality, however, is easier said than done, because so many are invested in it.

For Arab despots, continuing blissfully unhindered in their repressive ways requires getting the U.S. to desist pestering them about pesky matters like human rights. This is best achieved by persuading the U.S. that the key to a liberalized Middle East lies in its working to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict first. This in turn leads successive administrations into pursuing Arab/Israeli diplomatic debacles for whose inevitable failure it can then be blamed by Arab despots.

U.S. support for Israel – which can be made to mean anything short of cutting off diplomatic and trade relations with it – will supply the necessary alibi for further conflict and the continued elusiveness of Arab warmth for America.

For Western politicians – in this context, the word statesmen grates – demanding further Israeli concessions in another foredoomed peace bid allows them to gratify Arab tyrants who export Muslim radicals to their shores while hoping for the best. Short of resolution, let alone a program, for resisting Islamist encroachments at home, this is what passes for the strategy of the free world today.

In short, Middle Eastern pathologies caused and exacerbated the very conflict whose solution is now held out at as their cure. But as any doctor knows, treating symptoms rather than causes effects no cure; still less so, when the patient is only marginally responsive to palliative treatment. Invasive surgery on a weakened body lacking any prospect of success serves no purpose – unless the purpose be malign.

Breaking out of this dangerous, self-defeating cycle of delusion and distraction will be painful for the U.S. and the West. Expect therefore much continued avoidance and denial in Western chanceries.


New Study: Sexual Orientation Can Be Changed

Peer-reviewed scientific survey looks at more than a century of research to determine that those with unwanted same-sex attractions can benefit from therapy and should continue to have access to it

A new report in this month's issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation can be changed — and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions is generally beneficial and that research has not found significant risk of harm.

The study, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), examined more than 100 years of professional and scientific literature from 600-plus studies and reports from clinicians, researchers and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.

"This research is a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality," NARTH President Dr. Julie Hamilton said. "It also confirms what we have seen evidenced in hundreds of individuals who have benefited from the help of NARTH therapists.

"We believe that every person should have the right to independently determine their own course in life, and for many that involves seeking counseling options that affirm their personal beliefs."

The survey, titled What Research Shows: NARTH's Response to the American Psychological Association's Claims on Homosexuality, was assembled over 18 months by three of the leading academics and therapists in the field and under the direction of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee. It confirms the results of a 2007 longitudinal study conducted by researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse that found that religiously mediated sexual orientation change is possible for some individuals and does not cause psychological harm on average.

The last finding is important, because it directly refutes unsubstantiated claims made by some factions of the American Psychological Association (APA) and several other professional mental health organizations that it is unethical for therapists to assist patients to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

"The APA's own Code of Ethics supports every client's rights to autonomy and self-determination in therapy and mandates that therapists either respect a client's practice of religion and sexual orientation or refer the client to a professional who will offer such respect," NARTH explains in the report. "Clients who are not distressed about their sexual orientation should not be directed to change by mental-health professionals. Conversely, clients who seek sexual reorientation deserve properly informed and competent psychological care from therapists who use interventions that have been scientifically demonstrated as helpful for achieving this goal."

Nicholas Cummings, a past APA president and author of Destructive Trends in Mental Health, concurred.

"This is a basic tenant of psychotherapy, that religion for most people is an anchor," he told CitizenLink. "To pull that out from under them is an egregious thing to do."

In finding that there is substantial evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through therapy, the study also found that treatment success for clients seeking to change unwanted homosexuality and develop their heterosexual potential has been documented in the professional and research literature since the late 19th century.

"We acknowledge that change in sexual orientation may be difficult to attain," NARTH says in the report. "As with other difficult challenges and behavioral patterns — such as low-self-esteem, abuse of alcohol, social phobias, eating disorders, or borderline personality disorder, as well as sexual compulsions and addictions — change through therapy does not come easily. Relapses to old forms of thinking and behaving are — as is the case with most forms of psychotherapy for most psychological conditions — not uncommon."

Nonetheless, the report continues, "we conclude that the documented benefits of reorientation therapy — and the lack of its documented general harmfulness —support its continued availability to clients who exercise their right of therapeutic autonomy and self-determination through ethically informed consent."

A third major finding of the study is that there is significantly greater medical, psychological and relational pathology in the homosexual population than the general population.

"Overall, many of these problematic behaviors and psychological dysfunctions are experienced among homosexuals at about three times the prevalence found in the general population — and sometimes much more," the report states. "Investigators using modern, state-of-the-art research methods have documented that many different pathological traits are more prevalent in homosexual than in heterosexual groups. We believe that no other group of comparable size in society experiences such intense and widespread pathology."

Among the scientific findings cited in the study:

• Despite knowing the AIDS risk, homosexuals repeatedly and pathologically continue to indulge in unsafe sex practices.

• Homosexuals represent the highest number of STD cases.

• Many homosexual sex practices are medically dangerous, with or without "protection."

• More than one-third of homosexual men and women are substance abusers.

• Forty percent of homosexual adolescents report suicidal histories.

• Homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to have mental-health concerns, such as eating disorders, personality disorders, paranoia, depression and anxiety.

• Homosexual relationships are more violent than heterosexual relationships.

• Societal bias and discrimination do not, in and of themselves, contribute to the majority of increased health risks for homosexuals.

Jeff Johnston, gender issue analyst for Focus on the Family, said these findings should have an impact on "those who claim to have the best interests of the gay community at heart."

"True social justice, compassion, concern and intellectual honesty," he explained, "dictate that men and women who want to pursue freedom from homosexuality – whether because of their faith or because of the health risks associated with homosexuality – should be afforded that opportunity by the mental health industry, including its associations and educational institutions."


Perverse British justice again

Teenage rapist charged with new sex attack just eight days after judge let him walk free. One often gets the impression that the only serious offence in Leftist Britain is being middle class

The Attorney General has been asked to investigate the case of a rapist who was allowed to walk free from court with a community sentence - and allegedly struck again just days later. The 16-year-old, who admitted raping a minor and a series of other sexual offences, is accused of committing a further rape just eight days after his release. The teenager - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - received a three-year community rehabilitation order instead of the custodial sentence which the police and families of the victims had expected.

Immediately after the case, Crown Prosecution Service lawyers wrote to the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, in an attempt to use the Unduly Lenient Sentence procedure to have the case considered for referral to the Court of Appeal. The rarely used measure allows the CPS to request a review of any sentence it believes falls below guidelines.

According to police sources, senior detectives involved in the case were dismayed and frustrated that the teenager was allowed to return to his home on the council estate where the first rape took place. The original case was dealt with at a Crown Court earlier this year. Following the latest alleged attack, the teenager has appeared at a youth court charged with raping a boy and causing a boy to engage in sexual activity. This time the teenager was remanded in custody for committal proceedings.

Meanwhile, his close-knit local community has been left in a state of disbelief by the chain of events, with friends and family of the victims incensed he was let out to allegedly attack again. The teenager was allegedly known by police for his sexual interest in young boys. Last night, one mother who lives locally said: 'This youth is a danger to children. It is beyond belief that he was not locked away to protect kiddies in the area. This latest incident has left everyone sickened because he has been a real threat in this area for some time. 'It is inconceivable that he was allowed to return home and back to this neighbourhood. The courts should have done something about him and we feel that we've been let down.'

As part of the three-year community rehabilitation order, the youth, who is now 16, would have received counselling sessions to address his behaviour and supervision from probation officers. The judge, who cannot be named for legal reasons, would also have ruled that the teenager be placed on the Sex Offenders Register and must attend meetings with social services. But a legal source said last night: 'What he received was the soft option and it allowed him to be released back to the area where his victims lived. 'As a result of him being freed he was arrested again, but this time he was placed in custody. The system failed because he should have been imprisoned for his initial offences. This was not a one-off offence, it was a catalogue of sexual offending.'

The accused boy's family - he lived with his mother after his parents separated - have since left the area and moved into a safe house following threats.

A neighbour claims that the boy's mother had pleaded with social services to take him into care, but was ignored. During the original Crown Court case, the judge heard that the victim had been lured to the boy's bedroom, where he was assaulted. The alarm was raised after the victim later told his parents about the incident. The court was asked to take a further three sexual assaults of minors into consideration when sentencing.

The Ministry of Justice said last night that the maximum sentence for rape is life, whatever the ages of the perpetrator or victim. If the victim is under 13, the starting point is 10 years' imprisonment. Normally a sentence falls between eight and 13 years, but a judge can waver from these guidelines if there are aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The spokesman said: 'Normally there would be a custodial sentence of some degree. Six years if possible or even four years. But to go from an eight-year minimum sentence to a community order is a huge leap. 'Our official line is that this is a matter for the courts and the Attorney General to consider a sentence which may be unduly lenient.'

The CPS confirmed that the sentence has been referred to the Attorney General for consideration under the Unduly Lenient Sentence procedure. 'It is for the Attorney General to decide whether to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal,' the spokesman 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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

More child abuse by Left-trained and hate-filled British social workers

I want to come home mummy: Aged five, 'Jenny' was torn from her parents by social workers after an RSPCA raid. Now a court says she must be adopted... We reveal disturbing questions about the fate of this bewildered child who faces fears of abandonment for years to come but who just wants to come home to mummy and daddy. It all began when parenbts weren't humble enough during a misdirected police raid

The recording begins with the sound of a child's voice. It belongs to a little girl and she is clearly bewildered and distressed. At one point she begins to cry. At other times she is sobbing uncontrollably. 'Have you seen the judge yet?' she can be heard asking pitifully in between the tears before pleading: 'I want to go home with [you] Mummy and Daddy.' The recording - and dozens of others just like it - was made during a supervised meeting between the youngster and her parents after their daughter was taken away from them by social workers.

They are known as 'contact visits' in the soulless vernacular of the care system, and took place in a room with a table and chairs and a few toys. One hour. Once a month. That's the extent of the relationship now between this little seven-year-old girl and her traumatised parents.

There are some parents who do not deserve to see their children more than once a month. Irresponsible parents. Neglectful parents. Abusive parents. According to care workers, the mother and father of this little girl were found to fall into this category after their home was raided by the RSPCA and at least 18 police officers to deal with a complaint about supposed mistreatment of dogs.

But what if social workers have got it wrong? In the light of Baby P and so many other scandals, it's hardly impossible is it? Certainly, the recordings stored on a computer at the family's home on the South Coast seem to contradict the damaging claims by social services that the girl, whom we shall call Jenny - the girl's real identity has been suppressed by the courts - did not wish to return to live with her parents.

Jenny's father spent months taking down every word of the recordings by hand, only to be told by a judge that they had to be professionally transcribed. By the time they were, it was too late. Moves to put Jenny up for adoption were under way. This week, after 74 separate court hearings over two harrowing years, the family finally lost their fight to have Jenny returned to them. The Court of Appeal in London ruled that their daughter must be given up for adoption. If and when she is, they may never see her again.

Jenny was five when she was taken away, and seven now. Before we examine the peculiarly troubling details of this case, it is worth considering the comments of the family's MP, Charles Hendry. He says: 'This case has concerned me more than any other in my 13 years as a member of Parliament.' And, he went on to describe Jenny's mother and father as 'devoted parents'.

Furthermore, one of the experts brought in to examine the child's removal, a psychiatric social worker, concluded the local authority had 'mismanaged the case'. Needless to say, his advice was ignored.

They are not lone voices: more than 200 local people, including neighbours, friends and members of the couple's church, planned to take part in a march through their village shortly after the family's ordeal began in April 2007. Posters were printed, which read 'Social Services Have Kidnapped Our Daughter. Please Help The Fight To Get Her Back Where She Belongs.' Above the words was a picture of Jenny. Of course, you won't have read about the protest, because it never took place. The march was just about to begin when the police, acting on the advice of social services, stepped in.

They warned Jenny's parents they risked being jailed, as they had broken the law by identifying their daughter on the placards. Just another example of the terrifying lack of transparency that now surrounds the removal of children from their families. Reforms to open up cases such as Jenny's to public scrutiny were introduced earlier this year. But the truth is, an almost Stalinist culture of secrecy still exists in family courts.

Jenny was never physically harmed, and was 'thriving and happy before being taken away', the Court of Appeal was told. One of the reasons for the decision was that Jenny's father had been unwilling to undergo a further assessment. Wouldn't other parents in his position have done the same? After all, the case had already dragged on for two years and he believed yet another 'assessment' would delay the tortuous process even more.

Yet, here we are today on the cusp of Jenny being spirited away from her family for ever. No one suggests that Jenny's parents - whom we'll call Susan and Richard - are perfect. But over the past few weeks, our reporters have come to know the family. And one thing seems undeniable - their love for their daughter, and her love for them.

Jenny is a beautiful child with a mop of chestnut hair. She loved ballet, swimming and Susan and Richard paid for her to have private tennis lessons. Her bedroom - with her own ensuite bathroom - in the family's home is almost unchanged from the day she last slept there. Her favourite pink teddy bear is still sitting under the windowsill. And a collection of her videos are on a shelf. 'She loved Grease and pretending to be Olivia Newton-John,' her mother told me last night as her eyes filled up with tears. 'It's hard to come into my daughter's room without crying.'

Susan, in her 40s and involved in her local Conservative Association, used to be a beautician before becoming a fulltime mother - that was how important her child was to her. Her husband Richard, 32, runs a dog breeding business from their home. They have been married for 13 years.

They were just a normal, happy family, it seems, until the RSPCA, backed up by 18 police officers, arrived at their house early one April morning in 2007, following a tip-off that dogs were being mistreated, and that there might be guns in the house. No guns were ever found. No criminal charges were brought, nor does Richard have a criminal record. He was later, however, convicted of docking the tails of his puppies. But the raid was to have far more catastrophic consequences.

Both Richard and Susan were arrested for failing to cooperate with officers. By the time they were released from custody later that day, Jenny was the subject of an emergency protection order. So an operation which had begun for entirely different reasons had ended with the heartbreak of their daughter being taken away.

There were two reasons for what happened, and both have been bitterly contested by the family. The first was the state of the house. Police said it was covered in rabbit entrails - used as food for the dogs they raised - and animal excrement. The couple claim most of the mess was caused during the raid. They say, the doors were left open, allowing the dogs in. Normally, they insisted, their home was 'clean and tidy'. Only a few weeks earlier a policewoman had visited them - after a puppy had been stolen - and backed up what they said. She also said that Jenny was 'happy'. Their home, it should also be stressed, was always immaculate when we visited the couple.

Attention was drawn to the fact that there was a hole in a downstairs bedroom ceiling. But the family point out that a pipe had recently leaked and could not be repaired until the beams had dried out. It has now been fixed. Nor, it was claimed by the authorities, were there any clothes for Jenny in her wardrobe. Did the police look in the wrong wardrobe - the one in her parent's bedroom? The wardrobe in Jenny's own bedroom, her parents say, was full of her belongings.

'We always put Jenny first,' said Susan. 'We have receipts from Monsoon [the fashion store] proving we spent hundreds of pounds on Jenny in the couple of months before she was taken from us. If anything, we spoilt her.'

The second reason, according to social services, that Jenny was not returned to her parents, was that she had apparently made it clear she didn't want to return to the house. But why would she? Jenny was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the raid. 'They were raided like criminals, it is disgusting' In fact, it would be impossible to imagine a more traumatic situation than the 'chaotic scenes' which unfolded at the house that morning and which culminated in her mother and father being led away in handcuffs. In other words, not wanting to return home didn't necessarily mean she didn't want to be with her parents.

Those tapes made during 'contact meetings' in which she tearfully begs to be returned to her 'Mummy and Daddy' would seem to confirm this. 'She was hysterical when the police came in,' says Susan. 'It's the damage they have done to our little girl which really concerns us. I fear she will never be the same.'


More official British racism

Gipsy and traveller children get priority at popular state schools

Gipsy and traveller children are being given priority admission to popular state schools, it emerged yesterday. Schools are being told to offer places to such children even if they are full or have a long waiting list. They must take in the pupils even if travellers 'are camped on the roadside and may not be here long', according to Government guidance.

Traveller children can also be registered at two schools at once, with their place at a 'base' school kept open for as long as they might need it, even if other children are on a waiting list. Further guidance states that schools should 'doubly scrutinise' any decision to expel a traveller or gipsy child.

Teachers warned that the rules - which are intended to help children who have traditionally suffered a fragmented education were being 'very rigorously applied', fuelling resentment among local taxpayers.

Concerns were raised in the wake of news that doctors have been told that gipsies and travellers should be given priority in NHS hospitals and GP surgeries. Health Service guidelines state they should be fast-tracked to see doctors, nurses and even some dentists. GPs have also been told to see any travellers who simply walk in without an appointment, even if all consultation times for the day are taken up.

According to mandatory Government guidance, traveller children must be considered under 'fair access protocols' when they request school places. These protocols also extend to several other groups, including children of UK service personnel and other Crown Servants, as well as those with special educational needs and young carers. They also cover youngsters who attended special units for expelled pupils and are now ready to be reintegrated into ordinary schools.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'The vast majority of children get a place at their first choice school, but it is absolutely right that disadvantaged groups can get back on track with their education quickly when they move to a new area. 'Everyone, regardless of background, should have fair and equal access to a place of their choice.' [Well why is that denied to many white British middle-class families?]


Indian yoga guru says yoga can cure homosexuality

Lots of Westerners seem to find yoga helpful in various ways so who knows?

INDIA'S top television yoga expert has challenged a landmark court ruling legalising gay sex, claiming it is a "disease" that can be cured by yoga. Swami Baba Ramdev filed the petition on the grounds that the Delhi High Court "erred" in decriminalising "unnatural sex acts" last week and that homosexuality was an illness which could be treated, according to the Indian Express newspaper.

"It can be treated like any other congenital defect. Such tendencies can be treated by yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and other meditation techniques," he said in the challenge filed in the Supreme Court.

Last week's judgment reversing a colonial-era ban on homosexuality has met with widespread opposition among many religious groups and conservatives who say same-sex relationships threaten the fabric of traditional Indian society.

In an interview with the Times of India, Swami Ramdev said homosexuality caused "mental bankruptcy" and was "against God and creation".

The influential guru has a wide following among millions of middle-class Hindus who regularly tune into his healthy living programs on television.

Under the Indian legal system, any person can challenge a court decision in a higher court.

An astrologer, Suresh Kumar Kaushal, has also filed a petition against the high court decision, arguing that if gay sex is legalised, "tomorrow people might seek permission for having sex with animals".


Australian antisemitic publications

At its core the internet is an ideal. I can arrange an online chat with a political scientist in South Korea, create an email focus group amongst my constituents, even discuss Islamic revolutionary theory with a student in Iran. But as with any movement or agent of change, an ideal can be undermined by the ideology of its users. For me, a clear example is the partisan coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict by some online magazines. This years output of two of these online publications, Crikey.com and New Matilda.com, is profoundly disturbing.

Both have pretensions to non-partisan coverage. Crikey is run by a staff who claim journalistic credentials in its mission statement to be fair and open. New Matilda similarly claims to provide non-partisan information and takes contributions, as it describes, from "journalists, current and former politicians, lawyers, critical and creative thinkers, bloggers, policy-wonks and satirists". Which is just about everyone in this room - and a good percentage of those outside of it.

Whatever their stated aims, a careful analysis of their output over the first three months of this year shows that when it comes to the coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Crikey and New Matilda are in fact manifestly partisan. Both consistently adopt the Palestinian narrative, characterise Israel as an oppressor, and ignore Israeli's legitimate security concerns. It is their right to criticize the only free society in the Middle East but it is nonsense to claim they are not strongly biased.

Following the last Israeli elections, Crikey contributor Jeff Sparrow stated as fact that Israeli society had moved sharply to the right, at the same time that that the centre-left Kadima party secured the largest block vote and Likud's Netanyahu sought to broaden his coalition into a ruling government whose final makeup included longtime advocates of peace with the Palestinians. In another article the same contributor looked at the decision of the Israel's Central Elections Committee to ban the participation of two nationalist Arab political parties in the elections, drawing odious parallels with South Africa's apartheid regime - whilst ignoring the democratic Israeli institutions, not found elsewhere in the Middle East, that a few days later saw the Supreme Court reverse that bureaucratic decision. Similarly, New Matilda correspondent Ben White accuses Israel of apartheid control over the Palestinians. He condemns outright the erection of a security fence without reference whatsoever to it or the fact that it has lead to a 95% drop in homicide attacks on civilians in Israel or the fact that it acts as a defensive measure against repeated terrorist attacks, or that the fence's route has always been subject to negotiation and moderation by the Israeli Supreme Court as part of the peace process.

Another Crikey contributor, Guy Rundle, downplays the genocidal policies of Iran's President Ahmedinajab to little more than populism, dismissing outright Israel's authentic fears of a nuclear-armed Iran, not to mention the apprehension of moderate Arab regimes at the prospect of an Iranian regional hegemony.

New Matilda is even more strident in its partisanship. Of the 18 articles run by newmatilda.com in the fist three months of this year concerning the Israeli Palestinian conflict, 17 presented a hardline Palestinian narrative.

Some themes emerge. Polemicist Antony Lowewentein is but one of the correspondents to claim as fact that Israel refuses to consider a two-State solution, despite the evidence of numerous peace overtures, the consistent views of mainstream Israelis in favour of a consensus solution, and the unprecedented territorial concessions offered by Israel at the 2000 Camp David Summit and later at Taba, and indeed reoffered by Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert. Unmentioned is Hamas's refusal to recognise Israeli existence, as is the barrier presented to any unified proposal by the ongoing blood feud between the Fatah rulers of the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Time and again these articles refer to Jews, or the Jewish State, but rarely Israel as a sovereign entity . Paradoxically New Matilda contributor Michael Brull then complains that most Australian Jewish groups do not identify themselves as pro -Israel but as simply Jewish. Clearly he has not read the pro-Israel platforms of the Executive Council for Australian Jewry or the Australian Union of Jewish students, two of the organisations he mentions, he appears unfamiliar with the view of Australian Jewry, which is similarly pro-Israel.

In May this year in Crikey, Lowenestein attacked the Executive Council for Australian Jewry , this time because it fails to condemn other forms of racism as readily as antisemitism. But it is this gem that highlights the author's real intent: "Anti-Muslim sentiment has often been proudly displayed since September 11 by the Zionist establishment. In their world view, only what they find offensive should be censored". Here we have it, a shadowy unnamed Zionist elite that has the impudence to speak out against antisemitism, as though a Jewish group is not entitled to focus on racial attacks against its own ethnicity! This is a rigged rhetorical game. It doesn't matter whether Jews defend themselves or not, or whether the focus of critics is on Israel as a Jewish State or Jewish groups in Australia, the charge is relentlessly the same.

