The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


31 July, 2010

Church to burn copies of Koran to mark 9/11

This seems to me a reasonable comment on the Islamic connection to the 9/11 events. The view that Islam is the Devil's mockery of Christianity also seems theologically defensible to me

A FLORIDA church was yesterday promoting an event where it will burn copies of the Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. In the announcement on its Facebook page, The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida, asked other religious groups to join in standing "against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!"

The Facebook event has received more than 1,500 "Like" recommendations by users, but had also been attacked with a number of threatening messages posted on the page and corresponding anti-Islam rants.

The church's pastor, Terry Jones - who has written a book titled "Islam is of The Devil" and sells T-shirts bearing the same message - defended the controversial event. "Islam and Sharia law was responsible for 9/11," Jones told Agence France-Presse. "We will burn Korans because we think it's time for Christians, for churches, for politicians to stand up and say no; Islam and Sharia law is not welcome in the U.S. "We've got many death threats from jihad groups, but we cannot react by fear and we cannot compromise our beliefs. Somebody must stand up."

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) called for the church to cancel the event, The Christian Post reported. "It sounds like the proposed Koran burning is rooted in revenge," NAE president Leith Anderson said. "Yet the Bible says that Christians should ‘make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.'"

Mainstream Muslim groups also denounced the move and lamented the sentiments promoted by the Gainesville church.

"Unfortunately in [Florida] and nationwide, Islamophobia are actually on the rise," Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman Ramsey Kilic told AFP. "I'm more afraid of those who have anti-Muslim sentiments and may think this is a legitimate action and may want to attack a mosque or attack a Muslim on the street," he added.

However, Kilic said, "we are not taking any action to avoid this... we don't want to give attention to this, because that's what they want."


The proposed NYC mosque

A letter to Mayor Bloomberg

Your Honor: In regard to the proposal to build an Islamic center at the site of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack in Manhattan, I commend you for saying: "Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness, and I think it's a great message for the world..." But I would urge you to question whether this project truly represents that idea - or whether it undermines it.

Start with this: Before this project is approved, surely New Yorkers and other Americans should know who will be picking up the more than $100 million tab. Would you not be distressed were it later to be revealed that funds had been contributed by people who also finance terrorism?

You'll recall that, after the 9/11 attacks, your predecessor, Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down a $10 million check from a Saudi prince who had said that America shares blame for the atrocity. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the Islamic center project, has said that U.S. policies "were an accessory to the crime that happened." How is that different?

By the way, the Saudi royal family embraces Wahhabism, an interpretation of Islam that cannot be said to value "tolerance and openness." Among other things, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslim houses of worship are prohibited and "infidels" - people like you and me - may not set foot in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina upon pain of death. Newt Gingrich has called on Abdul Rauf to state clearly that he disagrees with such policies. Is that not a reasonable request?

I have an additional suggestion: If this project -- also called the "Cordoba Initiative"-- is really to "symbolize interfaith cooperation," if it's really to be an "inter-religious center," a 13-story home for "multi-faith collaboration," should it not contain a synagogue and a church as well as a mosque?

I would recommend putting each on a different floor. On the highest floor, let's put the church - since Christians founded this great nation of ours. One floor down, let's put a synagogue, since Jews were among the earliest immigrants to find religious freedom in America. And one floor further down, we'd have the mosque, a place for a newer generation of immigrants to gather and worship freely.

Here's my guess: If you propose this to Abdul Rauf, emphasizing, as you have in the past, the First Amendment rule that the government "shouldn't be in the business of picking" one religion over another, he will nonetheless refuse. He will offer all sorts of explanations but the truth, I suspect, is that he believes that Islam is not "one of the world's great religions" but rather the only true religion, that others are false and wicked. He will find it blasphemous that you want this center to give equal status to Christianity and Judaism.


Churches Not Considered Desirable Or Necessary

This would certainly seem ripe for appeal

Have you heard the joke, “if con is the opposite of pro, then congress is the opposite of progress?” While there might be several examples supporting the truth of this statement, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act (“RPUIPA”), passed by Congress, is not one of them.

RLUIPA is an example of Congress actually doing well by churches and protecting them from overzealous zoning officials. Churches were being pushed out of cities and counties. For example, they were being told they could not locate in the business district because church use was supposedly inconsistent with generating a revenue stream for the city. But on the other hand, churches were also told they could not locate in residential areas on the theory that church use caused traffic and noise issues so it was inconsistent with residential use as well. Churches had a real uphill battle on their hands just to locate within any part of urban and suburban areas.

To make matters worse, cities could discriminate against churches under the guise of a bogus safety issue that for some reason, only applied to churches and not other similar uses. Something had to be done to rein in this seemingly unstoppable power of zoning officials to hinder church property use.

So Congress stepped up and provided churches with meaningful protection against these overzealous zoning officials by passing RLUIPA. This federal law prohibits towns and counties from treating churches differently than other similar uses. It protects churches from ordinances that substantially burden their beliefs and practices.

But a recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of appeals in River of Life Kingdom Ministries v. Village of Hazel Crest, Illinois, threatens to gut the protections of RLUIPA. In this case, the River of Life church bought a building in a commercial district to hold its church services. When the church bought the property, the following uses were automatically permitted: art galleries, gymnasiums, meeting halls, lounges and taverns, along with several other uses. In addition, the following uses were allowed with a permit: museums, day care centers, schools of any kind, community centers, and live entertainment venues.

But, the city prohibited any and all church use in the district! What possible reason could the city have for prohibiting a church, which teaches moral values to the citizenry, while allowing community centers and live entertainment venues?

So the church filed a lawsuit claiming that the town’s actions violated their constitutional rights, as well as their rights under RLUIPA. But the Seventh Circuit ruled against the church. In so doing, the Seventh Circuit effectively eliminated the protections of RLUIPA. We will delve deeper into the court’s reasons in future blogs, but for now, I would like to point out this quote from the court: “Commerce and industry must be recognized for what they are, necessary and desirable elements of the community….” See 2010 WL 2630602, *5 (C.A. 7 (Ill.)).

According to the court, the town was justified in discriminating against the city because “commerce and industry” are “necessary and desirable elements of the community”. But what about the church? Is not the work of the church necessary and desirable for the community? Of course it is. But to certain government officials who only understand the value of the dollar, providing moral direction and the other benefits of churches is worthless.

Maybe there will come a day when we remember that churches are also beneficial – and even necessary – to communities.


Why big families 'bring lots of happiness'

Comment from Australia

SIZE does matter for many Australians aged over 30 who say the more children they have, the happier they are.

Proving that the bigger is better theory is correct - at least when it comes to family - the AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report, released today, found 40 per cent of people aged over 30 with four or more children were very satisfied with their life overall.

This compares to 28 per cent of people aged over 30 with one child and 27 per cent with no children.

Australian Institute of Social Research executive director John Spoehr said the findings reflected the rewards of having children. "I think there's a lot of pressure initially, but when you look at the whole picture, having kids brings an immense joy to your life, it balances everything out," he said.

Australians are also among the most content in the world, according to the findings, finishing equal third with the US and Sweden, in a comparison of life satisfaction levels in OECD countries.

Australians had an average score of 7.9 out of 10, behind only Ireland, Norway and Denmark (equal first) and Finland and Canada (equal second).

"Australia fared very well in the Global Financial Crisis," Mr Spoehr said. "That's why we'd rank pretty highly in the happiness stakes."

Other results showed more men were satisfied with their relationships than women and people who did not own their own home had lower overall life satisfaction.

Adelaide's Peter Newall and wife Narissa agreed having four children - sons Riley, 6, Cooper, 5, and 18-month-old twins Poppy and Lyla, made for a "fun, happy" brood.

"It's definitely a bit of a juggling act and by the end of a long day we're all very tired," he said. "But I wouldn't change it for the world. Having four children is wonderful."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


30 July, 2010

Baby sent to foster care for 57 days because parents are blind

For two months, as Erika Johnson ached to bond with her newborn baby and her breast milk dried up, her daughter remained in the custody of Missouri's Department of Social Services.

Johnson and her boyfriend Blake Sinnett, both students, had prepared well for the birth of their first child and say they did nothing wrong. But the 24-year-olds are both blind.

Johnson delivered Mikeala on May 21 at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, but when she had difficulty breast-feeding and the baby began to turn blue, a nurse called social services.

The case was dropped last week and Mikeala went home, but only after spending 57 days in foster care. "It was horrible," said Johnson. "There was the pain of not breastfeeding and she wasn't there. I used to cry every day, 'What if she forgets me?' The hardest part was to see her go home with someone else."

Now, the new parents are preparing to file a lawsuit claiming their civil rights were violated when they were denied the opportunity to care for their daughter. They say they want make sure it never happens to another blind couple planning to have a family.

"I'm the one that should have been waking up at, you know, one o'clock in the morning feeding her," said Johnson. "We're visually impaired, not mentally impaired. And you know we're just like everybody else, we just can't see as well."

While nursing the baby, Johnson said she sensed something was wrong and called a nurse.

"Everything was going smoothly until I had to breast feed, and there was some breast blocking the nose," said Johnson. "I asked the nurse if she was OK and she was beginning to turn blue. It could have happened to anybody."

The couple alleges the nurse was not properly trained, and the state's social service system "also has a problem with the training of its employees," according to their lawyer, Amy Coopman.

"It's a combination of multiple violations at a multiple level -- it's so egregious," she said. "At the top, it's unconstitutional. The parents had a right to raise their kid and the Constitution protects that. It's one of the oldest liberties forever. It doesn't matter if you are blind, deaf or in a wheelchair. You have the right to raise your child and they denied it for two months."

Centerpoint Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Sullivan said in a prepared statement that the welfare of patients was the hospital's "top priority."

"Legitimate concerns about the safety and well-being of any patient are reported to the appropriate authority as required under Missouri law," he said.

The hospital is "committed to providing the very best patient care for our expectant mothers and newborn babies," said spokeswoman Gene Hallinan, who said she could not comment on the specific allegations because of patient privacy.

She said that "absolutely no action" would be taken against the nurse in question. "Legally, she has to report legitimate concerns to the authorities. It's part of the statute."

More here

False rape claim exposed in Australia

These are a dime a dozen in Britain but are much less common in Australia. These "her word against his" prosecutions should never proceed in the first place. Females are quite good at lying and often do. When they are caught out they should face the same jail sentence that the man would have got

A MAN'S business and reputation are tainted, a young woman's HSC and mental health are in tatters and prosecutors have been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in legal costs for a bungled rape investigation on Sydney's northern beaches.

But it could have been worse still, if not for the trove of secrets stored in one of the world's most popular mobile phones. In what may be the first time an iPhone's elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.

Robert*, in his 60s, was a property manager to the rich and famous and a dog breeder. Jessica* was the 18-year-old daughter of a friend, who never knew her father and dreamed of working with animals.

Their friendship blossomed as they spent mornings training his prize German shepherds. He gave her a $20,000 dog. For three months, they had sex repeatedly en route to dog shows and at a Whale Beach mansion where Elle Macpherson has stayed.

In August last year she accused him of rape. It was - and remains - a case of his word against hers.

Robert lost a job with the Catholic Church, from which he had earned more than $100,000 over the past three years, and was told he could no longer worship there.

The investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Karen Hennessy, seized the $20,000 dog, saying it was relevant to the investigation.

The only thing standing between Robert and five sentences of up to 14 years were the messages from her on his iPhone, which he had deleted to conceal the relationship. Robert's lawyer, John Gooley from Collins & Thompson solicitors, commissioned Gary Coulthart, a former covert operations policeman and ICAC surveillance expert, to plumb the depths of Robert's iPhone.

Mr Coulthart retrieved more than 300 deleted texts and phone calls from the alleged victim, some of which appeared to undermine the allegations. Prosecutors later withdrew the charges and have been ordered to pay $30,056 of Robert's legal costs.

"Without the ability of Coulthart to drag the content out, a man's life may have been ruined," Mr Gooley said. "[iPhone evidence is] a bit like DNA. It can work both ways."

From a cohort of about 20 people in Australia with the equipment and know-how to do this sort of forensic work, Mr Coulthart said it was the first case he had seen in which an iPhone investigation commissioned by a defence lawyer has led to charges being dropped.

"Usually [when] you get engaged by the defence and they say, 'This person says they didn't do it', you find evidence that they have done it," he said.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since 2007 but few users know how much information they collect. The keyboard logging cache means an expert can retrieve anything typed on it for up to 12 months. Its internal mapping and "geotags" attached to photos indicate where a user has been.

An iPhone has up to 32 gigabytes of data that can be "imaged" or decoded with the right equipment, Mr Coulthart said, even if it has been deleted.

Robert wants police to investigate Jessica for causing a false investigation and is considering civil action against the police and the church. "It's put huge pressure on my home life and on my business," he said. "I had to go through the denigration of being charged and I've never been in trouble in my life."

Jessica did not want to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it withdrew the charges because the victim did not want to proceed and that "the brief of evidence had not been given to the ODPP at the time this matter was withdrawn".

A police spokeswoman said that, for operational reasons, it was inappropriate to comment except to say that the alleged victim had told police she did not wish to pursue the matter.


TN: Governor candidate's remarks on Islam raise uproar

Ron Ramsey's remarks on Islam raise uproar. GOP candidate tries to clarify 'cult' comment

Comments by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey suggesting that Islam might be a cult and that Muslims might not qualify for constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms drew criticism from Islamic groups Tuesday and an eruption of national media attention.

Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor, said at a mid-July campaign event in Chattanooga that he is "all about freedom of religion," which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"But you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law into the United States," he said. "… Now you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it? We do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something that we are going to have to face."

There are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and 7 million in the United States, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Ibrahim Hooper, that organization's national communications director, called Ramsey's comments "part of an unfortunate trend in our society."

"There's a vocal minority promoting the idea that if you can delegitimize Islam, you can deny American Muslims their religious and constitutional rights," Hooper said Tuesday.

The flap, which caught the eye of several national blogs and news organizations Tuesday, comes one week before the Republican gubernatorial primary on Aug. 5 during a Tennessee campaign season in which opinions on Islam have at times dominated the debate.

Opponents of a new mosque planned in Murfreesboro, including GOP congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik, have said it shouldn't be allowed because they believe Muslims are dangerous. But the land is zoned for religious use, and the building plan is moving forward. Public opposition forced the withdrawal of a rezoning plan for a mosque proposed in Brentwood, however, and an Antioch mosque proposal is facing resistance.

More here

Australia: Wrongly taken girl denied visit with dying dad

There seems to be no limit to social worker evil

A FIVE-year-old girl wrongly removed from her parents was denied a visit with her dying father, even after the Ombudsman ruled DOCS bungled the case. In a horror start to her life, the girl has suffered from cancer, lost her father and spent more than two years separated from her family because of decisions that should not have been made.

DOCS will be forced to pay compensation to the family of the Sydney girl, who had never been abused or neglected.

Community Services Minister Linda Burney was notified of the case in September and this month did not override her department's decision to prevent the girl from travelling to Taiwan for her father's funeral. Yesterday she said the case was before the court until February and that it was "inappropriate for me to intervene."

Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond found the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was removed after a DOCS case worker made "significant errors in her interpretation" of an interview with the girl's teenage sister.

DOCS wrongly and repeatedly told the Children's Court the teenager had claimed her brother had sexually abused her and that their mother had failed to act. Police were notified of the claims and never pursued action against the boy.

Mr Kinmond found the teenage girl's statements were "misconstrued when given to [the mother] and the Children's Court."

Errors repeated to government departments and in affidavits led to the mother being tagged as "non protective of children, unwilling to believe [her eldest daughter] and dishonest".

After her children were removed the mother admitted to disciplining her teenage daughter with a bamboo cane, leading to a conviction for assault.

Mr Kinmond found the errors were crucial in the removal of the woman's youngest child who had been diagnosed with a neuroblastoma and treated with chemotherapy when four months old.

His report was handed to DOCS on March 30 but just weeks later when the girl's father was dying of cancer, DOCS refused to let the girl's mother take her to Taiwan for his funeral. "DOCS has a hard job. I understand many children need to be removed. That was not the case here; it has been a total miscarriage of justice," Opposition Community Services spokeswoman Pru Goward said.

DOCS has offered an "unconditional apology" to the mother and wrote "it is clear information wrongly summarised from an interview was relied upon in court."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


29 July, 2010

More of Britain's petty bureaucracy

Council orders family having picnic to remove £12.99 windbreak - branding it 'semi-permanent structure' -- but publicity brings the usual repentance

A picnic just wouldn't be a picnic without the great British weather trying to ruin it. Jon Hacker and his family were prepared for that - what they didn't count on, however, was a pair of overzealous council officers trying even harder.

After the family put up a windbreak to protect them from the blustery conditions on a day out, they spotted a 4x4 speeding ominously towards them across the Downs. Council enforcement officers leapt out and ordered them to take down the £12.99 plastic sheet because it classified as a 'semi-permanent structure'. The windbreak was in breach of by-laws aimed at protecting Clifton Downs, Bristol, the officers said.

Mr Hacker, 41, was trying to enjoy a picnic with wife Claire and daughters Sophie, 11, and Emily, eight. He said: 'One of the officers asked who had erected the "semi- permanent structure". 'I said, "Are you talking about the windbreak?"

'He said that windbreaks weren't allowed due to the by-laws on the Downs. One of them gave me a leaflet about the by-laws and it said you weren't allowed to put up tents or a gazebo, but it didn't say anything about a windbreak. 'My family and I were shocked to be informed that we were breaking the law. I think they were being very strict.'

The intervention was all the more galling as it ruined the day for one of their daughter's friends, Erika, 11, who was visiting from Spain.

Mr Hacker, an IT worker, added: 'We took the windbreak down and it was so windy our paper plates and serviettes were blowing everywhere. 'We didn't want to leave a mess as that would be breaking the law as well, so we packed up and drove home and ended up finishing our picnic in our garden. 'I can understand about bonfires and tents damaging the environment but, come on, a windbreak?'

Article 5 of the by-laws, headed 'erection of structures', states: 'No person shall on the Downs, without the consent of the Downs Committee, erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure.' Anyone contravening the by-laws, which also ban lighting fires on the grass, could incur a fixed penalty fine, or a maximum £500 fine if the case went to court.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council yesterday admitted their employees had gone over the top. He said: 'We apologise to the gentleman and his family. Clearly there needs to be discretion when enforcing the by-laws of the Downs.

'They are designed to prevent tents and gazebos being put up on the Downs, but there should be flexibility to allow families to use windbreaks - we shall instruct our enforcement officers and rangers on this basis.'


British farmer refused permission to build a home... while an illegal gypsy site flourished next door

A farmer has been denied planning permission to build a home on his property for 13 years - while a neighbouring illegal travellers site was allowed to flourish.

Bruce Margetts, 46, has been living in a mobile home on his 47-acre farm in Smithy Fen near Cottenham, Cambs., since 1998 while applying to build a modest bungalow.

But despite having tended cattle on the site since 1992, South Cambridgeshire District Council has refused planning permission for a permanent residence three times.

Over the same period the Smithy Fen travellers site next door - just half a mile away - has boomed and was home to more than 800 illegal travellers at its peak in 2003. The 11-acre legitimate travellers site grew to 20-acres without planning permission, while Mr Margetts was told his three-bed property is not suitable for the farm.

Seven unlawful plots at Smithy Fen currently remain occupied without planning permission, featuring semi-permanent structures.

Mr Margetts fears he will lose his livelihood if he is not able to build the bungalow. He said: 'When I first moved into the mobile home, I thought it would just be for a few years and now it's been around 13. 'I'm able to raise a mortgage to build a house, but I'm just waiting for the planning permission. 'At the moment, I'm in an advanced state of camping and I'm relying on the council to continue granting temporary permits.

'It's essential that I'm here to look after the cattle but if I was unable to live here then I would lose everything. I'm a one man band, living and working alone. 'I just want a permanent residence here that's not going to get in anyone's way. I've planted around 400 trees since I moved here so no one will even see it.

Mr Margetts has spent about £8,000 on planning applications since 2001 and plans to apply again this year.

'There are travellers in the area that seem to have been treated much more leniently than I have,' he said. 'You would think that the council would want to support people who are investing money into the local economy.'

Mr Margetts tends to about 100 cattle on Oxholme Farm and needs to be on site to be on hand for calving, feeding and in case of accidents or emergencies.

According to government guidelines, those wishing to build country housing must demonstrate an essential need and the viability of their business.

Deborah Roberts, Independent councillor for SCDC, said she had a great deal of sympathy for Mr Margetts' plight. She said: 'I find it extraordinary that Bruce is not being supported in his ambitions to build a modest home on his land at his own expense. 'Bruce has a large herd and needs to be on the land 24/7 to tend to them. He is currently living in a ramshackle mobile home that is not at all suitable for his needs. 'Traveller families with no connection to the Fens have been allowed to stay when they do not need to be here.'

Last September the council was criticised for spending £13,000 installing sewage facilities at a gypsy site to protect their human rights - and recovering just £500 from the travellers.

A spokesman for SCDC said: 'Mr Margetts has been granted permission for a mobile home on the land while he establishes his business. 'As the proposal is for a house in the countryside, the applicant must demonstrate that it is both essential and viable - for example, for providing 24 hour care for animals. 'These are Government requirements. So far he has been unable to show us the financial information needed to confirm the viability of the farm.

The spokesman said if the farm continued to progress, Mr Margetts would eventually be allowed to build a permanent dwelling.


The pill giveth and the pill taketh away

This year there was a predictable amount of hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of “the pill.” Many pundits told us that the pill had delivered as promised: Women had become liberated. Sex in the City! Sex in dorm rooms! Sex behind bleachers! Women have it all.

But wait. Now comes word that women aren’t all that interested in sex any more. Their libidos are waning to the point that pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a Pink Viagra: a new pill; a pill that will restore the desire to have the sex that the pill made possible.

Why don’t women want to have sex? Is it because they are so absorbed in their careers? Is it because these careers force women to sacrifice their femininity and males to sacrifice their masculinity and thus the vivifying difference between males and females no longer exists? Why do women need males? Women have everything males have; they can do everything males do; what do males have to offer?

Certainly the above explanations are not unlikely and almost certainly have a degree of truth but — still — can the desire of female for male be so easily obliterated? Isn’t the attraction even more elemental than caps and chaps and buttons and bows?

I find it strange that commentators have not identified a very likely cause of the lack of female libido. The Pill, indeed all chemical contraceptives, have as a common side effect, a reduced sex drive. It is well documented both scientifically and anecdotally that the hormones in chemical contraceptives prevent a woman from producing the level of testosterone needed for her to have a healthy sex drive.

The sex drive is largely physiological: When women change their sexual physiology it should be expected that their sex drive will change. Many of the chemical contraceptives put a woman’s body into a state of pseudo pregnancy. Researchers discovered that pregnant women don’t ovulate (and women who don’t ovulate cannot get pregnant), so they learned how to deceive the female body into “thinking” it is pregnant so it wouldn’t ovulate. Nature also establishes that women who are pregnant generally do not have strong sex drives; it serves no evolutionary benefit.

Studies on the effects of hormones on male/female relationships have been proliferating. The work of Dr. Helen Fisher, among others, shows that women who use chemical contraceptives prefer more feminine looking men or “safer” men; when they stop using chemical contraceptives, they discover they have a higher sex drive but are not much interested in the male they chose when they were using the chemical contraceptives. Males are also much more attracted sexually to women who have fertile cycles; they produce more testosterone when around women who are fertile. Certainly the ardor of the male partner affects the female response.

A friend of mine once told me how her seven brothers and sisters one day had a frank and open discussion of their sex lives. Six couples, double income, no kids, lamented the lack of sex in their marriages; the females, attractive, well dressed and well employed, confessed they felt sex was just one more chore demanded of them at the end of a long day.

The males, equally attractive, well dressed and well employed, stated they felt they had to beg for sex from their wives, who would rather be watching TV. The one couple who had four children and were expecting a fifth, were a little pudgy, a little bargain-shoppish in appearance and a little financially stressed. They listened to their siblings and their spouses with incomprehension; their sex life, interrupted not uncommonly by sick or needy kids, was frequent and satisfying. The fatigue of home schooling and stretching a limited income had not encroached upon their lovemaking.