Journalism can be a democratic bulwark, but in doing so we assume certain principles of journalistic professionalism, including the training and commitment to place opinion in a factual context. Yet the rise of the bologosphere is often characterised by its proponents as a triumph against the elitism or corporatisation of the established media. It is all well and good to allege that the Australian newspaper's foreign affairs commentator Greg Sheridan is an Israeli propagandist, as one New Matilda correspondent suggests, but Sheridan has thirty years experience as a senior journalist and is the author of five widely-published books on foreign issues. The New Matilda correspondent may not like his views, but Sheridan works in an environment where facts are checked and factual errors are corrected. As former New York Times standards editor,Al Siegal has said, the most overt concern with accuracy at a newspaper can be seen in the volume of corrections. This hardly seems to concern the editors of Crikey and New Matilda in their coverage of Israel.

An exchange of letters between the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission Chair Tony Levy and New Matilda editor Marni Cordell highlights this problem. In April Levy sent to Cordell a sober, detailed and careful analysis of the magazine's content in the first three months of this year, explaining the ADC's concerns over partisan opinion and the broad slabs of hate-speak that appear regularly in the comments sections attached to each article. In her brief reply, Cordell failed to address the evidence of partisanship, instead championing her publication's contribution to ‘diversity of opinion' i.e Brull, Lowenstein et al all whom have broadly similar views. This thinking is explained by her charge that the one sided ‘diversity of opinion' is to balance what she asserts is a biased media environment - of course, without corroborating this charge. She does not address at all the allegation of antisemitic comment, nor does she respond to the ADC's concern that the magazine chooses not to censor these comments, even though it expressly reserves the right to do so if the commentary is abusive or promotes hate.

Nevertheless, is this antisemitism, or just sloppy journalism? Former Soviet dissident and human rights activist Natan Schrasansky distinguished the two by his "3D Principles" - he warns to look for demonisation, delegitimation, and double standards.

Looking at the coverage in Crikey and New Matilda, we see Israel as a manipulator of world events, an apartheid State engaged in ethnic cleansing, and an initiator of wars that have no strategic or defensive foundation. That is demonisation.

Israel as deserving of the rocket attacks on its citizens, or not entitled to defend its sovereignty? That is deligitimisation. Israelis portrayed as arch war criminals, while scant attention is given in the same publications to human rights abuses in Burma, or Darfur, or Zimbabwe, or Tibet, or North Korea, or Chechnya, or the Congo? That is a double standard. Cordell's pathetic excuse for the obsession with denigrating the Israeli's and ignoring other conflicts where far more people's lives are at stake is ‘As I'm sure I don't need to remind you, the Israel/Palestine question is not a conflict on the same level as other regional problems that you mentioned. Problems in the Middle East, within which Israel/Palestine is a major issue, are something that play out in innumerable ways across the globe'



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

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

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


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

King Barack

Oh, how quickly times have changed. Just a few short years ago, Democrats were up in arms over King George III's (President George W. Bush's) "unconstitutional" executive power grabs. Where are these people now? I'll tell you where they are: right in the thick of it, enabling President Barack Obama to consolidate and exercise unprecedented power.

Remember when Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy complained that the constitutional "checks and balances that have served to constrain abuses of power for more than two centuries in this country" were at risk because Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branches? How about Sen. Russ Feingold, who was looking at impeachment as a remedy to keep the president in check and prevent him from acquiring power "like King George III"? Today these same senators are not just passively mute about Obama's power grabs; they are co-conspirators.

You might think the repeated conservative complaint about Obama's egregious lack of transparency is, by now, a tired talking point. But we're not just referring to minor procedural matters that are substantively inconsequential. He hasn't just breached his promise to make his legislation available for public preview. He and his congressional cohorts are burying very important matters in legislation.

The Waxman-Markey cap and tax debacle that just slipped through the House was bad enough, with its mandated broad-based assaults on America's taxpayers, energy and economy in exchange for no appreciable expected environmental benefits. But look at its stealth provision, reported by the Washington Examiner, creating a three-year package of unemployment benefits, a $1,500 job relocation allowance and a health insurance premium subsidy for workers unemployed as a result of this "jobs creation" bill. Unbelievable! How can any congressman who voted for this monstrosity possibly get re-elected?

This was nothing new, though, as you'll recall that Obama's non-stimulative stimulus bill increased unemployment benefits for those not magically benefited by that job creations bill.

Indeed, there are so many Obama abuses I can only chronicle a fraction of them in a short column. But just consider a few others, and ask yourself how long even rank-and-file Democrats can justify supporting such tyrannical madness by this arrogant chief executive, who truly is -- as distinguished from Bush -- engaged in a daily quest to "dictate" fundamental, structural changes to this nation:

--ABC News reported that a senior White House official said the urgency of extending the expiring U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty "might mean temporarily bypassing the Senate's constitutional role in ratifying treaties." Did you hear that, Sens. Leahy and Feingold?

--President Obama is appointing so many "czars" to help him run the government without the usual accountability of Cabinet-level positions that even Sen. Robert Byrd said this practice "can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances." Byrd's worried, but what do Leahy and Feingold think of Obama's pay czar, who'll have broad discretion over executive pay?

--Obama has so insulated himself from ordinary press scrutiny that even liberal journalists Chip Reid and Helen Thomas grilled White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for Obama's "tightly controlled" town hall meeting on health care. During that forum, Obama "coincidentally" called on three people (out of 200) who work with groups trying to pass his health care proposal.

--Obama is so intent on bullying our ally Israel that he is breaching a previous Bush administration-negotiated agreement between Israel and the United States to allow some Israeli construction in West Bank settlements to allow for natural growth.

--The Obama-Holder Justice Department dismissed a strong case against New Black Panther Party members for billy club-style voter intimidation because the members were intimidating for Obama's election.

--Obama and Holder are going to vacate an order of prior Attorney General Michael Mukasey's stating that immigrants facing deportation do not have an automatic right to an effective lawyer.

--Obama and Holder are now mirandizing terrorists on the battlefield.

--Some have questioned whether Obama-Holder ordered the FBI to "back off" anti-terror investigations of radicalized Muslim converts, such as the one who police say shot two military recruiters in Little Rock, Ark.

--Obama's auto task force used "intimidation tactics" against Chrysler's senior bondholders and called their Democratic lawyer, Tom Lauria, a "terrorist" for refusing to accept its offer outright. Where, by the way, were Leahy and Feingold -- and all the liberal media -- when Obama's deal involved an executive-forced transfer of ownership from shareholders and creditors to Obama's favored unions? Were they also unbothered by claims of Chrysler dealers that they were threatened and lied to?

--Obama's thugs fired AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin and slandered him as virtually demented because he blew the whistle on the corrupt practices of Obama's buddies.

To say this is scratching the surface is a monumental exaggeration.


TN: New homosexual rights push targets Metro Nashville policies

Another round in the battle over gay and lesbian employment rights is set to come to Metro Nashville in coming months. It's certain to strike reminders of the contentious three-month-long political melee in 2003 that ultimately failed to extend employment protections based on sexual orientation. It became known as the "gay rights" legislation, and the council in that year's elections tilted toward a more conservative makeup for the next four years.

This time proponents say they are better organized and will be more prepared to win the debate, and they say the city and country are in a different place than six years ago. They also believe the council elected in 2007 is more liberal than the one that voted down the earlier measure in a 19-18 vote.

The ordinance being discussed would be limited to protecting Metro employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. No bill has been filed, but proponents say they don't expect it to include private businesses. "We think that is the target that makes sense," said Chris Sanders, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project. "We believe everybody in Nashville deserves a nondiscrimination policy, but starting with Metro makes sense."

Religious conservatives and other opponents outmaneuvered supporters of the bill in 2003 through an aggressive grass-roots campaign, largely through e-mail, that brought protesters to City Hall and overwhelmed a disjointed effort.

Opponents are laying the groundwork to get word out to their constituencies that the bill is being discussed again. David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, said the concern is that rights limited to Metro employees will set a precedent that will eventually extend to the private sector and other governments across the state.

He said there's no objective test to establish sexual orientation and gender identification. He said his statewide group, based in Williamson County, believes they won't be alone in opposing this type of legislation.

"There will be a number of citizens, business owners and organizations that will speak out about the ordinance and the sometimes unintended consequences of putting something like this into law," said Fowler, a former state senator from the Chattanooga area who lives in Williamson County. Asked about the unintended consequences, he said passage of a bill would lead to lawsuits and confusion and awkward situations, citing a recent publicized case in Maine in which a transgender student who was biologically a boy was allowed to use the girls restroom.

Megan Barry, an at-large member of the Metro Council, is a lead proponent who is working the political channels with hopes of introducing a bill this summer or fall. She said she doesn't expect the same contentious battle that occurred in 2003. The issue nationally is better known than six years ago.

The Metro School Board last year adopted a similar policy in its new agreement with teachers with no controversy, she said. The school system also is revising its anti-discrimination policy to include more inclusive language, according to the head of the system's human resources division.

Barry said the council has members committed to "progressive and social justice issues," and the issue was discussed in the 2007 campaigns. "At some point, now that the budget has passed, the Metro Council needs to pass equal protection for all Metro employees because it's the right thing to do," Barry said.


Taking a stand against the hyper-regulation of British life

When everything from looking after kids to dancing in pubs requires a licence, Josie Appleton suggests a summer rebellion against regulation

There is no doubt that, over the past few years, there has been a fundamental shift in the relationship between state and civil society in Britain. But this shift has a peculiar quality. It is not that the state is oppressing society, or remoulding society in line with a political ideology. There are no New Labour boot camps; no smashing of newspapers that criticise the government.

The peculiar quality to state intervention was suggested by a letter I received recently, from my local National Health Service (NHS) trust. The letter announced a new NHS Camden initiative called ‘Walking Maps’, which ‘encourages local people to lead a healthier lifestyle by incorporating walking into their schedules’. The trust had mapped five walks around the borough of Camden in London, and invited me to come to the launch – where I could try one of the walks, and also ‘get lifestyle advice from our health trainers’ about healthy eating and so on.

It is not so much that the state is remoulding civil society. Instead, the state is demanding that we live our everyday lives through it. We are invited for a walk with the state; we are invited to eat with the state. More and more of social life is now lived through the state as an intermediary. Our everyday actions are supervised – and authorised – by an official bureaucracy.

The emblem of this peculiar situation is the licence. Obviously in pubs, you need a licence to sell alcohol. Now, however, you also need a licence for just about every other activity you might want to perform inside a pub. You need a sporting license to play darts. If somebody wants to watch the darts, you need a sporting events licence. There is a licence for dancing, which can be strictly enforced: undercover council officials spotted people ‘swaying’ in a bar in Westminster and chastised the owners. There is a licence to play music. There is even a ‘spoken word’ license, to cover poetry readings and plays.

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, where all adults who work with children must first submit to an analysis of their pasts, is in effect a safe-adult licence – and if you don’t have it you shouldn’t go anywhere near children who are not your own, we are told. There is a licence to protest. In some areas you need a licence to hand out political leaflets, or to take photographs.

The meaning of the licence is, in effect, that you need the state’s permission to live. Your life is licensed. You can only dance, protest, photograph, volunteer and so on if you have the correct card.

Unlicensed social life is declared dirty and dangerous. If you don’t have the CRB check, you are a potential paedophile. If you don’t have an ID card, you are not a legitimate citizen (though the UK government has recently announced that ID cards probably won’t be compulsory). If you don’t have your photography licence, you are probably a terrorist taking pictures of public buildings in order to destroy those buildings at a later date.

Everyone who is not on a database, or who does not have a card to account for their actions, is illegitimate at best, and dangerous or tainted at worst. The state puts itself in the position of constituting civil society – not, however, by remoulding it, but merely by requiring that everyday life is authorised. It becomes the mass issuer of permission slips – permission to dance, sing, or read poetry. The state doesn’t so much ban activities as request that we ask it for its permission first.

We are seeing the bureaucratisation of everyday life. The methods of bureaucracy – which would have occurred in only very specific spheres in the past – now become part of every sphere.

There is a code or policy for the simplest situations. The English Golf Association has a ‘late-pick-up’ policy, which is a policy to deal with the situation of parents picking up their kids late after golf practice. The volunteer should wait with the child – categorically not give the child a lift home! – preferably with another adult, and in open view. If the parents cannot be contacted, the volunteer should consider calling the police for advice. Getting a child to and from sports practice now comes with an instruction manual.

Public space has been divided into zones: home zone, no-booze zone, low-emission zone, and so on. Although this is bureaucracy-speak, so it is not always clear what a particular zone means, and what implications it has for your behaviour. In a café in Elephant and Castle in London, I saw a sign saying that this was part of an ‘Age Check Zone’.

You could say: it’s only a drink in the park, it’s only the local nursery, it’s only a game of darts in the pub – who cares if there are licences and checks? These are not suitably dramatic freedom issues: these are not about police beatings, or smashing printing presses, or banning political organisations.

But I would turn this around and say: if we can’t even have a drink in the park, how can we have a demonstration? If we need permission to help out at our child’s nursery, how can we change the government? If social life is licensed at its every step, then we cannot be citizens or subjects in any other respect.

The Manifesto Club campaigns on we what call ‘flashpoint freedom issues’. These are the points at which there is a conflict between state regulation and people’s aspirations, desires or sense of their own autonomy. These are the points where the silent process of state regulation can be revealed, made conscious, and protested against.

Our campaigns – including our campaigns against vetting, or against booze bans – have laid the groundwork for this. Our Freedom Summer events series takes this project further, around the rallying cry: social life should not be licensed!


Theologians shouldn't tresspass on economics

Ever since the encyclical "Rerum novarum" of 1891, the church has issued judgments about economic matters, defending some freedoms but also finding a place for government intervention. We see the same in "Centesimus Annus" by John Paul II -- so the present Pope is hardly breaking new ground. The encyclicals concerned are however designed to curb more extreme Leftist tendencies in some parts of the church. The church has understood the logic of markets for centuries but has to take a stance that will placate the many who do not if they are to be listened to at all. So the article below is in fact less realistic than the church. It is good theory but difficult politics

If an economist used his position to pontificate on theology the world would laugh. But when a theologian uses his credentials, in an imaginary field, to lecture on economics we are expected to pay attention.

As this blogger sees things the one institution that has no right anymore to lecture on morality is the Roman Catholic establishment. But the Vatican has been sticking its nose into the affairs of the world for centuries and won’t stop now. Consider some of the uninformed statements made by the current Vatican leader, Joseph Ratzinger, who uses the name Benedict when pretending to speak for God.

In a new encyclical on economics Ratzinger continues the Catholic tradition of opposing depoliticized, free markets. Like his predecessors he misstates what depoliticized markets are. He writes that “profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end” but if profit “is produced... without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.”

Ratzinger has been concerned with imaginary “truth” for so long that he doesn’t understand how this world works or why. Profit is a motivating factor. Each of us acts to promote our self interest—even the Catholic hierarchy. That motivation can lead to good and to bad but seeking “the common good” is more likely to lead to bad results than good. Let me explain something that the Vatican, always besotted with power, has never understood.

When profit-making is politicized it leads to bad results. When profit-making is depoliticized it leads to good results. First, consider the depoliticized market. A depoliticized market is one where individual entrepreneurs are unable to impose their will on unwilling consumers. To a large extent the local grocery store is a depoliticized market (though even here politics can distort things). This store must entice you to buy there because it has no ability to force you to purchase there.

The result is that they have to make an effort to serve your good if they wish to make a profit. Because they lack the ability to use force they need your voluntary co-operation in order to make a profit. Like them, you too are looking out for your own self-interest. You will trade with them provided you believe that you are better off making this exchange than any other trade you might make. Your decision, like theirs, is based entirely on your self-interest.

You are not attempting to increase their profits. If they profit, or not, is of no concern to you. You are merely making an exchange that you believe will benefit yourself. Similarly the store is doing the same thing. By seeking their own self-interest both are acting in ways that makes the other better off. Yet neither is seeking to improve the life of the other.

The danger comes in when concepts like the “common good” are allowed to dominate. This concept is used to politicize the market. The argument is that an unregulated market is not one where the common good dominates so individuals act in bad ways. But how? Without the ability to force other traders into unwilling exchanges there is no ability to create exchanges where one party loses.

The only way to systematically destroy the mutual benefits of free exchange is to politicize the market. Politicization means that the state will forcibly intervene into the exchanges. But what can government intervention accomplish?

It might require two individuals to exchange, who would have done so anyway. But since they would have exchanged without the intervention then government has, in fact, accomplished nothing.

It might force an exchange where neither of the parties would have made the exchange. Why didn’t they make the exchange voluntarily, in this case? The answer is: because each considered the exchange a net loss. Intervention here makes each trader worse off, not better off.

What the advocates of politicized markets really want is to force exchanges where one partner benefits and the other one loses. Ratzinger, totally ignorant of economics, believes that the political classes will use state power to force exchanges that benefit the poor and powerless. The Vatican, one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, is quite willing to use the wealth of other people to “benefit” the poor but rather unwilling to use their own wealth in that manner. They are willing to use funds donated from their members for such things but the vast holdings of the Vatican itself are not sacrificed for the “good” of the poor.

Politicized markets attract predatory individuals who use state power for their own benefit, or for the benefit of their favored friends or supporters. The poor and powerless never control the politicized power structures no matter what Ratzinger or Marx or anyone else may think. Power attracts the powerful, not the powerless. Concentrated political power, established under the pretence of the “common good” always ends up in the hands of private interests. More importantly these private interests are able to impose exchanges on individuals that they otherwise would not make.

The reality is that politicized markets can never serve the common good since they can only impose exchanges which are not wanted, not exchanges that are wanted.

What Ratzinger wants is political control over markets. He fantasizes that political power will be used according to the values he espouses. In truth, that power will be used in ways quite different from what he wants.

Ratzinger wants a state system of redistribution of wealth. How ignorant can this man be? When power is in the hands of the powerful there is real wealth redistribution. But it comes at the expense of the poor and the powerless. One of the great myths of redistributive state is that it redistributes wealth toward the needy. While there may be some show-programs which appear to help the poor and powerless, for the most part redistribution will go up the economic ladder not down.

Ratzinger continues what has been church tradition for centuries: opposition to depoliticized markets and a belief in centralized control of markets based on Catholic teaching. The Vatican has never been happy promoting their own morality on matters such as sex or economics. What they have always yearned for, and still yearn for, is for state power to coercively force Catholic moral values on others. Ratzinger wants the forced redistribution of wealth, not charity. The Vatican has consistently been unable to envision their moral agenda without the use of state power. This sort of fascistic tendency is not one the Vatican is about to give up, no matter what some “libertarian” apologists for Catholicism say.



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

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

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


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Friday, July 10, 2009

How many more teen pregnancies before the British Left admits its sex education has been a disaster?

A £5m programme to reduce teenage pregnancies has failed spectacularly. And so we now have a Leftist arguing for moral education

How many more teen pregnancies will it take before this Government realises what a catastrophic failure its sex education policies have been? That is a question I never thought I would find myself asking. I write as a mother of a teenage daughter and a left-of-centre commentator with an unshakeable belief in the power of education to transform lives. I am - and continue to be - a defender of the rights of women and girls, including their right to an abortion, when needed. There is no U-turn here, no betrayal of what I have always believed in. But the facts can no longer be ignored.

The time has come for an honest reflection on teenage pregnancy rates, a social ill which policy-makers and politicians do not seem capable of tackling. We have just had one more example of this failure. An evaluation of one of many government sex education initiatives (this one named YPDP, the Young People's Development Programme) has just been published in the respected British Medical Journal. This programme, costing more than £5million, focussed on groups of sexually active young girls who were considered most at risk of getting pregnant. The girls were given intensive health education and free condoms in the hope that this would enable them to avoid unprotected sex.

Apparently, similar projects in New York had effectively cut down the number of teen mums. Not so here. Alarmingly, significantly more girls on the course got pregnant than those not on the programme. In other words, the costly scheme achieved the very opposite of what it had set out to do. By any reckoning, it is a monumental failure. Yet I predict that all those on the Left will yet again insist that only more sex education will help free these young women. They will insist that only this can free them from the fate that otherwise awaits them, repeating the cycle of teen parenthood through future generations.

But how can this be right? It makes no sense to me at all, repeating a prescription that is manifestly failing. It is just like a patient who has a terrible headache. You give him or her a supposed painkiller. The pain goes on, so you give them another dose of the exact same medicine. Still the pain continues, so you give them two more and then a specially strong one, refusing to accept the evidence in front of your eyes that the treatment is simply not working, and that if carried on, the treatment will cause a cumulative harm that will probably make the sickness dangerously worse.

Yet that's how the Government has responded to Britain's shamefully high teen pregnancy rates - giving them even more sex education, at a younger and younger age. Although I have no objection to basic sex education in schools, that alone seems unable to prevent teenage pregnancies and might actually be encouraging underage sexual activity. It is surely a mark of desperation when, as was recently announced, ministers plan to introduce sex education for children as young as five years old. Thereby you institutionalise the sexualisation of young children, incontrovertibly one of the main reasons for the alarming teen pregnancy statistics.

British children know enough already about sex; it shouts at them from billboards, whispers to them in magazines and newspapers, entices them on the internet and on TV, and consumes them in modern books for children, too. The problem is that this sexual awareness is received and ingested but with no guidance on consequences, nor any cautionary social mores. And although teenage pregnancies most affect those on low incomes, the valueless universe is affecting all our children.

I have tried to teach my own daughter what I think she needs to survive this culture, but that might not be enough. Like so many others, I can only hope and pray she will pass through the next years without succumbing. I see a number of the girls she went to primary school with, out on the streets, dressed provocatively, smoking and inviting attention. It is both scary and distressing to witness. Not so very long ago, these same children came to birthday parties and sang songs at our house. What the devil got into them?

They would all get full marks if tested on the technical aspects of sex. But they have not learnt how to resist the destructive imperatives of the habitat they live in.

For an old feminist like me, the gains we made were many, but we have failed to equip young females with the tools they need to withstand the pressures put on them to give in to (or seek) sexual activity before they are mature enough to understand the implications.

I have a Danish friend whose partner is English. They have three daughters and he is fighting hard to move to his home country, which, though sexually liberal, is still rooted in stable family traditions that, he says, save girls from early promiscuity. 'That family influence, that wisdom, is lost in England,' he says. And I fear he is right.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a prude, nor do I want the Fifties back again when sex was not discussed at all. There is a tragedy in my own family which hails from those days and continues to haunt us today. When she was only 16, a beloved relative of mine was sent to England to study. She was clueless when it came to sex. In Asian families nobody tells you anything - we don't even have words for intimate body parts or the sexual act. She came into an equally repressed England, got pregnant, had a child, but the shame of it brought on a progressive mental illness from which she will never recover.

What has replaced those buttoned-up, cruel times is serving our young no better. I spend a lot of time talking to families on a housing estate in West London. In the past year, four under-15s in one block alone have got pregnant and want to keep the children. Only one did her GCSEs. When I talked to them they were both nervous and full of bravado. None of the dads was interested. Selina was born to a teenage mum who couldn't remember how she had got into that state. Oh, they know how all the bits work, just not what sex can lead to, in the long term.

Boys behaving badly; girls behaving worse is becoming the norm in Britain. That will not change with free condoms and explicit family planning lessons. Too many young girls, still impressionable and forming into women, feel the need to pretend they are adults. We must find a way to teach them to wait until they mature enough to comprehend the consequences of their actions. We must encourage them to realise that you can have a boyfriend but not 'go all the way'. We must make it clear that virginity is not to be given away cheaply, something to throw at a frisky lad, but a precious rite of passage.

I would go further. I think teachers should be encouraged to provide moral guidance and warn kids of the consequences of children giving birth to children.

The masters of the TV universe who are criminally amoral, who have helped make this world, should be regulated. Teenage mums need to be recruited into education campaigns to tell others how hard it all is to bring up a child. It really is quite scandalous that the fourth richest nation in the world is still unable to find its moral centre and to prevent such levels of sexual incontinence and irresponsibility.

The education young people need is not about sex but about pregnancy, even more so about how to grow self respect. When, in a perverse reversal of traditional values, it becomes shameful for girls as young as 14 not to have had sex, as seems to be the case for too many in our country, then it is time for us all, from across the political and social spectrum, to wake up and do something radical. We simply cannot fall back on the tried and failed responses.


British Justice Secretary promises another increase in media scrutiny of family courts

Long overdue. It might help rein in at least some of Britain's endemic abuses by social workers

Thousands of cases in the family courts will be exposed to increased public scrutiny under reforms to be announced today by Jack Straw. Restrictions on what the media can report are to be relaxed and expert witness reports containing details of child abuse allegations may be published. Mr Straw, the Justice Secretary, will also examine how, subject to safeguards, to allow media access to adoption cases. The reforms build on the opening up of the family courts in April after a campaign by fathers’ groups, politicians and the media led by The Times.

Despite this access, reporting is hampered by a confusing array of restrictions across at least ten statutes. Interviewed by The Times, Mr Straw said that there would be legislation in the next session of Parliament to overhaul the restrictions. In the meantime, the rules would be clarified by a committee headed by Sir Mark Potter, Britain’s most senior family judge, so that the media could report “the substance of children’s cases, while protecting the identity of parties and children”.

The opening of the family courts was marred by concerns that media access was hindered by reporting rules. At present, the Administration of Justice Act 1960 prohibits reporting of the substance of a family case unless a judge indicates otherwise.

Mr Straw said: “The first change was to allow the media into the courts and that came into force at the end of April. The second change relates to the concerns that have been expressed that although journalists can report the gist of proceedings they cannot report the substance without being in contempt of court.”

The changes will be considered next week and are likely to take effect this autumn. Legislation will then be introduced in the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children’s Bill to rationalise reporting rules across all family courts in line with the regime that applies in the youth courts. Judges would have a discretion to lift anonymity provisions in the public interest at the end of a case. “All of this is turning around a tanker,” Mr Straw said. “But the tanker is turning.”

He added that he also wanted to look at opening up adoption proceedings, although judges strongly oppose media access, regarding adoption as a special case. “To some degree there is a special case and to some degree there isn’t,” Mr Straw said. He added: “What I want, without disclosing the identity of the parties or gratuitously disclosing family secrets where there is no public interest, is to see a light shone on these proceedings because I think that it is in the public interest for that to happen. There is no part of the judicial system that should be private. Confidence in the system suffers if proceedings entirely take place behind closed doors.”

He said, however, that there were “genuine concerns that can’t be dismissed” about protecting the identity of parties and about the disclosure of documents containing “sometimes lurid detail of family secrets”.

Despite a “high level of suspicion” about the media and journalists, Mr Straw said that they had shown themselves to be highly responsible when it came to abiding by reporting restrictions in the youth courts or in any other cases. The regime would be enforced through the contempt of court laws and he was confident that this would work. His family, he said, was subject to a family break-up when he was 10 and his siblings ranged in age from 3 months to 12 years. “If your children or my children were party to proceedings and some pretty unpleasant things were said, would you really want that stuff spilled out?” Mr Straw also delivered a broadside over the rising costs of family legal aid. Spending had risen from £550 million in 2004-05 to about £600 million in 2008-09 with no equivalent increase in the number of cases.

Mr Straw cited reforms to criminal trials and the cut in the number of adjournments. He questioned the need for large numbers of lawyers representing different parties in children’s cases. “A leading practitioner said to me, ‘Is it really in the interests of a child to have all these people in this room?’.”


Law enforcement is the key to keeping NYC safe

In 1990, murders in New York City reached an all-time annual high of 2,262. Six years later, they had dropped over 56 percent, to 984. By 2008, homicides were down nearly 77 percent, to 523, and all felony crime was down over 77 percent.

The turnaround in the city's public image was equally dramatic. As the 1990s began, the national media were proclaiming New York a disaster zone. News reports recounted the brutality of its rampaging youth packs, the chaos of its streets, and the devastating decline in public services, caused by plunging tax revenues. Yet by 1996, the media's story line had changed radically. the big apple comes roaring back, declared U.S. News and World Report. New York showed that "winning the war against crime" was possible, Time proclaimed. In 1998, a new cable TV show portrayed New York as a glittering mecca for beautiful, libidinous women, who managed to squeeze time for exciting careers into their complicated bedroom itineraries.

This wave of positive publicity paid off royally. From 1991 to 1997, the number of tourists visiting New York rose 39 percent, to nearly 32 million. The city's universities were deluged with applications from students who wanted to be part of this suddenly attractive urban oasis. Cutting-edge restaurants opened in what used to be forlorn drug outposts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, bringing more development in their wake. After dropping sharply from 1988 through 1993, real-estate values stabilized, then blasted off in 1998. By 2005, building-construction permits had reached their highest level in over three decades. Job growth revved up in 1997, stalled after the dot-com bust of 2000 and the 9/11 terror attacks, but then resumed its upward trajectory from 2003 to 2008.

The cause of this bust-to-boom revival is largely uncontested: the city's victory over crime. If New York's lawlessness had remained at its early 1990s levels, the city by now would be close to a ghost town. But the cause of the crime rout itself remains hotly contested. Though New York policing underwent a revolution in 1994, vast swaths of the criminology profession continue to deny that that revolution was responsible for the crime drop. They are wrong--and dangerously so. The transformation of New York policing is the overwhelming reason why the city's crime rate went into free fall in 1994. And that transformation, in turn, was aided by an increase in the size of the police department.

This truth means that government budget woes must not be allowed to jeopardize the department's ability to keep crime rates low. The FBI's designation of New York as the safest big city in the country is an economic marketing tool of immeasurable worth. Lose that designation, and Gotham's ability to climb out of the recession and retain and attract businesses and residents will be dealt a severe blow.

The most important thing that businesses look for in a recession is stability," says Greg O'Connell, landlord to about 150 small businesses in Brooklyn's Red Hook area and an impresario of that area's transformation into an artist colony. "When law and order is there, an owner can concentrate on business decisions, not on whether when he comes to work the next morning, his property will still be there."

New York's small-business community lacked such security at the end of the 1980s. Crime was driving manufacturers and wholesalers out of the city. Outer-borough businesses, in particular, felt abandoned by the police. Constant thefts forced owners to spend far more on security and insurance than their counterparts elsewhere, a toll that helped explain New York's anemic rates of small-business job creation. One furniture plant in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bricked up its windows, installed steel bars, posted guard dogs on the roof, and bought a new alarm system, only to wind up broken into three times over four months in early 1989, reported Crain's New York Business. A manufacturer of men's suits in the same area suffered robberies, muggings, vandalism, car thefts, stolen batteries, and nighttime burglaries, according to Crain's; a thief broke an employee's face and jaw; two other employees left the company after getting held up at gunpoint.

Such outer-borough business woes rarely garnered press attention, but a rising tide of violence in residential areas and in Manhattan's commercial core certainly did. After four children were gunned down in nine days in 1990, Time reported that New Yorkers were sinking to a "new depth of despair." The fatal subway stabbing that year of a young tourist from Utah who had tried to defend his parents against a group of teen thugs shocked the city and the country. Forced to reorient his priorities from social-services programs to public safety, Mayor David Dinkins began a hiring program for the NYPD in 1990 that would raise the number of officers from a little over 33,000 in 1991 to well over 36,000 in 1994, when Rudolph Giuliani began his first term as mayor. (These numbers include the roughly 6,000 officers in the then-distinct transit and housing police agencies, which officially merged with the NYPD in 1995.)

Though strategy matters more than size when it comes to policing, size can bolster the right strategy enormously. At the start of the 1990s, the city still hadn't made up for the attrition in the police ranks triggered by the 1975 fiscal crisis--9,000 officers cut from the department from 1974 to 1980, just as the city's lawlessness, epitomized by the devastating looting during the 1977 blackout, was escalating. By 1990, the department was still down 5,000 officers from its 1974 high. Dinkins's hiring program, called Safe Streets, Safe Cities, restored the NYPD roughly to its early 1970s levels. Giuliani continued enlarging the force, with assistance from federal funding, to reach a peak of over 40,000 officers in 2000.

The most important change in the New York Police Department in the early 1990s, however, was conceptual and managerial, not volumetric. The reigning philosophy among criminologists and even many police chiefs was that cops could do little to lower crime. Since crime was a reaction to poverty and racism, the received wisdom held, only government-driven economic and social change could bring the crime rate down.

Commissioner William Bratton, Mayor Giuliani's first police chief, rejected that excuse for failure. He announced that the NYPD would lower violent crime by 10 percent in his first year. No police leader in living memory had announced such a numerical benchmark. Visionary police strategists Jack Maple and Louis Anemone turned the department into a data-driven crime-fighting machine. Using increasingly sophisticated crime-mapping technologies, police leaders could evaluate on a daily basis which strategies were working and which were not.

Precinct commanders now had to account for everything that happened on their watch, an unprecedented shift in managerial expectations that reflected the new belief that the police could and would lower crime. The weekly meetings between top brass and precinct commanders in which this accounting took place became known as Compstat, and the entire management shift under Bratton, the Compstat revolution. Meanwhile, Maple and Anemone continued to roll out strategy after strategy to get guns off the streets, fight public disorder, and shut down outdoor drug markets.

Bratton not only met his crime-lowering targets; he exceeded them. Felony crime dropped 12 percent in 1994, compared with 1.1 percent in the rest of the country. The enforcement of low-level public-order laws nabbed high-level felony offenders. The rigorous debriefing of every arrested crime suspect yielded information for solving other crimes. The aggressive use of stop-and-frisks lowered the rate of gun-carrying and hence of shootings. "The word on the street became, 'You'll be frisked if you carry a gun,' " says Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone. "There was pressure not to carry, which stopped the killings." At the end of 1994, Bratton upped the ante: he would lower crime by 15 percent in 1995, he said. In fact, crime fell 16 percent in 1995 while staying virtually flat in the rest of the country.

The crime drop occurred across the entire city, but its effect was most startling in the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods, where a virtuous cycle set in. With property and violent crime plummeting, investors started building housing on vacant lots that had once served as breeding grounds for disorder and lawlessness. The new residents, with a stake in their communities, watched their neighborhoods more closely and demanded even higher levels of service from the police and better behavior from neighbors. "Crime went down when the vacant lots became developed in the latter part of the 1990s," recalls Walter Campbell, district manager of Community Board 5 in East New York, one of Brooklyn's poorest areas. "You'd see one [lot] being fixed up, and then everyone would jump on board. Every nook and crack had a new home. Everyone wanted a piece of the rock."

Commercial development followed the new homeowners. The Home Depot, Staples, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond opened stores in East New York on once-fallow property. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, people were "moving in and fighting back," says Nadine Whitted, district manager of Community Board 4. "There were no more vacant lots to hide this and that on."


"Racist" AIDS

"AIDS doesn't discriminate" was one of the catch-phrases of the 1980s, but it turned out not to be true. Not only did the expected heterosexual AIDS epidemic never materialize, but according to Reuters Health, it turns out that there are racial disparities in the syndrome's incidence among gays:
[Researchers] found that black gay men were three times more likely to have sexual partners that were also black, than would be expected by chance alone. In addition, black gay men were the least preferred of sexual partners by other races and were believed to be riskier to have sex with, which can lead to men of other races avoiding black men as sexual partners. Black gay men were also counted less often among friends and were perceived as less welcome at the common venues that cater to gay men in San Francisco by other gay men. These influences, Raymond told Reuters Health, push black gay men closer together in smaller social and sexual networks--"networks that are already at higher risk for HIV infection merely because the background prevalence of HIV is higher than in other groups."
What they seem to be saying is that the AIDS prevalence is higher among black gays than nonblack gays because the AIDS prevalence is higher among black gays than nonblack gays. And also because of racism:
"Of our findings, social networks and access to community spaces may be the areas most amenable to action," [H. Fischer] Raymond said. "Acting on personal preferences in sexual partners may not be, however raising awareness that personal preferences may be shaped by underlying negative racial stereotypes or history isn't without merit," he added. "The racial disparity in HIV observed for more than a decade," Raymond and [Willi] McFarland conclude in their report, "will not disappear until the challenges posed by a legacy of racism toward blacks in the U.S. are addressed."
They seem to be saying that the disparity could be narrowed by encouraging more interracial gay sex. Of course, this would increase the AIDS rate among nonblacks rather than reduce it among blacks--but no one ever said overcoming racism would be cost-free.



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

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

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


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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Rights or retribution?

Thomas Sowell on the racist Sotomayor

Back when I was on the receiving end of racial discrimination, it was to me not simply a personal misfortune, or even the misfortune of a race, it was a moral outrage. But not everyone who went through such an experience sees it that way.

When it comes to subjecting other people to the same treatment in a later era, some have no real problem with that. They see it as pay-back. One of the many problems of the pay-back approach is that many of the people who most deserve retribution are no longer alive. You can take symbolic revenge on people who look like them but this removes the whole moral element. If it is all right to discriminate today against individuals who have done you no harm, then why was it wrong to discriminate against you in the past?

These are not just abstract questions. These are serious, real world questions, especially when considering someone to be given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Some judicial nominees have had racial bias attributed to them, despite their years of unwavering support of civil rights for all-- Judge Robert Bork and Judge Charles Pickering being striking examples. But the current Supreme Court nominee is the first in decades to explicitly introduce racial differences in their own words, along with the claim that their own racial or ethnic background makes them better qualified.

Attempts to claim that Judge Sonia Sotomayor's words were isolated remarks-- a slip of the tongue "taken out of context"-- have now been discredited by further information showing that she has repeatedly expressed the same ideas, in virtually the same words, at other times and in other contexts.

Moreover, her deeds-- including years of participation in group identity politics-- are perfectly consistent with her words. So too was her vote on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to summarily dismiss the appeal of white firefighters who did not get the promotions they had earned by passing a required test, because not enough minority firefighters passed to provide racial "diversity." The Supreme Court of the United States found that appeal worth hearing, even if Judge Sotomayor did not.

The warm and genial image of Sonia Sotomayor presented on television, during President Obama's introduction and afterwards, is in sharp contrast with what attorneys who have appeared before her in court have said. A poll of such attorneys showed them rating her worse than other judges in her treatment of those who appeared before her. A tape of Judge Sotomayor's abusive behavior in court backed up the attorneys' picture. It is also consistent with someone in pay-back mode.

A confirmation decision on a Supreme Court nominee is not like deciding whether someone is innocent or guilty of a crime. It is right in criminal cases that the burden of proof is on those making an accusation, and that the accusation be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Judge Sotomayor is not in jeopardy of either criminal or civil penalties. So there is no reason why either the criminal standard or proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" or the civil standard of "the preponderance of evidence" is required for determining whether she is the right person to be given a lifetime appointment to the highest court of the land.

It is hundreds of millions of Americans-- current and future-- whose fundamental rights are at stake whenever any nominee is being considered for the Supreme Court of the United States. It is the American people as a whole who are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

One of those fundamental rights was taken away just four years ago, when a 5 to 4 decision by the Supreme Court gave local politicians the right to seize your home or business and turn the property over to some other private party that they favor. Just one vote on the Supreme Court can make a huge difference.

We have been told endlessly about Sonia Sotomayor's biography and her symbolism as a Hispanic woman. Is that enough to risk millions of other Americans' fundamental rights?


The "peaceful savage" myth is being buried ever deeper

War, what is it good for? A lot, it could turn out. Lethal warfare drove the evolution of altruistic behaviour among ancient humans, claims a new study based on archaeological records and mathematical simulations.

If correct, the new model solves a long-standing puzzle in human evolution: how did our species transition from creatures interested in little more than passing down their own genes to societies of (generally) law-abiding (mostly) monogamists?

No one knows for sure when these changes happened, but climactic swings that occurred between approximately 10,000 to 150,000 years ago in the late Pleistocene period may have pushed once-isolated bands of hunter-gatherers into more frequent contact with one another, says Samuel Bowles, an evolutionary biologist at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and the University of Siena, Italy, who led the study. "I think that's just a recipe for high-level conflict."

By warfare, Bowles isn't talking about highly organised contests between nation-states and their armies. Rather, this period of warfare was probably characterised by ongoing skirmishes between neighbouring populations. "We're talking about groups of men who got out in twos or threes or fives," he says. "They didn't have a chain of command and it's hard to see how they could force people to fight."

For this reason, altruistic intent on the part of each warrior is key. Each person would do better to stay home than to put their life on the line for their neighbours – yet they still went out and risked their lives, Bowles says.

To assess whether or not people with a random genetic predisposition to altruism could flourish via armed conflicts, Bowles culled archaeological and ethnographic data on the lethality of ancient warfare and plugged them into an evolutionary model of population change.

In ancient graves excavated previously, Bowles found that up to 46 per cent of the skeletons from 15 different locations around the world showed signs of a violent death. More recently, war inflicted 30 per cent of deaths among the Ache, a hunter-gatherer population from Eastern Paraguay, 17 per cent among the Hiwi, who live in Venezuela and Colombia, while just 4 per cent among the Anbara in northern Australia. On average, warfare caused 14 per cent of the total deaths in ancient and more recent hunter-gatherers populations.

The cost of losing an armed conflict as a group is high enough to balance out the individual risks of warfare, especially if a population is relatively inbred, Bowles' model concludes. Since evolution acts on genes, it makes more sense to make more sacrifices for a related neighbour than an unrelated one.

Since Bowles had no way of knowing how inbred Pleistocene populations were, he compared contemporary hunter-gatherers such as African pygmies and native Siberians. Individuals in these populations were closely related enough to justify going to war, he found.

"There's no doubt that his is a controversial view," says Ruth Mace, an evolutionary anthropologist at University College London. Inbreeding between the victors and any surviving losers would dilute, not concentrate, altruistic genes, she says.

Bowles modelled this possibility in a previous paper and found that even with a measure of inbreeding, altruists still win out. However, he agrees that it would slow the evolution of altruism through warfare. "A much better way to spread the genes is to kill everybody," he says.

Mark van Vugt, a psychologist at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, notes that warriors could act in their own self-interest, not for the good of the group. "Studies on the Amazonian Yanomamö people show that these warriors do get a greater share of resources, they get more women, they sire more offspring," he says. "How do you explain that there are individual benefits for these warriors? There shouldn't be."

Still, van Vugt thinks Bowle's model is on the right track. Studies show that people divided into arbitrarily chosen groups – say heads and tails – behave altruistically to members of their group, but are more hostile toward non-members. "Together we provide different pieces of the puzzle. If they fit together, they are starting to make sense," van Vugt says.


People aren't as envious as the Leftists think

The most fascinating document I read all week wasn’t Michael Jackson’s obituary, or the breakdown of BBC expenses, or even the desperately moving Twitter feeds from Iran. It was a lengthy piece of research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on attitudes to inequality in Britain. And the reason it was so absorbing was that it showed that almost all activists’ and politicians’ assumptions – including mine – about how people feel about inequality are wrong.

The main parties think that poverty and inequality will be one of the key battlegrounds of the next election. They can all see that unequal societies are associated with every social ill, from crime to addiction. The Conservatives, with their concern for broken Britain, want the poorest to be brought into the mainstream. Labour is mortified by the fact that while it has been in power, the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer, while it is now harder than ever to move between the two.

All parties assume that the financial crisis has focused people’s fury on the unjustified salaries paid to the very rich; that the recession will mean there’s much more sympathy for the unemployed; and that there is a new concern about bridging the gap between the top and bottom.

I’m in that camp. These are the things I know, not least because they are endlessly repeated: that we live in more egalitarian times, that the ages of automatic deference and respect for those higher in the social hierarchy are over, and that most people think that Britain’s social immobility is a scandal.

Well, it’s not so. Rowntree’s research, among more than 1,000 adults of all income groups, shows that more than two thirds of them admire the rich, and assume that their high salaries are a proper reward for ability, effort and performance. On the other hand, they are largely contemptuous of the poor, especially those who live on benefits. Those people are routinely described as scroungers.

The research group are sublimely unconcerned about social mobility, because they think it exists. It’s now harder to move class in Britain than in any other developed country except the United States, and yet 69% believe that there are enough opportunities for anyone to get on in life if they really want to. And though most people described themselves as very concerned about inequality, it wasn’t the gap between rich and poor they cared about. It was the gap between the top and themselves that they wanted to see narrowed.

At first glance, it’s hard to see why people should be so positive about the rich, so oblivious to the many social and financial obstacles faced by the less privileged, and so harsh about the poor. It’s so clearly untrue that the hawkers of dodgy mortgages are more useful or work harder than, say, carers for the elderly. It’s equally untrue that the dim public-school boy faces the same difficulties in finding a good job as the dim child from a comprehensive. Only one thing can explain people’s determined fantasy about how society works, and that is our desperate need to make sense of the world by believing that it is just.