And maybe that is the clue. They thought of having sex not as “having sex” but as “making love.” Not that the others didn’t love each other, but sex for them had become routine and not the occasion of making an emphatic statement of love to each other. The pill had enabled them to have sex before marriage, and sex had become simply one more pleasurable act without much meaning.

The couple who were also parents had retained the ability to recognize the act of having sex as a profound expression of love; one of the reasons that their sexual acts could express that meaning was their respect for the baby-making power of the sexual act. When couples who are willing to have a baby make love to one another, they are expressing a willingness to have their whole lives bound up together: “I love you so much; I am willing to be a parent with you.” The act itself is laden with the meanings of affirmation and commitment.

Contraceptive sex significantly undermines that meaning. By its very nature it expresses the intent not to become a parent with the other. While couples who use contraception may in fact love one another deeply, contracepted sex expresses a willingness only to engage in a momentary physical pleasure and thus expresses neither love nor commitment. The body language of contraception therefore works against the very love which sex is meant to express and cultivate.

And lest critics wail that women are not baby-making machines, mention must be made of truly green forms of child-spacing, methods of natural family planning (NFP). Modern methods of NFP enable a woman to determine with great reliability the generally 7-10 days a month she is fertile and is not to be confused with the old “rhythm method,” which relied on counting days on a calendar.

Requiring no chemicals, totally without harmful physical or environmental effects (consider the carbon footprint of chemical contraceptives), and costing nothing to use, methods of NFP have proven as effective as any form of contraception. They also respect the baby-making power of sex by not treating fertility as some bodily defect that must be corrected. Most couples who use NFP have contracepted at one time and readily testify that their lovemaking when using NFP is markedly different in quality from their having contracepted sex.

So instead of supplementing one pill with another, women should go green in their sex lives. Not only will they protect the delicate ecology of their female fertility from libido-reducing chemicals, they may find themselves tickled pink with their sex lives.


Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (1)

They no doubt fear public outrage if the true extent of lawlessness became known

ATTEMPTED assaults on three women in one day and less than 1km from where a woman was abducted and raped have been kept secret by police. The incidents happened within hours of each other close to Queens Park, in the Eastern Suburbs, the scene of a horrific April 29 attack by two men that only became public after the victim spoke to The Daily Telegraph. Despite three similar incidents in one day - July 6 - police did not make them public.

Suzanne, one of the women chased by a man in one of the latest incidents, said people had a right to know. "Just because I or one of the other girls was not raped doesn't make our story any less significant," she said. "The police investigating my report have been fantastic but I think it's important things like this are made public.

"While I was in the police station giving my statement police told me other women had reported the same thing, all between 6pm and 10pm. "In one case police said a man tried to get a woman into a car."

Police confirmed three women made statements saying that on July 6 they were watched or followed by men near York and Birrell Sts, adjacent to Centennial Park.

"Detectives have canvassed the area, sourcing CCTV footage locally; unfortunately none shows the men described," a police spokeswoman said. "The descriptions of the men vary. Police regularly issue warnings regarding personal safety however at this time, the intentions of the men are unknown and there's no evidence that any of the incidents are linked."

Suzanne said the fact the descriptions were different was even more frightening as it could mean the men were working in pairs. Soon after her ordeal Suzanne letter-dropped the area warning locals. "People need to be informed. It is dark around that area with poor footpaths and hardly any lighting," she said.

In her police statement, Suzanne detailed how the man appeared to be feigning talking on the phone when she saw him about 6pm. "When I was near York Place I saw a male standing on the other side of the corner on the footpath in the dark and I think he might have been on the phone," she said.

When she again looked back at the man, he was running towards her. "I started to run and headed towards the middle of the road where the cars were. I was running into my unit block and I looked behind and he was still running at me." On April 29 , young mother "Caitlan" was abducted and raped in nearby Queens Park.

A Daily Telegraph investigation showed police were keeping serious crimes hidden for days or weeks if they were releasing them at all. In one week in March, 11,508 of the 31,536 reports were listed as "check bona fides or concern for welfare" - terms which cover anything from murder to kids hanging on a street corner.


Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (2)

WAVING a sawn-off shotgun and a 20cm knife, two men threaten the lives of drinkers and staff at a Sydney pub - the third time in 17 days.

Sick of being a victim, one patron fights back and, despite having his arm broken with a chair, his head split open by a wine bottle and being stabbed in the stomach, he unmasks a robber.

And it was his bravery that could provide the key to solving the crime, as the robber's face was caught on CCTV.

Yet, despite the obvious benefit, the images of Tuesday's robbery at the Stella Inn in Tempe were not publicly released by the NSW Police's multi-million-dollar media unit yesterday.

Instead it was the Stella Inn's manager who gave the footage to The Daily Telegraph.

"People should know there are bad guys out there running around with guns and see how frightening it is," said the manager, who did not wished to be named. "One bloke who saw the last robbery fought back and while I would tell people not to do it, his bravery and toughness means we can see the face of one of these guys.

"This is a real locals' pub and until the last three weeks we have always felt safe here. We are now increasing security patrols, cameras and time delayed safes.

"We have to make the customers feel safe again. The best way of doing that is to have these guys caught."

The Stella Inn was robbed on July 10, 21 and 27.

"Police don't think they are done by the same guys - and I agree - but something is going on," the manager said. "We were robbed last Wednesday. Just 20 minutes earlier the same guys robbed the Bankstown Hotel and a shot was fired."

The manager did not want to be critical of front-line officers, instead criticising the force's policy makers.

"They [police officers] have a really tough job but there seems to be a policy of keeping things quiet when in fact it should be made public," he said.

"If you look at the video it's obvious these guys know what they are doing."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


28 July, 2010

Work experience at Britain's Foreign Office? Not if you’re a middle class white male

William Hague was last night plunged into a row over new ­Foreign Office rules which ban white males from gaining work experience at his department. The Foreign Secretary was challenged to explain why his ­official work placement schemes specifically ban white, middle-class males from applying for the £367-a-week positions.

Under the tightly-drawn rules, only women, people from ethnic ­minorities and the ­disabled are ­entitled to apply for a chance to work at one of the great offices of state.

The placements give students a head start in the battle to win ­coveted jobs in the diplomatic service and possibly rise through the ranks to become an ambassador.Only one category of non-minority male applicants stand a chance – those whose families are poor enough to entitle them to qualify for a full student maintenance grant.

The bizarre ‘middle-class male’ ban came to light after Tory MP Dominic Raab was contacted by an irate ­constituent who tried to obtain work experience at the department.

Esher MP Mr Raab, an ­international lawyer who worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for six years, said last night: ‘I am raising this issue on behalf of a ­disappointed constituent barred from even applying for Foreign Office work experience because he did not fit the social quota criteria.

‘We surely need to scale back the unfair political correctness of the last Government. But we will not end discrimination in our society by introducing it through the back door, which is what positive discrimination like this does.’ Mr Raab has now written to Mr Hague asking him to intervene and review the work placement rules.

The Foreign Office, which employs 20,000 staff in the UK and around the world, operates three work ­placement schemes:

* A summer development programme open to ‘talented individuals’ from black or ethnic minority backgrounds;

* A summer placement scheme for ‘talented students’ with a registered disability; and

* A university placement scheme open to female students, students from an ethnic minority background and students who come from a household with an income of £25,000 or lower.

Westminster sources last night said the programmes came about after Robin Cook, the former Labour Foreign Secretary, arrived at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s headquarters in Whitehall and was horrified to see so many former public schoolboys working there.

Last night, the FCO insisted the schemes were legal and were designed to appeal to students who might not normally consider a career in the FCO. A spokeswoman said: ‘This includes students from an ethnic minority background and those with a disability, as well as ­students who are in receipt of a full maintenance grant.’

The spokeswoman added: ‘People from these backgrounds are currently under-represented in the FCO. 'We believe that by having a more diverse and multicultural workforce the FCO is better able to represent British interests around the world.’

There was ‘absolutely no discrimination’ in the department’s normal job recruitment process, she insisted. But in a later statement, the FCO said the work experience schemes would now ‘be placed under review’.


How the value (but not the cost) of publicly-provided British services plummeted under Labour rule

The value for money given by public services collapsed in Labour’s final years in power. The more taxpayers’ money was thrown at the Health Service, schools, local government and social services, the less efficient they became, according to official figures yesterday.

The first estimates for how the public sector performed in 2008 showed that productivity in the the most costly public services went down as Gordon Brown pumped more money in.

During 2008, they showed, spending on public services went up by 2.8 per cent but output rose by only 1.9 per cent. The figures mean there was a 0.9 per cent fall in value for money from public services. The decline in efficiency was three times faster in 2008 than the average productivity drop during Labour’s years in power.

Calculations made by the Office for National Statistics showed that overall, the value for money given by the public sector dropped by 3.3 per cent between 1997 and 2008. The decline in efficiency came as public spending almost doubled from £318 billion a year to £621 billion last year.

The dismal performance of the public sector compares with a clear record of growing efficiency in private business and industry.

Although ONS officials warned yesterday that strict comparisons are hard to make, their own analysis suggests that productivity in market-sector enterprises rose at more than 1 per cent year from 2001 to 2007. Some independent estimates show that private-sector productivity went up by more than 25 per cent during Labour’s years in power.

The comparisons cast an alarming light on the scale of public sector spending, and in particular salaries. Pay for public sector workers has for several years been rising much faster than for their counterparts in private industry.

In particular public sector managers have been paying themselves spiralling salaries, claiming this is justified by their record of achievement.

Hundreds of officials in the NHS, local councils and the education system now earn more than £200,000 a year and local government managers’ pay has, according to Whitehall estimates, been rising at double the rate of managers’ pay in the private sector.

Yesterday’s productivity assessment brought fresh condemnation from experts. Ruth Lea, economist for the Arbuthnot Banking Group, said: ‘We know that money was thrown at the public services after 2000 without the necessary reforms that should have taken place.

‘These figures are confirmation of what we have known for some time. There has been a lot of money very badly spent in the public sector. ‘It has been wasted and this must be laid at the feet of the Labour government. The challenge for the Coalition is to reverse the decline.’

ONS analyst Katherine Mills said: ‘The public sector is responsible for a fifth of UK output. Everyone is a potential user of public services and has a legitimate concern over how they are provided.’


The “Internet Kill Switch” works both ways

Organizations that censor others can themselves be attacked and disabled

In a recent column (“Homeland Security Mission Creep: ‘Intellectual Propety Crime’“), I wrote that file-sharing had apparently become the latest “terrorist threat” targeted by the national security state. Against this background, the immediatelty following shutdown of 73,000 blogs using the blogetery Wordpress platform hosted by Burstnet is especially alarming. Burstnet announced that, in compliance with an urgent and extraordinary request by “law enforcement officials,” it was shutting down blogetery. Their motivation is suggested by the tens of thousands of hits if you Google the blogetery site for “rapidshare” and “megaupload.”

Maybe this is what Holy Handwringing Joe Lieberman meant by an Internet “kill switch” to protect against “terrorism.”

This is just the latest example of a growing phenomenon: businesses treating their own customers as criminal suspects, while serving “the Authorities” as their primary actual clientele. That’s why your bank informs the Feds of large money transactions, Home Depot reports purchases of chemicals used in meth labs, and the drug store keeps track of the amount of Sudafed you buy.

The first question that comes to mind is: Who pays Burstnet’s bills — “the Authorities” or the customers?

A friend at work recently had a relevant experience with her broadband ISP, Cox Communications. Apparently her grandkids had downloaded a movie from some torrent site and Disney had leaned on Cox (with Cox presumably rolling over and giving them customer records without due process). The lady at the cable office called her up and began warning her “You need to monitor your grandkids more closely,” and assorted other things she “needed to do.” Normally I’d expect that kind of condescending lecture from someone who was paying ME money, not the other way around.

If you haven’t had your daily dose of irony, Secretary of State Clinton recently warned other countries against the dangers of imposing burdens on civil society: “progress in the 21st century depends on the ability of individuals to coalesce around shared goals, and harness the power of their convictions. But when governments crack down on the right of citizens to work together, as they have throughout history, societies fall into stagnation and decay.”

Clinton added that “Democracies don’t fear their own people.” I imagine the guy in the Guy Fawkes mask would get a big laugh out of that. For a government that doesn’t fear its own people, the U.S. “democracy” spends an awful lot of time obsessing over whether we’re ingesting prohibited substances into our own bodies, downloading songs, and other “terroristic” activities that it’s made its business. Talk about paranoia! “Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they have imagined to do.”

The shutdown of file-sharing sites will probably backfire, I’m afraid. Such authoritarian actions by the Copyright Nazis and their government spear-carriers will, I fear, lead to an outcome that should alarm all good citizens. Sadly, denial-of-service attacks against the websites of various government agencies, the RIAA and MPAA, have become increasingly frequent in recent years. If you’re the kind of juvenile person who takes misguided pleasure in seeing bad things happen to some of the most wicked people in the world, just Google “DOS+attack RIAA+website.” Shocking.

At one time the cat and mouse game between hackers and the RIAA got so intense that for a while the RIAA was constantly shifting its site around between low-profile servers, to protect itself from hackers (kind of like Saddam randomly sleeping in a different palace every night as an anti-assassination precaution).

The latest such incident was “Operation T*tstorm,” a distributed DOS attack by the hacker group “Anonymous” on the sites of the Australian Parliament and Ministry of Communications in retaliation for increased censorship of porn websites.

Thank God these poor misguided anti-social saps have mitigated the potential harm by focusing up till now on the public websites of organizations they hate, instead of on the intranets [internal communications] on which their actual functioning as organizations depends. I greatly fear that someday soon some utterly reprehensible sociopath will manage to do this, and when someone like Mitch Bainwol shows up at work and logs on to check his email, he’ll see nothing but a blank screen.


Minnesota government mistreats ladies

Recently the Minnesota Department of Human Rights — a funny title in itself — declared that the practice of "ladies' night" was illegal gender discrimination. Apparently, five establishments in the Twin Cities area were denying men "full and equal enjoyment" of their services because they charged women lower cover and drink prices.

Besides the unjust (and absurd) violation of private-property rights, the Minnesota government's harassment of businesses will end up hurting female and male customers. The practice of price discrimination — charging different customers different prices even for the "same" good or service — is economically beneficial.

Price Discrimination Is Common

Businesses discriminate against customers all the time, charging some of them higher prices than others. For example, food items will often have corresponding coupons, provided either by the grocery store itself or by the manufacturer. In addition, many grocery stores now have special membership clubs, where a shopper has to fill out a form to obtain a card or a tab to put on a key ring. Even though they are buying the same goods as other shoppers, those who have coupons or are members of the club will be charged lower prices on particular items.

An even more "discriminatory" practice occurs at the movie theater. There, people are charged different prices for "the same" ticket depending on their age, and whether or not the customer is a student. Specifically, senior citizens, young children, and students receive discount prices, while middle-aged persons with full-time jobs have to pay full freight.

So we see that price discrimination is ubiquitous. The only thing rare about the practice of ladies' night is that the discrimination is based on the sex of the customer, as opposed to the customer's age or the possession of a coupon.

Price Discrimination Is Efficient

In Austrian economics, any voluntary exchange between consenting parties is "efficient," in the sense that both parties expect to benefit from the trade. (That's why they agree to it!) However, even in the broader sense of mainstream economics, price discrimination can promote economic efficiency. In other words, even mainstream economists recognize the role that price discrimination can play in allowing producers and consumers to exploit potential gains from trade.

Think of it like this: Suppose the government cracks down on movie theaters that charge different prices based on age and educational status. This action would clearly make the owners of the movie theaters worse off. After all, they had the option of charging a uniform price beforehand, and yet they chose to make their prices vary according to the identity of the customer. Therefore, the movie-theater owners are obviously hurt by the crackdown on price discrimination.

In the new equilibrium, the theaters would charge a price somewhere in between the original range. For example, if the theaters originally charged $8 full price, $5 for senior citizens and students, and $4 for children, then perhaps in the new equilibrium the theaters would charge everyone $6.

In this case, not just the theater owners but also a large portion of their customers would obviously be hurt by the new regulation. Specifically, senior citizens, students, and families with at least two young children would all pay more to go to the movies than they did before. Unless they derived psychic pleasure from living in a "fairer" society, the government crackdown on movie-ticket price discrimination would hurt them....

A similar analysis applies to the Minnesota government's crackdown on "ladies' night." In the first place, the move obviously hurts bar owners and female patrons. Less obvious, the policy can make the male customers worse off, because the bars might respond by hiring fewer wait staff, spending less on bringing in quality musicians, cutting costs by carrying a smaller selection of beers, and so forth. In other words, even though the narrow price of "entry into the bar" and "price of a beer" might go down for the male customers, the quality of those goods might be so reduced that the men prefer the original situation with "unfair" pricing.

Beyond these subtleties, there are two obvious reasons that men benefit from the existence of ladies' night: First, if the government forces bars to charge women full price for drinks, it will often be men paying for them. Second, the whole point of ladies' night is to fill a bar with women, so that men want to go to the bar (and buy drinks at full price). That's the reason it's profitable for a bar owner to have ladies' night.

So while it's true that a few men may applaud the Minnesota government's actions (as a few comments on the internet discussion boards suggest), in general most men will be hurt — especially when they realize that fewer women will go out to the bar if the practice of ladies' night is rendered illegal.


Following Bastiat, Henry Hazlitt said the mark of a good economist was that he could trace out the seen and the unseen effects of a government policy. As their crackdown on ladies' night demonstrates, the bureaucrats in Minnesota's Department of Human Rights are not good economists.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


27 July, 2010

British injustice

Black brutes who killed grandfather outside mosque sent down for a total eight years... but could walk free in months

Harrowing images of the moment a Muslim pensioner was killed outside a mosque by two members of a 'happy slapping' gang were released by appalled police yesterday.

They show how deeply religious Ekram Haque, 67, was struck to the ground in front of his three-year-old granddaughter Marian after being ambushed by the delinquent pair.

Little Marian can be seen trying to comfort her grandfather, who suffered irreparable brain damage and died a week after the assault last August.

The attack happened only minutes after Mr Haque and his granddaughter had attended prayers in the mosque for the holy season of Ramadan.

Yesterday a court order was lifted, allowing Mr Haque's killers - Leon Elcock, now 16, and Hamza Lyzai, now 15, both of Tooting, South-West London - to be named.

But to the disgust of the dead man's family, gang leader Elcock was locked up for only four-and-a-half years and Lyzai for three-and-a-half years.

Mr Haque's son Arfan, 35, attacked the Crown Prosecution Service for dropping murder charges against the pair. He said: 'Justice has not been served. I have been let down. The CPS really need to buck up their ideas because people are getting away with murder. My father died. It's a disgrace.'

He added that his daughter Marian still has nightmares about the attack. The Old

Bailey heard that Elcock and Ugandan-born Lyzai approached Mr Haque from opposite directions and both landed blows to his head, which felled him.

The pair pleaded guilty to manslaughter and also admitted their parts in other assaults. Brian Altman, QC, prosecuting, said the series of 'wanton and cowardly' attacks were 'deliberately targeted on middle-aged and elderly men for fun and for the defendants' own pleasure'.

He said of the attack on Mr Haque: 'It is a case of two youths creeping up on a defenceless, elderly and vulnerable man minding his own business and deliberately attacking him with the obvious intention to do him some harm.

'The two blows did not themselves inflict serious injury. It was the all too familiar tale of a blow stunning or rendering Mr Haque unconscious by which he fell backwards, hitting the back of his head, suffering a complex fracture leading to secondary brain injury of which he died a week later.'

The death of the retired care worker was the culmination of a series of 'happy slapping' incidents recorded on mobile phone cameras.

Only 20 seconds before the fatal assault on Mr Haque the two killers, then aged 14 and 15, had assaulted two other men in the same road with a 14-year-old friend.

Elcock and the 14-year-old, who cannot be named, had also attacked a married elderly couple five days before, kicking and stamping on them in their own home. A series of 'happy slapping' clips were found stored on the 14-year-old's mobile phone. The gang regularly filmed the attacks under the name 'Lane Gang Productions'.

A short clip shot by the unnamed 14-year-old showed Elcock hitting a bus driver who was talking on his mobile phone during a rest period.

The 14-year-old had been permanently excluded from school and was being educated at a centre for unruly children. Elcock and Lyzai had been due to face trial for murder-but the prosecution accepted pleas to lesser offences after reviewing the evidence.

In addition to manslaughter, Elcock - who at the time of Mr Haque's death was on police bail for a previous happy slapping attack - admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm.

He has spent almost a year in custody already and will be freed once he has served two years and three months, half the term he received. Lyzai, who also admitted two counts of assault, has served almost a year in custody and will be freed within months.

Their friend, now 15, admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm and was given a six-month detention and training order. He has spent 324 days in custody and will be released immediately.

Judge Martin Stephens, QC, told the killers: 'As a result of your so-called bit of fun he [Mr Haque] was deprived of a full and contented life, and his family of a devoted, inspiring and beloved father and grandfather.'

Mr Haque was born in Calcutta and moved to Belfast in search of work in 1972. He met his wife there and they moved to London in the 1980s. He worked in textiles, later becoming a warden in a home for the disabled. He retired last year.

His son said: 'My father was a very loving individual. He gave his time to anybody and everybody. It is tragic he died in the way he did, he was such a peaceful man.'


Faith may be good for you

Don't scoff at those lucky rabbit feet. New research indicates that having some kind of "lucky" token can actually improve your performance by increasing your selfconfidence.

"I watch a lot of sports, and I read about sports, and I noticed that very often athletes also famous athletes hold superstitions," said Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne in Germany.

New research shows that having some kind of "lucky" token can actually improve your performance by increasing your selfconfidence. Above, a necklace with traditional goodluck tokens.

Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts underneath his NBA uniform for good luck; Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on tournament Sundays, usually the last and most important day of a tournament.

"I was wondering, why are they doing so?" Damisch hypothesized that a belief in superstition might help people do better by improving their confidence. With colleagues Barbara Stoberock and Thomas Mussweiler, also of the university, she designed a set of experiments to see if activating people's superstitious beliefs would improve their performance on memory and dexterity games.

In one of the experiments, volunteers were told to bring a lucky charm with them. Then the researchers took it away to take a picture. People brought in all kinds of items, from old stuffed animals to wedding rings to lucky stones. Half of the volunteers were given their charm back before the test started; the other half were told there was a problem with the camera equipment and they would get it back later.

Volunteers who had their lucky charm did better at a computer memory game, and other tests showed that this difference was because they felt more confident, she said. They also set higher goals for themselves.

Just wishing someone good luck with "I press the thumbs for you," the German version of crossing your fingers improved volunteers' success at a task that required manual dexterity, the scientists reported. The findings are published in the research journal Psychological Science.

Of course, even Michael Jordan lost basketball games sometimes. "It doesn't mean you win, because of course winning and losing is something else," said Damisch. "Maybe the other person is stronger."


Immunized against Failure

Pick up any self-help book at the local bookstore (or, in more modern parlance, order it via your Kindle or iPad) and you’ll invariably read a collection of quotes about failure. Most of these quotes frame failure as an opportunity to learn from mistakes; success is defined as enduring failure numerous times until you reach a favorable outcome. One of the qualities that makes America so unique is the freedom to fail continually until you finally reach your goal.

Some of America’s greatest political and business leaders understood that failure isn’t a bad thing—unless you allow the verb to become a noun. Theodore Roosevelt observed, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” And American tycoon Henry Ford commented, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

The great inventor Thomas Edison perfectly represented the unrestricted, can-do spirit of American inventiveness when he proclaimed, “Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.” Americans want to accomplish something—but they need the freedom from government intrusion to do so—even if it means they might fail along the path to success.

More recently, Glenn Beck succinctly summed up America’s unparalleled opportunity this way: “The American experiment was about freedom. Freedom to be stupid, freedom to fail, freedom to succeed.”

If there is one overarching motivation for progressives, aside from their desire for control, it seems to be preventing failure. One way to achieve this is for all men to be the same (what progressives mislabel “equal”). If there is no difference, there is no opportunity for failure.

Another way to ensure no one fails is to place such restrictions on liberty that no risks are taken—the very risks that are necessary to achieve success. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This seems benevolent, but really it’s the exact opposite. Why would a parent allow their child to ever remove the training wheels from their bicycle? After all, the child could fall and be injured. True, but then the child would never learn to really ride a bicycle and experience all the joys and freedom that skill provides.