We’re told we live in a meritocracy, so despite the evidence around us, we pretend it’s so. Anything else would be too painful to bear. We can tolerate the comfortable or luxurious lives that some people live only by telling ourselves that they are deserved. These people must work much harder than we are prepared to, or have skills we cannot dream of.

In the research sessions, participants projected all kinds of virtues – dedication, private study, willingness to tolerate stress – onto those with high salaries. Equally, we might find the grim poverty or simple limitations of others’ lives indefensible unless we told ourselves that these people had a choice, and it’s wilfulness or laziness that keeps them as they are. The idea that our life chances are radically unfair is more than we can admit.

Our need to believe in the worth of those above us might give us a different explanation for the anger over bankers’ salaries and MPs’ expenses. It isn’t the fact of their high incomes that enraged us. It was that their selfishness and incompetence destroyed our illusions about their worth. Our faith required us to believe that they deserved what they got. Having their faults exposed has made us uncomfortable.

This mass delusion doesn’t mean that attempts to make Britain more equal are doomed, but it does show that those who think it desirable have to take a different approach. Expecting most people to care about inequality as an abstract concept is pointless: they don’t. They think that quite a lot of it is fair. But the Rowntree research does show a way forward.

The research group were asked which of three societies they would rather live in – a traditional free-market one, with few protections; an egalitarian one that cut the gap between rich and poor; or one that gave priority to improving everyone’s quality of life.

Almost nobody, not even the rightwingers, opted for a society that made economic growth and standards of living a priority, especially if these were accompanied by greater insecurity. Yet this is pretty much what Labour has offered in the past dozen years – increased wealth but much more precarious lives. If that bargain ever was appealing, it isn’t any more.

Only a small number opted for the egalitarian choice. The overwhelming majority chose the third. [Which only capitalism can deliver]


Woman who cried rape after date with man she met in internet chatroom is jailed for a year

In one of their rare acts of judicial sanity, the Brits do prosecute these bitches -- but the woman should get the same sentence the man would have got if she had been believed

An innocent man almost lost his freedom after being accused of rape by a woman he dated through the internet. Gary Wood was hoping for romance when he arranged to meet Natalie Jefferson after chatting to her online - but ended up facing a potential 10-year jail term. Instead 27-year-old Jefferson is beginning a 12-month jail term after detectives saw through her lies.

Mr Wood, 31, of Walker, Newcastle, said he was still baffled by her motives. 'I just want to know why,' he said. 'Maybe she's is messed up in the head, maybe she's an attention-seeker or maybe it is a bit of both, but I could have lost everything because of what she did.'

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Jefferson, of Fellgate, South Tyneside, agreed to meet Mr Wood in Newcastle's Gateshead before going for a drink in nearby Jesmond. But she received a phone call during the night and claimed one of her children had been taken to hospital. Mr Wood offered to go with her but she only let him travel on the Metro underground system part of the way with her.

He phoned her later but was horrified when she told him she had been raped by a stranger. It was a lie - but she had already called police claiming Mr Wood himself had raped her. Soon officers were on his doorstep to arrest him. He said: 'I got a call saying the police wanted to speak to me. They didn't say what it was at first but when they came to my flat, the officer said, "I will be up-front with you - we have had an allegation of rape against you."' Mr Wood was held in custody for three hours.

Jefferson - also known as Natalie Dawn Dodsworth - had alleged Mr Wood attacked her on January 7 near Newcastle's Luckies bar and even agreed to go to a rape crisis centre. But she was arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice after investigating officers interviewed Mr Wood and witnesses, as well as studying CCTV, and grew suspicious about her version of events. In court Jefferson admitted the charge.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, said: 'It's quite clear she had concocted this account for no good reason at all. 'The man's medical examination was about to start but police, having viewed the CCTV footage, immediately stopped the examination because they were sure he was an innocent man.'

Ailsa MacDonald, defending, told the court: 'There is a considerable psychiatric background and she has alcohol problems.'

Pronouncing sentence, Judge Esmond Faulks said: 'This was a huge waste of police time and, more seriously, led to the arrest of an innocent man.' Det Con Graeme Barr, of Newcastle CID, said: 'We are happy with the sentence passed by the court as it sends out the message that people will be punished for making false reports of crime. 'Gary is an innocent man and she could quite easily have ruined his life. I hope he can now put this behind him and get on with his life.'

Mr Wood said: 'I had met her on the internet. She didn't seem right as soon as I met her and kept going to the toilet, which was strange, but I never thought she would do anything like this. 'I have never been in any trouble with the police before this. I was on bail for two weeks with this allegation hanging over my head. 'I can't stop thinking that if there had been no witnesses or CCTV to prove that she was lying I would have been in real trouble and would have been sent down. I would have lost my friends and everything I've got.' He added: 'It has still affected me and if I was to meet someone now, I would only do it in public. I am glad with the sentence but think she should have got more because she could be out and doing it to someone else in six months.'



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

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

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


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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Health and safety fears are making Britain a safe place for extremely stupid people

By Boris Johnson

Another triumph of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid. They are now the most powerful lobbying force in the land. You can see the results of their campaigns on park benches, on street corners, on station platforms – and now their hectoring signage is sprouting on desolate beaches and once unspoilt stretches of moorland. They are more energetic than the RSPCA. They are more effective than the birdwatchers, the child‑protectors and the petrolheads put together. Indeed, for manic dedication they are only rivalled by Fathers4Justice. Ladies and gentlemen, let's have a big hand for this year's winner of the prize for the Most Successful Special Interest Group. I give you – the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid.

It was some years ago that my daughter and I first became aware of their achievements. We were exploring the magical cliff-top castle of Tintagel and we came across a sign on the edge of the cliff. It was expensively hand‑painted and about 1ft high. It said: "Edge of cliff". As a statement of the plonkingly obvious, it could have been bettered only if there had been another sign with a vertical arrow saying "Sky". We laughed so much we almost fell off.

Since then, the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid has been going from strength to strength. It has adorned the back of peanut packets with signs saying "May contain nuts"; it has embossed every plastic coffee sipper-lid with the information that the contents may be hot; and now, according to a wonderful pamphlet issued by the Manifesto Club, its activities are reaching a climax. I could direct you to a lovely pebble beach in Sussex, where visitors are warned with a hideous bright yellow sign and a pictogram of a man falling over that there is an "uneven surface". Another pictogram, complete with another tumbling idiot, warns that the beach may have a "slippery surface". Cor! I can just about see the case for warning railway passengers that if they run on a marble station concourse, and that concourse is wet, then they may be at risk of slipping.

But we are talking about a beach in Sussex. How dur-brained do you have to be to fail to grasp that pebble beaches are uneven and may be slippery? You might as well post a sign at the gates of the Vatican saying: "Caution: Pope at work". Or I could show you a park bench in London boasting an exclamation mark in a fluorescent yellow triangle and the warning, "May become wet". You don't say! A bench in London may become wet, the public is told. I wonder whether we are doing enough to alert people to this fact, that it is raining in London on average 6 per cent of the time. Perhaps we should have a giant sign at Heathrow saying: "Welcome to Britain – danger of moderate precipitation".

Then there is the deranged yellow sign in a Tooting cemetery warning visitors not to fall into open or sunken graves, and that disintegrating gravestones and other memorials may prove lethal to the bystander. But the all-time triumph of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid – the sign that clinched it for them at this year's awards – was a big road sign that went up in Swansea. The English version said that this was a residential area and there was no entry for heavy goods vehicles. But it was the Welsh translation that represented a masterpiece of Extremely Stupid lobbying. This read: "Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfielthu." It was a few months before someone had the nerve to point out that this gnomic message meant: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

In that magnificent story – of how Swansea council managed to put up a Welsh out-of-office autoreply, in the belief that it was something to do with heavy goods vehicles – there is much to be learnt about modern Britain. But I single out that incident today because it so perfectly illustrates the unthinking way in which we erect street furniture. We pollute our landscape with signs and clutter of all kind, when they may have nil semiotic value and do nothing for "elf and safety".

People often ask me why there are so many traffic lights, and why they seem to spend such an unconscionable time on red. The answer is that there has indeed been a huge expansion of traffic lights in the past 10 years, and each one generally represents the culmination of some campaign.

Typically, there will have been an accident, and local campaigners will get together with families of the victims to demand a solution. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for local politicians to resist. On the contrary, the overwhelming temptation will be to "do something". And though a plausible case can be made for each intervention, the cumulative effect can be counterproductive.

Again, we have been going through a long period in which lobbyists have demanded that pedestrians be segregated from the streets with big steel railings; and though this may seem sensible in some ways, the railings produce perverse results. They add greatly to the hassle of getting around on foot. They make the streets less permeable to pedestrians – and by doing their bit to discourage walking, they may even be encouraging a fatal rise in obesity.

In any case, they are certainly a serious health hazard for cyclists, who are in danger of being crushed or scraped against them by vehicles. The same point can be made about some of the forest of black-poled signs that we allow to sprout in our paths, overloading us with non‑information and creating a new collision risk to those who use the streets.

Of course, there is a balance to be struck, and the interests of the blind must be protected; but people are increasingly frustrated with pointless street clutter, and are ready to go back to common sense. That is why many London boroughs are now actively looking at removing traffic lights, and that is why we in City Hall are pursuing urban-realm projects to end the bossing and restore freedom of movement.

In the meantime, if you have any more examples of the work of the Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid, I am all ears.


British oldsters' coffee morning banned for health and safety reasons

A group of pensioners have been banned from holding a coffee morning at a public library for health and safety reasons in case they spill hot drinks on children. This thin excuse to mess other people around just shows how power-hungry British bureaucrats are. They are little men desperate to find some way of making themselves significant

The seven members of the coffee morning for over 50s have met at Eye Library in Eye, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, every Tuesday for the last four years without incident. But council officials have now axed the meetings claiming that toddlers from a nearby nursery who use the library at the same time could be injured if hot coffee spilt on them.

Now members, who used to pay 20p each to the library to cover costs, have arranged to meet at each other's homes instead. Derek Taylor, one member of the coffee club, condemned the "laughable" move and claimed they had usually finished their drinks by the time the toddlers arrived for their half hour visit.

Mr Taylor, of Eye, said: "It is just laughable really. It is health and safety gone through the roof. Nearly four years ago we set up a coffee morning at Eye Library after the librarian at the time came up with the idea, and since then about seven of us have been going there every Tuesday.

"About three weeks ago a toddlers group started coming up on the Tuesday as well, and then this week when we went, we were told that we would not be allowed any tea or coffee because of health and safety reasons because there is a risk we could spill hot tea on the children.

"However, we understand that is not the case at all, because we have always finished our drinks before the children even arrive, and that it is the case that the librarian doesn't want to wash up extra cups. "It is very disappointing, we all thoroughly enjoy the weekly meeting, it is a chance for us all to catch up and have a chat."

Retired office worker Patricia Owen, 70, and her husband Ray, 69, from Eye Green, near Eye, have also been attending the coffee mornings since they were launched. Mrs Owen said: "We are being told we can't have a hot drink. Health and safety is a silly excuse. We have now made alternative arrangements and plan to have our coffee mornings at each other's homes."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) called for sensible risk assessments to be made. A spokesman said: "This would seem to be a disproportionate reaction to risk. I'm sure a sensible compromise could be found that does not leave these pensioners on the streets."

A spokesman for Peterborough City Council, who run the library, said: "Eye Library is a small library and there were concerns about hot drinks being served to the group when there were small children sitting very close by. "However, we do not want to spoil anyone's fun, and will be speaking to both groups to see if we can be more flexible about the timings so that the nursery group are not in the library at the time the coffee morning is meeting."


Britain in battle for its soul, says Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen

Britain is facing a “battle for the soul of the nation”, an archbishop warned yesterday at the inaugural meeting of a group that threatens to split the Church of England. The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, called for a spiritual renewal of Church and State in his keynote speech to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in London. Dr Jensen, arguably the most powerful evangelical in the Anglican Communion and a driving force behind the conservative revival, said: “In this country, the Christian foundations have been shaken. In this and the next generation there will be fought what may amount to the last battle for the soul of the nation.

“It will be an ideological war, a war of ideas. But great issues will hang upon the outcome: the fate of a culture and the eternal fate of souls.” He warned: “The culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice.

“It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past. The conflict is over the authority of Jesus Christ. The fact that sexual ethics is where the contest is sharpest should not divert us from this basic truth.”

Members of the fellowship said their agenda was to reform the Church of England from within and to bring the increasingly liberal Anglicans in the West back to their biblical Protestant roots. They are opposed to blessing gay civil partnerships, ordaining gay clergy and, in particular, the ordination of women bishops.

Many Anglicans believe the fellowship’s agenda is backward-looking and would alienate moderate believers. Delegates meeting in Westminster Central Hall took comfort from messages of support sent by the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. In her letter, the Queen sent “good wishes to all concerned for a successful and memorable event”. Dr Williams said: “I shall be glad to hold all of you in my prayers for the occasion.” Even the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, gave his backing to the new group, despite being an advocate of women bishops.

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, accused the Queen of “a serious error of judgment”. He said: “It is very alarming to see the Queen endorse a homophobic grouping within the Church of England.”

Bishop Greg Venables, primate of the Southern Cone in South America, told delegates: “Schism is not the point of what is happening. Schism is when you separate over secondary issues. This is about essential theology. That is where the divisions are coming. It is not schism, it is real separation.”

Leaders of the fellowship told The Times that they believed disestablishment was both inevitable and necessary if the Anglican Church was to remain true to its biblical heritage.


Frank Lombard’s Wish List

by Mike Adams

The main stream media is finally discussing the sexual preferences of Frank Lombard - the Duke University administrator accused of molesting and offering his five-year-old adopted son for sex, via the internet. Naturally, the newspapers are focusing on threats to the gay adoption movement not threats to those who are adopted by gay parents. I’d like to bring the conversation back to Frank Lombard for a moment. His potential as a child molester should have been detected by social workers and friends alike.

Just one look at Frank Lombard’s Amazon Wish List should have convinced anyone that he should not be adopting a young boy. The names and descriptions of some of Lombard’s favorites follow:

1. Dear Boys. This film is about an aging gay writer who becomes more demanding of the young men he has affairs with. They, in turn, are drawn to one another. In other words, it is a film showing a bunch of young men having sex with one another – with full frontal nudity, of course. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

2. Constantine Giannaris, The Short Films. This collection of films includes one called “A Place In The Sun.” In it, a bored 35 year old Greek man falls in love with an 18 year old Albanian boy. The product description says “The two share little in common except their boredom and the only way they both know to relieve it, sex.” This film shares something in common with the first one – an older man with a proclivity for younger men. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

3. Antibodies. This film deals with both pedophilia and serial murder. In fact, the film opens with a sequence in which Gabriel Engel who has raped, killed, and mutilated more than a dozen young boys, is arrested by the police. Surely, this is the kind of film any adoptive parent likes to watch. Pedophilia, rape, and mutilation Jeff Dahmer style. So, why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

4. Punish Me. In this film, Jan is a 16-year-old juvenile delinquent placed under the supervision of Elsa Seifert, his 49-year-old probation officer. As her daughter prepares to leave home, and her marriage begins to fall apart, Elsa longs for something outside of her routine. You guessed it: The teen offers to be sexually subjugated to Elsa. So she enters into a sadomasochistic relationship with the teen. What’s wrong with the adoptive parent who likes watching films of adults having sex with under-aged boys? And why not let Frank Lombard adopt two little boys?

5. Boy Crush. No need for elaboration, here. Let’s just let Frank Lombard adopt a couple of little boys!

6. Rock Haven. It’s no surprise that the gay love affair in this film is between two teenagers. Does Frank Lombard ever like to watch gay sex between people who are actually old enough to buy a beer? Let’s not ask too many questions. Just let him adopt a couple of little boys and hope he doesn’t molest them before they’re old enough to buy that first beer – or peach wine cooler or whatever their preference might be.

7. Naked Boys Singing. No red flags here. And no need to explain a complicated plot. Let’s just let Frank Lombard adopt some little boys now!

8. The Living End. This is a great film for Frank Lombard to watch given that he teaches classes on HIV/AIDS at Duke University. In this film, there is lots of gay murder and violence. Furthermore, two HIV-positive men remain sexually active after learning they are HIV-positive. Did I mention that Frank Lombard is the Associate Director of the Center for Health Policy at Duke? Here’s a good health policy: Don’t sodomize others after you learn you are HIV positive. Maybe I should teach a course on HIV/AIDS at Duke University. In the meantime, let’s let Frank Lombard adopt some little boys!

9. First Out 2. Wow, isn’t this amazing! A teacher succumbs to the seduction of one of his students. When he sees the student and his father outside of the Principal s Office the following morning, he’s overwhelmed with guilt, worry and fear for the consequences of his impulsive actions. More evidence of Frank Lombard’s obsession with inter-generational gay love. Let’s get that man a couple of little boys!

10. Boys Love. You really aren’t going to believe this one. A magazine editor sets out to profile a teen model and ends up having gay sex with him. More gay inter-generational love. Let’s give Frank Lombard some little boys!

11. Glue. Well, this one is bound to make Frank Lombard come unglued. On look at the cover of this movie makes it appear to be a piece of child pornography. And, indeed, a quick read of the product description shows its lead actor is only 15 years old. And it has a truly complicated plot line. Two guys and a girl take turns having sex with one another. But it raises some interesting questions, doesn’t it? Like: Why does Amazon sell child pornography? And, why don’t we let Frank Lombard adopt a couple of little boys?

12. The Toilers and the Wayfarers. Finally, we see that Frank Lombard has chosen a film about teenagers involved in gay prostitution. This doesn’t necessarily mean he would put his own child up for prostitution. So, let’s just give him a couple of young boys and hope for the best!

None of this article was intended to say that the adoption agency was negligent in allowing Frank Lombard to adopt two small boys. After all, they were only black children. It’s not like any good white children were put into harm’s way. Nor was this article intended to suggest that gay men often adopt boys out of some sick sense of sexual perversion. I see gay male couples walking around with their adopted little girls all the time. Don’t you?



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

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

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


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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Liberal Lawmakers Love Their Sex Freaks and Hate Christian Ministers

The scenario below is somewhat extreme as the 1st Amendment should protect speech -- but many exceptions to 1st Amendment protection have already been recognized and, in cases such as the ones envisioned below, upholding the Amendment's protections probably depends on a presently very thin margin of Supreme Court votes. It is also true that the proposed law covers only violent attacks but it is not far-fetched to envision a preacher being charged as an accomplice in such attacks or an inciter of such attacks. Convictions on very thin grounds are far from unknown -- JR

If you’re a twisted adult who gets pleasure from having sex with 5-year-old boys (like Duke University’s Frank Lombard), or you like to shop for dates at the Metro Zoo, or enjoy smearing your body with feces and/or dabbin’ a little urine on your earlobes as you prep for sexy time with the corpse you dressed up like Bette Davis in your basement, then more than likely you are thanking Dionysus and your unclean demon that Liberals are running DC.

Yep, with the Liberals in the house your deviant behavior—along with over 500 additional unmentionables—could potentially be legitimized and federally protected against anyone who says you’re a crazy bastard who should undergo chemical castration and have your frontal lobe scraped for your aberrant bents.

In the Ted Kennedy spawned wording of S.909, The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, it appears that the public verbalization that one thinks an individual is a bubble off level if engaging in the anomalous and illegal aspects of the bumping of uglies could, in the not too distant future, get the verbalizer in a legal pickle of mammoth portions. If S.909 gets through, the goobers who like to do odd and often criminal stuff with the gibbering monkey in their pants will be insulated from legitimate insults and criticisms, no matter how true the critique because that’s “hate,” which could, as we’re being told, lead to a crime.

As stated, this bill does not just protect Brad and Chad from the supposed “hate speech” of a Rev. John MacArthur, Jr. exposition of Romans 1:18-32. Oh, no. It also pretty much defends all “sexual orientation(s),” “gender,” and “gender identity” flakiness as federally-protected classes—up to 547 types of sexually-twisted behaviors, in all—including:

• Incest – sex with one’s offspring (a crime, of course)

• Necrophilia – sexual relations with a corpse, also a crime

• Pedophilia – sex with an underage child, another crime

• Zoophilia – bestiality, a crime in numerous states

• Voyeurism – a criminal offense in most states

• Frotteurism – rubbing against an unknown person’s body in public

• Coprophilia – sexual arousal from feces

• Urophilia – sexual arousal from urine

Yes, in the politically correct climate of Obamaland, they don’t want us to—cough—“freak” when Chester passes by sportin’ a pink tutu, unlaced black hiking boots, milk jugs duct-taped to his head, and his left hand spot-welded to his crotch, Wacko Jacko style. I’m sorry. I meant Saint Michael Jackson style.

If S.909 gets the green light, any public denunciation of a perv boy’s penchants, particularly if it stems from Christians quoting God on the topic, will be verboten verbiage if said legislation blows through with senatorial support.

This means that just as the governments of Norway, Sweden and Canada have criminalized certain parts of the Bible, the Amerikan Liberals too want to duct tape the few American pastors who read particular parts of the Verbum Dei which state that checking Jedediah’s oil is a sin, and so is having sex with children and goats. Because, you see, a caring pastor’s denunciation of such sexually-warped actions could be linked to some loser’s criminal misbehavior against those that practice such things and could make the goodly parson, because he called a spade a spade, complicit in the hate crime. What nonsense.

For more info and to let your senator know you think this bill, which will eradicate common sense, our religious liberties, and the Christians’ freedom of speech, is BS log on to http://www.capwiz.com/gopusa/issues/bills/?bill=13297951 to do something about it.


British prisoners on run cannot be named 'due to privacy rights'

Prisoners on the run from Holleseley Bay prison cannot be identified because it would breach their rights to privacy, the Ministry of Justice has said. Civil servants have refused to name inmates who have fled prison even though individual police forces will often identify them if they pose a risk to the public. They say releasing their names would breach obligations under the Data Protection Act.

The latest development emerged in response to Freedom Of Information requests to name inmates on the run rom the prison near Woodbridge, Suffolk. The open prison which has sea views and once held Tory peer Jeffrey Archer is known as Holiday Bay because of its easy-going regime. The Ministry of Justice confirmed 39 prisoners had absconded from Hollesley Bay between January 1, 2007, to March 31, 2009. It also provided a general list of crimes they were sentenced for and confirmed that 16 involved violence. The offenders included nine robbers, two serving sentences for attempted robbery, one for wounding and four others for grievous bodily harm.