Somewhere along the way, America’s confidence in itself was shaken to the core. Instead of abiding by its intrinsic instinct to risk failure for the option of great success, America suddenly flinched. Now every government policy, law or regulation is justified by how many people it will protect from failure, or from feeling the sting of their poor decisions. But protecting people from failure means that their freedom must necessarily be limited.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill was sold as a means to protect investors (and especially the little guy) from another financial crisis and the risk of losing their money. At 2,300 hundred pages long, the Wall Street Journal called it “the biggest expansion of government power over banking and markets since the Depression.” Such a pronouncement should send a chill down the spine of any capitalist.

One of the big selling points for the bill is getting rid of the “too big to fail” bailouts that were so odious to taxpayers during the Wall Street bailout. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pronounced, “These reforms will benefit the prudent and constrain the imprudent.” (Interestingly, the bill doesn’t constrain the powers of the imprudent government that pushed the risky loans almost guaranteed to fail.)

Despite the claims of its proponents, the bill doesn’t actually address any of the problems that led to the financial meltdown. In explaining their opposition, many Republicans pointed out a glaring absence of any reforms for the two institutions at the center of the market crisis—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Instead, it empowers unelected bureaucrats at 10 regulatory agencies to institute their own rules—estimated to be hundreds of new regulations that will be established over the next several years.

No wonder the market is so skittish these days—Wall Street can’t even read the laws that will govern it until regulators make up their minds at some point in the future. Government predictably fosters market stability.

And while the financial reform bill is supposed to protect average citizens from financial panics in the future, the new regulations will actually make it more difficult for businesses and consumers to get loans. The very people the bill was designed to aid will actually find their opportunities restricted. That’s a complete immunization against failure—never even having the opportunity to succeed or fail.


Australia: More child abuse in the name of child protection

Government "child protection" at work! And the doctors who were complicit in this pointless abuse are just as guilty

It was a decision no parent should have to make. When Mark and Dianne Westley were told their daughter Sarah was dying from a rare cancer, they refused chemotherapy - hoping to give her the best quality of life in the time she had left. But that choice was taken from them.

The Department of Community Services made Sarah a ward of the state and forced chemotherapy on her - a decision the Westleys said had a devastating impact on their daughter in the last months of her life.

Six years after Sarah's death the Westleys have now spoken against the DOCS intervention that they call an "incarceration", one of almost 7000 such decisions made every year to allow medical procedures on children.

"The forced treatment was a complete failure," the couple from Gloucester, north of Newcastle in New South Waels, said in a statement. "It was only after Sarah died that we got hold of the medical records and found out that Sarah already had late-stage cancer when she was first diagnosed and she was terminal when they forced her into having the painful treatments."

The Westleys relived their nightmare in the book Sarah's Last Wish, telling how the deadly ovarian tumour was first misdiagnosed as a pregnancy when their daughter was just 11.

They said their decision to refuse chemotherapy was only made after they found out as much as they could about the rare cancer.

"The authorities incarcerated Sarah in two NSW hospitals for most of 2003, where she was forced to have continuous rounds of chemotherapy for many months," the Westleys said. Between hospital visits Sarah was forced to attend school and, at times in the two years before her death, her parents were restricted to just two hours with their daughter each day.

DOCS figures showed in 12 months in 2008 and 2009, caseworkers acted on 6791 cases classified as "medical treatment not provided".

A spokeswoman said the cases could be as simple as chronic head lice or an untreated broken bone to parents refusing their child a blood transfusion for personal or cultural beliefs. "It is estimated that Community Services would receive approximately two cases each year in which parents refuse medical treatment for their child on the basis of cultural or personal beliefs," she said.

"In these matters, Community Services only intervenes based on expert medical opinion that a child or young person could be seriously harmed or even die without medical treatment."

In one case DOCS took a mother with an infectious disease to the Supreme Court to obtain an order for her child to be vaccinated.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


26 July, 2010

European police to spy on Britons: Now ministers hand over Big Brother powers to foreign officers

Rather bizarre. I would think that only a tiny percentage of Britons support this

Ministers are ready to hand sweeping Big Brother powers to EU states so they can spy on British citizens. Foreign police will be able to travel to the UK and take part in the arrest of Britons. They will be able to place them under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, monitor bank accounts and demand fingerprints, DNA or blood samples.

Anyone who refuses to comply with a formal request for co-operation by a foreign-based force is likely to be arrested by UK officers.

The move will spark a damaging row with backbench Tory MPs opposed to giving such draconian powers to Brussels. The Tories were opposed to the directive in opposition, saying it showed a ‘relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties’.

But ministers have made a dramatic U-turn since joining the pro-EU Lib Dems in government, and the wide-ranging powers are due to be approved later this week.

According to the campaign group Fair Trials International, under the new rules it would be possible, for example, for Spanish police investigating a murder in a nightclub to demand the ID of every British citizen who flew to the country in the month the offence took place.

They could also force the UK to search its DNA database – which contains nearly one million innocent people – and send samples belonging to anybody who was in Spain at the time. This could leave an entirely innocent person facing an agonising battle to establish his or her innocence.

Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has campaigned against the power grab, said: ‘This sweeping directive would put serious operational strains on hard-pressed UK police forces. ‘There are scant safeguards to protect the personal information of law-abiding British citizens. These serious issues should be properly debated in Parliament before the UK decides to opt in.’

The new powers are known as the European Investigation Order (EIO), which is intended as a partner to the highly controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW). One of the major concerns about the EAW, to which Britain is signed up, is that it has been used to investigate the most minor misdemeanours, such as the ‘theft of a dessert’ in a Polish restaurant.

Now member states want to make it easier to gather evidence on another’s soil. The proposal requires an ‘opt in’, which means Britain could sit back and play no part in the new regime. But Whitehall insiders say ministers have been persuaded it has many benefits. In particular, police say they will gain from the fact that the arrangements will be reciprocal, making it easier for them to track suspects overseas.

However the powers in the directive are available to prosecutors only. Britons under suspicion will not have any right to demand information from overseas police which could prove their innocence.

The countries demanding the new powers include ex-Eastern Bloc states Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovenia, as well as Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria. Other nations, including Denmark, are believed to be ready to say no.

Fair Trials International has been leading demands for Britain to stay out of the EIO. The group fears miscarriages of justice and civil liberties abuses and is also concerned about UK police being obliged to investigate matters which are not even crimes here, such as the Portuguese offence of criminal defamation.

Whitehall officials say UK police would be allowed to refuse these requests. It is the first time the coalition has had to consider a controversial EU directive.

The fact that ministers are actively opting in will cause great concern on the Tory benches. MPs point out that since the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, justice and Home Office matters are among the few areas over which we retain control of our own affairs.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government is considering whether or not we should opt in to the European Investigation Order. ‘As we pledged in the coalition document, the Government will approach legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.’

Plans for directly elected police commissioners and a new FBI-style agency to tackle serious crime will be unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May today. Voters will be allowed to elect powerful officials who will control multi-million-pound force budgets and can order chief constables to carry out their policies – or face the sack.

Mrs May hopes the reforms will free police from bureaucracy, making them ‘crime-fighters, not form-writers’. But she faces fierce opposition from the Association of Chief Police Officers, whose president, Sir Hugh Orde, has previously warned that the new jobs could attract ‘retired coppers or lunatics’.

The idea will be to have the first elections as soon as possible. The commissioners will replace the current chairmen of local police authorities, who are simply appointed.

Mrs May will also announce radical plans to scrap the discredited Serious Organised Crime Agency and replace it with the National Crime Agency, a force to crack down on organised crime, drug-smuggling and people-trafficking. Soca was launched four years ago but faced fierce criticism, amid revelations it had clawed back only £78million from crime bosses despite costing the taxpayer a staggering £1.2billion.

A Whitehall source said last night the NCA, which is expected to have a team of between 3,000 and 8,000 ‘agents’, had ‘been approved and has been designed specifically to become Britain’s very own FBI’.

The proposals, forming part of Lib-Con coalition’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, are set out in an internal document entitled Policing In The 21st Century.

Mrs May will also outline a major shake-up to ensure forces do not prevent police officers from carrying out their public duties, for instance jumping into a pond to rescue a drowning child, for fear of breaching health and safety regulations.


A Mindset that Must Be Crushed!

The authoritaianism of American "liberals" on display

He was one of the Oberlin Mafia, the nickname we gave the succession of bright young reporters who found their way to Arkansas years ago looking for their first reporting jobs. Nice kids, all of them. And almost all of them would go on to successful careers. But, fresh out of Oberlin, some of them still exhibited a few of the ideological tics they'd acquired at that politically correct campus. And they couldn't help but reveal them. Usually when politics was being discussed. As it regularly was.

Even the nicest and best mannered of the bunch, which this young man was, would fall back on certain newspeak phrases when pressed. He astounded me because, though a Yankee, he had beautiful manners. He was from Rochester, N.Y., and I've thought well of that city ever since. You could tell he'd been raised right.

I've mercifully forgotten what hot topic of the day we were discussing at lunch that day. Feminism, then known as Women's Lib? Homosexuality? Vegetarianism? The American League pennant race? It scarcely matters because, on hearing something particularly provocative said on the other side of the issue, he could scarcely contain himself. "That," he exclaimed, "is a mindset that must be crushed!"

The phrase has stuck with me. It is so emblematic of what civil discourse isn't. My young friend was suddenly transformed -- into a forerunner of today's shout shows on television. I could swear his eyes almost gleamed when he shouted the phrase. He could have been Lenin on a soapbox.

But the seizure lasted only a moment before he returned to his more civilized self, smiling a little sheepishly. As if some inner demon had been released.

How strange. We were all newspapermen and, while we might disagree about everything else, the one thing we surely could agree on was the importance of free and open expression. Ideas were meant to be expressed, not suppressed. Isn't that what a free press is all about? Crushing mindsets is not in our job description.

Long years have passed since that revelatory moment, but it comes back to me on occasion. Like whenever the orthodoxy of the moment decides that some ideas may not be expressed. Or at least they must be denied an equal hearing. And an equal footing in the public forum.

Case in sad point: The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court the other day in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which concerned a student organization at Hastings Law School, part of the University of California in San Francisco.

To those unacquainted with current ideological fixations, the group's aims might seem wholesome enough -- to discuss the law from a Christian perspective, study the Bible, that sort of thing.

Like so many other groups on that campus, this one sought official recognition -- which would have qualified it for various benefits like the use of the university's buildings, access to e-mail lists, and a share of the student-activity fees the school collects from all its students.

Members of the Christian Legal Society were expected to be, well, Christian -- and to abstain, to quote the group's national charter, from "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle," including "all acts of sexual conduct outside of God's design for marriage between one man and one woman, which acts include fornication, adultery and homosexual conduct."

Gentle Reader can guess what happened next: The university, in accordance with its stated policy that student groups must welcome "all comers," denied the organization official recognition.

Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely in today's ideological climate, there is no record of any of the other 60 or so student groups on campus being denied official status because they limit their membership to those in sympathy with their aims.

For example, the gay-lesbian organization on campus is free to remove any of its officers who "work against the spirit of the organization's goals and objectives," the pro-life group is allowed to enlist only those who share its views, and so sensibly on.

It's called freedom of association, which has to include the freedom not to associate in order to remain meaningful. For no organization can maintain its integrity if it is forced to open its leadership to those whose ideas and aims may be inimical to its own. Think of the possibilities: A black student association being taken over by skinheads, or the Young Democrats subverted by a well-organized cell of young Republicans.

It will not surprise Gentle Reader to learn that the Christian Legal Society was turned down when it took its case to the courts -- all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it lost a 5-to-4 decision. For its is a mindset that must be crushed! Or at least set apart. All groups may be equal at Hastings but, to borrow another Orwellian construction, some are to be less equal than others.

The great advantage of the separation of church and state is that they are kept, well, separate. But in this instance the state, through the agency of a public university, has arrogated to itself the authority to decide whom the church, as represented by this student religious group, must admit to membership, even leadership.

If the Christian Legal Society is allowed to remain on campus, it must not be on equal terms. It must be set apart, singled out for special treatment, forced to operate under a handicap lest it contaminate the minds of others -- in short, ghettoized. Perhaps the university could design a special yellow badge for its members to wear.

This student organization might consider meeting in the nearest catacombs, for true faith flourishes when it is persecuted, while the kind of faith that renders all to Caesar may find government's embrace more of a stranglehold.


Australia: Child sex accused priest OK to work with kids??

Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

A PRIEST stood down by his church over allegations that he had sex with a teenage boy has been handed a blue card to work with children by a Queensland tribunal.

The man, now in his 50s, lost his licence to officiate as a priest when he was found unfit to hold Holy Orders, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told during an application hearing last month.

It was alleged that the priest, then a parish curate in his 20s, had sex with a boy aged from 16 to 18 on several occasions, showed him pornographic images and took him to a sex shop.

The Sunday Mail has been prevented from identifying the priest after his solicitors sought a non-publication order from the tribunal late Friday.

The case follows revelations last week that seven Queenslanders denied blue cards because of criminal convictions later won them back after appeals to the tribunal.

The tribunal heard that the boy had been a parishioner and his parents had left him in the care of the priest while they went overseas on a holiday. Some of the sexual acts allegedly occurred when the priest stayed with the boy at a motel and at a caravan park. Police investigated after a complaint was received, but no charges were laid, the tribunal was told.

However, after a recent church investigation into the allegations ruled that "sexually inappropriate behaviour" had occurred, the Board of Professional Standards decided he was not fit to hold Holy Orders due to the gravity of the breach of trust. The Commissioner for Children and Young People then cancelled his blue card.

The priest is entitled to an automatic review of the church decision, which is under way, but he has not been able to officiate in his former parish.

He had held a blue card, allowing him to work or volunteer with children, since 2007.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which heard the former priest's appeal over his blue card, said the allegations were not contested in the church proceedings.

A forensic psychiatrist, giving evidence to the tribunal, said that there had been no indication of deviance since the time of the allegations and the priest was not a risk to the community.

He said assuming the alleged events had occurred, "it was likely to be an experimentation of early adulthood, part of the 'craziness of the age group' ".

After hearing evidence from another priest and parishioners, the tribunal found, on balance of probabilities, there was not an unacceptable risk of harm to children and ordered that the priest be given a blue card.

It found the protective factors, including that over the past 28 years he had led an "exemplary life of altruism and service", outweighed the risks. The Children's Commissioner can appeal.


Neuroscience backs the Bible?

WOMEN'S and girls' magazines are full of advice on better sex, from how to catch and hold your man down to detailed instructions on sexual techniques. Now it seems the oldest written recipe, the Bible's, might be the best.

Neuroscientific studies suggest that "life-long heterosexual monogamy" is most likely to provide both sexual satisfaction and excitement, a Melbourne conference heard at the weekend.

While women's activist Melinda Tankard Reist complained that Dolly magazine, aimed at 10 to 13-year-old girls, provided instructions on oral and anal sex without any context or warnings, Sydney University sexologist Patricia Weerakoon said biblical sexual ethics were healthy and life-affirming.

In a joint paper with her son, Sydney Presbyterian minister Kamal Weerakoon, she said non-religious people expected the church to be fearful, ignorant, defensive, repressed and hypocritical with only one message about sex: don't do it.

But a biblical understanding of sex was deeply positive - "do it, God made us for it" - while also being honest about human imperfections and limitations.

Mr Weerakoon told the national conference on religion in the public square that neuroscientists working in sexology - which studies gender and sexuality - showed that sexual activity had three stages: lust, love and bonding.

Each stage had its own particular hormones, including "feel-good" at the second stage, and "cuddle" hormones at the third.

In the lust or desire stage, the dominant hormone was testosterone. In the second stage, involving attraction to a specific person, the "feel-good" hormones of dopamine, serotonin and adrenalin came into play.

In the third stage, of long-term bonding, the "cuddle hormones" or oxytocin and vasopressin, played a bigger role.

"Biologically, we are wired to desire sex, to fall in love with the person we desire sex with, and for that love to develop into deep attachment. Our bodies are wired to operate best with one sexual partner for life," he said. "Both academia and pop culture assume that biblical, Christian sexual ethics are at best outdated and irrelevant, and at worst repressive and harmful. We are seen as legalist, repressed, hypocritical killjoys who spend all our time trying to stop everyone from having a good time."

But a biblical sexual anthropology and ethic was the church's gift to the world, he said. "Christians should be out and proud."

Ms Tankard Reist told the conference that despite talk of "girl power", girls lived in a pornified world, bombarded with sexual imagery before they were psychologically ready. Parents had to object when they saw T-shirts for pre-teens proclaiming "It's not rape if you shout 'surprise"' or "Save a virgin. Do me instead".



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


25 July, 2010

Free the police and save billions

David Copperfield, a former British cop now serving in Canada, explains why his new force is so much better – and cheaper – for the public -- a telling commentary on what 13 years of Labour party rule has done to British policing. Massive bureaucracy thwarts crime control. Leftists have faith in regulations, not people. No prizes for guessing which works best

The prophets of doom say Home Office cuts will hand Britain's streets to criminals: 60,000 police jobs could go, says the BBC; the Association of Chief Police Officers thinks 20,000 bobbies could be sacked. I read these reports from across the Atlantic – having left the British police to join a force in Canada two years ago – with bemusement. My experience tells me that you could easily slash billions from budgets and actually improve policing, which is now a job creation scheme for bureaucrats.

Over here in the wheat-and-oil province of Alberta, Edmonton is home to one million people and is a relatively high-crime city by Canadian standards. Compare us with Greater Manchester Police. They cover about 2.5 million people, but the problems – drugs, sex offences, violent crime, domestic abuse, burglary and public order – are the same.

I now carry a gun, and I'm probably a bit slimmer than the average Manchester bobby (as a result of a compulsory annual fitness test and a well-equipped gym at work), but my responsibilities are similar: I investigate everything from murders to school bullying; I enforce traffic laws; I give out parking tickets; and I patrol the streets. People still ask me for the time, directions to the nearest bus station, and what the drink-drive limit is.

So how do both forces stack up? Well, there are 10 violent crimes per 1,000 people in Edmonton; in Greater Manchester, Home Office statistics show 16 offences of violence per 1,000 people (in Manchester itself, the figure is nearly 24/1,000, and in Britain as a whole, 15/1,000).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our 2009 Citizen Survey shows that 89 per cent of residents "have a lot of confidence in the Edmonton Police Service", with 66 per cent saying they feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark. In the GMP area, only 50 per cent of people think the police are doing an "excellent or good" job, which leaves an awful lot of unhappy taxpayers.

But do we spend more money? No. The EPS budget for 2010 is £150 million – or £150 for every citizen. The GMP budget is £690 million – or £276 for every citizen. They could lose 40 per cent of their budget and still have more cash per capita than we do.

Of course, how you spend money is important. GMP employs 8,232 police officers in a total staff of 13,082, or one person for every 181 members of the public. My force employs about 1,400 officers and 500 civilians – one person for every 526 members of the public.

So with less money and far fewer cops, we do a better job, and there are lessons that can be learnt by British officers and their political masters.

First, bureaucracy. When I worked in Britain, if I arrested a man over a fight in a pub, it could easily take six hours to deal with – even if he admitted the offence. Central custody can be 20 miles away or more. When you get there you have to wait to book him in, wait for his lawyer, interview him on tape, fill in endless forms in longhand, usually duplicating the same information, fax it all to the CPS and wait some more while they tell you whether you can charge him.

In Edmonton, I decide whether to charge, after quickly running through the facts with my sergeant on the phone. I don't usually interview the guy – he can save his story for the court. I also decide whether to bail him. If I want to remand him, I'll have another short discussion and take him to jail, with a few pieces of paper and a copy of my brief report.

We do all this while having regard for the proper rights of suspects: they get to talk to lawyers (over the phone, not in person), they get to make complaints, and it's all done on video. A Charter of Human Rights is written into Canadian law. I'm back on the street a short while after the arrest.

I'm not alone, either – and the second key is that we actually police. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary reported last week that in larger forces like GMP, as few as six per cent of warranted officers were available at any one time to deal with crime. The rest were either tied up with paperwork or were part of the huge cadre of cops who never leave the station.

Over here, everyone is hands-on, almost all the time – even senior officers. Yesterday, my superintendent questioned us closely about a series of burglaries on our patch. To those serving in the penal battalions of the British police, the idea that a superintendent might care about burglaries, or know which officer to speak to about them, and might even turn up regularly on a morning parade, is fanciful.

Which brings me to my third point. When I got back to my car, I turned on my wireless laptop and brought up the real-time crime map, detailing incidents, methods and likely suspects. Then I went to try to catch them.

This technology gives us a great advantage over the British bobby – I can check vehicles and people, access intelligence reports, update incidents, write reports and charge people without having to return to the station. I can see which calls are still waiting for police attention and how many minutes they've been waiting. (British officers note: minutes, not hours, and certainly not days.)

The fourth crucial difference in policing is that we are financed by local taxpayers. We do what they want, not some central government police minister based in Ottawa (I think it's Ottawa; Canada's a big place). There are no standing armies of crime auditors, policing pledge compliance teams (yes, still) and crime management units. It's just cops, policing.

Rank-and-file British police are among the finest in the world, which is why Canada has been keen to recruit them. It's just the system that lets them – and the public – down. So my message to the Home Office is simple: cut the paperwork, sack bureaucrats, free up your police – and see what happens.


Antisemitic British judge gets vandals freed

A senior judge was under investigation yesterday after being accused of making anti-Semitic remarks in court that may have swayed his jury into acquitting a group of protesters.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman was said by critics to have persuaded a jury to clear a group of campaigners who smashed up a factory making parts for Israeli warplanes. Summing up in the criminal damage trial, he compared Israel to the Nazi regime and accused the country of ignoring international law. The judge added that 'there may be much to be admired' about the chief protester, and that 'in the last war he would probably have received a George Medal'.

The Office for Judicial Complaints, which deals with objections over the conduct of judges and magistrates, confirmed that an inquiry into how Judge Bathurst-Norman handled the trial of five political activists at Hove Crown Court in June is under way.

Its findings will be considered by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who have the final say on any disciplinary action. A number of complaints are said to have accused the judge not just of anti-Israel rhetoric but specifically of anti-Semitism.

The case involved a group of activists who broke into and vandalised a Brighton factory run by engineering firm EDO MBM. The company was making parts for use in the bomb-aiming equipment on Israeli F16 warplanes. The invasion shut the factory for a week and caused £187,000 worth of damage. But five men and women who appeared in court claimed they had done nothing wrong under criminal damage law.

The law says someone is not guilty of causing damage if they believed it was necessary for the immediate protection of someone else's property. It is framed to protect, for example, someone who smashes a neighbour's door down if they believe their house is on fire.

However, in the Brighton case, the activists claimed they believed their invasion was necessary for the protection of property in Gaza. Several similar defences by protesters have been successful in recent years. In 2008, six Greenpeace protesters were acquitted after causing £30,000 worth of damage at a coal-fired power station. The jury in that case accepted they had acted to prevent climate change causing greater damage.

Describing evidence shown in court, Judge Bathurst-Norman told the jury that he could only describe the 'horrific' events shown as 'scenes which one would rather have hoped to have disappeared with the Nazi regimes of the last war'. In his summing up, he gave his backing to the evidence of one defendant, Ornella Saibene, a former Greenham Common activist.

The judge said: 'She took us through the horrors, and there really is no other word for it than horrors, that emerged in the press and on the news and the footage as to what the Israelis were doing in Gaza. 'You may think that perhaps "Hell on Earth" would be an understatement of what the Gazans endured.'

Among groups complaining was the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Its president, Vivian Wineman, said: 'The judge's comments give rise to profound concerns about the appropriateness of his directions to the jury.'

Jonathan Hoffman, of the Zionist Federation, said: 'This opens the door to any group which thinks the British presence in Afghanistan is wrong to go and smash up plants supplying British forces.'


Memphis Christians Fear Discrimination if Revision to Anti-Bias Policy Gets OKL

A proposed ordinance in Memphis, Tenn., that would ban discrimination against gays is causing outrage among some local critics who say the ordinance itself would be discriminatory -- against people who oppose homosexuality because of their religious beliefs.

"It's going to discriminate against people of faith who are Christians in their worldview, and I believe with all my heart that they have rights too," says Bellevue Baptist Church Pastor Steven Gaines.

The amendment to the city’s existing non-discrimination policy, which was presented to the city council Tuesday, would prohibit the city from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression against employees, as well as anyone who has a contract with the city or who uses city facilities.

City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who sponsored the proposal at the request of gay rights organization Tennessee Equality Project, told the council Tuesday that every human deserves the right to be protected in the workplace.

“All people should be able to make a living, to provide for their families and contribute to their communities without fear of losing their jobs for something that has nothing to do with their job performance,” said Jonathan Cole, a spokesman for Tennessee Equality Project. “Right now it’s legal in Memphis to be fired simply because someone is gay or lesbian or transgender.”

But council member Barbara Swearengen Ware said the ordinance is simply unnecessary. "Is there a box on the application that requires people to check gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? Then how do I know you are unless you're trying to flaunt it in my face?" she asked at the meeting, then contended that the city is already an equal opportunity employer and doesn’t need the amendment, the Memphis Flyer reported.

Critics also voiced concerns over biological men using women’s bathrooms. Fullilove responded by telling the council, "I know there are a lot of people with concerns about people going to the rest room. But how many times do you go into a restroom and look into the stall and ask, what are you? A man or a woman?"

Cole told Fox News he respects concerns that some critics have for the pending legislation, but he was especially bothered by the outrage coming from Bellevue Baptist Church. “They really lack moral authority on the issue,” he said. “This is the same congregation that can’t even share a softball field with a lesbian coach.” The church allegedly told a lesbian coach that her team would not be able to play in their church softball league after they discovered her sexual orientation.

“We think it would be wrong to have any city tax dollars go towards discriminating against any city employee,” Cole said. However, Cole stressed that his group is willing to make some concessions and perhaps offer churches an exemption from the proposed law. “We’re willing to start somewhere by giving them an exemption,” he said. “At least for the time being.”

The ordinance is scheduled to be discussed again before the full council on August 3.


How not to win: Fighting an unnamed enemy waging an unrecognized war

Since arriving in office, the Obama administration has delved deeply into its thesaurus to find ways of speaking about Islamism without mentioning it. In his June 2009 Cairo speech, a not atypical example, President Obama referred repeatedly to ‘extremists,’ ‘violent extremists’ and ‘violent extremism.’ He even referred at one point to anti-Israel terrorism by its Palestinian euphemism – ‘resistance.’

Add to this the philological ingenuities of his officials: ‘man-caused disasters’ (terrorism) and ‘overseas contingency operations’ (fighting Islamists in Afghanistan), and the omission of any mention of the terrorism and the ideology animating it is virtually uniform in this administration.

However, following last week’s terrorist outrages against Ugandans, Obama has referred now to ‘terrorists’ while also hitting on a new term: ‘racist.’ As an administration official helpfully explained, al Qaeda does not deploy its black African recruits except in their “lower level operations.” Are we then to assume that the administration would be pleased to see a higher proportion of black Africans in al-Qaeda’s operational cadre?

A cynic might argue that this reaction to the terrorist outrages affords hope that this race-preoccupied administration might be about to take Islamists seriously, if only because of al Qaeda’s contempt for inclusiveness and diversity. Unfortunately, any such hope would be frivolous.

Consider, for example, the rationale advanced by the Obama administration for banishing the words ‘Islamism’ and ‘jihad’ from the governmental lexicon.

In May, John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief national security adviser for counterterrorism, contended that to use such terms “would lend credence” to the notion “that the United States is somehow at war against Islam ... Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one’s community.”

Yet, according to all schools of Islamic jurisprudence, jihad has always constituted a struggle by all means, including waging war, to establish and extend Muslim dominion over non-Muslims. Purification is seen to reside in attaining this objective, not in some conception of personal or communal development that Brennan artlessly drapes over it. The United States is not at war with Islam, but Muslims who wage jihad are at war with the United States.

Then consider who else of Brennan’s ilk Obama has appointed – or sought to appoint – to senior posts:

Rashad Hussain, envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the 57-member inter-governmental group of Muslim majority states: A former Justice Department official and White House deputy counsel, Hussain claimed in a 2007 article that restrictions placed on non-immigrant visitors from countries which have produced Islamist terror threats are “racist.” Hussain has also called the prosecution of a Florida professor who was found to have been illegally funding the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (presumed politically correct name: Palestinian Extremist Man-Made Disaster-Causers) “politically motivated persecution.”

Dalia Mogahed, adviser, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: Executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Mogahed has been a promoter-apologist of groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), both of which are tied to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Mogahed claims that “misinformation” campaigns have tried to “disenfranchise them.” In fact, CAIR’s founder is on record praising suicide bombers and saying he would like the Quran to be the highest authority in America. Officials of both CAIR and ISNA have been indicted for funneling money to foreign terrorists.

Chas. W. Freeman: A former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman was nominated last year by Obama to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council before vulnerabilities in his record of close ties to tyrannies like China and Saudi Arabia compelled him to withdraw. Freeman regards Palestinian terrorism as “resistance” and believes that America has shown Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group that calls in its Charter for the world-wide murder of Jews, “unreasoning hostility.”

This impossible to satirize line-up suggests that this administration cannot win – itself an objective consciously discarded in Afghanistan by Obama in favor of ‘shoring up security in the country’ – over an unnamed enemy waging an unrecognized war.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


24 July, 2010

When Britain's "health and safety" obsession kills

Cowardice is now officially encouraged, and even compulsory. That is still no excuse for the worm described below, however.

A choking diner died after a paramedic refused treatment because he feared for his own safety. Builder John Kinder began to gasp for breath as his frantic friend Frank Honey pushed away staff who had rushed to Mr Kinder's aid.

When an ambulance arrived, the paramedic told the restaurant manager in Manchester he wouldn't go inside - because Mr Honey, 65, was 'aggressive'. He waited for police to arrive ten minutes later - by which time Mr Kinder, 55, had suffered fatal brain damage.

The details emerged as coroner Nigel Meadows dramatically halted an inquest into the death to demand answers about ambulance service protocol. Mr Meadows said: 'I want to know why they took some time before entering the restaurant.'

Mr Kinder's widow Judith said she had found it hard to understand why a paramedic wouldn't help her husband. She told the hearing: 'John didn't deserve to die because the behaviour another man stopped him being treated.'

The inquest heard how Mr Kinder and Mr Honey had both ordered steak and chips, with a bottle of wine, at the Villaggio Restaurant on Canal Street.

Minutes after they were served, manageress Lauren Littlechild heard a plate and glass smash and saw Mr Kinder fighting for breath. She said: 'I thought he was having an asthma attack but he got worse and we called an ambulance. 'I spoke to the paramedic and told him a man was struggling to breathe.

'The paramedic said an aggressive man was in the restaurant. I told him the man was about 70 and that there was no threat. 'But he insisted on waiting for the police. I just wanted him to get a bit closer and advise us what to do - but he still insisted on a police presence.'

Miss Littlechild said Mr Honey had made it difficult for staff to get to Mr Kinder. 'It was obvious he had had a lot to drink and was shoving us and waving his arms around,' she said.

When police officers arrived they escorted the paramedic into the restaurant.

Mr Kinder, of Charlesworth, Glossop, died five days later in Manchester Royal Infirmary from irreversible brain damage caused by oxygen starvation.

Mr Honey said he and Mr Kinder had been 'in a couple of pubs' before going for a meal.

An ambulance service spokesman said: 'Based on information available, usually from the 999 caller, staff can take the decision to stand off from a scene until it is deemed safe.

'These measures are taken in order to protect staff. If they require a police presence, they would request this via control and then wait for their arrival.'


PA Arabs Tell Pop Group: Don't Sing about Babylon

1970s disco group Boney M performed at Ramallah this week, but the local music festival prevented it from performing one of its biggest hits, because it features the Jewish people's yearning for the Land of Zion, the Associated Press reported.

Lead singer Maizie Williams said Palestinian Authority concert organizers told her not to sing "Rivers of Babylon." The organizers said they asked for the song to be skipped, because they found it "inappropriate."

The song's lyrics are a loose paraphrase of Psalm 137. They include the lines:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down;
yea we wept, when we remembered Zion.
When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land.

Spokesmen for the PA, and for Arab countries in general, tend to vehemently deny the connection between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel.

Yet the Bible – the book that Western civilization is built around – is rife with thousands of verses that clearly establish the connection without any doubt. The Jews' yearning for Israel and the Divine commandment of settling in Israel are among the most central themes of the Holy Book, if not the most central one. Repeatedly in the Bible, G-d exhorts the Jews to obey his commandments or suffer banishment from the Holy Land. This week's reading starts with Moses' begging G-d to allow him to enter the land to which he led the Jews before he dies.

Extremist Muslim and Arab culture seems to find this rock-solid fact increasingly unbearable in recent years, and seek to deny it to the world, and to themselves as well, counting on repetition to make their contention believable.

"I don't know if it is a political thing or what, but they asked us not to do it and we were a bit disappointed that we could not do it because we know that everybody loves this song no matter what," Williams said. "I believe you should entertain wherever you are asked to entertain, whether it is Israel, whether it is Palestine, whether it is Lebanon, where ever it is, we go," she added.

The band, which was hugely popular in Europe and Israel some 35 years ago, performed its other big hits for hundreds of fans at the Palestinian International Festival.

The PA has been campaigning with some success to get international artists to stop giving concerts in Israel. The Pixies and Elvis Costello, for example, have canceled concerts in Israel following pressure from pro-PA groups. Others, such as Elton John, who did not cancel his recent concert in Israel, performed to record crowds..


Spanish 'Thought police' slam media with fine totaling $125,000

Offending ad sang praises of traditional family structure but the Leftist Spanish government is illegally trying to squash it

A Christian-inspired media group is being targeted with a fine of about $125,000 for its broadcast of television ads that promote the traditional family by using video footage of homosexual "pride" events and asking "Proud … of what?"

According to a detailed documentation of the case by the European Center for Law and Justice, an affiliate of the U.S.-based American Center for Law and Justice, the fine targets the multimedia communication group Intereconomia, which among other things owns ALBA – a Christian-inspired weekly publication in Spain.

The fine of 100,000 euros was announced recently by Spain's Ministry of Industry, the government agency "responsible for regulating telecommunications and audiovisual media," not too dissimilar from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which adopted a new federal "hate crimes" law regulating such speech only months ago.

According to the ECLJ report, Intereconomia said the democratic nation of Spain should not have a "thought police" and contended the fine violated the fundamental democratic principle of the right of expression.

The accusation against the media company charged that the ads included material that was "likely to produce the effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons" – otherwise known as "hate speech."

But the ECLJ noted the decision violates case law already issued by the European Court of Human Rights, and the Spanish government's prosecution "goes directly against international standards protecting freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion."

The ad, which aired about 270 times over the course of the pro-family campaign, showed "only actual footage" of homosexuals marching and dancing in various parades. "Is this the type of society you want?" the ad asked. "Are these the examples you want for your children?" The ad also suggested that if there is a "Gay Pride Day," the other 364 days of the year should be recognized as days of pride for heterosexuals.

"As the European Court of Human Rights stated several times, freedom of expression is an essential foundation of democratic society," the ECLJ report said. "Freedom of expression is not only a guarantee against the state but also a fundamental principle for life in democracy. Freedom of expression applies not only to information and ideas that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive or indifferent, but also to expression that may offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population."

European precedents have concluded only a "pressing social need" may justify a limitation to freedom of speech.

But, as a Catholic media organization, Intereconomía "has not only the right of freedom of expression, but also the right of religious freedom under Article 9 of the Convention," the organization explained.

"In its duty to promote pluralism and tolerance and to respect the standards of a democratic society, the Spanish government should acknowledge the importance of religious speech and practice of faith. Under European law, it has never been a crime to merely express religious belief, nor should it ever be," the law organization said.


Australia: Multiculturalism protects a vicious assault

Samoan man convicted of smashing a man's jaw for allegedly disrespecting his sister -- but no jail

A SAMOAN national has narrowly avoided being immediately sent to jail for smashing the jaw of a fast food worker who was "culturally disrespectful" toward his younger sister.

The Brisbane District Court was told Sanervie Sautia landed a single punch to the face KFC employee Robert Hirsch, 20, and breaking his jaw in two places at the fastfood chain's Inala store, 15km west of Brisbane, on April 16 last year.

Sautia, 23, was today sentenced two years' jail, but released on immediate parole, after pleading guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm.

Lawyers for Sautia argued it was considered unacceptable in Samoan culture for a person to disrespect or insult a woman. Barrister Tim Ryan said his client "never intended" to harm Mr Hirsch, but confronted casual KFC employee over having called his sister a "f***head.’’ "In the Samoan culture it is unacceptable to disrespect females," Mr Ryan said.

The court was told Mr Hirsch allegedly made the "insulting" remark while working with Sautia's sister - also then employed by KFC.

Prosecutor Rob Glenday said Mr Hirsch had been sitting on the KFC store's loading dock, on a break, when he was approached by Sautia about 2.30pm. Mr Glenday said Sautia confronted Mr Hirch saying: "What's you name bro? So you was the one going off at my sister."

Mr Hirsch replied: "No way." The court was told Sautia told Mr Hirsch to never "f***ing talk to my sister like that" and punched him once in the face.

Mr Glenday said Mr Hirsch was later taken to hospital and required surgery to insert three metal plates, to secure his jaw, and 35 internal and two-external stitches. Mr Hirch was forced to "eat through a straw" for numerous weeks after the attack, the court was told. "(This was a) mindless act of aggression against (Mr Hirsch) while he was sitting down at work," he said.

Judge Richard Jones, in sentencing Sautia, said the attack may have been triggered by a cultural "slight", but that it was an unacceptable act of violence.

"It is a most serious offence and is all too prevalent in society today," Judge Jones said. "(Mr Hirsch) worked with your sister at the Kentucky Fried Chicken premises ... and insulted your sister ... using coarse language. "It appears among Samoan culture ... to insult a woman is a significant slight indeed. "It may provide an explanation, but no excuse."



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


23 July, 2010

British taxpayer must fund balls and comedy workshops for criminals??

The Tory Left is really squishy. Margaret Thatcher called them "wets"

A Tory minister has provoked fury with an astonishing declaration that taxpayers should fund comedy workshops and party nights for prisoners. Crispin Blunt also set out how he planned to scrap harsh indefinite sentences for the country's most depraved criminals.

The prisons minister was immediately accused of damaging the Conservatives' reputation as the party of law and order.

Mr Blunt revealed he had overturned a ban on publicly funded jollies for prisoners - brought in following condemnation of a horror-themed fancy dress party for women inmates, including seven convicted killers.

The restriction, which explicitly ruled out events likely to outrage the public, had also been a response to revelations that an Al Qaeda terrorist was given lessons on how to be a stand-up comic while at a high-security prison. But Mr Blunt branded the guidance, introduced in 2008, 'damaging and daft' and revoked it.

He also indicated an end to sentences which allow judges to lock up indefinitely thousands of the country's worst offenders - including rapists, paedophiles and murderers. Known as Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection - or IPPs - they ensure the worst criminals are kept behind bars for life unless they prove that they are no longer a threat to the public.

However, Mr Blunt said too many IPP sentences, brought in under Labour, were handed out, adding that locking people up and throwing away the key was 'not the answer'.

The disturbing moves follow the announcement by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke that thousands of offenders will be given community sentences instead of short jail terms.

Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who introduced the ban on unacceptable events, condemned the impact on victims and said the law-abiding public would be 'incredulous'.

In a speech to prison reform groups, Mr Blunt, 50, also claimed - astonishingly - that in overturning the ban he was acting in the spirit of Winston Churchill. He even quoted a speech the famous war leader gave 100 years ago, in which he advocated cultural events for inmates.

But Churchill, a noted prison reformer, was arguing simply that inmates should be able to hear performances from military bands or lectures from prominent public speakers.

Mr Blunt said: 'We recognise that arts activities can play a valuable role in helping offenders to address issues such as communication problems and low self-esteem and enabling them to engage in programmes that address their offending behaviour.

Mr Blunt's proposed abolition of IPP sentences - which could come into effect in a matter of months - will be welcomed by Left-wing prison reform groups who have described them as 'ferocious and unjust'.

But it will raise concerns that killers and child abusers could be given softer punishments and be released earlier. Those currently serving IPP sentences include Tracey Connelly, the mother of Baby P.

Backbench Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: 'I think Tory ministers have to decide pretty quickly, are they there to run the Criminal Justice System in the interests of those who work for it or are they there to run it in the interests of the law abiding of the country?

'If they carry on running the Criminal Justice System in the interests of those who work in it and their leftist agenda then I do not think they can survive as the party of law and order for very much longer.' ...

By dropping a ban on prisoner parties and abolishing IPP sentences, he appears intent on antagonising both the public and members of his own party.

Is he polluted by the presence of so many Liberal Democrats in the Coalition? Or is he just following the controversial lead set by his boss Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has set his face against the old Tory mantra that 'prison works'.

Mr Clarke has already enraged many on the Right with his stated desire to reduce the prison population, review the need for short sentences and his recent claim that locking up criminals has no link to the falling crime rate.

Perhaps Mr Blunt is again simply playing the obedient soldier, following his reckless commanding officer through a political minefield.


Spineless Australian justice system encourages further crime

The thug himself says so. Previous experience with the courts left him with no fear of the justice system

A YOUNG armed robber who slit a teenager's throat on a tram later said he'd wanted to eat his victim's heart, police say.

The 18-year-old also bragged on Facebook that he had been on bail at the time of the attack.

This week the teen, who cannot be identified because of his age, pleaded guilty to charges over his random attack on a 15-year-old boy. According to a police summary tendered before Melbourne Magistrates' Court, the boy told his victim he was the "king of Melbourne", saying: "I'm with (street gangs) MTS and LBK. "Don't start crying or I'll slit your throat." He then rummaged through the victim's school bag and his pockets, stealing items including a mobile phone and iPod nano.

"The accused then stood up, grabbed the left side of the victim's head with one hand and tilted his head exposing his neck," the summary says. "With his right hand, the accused ran the knife over the victim's neck cutting him from the left side of his neck to his chin, causing the victim to bleed.

The attacker later boasted on Facebook that he "had a stabbing and a robbery and assault pending. And I still got bailed. The dumb slut of a judge ha ha ha".

The victim's mother, who didn't want to be identified, told the Herald Sun yesterday she was "outraged" the attacker had been freed on bail. "This didn't have to happen to my son. What happened to my son is tragic - he is still suffering psychologically," she said, saying he was too traumatised to speak.

She said the attacker should serve the maximum penalty for his crime, and in an adult jail, not youth detention....

Later he told police: "My lawyer is gonna get me off all this s--- anyway, so I'm gonna laugh at youse when youse are at my court case." The boy pleaded guilty to armed robbery, intentionally causing injury, making a threat to kill, and threatening to inflict serious injury.

The teen attacker will appear in the County Court for a pre-sentence plea hearing in November.


NYC mosque: Anywhere But Here

Michael Reagan

Plans to build a mosque and Islamic center just 200 meters from the former site of the World Trade Center where 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are not merely inappropriate, they are an outrage.

This isn’t about some sort of reconciliation between Muslims and their New York neighbors, it’s the equivalent of plunging a dagger into the very heart of America. If the Muslim community had any sense of compassion for the feelings of their fellow Americans, they’d find someplace else to build their mosque. Instead, they choose a site that forever serves as a reminder of that fatal blow against the American people.

Incredibly, the proposed $100 million development is located at the site of the former Burlington Coat Factory in Lower Manhattan, which closed after the landing gear from one of the 9/11 planes hit the building. It is about 200 meters from World Trade Center, where 3,000 people died in the terrorist attack.

Do the members of the Muslim community have any idea of how the American people feel about the site of that cowardly attack on the World Trade Center buildings? Do they not understand that the site itself stands as an indictment of the perfidy of the 9/11 sneak attack and is the least appropriate site for a Muslim religious complex that will stand as a stark reminder of that attack and the people behind it?

The proposed mosque will be part of what is known as the Cordoba House project, a 13-story Muslim community center planned to include a theater and sports facilities, including a swimming pool.

I agree with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who asked “peace-seeking Muslims, to try to understand that a Ground Zero mosque is unnecessary provocation; it stabs hearts."

That fact failed to impress Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who is reported to have said “there is controversy and there are parties that have a political agenda and want to intimidate the American people against the mosque project which has not yet begun.” He singled out Republican Congressman Peter King, whose opinion, he said, “should not be considered because his ideas are extreme.

Rep. King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he favors an investigation into the funding of a proposed mosque near ground zero and has demanded an investigation into the financing of the center. He wants to know who is really footing the bill for the 100 million dollar project.

"It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaida," King told the AP. "I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions.

"Right at this moment in history, it's bad form to put it there," he said. "There are things you are allowed to do, but that aren't appropriate to do."

According to Imam Abdul Rauf, the Islamic center would be financed through contributions from Muslims here in the United States, and by donations from various Arab and Islamic countries. He admits that building a Mosque, due to accommodate some 2,000 worshippers, has stirred heated controversy and criticism from families of 9/11 victims.

That’s putting it mildly. Many of the 9/11 victims’ families have voiced strong objections to the proposed mosque. Evelyn Pettigano, whose sister died on 9/11, told the Associated Press: “I'm not prejudiced…it's too close to the area where our family members were murdered."

And said the mother of a New York City firefighter who died as well: "I think it's despicable, and I think it's atrocious that anyone would even consider allowing them to build a mosque near the World Trade Center." If this project is allowed to continue, Mohamed Atta WINS!!! That pretty much says it all.


Secretive web-snooping plan by Australia's Leftist Federal government

The federal government has censored approximately 90 per cent of a secret document outlining its controversial plans to snoop on Australians' web surfing, obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws, out of fear it could cause "premature unnecessary debate".

The government has been consulting with the internet industry over the proposal, which would require ISPs to store certain internet activities of all Australians - regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing - for law enforcement agencies to access. All parties to the consultations have been sworn to secrecy.

Industry sources have claimed that the controversial regime could go as far as collecting the individual web browsing history of every Australian internet user, a claim denied by the Attorney-General Robert McClelland's spokesman.

The exact details of the web browsing data the government wants ISPs to collect are contained in the document released to this website under FoI, which was handed out to industry during a secret briefing it held with them in March.

But from the censored document released, it is impossible to know how far the government is planning to take the policy.

The government is hiding the plans from the public and it appears to want to move quickly on industry consultation, asking for participants to respond within only one month after it had held the briefings.

The Attorney-General's Department legal officer, FoI and Privacy Section, Claudia Hernandez, wrote in her decision in releasing the highly-censored document that the release of some sections of it “... may lead to premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and impede government decision making”.

Hernandez said that the material in question related to information the department was "currently weighing up and evaluating in relation to competing considerations that may have a bearing on a particular course of action or decision".

"More specifically, it is information concerning the development of government policy which has not been finalised, and there is a strong possibility that the policy will be amended prior to public consultation," she wrote.

Further, she said that although she had acknowledged the public's right to "participate in and influence the processes of government decision making and policy formulation ... the premature release of the proposal could, more than likely, create a confusing and misleading impression".

"In addition, as the matters are not settled and proposed recommendations may not necessarily be adopted, release of such documents would not make a valuable contribution to public debate.”

Hernandez went further to say that she considered disclosure of the document uncensored "could be misleading to the public and cause confusion and premature and unnecessary debate”.

“In my opinion, the public interest factors in favour of release are outweighed by those against," Hernandez said.

The "data retention regime" the government is proposing to implement is similar to that adopted by the European Union after terrorist attacks several years ago.

Greens Communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said the excuse not to release the proposal in full was “extraordinary”. Since finding out about the scheme, he has launched a senate inquiry into it and other issues.

“The idea that its release could cause 'premature' or 'unnecessary' debate is not going to go down well with the thousands of people who have been alarmed by the direction that government is taking,” he said in a telephone interview.

“I would really like to know what the government is hiding in this proposal,” he said, adding that he hoped that the Attorney-General's Department would be “more forthcoming” about the proposal in the senate inquiry into privacy he pushed for in June.

Online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesman Colin Jacobs said what was released was "a joke". "We have to assume the worse," he said. "And that is that the government has been badgering the telcos with very aggressive demands that should worry everybody.”

Jacobs said that the onus was now on government to “explain what data they need, what problem it solves, and just as importantly, why it can’t be done in an open process”.