But the ministry refused to say how many - if any - had been recaptured, saying their identities had to be protected from third parties.

John Gummer, the Suffolk Coastal MP, said he was aghast at the decision and promised to raise the matter in parliament with Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary. He said: "It's intolerable and entirely unacceptable. There is no sense in which a prisoner's identity is a private matter. In my view he sacrifices that when he becomes a prisoner. "This annoys me very much indeed. We have gone mad if this is what we are doing. "What I will be doing is putting down a question to the Justice Minister on Monday to ask for the information. I shall insist this is information that should be in the public domain. "I think this will prove Hollesley Bay has ceased to be treated as an open prison in the historic way, but is now receiving prisoners who would not have been sent to it 10 years ago."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Whilst it is in the public interest to be aware of offenders who have escaped from custody as they may help in identifying the absconders thereby enabling the police to detain them; it is not in the public interest to prejudice any enquiries or operations the police may be conducting into apprehending the absconder. "It is the general policy of the Ministry of Justice not to disclose, to a third party, personal information about another person. "This is because the Ministry of Justice has obligations under the Data Protection Act and in law generally to protect this information."

In January 2007 Derbyshire Police refused to release pictures of two convicted murderers on the run from jail. Chief Constable David Coleman said Jason Croft and Michael Nixon posed "no risk'' and the force had to consider the Human Rights Act and data protection laws when asked to publish photographs. The force later denied human rights had been a factor.


British Couple lose custody of children after 'school security concerns'

A couple have lost custody of their children after the father asked for permission to pick them up from inside the school gates. The man, a business consultant, was concerned that two of his three children – who are all under 13 – might be at risk of abduction because of the family's connections. Telling the school that the children were related to European royalty and that his brother was a senior Army officer, the father is said to have asked for permission – which was granted – to pick up his children inside the two schools attended by his eldest children.

However, one of the head teachers went to the police because of her "concerns". This led to the parents' background being investigated and concerns being raised, initially over the father's mental state and then for the safety of his children.

Lord Monckton, who has investigated the allegations, described the episode as "the worst case of child abduction by social services that I have ever come across". He accused a social worker and a police officer, both female, of plotting together against the couple, who live in the east of England. Lord Monckton has now reported the two women to the local police force and council for alleged improper conduct.

Lord Monckton claims that on May 18 a social worker approached the father as he arrived, with his wife, to pick up one of their children from school. The father has told the peer that when he was asked to accompany her, he demanded to see her identification but she refused to show him. He claims he was then handcuffed by two police officers.

His wife was also detained when she went to remonstrate, and their youngest child was taken away screaming, according to the family's account. Later all three children were taken into care.

The father was then detained under the Mental Health Act, although his wife was released later the same day. "However, the father's supporters say that on May 28, he appeared before a mental health tribunal and was given a complete discharge; yet his children remain in care.

The Sunday Telegraph has had no direct contact with the family. It is understood that the social worker and police officer have justified their actions in statements to a family court. A council spokesman said: "We have no comment to make because the matter is in front of the courts."


Classical Liberals Led the Battle for Civil Rights, New Book Shows

Since its emergence, the United States’ two-party political system has been criticized for polarizing public opinion. Instead of objective deliberation of such major issues as race relations, partisanship has too often undermined the process and distorted the outcome. One group of thinkers, however, has refused to be defined by either conservative or liberal classifications—classical liberals have shaped the history of the nation by fighting for abolitionism and the allied struggles against Chinese exclusion, abuse of native Americans, Japanese internment, and Jim Crow and other racial distinctions in the law. Nonetheless, the nation’s preoccupation with left-versus-right politics has overshadowed how classical liberals have been decisive in shaping the history of race and liberty in America.

Race and Liberty in America explains the major themes of the anti-racist, classical liberal tradition of individual liberty and equality, demonstrating how it has inspired individuals to improve race relations in the United States. Classical liberals have advocated freedom from governmental interference, abolition of prejudicial law, equality under a uniform rule of law guaranteed by the Constitution, and market-based entrepreneurial opportunity.

The book offers numerous documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the 2006 Open Letter on Immigration and beyond, as well as government statutes, party platforms, and speeches that demonstrate how classical liberalism was at the forefront of the fight to change America’s racial inequality. Each chapter investigates a specific time period in American history, ranging from the Revolution to the present, and addresses major events and concerns. The commentary assembled here covers the antislavery movement, post-Civil War reconstruction, Progressive Era, Republican era of the 1920s, the Great Depression and World War II, and the civil rights era. Citing such influential Americans as Thomas Jefferson, Louis Marshall, and Frederick Douglass, plus those missing from other books and heretofore lost to history, Bean demonstrates the major impact of classical liberal thought on race relations and investigates how it has helped shape both law and public opinion.



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

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

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


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Monday, July 06, 2009

Scotland: Police warn Orange Marchers

The Orange marches are a traditional celebration of the triumph of Protestantism over Catholicism. Specifically, they commemorate the Battle Of The Boyne in Ireland in 1690, hence the famous Orange refrain: 'King Billy slew the Papish crew at the battle o'Boyne Water.' I wonder are they allowed to sing that these days? The marches are held in both Northern Ireland and in Scotland but rarely elsewhere

Strathclyde Police have warned that they will not tolerate "sectarian behaviour" at the annual Orange Order parade in Glasgow this weekend. About 8,000 marchers from 182 lodges across the city are expected to take part in Saturday's parade.

Police said their warning over possible sectarian behaviour had the backing of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson said: "Whilst the parade will have a major impact on traffic in the city centre, the main issue for the force and members of the public is the excessive drinking and public nuisance caused by those who follow the parade.

"We want to make sure people can come into the city centre without too much disruption or feeling intimidated by excessive drunkenness and sectarian or disorderly behaviour. "By all means follow the march, but note that drinking in public places is not allowed and officers will make full use of anti-social behaviour fixed penalty tickets to tackle the consumption of alcohol and urinating in public places."

Ian Wilson, Grand Master of the Orange Order, said he wanted spectators to "enjoy the music and the pageantry in a carnival atmosphere". "We do not wish anyone's enjoyment spoiled by the antics of boozed-up foul-mouthed followers," he said. "There is no place in our celebration for public drinking, abusive behaviour or offensive chants."


Finally: Lionheart’s Been Let Go

Lionheart sent an email the other day with a link to his post about being free, finally, from the threat of charges of “racism” and a possible jail term. Was it the police or the CPS who decided to stop harassing him? He didn’t say, but I’m glad it’s over.

Here’s a snip from his post:
I have been on police bail for 18 months on suspicion of ‘stirring up racial hatred’ through written material on this blog.

When my impending arrest first came about, I was in America and was advised by several American organisations and respected individuals that I should apply for political asylum there, but decided after speaking to my lawyer Mr SBLM…that the best plan of action was to return to Britain and go through the motions of arrest and interrogation.

I was arrested, interrogated, then released and have spent the last 18 months backwards and forwards on police bail, awaiting the CPS to decide whether or not they were going to charge me and put me on trial for my words. My next bail date was Friday 3rd July, but I have just received news from my solicitor that all charges against me have been dropped, so there is no case to answer over my blog.
While he was in America, a Good Samaritan gave him a place to live. The Baron was working then, so we donated a small monthly stipend for a while until his situation was such that he was able to work…which depended on his being granted asylum.

That avenue was investigated but looked perilous. It might take years for them to process his case, during which time he would be in limbo.

If memory serves, it was March 2008 or thereabouts when he decided to return to the UK.

I was most upset. My main concern (my only concern, really) was the chance of his being jailed in a prison population full of those who would kill him without thinking about it. But Lionheart’s decision to go home was his to make, though I was sure he wouldn’t survive. He flew back to the UK, leaving a few heavy hearts behind.

I am glad that this trial by fear is over. What the police did to him during that year and a half of mental torture with the prospect of jail hanging over him was cruel and unnecessary. Lionheart had been chased out of his home neighborhood by Pakistani drug dealers because he dared to stand up to them, especially on the issue of enslaving young women.

On his blog, he described what they’d done to his neighborhood, his home, and his business. As a result of what he wrote, the Pakistani drug thugs filed a complaint against him for racism. It was this complaint for which he was to be “investigated” by the Hate Crimes Unit from Christmas 2007 until this week.

I learned a lot while Lionheart was here and after he went home. First and foremost and most unfortunate was my education about the UK police. I heard the tapes of them talking to Lionheart and it was eerie. They had no idea where he was, claiming they thought he was in Scotland. They didn’t seem to care one way or another about his possible fate if he came in to be interrogated. They just kept repeating, in a kind of bored tone, that he needed to present himself in order to be questioned. They refused to grant him safety of any kind. Their conversation with him was so cool, casual, unconcerned. The whole thing was straight out of Kafka.

I also learned that real Brits cared what happened to him even if the police and the judicial system didn’t give a fig. When he got home, he was given a place to stay. Legal counsel was obtained. People helped him.

Another lesson was a deep understanding of the tenacious bulldog character of the English. Lionheart could not be budged from a position once he’d decided on a course of action. Churchill had nothing on Lionheart when it came to digging in his heels and preparing to stand his ground! Here he is, eighteen months later, having survived his ordeal, still trying to make people pay attention to his original concern about his country:
Freedom of Speech has won, over the politically correct brigade who have tried silencing me, and members from their pet project British Islam who have wanted me prosecuted and silenced from speaking out against them and their religion. British Islam is a threat to every man, woman and child upon the British Isles, based upon 1400 years of experience and knowledge, and people like me, have a right and responsibility to talk about it openly, freely and honestly without fear of state persecution, prosecution or imprisonment.

May God bless each and every person who has supported me over the past 18 months, and beyond.

The battle for the heart and soul of Great Britain has begun!
Bloody but unbowed, that’s Lionheart. He gives me hope for England.


'I grew up with gipsies (I'm even mistaken for one), but this land theft by 'travellers' sickens me...'

Will someone please explain why some sections of the gipsy community are called 'travellers'? As far as I can see - and I live on a farm in the heart of the country - the last thing they seem to do is 'travel'. From my experience, they appear far more interested in 'settling' than 'travelling'. For make no mistake, the illegal traveller 'settlements', which can now be found across Britain, have become a national scandal.

Exploiting phoney human rights laws, lame legislation - and the Government's commitment to so-called diversity - a small minority are occupying land wherever they please. Instead of the Government tackling the problem, the ordinary, rural taxpayers, who are so often impacted by these settlements, are left to pick up the pieces.

Before going further, I had better explain that I can empathise with the gipsy way of life, and I have known and worked with real gipsies all my life. Yes, as a small child growing up in the countryside, I was told scary stories about gipsies stealing children - and the fact that their horse-drawn caravans, or vardos, always seemed to be filled with curly-haired toddlers seemed to lend those stories an element of truth. But on the whole, these were honest, hard-working people.

Every year, they would come to our village looking for seasonal work, and as a teenager I would work with them, picking fruit and hoeing sugar beet. They were fascinating folk with a distinctive accent, a sense of humour and great tales to tell. One family, the Loveridges, came to our village during the summer months to sell lace and clothes pegs, and the patriarch, Jim, would sharpen knives and garden tools on a grinder driven by the pedals of his bike. He was entertaining when he tried to ride his bike after a visit to the pub, and the local hare population certainly dwindled whenever he 'walked' his lurchers.

But Jim was a kind, likeable man with a strong - albeit malleable - moral code. On one occasion, for example, he persuaded my father to let him use a field to graze his horse. 'I'll give yer ten bob for a fortnight, boss,' he promised. In the end, the horse was there all summer - and mysteriously vanished on the same dark night Jim's caravans pulled out. My father never saw his ten bob, but no real harm was done.

And then there was the case of the missing spade. After one of Jim's visits, a keen gardener and neighbour of ours named Denis discovered that his favourite spade had vanished - only to have it sold back to him by Jim the following spring. 'Well, I don't know how that happened, boss,' said Jim.

But old Jim was a remarkable man and had an extraordinary knowledge of traditional skills - cures and remedies, a culture that can still be explored at the Gordon Boswell Romany Museum, near Spalding. He may have had wandering eyes and eccentric ethics - but he was liked.

It was also through Jim that I came to visit the Appleby Horse Fair, an extraordinary gipsy event, where horses were sold - and raced down the A66 - and fights were held with bare knuckles.

And so when I was a district councillor, and traffic volumes made life on the road hard and dangerous for horse-drawn caravans, I got Jim and his family a permanent campsite in a small Green Belt meadow, where his son still lives today. When he died, I even had the privilege of speaking at his funeral.

But times have changed - and we are all paying the price. Just this week, for example, it was revealed that evicting travellers from Europe's largest illegal camp, at Crays Hill in Essex, will cost £3.5million. Currently, 90 families occupy the former greenfield site.

It is clear that many of those who now call themselves 'travellers' are not real gipsies with a respect for age- old skills and traditions. They are just chancers and scroungers. And with them has come a rural crime wave. Indeed, theft has become so bad in my area that I can no longer keep diesel on my small farm. My storage tank was used like a self-service pump and then left to drain diesel all over the farmyard. One neighbouring farmer who had tired of diesel theft put water in his tank. And as a sign of appreciation a brick was thrown through his window as he was having supper with his family.

Too often the authorities do nothing. No wonder that when one traveller, who had wrongly parked in a disabled parking space, was challenged, he said: 'I'm a gipsy, I can do what I f****** well like.'

But now doctors are being told that travellers are not required to make appointments to see them, they can just jump the queue. And in Warwickshire, the police are taking political correctness to its ultimate extreme by having a party for 'travellers' to make them feel wanted.

But the biggest issue remains their illegal settlements. In many cases, travellers buy a field, and then, on a weekend or Bank Holiday, when the council offices are shut, they move in their diggers and set up a permanent site. They are often thrown up on the Green Belt land, and without planning permission. In Cambridgeshire, for example, a group of travellers sold their site, which had partial planning permission, to a group of newcomers from Ireland.

The original occupiers then moved off to start a series of new illegal sites, while the new owners illegally brought in several additional caravans, joining them to the sewer and overloading the system with engine oil, bricks and rubbish. Unbelievably, these travellers then expected - and obtained - council help to empty and repair the sewer, at a cost of £25,000.

So where are all of these new travellers coming from? Many are coming from Ireland - where, it should be noted, laws regarding the misuse of land are far more robust than in Britain. Recently, I spoke to a member of the Irish Garda (the Irish police) - and she was privately delighted that so many undesirables were crossing the Irish Sea. After all, in Ireland, illegal caravans and the misuse of land are covered by criminal law, which allows for immediate confiscation of vehicles and prosecution. In Britain, however, they are covered by civil law and prosecutions often involve slow, expensive legal action. On this basis, the solution should be simple - make illegal occupation of land a matter of criminal, rather than civil, law.

James Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, tried to introduce such a bill in 2004 - and the Government wasn't interested. But that may soon change, if the politically-correct Ed Miliband can stir himself to address the concerns of some of his constituents. Oxbridge-educated Miliband was born and brought up in London, but represents Doncaster North in Parliament. And now four illegal Irish traveller sites have appeared on Green Belt land behind 16 houses belonging to Mr Miliband's taxpaying constituents. These 16 houses adjoin a main road, but the residents believed that they had secure Green Belt land behind them. Until Good Friday, when the travellers' caravans and diggers illegally moved in.

One of the travellers then contacted Yorkshire Electricity claiming that they were contractors working for Network Rail and needed urgent connection. Incredibly, before any proper checks were undertaken, electricity was quickly installed.

Despite efforts by the Doncaster planning department and Stop Notices being issued, it is expected that the Planning Inspectorate will soon make the sites legal. Once again, it seems the authorities just don't have the stomach to protect the needs and wishes of ordinary people.

Incredibly, as the rest of us struggle to pay our bills and Treasury coffers empty, the Government is even setting aside £100m for new gipsy sites. Forget consultation. Forget democracy. Forget the wishes of the people. This is government by centralised decree. And it appears to favour travellers.

The Government may claim that it is protecting everyone's human rights. But what about the rights of ordinary, decent people who are just trying to get on with their lives and don't want caravan sites springing up on Britain's precious Green Belt land? The Reverend Andrew West, a Baptist Minister from near the Doncaster site, is quite clear about the situation. 'The travellers know what they are doing. They are not an oppressed minority. They have money and they are abusing the system at the expense of other people. 'It is not right, and proper action should be taken.'

Proper action? Perhaps the Reverend West should buy a caravan and set up camp in the grounds of Chequers. You can bet that a different set of rules would apply to him.


Ulster sends its Gypsies back home

Nobody wants such a parasitical group. They are loathed in their countries of origin (such as Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic) and even Canada is now growing wary of them. Gypsy immigrants have also produced great rage in Italy

At the end of a potholed road lies the village to which a hundred Romanians are returning after fleeing racist attacks in Belfast and where their fear will soon turn to despair. Twenty hours of journey time separate Belfast, via Dublin and Budapest, from Batar but, surveying the medieval conditions in which the Roma live here, one might do better to take as a measure of distance not years, nor even decades, but centuries.

On the farthermost margins of the European Union a man’s legs and arms were smeared with dirt as he toiled to make bricks from straw and mud to build another room on his home. It was, he said, to provide somewhere to sleep for the dozens of naked children — some of them malnourished, all of them filthy — who were running and swooping gleefully through the scattered rubbish.

Elderly couples sat on upturned buckets and tired old horses pulled carts while older children rode scrap-salvaged bicycles. No sanitation, a rudimentary electricity supply and the background hum of hunger and hopelessness completed the picture. Just how terrified must the Roma families in Belfast have been to choose this over their imperfect lives in Northern Ireland? It is a question that, all week, has been troubling the few who have already arrived home.

Florin Fekete returned on Monday with his wife and two sons. “There is no work here. Life in Belfast was good, we had really good times but I could not risk my family’s lives. I asked some of the ones who were attacking us, ‘What do you have against us?’. “The reply was, ‘We hate you because you are gypsies’. But even though I am afraid, I want to go back. Is it safe now, do you think?”

A 21-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy have been charged in relation to the attacks, which began more than two weeks ago and which prompted the Romanians to seek sanctuary inside a south Belfast church. It has since had its windows smashed.

In spite of a personal appeal not to leave by Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister, the Roma could not be persuaded by his argument that their tormentors were a “tiny unrepresentative group of racist criminals”. They moved on. Voices on local radio chat shows might, had they heard them, have convinced them they were right to do so: some callers said they should never have been in Belfast in the first place.

The cancer of sectarianism, which fuelled decades of violence, is now, as foreigners arrive in greater numbers, embracing racism. A report by the University of Ulster in 2007 made the astonishing claim that Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of bigoted people in the Western world.That was supported by an Equality Commission study this week that found that nearly a quarter of people in the province object to having a migrant or a gay person as a neighbour.

In Romania, the images of the Roma families under police protection have elicited little comment. One journalist said: “It’s not so important. People here don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Roma.” In Oradea, a border city near the villages where the Roma live, people refused to even describe them as Romanians. “They are not like us — just look at them,” said one smartly dressed woman.

Mr Fekete observed that his Government had done nothing to help them and that it was Northern Ireland’s politicians who gave them temporary secure housing and paid their fares home. “The Belfast people were great while our own Government did nothing. We only go there to work because we are poor and here there is nothing for us. But we were attacked so we had to leave,” he said.

What made Belfast such an attractive place? “Houses are cheap, we could rent them for £350 a month. Then we could earn £45 a day selling newspapers and working at a car wash. Our children could go to school and the churches were very good.” There has been traffic between Belfast and Batar for at least four years. A man called Virgil explained that the money the Romanian state pays for childcare — about £4 a month per child — would be saved up and used to pay for the journey. Once there, and with an established extended family network in place, they sent money home....

“In Hungary a new paramilitary group is vowing to clear out the Roma and in Italy there was much violence last year. It starts with neo-Nazis but it doesn’t take a lot to take it mainstream. Maybe Belfast is just the beginning.”


Australian government’s confusion re abuse of indigenous children

And now for some political incorrectness on a sensitive subject ...

In the wake of a damning report that Aboriginal children are 6 times more likely to suffer sexual abuse than other Australian children (the figure is likely to be much higher because many cases from remote communities are not reported), state and territory leaders of the Commonwealth (COAG) are meeting in Darwin today to discuss, in Kevin Rudd's terms, "how to overcome indigenous disadvantage". Rudd's "root cause" rolls off the tongue and is accepted as a given but it neither withstands closer scrutiny nor allows us to address this terrible problem in any meaningful way.

There are many disadvantaged groups in society who do not routinely sexually abuse their children. To give just one example close to home, a significant proportion of our own local Jewish community arrived on these shores after WWII having suffered unspeakable emotional, material and ideological loss. Yet their relative "disadvantage" did not lead to their abusing their children. This is because sexual abuse has more to do with a lack of values than it does with a lack of opportunity or advantage. Those Jewish migrants, disadvantaged as they were, nevertheless carried timeless values which enabled them to take their place in and contribute to our society.

This confusion, shared by our Supreme Leader, stems, I think, from the common misconception about what multiculturalism is supposed to be. A multicultural society is one where there is no single distinct ethnicity or religion to which everyone must adhere to and where social cohesion is promoted by permitting distinct ethnic or religious groups to celebrate and maintain their different cultural identities. It is a modern experiment which has been spectacularly successful in many liberal democracies including, for example, the USA and Australia. But it only works where all groups submit to similar values....in the USA and Australia, that means Judeo-Christian values (which are largely reflected in our statutory and conventional laws).

Unfortunately, many think that multiculturalism means that all cultures are morally equal and that none is superior to another. To think otherwise is to be labeled bigoted and chauvinistic. That is a tragedy because different cultures are not necessarily morally equal. For example, a culture which promotes female circumcision is not moral, it is primitive and barbaric. A culture which promotes sati (the age-old practice on the sub-continent of perfectly healthy widows self-immolating on their husbands’ funeral pyres) is barbaric. So too is a society which celebrates honour killings (justifying the murder of rape victims by their own fathers and brothers) and teaches children Jihad (the list of examples is endless). Because the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children is unarguably rife, our leaders should perhaps view this unhappy fact from a different perspective.

Political correctness in this context - which I would describe as the institutionalised failure to recognise that diverse cultures are not necessarily morally equal in every respect – misdirects all our attempts to cure the problem. It explains why governments wanting to do good will typically address material matters only, while ignoring the fact that the real remedy lies in teaching/educating that certain practices are simply wrong and will not be tolerated. The closest attempts we have seen were the Howard government’s belated initiative in policing remote communities and, of course, the well-intentioned efforts of missionaries in the mid 20th century (the children involved, many of whom benefited greatly, being now referred to as the stolen generations).