“The more sensitive the process and the data they want, the more transparent the government needs to be about why it wants that data,” he said. “Nobody could argue that public consultation ... would somehow help criminals,” he added.

“We have to turn the age old question back on the government: if you don’t have anything to hide, then you shouldn’t be worried about people having insight into the consultation.

“This is a very sensitive and important issue. It raises huge questions about privacy, data security, and the burden of increased costs to smaller internet service providers. What really needs to be debated is what particular information they want, because that’s where the privacy issue rears its ugly head,” he said.

According to one internet industry source, the release of the highly-censored document was “illustrative of government's approach to things where they don’t want people to know what they’re thinking in advance of them getting it ready to package for public consumption,” the source said. “And that’s worrying.”

The Attorney General Robert McClelland's spokesman declined to comment, referring comment to the department. The department said it had "nothing to add" to the FOI letter it provided.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


22 July, 2010

£37 MILLION: Huge bill to the British taxpayer for crimes of just TWO families

They were responsible for four decades of murder and mayhem. And just two gangster families left taxpayers with a staggering £37million bill for their crimes, it was revealed yesterday.

The figure - almost £1million a year since their reign of terror began - is the cost to the public for detecting and punishing their offences. The families were members of two notorious gangs in Birmingham, the Burger Bar Boys [below] and the Johnson Crew.

The total cost to the public of these two gangs - as opposed to only the two families themselves - is thought to be nearly £190million. Both gangs became infamous in 2003 after two teenagers, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, were shot dead outside a New Year party in Birmingham during a gun battle between rival gangsters.

The £37million includes the cost of police investigations, lawyers, trials and prison for murders, attempted murders and serious injuries inflicted by three generations from the pair of gangster families. But it does not count the cost of medical care of victims, of undetected crimes by the same families, of their more minor crimes, or the cost in money or harm to their victims.

Nor does it take into account the state benefits claimed by the families, the education and extra teaching required by their children, their own burden on the NHS, or of providing them with council houses.

The bill for the two families, which was estimated from the records of gang members, was revealed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. He said it illustrated how 'we spend vast sums of money ineffectually managing social failure'.

Mr Maude told BBC Radio Four's World Tonight: 'There are two families in Birmingham where over three generations they have cost the taxpayer over £37million.' He said there were no neighbourhood or community groups ready deal with people committing crime on that scale.

The details of the cost of gangster families were calculated by officials from the police, criminal justice agencies and Birmingham council and made public in a report on how the spread of crime down the generations might be curbed.

The bill was based on the criminal records of one family from the Johnson Crew and one from the Burger Bar Boys. The first family - a father and five sons believed to be in the Johnson Crew - was estimated to have cost the taxpayer £23.8million over three generations.

The report does not note the full records of the individuals, but officials assumed each of the five sons was involved in crime on a similar scale. It assumes the cost to the taxpayer of dealing with a murder according to the Home Office estimate of £1.4million and says the price of attempted murder begins at £25,000.

Individual examples of crime cited include a case of possession of illegal firearms which resulted in ten and five-year sentences for two men in 2004. These brought costs totalling £621,000 to police and prison services, the report found.

A second family - believed to be the Burger Bar Boys gang - was also examined, and its costs came to £13.7million. The report found that each of the two gangs revolves around five dynastic criminal families, and so the total cost of the two groupings over the past 40 years is around £187.5million.

It said: 'The impact of gang culture and related violence continues to generate fear among communities. 'In Birmingham, gang violence peaked in 2003, when a series of murders and attempted murders brought national and international attention. 'The very public nature of that violence, often committed in city streets and witnessed by innocent citizens, presents an ongoing challenge to both police and statutory partners.'

It added: 'The violence and crime associated with urban street gangs is cultivated in families where there is intergenerational gang membership and a criminal lifestyle is regarded as the norm.'

The officials recommended that 'intervention projects' should be launched in which social workers and other 'highly skilled staff' would spend large amounts of time with parents and children to try to steer them away from crime.

However, they would cost £75,000 for each family and independent analysts have suggested that their success among criminal families has been greatly exaggerated.

The Birmingham report said: 'The difficulty in penetrating and understanding gang culture makes it almost impossible for the indoctrinated to provide an informed view of what interventions will make a difference.' [A hangman would be completely effective]


Free the police to tackle the criminals on Britain's streets

Spending cuts must fall on the staff who hinder actual policing, says a serving police inspector

Until recently, more money than ever was being spent on the police – so why are so few officers available to tackle crime, and what will happen once the fiscal drought really sets in?

The first question – raised by a new report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary – is easy to answer. The report found that, of the 144,000 serving police officers, only 11 per cent of us are "visibly available" at any one time to deal with complaints from the public. I'm not at all surprised, and no real police officer will be. It's because there are, in fact, three separate police forces.

The first is the politically driven caste of senior officers, who – under New Labour – spent their lives rushing to publicise the Home Office's latest wheezes about "Partnership Working", "Community Engagement" or "Citizen Focus". The Chief Inspector's report reveals that, in 2009 alone, some 2,600 pages of guidance were issued. That may astonish you, but for years, these complex, and often contradictory, agendas have been spilling out of the top-floor offices.

The second police force is largely made up of people who have never arrested anyone: supervisors, auditors, accountants, diversity consultants, health and safety advisers, monitoring groups and crime managers. We have more people in these roles than out on the streets fighting crime. Of the 100 or so emails in my inbox, they will be responsible for two thirds: demands to tick these boxes, check this, find out that, visit so-and-so. Rarely will this assist in the apprehension of a criminal: it's far more about ensuring we have met a target, or are complying with a pledge, or haven't missed some arcane detail that will move an offence from one column to another.

That leaves those of us in the third police force, who do the protecting and serving: the patrol and neighbourhood officers who respond to emergency calls (and many not-so emergency calls); the CID; and the custody teams who deal with prisoners.

On my BCU – what used to be a division – we have a "Policing Pledge" team, comprising a Chief Inspector, an Inspector, and two PCs whose sole job is to monitor the delivery of the policing pledges that Theresa May has just abolished. (The unit is staying put, under a different name.) Then there is the Criminal Justice Unit – an office of 22 civilians who manage the through-flow of case files between the police, Crown Prosecution Service and courts. There's also the Area Crime Management Unit – three sergeants and a mixed set of 15 civilians and PCs whose job is purely to manage the crime reporting system: checking the paperwork, allocating crime reports, classifying and filing cases. Then there are the chief clerks – one each for Finance, Estates and Admin, each of whom has four staff.

Contrast this with our minimum manning levels on the emergency response team – the people who come out when you call 999. For our area of 300 square miles, we have 16 PCs, one sergeant and one inspector. And these are burdened by "Partnership Working", box-ticking and a shift system which, according to this week's report, means that they might only work 171 days a year.

I haven't started on the paperwork, which means that dealing with a drunken idiot who glasses your sergeant in a pub can easily take six or seven hours, even if he admits the offence. (In Canada, it would take 30 minutes.) This idiot is also a "customer" to be "engaged with" and "reached out" to. We must treat him with respect at all times, and ascertain his views as to the comfort levels of his overnight stay, even though he just wanted to hurt someone, spend the night in a cell, choose one of the dishes on our custody menu, decline a duty solicitor and walk away with a fixed penalty notice that he will probably never pay.

The new Government, then, has a straightforward choice. It can follow the example set by Labour, and spew out another 3,000 pages of new directives and cost-cutting initiatives. It can allow forces to keep their back offices, staffed by desk jockeys and civil servants who actively hinder proper policing, and replace front-line officers with phone calls to the public to reassure them that crime is down in their area. Or ministers can simply say that enough is enough.

I love my job, as most front-line cops do. At its best, you get to be a children's entertainer, a social worker, a doctor, a financial adviser and a personnel manager, all at the same time. We take responsibility for a few hundred thousand souls, two large stretches of motorway, eight mainline railway stations, four town-centre nightclubs, a major district hospital, hundreds of pubs, shops, housing estates and a million different ways in which people can come to grief. All the Government needs to do is free us from the bureaucracy, and let us get on with the job.


Another one: Teenage mother who made 'wicked' false rape claim is jailed for 15 months in Britain

A young mother who falsely claimed she was raped by a teenager was yesterday locked away for 15 months. Jade Brooks was 17 when she claimed the 18-year-old had taken her into a copse and attacked her.

He was later arrested, subjected to an intimate examination, kept in a cell for 13 hours and grilled by officers under caution before being released on police bail. It was a further two months before he was told no further action would be taken after Brooks's story began to unravel.

Witnesses said they had seen her kissing and cuddling the young man shortly before the alleged attack near a disused railway station in Haverhill, Suffolk, and was laughing and embracing him immediately after they left the wooded area. Brooks, who is now 19, was also seen by a friend performing a sex act on the teenager at a house later that evening.

She wept and protested her innocence yesterday as she learned she would be separated from her month-old baby daughter while she serves time in a young offenders institution for perverting the course of justice.

Judge David Goodin said an innocent man had been arrested and had his liberty taken away because of Brooks's 'wicked' claim. He also reprimanded her for doing 'a huge disservice' to genuine rape victims.

Brooks was heavily pregnant when she was convicted following a four-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court in May. Sentencing was delayed to allow her to recover from the pregnancy and for reports to be prepared.

During the hearing her victim described how he and two friends had been to a pub before meeting three girls, including Brooks, in the street. He said she led him into the secluded spot for sex and later had sex with him again at a friend's house. 'I didn't rape her. She is just a liar and an attention seeker. She has got no one to feel sorry for her,' he added.

Brooks, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was reported by one of her friends to have been tipsy but not drunk on the night of the alleged attack in July 2008. She had allowed the man to touch her breasts and didn't seem uncomfortable with what was happening. At no point during the time she was alone with him in the bushes did she scream, cry for help or raise her voice in any way. The only comment she made afterwards was: 'I've lost my shoe.'

She dealt a final, fatal blow to the rape case when she refused to give a video-taped interview to police.

Shereen Dyer, defending, told the judge yesterday her client accepted the jury's verdict but stood by her version of events and insisted she had been telling the truth.

She had urged the court to pass a suspended sentence because of the damaging effect a term behind bars would have on Brooks and her young daughter. However she could be released after serving half her sentence.


Does the press deserve a bailout?

by Jeff Jacoby

ARE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES the cure for what ails the news business? Add Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, to the roster of eminentoes who think the answer is yes.

More recently, the Federal Trade Commission released a "discussion draft paper" containing a raft of proposals "to support the reinvention of journalism." Many of them were schemes for funneling money from the government to the media. Among the FTC's suggestions: increased funding for public television and radio, the creation of a National Fund for Local News, a tax credit to news organizations for every journalist they hire, and even a new "journalism" division of AmeriCorps ("to ensure that young people who love journalism will stay in the field").

According to one estimate, such a package of subsidies could cost as much as $35 billion a year. Where would that money come from? The FTC ran all kinds of revenue ideas up the flagpole: Authorize the Small Business Administration to insure loans to nonprofit journalism organizations. Increase postal subsidies for newspapers and periodicals. Levy a new tax on commercial broadcasters -- or on consumer electronics -- or on TV and radio advertising -- or on cell phone Internet service.

But why should journalists be entitled to a multi-billion-dollar batch of media subsidies?

I have been working for newspapers for the past 23 years, and my retirement is still a long way off. Needless to say, the viability of newspapers is not a subject I take lightly. Nor do I minimize the significance of the news media and traditional journalism, with all their flaws and failings, to modern democracy and civil society. But does my esteem for the news business -- or Bollinger's or Cardin's or the FTC's -- justify government intervention to keep it alive?

Subsidies always amount, in the end, to confiscating money from many taxpayers in order to benefit relatively few. Those who call for keeping newspapers and other old media alive with injections of public funds are really saying that if people won't support those forms of journalism voluntarily, they should be made to do so against their will. I believe every American family should subscribe to one or two newspapers and read them regularly. But that doesn't give me the right to make you pay for a subscription you don't want -- not even if I think you would be better off for it. How can the government have the right to do, in effect, the same thing?

I would welcome a new lease on life and profitability for newspapers, and I value high-quality journalism, but the two are not synonymous. Whatever happens to the traditional media, journalism and news delivery will find profitable ways to endure. Like it or not, the transition from old to new is happening. The best thing the government can do is stay out of the way.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


21 July, 2010

Race Card Fraud

Thomas Sowell

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. But race card fraud is an even bigger problem.

Playing the race card takes many forms. Judge Charles Pickering, a federal judge in Mississippi who defended the civil rights of blacks for years and defied the Ku Klux Klan back when that was dangerous, was depicted as a racist when he was nominated for a federal appellate judgeship.

No one even mistakenly thought he was a racist. The point was simply to discredit him for political reasons-- and it worked.

This year's target is the Tea Party. When leading Democrats, led by a smirking Nancy Pelosi, made their triumphant walk on Capitol Hill, celebrating their passage of a bill in defiance of public opinion, Tea Party members on the scene protested.

All this was captured on camera and the scene was played on television. What was not captured on any of the cameras and other recording devices on the scene was anybody using racist language, as has been charged by those playing the race card.

When you realize how many media people were there, and how many ordinary citizens carry around recording devices of one sort or another, it is remarkable-- indeed, unbelievable-- that racist remarks were made and yet were not captured by anybody.

The latest attack on the Tea Party movement, by Ben Jealous of the NAACP, has once again played the race card. Like the proverbial lawyer who knows his case is weak, he shouts louder.

This is not the first time that an organization with an honorable and historic mission has eventually degenerated into a tawdry racket. But that an organization like the NAACP, after years of fighting against genuine racism, should now be playing the game of race card fraud is especially painful to see.

Some critics of the Tea Party have seized upon banners carried at one of its rallies that compared Obama with Hitler and Stalin. Extreme? Yes. But there was nothing racist about it, since extreme comparisons have been made about politicians of every race, color, creed, nationality, ideology and sexual preference.

Some Obama supporters have long regarded any criticism of him as racism. But that they should have to resort to such a banner to bolster their case shows how desperate they are for any evidence.

Among people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, those who are likely to be most disappointed are those who thought that they were voting for a new post-racial era. There was absolutely nothing in Obama's past to lead to any such expectation, and much to suggest the exact opposite. But the man's rhetoric and demeanor during the election campaign enabled this and many other illusions to flourish.

Still, it was an honest mistake of the kind that decent people have often made when dealing with people whose agendas are not constrained by decency, but only by what they think they can get away with.

On race, as on other issues, different people have radically different views of Barack Obama, depending on whether they judge him by what he says or by what he does.

As Obama's own books point out, he has for years cultivated a talent for saying things that people will find congenial.

You want bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington? He will say that he wants bipartisanship and an end to bickering in Washington. Then he will shut Republicans out of the decision-making process and respond to their suggestions by reminding them that he won the election. A famous writer-- Ring Lardner, I believe-- once wrote: "'Shut up,' he explained."

You want a government that is open instead of secretive? He will say that. He will promise to post proposed legislation on the Internet long enough for everyone to read it and know what is in it before there is a vote. In practice, however, he has rushed massive bills through Congress too fast for anybody-- even the members of Congress-- to know what was in those bills.

Racial issues are more of the same. You want a government where all citizens are treated alike, regardless of race or ethnicity? Obama will say that. Then he will advocate appointing judges with "empathy" for particular segments of the population, such as racial minorities. "Empathy" is just a pretty word for the ugly reality of bias.

Obama's first nomination of a Supreme Court justice was a classic example of someone with "empathy" for some racial groups, but not others. As a Circuit Court judge, Sonia Sotomayor voted to dismiss a case involving white firefighters who had been denied the promotions for which they qualified, because not enough blacks or Hispanics passed the same test that they did.

A fellow Hispanic judge protested the way the white firefighters' case was dismissed, rather than adjudicated. Moreover, the Supreme Court not only took the case, it ruled in favor of the firefighters.

Obama's injecting himself into a local police matter in Massachusetts, despite admitting that he didn't know the facts, to say that a white policeman was in the wrong in arresting a black professor who was a friend of Obama, was more of the same. So is Obama's Justice Department overlooking blatant voter intimidation by thugs who happen to be black.

There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything post-racial about Barack Obama, except for the people who voted for him in the mistaken belief that he shared their desire to be post-racial. When he leaves office, especially if it is after one term, he will leave this country more racially polarized than before.

Hopefully, he may also leave the voters wiser, though sadder, after they learn from painful experience that you can't judge politicians by their rhetoric, or ignore their past because of your hopes for the future. Voters may even wise up to race card fraud.


Obama's War on the Internet getting underway

The Ministry of Truth was how George Orwell described the mechanism used by government to control information in his seminal novel 1984. A recent trip to Europe has convinced me that the governments of the world have been rocked by the power of the internet and are seeking to gain control of it so that they will have a virtual monopoly on information that the public is able to access.

In Italy, Germany, and Britain the anonymous internet that most Americans are still familiar with is slowly being modified. If one goes into an internet café it is now legally required in most countries in the European Union to present a government issued form of identification. When I used an internet connection at a Venice hotel, my passport was demanded as a precondition and the inner page, containing all my personal information, was scanned and a copy made for the Ministry of the Interior -- which controls the police force. The copy is retained and linked to the transaction.

For home computers, the IP address of the service used is similarly recorded for identification purposes. All records of each and every internet usage, to include credit information and keystrokes that register everything that is written or sent, is accessible to the government authorities on demand, not through the action of a court or an independent authority. That means that there is de facto no right to privacy and a government bureaucrat decides what can and cannot be "reviewed" by the authorities. Currently, the records are maintained for a period of six months but there is a drive to make the retention period even longer.

The excuses being given for the increasing government intervention into the internet are essentially two: first, that the anonymity of the internet has permitted criminal behavior, fraud, pornography, and libel. Second is the security argument, that managing the internet is an integral part of the "global war on terror" in that it is used by terrorists to plan their attacks requiring governments to control those who use it.

The United States government takes the latter argument one step farther, claiming that the internet itself is a vulnerable "natural asset" that could be seized or damaged by terrorists and must be protected, making the case for a massive $100 billion program of cyberwarfare. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) argues that "violent Islamist extremists" rely on the internet to communicate and recruit and he has introduced a bill in the Senate that will empower the president to "kill" the internet in case of a national emergency.

But all of the arguments for intervention are essentially themselves fraudulent and are in reality being exploited by those who favor big government and state control. The anonymity and low cost nature of the internet means that it can be used to express views that are unpopular or unconventional, which is its strength.

It is sometimes used for criminal behavior because it is a mechanism, not because there is something intrinsic in it that makes it a choice of wrongdoers. Before it existed, fraud was carried out through the postal service and over the telephone. Pornography circulated freely by other means.

As for the security argument, the tiny number of actual terrorists who use the internet do so because it is there and it is accessible. If it did not exist, they would find other ways to communicate, just as they did in pre-internet days. In fact, intelligence sources report that internet use by terrorists is rare because of persistent government monitoring of the websites.

The real reason for controlling the internet is to restrict access to information, something every government seeks to do. If the American Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and Senator Lieberman have their way, new cybersecurity laws will enable Obama's administration to take control of the internet in the event of a national crisis. How that national crisis might be defined would be up to the White House but there have been some precedents that suggest that the response would hardly be respectful of the Bill of Rights.

Many countries already monitor and censor the internet on a regular basis, forbidding access to numerous sites that they consider to be subversive or immoral. During recent unrest, the governments of both Iran and China effectively shut down the internet by taking control of or blocking servers. Combined with switching off of cell phone transmitters, the steps proved effective in isolating dissidents.

Could it happen here? Undoubtedly. Once the laws are in place a terrorist incident or something that could be plausibly described in those terms would be all that is needed to have government officials issue the order to bring the internet to a halt.

But the ability to control the internet technically is only part of the story. Laws are being passed that criminalize expressing one's views on the internet, including both "hate crime" legislation and broadly drafted laws that make it a crime to support what the government describes loosely as terrorism in any way shape or form.

Regular extra-legal government intrusion in the private lives of citizens is already a reality, particularly in the so-called Western Democracies that have the necessary technology and tech-savvy manpower to tap phones and invade computers.

In Europe, draconian anti-terrorism laws enable security agencies to monitor phone calls and e-mails, in many cases without any judicial oversight. In Britain, the monitoring includes access to detailed internet records that are available for inspection by no less that 653 government agencies, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with security or intelligence, all without any judicial review.

In the United States, the Pentagon recently sought an internet and news "instant response capability" which it dubbed the Office of Strategic Influence and it has also seeded a number of retired military analysts into the major news networks to provide a pro-government slant on the war news.

The State Department is also in the game, tasking young officers to engage presumed radicals in debate on their websites while the growing use of national security letters means that private communications sent through the internet can be accessed by Federal law enforcement agencies.

The Patriot Act created national security letter does not require judicial oversight. More than 35,000 were issued by the FBI last year and the recipient of a letter commits a felony if he or she reveals the receipt of the document. In a recent case involving an internet provider in Philadelphia, a national security letter demanded all details of internet messages sent on a certain date, to include account information on clients with social security numbers and credit card references.

The danger is real. Most Americans who are critical of the actions of their own government rely on the internet for information that is uncensored and often provocative, including sites like Campaign for Liberty.

It is also likely only a matter of time before Obama's internet warfare teams surface either at the Defense Department or at State. Deliberately overloading and attacking the internet to damage its credibility, witness the numerous sites that have been "hacked" and have had to cease or restrict their activities.

But the moves afoot to create a legal framework to completely shut the internet down and thereby control the "message" are far more dangerous. American citizens who are concerned about maintaining their few remaining liberties should sound the alarm and tell the politicians that we don't need more government abridgement of our First Amendment rights.


Crime is an act of choice - and rehabilitation is a fantasy

Peter Hitchens

Let me first of all try to deal with the persistent postings of Mr Storke, who has referred me to a paper by Professor David James on the treatment of mentally ill people in prison. Let us remember that Mr Storke's original disagreement with me was about my view that rehabilitation is a fantasy, that crime is an act of choice and that more people will avoid it if they fear severe and deterrent punishment.

Mr Storke has been relying quite heavily on the professor's paper in his argument. I am at a loss to see why, since it's a report on mental health in prisons, an issue on which I haven't specially pronounced (except to agree with the oft-made point that the prisons nowadays house many people who would once have been in mental hospitals, when we still had them. This is beyond dispute. I favour the rebuilding of our lost mental hospitals to deal with it, as I have said).

He appears to believe that in some way it 'disproves' my contention that the threat of punishment is an effective deterrent of criminal behaviour.

I cannot see how. It seems to me to have almost nothing to do with the subject under discussion, and if it contains the claims he appears to attribute to it (about miracle crime cures in Switzerland and Denmark) I confess that I am unable to locate them here. Perhaps these references are in another document, which he meant to refer me to. Or perhaps I have just missed them, in which case a page reference would be appreciated.

Professor James's report appears to have nothing whatever to do with my point, which is that if prisons were properly and systematically punitive, instead of chaotic warehouses run largely by their inmates, responsible persons would make much greater efforts to avoid being sent to them. I suspect that Mr Storke has little idea of what my opinions actually are, having assumed that I defend the current state of the prisons when I deplore it, that I am some sort of Michael Howard 'prison works' person, or that my views are identical to those of (say) Richard Littlejohn. They are not, as regular readers here well know. To retain this view he has therefore ignored anything I have written which might suggest that this is not so.

The report, to the extent that it is relevant, indulges in the usual confusion and vagueness about what 'mental illness' may be - unsurprising in an area of subjective pseudo-science in which there is a great deal of opinion, and very little measurable fact. Then it piles vagueness upon vagueness. It speaks of an 'estimate' (p iii) that 70% of prisoners have two or more diagnosed mental illnesses. Whose is this estimate? It doesn't say, at least not anywhere near where it makes this claim. Why not? And then, why, if these alleged illnesses are 'diagnosed', does this have to be an estimate anyway? Surely there would be an actual figure. Later it suggests (p.7) that 90% of prisoners have ‘common mental health problems’ which it then lists as ‘anxiety, depression or neuroses’. Once again, we are dealing in subjectivity. I have no doubt that many people in prison, or awaiting sentence after conviction, might find it useful to assert that they were 'suffering' from such indefinable complaints, as this might lessen their sentences and would also indulge their sense of self-pitying grievance, and aid them in avoiding the ever-unwelcome conclusion that they are answerable for their own actions.

The authorities might equally find it useful to agree with them as it would help them to reduce the pressure on prison places by giving them lesser sentences, and allow them to dose them with tranquillising or pacifying drugs, while they are detained.

Also, one thing pretty certain to lead to genuine, objective mental disorder, through interference with or damage to the physical brain which (while not being the same thing as the mind) is the physical seat of the mind, is the taking of illegal drugs. (I'd say that many legal drugs now in existence might have this effect too.) And since illegal drug-taking and criminality are practically synonymous in modern Britain, it would be likely that some sort of disturbance or malfunction would be likely.

So these declarations are pretty much tautologies.

And, I repeat again, they have nothing to with the point. I entirely agree with those who say that there are too many people in prison who are actually insane. I have seen them there, in Wormwood Scrubs, incoherent and raving in their cells, their minds overthrown. Nobody is keener than I on the restoration of proper mental hospitals in which such people could be better and more kindly kept. But to confuse these sad persons with self-indulgent users of illegal drugs, or with excuse-making thieves and brutes, is to do truth a disservice. I urge Mr Storke to read my 'Brief History of Crime', especially the chapter in which I discuss my visit to Wormwood Scrubs Prison.


Heterosexual marriage is society's bedrock

Comment from Australia by Bill Muehlenberg, secretary of the Family Council of Victoria

SADLY Derryn Hinch manages to mangle just about everything in the marriage debate (The Australian, July 16).

He totally misses the purposes of marriage for example. Marriage is a universal and historical institution which serves tremendous social purposes.

It regulates human sexuality, and it procures the wellbeing of any offspring from the sexual union. Thus it is not a mere private matter, but a vitally important social institution.

Governments have an overwhelming interest in heterosexual marriage. They have no reason to confer special rights and privileges on other types of sexual relationships. People are free to engage in those relationships, but they cannot expect to see their relationships elevated to that of heterosexual marriage.

Indeed, talk of inequality and discrimination is off base here. Those arguing for same-sex marriage are mixing apples with oranges. Everyone is entitled to the benefits of marriage as long as they meet the conditions and requirements of it.

Homosexual relationships simply do not meet the criteria, the most basic being to have one man and one woman. Governments have no obligation whatsoever to treat unequal things equally, or to grant the benefits of marriage to those who refuse to meet its minimum requirements.

Of course various social goods are denied to all sorts of people for various reasons. A driver who cannot meet the obligations of low insurance rates (too young, too many accidents and so on) will not be eligible to receive those benefits. That is how life operates. If anything, it is a necessary and just discrimination.

To survive, all societies engage in discrimination all the time. However, discrimination can be good as well as bad. Societies have always discriminated in favour of heterosexual unions and the children they produce because of the social good derived from them.

Procreation and the raising of children is an overwhelmingly important social good, and the mother-father unit cemented by marriage is an overwhelmingly superior way of ensuring the best outcomes for children. Therefore societies everywhere extend favours and benefits to married couples that they do not extend to other types of relationships.

The restrictions on marriage apply equally to everyone, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Thus there is no discrimination. The homosexual lobby is seeking to fundamentally rewrite the rule books on marriage to get all the benefits while avoiding the obligations.

And if we redefine marriage out of existence in order to placate the homosexual activists, then why stop there?

There are all sorts of other sexual relationships that people are demanding recognition of. Polyamory, or group love, is a growing movement demanding the rights to marriage as well.

The exact arguments used by those pushing for same-sex marriage are being used by the polyamorists.

If we legalise the former, is it not discriminatory and unjust to outlaw the latter? They too claim that it is all about love, and that they should have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

And Hinch is quite wrong to suggest that same-sex relationships are long-lasting. Plenty of studies prove the exact opposite. A recent study of homosexual men in Amsterdam found that the "duration of steady partnerships" was 1.5 years.

The truth is, plenty of homosexuals do not even want marriage. How many homosexuals actually avail themselves of it when it becomes legally available? Let's go back to The Netherlands. Same-sex marriage has been legal there since 2001, yet only about four per cent of Dutch homosexuals married during the first five years of legalisation.

Also, same-sex marriage demands are inexorably tied up with demands for homosexual parenting rights. But 40 years of social science research has overwhelmingly demonstrated the crucial importance two biological parents play in the wellbeing of children.

The studies make it clear that every child should have the basic human right of being raised by his or her own mother and father. And a recent Galaxy poll found that a full 86 per cent of Australians believe children should be raised by their biological parents.

This of course is stolen from them in same-sex households. Heterosexual marriage is society's most profound and valuable institution. It has been the bedrock of nations from time immemorial. To radically alter the nature of marriage and family is a recipe for trouble.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


20 July, 2010

Official British garbage snoopers

Councils are secretly rifling through thousands of dustbins to find out about families' race and wealth. Waste audits allow officials and private contractors to check supermarket labels, types of unwanted food - and even examine the contents of discarded mail.

The local authorities are using social profiling techniques to match different types of rubbish to different ethnic groups or wealthy and poor households, as part of a recycling drive initiated by the last Government.

Householders can then be placed into social categories, which in some areas range from 'wealthy achievers' to the 'hard-pressed' - and subsequently targeted for future leafleting campaigns.

But last night critics condemned the move as 'highly intrusive'. Most homeowners have no idea that their rubbish is being searched or that data collected could be used to prosecute those who place rubbish in the wrong bin.

At least 90 councils ran covert bin-rifling operations last year, according to Freedom of Information requests. They targeted a total of more than 10,000 families and argue that Government guidance suggested all checks on bins should be done without the knowledge of householders. ‘Ideally, you do not want to inform the public of an audit taking place, as this could alter their disposal behaviour,’ it said.

But the secret nature of the audits will raise concerns about privacy. Although some councils used their staff to conduct the operations, many hired in private contractors.

Often, officials deliberately picked streets where different types of men and women lived to see if their ethnic origins, type of home or wealth affected the amount or rubbish they threw out.

Councils in Leeds, Poole, Kensington and Chelsea, Swindon and Cheshire East all used some form of social profiling to target homes for bin searches. In Hackney, East London, researchers targeted homes based on their potential ethnic and social mix, collecting data separately on four different groups, including ‘multi-ethnic private flats’ and ‘prosperous young professionals’ flats’.

The study found that ‘as expected’ the ‘educated urbanites’ living in ‘trendy’ flats threw away the least rubbish.

Hackney also found a number of electrical items which should have been recycled, including a microwave oven, a foot spa and an electric heater.

In Bracknell Forest, Berkshire, researchers sifted through discarded food. They concluded that more than half of it could have been recycled or composted if householders had behaved more responsibly.

Officials in Wokingham, Berkshire, went through the bins of almost 500 homes, identifying almost a ton of rubbish that could have been recycled.

In Southampton, officials found that homeowners were more likely to put general waste in the recycling bin in the week after Christmas.

Fiona McEvoy, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, condemned the move as ‘highly intrusive’. ‘Councils shouldn’t be paying contractors to rummage through resident’s bins when there’s huge pressure on their finances. Local authorities should abandon their fascination with what’s inside our bins once and for all and concentrate on cutting the considerable fat within town halls.’

Dartford Council, in Kent, has refused to carry out the secret surveys. Jeremy Kite, who is the council’s Tory leader, said: ‘I strongly object to the analysis and examination of waste put out for collection unless specific permission is obtained from the householder and have intervened to prevent such exercises in Dartford on more than one occasion. I do not believe it is right.’

Councils cited little-known guidance from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for secret searches. Enfield Council, in North London, said: ‘In line with Defra guidance we took the view that householders would not be notified in order to avoid prejudicing the results.

‘When waste is placed out for collection by the householder the law regards this as being discarded, ie: not wanted or owned by the householder. When collected by the local authority the waste falls into their ownership.’


Ban the burka debate spreads to Spain, following France, Belgium and the Netherlands

SPANISH MPs will debate barring burkas in public, joining other European countries considering similar moves against the Islamic garments.

Spain's leading opposition party says the move is on the grounds that the body-covering garments are degrading to women.

Top officials of the ruling Socialist Party indicated they will support the proposal by the opposition Popular Party, making a ban likely unless the country's highest court rules it unconstitutional.

A debate in Spain's lower house has been set by the Popular Party for tomorrow or Wednesday, the party said. No vote will be scheduled until after the debate, and Spain's Parliament usually goes on vacation for a month starting in late July or early August. Justice Minister Francisco Caamano said on June 15 that garments like the burka are “hardly compatible with human dignity”.

Head-covering veils would not be included in a ban as they form a part of traditional Spanish dress, with women often covering their heads with a garment called a mantilla, especially during church services in the south of the country.

Other European nations that have debated regulating the use of body-covering burkas or face-covering niqabs include Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

A notable exception has been Britain, where Immigration Minister Damian Green described calls to outlaw such garb as “un-British”. “Telling people what they can and can't wear, if they're just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. “We're a tolerant and mutually respectful society.”

France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burka-style Islamic veils on July 13 in an effort to define and protect French values, a move that angered many in the country's large Muslim community.

The French ban on burkas and niqabs goes before Senate in September amid predictions it will pass, but its biggest hurdle could come when France's constitutional watchdog scrutinises it later.

Britain and France have sizable Muslim minorities that they have sometimes struggled to integrate. Differences over dress - in particular the stark-looking niqab, usually an all-back garment which leaves only the eyes visible - often serve as touchstones for wider discussions about Islam, identity, and immigration.

A British Conservative MP has just tabled a French-style bill that would outlaw the niqab, but the bill hasn't received any support for the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and isn't likely to get very far.

Belgium's lower house approved a ban on face-covering veils, but it must still be ratified by its upper chamber.

The Netherlands debated banning burkas four years ago and may yet outlaw attire that is considered as demeaning to women.

Spain's second-largest city of Barcelona in June banned the use of burkas and niqabs in municipal buildings, joining a handful of small towns and cities nearby that have taken similar steps.


White Christian Britons being unfairly targeted for hate crimes by official prosecutors

White Christian Britons are being unfairly targeted compared with minority groups for committing hate crimes, a new report says. The study from think-tank Civitas argues that new hate crime legislation is restricting freedom of speech, and has effectively introduced a new blasphemy law into Britain by the back door.

A foreword attached to the main report, “A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today”, argues that prosecutors and police are unfairly singling out alleged crimes by white Christians, while ignoring other similar offences by minority groups.

It says: “Some police forces and the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] seem to be interpreting statutes in favour of ethnic and religious minorities and in a spirit hostile to members of the majority population, defined as ‘White’ or ‘Christian’.”

Report authors said it is “legitimate to ask” whether these agendas are being driven by “sectarian groups” within either police forces or inside the CPS.

It claims “there is evidence of biased application of the law”, citing the case of a Muslim man who sprayed the words “Islam will dominate the world – Osama is on his way” and “Kill Gordon Brown” on a war memorial in Burton-Upon-Trent.

He was prosecuted for criminal damage – “that is neither a racially nor a religiously aggravated offence”.

The CPS had argued that “the defacing the memorial did not attach to any particular racial or religious group” despite the fact that the monument was “a Christian and British memorial, carrying Christian and British symbols.

"People who read the story found themselves thinking that, if a non-Muslim had defaced a Muslim building the system would have thrown the book at him".

This compared with a Christian couple in Liverpool, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, who were prosecuted and then cleared last December of a religiously aggravated hate crime after a strongly worded discussion with a Muslim guest at their hotel about the relative merits of their respective religions.

Civitas questions whether the CPS’s decisions are being influenced by an internal staff association called the National Black Crown Prosecution Association (NBCPA), which has in the past received tens of thousands of pounds from the CPS.

It says the NBCPA’s “main objective is to advance the careers of ethnic minorities within the CPS but it also takes an interest in the impact of CPS decisions on members of ethnic minorities”.

It adds: “Whether this concern threatens the impartiality of the CPS is not clear. But other harmful effects of race-based politics have already led to open criticism by some CPS staff.” It cites a newspaper report which claimed “that ethnic minorities were being given jobs within the CPS that they could not do”.

It adds: “The activities of race and religion-based groups within the criminal justice system, including the police, the probation service and the CPS, are such that a public inquiry is now needed. “Groups that act in a sectarian spirit have no place in a system whose essence should be justice and impartiality.”

A hate crime is officially defined as a “criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility, or prejudice based on a person’s religion or perceived religion”.

Yet the report argues that these definitions are without substance and result in confusion and silliness in their application.

Although the total number of these crimes has fallen from 13,201 in 2006/7 to 11,845 in 2008/9, the report says the volume of hate legislation has rapidly expanded, with 35 Acts of Parliament, 52 statutory instruments, 13 codes of practice, three codes of guidance and 16 European Union directives which have a bearing on “discrimination”.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said the NBCPA was “a highly regarded staff association” and “the trailing of the suggestion that the NBCPA may affect the CPS’ impartiality is without foundation.

“The NBCPA has no influence over specific casework decisions. The decision to prosecute is based solely on the application of the principles contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

Prosecutors only take allegations of a racist or religious crime to court when they are satisfied “there has to be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. “Where there is evidence of a racially or religiously aggravated crime, the public interest will usually require a prosecution.

“When making their decisions, prosecutors are not influenced by the ethnic or national origin, religion or belief of the suspect or victim and it is incorrect to suggest any one group is singled out more than another for prosecution.”


There is no limit to the ambitions of American "civil liberties" body

Now they want national security information turned over to them. But that was one step too far:

A federal judge on Thursday refused to force the public release of CIA methods relating to Sept. 11 detainees who were interrogated harshly, saying the judiciary's authority is limited when national security is at stake.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union that it should be able to force the CIA to release names and documents related to the detainees if the methods used by the agency were illegal.

He said to do so would "confer an unwarranted competence to the district court to evaluate national intelligence decisions."

The judge said releasing the documents requested by the ACLU would provide operational details about the application of various interrogation techniques in various circumstances for a particular detainee.

"The difference between the information officially released and the CIA operational records here is different in quality, degree, and kind," Hellerstein said. He cited an earlier court case that he said was consistent with his findings. In that case, the Supreme Court let the government withhold identifying information of scientists who worked on a covert CIA program researching the use of chemical, biological and radiological materials to control human behavior. The program led to the death of some human test subjects.

"Courts are not invested with the competence to second-guess the CIA director regarding the appropriateness of any particular intelligence source or method," Hellerstein wrote.

He said the law was clear that the courts do not have the authority to force the release of such documents.

He noted that CIA Director Leon E. Panetta had declared that disclosure would result in "exceptionally grave damage to clandestine human intelligence collection and foreign liaison relationships."

Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director, said the group was "very dismayed by today's ruling." He said the civil rights group was seriously considering an appeal. "The CIA can't rely on its authority to withhold intelligence sources and methods in order to withhold evidence of its own [alleged] criminal conduct," he said.



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

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

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


19 July, 2010

British PM David Cameron launches his Big Society

LBJ's "Great Society" was a name for a vast expansion of welfare so the name chosen by Cameron for his big idea seems rather inpropitious. That he means well there is no doubt but meaning well does not always turn out well. As far as I can see, his scheme is simply to turn over more powers to local government -- and many would say that British local governments have performed even more poorly than the British national government. At least Cameron is piloting his scheme first -- a very wise move

Local communities will get the power and money to run bus services, set up broadband internet networks and take over neighbourhood recycling schemes under a mass transfer of power from the state to the people, David Cameron will announce today.

In his first major speech on the theme of the “Big Society” since winning the election, the Prime Minister will announce the “biggest redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street”.

Mr Cameron - who is keen to present his administration as offering optimistics new policies that are not just about cuts - will say that the “liberation” of volunteers and activists to help their own communities is the vision which drives his premiership.

As part of his drive to roll back the reach of the public sector, the Prime Minister will attack the previous Labour government for turning state employees into “disillusioned, weary puppets” and communities into “dull, soulless clones”.

He will announce that four areas in diverse parts of the country have been chosen to form a “vanguard” in realising his dream of “people power” in which individuals rather than the state come together voluntarily to solve their problems.

The four – the greater London borough of Sutton and Cheam, the leafy Berkshire council of Windsor and Maidenhead, rural Eden Valley in Penrith, Cumbria, and the metropolitan city of Liverpool - were chosen after they petitioned Downing Street to start their own projects.

They will be the first to be invited to submit applications to the Big Society Bank, a fund which will allocate the proceeds of dormant bank accounts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to help set up volunteer schemes to improve communities.

In a speech in Liverpool – where local people have asked to act as volunteers at a museum in order to extend its opening hours – Mr Cameron will set out how his grand vision of a Big Society would create communities with “oomph”.

Stressing how much concept means to him on a personal level, he will say: “There are the things you do because it’s your duty … But there are the things you do because it’s your passion,” he will say. “The things that fire you up in the morning, that drive you, that you truly believe will make a real difference to the country you love. And my great passion is creating the Big Society.”

During the election campaign, Mr Cameron faced accusations, including from senior figures from within his own party, that the Big Society concept was too vague and intangible to attract voters. Polls showed that two out of three voters had not even heard of it.

But Mr Cameron hopes that putting flesh on the bones of his vision will persuade critics that it can be shared by millions of ordinary Britons who care about their community and are tired of having so many aspects of their life dictated from the centre.

He will say: “The Big Society is about a huge culture change, where people, in their everyday lives, in their homes, in their neighbourhoods, in their workplace, don’t always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face but instead feel both free and powerful enough to help themselves and their own communities. “We need to create communities with oomph – neighbourhoods who are in charge of their own destiny, who feel if they club together and get involved they can shape the world around them.”

The four pioneer communities will be helped by dedicated civil servants who will give expert advice if they encounter legal problems or bureaucratic obstacles. Officials will also identify local residents with a particular aptitude for taking part in Big Society projects – they will then receive training to become community organisers, motivating their neighbours to take part in action schemes.

They will also be able to draw on the Big Society Bank, which, Mr Cameron promised, would use “every penny of dormant bank and building society account money” to help finance social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups. Accounts left untouched for at least 15 years will be channelled to good causes. Over time, Mr Cameron said, the Bank would provide “hundreds of millions of pounds” to Big Society projects, with money starting to be distributed from April.

The four vanguard communities have asked for help to set up a variety of different schemes.

Windsor and Maidenhead has already experimented with a project under which local residents were rewarded with financial incentives to improve recycling rates. Phil Redmond, the television executive who created Brookside, Channel 4’s long-running soap opera set up in Liverpool, is behind the scheme for volunteers to staff a local museum outside of office hours.

There are also plans for council budgets to be given directly to the residents’ groups of individual streets to decide how to spend the cash.

Local transport services, including bus and tram groups, could be commissioned by the communities themselves, who would be able to set timetables and improve reliability rates.

One group has asked for the power to buy out local “assets,” including a rural pub.

Another project involves bringing internet broadband to a local community.

Mr Cameron will say: “They’ve all got one thing in common: a firm commitment from this Government to help them realise their dreams. “If there’s a problem or obstacle or bureaucratic log-jam, they will be there, on hand, to help break them down and get things moving. “As these four areas move ahead with their plans, yes, there will be problems – financial problems, legal problems, bureaucratic problems. “Yes, there will be objections – local objections, objections from vested interests. But you know what? We’re happy about that.

“This process is all about learning. It’s about pushing power down and seeing what happens. “It’s about unearthing the problems as they come up on the ground and seeing how we can get round them. “It’s about holding our hands up saying we haven’t got all the answers – let’s work them out, together.”

However, Ed Miliband, the Labour leadership contender, claimed that the Big Society was a means of enabling the Government to cut vital public services. He said: “Cameron’s government is cynically attempting to dignify its cuts agenda by dressing up the withdrawal of support with the language of reinvigorating civic society.”


Muslim drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board British buses

Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their 'unclean' guide dogs. One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.

The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.

While drivers can use their discretion to refuse to carry non-disabled passengers with dogs, they are compelled to accept guide dogs under disability discrimination law.

Yesterday both the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the National Federation of the Blind confirmed the problem was common, and, according to the latter organisation was 'getting worse'.

The tension stems from a strand of Islamic teaching which warns against contact with dogs because the animal's saliva was considered to be impure, the Muslim Council of Britain said. It urged Muslims to show tolerance and common sense over the issue.

'We need to be flexible on this,' a spokesman said. 'Muslim drivers should have no hesitation in allowing guide dogs into their bus or car. 'If a dog does lick you, it's not the end of the world. Just go home and wash yourself.'

George Herridge, 73, a retired hospital maintenance manager, told the Daily Mail he was 'stunned' to be twice asked by bus drivers to leave their vehicles because of his guide dog Andy, a black Labrador.

Mr Herridge, who lives with wife Janet, 69, in Tilehurst, Reading, said that on the first occasion two years ago, he got off at the request of a Muslim driver because some Muslim children on board were 'screaming' because of the dog.

He found himself in a similar scenario in May last year, when a Muslim woman and her children became 'hysterical'. Mr Herridge this time refused the driver's request to alight. He complained to the bus company which launched an investigation. It later informed him the matter had been dealt with 'internally'.

Jill Allen-King, spokesman for the NFB, said she had been repeatedly left on the kerb by Muslim taxi drivers who refused to take her dog. One cab driver told her he would have to 'go home now and wash myself' when she tried to enter his car with her dog.

Mr Baker yesterday warned bus and cab companies that, while there were within their rights to ask a passenger to leave if the dog was causing a nuisance, it was 'much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons'. He added: 'One person's freedom is someone else's restriction.'

In 2006, Muslim minicab driver Abdul Rasheed Majekodumni was fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,200 costs by magistrates in Marylebone, central London, after being prosecuted for failing to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act when he refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was 'unclean'.


U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize'

Rather silly but another demonstration that it is OK to mock Christians -- but say anything against Islam and you're in trouble

American atheists lined up to be "de-baptized" in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program "Nightline."

Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading "Reason and Truth."

Kagin believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, even slamming some religious eduction as "child abuse." He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.

"I was baptized Catholic. I don't remember any of it at all," said 24-year-old Cambridge Boxterman. "According to my mother, I screamed like a banshee ... so you can see that even as a young child I didn't want to be baptized. It's not fair. I was born atheist, and they were forcing me to become Catholic."

Kagin doned a monk's robe and said a few mock-Latin phrases before inviting those wishing to be de-baptized to "come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water."

Ironically, Kagin's own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having "a personal revelation in Jesus Christ."


Child carers with criminal records get the OK from Australian "Anti-discrimination" tribunal

Here's betting that the tribunal members would not expose their own children to such people

A foster carer who assaulted a child, a school hockey coach who hid drugs internally and a man who threw a molotov cocktail into a home have been given blue cards to work or volunteer with children.

They are among seven Queenslanders with criminal convictions who were rejected for blue cards by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, and then won them after appeals to a tribunal this year. Two of the seven people now considered safe to work with children have spent time in jail.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decided in each of the cases, which were made public last week, that the Commissioner was wrong in finding they were "exceptional cases" for refusal.

Children's Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser said she was reviewing the Tribunal's decisions, and was considering appealing some if there were legal grounds.

In 2009-10, 230,867 blue cards were issued, while more than 650 people were prohibited from holding one.

Thirteen people who were refused blue cards successfully appealed, eight lost their appeals, and 12 others lodged appeals but then withdrew them.

The foster carer was convicted of common assault and put on a six-month good behaviour bond in 2008 for punishing an eight-year-old girl in his care using a rubber thong and a belt, leaving bruises.

School sports coach Laura Thompson, 20, was convicted in 2008 of possessing ecstasy and cocaine, which she had secreted internally to avoid police detection. She was fined $750 almost three months after she was issued with a blue card, which was cancelled last year.

Former Broncos player Fletcher Holmes, 22, was in 2006 convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm in company and put on two years' probation. He also has been on probation until this month for common assault for touching a female under her skirt, and had drink driving and unlicensed driving convictions.

Others who obtained blue cards on appeal were:

Richard John Waldon, 33, who had 15 convictions, including throwing a molotov cocktail into a home, extortion, assault and stealing; and

John Drinkwater, who served three years in jail until 2008 for throwing petrol bombs into an occupied house and making extortion threats.

Two other mothers with lengthy drug use histories and convictions also were issued with blue cards.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


18 July, 2010

Margaret Thatcher's family are 'appalled' at upcoming film about her life

The film, which is expected to star Meryl Streep, shows the former prime minister as a dementia-sufferer looking back at her life with sadness

Although the prospect of Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher may have pleased some admirers of the Conservative former prime minister, her children have been horrified to discover more about the film.