Unfortunately, as Rudd has set incorrect parameters for the talkfest, don’t expect any significant improvement in the plight of indigenous children.



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

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

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


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mother falsely accused husband of rape because 'she wanted him out of her life'

But this doesn't happen: Any feminist will tell you that

A lying mother who cried rape to get her estranged husband 'removed from her life' was jailed for four months yesterday. Michaela Lodge's 'wicked' allegation against innocent Martin Lodge resulted in him spending 12 hours in a cell. Only after three months did the 45-year-old mother-of-three confess she had made it all up so she could pursue an affair.

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith said her 'calculated' behaviour had done a great disservice to real rape victims'. Sentencing Lodge, who admitted perverting the course of justice, he said: 'It was a wicked allegation that was pre-planned to hasten his departure from your life.' Lodge, of Braintree, Essex, was arrested after finally confessing she had lied in a letter of apology to Mr Lodge begging his forgiveness.

Last night her 54-year-old husband told the Mail being arrested left him 'totally humiliated' but that his wife, who he supported in court, had 'learned her lesson'.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson told Chelmsford Crown Court Mr Lodge's ordeal began last November when his wife claimed he had raped her in the house they continued to share, even though they were estranged. Essex Police started a rape investigation and held Mr Lodge in custody for 12 hours and 49 minutes. He was released on bail after insisting he had gone to bed with his wife, but only at her invitation.

Two months later Lodge made a witness statement in which she said she did not want her husband prosecuted - but continued to maintain he had raped her. However in February she passed a letter to her husband, via her son Daniel, admitting the lie. It had 'a kiss underneath' his name on the envelope, the court heard. The letter read: 'I am so sorry about what I have done to you. My head was and is all over the place. 'I cannot deal with this any more, I need to put it right. When we went to bed we both wanted to make love and the fact is I lied to police about you raping me. 'I will say goodbye and hope one day you will be able to forgive me. I am so sorry.'

When arrested for making the false allegation, Lodge admitted she had lied. Mr Lodge was never charged. Marc Brown, defending, insisted Lodge had not acted out of malice or revenge and claimed she started having regrets almost immediately. He said: 'It was born out of a confused desire to remove him from the picture. She accepts it was an outright lie. She did what she did without thinking of the consequences.'

Lodge, whose three grown-up children are from a previous marriage, boasts on the Friends Reunited website that she loves 'nights in with a nice bottle of wine' and 'going out with my friends dancing'. Elsewhere she describes herself as 'bisexual', and has also posted photographs of herself in a short dress flashing her stocking tops.

She was jailed despite 'a magnanimous appeal for mercy' from her husband, asking the judge to spare her from prison. Last night Mr Lodge, a warehouseman who married his wife in 1994, said: 'When the police turned up I was totally gobsmacked. I couldn't believe what was going on. It was totally humiliating. 'But I really can't hold too much against her. Maybe I'm too soft - that's why I supported her in court. 'I think it's a very lenient sentence but I think maybe she could not have been sent to jail as I think she has learned her lesson.'


An old man with oldfashioned views

I don't at all agree with the views concerned but such views were perfectly normal in the 1930s and there is no doubt that they are still held by some today. I think they have a right to be expressed but I am fairly sure that he will end up in a British court over them. Though the authorities may be deterred by his high public profile

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, said yesterday that he preferred totalitarian regimes to democracies and praised Adolf Hitler for his ability to “get things done”. In an outspoken interview with The Times, the 78-year-old billionaire chastised contemporary politicians for their weakness and extolled the virtues of strong leadership.

Mr Ecclestone said: “In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done. “In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator because either he had all these things and knew what was going on and insisted, or he just went along with it . . . so either way he wasn’t a dictator.” He also rounded on democracy, claiming that “it hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one [Britain]”.

Instead, Mr Ecclestone endorsed the concept of a government based on tyranny. “Politicians are too worried about elections,” he said. “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He was the only one who could control that country. It was the same [with the Taleban]. We move into countries and we have no idea of the culture. The Americans probably thought Bosnia was a town in Miami. There are people starving in Africa and we sit back and do nothing but we get involved in things we should leave alone.”

Mr Ecclestone, who plunged the Blair Government into a row about donations in 1997 after it emerged that he had given the party £1 million, has a reputation for being outspoken. Last month he said that Formula One needed a “black, Jewish woman who, if possible, wins some races”.

In 2008 he provoked uproar when he suggested racist comments directed at Lewis Hamilton on websites in the build-up to the Brazilian Grand Prix “started as just a joke”. However, he told The Times yesterday that he was deeply concerned when he saw fans “blacking up” to mock Hamilton, an act he described as racist.

However, his latest comments could prove deeply damaging. Claiming he likes “strong leaders”, such as Margaret Thatcher, Mr Ecclestone suggested that Max Mosley, his close friend, the president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), would make a good Prime Minister. Mr Mosley, the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, was recently accused by Formula One racing teams of being a “dictator”.

Mr Ecclestone said: “I prefer strong leaders. Margaret Thatcher made decisions on the run and got the job done. She was the one who built this country up slowly. We’ve let it go down again. All these guys, Gordon and Tony, are trying to please everybody all the time. “Max would do a super job. He’s a good leader with people. I don’t think his background would be a problem.”

Mr Ecclestone’s remarks last night drew a strong reaction from Jewish groups and politicians. A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “Mr Ecclestone’s comments regarding Hitler, female, black and Jewish racing drivers, and dictatorships are quite bizarre. He says [in the interview], ‘Politics is not for me’, and we are inclined to agree.”

Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: “Mr Ecclestone is either an idiot or morally repulsive. Either he has no idea how stupid and offensive his views are or he does and deserves to be held in contempt by all decent people.”

Denis MacShane, the Labour MP and chairman of the all-party inquiry into anti-Semitism, and chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism, condemned Mr Ecclestone’s decision to align himself to a “growing” anti-democracy movement. “Of course democracy and the politicians are imperfect and full of fault,” he said. “But this fashionable contempt for the right of people to elect their own leaders is frankly frightening. “If Mr Ecclestone seriously thinks Hitler had to be persuaded to kill six million Jews, invade every European country and bomb London then he knows neither history and shows a complete lack of judgment.”

John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: “These are extraordinary views and I’m appalled that anybody could hold them.”


Homophobia claim stokes war of words between the Tories and Labour

Both Left and Right in Britain are competing to support homosexuality

A furious political row over homophobia intensified last night when the Conservatives accused two openly gay ministers of “stirring up hatred and division” after they claimed that many Tory MPs were homophobic. As up to a million people prepared for the Gay Pride march in London today, Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, sparked outrage by declaring that “a deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches”. Chris Bryant, the Foreign Office minister, added: “If gays vote Tory, they will rue the day very soon.” Harriet Harman, the Leader of the Commons, also weighed in, saying that David Cameron’s apology this week for the Conservative attitude on Section 28 was 25 years too late.

Alan Duncan, one of two gay Shadow Cabinet ministers, accused Mr Bryant and Mr Bradshaw of “stirring up hatred and division”. He said: “I have publicly paid tribute to Tony Blair for his achievements, particularly on introducing civil partnerships. David Cameron this week said that on Section 28 we had to admit we got it wrong. The party has changed. I bet in Labour backwaters there are plenty of people who don’t like the fact that Ben Bradshaw is gay.”

The Conservatives are keen to stress that their prospective election candidates include a number of gay people, including the party’s vice-chairman, Margot James, and that the next generation of Tory MPs will be more socially liberal. In a survey of 144 prospective parliamentary candidates in winnable seats for the ConservativeHome website, 62 per cent said that same-sex couples should be given the same benefits as married couples, while 31 per cent disagreed.

Mr Cameron apologised this week for Section 28, the controversial law brought in by the Conservatives in 1988 banning local authorities from portraying homosexuality in a positive light. Mr Cameron, the first Tory leader to speak at a Gay Pride event, said: “I am sorry for Section 28. We got it wrong. It was an emotional issue. I hope you can forgive us.”

His words were described as historic by Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, the gay rights group, who added that the apology removed a major obstacle that had stopped many gay people voting Tory. However, Mr Bradshaw and Mr Bryant urged gay people to study Conservative voting records on issues such as gay adoption and hate crimes. Ms Harman, whose Equalities Bill would outlaw discrimination on the ground of sexuality, urged people to disregard Mr Cameron’s words.

She told Pink News: “I don’t think anyone should be fooled by the apology, which is already 25 years too late. It is not the view of the Tory party. They have voted against the Equality Bill. If they were sincere, they would support it.”

A survey by Jake, a networking group for gay professionals, found that 38 per cent of gay people questioned would vote Conservative, even though just 4 per cent said that the Tories were gay-friendly.


The modern world needs God

By Michael Duffy, writing from Australia

Although I am myself an atheist, I think there is much truth in the article below -- JR

At an iQ2 debate on the merits of private schools, sponsored by the Herald, one speaker got a lot of laughs by reading out the marketing spiel for some faith-based schools. These included such attractions as "horse-riding in a Christian environment". A significant section of the audience found the combination of Christianity and brash, American-style touting pretty funny.

They might not have found it so amusing, or at least surprising, if they had read God Is Back, a recent book by John Micklethwait, the editor of The Economist, and Adrian Wooldridge, the magazine's Washington bureau chief. It is a rebuttal of the idea, still powerful after two centuries, that religion is incompatible with modernity and the future will be secular. And it argues that one of the most successful types of religion at the moment is market-influenced, American-style Protestantism.

When we talk of the return of religion, it actually means very different things in the West and in the rest of the world. Outside the West, religion has come back as a matter of sheer numbers, because the many efforts to suppress it during the 20th century have collapsed. The most important of these was communism but many non-communist leaders, in nations such as Turkey and Iran, also believed the path to prosperity lay in a modernisation that could be achieved only by reducing the role of religion. Most of these efforts have stopped. In China, God Is Back says, there are now more church-going Christians than members of the Communist Party.

Added to these political changes has been the demographic escalator provided by the fact that poor countries usually have higher birth rates than rich ones. As the inhabitants of poor countries are also more likely to be religious, this means the proportion of the world's population that is religious is increasing, anyway.

When we turn to the West, the authors of God Is Back do not base their case on numbers. (This is just as well, because the fastest-growing belief category in America is actually non-believers: from 1990 to 2001 their numbers increased from 14 million to 29 million.) Instead, they make a different claim, which is that religion has returned to the "public space", where people such as intellectuals, politicians and journalists debate and are influenced by the intellectual fashions of the day.

The authors themselves inhabit this space, which has been hostile to God for a long time. They note that, following World War II, the focus of intellectual life moved away from religion "to technocratic social science in the 1950s, to the counterculture in the 1960s, to the debate about the relationship between the market and the state in the 1980s". In the 1970s Harvard University designed a core curriculum to broaden undergraduates' minds before they went on to specialise. Religion was ignored.

Indeed, for decades religion was a subject best avoided in most well-educated company. Often it was mocked. Faced with this hostility, many Christians withdrew from the public space, sometimes embracing dogma and raw emotion. In its millennium edition in 2000, The Economist newspaper handed God the ultimate indignity: it published His obituary.

But that has all changed. The change began a long time ago but, as the authors note, it was "supercharged" by September 11, 2001. University courses on religion flourish, and God can be discussed in the public space once more. Believers can admit they believe, and even non-believers have realised God matters.

Micklethwait and Wooldridge are interested to find that the form of Christianity having a lot of success around the world now is American Protestantism, often known as evangelism. They believe this is because it is particularly suited to the opportunities offered by globalisation - it is, if you like, a fine export product. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the publication for which our authors work has been called the bible of the free market and of globalisation).

Because church and state have been separate in America since the revolution, churches have had to compete for adherents. This has led many to embrace marketing techniques (such as advertising and market research) and technology to a far greater extent than churches in countries that have some degree of state support. As a result, they are far more competitive and entrepreneurial, and the consumers respond accordingly: 44 per cent of Americans embrace a brand of Christianity different to the one they were brought up in.

The result of this process, according to our authors, is a superior product, which is now making huge inroads into the market share of the Catholic and other churches in South America, Africa and Asia.

This is interesting, and might provide one answer to the great puzzle of why Christianity has remained more popular in America than in Europe and Australia. Maybe American churches are just better at their job.

Another possible reason, implied rather than articulated in the book, is that religion is appealing (as a social and emotional prop) to people whose economic lives have been made more lonely and fraught because of deregulation, free trade and globalisation. If, as many believe, these economic changes are aspects of modernity, it might turn out that modernity, far from killing religion, will need it to survive.



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

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

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


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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Facebook 'sparked white flight from MySpace'

I suspect that the following report may be accurate. I have pages on both sites and I must say that almost the only messages I get via MySpace are semi-literate marriage proposals from black girls. Facebook messages, on the other hand, are generally in line with my interests. I use both sites very little, however

A "WHITE flight" to Facebook has turned MySpace into a black ghetto, according to a social analyst in the US. Danah Boyd said Facebook's arrival sparked a migration from MySpace of white users, the educated and the wealthy, while non-whites had stuck together on MySpace. MySpace is owned by News Corp, the parent company of the publisher of NEWS.com.au.

"It wasn't just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook," Ms Boyd, who works with Microsoft Research New England, told a crowd at New York's Democracy Forum. "We might as well face an uncomfortable reality ... what happened was modern day 'white flight'." Ms Boyd said MySpace had become a digital "ghetto". "The people there are more likely to be brown or black and to have a set of values that terrifies white society," she said.

Her interviews with American teenagers since 2006 showed that online migration mimicked the patterns of class groups' movements across cities. She found teens who preferred Facebook were far more likely to talk down to those who use MySpace than vice versa. Ms Boyd said her research showed high school students found Facebook "more cultured" and "less cheesy" than MySpace. "Any high school student who has a Facebook page will tell you MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious," she said.

Ms Boyd also warned that the class divisions on social sites will harden over time. "Their decision to (move to Facebook) was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic."


Pre-nups finally recognized in Britain

British courts are so "generous" to women that marriages there are sometimes compared to prostitution -- so a pre-nup is about the only protection a husband has got against a predatory woman. What, for instance, caused Heather Mills to deserve £24.3 million after 4 years of marriage to Paul McCartney?

One of Germany's richest women won a British court case on Thursday upholding a pre-nuptial agreement that denies her ex-husband a slice of her fortune, in a ruling hailed as ground-breaking. Katrin Radmacher, 39, a paper industry heiress, and Nicolas Granatino signed the agreement in Germany before marrying in London in 1998 that stipulated they would not claim money from each other if they split.

A court last year awarded Frenchman Granatino 5.6 million pounds ($11.39 million) of her 100 million pound ($A203.5 million) fortune after they divorced in 2006 despite the agreement. Radmacher asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling on the basis of the agreement, which was recognised in France and Germany but had not been legally binding in Britain.

In backing the pre-nuptial agreement on Thursday, Lord Justice Matthew Thorpe, one of three judges hearing the case, said courts should give "due weight" to such agreements when deciding future cases about dividing assets. He said he believed it had become "increasingly unrealistic" to regard such contracts as void.

The court also cut the earlier figure awarded to Granatino to about one million pounds as a lump sum, in lieu of maintenance. He will also receive a 2.5 million pound fund for a house to be returned to Radmacher when the youngest of their two daughters, who is now six, turns 22.

Radmacher said she was delighted with the decision, saying she and her ex-husband had made a promise about their financial arrangements, which had been broken when they split. "I am delighted that the court accepts that the agreement Nicolas and I entered into as intelligent adults before our marriage should be honoured," she said in a statement. "Ultimately, this case has been about what I regard as a broken promise. "The arrangements the court has ordered will enable our daughters to live comfortably when they are with their father, and that is the way it should be. "Nicolas and I made each other a promise and all I have been asking is that he be kept to it."

The couple's marriage reportedly floundered after Granatino, 37, gave up a lucrative job in the finance industry to become a low-paid biotechnology researcher at Oxford University.

Radmacher's solicitor hailed the ruling as a legal milestone, saying the court had recognised that such agreements made by couples were decisive in Britain. "Now, in a landmark judgment, three of the most highly-respected judges in the land have ruled that pre-nups can be decisive in determining the financial division on divorce," solicitor Ayesha Vardag said. "From today grown-ups can agree in the best of times what will happen in the worst of times."

The High Court ruled last year that it would be "manifestly unfair" to hold Granatino to the pre-nuptial agreement. The court also said then that the arrival of the couple's children had "so changed the landscape" that the pre-nuptial agreement should be set aside. But lawyers for Radmacher argued in the Court of Appeal that the freedom to agree a contract was "at the heart of all modern commercial and legal systems."

Radmacher had earlier agreed to pay off her former husband's debts of about 700,000 pounds ($1.42 million).


A Study in Defeat: Bruce Bawer calls out Western apologists for radical Islam

BOOK REVIEW of "Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom", by Bruce Bawer. Reviewed by JACOB LAKSIN

With the release of his new book, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, the American writer and critic Bruce Bawer (some of whose work has appeared in City Journal) may have committed a crime in his adoptive Norway. In 2005, Norway’s politically correct parliament passed the so-called Discrimination Act, a law that, among other curbs on free speech, criminalized “utterances” that may be “insulting” to those of certain religious beliefs. Since Surrender is a searing indictment of Western opinion makers, especially in the media, for capitulating to the rise of radical Islam in Europe, and since Islamic extremists are bound to take issue with the author’s appeal for a sterner defense of Western freedoms, it’s a real possibility that Bawer could be prosecuted for what he has written.

That it has come to this in politically progressive Norway makes Surrender urgent reading. It also serves to bolster Bawer’s chief contention: that many in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the United States, are prepared to roll back essential civil liberties in order to pacify (or so they hope) Muslim radicals. Bawer embarks on a broad offensive, counting leading political, religious, and academic figures among the defeatists. Mainly, though, he directs his rhetorical fire at the press. In their eagerness to forfeit the free-speech rights on which they depend—whether through self-censorship or through craven reporting that casts avowed Islamists as “moderates”—journalists may present the most agonizing illustration of Bawer’s theme that, for too many in the West, surrender is indeed an option.

In Bawer’s telling, the white flag first waved in 1989. That year, Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, earned him a fatwa from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. In his decree, Khomeini called on Muslims across the world to hunt down and kill Rushdie and anyone involved in the book’s publication “so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctities again.” The fatwa forced Rushdie into hiding and led to the murder of his Japanese translator. But while many writers rallied to Rushdie’s defense, some perversely blamed the novelist for provoking his own death sentence. Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper sneered that he “would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring Mr. Rushdie’s manners, were to waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them.” At the time, he writes, Bawer dismissed the Trevor-Roper view as an anomaly. Surely, he reasoned, most civilized people would defend free speech against its Islamist despisers. He was wrong.

Fast-forward to November 2004. Dutch filmmaker and provocateur Theo Van Gogh has just been savagely murdered on an Amsterdam street by Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri. The Dutch-born son of Moroccan immigrants, Bouyeri killed Van Gogh for the offense of making Submission, a documentary-style film highlighting the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. If Bouyeri had hoped to silence criticism of Islam, he succeeded: the response to this deadly act of censorship was more censorship. In the most depressingly ironic instance, shortly after Van Gogh’s death, Submission was withdrawn from a festival of censored films by its producer, Gijs van de Westelaken, who feared that it would incite Muslim violence. “Does this mean I’m yielding to terror?” asked Westelaken. He candidly answered his own question: “Yes.”

Similar scenes have played out across Europe. In January 2006, Vebjørn Selbekk, the editor of the small-circulation Christian journal Magazinet, became a public enemy in Norway when he reprinted the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had triggered an uproar in the Muslim world when they first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in the fall of 2005. Selbekk did so in protest against what he saw as a culture of self-censorship among Western newspapers, most of which refused to publish the offending caricatures. For a time, he stood by his decision, even as everyone from his fellow editors to Norway’s foreign minister pressed him to apologize. Ultimately, Selbekk, too, gave in, lamenting that he had not understood “how wounding” his decision had been for Muslims.

Bawer also condemns the Western press for downplaying the abundant evidence of extremism in Muslim communities. Of the many examples he provides—Surrender is meticulously sourced, and Bawer includes a comprehensive list of notes and quotations—the most outrageous may be a May 2007 Pew Research Center poll on Muslim attitudes. One of the poll’s more widely publicized findings was that 80 percent of young American Muslims opposed suicide bombings, a statistic presented as proof that, as a Washington Post headline trumpeted, Muslims are “opposed to extremism.” Few in the establishment press deigned to notice the disconcerting fact that a double-digit percentage of Muslims in the U.S. supported suicide terrorism. It was a spectacular case of what journalists call burying the lead.

Bawer finds many such cases in the course of his thorough—and thoroughly disheartening—account. In Amsterdam, a series of violent attacks on gays—often in broad daylight—has destroyed the city’s reputation as one of the most tolerant in Europe. Muslim immigrants from Morocco have committed most of the attacks, but this fact is apparently too controversial to mention, leaving the press to grasp for any explanation save the obvious one. The German magazine Der Spiegel demonstrated perfectly the absurd lengths to which the press will go to evade inconvenient facts. In 2007, the magazine’s website ran a story on Amsterdam’s anti-gay violence that found any number of ways to account for the attacks—perhaps society had stigmatized the perpetrators, or they were “struggling with their own sexual identity.” That the violence could have something to do with the attackers’ Islam-inspired hostility to homosexuality never came up.

Evasiveness of this sort often coexists with another media sin: the tendency to define Muslim moderation down. Take the high-profile case of globetrotting celebrity Islamist Tariq Ramadan. Time and again, Ramadan has belied his media-made reputation as a “moderate.” For instance, he has refused to condemn outright the Islamic practice of stoning women for adultery, advocating only a “moratorium,” while at the same time defending the “right” (often forced) of Muslim women to wear the veil. But to Stéphanie Giry, an editor at Foreign Affairs, Ramadan is merely encouraging “modesty among Muslim women.” The writer Ian Buruma has been equally generous. In a New York Times Magazine profile of Ramadan, he noted approvingly that “unlike some Islamic activists, Ramadan has not expressed any hostility to Jews in general.” If this is now the standard of moderation, then Bawer is surely right to scoff that the term “moderate Muslim” has come to denote “someone who might not stone an adulteress to death himself, but who would defend to the death another Muslim’s right to do so.”