Mandrake hears that the screenplay of The Iron Lady depicts Baroness Thatcher as an elderly dementia-sufferer looking back on her career with sadness. She is shown talking to herself and unaware that her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, has died.

“Sir Mark and Carol are appalled at what they have learnt about the film,” says a friend of the family. “They think it sounds like some Left-wing fantasy. They feel strongly about it, but will not speak publicly for fear of giving it more publicity."

Cameron McCracken, the managing director of the film-maker Pathé, confirms: "It is true that the film is set in the recent past and that Baroness Thatcher does look back on both the triumphs and the lows of her extraordinary career.

"It is a film about power and the price that is paid for power. In that sense, it is the story of every person who has ever had to balance their private life with their public career."

He says Lady Thatcher's health will be featured, but insists that it will be “treated with appropriate sensitivity”. He adds of the film: “Although fictional, it will be fair and accurate.”


Burka ban ruled out by immigration minister

I suppose he's right. I'm British enough to see his POV. You don't promote tolerance by being intolerant

Britain will not follow France by introducing a law banning women from wearing the burka, the immigration minister has ruled. Damian Green said such a move would be “rather un-British” and run contrary to the conventions of a “tolerant and mutually respectful society”.

He said it would be “undesirable” for Parliament to vote on a burka ban in Britain and that there was no prospect of the Coalition proposing it.

His comments will dismay the growing number of supporters of a ban. A YouGov survey last week found that 67 per cent of voters wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be made illegal.

Mr Green used a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Telegraph, his first since taking up his post at the Home Office in May, to issue a “message around the world that Britain is no longer a soft touch on immigration”.

He said the summer would see a major crackdown on the main streams of illegal immigration — including sham marriages, illegal workers and people trafficking — and confirmed that this autumn the Government would set an overall cap on migrants entering Britain from outside the European Union.

His firm decision to rule out a burka ban will disappoint some Right-of-centre Tory MPs, including Philip Hollobone, who has tabled a private member’s bill that would make it illegal for anyone to cover their face in public.

Mr Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, said this weekend that he would refuse to hold any constituency meetings with women wearing burkas.

The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has also supported calls for a ban after last week’s vote by French parliamentarians to outlaw full-face veils, including burkas, in public. Deputies in France’s National Assembly backed the ban by 335 votes to one.

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, has revealed he is not in favour of an outright ban on the burka – but adds that they should not be worn if doing so “compromises public or personal safety, endangers national security or impedes professional or social interaction”. In an article for The Sunday Telegraph he says: “In those circumstances, it is difficult to see how it can be allowed.”

Mr Green said he did not think that the French vote for a ban would have an impact on immigration into Britain. “I stand personally on the feeling that telling people what they can and can’t wear, if they’re just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do,” he said. “We’re a tolerant and mutually respectful society.

“There are times, clearly, when you’ve got to be able to identify yourself, and people have got to be able to see your face, but I think it’s very unlikely and it would be undesirable for the British Parliament to try and pass a law dictating what people wore.

“I think very few women in France actually wear the burka. They [the French parliament] are doing it for demonstration effects “The French political culture is very different. They are an aggressively secular state. They can ban the burka, they ban crucifixes in schools and things like that.

“We have schools run explicitly by religions. I think there’s absolutely no read-across to immigration policy from what the French are doing about the burka.”

Mr Green’s comments came after the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told The Sunday Telegraph that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims. Farooq Murad pointed to the spread of mosques and sharia, or Islamic law, as positive signs of the greater freedom Muslims are given in this country.

He warned that any moves to restrict the expression of Islam by banning the veil or blocking the building of minarets would alienate the Muslim community and threaten social cohesion.

Mr Murad, who last month succeeded Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari as secretary general of the MCB, said: “Life in Britain is much more welcoming and healthy for Muslims than in other European countries. “There’s a great British sense of fairness and justice. We can have great pride in what a tolerant country Britain is, looking at the growth of mosques, and how nearly more people eat halal meat than don’t.”

On immigration, Mr Green said the Coalition’s aim was to put “steady downwards pressure” on immigration from outside the EU so that net immigration fell “to the tens of thousands” by the time of the next election, expected in 2015.

He ruled out an amnesty for illegal immigrants. “There will not be an amnesty under this government: my Lib Dem colleagues have accepted that … just looking around the world that would send a terrible signal.

“Out there in other countries there has been the view that Britain’s borders are not very well defended and that if you can get into this country it’s relatively easy to operate here, to work illegally and so on. We’ve got to change that perception around the world.”

Steady pressure on numbers to reduce net immigration substantially over time was the “best way to restore public confidence”, he said.


How Jon Gaunt became a free-speech martyr

A British High Court ruling against the ‘shock jock’ confirmed that the state can pick and choose what we’re allowed to hear

Even idiots should have the right to free speech. And idiots don’t get much bigger than Jon Gaunt.

Jon Gaunt – ‘Gaunty’ as he likes to be known – is about as shocking as UK ‘shock jocks’ get, which is not terribly shocking. He’s been the presenter of noisy phone-in shows for the BBC and Talksport and a columnist for the Sun (where he now presents an online-only talk show). Like many ‘shock jocks’ – he apparently dislikes the label – he has appointed himself as the voice of the common man. ‘My whole career has been aimed at talking to people who aren’t represented in mainstream media and aren’t involved in the democratic process. I’ve always seen myself as some sort of conduit for them to speak’, he told the Independent in 2008. ‘My audience are ordinary guys and women who are struggling to turn a pound.’

Gaunt sees himself as an antidote to a self-important metropolitan elite that ignores the interests of the majority of the population. It’s no wonder that Gaunt rose to fame under New Labour, a government that provided plenty of evidence for the view that those in authority liked nothing better than to dictate the lives of ordinary people and screw over the little guy.

But while the assumption that the country was being run by a bunch of little Hitlers was the subtext of every Gaunt show, his career took a nosedive when he said as much out loud. In November 2008, Gaunty interviewed a councillor from the London borough of Redbridge, Michael Stark. The borough had just adopted a new policy that only non-smokers would be allowed to foster children.

Gaunt – who spent time in care as a teenager himself – was livid with the idea, describing Stark at various points during the discussion as a ‘Nazi’, a ‘health Nazi’ and an ‘ignorant pig’. (As it happens, Gaunt had good reason to be incensed: refusing to allow smokers to foster children potentially denies kids something approaching a stable home life while turning smokers into second-class citizens, all on the flimsy basis that passive smoking is a health risk for children.)

However, despite the fact that he apologised both to listeners and to Councillor Stark on-air shortly afterwards, Gaunt’s tone was deemed to be unacceptable by station bosses and he was fired from his show. In May 2009, the broadcasting regulator Ofcom ruled that Talksport had been in breach of broadcasting rules. Ofcom also censured Gaunt for his comments, noting that it ‘considered the language used by Jon Gaunt, and the manner in which he treated Michael Stark, had the potential to cause offence to many listeners’.

This week, Gaunt lost an attempt at the High Court to have Ofcom’s ruling overturned. Gaunt, backed by the civil liberties group Liberty, argued that such a ruling could have a detrimental effect on his freedom to speak freely on air. The show was clearly a political one and, Gaunt’s barrister argued, regulators should be particularly wary of interfering with the content of political programmes. Ofcom retorted that its ruling was ‘directed to the bullying and insulting of the person being interviewed, a form of expression which contributed nothing to any political or policy debate’.

If Gaunt’s interview style is irritating, the High Court judgement is downright unedifying, coming down to m’luds’ Media Studies 101 analysis of the interview and whether it was offensive or not. For example: ‘we consider that to call someone a “Nazi” is capable of being highly insulting. It may be that the first use of “Nazi” and the soon to follow qualification had some contextual content and justification. It came after a reasonably controlled introductory dialogue and was not expressed with undue vehemence. Just as the claimant’s use of the word in his newspaper article had a contextual content and was not unduly offensive, so this first use (offensive though it was) may be seen as an emphatic and pejorative assertion that Mr Stark was, in the matter of smoking and fostering children, one who imposes his views on others.’ And so it continues, with the conclusion that Ofcom was right to censure Gaunt.

The ruling is extremely problematic, as it makes the courts the final arbiters of what is appropriately robust debate and what is offensive. It will surely have a chilling effect on the willingness of broadcasters to take risks in political discussions. It should not be the place of state-appointed bureaucrats to decide what should or should not be heard or how interviewers go about their business. On the basis that interviewers should not hector their guests, John Humphrys – a man who would never knowingly allow an interviewee to finish a sentence – should now be sacked from Radio 4’s Today programme. While this is certainly an attractive idea, it’s also an authoritarian one.

Yet this is exactly the attitude taken by many lawyers. For example, civil-rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy has argued recently in a House of Lords debate on a bill to amend Britain’s notoriously illiberal defamation laws that ‘Libel reform must be coupled with reform of press self-regulation’. In other words, press freedom should be given with one hand and taken away with the other, with state regulators deciding what is and is not acceptable.

Of course, there is a problem of powerful press barons and media owners being able to dominate the terms of debate to the detriment of those who have far less money and influence – though it is a problem that is routinely overstated. But undermining the capacity of the media to hold politicians to account doesn’t help.

Worse, the regulations that Ofcom enforces – as now backed by the courts – treat viewers and listeners as idiots who cannot figure out for themselves what to make of heated debate. When Gaunt referred to Stark as a ‘Nazi’, this was a childish reaction, but it is surely obvious that Stark is not actually a Nazi. We can figure such things out for ourselves. We don’t need the paternal hand of the state to decide that for us.

Instead of nit-picking over heated radio interviews, the interests of robust debate and free expression would be better served by abolishing Ofcom and allowing us – the viewers and listeners – to make our own minds up.


Civil Rights Violations a Concern of the Right only?

(Very strange accusation. One normally hears the opposite)

That certainly seems to be what the Washington Post is suggesting. In reporting on the unfolding scandal surrounding the Department of Justice's "handling" of the New Black Panthers/voter intimidation case, the Washington Post writes about how the case "riles the right."
A 2008 voter-intimidation case has become a political controversy for the Obama administration as conservative lawyers, politicians and commentators raise concerns that the Department of Justice has failed to protect the civil rights of white voters.

It's interesting to me that the Post singles out "white voters," when no "conservative lawyers, politician or commentator" has made that assertion. The charge is that the New Black Panthers were intimidating voters--a clear violation of the law, regardless of their race. Period. Why is it a violation of whites' civil rights? Just because the violators are black?

Isn't it possible that any other ethnic group could've also been intimidated by uniformed men standing in front of polling places weilding weapons?? It seems like the Post has freely made some unwarranted assertions about the case while it's being investigated.
Conservatives complained last year when Justice officials narrowed the case, dropping the party and one of the men and focusing only the bearer of the stick. Department officials have said since then that they did not have sufficient evidence to pursue the case against the other defendants. Justice officials who served in the Bush administration have countered that the department had enough evidence to pursue the case more fully and called the decision to narrow it political. The matter caught the attention of some Republican lawmakers, who held up the confirmation of President Obama's assistant attorney general for civil rights for months asking for a congressional review of the case.

The conflict intensified last week when former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, who was hired during the Bush administration and helped develop the case, told the Commission on Civil Rights that he believed the case had been narrowed because some of his colleagues in the civil rights division were interested in protecting only minorities.

Regardless of what party you belong to or what ideology you might subscribe to, the accusations being made about the Justice Department are very serious. Why is it that the media is reporting on the case through an ideological and racial lens?

If it had been armed, militant whites "standing guard" at a polling location, would that change the circumstances of the case at all? Of course not. But since the case is revolving around black defendants, why is the media--and the Obama administration--seemingly so eager to dismiss it all as just a political squabble and not as a serious judicial matter?

Strangely enough, it's the exact same manner in which Media Matters is spinning the story. In fact, Soros' MM praised the Post for revising their headline to reflect a more politically divisive story. Way to go, Washington Post.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


17 July, 2010

The diseased British welfare system

'£500-a-week? I can earn more on benefits!', unemployed driver tells stunned haulage boss

A haulage boss was left stunned after an unemployed driver rejected the offer of a job paying more than £500 a week so he could remain on benefits.

Graham Poole, the managing director of a 23-wagon fleet in Rochdale, offered the job to the man who had been out of work for 18 months only to be told told it was not enough to have him come off government handouts. The man turned the job down claiming he could get more money on benefits by 'sitting around at home'.

Furious Mr Poole said: 'What is wrong with this country. I was offering him more than £500 a week before tax. 'It is no wonder that so many people are out of work when others are allowed to blatantly refuse to work because their benefits are higher

'When he came along for the interview, he seemed like the right person for the job, and that is why he was offered it. 'But what annoyed me most was the way in which he rejected it by saying he could get more on benefits by sitting at home.'

Mr Poole's job offer to the man as a haulage driver included a basic weekly amount of £427.50 weekly plus up to £81 in tax free expenses. He said: 'I am sure people in Rochdale would love to know that a person is still able to go along to the local job centre, look for a job, find a job, then go for an interview for the job with all the relevant qualifications, then turn down the position saying "it would not be financially viable".

'This is not the first time this has happened. 'I believe that someone who refuses a job should have their benefits stopped automatically and they should be made to take whatever jobs are available irrespective of what the wages are.'

A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said: 'With unemployment so high and full-time jobs so hard to come by, there is clearly too much dependency on the benefits system if people can turn down well paid, full-time work. 'The FSB welcomes coalition government proposals to extend the time that benefits can be cut for people who turn down a full-time position from six months to three years. 'We believe that through this, people will be able to get back into the workplace and that it will get Britain working again.'

Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This case shows how desperately the welfare system in this country needs to be reformed as there are currently people trapped on benefits. 'Taxpayers will be angry that they are going out to work, while others are getting just as much money without taking a job.

'The government needs to make it pay for people to go out and work. 'People should be better off if they have a job than if they stay at home on benefits.

'In addition it is simply unsustainable to have a situation where those on jobseekers' allowance are allowed to turn down suitable employment.'


Obama, Not the 'Post-' but the 'Most' Racial President

David Limbaugh

While President Obama has touted himself as a post-racial president, he has built a record demonstrating precisely the opposite. Is it Obama's bitterness, or is the incessant playing of the race card by him and many of his supporters merely calculated political exploitation -- or both? Let's look at a non-exhaustive list of examples since Obama took office.

--Feb. 18, 2009: Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, accused the nation of being a nation of cowards on race.

--April 2009: NewsBusters reported that at the behest of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Democratic Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein demanded a government inquiry into how the electronic Portable People Meter (used to measure radio ratings and which experts believe to be a far more reliable measure than the previous system) collects data. Obama's FCC indeed ordered an inquiry in the name of "diversity" because under the modern system, hip-hop ratings had declined and conservative talk ratings had increased.

--May 2009: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs warned critics of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to measure their words carefully, implying they were race-based.

--May 2009: The Obama-Holder Justice Department dismissed a case against New Black Panther Party members for voter intimidation, even though it had already won the case. Former Justice lawyer J. Christian Adams said that the NAACP lobbied Obama to have the case dismissed and that the case was dismissed based on the Justice Department's outrageous policy of not prosecuting such cases against blacks when they involve white victims.

--July 2009: Not having heard all the facts, Obama accused Cambridge, Mass., police of "acting stupidly" in arresting a friend of his, Harvard professor Henry Gates, for disorderly conduct, dangling race as a motive for the arrest.

--August 2009: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights raised constitutional questions about the Obama administration's giving preferential treatment to minority students for scholarships and favoring medical schools that have records of sending graduates to areas with inadequate health care services.

--September 2009: A video surfaced of Obama's "green jobs czar," Van Jones, saying, "You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child." It's "suburbanite white kids" who do it.

--September 2009: Obama's FCC "diversity czar," Mark Lloyd, was seen on video saying, "There are few things, I think, more frightening in the American mind than dark-skinned black men." He also said, by the way, that the Fairness Doctrine wasn't enough to restore fairness to broadcasting. In 2005, Lloyd had complained that white Americans owned and controlled 98 percent of all federal broadcast licenses. Lloyd suggested at one point that white media executives should "step down" in favor of minorities.

--September 2009: Politico reported that in a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama "opened with a fiery civil rights talk, ticking off racial disparities, calling for greater enforcement of civil rights laws and saying that the new White House Office of Urban Affairs is working to address inequality." He also compared Obamacare to the civil rights struggle.

--October 2009: The Obama-Holder Justice Department overruled a decision by the city of Kinston, N.C., to do away with party affiliation of candidates in local elections, saying that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

--February 2010: After Obama had twice insulted Las Vegas and discouraged tourism there, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman strongly criticized him, which led Obama supporters to accuse Goodman of racism.

--March 2010: The Obama administration filed a brief supporting racial preferences in university admissions.

--March 2010: Rep. John Lewis alleged that tea party protesters hurled racial slurs, but videos of the alleged incident did not corroborate it, making many believe the charges were fabricated.

--March 2010 -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said tea party opposition to Obamacare was based on hatred for "people of color." New York Times columnist Frank Rich made similar allegations.

--April 2010: WorldNetDaily reported that Gerry Hudson, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, said white American workers are "so f---ing rabidly racist" their sentiments can be used to scare blacks into supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

--April 2010: The Washington Examiner reported that a reporter asked a black protester whether he was "uncomfortable" as part of the tea party.

--Then there's the administration's playing the race card against Arizona's non-racial-profiling law, Obama's suggesting al-Qaida is racist, Obama's saying Israel is suspicious of him because of his middle name -- as opposed to his horrendous policies toward it -- and the NAACP's calling the tea party racist and then denying it.

It turns out that others are noticing this above-described phenomenon, as well, as a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed that fewer and fewer people believe Obama's presidency has advanced racial relations -- 4 in 10, compared with 6 in 10 when he was inaugurated. This is a very sad turn of events in this nation.


Setting a good example in today's coddled world

“Emma” is a 70-year old British widow who originally hails from Bath. Perhaps it’s true what they say about Bath’s mineral-rich waters, because Emma looks absolutely spectacular for her age, and her energy level would make a 40-year old envious.

For the last several decades, though, Emma has been living an expat lifestyle all over the world– in Dubai, Scotland, Switzerland, and now finally in Malta.

Here’s what’s most intriguing about her, though… she’s always worked. Even as a 70-year old widow in Malta, she still has a job. In her own words Emma says, “I’m a war baby. My generation doesn’t think that anyone owes us anything, doesn’t think that it’s other people’s responsibility to take care of us.”

I recognize that a lot of people are scared to expatriate simply out of financial anxiety; they don’t know how they could find a job, make money, and pay the bills. Even with three children to take care of, though, Emma never let that uncertainty stop her.

You see, Emma always had supreme confidence in her own abilities to add value everywhere she went; she’s hard working, intelligent, and resourceful, and she knew that she would always be able to put those qualities to work for someone everywhere she went.

She was right. Even in male-dominant cultures like Dubai in the 1970s and 1980s, Emma was able to find work and thrive. Moreover, she religiously saved her wages, believing in the old adage “waste not, want not.”

For this reason, she says, she has been able to accumulate substantial retirement savings, even though she never held an extremely high paying job.

She also made the decision to denominate her savings in the Swiss franc many years ago; she set up a bank account in Switzerland when she was living there in the 1970s, and this is still the bank that she uses today. Even back then, she felt that the franc would be a better store of value than the dollar or pound.

Today, she enjoys a bountiful life on Malta’s pristine coast. Between the beautiful weather, the friendly people, the reasonable cost of living, and the work opportunities, she’s extremely happy there and is able to live well on her retirement savings and part time wage income.

Overall, I think Emma has a really interesting story of someone who has planted multiple flags (banking, employment, residence) and sought out unique opportunities around the world.

Mostly, though, I really like her strong, positive attitude. Many people in her position would probably wilt at the challenges and adversity of being a widowed mother of three. Emma has thrived. And the main reason is because she had the self-confidence to overcome excuses and limitations, and the courage to not be afraid of living free.


The obsolescence of federal censorship

Do Americans really need protection from an onslaught of indecent broadcasting?

When former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan, Americans were more moved by it than by any other soldier's death in that war. There was intense interest, particularly in Phoenix, where he had played. But local TV stations dropped coverage of his memorial service as it was going on.

Why? Because some of the speakers used bad words. His brother Richard, for example, said, "He's not with God. He's f---ing dead."

It was an honest statement at a public event. But airing it could have cost a TV station a large fine from the Federal Communications Commission—or even its license to broadcast.

The FCC has a policy against vulgar language, even in brief, unscripted outbursts. So broadcasters who know what's good for them do their best to avoid it, no matter how newsworthy, appropriate or even revealing it may be.

The Fox TV people need no reminder. In 2002, the network carried the Billboard Music Awards, where singer Cher used the F-word in reference to her detractors. The FCC moved to impose penalties on the network. But this week, a federal appeals court ruled the agency's ban on "fleeting expletives" unconstitutional.

Americans generally take a wary view of government interference and control in their lives. But for decades, federal regulators, acting at the behest of Congress and the president, have presumed to tell TV and radio stations what they can and cannot broadcast, which also means telling audiences what they may and may not hear.

Never mind that the First Amendment says Congress "shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." Elsewhere, that means what it says. The government may not ban profanity in movies, CDs, e-mails, magazines, newspapers, websites, leaflets, T-shirts, or bumper stickers. Only broadcasters are subject to these paternalistic dictates.

The reason offered by the Supreme Court in days of yore is that broadcasting is "uniquely pervasive" in American life. But today, it's barely more pervasive than other media, like cable TV and the Internet, that are immune from censorship.

This selective treatment is beginning to look like Tyrannosaurus Rex: fierce and terrifying but unsuited for the 21st century. The rules for over-the-air media no longer make any sense, and the Supreme Court may no longer be able to avoid acknowledging that reality.

The FCC has excelled in proving that federal officials cannot be trusted to make sensible or even intelligible decisions about what should be allowed. They barred a common reference to bovine excrement, but allowed the insulting use of an equally coarse term for male genitalia.

They allowed very bad words in the TV airing of Saving Private Ryan but not in a documentary about blues musicians. They forbade the use of one barnyard expletive because it came during an interview on a morning news show—then allowed it because, well, it came during an interview on a morning news show.

That leaves station owners gambling with their most valuable asset. As the appeals court noted Tuesday, when an FCC lawyer was asked "if a program about the dangers of pre-marital sex designed for teenagers would be permitted," the attorney replied gingerly, "I suspect it would."

Would I survive a single game of Russian roulette? I suspect I would.

The FCC and its supporters seem to think Americans desperately need government assistance to protect themselves and their children against an onslaught of filth. But why? Since broadcasters have an interest in not alienating their audiences, they are bound to exercise discretion.

Even Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, which caters to a mature cable audience that is not easily offended, bleeps obscenities (which are frequent). Nickelodeon has a constitutional right to feature full-frontal nudity, but it doesn't.

More here


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

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

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


16 July, 2010

More than 2.5m Muslims threaten to leave Facebook after four Islamic pages are taken down

Good riddance to bad rubbish? It's probably a pretty empty "threat" anyway. The Islamic alternative is probably pretty boring. Facebook is fairly resistant to calls to modify its content so it will be interesting to see where this one goes

More than 2.5million users will leave Facebook unless certain Islamic pages are reinstated, it has been claimed.

A template letter that has been pasted into numerous Facebook pages accuses founder Mark Zuckerberg and other senior members of Facebook of 'ignoring the feelings of more than 2.5million Muslims'.

The Muslim community is angry that four extremely popular Islamic pages were removed from the site and the letter warns that unless its demands are met Facebook's Muslim users will move to an Islamic alternative.

The letter demands not only that the pages are reinstated but that new rules are introduced which make it a violation of Facebook’s terms to post anti-Islamic comments.

And Facebook is given notice that unless the changes are introduced then 2.5 million Muslim users will leave to join madina.com, a social networking site for Muslims.

The letter reads: ‘Although you have attended the world’s best communication skills courses you have been most successful in growing great hatred and hostility between you and Muslims around the world, but seriously this time you have caused an almost unrepairable [sic] damage.’

It accuses Facebook of ‘irresponsible behaviour’ for allowing to host ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ pages which sparked controversy for encouraging users to draw portraits of the Prophet.

There is no specific ban on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed in the Koran but there is one line which is commonly taken to mean that it is impossible for human hands to recreate his likeness. To attempt to do so would is an insult to Allah, it is believed.