It has become unacceptable to point all of this out. If there is one thing the media like less than challenging Islamic radicals in print or pixels, it’s being called out on their cowardice. Thus Bawer decries the oft-heard admonition to marginalize extremists “on both sides,” a refrain that more often than not draws a moral equivalence between Islamic terrorists and extremists and those who speak out against them. Bawer may not be entirely disinterested here: already, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet has denounced Surrender for perpetuating “foaming-at-the-mouth racist fantasies,” notwithstanding the reviewer’s notable failure to find evidence of either racism or fantasy in the book. But the fact that Bawer may have a score to settle with some of his more unscrupulous detractors hardly justifies their attempts to equate jihadism’s critics with its practitioners.

Surrender at times treads closely on the heels of Bawer’s 2006 book, While Europe Slept. The sections on Theo Van Gogh and the assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, especially, read like summaries of his earlier work. On the other hand, given the prominent role that both men have played in the debate over extremist Islam, some repetition is inevitable, and perhaps necessary. Moreover, because Bawer pulls no punches—he spiritedly dismisses one writer for composing a “breathtakingly mendacious tissue of calumnies”—his book is a bracing and lively read.

And even his critics cannot accuse Bawer of exaggeration. If you think the book’s title overstates his case, listen to Columbia University’s Mark Lilla, who instructed his readers in 2007 “to recognize that coping [with Islam] is the order of the day, not defending high principle, and . . . our expectations should remain low. So long as a sizeable population believes in the truth of a comprehensive political theology, its full political reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected.” Doubtless some see this as an admirable expression of pragmatism. Bawer rightly recognizes it, instead, as a declaration of defeat—and he, for one, is not about to give up the fight.



Two reports below

Nothing works with blacks -- and now Rudd knows it

Australian government policies towards Aborigines have oscillated between extreme paternalism and extreme permissiveness but nothing brings black behaviour up to a standard that whites regard as acceptable. Policy is now reduced to "data collection"! Blacks were actually at their healthiest and least self-damaging when they were living on missions run by the churches but there is never any official admission of that, of course. Some of us are old enough to remember those times, however, so we know. More detail on the report below here

The Prime Minister has admitted Australia hasn't got a clue about what's happening in its indigenous communities. Following the release of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report yesterday, Kevin Rudd says there's simply not enough statistical information to give governments a clear indication of what's happening.

More than two years since the Howard government announced its intervention into remote Northern Territory communities, the Productivity Commission report has found a worsening in child abuse among indigenous children. It's also found there's been no improvements in 80 per cent of the economic and social indicators, including literacy and numeracy.

So for the first time in Australian history, the states and territories have signed up to accountable targets.

The report was released at yesterday's COAG meeting in Darwin, during which Mr Rudd pledged more than $46 million over four years to improve data collection. The intervention in indigenous communities should be extended to Western Australia, the Opposition says. Closing the gap would take decades but extending the Northern Territory intervention - initiated by the previous Howard government - would help, said deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop. "I would like to see the intervention moved into Western Australia," she told ABC Television. [If it hasn't worked in one place, why transfer it elsewhere???]

The Labor Government has continued the [paternalist] intervention, which includes grog and pornography bans, extra policing, health checks and quarantining welfare payments.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in Kununurra in northern WA today, where he is expected to sign off on a $200 million local development package the Government says will help improve the lives of indigenous people.


Deaf black kids

The problems are normally treatable but the parents just don't take them to hospital -- so the hospital has to come to them

TEACHERS at a primary school a few hundred kilometres northwest of Brisbane wear microphones in the classroom because so many of the children have hearing problems. Up to 90 per cent of Cherbourg State School students have some form of treatable hearing loss because of chronic ear infections.

The issue is a challenge in indigenous communities across the country where overcrowded living conditions can foster the spread of disease, a situation Brisbane surgeon Chris Perry says is a "national disgrace". "It's a shame on the country that this is allowed to continue," he said. "If people don't hear, then they don't get an education. They leave school at 14 with the reading age of somebody in grade one or grade two and they're unemployable."

As The Courier-Mail reported on Monday, a surgical team visited Cherbourg last week, setting up a makeshift theatre to deal with some of the ear complaints.

Cherbourg State School's head of special needs, Vanessa Boal, said ear disease was a factor in truancy rates and misbehaviour. "Kids with significant hearing problems experience fatigue a lot quicker than other kids, struggling to get through the day, struggling to understand, struggling to communicate," she said. "Kids who aren't caught early enough in the long term have language developmental delays. If they don't succeed in the early years at school, we can't bring bring them back from the brink. "There's just not enough magic wands in the world to fix kids if we lose them at that early stage."

Queensland Health's Deadly Ears Program aims to cut the rate of ear disease among indigenous children, taking treatment normally performed in Brisbane or provincial centres to rural and remote communities. It was under this program that Dr Perry and his team went to Cherbourg. Nurse unit manager Anette Smith doubled as truck driver, transporting 340kg of surgical equipment from Brisbane to Cherbourg. She said the program relied on indigenous health workers screening local children for hearing problems and on parents taking responsibility for their children's health.

Although the program is still in its infancy, Ms Boal said the early signs were positive. "The fact that we now can do the minor surgeries here is just phenomenal," she said. "We've got better attendances from kids that we know have had ear issues. "Previously we would have lost those kids."

Ms Boel said tests on more than 100 children at Cherbourg had found 89 per cent had hearing issues.

Without the Deadly Ears Program, Dr Perry said many indigenous children would miss out on surgery, with the trip to Brisbane too onerous and expensive for carers. He wants the Federal Government to expand the program nationally. "Queensland Health deserves a pat on the back for this" he said. "They're doing something groundbreaking. But we need more money."



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

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

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


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Friday, July 03, 2009

The bitter fruit of Britain's politically correct policing

Britain's violent crime record is worse than any other country in the European union, it is revealed today. Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa - widely considered one of the world's most dangerous countries. The figures comes on the day new Home Secretary Alan Johnson makes his first major speech on crime, promising to be tough on loutish behaviour.

The Tories said Labour had presided over a decade of spiralling violence. In the decade following the party's election in 1997, the number of recorded violent attacks soared by 77 per cent to 1.158million - or more than two every minute. The figures, compiled from reports released by the European Commission and United Nations, also show:

* The UK has the second highest overall crime rate in the EU.

* It has a higher homicide rate than most of our western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

* The UK has the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU.

* It has the fourth highest burglary rate and the highest absolute number of burglaries in the EU, with double the number of offences than recorded in Germany and France.

But it is the naming of Britain as the most violent country in the EU that is most shocking. The analysis is based on the number of crimes per 100,000 residents. In the UK, there are 2,034 offences per 100,000 people, way ahead of second-placed Austria with a rate of 1,677. The U.S. has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, Canada 935, Australia 92 and South Africa 1,609.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is a damning indictment of this government's comprehensive failure over more than a decade to tackle the deep rooted social problems in our society, and the knock on effect on crime and anti-social behaviour. 'We're now on our fourth Home Secretary this parliament, and all we are getting is a rehash of old initiatives that didn't work the first time round. More than ever Britain needs a change of direction.'

The figures, compiled by the Tories, are considered the most accurate and up-to-date available. But criminologists say crime figures can be affected by many factors, including different criminal justice systems and differences in how crime is reported and measured. In Britain, an affray is considered a violent crime, while in other countries it will only be logged if a person is physically injured.

There are also degrees of violence. While the UK ranks above South Africa for all violent crime, South Africans suffer more than 20,000 murders each year - compared with Britain's 921 in 2007.

Experts say there are a number of reasons why violence is soaring in the UK. These include Labour's decision to relax the licensing laws to allow round-the-clock opening, which has led to a rise in the number of serious assaults taking place in the early hours of the morning.

But Police Minister David Hanson said: 'These figures are misleading. Levels of police recorded crime statistics from different countries are simply not comparable since they are affected by many factors, for example the recording of violent crime in other countries may not include behaviour that we would categorise as violent crime. 'Violent crime in England and Wales has fallen by almost a half a peak in 1995 but we are not complacent and know there is still work to do. That is why last year we published 'Saving lives. Reducing harm. Protecting the public. An Action Plan for Tackling Violence 2008-11'.'

The timing of the Europe-wide violence figures is a blow for Mr Johnson, who will today seek to reassert Labour's law and order credentials. In his first major speech on crime since becoming Home Secretary, Mr Johnson is expected to promise a concerted crack down on antisocial behaviour. He wants to set up a website to allow the public to see what is taking place in their neighbourhood, such as the number of louts who have been served with Asbos. Mr Johnson is also known to support early intervention to stop children going off the rails.


Church of England school bans girl from wearing crucifix - but allows Sikh pupils to wear bangles

A school told a child to remove a Christian cross she was wearing even though it lets Sikh children wear bangles as part of their religion. Lauren Grimshaw-Brown was told to take off a necklace with a cross on it because of health and safety fears. But the eight-year-old's furious mother has accused the school of double standards because they allow children following other faiths to wear jewellery on religious grounds.

The mother-of-two says Lauren and brother Callan, five, have always worn crosses at St Peter's CE School in Chorley, Lancashire. 'We're a Christian family and my children wear the necklaces underneath their tops,' she said. 'On Thursday Lauren was told by a teacher to take it off because apparently they're not allowed to wear jewellery. 'I could understand it if it was a fashion accessory or a High School Musical necklace, but it's part of our faith.'

Mrs Grimshaw-Brown complained directly to the headteacher, Helen Wright, who referred the matter to the school's chairman of governors, Father Atherton. He upheld the ban.

Mrs Grimshaw-Brown added: 'I received a letter in my child's reading folder. It said that if she had been a Sikh child she would be allowed to wear bangles because it's part of their religion. 'I've got absolutely no problem with any other religion wearing bangles or another item of jewellery, but why can't my daughter wear a necklace with a cross? It's a church-led school. 'The necklace is designed to come apart if it snags. The school has suggested she wear a brooch but surely that's more dangerous because of the pin. 'Lauren was really upset by this and I feel very let down.'

The letter to Mrs Grimshaw-Brown said: 'The prospectus makes clear that jewellery may not be worn except for earrings and watches. 'This is because there have been incidents in schools where hooped earrings, bracelets and necklaces have caused injuries to children when caught in outdoor play or physical activity. 'The prospectus makes it clear that school will allow jewellery where it is a necessary part of the religious faith of the child, i.e. Sikh families must wear bangles as one of the "five Ks", the religious rules for dress.'

Mrs Wright denied there was any discrimination against people following a Christian faith. 'We do want children to be proud of their Christian faith, therefore we would like to encourage them to wear crosses,' she added. 'The best solution in this case for children to be kept safe would be for pupils to wear a brooch - in fact some children already do.'


Multiculturalism and the Case of the Unwanted Hello

Must not say "Hello" to a Muslim woman?

The Islamist campaign to undermine and ultimately supplant Western norms is waged on some of the most mundane battlefields. For example, a recent essay by Matthew Coutts describes a fascinating and instructive clash that arose in a residential hallway:
When the landlady of my Toronto apartment building said an outraged neighbor had filed a complaint about me over an apparently inappropriate hallway interaction with his wife, my mind raced through the countless conversations I've had with fellow tenants, none of which seemed a possible source of offense.

It turns out, it wasn't a salacious transaction that had caused the complaint, but rather a neighborly and — to me — entirely forgettable greeting, little more than a brief "good morning" as I passed my neighbors on the way to work.

Still, it was enough of an affront for the man — once a doctor somewhere in the Middle East, my landlady clarified — to feel I had broken a cultural taboo. The incident started an awkward feud which has involved warnings not to repeat my indiscretion and one face-to-face shouting match, which included allusions to my impending death.
This episode illuminates several aspects of radical Islam's growing foothold in the West, such as the treatment of women as property and the eagerness to surrender to Islamist demands. (Coutts writes that his landlady advised him to "turn my back to the couple as they pass, never make eye contact, and never hold the elevator for them, no matter what.")

The collision between Coutts' "prairie upbringing" and his neighbors' "Muslim upbringing" also highlights a broader but closely related struggle over whether it is the individual or the group that should serve as the central building block of society. Coutts embodies the former view; by instinct, he sees the woman in the hallway as just another human being worthy of acknowledgment, no different than anyone else. In contrast, to Islamists and many of their multicultural allies, the author's first steps should have been to ascertain the race, religion, etc. of the couple and then modify his behavior according to presumed sensitivities.

This mindset is a recipe for discord, however, as it has a way of swelling localized disputes into wider, intergroup friction. Furthermore, few have the energy to keep track of the myriad, often contradictory rules that, we are told, must govern our interactions with the various groups we might encounter in the hallways of our lives. Indeed, Coutts just as easily could have raised Islamist hackles if he had started off by ignoring the woman; after all, CAIR lists "exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political or social process" as evidence of Islamophobia — and no "social process" is more mainstream than greeting one's neighbors.

In the end, Coutts decided to keep saying hello to others, determined not to let an Islamist's objections change the way he deals with the world. Western leaders could learn a lot from him.


Corrupt black Congresscritters trying to avoid scrutiny

Playing the race card

An apparent effort by the Congressional Black Caucus to deter ethics investigations of its membership is drawing sharp criticism from members of the black leadership group Project 21. CBC members reportedly are considering changes to the law authorizing the House Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, in retaliation for the OCE referring allegations against several CBC members to the House Ethics Committee.

CBC members reportedly also have complained that the OCE does not have enough minority staffers, adding a racial element to the apparent retaliation.

"What does the racial or ethnic makeup of the Office of Congressional Ethics have to do with the fact that these members of the Congressional Black Caucus may have violated ethics laws? It has absolutely no bearing on the charge, and to claim that is a lack of diversity at the OCE is playing the race card plain and simple," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks, also a commentator for Pajamas Television. "It is laughable that CBC members are charging the OCE with some sort of racial targeting. The OCE was created by Speaker Pelosi, someone who shamelessly bends over backwards to be politically correct."

Of the three investigative counsels hired by the OCE, one is black. The chairman of the formal Ethics Committee investigation sparked by the OCE referral is a black Member of Congress, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), a CBC member.

"A legitimate complaint has been filed and an investigation has begun, but political pressure is now being applied to cover up the allegations and brush everything under the rug," said Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II. "So much for those promises to 'drain the swamp' and root out the 'culture of corruption.' It seems that swamp has turned into a hot tub for them rather quickly."

"President Obama has long proclaimed that it is special interest lobbyists who are the root of what is wrong with our federal government. This latest lapse in congressional sensibilities exposes the fact that it is wayward members of Congress themselves, whether Republican or Democrat, who pose the greatest threat to good government for the citizens of this country," said Project 21 member John Meredith. "The idea of disbanding the one avenue the citizens of this great nation have to track congressional malfeasance is an affront to the pledge of transparency in government and the use of the race card to facilitate the closing of the Office of Congressional Ethics is insulting not only to black people but to people of every color."

The controversy was sparked by an ethics complaint filed with the OCE by National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty.

In November 2008, Flaherty attended the "Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference" on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Although the conference officially was sponsored by the Carib News Foundation, according to Flaherty, signs and materials present indicate the event was funded by Citigroup, Pfizer, American Airlines, Verizon, IBM and other large corporations with business before Congress. CBC members Charles Rangel (D-NY), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Delegate Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) attended the event.

Members of Congress have been prohibited since 2007 from taking funded trips of over two days if those trips are paid for or coordinated by companies that "employ or retain a registered lobbyist."

Flaherty alerted the OCE. In his letter to the OCE, Flaherty noted: "My characterization of the trip as a 'junket' is based on my observation that the sessions were lightly attended. Most attendees spend significant time at the beach or the pool. Members of Congress attended the sessions when they had a speaking role." Flaherty also said any suggestion that attendees could not see evidence of corporate involvement was "implausible."


Australia: Homosexuals want it both ways

IF IT'S OK for a couple of hundred men to prance along Oxford St with feather dusters strapped to their backsides during the Mardi Gras, who could be offended by comic Sacha Baron Cohen dressing up like a homosexual fashion designer and camping it up?

Sydney's self-anointed guardians of the homosexual flame, that's who. Who are they? Hairdresser Troy Thompson (no jokes about stereotypical gay occupations, please) and homosexual activist and hospitality worker Gary Burns, that's who. What is their complaint? They claim that the Bruno character in Cohen's latest movie will reinforce the straight community's stereotypical view of homosexuals as a group of mincing, lisping, limp-wristed queers and increase prejudice which could cause sniggering and ridicule.

Hold on, doesn't the annual Mardi Gras do more than enough to reinforce that view already? Most Australians would know some homosexuals - male or female - who don't fit the stereotype perpetuated by the Mardi Gras and the more extreme members of the homosexual community generally. There are lesbians who don't have basin hair cuts, who don't roll their own cigarettes and who don't wear workman's overalls.

And there are homosexual men who don't work in hair salons, wave their hands about as they speak or dance to Kylie Minogue's music, but the homosexual organisations don't seem to see them.

The Mardi Gras crowd likes to attract attention. For years, Mardi Gras organisers have claimed that their parade draws such a huge audience that, realistically, if everyone they boasted shows up actually did show up they could not fit on Oxford St even if they were jammed cheek-to-cheek, as it were. The organisers like to proclaim they are proudly out there, sometimes they are offensively out there. There is no other display of high-camp behaviour in the homosexual world that matches the Mardi Gras, even if it is getting a little tedious with its tired old attacks on Christianity (but not Islam) and its stereotypical marching boys and dancing queens.

The Mardi Gras mob get grants from the NSW Government and the Sydney City Council to fund this display of stereotypes. Shouldn't Thompson and Burns be objecting to the expenditure of public money on an event that only reinforces the high-camp image of the gay community?

Burns is a serial litigant. He sued John Laws for using the expression "pillow-biter" during a program and The Footy Show for lampooning Elton John. The origin of the term "pillow-biter" is interesting. It came to public notoriety when British MP Jeremy Thorpe, a former leader of the UK Liberal Party (not to be in any way confused with the Australian Liberals) was accused of having a homosexual affair with a model, Norman Scott. During an extraordinary trial, Scott claimed that Thorpe had subjected him to various sex acts during which he had no recourse but to "bite a pillow". Thorpe was acquitted but the English language embraced a new expression.

I don't know whether or not Baron Cohen's new film Bruno promotes a stereotypical view of homosexuals. I haven't seen it. But I do know that it would have to work hard to beat the Mardi Gras' record for promoting the stereotypical perspective.

What Thompson and Burns are trying to do is reshape the homosexual stereotype to fit their ideal. This is a big task that they are clearly unsuited for. "We have people coming over to our country stereotyping us in this imagery," Burns said of Bruno. "The majority of gay men are not like him. People will continue to hold prejudice against gay men as that's the stereotype imagery that causes ridicule and sniggering."

Homosexuals come in most shapes and sizes. They are not universally limp-wristed, nor do they all lisp, but nor are they uniformly creative or musical or good dancers. They are just people. Some of them, clearly, like to prance up Oxford St. Many of them don't.

If Thompson and Burns don't like the idea of Bruno, they should be even angrier about the Mardi Gras but I can't find any evidence that either of them have ever complained about the Mardi Gras' depiction of their friends.

Baron Cohen has done it again. He has outraged a minority, has exposed a deep vein of hypocrisy and probably attracted more viewers than he thought would ever pay to see Bruno.



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

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

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


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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chiropractic: A brave scientist and an epic court battle: How Britain's libel laws are threatening free speech

With his round, John Lennon-style specs and nerdish good looks, physicist Simon Singh is an unlikely hero. As one of the country's most acclaimed science writers, he has spent much of his 45 years cloistered in his Home Counties study penning Number One bestsellers on mathematical conundrums, code-breaking and the Big Bang theory. Turning his hand to alternative medicine, last year he published a book called Trick Or Treatment? that included a chapter on the history of chiropractic therapy (the manipulation of the spine to realign the back), which was invented by grocer and spiritual healer Daniel David Palmer in 1890s America.

Inspired by the 'miraculous' recovery of a deaf man whom he treated by manipulating or 'racking' his back, Palmer said that 95 per cent of all diseases are caused by trapped vertebrae. Suddenly, the therapy (which takes its name from the Greek word for hand) became a near-religion, with Palmer boasting he was a successor to Christ and Mohammed. He even practised vigorous 'racking' on his own children, which led to him beingrrested and jailed for cruelty. Palmer's ideas caught on and, in 1925, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was set up and several clinics opened specialising in the treatment. Chiropractors were able, it seemed, to cure a myriad of ailments and began to broaden their therapies. Recently, the association has said that even children suffering from colic, eating problems, ear infections and asthma can be helped.

However, many in the traditional medical profession view the therapy with deep suspicion. Though the General Medical Council and the Royal College of General Practitioners advocate its use - especially for back pain - some scientists say there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than other forms of back massage. This has led to widespread debate in the medical world, with some doctors refusing to refer patients to chiropractors, claiming the treatment does not work and can even cause harm.

In his book, Dr Singh questioned whether chiropractors could really achieve the results they claim. Later, in a column in the Guardian newspaper, he went further, saying the therapies for children were 'bogus'. Unsurprisingly, he came under an avalanche of criticism and the BCA demanded an apology and a retraction. When it received neither from Dr Singh, it decided to sue him personally for libel.

Dr Singh's battle serves as a frightening example of what happens when a ruthless body tries to crush anyone who questions its power or expertise. The ensuing row has also shone a light on English libel law, raising the question of whether it acts as a barrier to critical comment and public debate.

On Singh's side are some of the country's most illustrious and influential luminaries of science, the legal profession and showbusiness. They include former Government chief scientist Sir David King, the geneticist Steve Jones, biologist Richard Dawkins, leading QC Baroness Kennedy, the actors Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais, and comedian Harry Hill (a former doctor).

Pitted against them is the BCA, which won the preliminary round with a judgment last month in the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Eady, the country's most senior libel judge, who is responsible for a series of controversial rulings. Justice Eady's critics accuse him of creating, almost single-handedly, a privacy law in Britain as a result of his interpretations of the 1998 Human Rights Act, in which he invariably seems to give more weight to privacy than to freedom of expression.

Most notably, Justice Eady ruled in a case involving Formula One boss Max Mosley that it was wrong for the News of the World to expose his liking for sadomasochistic orgies with paid 'professional dominatrices', saying: 'I accept that such behaviour is viewed by some people with distaste and moral disapproval, but in the light of modern rights-based jurisprudence that does not provide any justification for the intrusion on the personal privacy of the claimant.'

In another high-profile case, he stopped a cuckolded husband selling his story to the Press about a sporting celebrity who had seduced the husband's wife. Adulterers, said the judge, deserve privacy like anyone else. Via a succession of such rulings, the judge has built up a formidable body of case law upon which public figures can rely when they wish to gag newspapers or publishers. As a result, an increasing number of foreigners have succeeded in using the English courts to launch defamation cases, even if they - or their claims - have little to do with this country. Indeed, so serious has this problem become that the U.S. Congress - worried about the freedom of expression of Americans - is passing legislation to provide its citizens with immunity from British libel courts.

No doubt Simon Singh bore all this in mind when the libel case against him started last month. But as he explained this week: 'The hearing was supposed to last a day and a half. The idea was to have a preliminary ruling on the "meaning" of my article, so that I would know exactly what I would have to defend at the subsequent full trial. 'However, Mr Justice Eady suddenly stopped everything and said he had made up his mind already. It was all over in a morning. 'First, he decided that my article on the Guardian's comment pages was fact and not comment. 'Second, he said that it contained "the plainest allegation of dishonesty...and accused them (the BCA) of thoroughly disreputable conduct". 'In other words, according to his ruling, my article said the BCA was deliberately dishonest in promoting fake treatments as a matter of fact. 'This is unfortunate. Although I feel that chiropractors are deluded and reckless, I was not suggesting that they are dishonest.'

Of course, Singh and his supporters (who believe that free speech - the very cornerstone of British democracy - is at stake) are furious. His position is made worse by the fact that, under English law, anyone accused of libel is deemed guilty until proven innocent, unlike the defendant in a criminal case, where the burden of proof is the other way round. This means that he must prove the accuracy of his comments, as opposed to the chiropractic association proving that he is wrong.

As he says: 'It falls to the unfortunate defendant to prove before the court, often at considerable expense, that their statement was accurate. Also, fighting a defamation action in a London court costs many, many times the average for the rest of Europe. 'This has the effect of turning the legal system into a high-stakes poker game in which having good cards is not enough.'

Dr Singh is applying to the Court of Appeal in the hope that Mr Justice Eady's judgment can be challenged. If he loses that application, he plans to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming under Article 10 that his own freedom of expression has been infringed.

Meanwhile, 10,000 people have signed a petition backing him. Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, a charity promoting literature and human rights, says: 'You know there's something badly wrong with the libel law when a serious scientific writer is dragged through the courts for something he didn't even mean to say.' He explains that Simon Singh's only mistake was not to define clearly what he meant by bogus. 'He did not distinguish between " ineffective" and "fraudulent" treatments, both of which might equally be termed "bogus". The real culprit here is the rich English language and the arcane law of libel.'

The former Government scientist Sir David King adds: 'It is ridiculous that a legal and outdated definition of a word has been used to hinder and discourage scientific debate. We must be able to fairly and reasonably challenge ideas without the fear of legal intimidation. This sort of thing only brings the law into disrepute.'

Professor Richard Dawkins, the eminent biologist and controversial atheist author of The God Delusion, says: 'The English libel laws are ridiculed as an international charter for litigious mountebanks, and the effects are especially pernicious where science is concerned.'

Moreover, Singh is not alone in holding sceptical views about the work done by chiropractors. A few weeks ago, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against a chiropractor who claimed he could treat children suffering from colic and learning difficulties.

Singh's backers have also lodged a formal complaint against each chiropractor working in Britain whom they perceive to be in breach of the advertising code over the treatment of children. Five hundred complaints have been sent to the General Chiropractic Council in the past few weeks. And, in a clear sign that the industry is worried, it emerged this week that another professional body representing chiropractors - the McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA) - has emailed its members saying they must beware of calling themselves 'doctors' if they are not properly qualified. The email adds: 'Remove all the MCA patient information leaflets, or any leaflets of your own, that state you treat whiplash, colic or other childhood problems at your clinic. DO NOT USE until further notice.'

In what is clearly a response to the Singh case, members of the MCA have also been ordered to close down their websites to protect themselves from a 'witch-hunt'. Even so, the Mail has discovered that some chiropractors are still continuing to advertise treatments for children. For example, a quick search on Google reveals the website of a busy clinic in the South of England proclaiming: 'A spinal check-up could be one of the most important of your child's life. With a healthy spinal column, a child's body can better deal with sore throats, ear infections, stomachaches, fevers and the hundred-andone other problems that often make up young life.'

As for the BCA, it is to continue the libel case against Singh. It has declared: 'In the course of this litigation, the BCA has disclosed to the courts a plethora of medical evidence showing that the treatments work and that the risk associated with the treatments is minimal, if, indeed, there is any risk at all. 'Dr Singh stated that the BCA promotes treatments that are positively dangerous. He cannot justify his stance and has not made any attempt to do so. Therefore, an apology continues to be sought, along with damages and costs.'

So what of the future for Dr Singh? He has already spent £100,000 of his own money to defend himself in the ill-fated High Court hearing that lasted just three hours. If he is not allowed to appeal, damages again him will be announced and could run into thousands of pounds more. No wonder he observes bitterly: 'There is something fundamentally wrong with libel laws that have such a chilling effect on journalists, whether they write about science or anything else. 'Even large publishers are intimidated by the huge expense of fighting a libel battle. Articles that should be defended are dropped, and articles that should be written are shelved before they are even published because of potential defamation action.'

Singh, who lives in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, with his journalist wife, says: 'If I lose my case, it will only further discourage other journalists - or anyone else - from criticising individuals and organisations in relation to matters of public interest.'

He is not an easy opponent. He has a brilliant mind, has won an MBE for his services to science and is receiving determined support from a growing phalanx of experts, politicians, scientists, lawyers and celebrities. In this contest - which has gone well beyond the world of Daniel David Palmer's original 'racking' cure in 1895 - he is unlikely to go away quietly. As he says: 'I still believe my article was reasonable, fair and important in terms of informing parents about the lack of evidence relating to chiropractic treatment for some childhood conditions. I am determined to continue.'

Simon Singh may be a surprise figurehead for such an epic battle, but he won't stop until he has guaranteed that the principle of free speech - which is something about which judges such as Justice Eady seem remarkably nonchalant - remains at the very heart of our British way of life.


Canterbury is sufficiently gay, council inspectors rule

One of Britain's most historic cities, Canterbury, has been told it is sufficiently gay – after a complaint sparked a two-month investigation costing thousands of pounds.

A government watchdog decided that Canterbury in Kent does enough to promote homosexual culture, rejecting a complaint by local activists. The Local Government Ombudsman – who asked for the city's council to provide evidence of how it supported the gay community – said it was satisfied the pink pound was being catered for.

As part of the investigation, the council had to prove its inclusiveness by giving details of "touring plays and musicals, for example, which would be of interest to the LGBT community". And it had to show that it had "put forward suggestions for small events that it might help fund, as well as proposals for other events such as exhibitions".

Rob Davies, spokesman for the council, said: "Obviously we're delighted with the outcome of the investigation. "We feel we do a great deal for the gay community in Canterbury and we have always tried to support various gay events and promotions." "But at the same time it is not the duty of any council to set up a gay bar – that's not what councils do."

The two-month investigation began at the end of April after a letter was sent from two representatives of Pride in Canterbury. Chairman Andrew Brettell lodged a formal complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman claiming his initial letter to the council in November fell on deaf ears. Mr Brettell, in his 60s, said last month: "We do not believe the council want a thriving LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community in our city. The impression I get is that the council just doesn't want to know.

"I get the feeling it is precious because Canterbury has a cathedral and history. I think they think the gay community will turn it into Sodom and Gomorrah."


Black Activists Praise Supreme Court's Affirmative Action Decision

Justices' Ruling Throws Sotomayor Nomination into Serious Question

With the U.S. Supreme Court dealing a stinging blow to race-based employment practices, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are praising the Ricci v. DeStefano decision as a step toward removing the racial trappings of a by-gone era and putting all Americans on equal footing.

"It was clear to this Court that barring people from promotion because of the color of their skin is wrong. The only downside is that four justices still cling to an outmoded and discriminatory line of thought," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "True equality allows people to rise and fall on their merits. That's what this decision protects. How can one oppose such fairness?"

In a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed the lower court ruling, barring the use of race as the sole factor in promotions. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify the City's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions."

The decision also casts serious doubt on the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. She was a member of the appeals court panel that issued the one-paragraph opinion overturned today. Now, she must explain to senators how she could be so much at odds with her potential future colleagues.

"Justice is supposed to be blind, but the opinion she joined in the Ricci case - now overturned by the Supreme Court - shows Sonia Sotomayor believes justice should be based on ethnicity," added Project 21's Massie. "Her ruling in Ricci is an unambiguous example of her placing her feelings and personal prejudices above what the law dictates or allows."

The Ricci case revolves around a 2003 promotions exam given to firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut. After the tests were scored, only two Hispanics and no blacks scored high enough to qualify for promotion. After black and Hispanic activists pushed to have the test results thrown out, the city's Civil Service Commission effectively did so by deadlocking 2-2 on the decision to certify the exam.

After the results of the exam were set aside by the city, 20 New Haven firefighters - one Hispanic and 19 white - sued based on the claim of reverse discrimination. The city was granted summary judgment at the district court level, and a panel of judges that included current U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sided with the lower court in a eight-sentence opinion that called the previous opinion allowing the city to throw out the test scores based on race "thorough, thoughtful and well-reasoned."

In a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote of the question of empathy for those passed over: "But 'sympathy' is not what petitioners have a right to demand. What they have a right to demand is evenhanded enforcement of the law... And that is what, until today's decision, has been denied them."


Women are their own harshest critcs

Forget the "sisterhood"

In a few weeks, I will be poolside with a lot of women I have never met. In other words, I don’t yet know what the level of competition will be: am I going to be in the average category, or will I compare really badly with the other assembled bikini bodies? Do I have to give up all carbs, as of now? Or just upgrade the bikini? There will be men on this holiday too, yes. Loads of them. But have I thought about their reaction to me in swimwear, once? As if.

Last week, we learnt (or had confirmed) that men are really quite uncritical when it comes to women’s bodies. According to tests carried out on a bunch of lusty Ozzie students, 40in hips and short legs are no obstacle to attraction. The majority of those surveyed actively preferred the 5ft 4in, size 14 Miss Averages to the Playboy centrefolds and top models. Yay! Put out the bunting! What a result for those of us who thought we had to be Lara Croft to get a look-in. But the relief was short-lived. Within minutes, we’d all forgotten about the scientifically proven evidence and were back to worrying about whether our bums look big and our thighs dimply.

The problem is twofold. In the first place, we don’t really care what men think because we don’t believe them. (Look at Brad: he said he liked the girl next door, albeit Hollywood-style, and then he went off with Lara Croft.) And, even if we did believe them, we are looking for affirmation from another, hypercritical source: women.

The fact is, women have their own separate standard for looks. We always have had. We think girls are beautiful whom men think are weird. We think clothes are fabulous that men find hilarious. We know that smudgy eyes and Balmain jackets and snakeskin heels are hot, even if men insist they prefer us in bias-cut dresses with shiny wavy hair and a pair of flip-flops. We have our own rigid definitions of sexy — Kate Moss is sexy, and if any man dares to say: “But what about the scrawny knees?” we just assume he’s insensitive to what’s what. We’ll allow Nigella, but not Sarah Beeny. We insist on Jane Birkin and Tilda Swinton. When our menfolk occasionally mutter (as they do): “I think I’d rather have Myleene in the M&S ad, given the choice,” we refuse to take them seriously. Even when it comes to mutilating our bodies to give them Barbie doll proportions, it’s hardly ever men’s preferences driving the decision. (Remember the stories of Peter Andre pleading with Jordan to lay off the operations.)

It is genuinely comforting to know that there’s one sex out there who wants us to be ourselves and not stress about perfection. It’s just a pity it’s not the one that really matters.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"What has gone wrong in society as a whole?"

Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, attempts to answer the question:

I believe we have lost our traditional sense of morality. I do not mean that we are less moral than our grandparents. We care about things they hardly thought about: world poverty, inequality, global warming and the loss of biodiversity. We are more tolerant than they were.

But note this: the things we care about are vast, distant, global, remote. They are problems that require the co-ordinated action of millions, perhaps billions of people. The difference we as individuals can make to any one of them is minimal. That does not mean they are not important: they are. But they are issues of politics, not of morality in the conventional sense.

When it comes to personal behaviour we have now come to believe that there is no right and wrong. Instead, there are choices. The market facilitates those choices. The State handles the consequences, picking up the pieces when they go wrong.

The idea that there may be things we would like to do and can afford to do but which we should not do, because they are dishonourable and a betrayal of trust, has come to seem outmoded. ...

Concepts like duty, obligation, responsibility and honour have come to seem antiquated and irrelevant. Emotions like guilt, shame, contrition and remorse have been deleted from our vocabulary, for are we not all entitled to self-esteem? The still, small voice of conscience is rarely heard these days. Conscience has been outsourced, delegated away....

Two extraordinarily farsighted thinkers foresaw all this in the 1950s. The first was the American sociologist David Riesman, who argued that we were moving from an inner-directed society to an other-directed one.

An inner-directed society is one where people have an internalised sense of right and wrong. An other-directed society is one in which people take their cues from what other people do. Only in the latter can you have a situation in which people say: “If everyone else is doing it, it can’t be wrong.”

The second was the English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, who argued that morality had become incoherent because we had lost the foundation on which it was built. Words like obligation and ought belonged to a culture in which people believed that there was such a thing as a divine law: the belief shared by Jews, the Greek Stoics and Christians. Lose this and the words themselves lose their meaning. It is, she said, as if the word criminal remained when the criminal law had been abolished and forgotten.


Female bigotry

"There is discrimination against female playwrights in the theater community," claims Emily Sands, a Princeton economics student who last week presented a study on the topic in a performance-art piece of sorts at a New York theater. But her study, as described by the New York Times, calls the truth of that statement into question:
Ms. Sands sent identical scripts to artistic directors and literary managers around the country. The only difference was that half named a man as the writer (for example, Michael Walker), while half named a woman (i.e., Mary Walker). It turned out that Mary's scripts received significantly worse ratings in terms of quality, economic prospects and audience response than Michael's. The biggest surprise? "These results are driven exclusively by the responses of female artistic directors and literary managers," Ms. Sands said.
Amid the gasps from the audience, an incredulous voice called out, "Say that again?" Ms. Sands put it another way: "Men rate men and women playwrights exactly the same."

Ms. Sands was reluctant to explain the responses in terms of discrimination, suggesting instead that artistic directors who are women perhaps possess a greater awareness of the barriers female playwrights face. On the surface, this doesn't seem to make sense. How would "awareness of the barriers female playwrights face" lead an artistic director to rate work attributed to women less favorably than work attributed to men? (All the scripts in the study were actually written by women.)

It turns out this is explained in the actual study, according to which the female artistic directors' lower ratings are based on their perceptions of how the scripts will be received by others:
Female respondents believe a script purportedly written by women will be perceived by the theater community to be of lower overall quality. . .

Female respondents also deem purportedly female-written works to have poorer economic prospects and to face both customer and worker discrimination.

Although female respondents report being approximately equally likely to produce a script in their own theaters irrespective of playwright gender, they perceive a script to be less likely to be produced by the theater community at large and to be less supported by their own marketing directors when the pen-name is female. Moreover, female respondents believe that a female-written script will have less audience appeal and that crew members will be less eager to work on the script. Finally, perhaps as a result of the perceived customer and worker discrimination, female respondents deem a script bearing a female pen-name to fit less well with their theaters.
The study did not evaluate whether the female artistic directors were accurate in their perceptions of the preferences of theatergoers, crewmen and marketing directors.


All I wanted was a parcel. I got an earful

By Giles Coren

One bright, dusty, midsummer-quiet afternoon last week the doorbell rang and I looked out of the window (to avoid making the long descent from study to street only to find a kid with a box of J Cloths for sale or some pair of credulous bozos with good news about the Lord) and saw that it was the postman.

Well, not exactly the postman. What I had seen was a Parcelforce van, which is better still. Now that Parcelforce is the large-object wing of the Post Office, the Parcelforce guy is more exciting than Postie himself, since Postie is now protected by safety-in-the-workplace guidelines from carrying anything that I might eat, drink, read or hang on the wall.

So I bustled to the door full of the joy of the day, ready to hail the fellow with my breeziest “good afternoon” and take delivery of whatever jolliness he had in his bag. But as I opened it, my hair and whiskers were fair blown back by loud music, a thumping beat and the shouted words: “I’m gonna **** you, bitch! Yeah, bitch! Yeah bitch! I’m gonna **** you, bitch! Yeah, bitch! Yeah, bitch!”

I was more than a little startled. The postman in question, however, a wiry, sullen-looking fellow, maybe 25 years old, with a Parcelforce beanie pulled low on his brow, seemed blissfully unbothered as he wordlessly handed me an electronic thing to sign. And indeed, when I looked out past him towards the noise, I saw that it emanated from his own vehicle, the aforementioned little red van, as little and red as Postman Pat’s, which was double-parked outside my house, in my quiet suburban street, with the windows open and this loud, aggressive rap booming from it: “I’m gonna **** you, bitch! Yeah, bitch! Yeah bitch!”

As he held the electronic thing in my face, the postman (and I insist on calling him a postman, despite his no doubt being officially known at Parcelforce as a “delivery solutions operative”, or some such, because he was delivering my post and was in the pay of Royal Mail Group Ltd) was actually nodding his head to this vile music.

When I was a kid, our postman, Derek, used to whistle as he came down the path with our letters. He may have been whistling a tune whose original words were, “I’m gonna **** you, bitch!” but I doubt it. It was usually Colonel Bogey.

I honestly didn’t know where to look. My house is 50 yards from a primary school. I might have been a little old lady (more than likely if you’re looking for a front door to be answered at three in the afternoon) or a mother with children. How can it possibly be acceptable for a man from the Royal Mail, the Royal bloody Mail, going about what is in theory Her Majesty’s business, to be declaring as he rings your mother’s doorbell, my mother’s doorbell, anybody’s mother’s doorbell, on a quiet June afternoon: “I’m gonna **** you, bitch! Yeah, bitch! Yeah bitch!”?

The man can listen to that kind of sick, sexist drivel in his own time, if he wants. And I dare say that the manager of whatever rap band it was he was listening to will have some excuse up his sleeve about how the song only reflects the sexist and aggressive mores of the street, without specifically endorsing them, but, I swear, if he showed up round my place with that kind of specious bilge I would specifically endorse his face for him.

I grasp that people under 25, people born into the iPod age, cannot conceive of music as anything but a constant backdrop. Music is no longer a thing to be enjoyed for its own sake, at gigs and festivals and in pubs and clubs and at home on a stereo, but is a vain and impotent declaration of self to be blared from cars and phones and laptops and headsets at all times — a constant somatic comfort to the dull, blunt, flabby modern brain. But to crawl the streets of the city playing offensive rap music on full volume with the windows wound down is the sort of carry-on you expect from teenage hoodlums, stabby little respec’-seekers and bug-eyed gang-rapists on crack. Not an employee of the Royal Mail. Not your bloody postman.

I didn’t know what to say to the man. So I didn’t say anything. Maybe if I had he would have shanked me for dissing his tunes. I don’t know, maybe that’s what they teach postmen to do these days.

Maybe, with all these threats to its business from e-mail and private sector courier companies, the Post Office is planning to go a different way to modernise. Maybe it is going to train postmen to carry blades, slouch down the street with their trousers round their knees, pouting and scowling and playing rape anthems on their phones, and asking people what they are staring at, so that they can stab them to death.

Or, I don’t know, maybe, “I’m gonna **** you, bitch! Yeah bitch! Yeah bitch!” is the message the Royal Mail is really trying to send us.

The tune, and its bone-headed, soul-sickening lyrics, stayed with me all day. Try how I might, I simply could not dislodge it from my brain, even with a constant, quiet, wistful repetition of “Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his black and white cat . . .”


Muslim values at work -- in Australia

A man used a butcher's knife to stab his stepdaughter up to 20 times because he believed she was a "slut" who was interfering in his marriage, a court has heard. Khaled Ibrahim Mohamed Ellaimouny, 38, was today jailed for 12 years for the attempted murder of his stepdaughter Amanda Lee Smith, who was 24 when her stepfather stabbed her in the chest, arms, legs and face as she sat on the lounge of the family's Shailer Park home in January 2007.

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane, Crown prosecutor Philip McCarthy said Ellaimouny, an Egyptian national who married Ms Smith's mother after meeting her online, moved in to the Smith family home in January 2006. Mr McCarthy said Ellaimouny, who worked as a chef at a restaurant in the Logan area, got along well with his stepdaughter until late 2006 when he discovered semi-nude photos of her and her boyfriend on a family computer and began referring to her during arguments with Ms Smith's mother as "the slut daughter."

Following marital troubles in late 2006, Ellaimouny moved out of the home. He met with his wife at a local tavern on January 14 and told her to choose between him and her daughter, whom he claimed was interfering in their marriage. He later turned up at the family home where during an argument he spat in Ms Smith's face and slapped her before she and her mother locked him out of the house. However Ellaimouny got in through a side door, grabbed a butcher's knife with a 21cm-long blade from the kitchen and screamed "Now I'm going to kill the bitch" before stabbing and slashing Ms Smith's chest and arms, Mr McCarthy said. "You've ruined my f---ing life; I want you to die," Ellaimouny reportedly said.

Friends of Ms Smith arrived at the house as Ellaimouny was leaving, covered in a blood and carrying the bloodied knife. He allegedly told them: "I stabbed the slut. I wanted to kill her, but unfortunately she's still breathing."

Ms Smith was taken to hospital where she was treated for 20 wounds, including a severed radial artery of her right arm, severed nerves and a 4cm gash into her lung cavity.

Mr McCarthy said Ellaimouny told his wife after the incident: "I stabbed her because she's a f---ing slut, she deserved that. All I wanted to do ... just get rid of her." On the first day of his trial today, Ellaimouny pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder and a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, which related to him sending a letter from jail encouraging his wife to convince Ms Smith not to proceed with charges against him.

Justice John Byrne said the attack upon Ms Smith was "frenzied and sustained" and would have been "a terrifying experience for her." "She is fortunate to have survived," he said. He sentenced Ellaimouny to 12 years behind bars and declared him a serious violent offender, which means he must serve 80 per cent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. He will be deported to Egypt upon his release.



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

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

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


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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