The letter demands that the four deleted pages are reinstated, disrespecting Islamic religious symbols is banned and any Facebook page which does so is disabled.

Madina.com was a social networking site set up specifically for the Muslim community.

It pledges to abide by the 'highest Islamic principals' and encourages Muslim unity. Female users are asked not to use pictures of themselves as profile pictures.

It is unclear exactly why the Islamic Facebook pages, which included 'I love Mohammed' and 'Quran Lovers' were taken down in the first place.


Turning Britain into a nation full of suspects

‘A man’s home is his castle’. Rarely has this 400-year-old quipped defence against the arbitrary exercise of state power seemed quite as quaint as it does today. Because whatever else a man’s home is, whatever else he feels his private sphere to be, it is certainly not impermeable. In fact, due to a whole raft of legislation over the past 10 years, our private existence has never been quite so transparent. The state, should it so wish, can read our emails, can check which websites we visit, can watch us take our dogs for walks, can follow us on our way to work…in fact, the possibilities for state surveillance are endless. And the chief reason for this is a spectacularly snide piece of legislation called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Just hours before the House of Commons broke up for its summer recess in 2000, RIPA came into force. This Act granted the police, the intelligence services, Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue unprecedented power to check upon all our communications, from intercepting emails to compelling internet service providers to hand over information about our surfing habits. So alongside the power to watch and monitor our real world activity (‘direct surveillance’), these state bodies could check upon our virtual toings and froings, too, so as to ‘obtain a picture of [a person’s] life, activities and associates’. The justification given back then for such explosively intrusive potential was internet crime and paedophilia.

As the Noughties progressed, and New Labour’s distrust of people deepened, so RIPA grew. Its liberty-snubbing surveillance powers, once the preserve of law-enforcement agencies, were extended - albeit in a slightly limited form - ever further into the public sphere. By 2002, 500-or-so more public bodies had been given the power to peep and pry, including the National Health Service, the Food Standards Agency, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Charity Commission, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and, as it turned out, snoop-happy local councils. The number of organisations now in possession of investigatory powers stands at nearly 800.

However, quite why so many of the state’s tentacles were now being equipped with the power to check-up on people, to root around in their private existence, was never quite clear. In September 2003, as the issue of terrorism got added to the list of excuses for this intrusion, then home office minister Caroline Flint did have an attempt at justifying the expansion of RIPA: ‘These proposals are about vital investigatory tools being used now to prevent and detect crime and, in some cases, save lives.’

There is certainly no doubting that these ‘vital investigatory tools’ were being used. In 2008, for instance, it was estimated that there was something in the region of 3,000 RIPA operations active on any given day. Sadly for Flint, this was not evidence of widespread paedophilic depravity or terrorist plotting. In fact, what was shocking about the vast majority of RIPA operations lay not in what was being spied upon but in the sheer pettiness of the spy. Given that by far the largest portion of RIPA operations were undertaken not by MI6 but by those bastions of litter-picking vigilance, local councils, perhaps that is not surprising. As numerous reports have since revealed, over the past few years local councils have used investigatory powers to check for, amongst other heinous crimes: fly-tipping, dog fouling, retailers selling furniture not up to fire safety standards, cleaners pulling sickies and care assistants claiming too much on travel expenses. It was even revealed that Westminster borough council authorised a spying operation on greengrocers refusing to convert from imperial to metric measures.

While the stories of state snooping have been laughable for their triviality, what RIPA represents – a transformation in the relationship between state and civil society – is rather more serious. Effectively, it renders state intrusion into our private lives routine. No longer does it take something exceptional, such as grounds for suspecting that someone is about to commit a murder, for the state to authorise a stakeout. Rather, under RIPA, all that is necessary is for a council official to query whether a family really does live in the catchment area for a particular school – as happened to a Devonshire couple and their children in 2008 – and that family can then have their everyday activity monitored and scrutinised by the state. In RIPA, then, the state’s changing relationship with civil society gains legal form. We as citizens come to be viewed as potential objects of suspicion – and investigation. Our private activity, far from being of no interest to the state unless it breaks the law, is suspect in advance. We cannot be trusted, therefore we must be watched.

At the same time as the state’s power of surveillance, and its distrust of private individuals, has been cemented under RIPA, so the state is able to withhold those same investigatory powers from non-state bodies and persons. Thus while it might be okay for the state to check our emails and watch our movements – in 2008 the equivalent of one in 78 adults came under some form of surveillance by the authorities – for an investigative journalist to do likewise, to peer, for example, into the life of a public figure is criminalised. Hence last year the broadsheet Guardian newspaper claimed that journalists for the tabloid News of the World had broken the law when reports that they had allegedly hacked the phones of several public figures emerged. If RIPA legitimises massive, and – as the numerous tales of council-stalking woe indicate – unjustified state intrusion into our lives with one hand, with the other it makes the attempt of a private individual to do likewise illegitimate. To pry, to poke around and to spy is the state’s right and its alone. It denies to the private individual what it wants to arrogate to itself.

The continued existence of RIPA – despite the recent, largely bureaucratic changes made to the way in which local councils can use it – degrades those in whose name the little-loved Labour government introduced it. It transforms our everyday activities, no matter how mundane, whether that’s sending emails, taking dogs for a walk or taking your kids your school into suspect, possibly dodgy activities. By allowing so many with so little justification, to monitor our behaviour, to peek at our emailed thoughts, divests us not just of our privacy, but what that entails, namely our freedom to exercise our own judgement about how best lead our lives. Under RIPA, the right to make that judgement now belongs to the state.


Anti-Islamic crusader launches recruitment drive in UK

Controversial anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders has pledged to form an international 'freedom alliance' to spread his gospel of Muslim intolerance across western nations - including the UK.

Wilders, whose Freedom Party made big gains in the Netherlands general election in June, says Britain along with Canada, the U.S., France and Germany are the core states he wants to target.

The politician made a speech outlining his plans today in The Hague.

Once banned by Britain as a hatemonger, Wilders was allowed in to speak with MPs at Westminster in March to expand on his thesis that Islam is a "fascist" religion entirely incompatible with democracies.

He says he has chosen the five western nations to spread his message based on the fact that all have high levels of Muslim immigrants, liberal democratic processes and all face Islamic terror threats.

He also cited a recent crime study in Germany claiming young Muslim males are more prone to violence than any other immigrant group. The study said the findings will probably hold up in other countries with high Muslim populations where hardline Muslim clerics wield undue influence over young male followers.

The study, based on interviews with 45,000 boys and girls aged 14 to 16, also concluded that male supremacist views and a preference for violent videos and computer games link closely with mosque attendance among the young.

Wilders, who is still slated to stand trial in Holland in the autumn on race-hate charges, believes Britain in line with the others should end all immigration from Islamic nations.

‘I have a problem with the Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I feel that the more Islam that we get in our societies, the less freedom that we get," he said recently.

'I believe we should have a stop of the mass immigration from Islamic countries, not because the people are bad, but because they bring a culture that really is against everything in our own values.'

Guarded permanently by an armed security detachment, Wilders became a target for assassination after making the film Fitna. Although only 17 minutes long, Fitna shows selected excerpts of the Koran, interspersed with media clips and newspaper cuttings showing or describing acts of violence and hatred by Muslims.

The film attempts to demonstrate that the Muslim holy book motivates its followers to hate all who violate Islamic teachings. Consequently, the film argues that Islam encourage acts of terrorism, antisemitism, violence against women, violence in general, subjugation of 'infidels' and is firmly against homosexuals.

He has in the past compared Islam to Nazism, the Koran to Adolf Hitler's hate-filled autobiography Mein Kampf, and branded Islam 'retarded'.

In Holland he boosted the showing of his party in the general election by mooting a tax on Islamic headscarves and banning the Koran altogether.


'Wicked' woman who cried rape is jailed for three years in Britain despite being seven months pregnant

There is an epidemic of false rape claims in Britain but at least the Brits do jail some of the liars

A young woman who ripped her clothes and gave herself a black eye to support her rape lies was yesterday jailed for three years. Leyla Ibrahim, described as wicked by a judge, is seven months pregnant and will give birth in prison.

Her false rape claims started a £150,000 police investigation in which four students were arrested and subjected to humiliating examinations.

They were questioned for nearly three days during which time one attempted suicide. They were later victims of public abuse, and one has since left the area.

But the 22-year-old woman had invented the whole incident in order to teach her friends a lesson after they abandoned her at the end of a night out, a judge said.

The four wrongly accused - two of whom were under 16 - are still suffering as a result of the stigma caused by the false allegations, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

All were 'subject to name calling and abuse in the street' following their arrests, with one describing the ordeal as torture.

Another said he was devastated by the harrowing experience and had been unable to eat or sleep. One suspect complained: 'We were treated like s*** and not a stint (sic) of an apology.' Even the doctor in the case described the examinations as 'intimate, embarrassing and uncomfortable'.

A senior police source said the four were still 'really struggling' with the aftermath of the case.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


15 July, 2010

The Brits have always been good at propaganda (even Hitler admired it) but this is rich indeed

The so-called "Liverpool pathway" used on the very ill elderly in Britain is nothing short of State-sanctioned murder in many instances. Britain is the last place I would want to be if I were very ill and elderly

BRITAIN leads the world in the quality of care it provides for the dying, leaving many developed nations lagging a long way behind, according to a study released overnight.

State support for end-of-life care and an effective network of hospices put Britain top of the list of 40 countries, despite not having the best healthcare system overall, said a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Researchers looked at factors including public awareness, availability of training and access to pain killers and doctor-patient transparency to compile the "quality of death" index.

Australia ranked second on the global list followed by New Zealand and Ireland, with Germany, the US and Canada also featuring in the top 10.

Many rich nations were in the bottom half of the list, including Denmark (22nd) and Finland (28th). India scored worst at number 40, with Portugal, South Korea and Russia also in the bottom 10.

In the worst cases, the study found the quality and availability of care was often poor and policy co-ordination was lacking.

It said "few nations, including rich ones with cutting-edge healthcare systems" incorporate end-of-life care strategies into their overall healthcare policy.

In many of these countries, increasing longevity and ageing populations mean demand for end-of-life care "is likely to rise sharply", said the study.

Falling birth rates, especially in developed countries, are likely to complicate the situation and, for the first time in history, the number of people over 65 will outnumber children under five years old, it said.

"For the end-of-life care community, this presents a new and complex set of problems," the report said.

It also found the availability of pain-killing drugs, rated in the report as the most important practical issue in the standard of palliative care, was "woefully inadequate across much of the world".

This is mainly due to concerns about the drugs' illicit use and trafficking, and a lack of training among medical personnel on how to administer them.

"The result of this state of affairs is an incalculable surfeit of suffering, not just for those about to die but also for their loved ones," the study said....

Researchers interviewed doctors, specialists and other experts across the 40 countries listed, including 30 nations within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and 10 others for which data was available.


Jerusalem’s NOT dark and Satanic says Church of England

I am delighted to hear this. Its theology is absurd but I just LOVE that hymn. Blake's words are pure magic and the Parry setting is uplifting too.

The hymn’s rousing tone has inspired millions, from rugby supporters to the Women’s Institute – but their enthusiasm has not always been shared by the Church of England clergy.

The CofE leadership has now urged ministers to stop banning Jerusalem from weddings for being un-Christian and ‘too nationalistic’.

The Rev Peter Moger, the CofE’s national worship development officer, said William Blake’s much-criticised lyrics can be used a springboard to explore deeper theological themes.

But he may have a hard time persuading many of the clergy. Their objections include that the hymn’s opening lines ‘And did those feet in ancient time/Walk upon England’s mountains green’ are inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus visited Glastonbury in Somerset.

Donald Allister, now the Bishop of Peterborough, has complained: ‘What it is actually saying is, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus lived in England?” Yet we all know he did not, so it is just nonsense.’ Other ministers have complained that references to bows, arrows and spears are ‘too militaristic’ and not suitable for worship.

The parish church of Parliament, St Margaret’s in Westminster, once refused to allow the hymn because the contrasting of ‘dark satanic mills’ with ‘green and pleasant land’ could alienate city-dwellers. The final verse, which describes striving to build Jerusalem in England, has also been branded ‘too nationalistic’.

Victoria Williams and Stuart Turton were prevented from having Jerusalem played at their wedding at Cheadle Church in Stockport in August 2001 because the vicar objected to it.

Mr Moger said: ‘It is possible to respond to a couple wishing to include Jerusalem in their marriage service in one of two ways: negatively, ‘banning’ the hymn, as some have done, or positively, including it, and using it as a helpful springboard from which to explore themes during the address.’ He gave a discussion of how Jesus would react to modern Britain as one possible theme.

The words to Jerusalem were written as a poem by Blake in 1804 and transformed into a hymn by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.


How British taxpayers' money is STILL being wasted on pointless PC jobs

From trampoline experts to walking advisers - hundreds of public sector non-jobs are advertised by councils every day, despite warnings that budgets may have to be slashed by as much as 40 per cent to tackle our huge deficit.

The out-of-control hiring spree that continues shows the enormity of the challenge the coalition Government faces in its attempts to rein in Britain’s growing debt.

When Labour came to power in 1997, state spending accounted for 40 per cent of Britain’s economy. Thirteen years later, they left a country in which that figure had risen to 52 per cent and the bloated public sector increased by almost another one million employees.

That army of new workers has fuelled the rise of the notorious non-job: hugely generous public sector wage packets for an often incomprehensible work description.

Alarmingly for David Cameron, the hiring spree is not only a feature of Labour-run councils, but exists in Conservative-controlled local authorities as well.

Nationwide, non-jobs being advertised include an artist-in-residence in an area that is already one of Britain’s cultural hotspots; a ‘weekend explainer’, whose job description specifically stipulates that the chosen candidate must be available for birthday parties; and a dance co-ordinator responsible for expanding the local authority’s ‘dance infrastructure’.

Walking coordinator

'Organising recreational walks’ is something most people do without assistance, but Islington Council has turned it into a permanent position. The successful applicant will ‘be key in ensuring this scheme continues to thrive by developing new walks, working with partners and supporting and recruiting a team of volunteer walk leaders’.

Happily for the unenergetic, the prospective walking co-ordinator can fulfil their responsibilities from their desk. Islington is Labour-controlled and council tax most recently averaged £1,184 annually.

carbon partnership officer

A green non-job, the new worker will ‘enthuse partners to develop their own action plans which collectively will drive down our carbon footprint’. Prospective candidates ‘are likely to be educated to degree level but equally important is your ability to work collaboratively and confidently with partners, other stakeholders

Not content with creating non-jobs within Britain, the public service is doing so abroad as well.

Our man in Bangkok will soon be provided with his own climate change officer, whose chief responsibility will be ‘developing a strategy to support a low-carbon, high-growth economy in Thailand’.

community engagement apprentice

Adding yet another layer of bureaucracy, the new community engagement staffer will ensure that ‘local people come together to discuss how to improve their area’. To do this, the advertisement says the new apprentice should, among other things, ‘find out what is happening in the area and meet new people’. Lewisham Council is controlled by Labour and council tax averages £1,054 a year.

trampoline coach

Sought for their skill at trampoline instruction, this new youth officer nonetheless faces demanding requirements. The council specifies ‘global and environmental issues’ among its preferred skills.

Much more HERE

Why Can't Satanists Get Perks Like Muslims?

Since Islam is officially protected and even promoted by our rulers in the name of political correctness, why not Satanism?
Irving Davis, who was convicted of raping and killing a 15-year-old girl, asked to have his death sentence thrown out, alleging he was discriminated against because he practices Satanism. …

Defence lawyer Ruben Morales said the judges and prosecutors were criminalizing Davis' beliefs and violating his right to religious expression.

"The state's attempt to place (Davis) in a bad light with the jury was nothing less than a 'witch hunt.' This is precisely the risk that society runs when it attempts to distinguish between good and bad religions," he said in legal briefs.

The prosecution says that defense doesn't hold water if one's religion condones murder and other illegal acts.

Tell that to the Justice Department. On its staff are lawyers who have worked pro bono for terrorists inspired to commit mass murder by Islam.

Previously, Davis had "complained about being denied a gong, candles, chalice, black robes and a vial of blood while in prison." He's got a valid beef; the maniacs vacationing at Club Gitmo get free Korans and prayer rugs.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


14 July, 2010

The end of Big Brother in Britain: Terror laws, stop and search and council snooping to be curbed

A bonfire of draconian anti-terror laws was promised by Theresa May yesterday to reverse the 'substantial erosion of civil liberties' by Labour ministers. The Home Secretary said powers that could be scrapped or scaled back include 28- day detention without charge, control orders, stop and search and Big Brother snooping by town halls.

She also pledged a sweeping review of laws that allow the arrest of people who take pictures of police officers or hold peaceful protests without permission outside Parliament.

There will be a new drive to kick out foreign terror suspects who use the Human Rights Act to frustrate the deportation process, and an investigation into allowing intercept evidence in court.

Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions and an outspoken critic of the last government's legislative record, will lead the review.

In a statement to MPs, Mrs May said she wanted to correct 'mistakes' made by Labour, which was allowed to 'ride roughshod' over Britain's hard-won freedoms. She added: 'National security is the first duty of government but we are also committed to reversing the substantial erosion of civil liberties. 'I want a counter-terrorism regime that is proportionate, focused and transparent. We must ensure that in protecting public safety, the powers which we need to deal with terrorism are in keeping with Britain's traditions of freedom and fairness.'

The review was a key plank of the coalition agreement published after the Government was formed in May. It has already promised a Freedom Bill and introduced legislation to scrap ID cards. But the most controversial aspect of the review is likely to be 28-day detention of terror suspects without charge. This could now be returned to a fortnight.

However, Labour is certain to claim officers are being denied a vital power while the threat of a terror attack remains extremely high.

Scotland Yard boss Sir Paul Stephenson said it should not be revamped, adding: 'It would be a huge mistake to go back and talk about the number of days. We must not get sidetracked on the number of days, rather than dealing with the issues and consequences.' Pending the review, the 28-day limit will stand for six months.

Ministers will also face challenges in scrapping control orders, which allow the house arrest of terror suspects who cannot be deported or jailed.

There will be a drive to secure agreements to deport foreign suspects placed under the orders by reaching deals with their homelands that they will not be ill-treated. This would stop courts blocking their removal on human rights grounds.

But, for British fanatics, the alternative is hugely expensive 24-hour surveillance. The review should also lead to the dismantling of Labour's most controversial laws.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, used by town halls to spy on dog foulers and people suspected of cheating school catchment area rules, is likely to be scaled back. Councils will have to seek permission from a magistrate to use it, and only for serious crimes.

The stop and search of people without reasonable suspicion, which is already under an interim ban, is likely to be ditched.

The right to protest close to the House of Commons without prior police permission -restricted by the last government, is likely to be restored.

Shadow home secretary Alan Johnson condemned Mrs May's statement as an 'immature and partisan attack' on Labour's record. He said many of the measures under review were supported by all parties following the 'horror and carnage' of the 7/7 attacks on London in 2005. He warned that the 'threat faced then has not diminished'.

Labour claims the coalition is making life easier for terrorists. But civil liberties groups say that by imposing severe restrictions on the rights and freedoms of British citizens, the last government was itself handing a victory to the extremists.

Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, said: 'This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform counter-terror measures and bring them within the rule of law.'


Burqas officially banned in France

BURQAS are officially banned in France after the French National Assembly passed the bill with only a single vote against it.

If approved by the Senate and Constitutional Council the law would impose a 150 euro fine or a lesson in citizenship on any woman wearing the Islamic all-body veil in public.

Men caught forcing a woman to wear it, could face a one year jail sentence and pay a 30,000 euro ($37,000) fine.

Although France has the largest Muslim community in Europe, there are believed to only be 2000 women who wear the burqa.


There's more to faith than tolerance

The complexity of religion seems to escape understanding by modern writers. Take, for example, Stephanie Dowrick's article, "Sufi tragedy should be remembered". She mourns the 40 latest victims of Taliban attacks in Pakistan and implores us to remember the tragedy beyond the forgetful cycle of news-worthiness.

Dowrick concludes by urging more tolerance by religious fundamentalists who, she says, should follow the examples of their (in this case, Islamic) liberal counterparts. "It is characteristic of all religious fundamentalists to believe they have a monopoly on truth, and that their views are endorsed by God," she writes.

Precisely right. "It is crucial that the fundamentalists of any faith do not dominate and distort our thinking about what religion is, both the harm that it can cause and the healing that it can achieve," Dowrick continues.

What is her answer? That religious people need to be more liberal. Dowrick is espousing the common, and distorted, view, that the secular world knows exactly what religion should be "on about".

"No religion is bad", they say, "as long as they are liberal, and do not impose upon my desires to do whatever I want with my life".

The assumption here is that the liberal view (this often skewed word is, in this case, used to mean that people should be left to their own devices as long as they don't harm others) is the only correct one, and that religions need to get in line and not be intolerant.

Dowrick is right to condemn murder — by anyone. But to take this terrible tragedy and conclude that all religions, when pushed to their extremes, are similarly despicable is illogical, and shows an innate misunderstanding of the teachings of those religions.

The Christian faith (to which I make no effort to hide my affiliations) is often pressured to water down its core messages to appeal to the liberal mind-set.

You see, Christians don't believe in tolerance. That is not to say those who inflame hatred towards gays, or other religions are not behaving atrociously (their behaviour is not endorsed by Christian teaching). Actually the Bible says we need to do better than tolerate — we need to love our neighbour.

Isn't that exactly the aspect of religion that liberal thinkers want to celebrate above others? It is, but not if they understand loving others as "being nice, and not saying nasty things about their behaviour and state as humans".

Loving others, from a Christian viewpoint, means sharing truth with them. This is done through actions: caring and serving individuals and the community; and through speaking at the right times: stating what is wicked and needs to change about people and the world. If you knew someone was on the path to ruin, would it be loving to let them continue on that path? Or would real love intervene and implore them to change their views?

Fundamentalism, at least to me, means believing that something is right and something else is wrong. That doesn't mean endorsing violent coercion. Yet nowhere in the Hebrew/Greek Bible does it endorse this behaviour, and neither does the Koran endorse violence towards those who are not aggressive first.

Let us join in condemning those who would kill others for self-elation. But let's not be arrogant liberal thinkers who suppose we have a greater understanding of what religion should look like than those religions themselves. Dowrick, from what I can tell is neither a bad writer nor a particularly arrogant one, and I do not wish to over-emphasis our differences here.

Rather I want to use them to point out that tolerance isn't a particularly good ideal. If we measure ourselves by the biblical standard — that anyone who holds hatred for his brother in his heart is guilty of murder — then it becomes apparent that intolerance is practised not only by the religious.


Welcome to adland, where all men are morons

Comment from Australia

It was a few years ago that I first noticed men were being depicted as idiots in advertising. I'd put the issue aside, but Sarah McKenzie's article about the sexism of the Brut aftershave campaign brought it all crashing back.

I have no doubt that women have historical and ongoing problems about their portrayal in advertising, particularly being sexually objectified. I remember such scandals as the sexist Windsor Smith shoe ads, which showed women placed close to men's crotches as if about to perform a lewd act. But along with the creeping sexualisation of women has come the creeping moronification of men. If the default position in advertising for women is sex object, then the default position for men is that of imbecile.

Men used to be depicted as heroic characters in ads, products being the rewards for their manly efforts. "You got to work it hard, to be a Solo man. You're gonna take the lead and let the others follow," crowed the voice-over as our champion braved rapids in a canoe to be rewarded with a frosty, refreshing Solo at the end. "You can get it walkin'! You can get it talkin! You can get it working a plough! Matter o' fact I've got it now! Victoria Bitter! . . ." went the beer ad, run along with images of hard-working men engaged in back-breaking, yet satisfying, endeavours, the VB being the prize for their labours.

Today's ads don't seem to give a tinker's cuss about the nobility of men's endeavours. Men are no longer heroes but consumers. Worse, they're idiots. They might as well be saying, "Hey, dickhead! We don't care about your job and who you are! You're a worthless, interchangeable cog in the capitalist system! Catch!" as a six-pack is hurtled towards some poor bloke's melon.

Just as the soul-destroying messages in women's magazines are crafted by their female staff, so too are the negative messages about men crafted overwhelming by men in advertising agencies. For some reason, they have deduced that delivering a psychic kick to men's testicles is the best way to sell a whole host of products.

"Darwin was right," our faceless adman might say, "men are descended from apes! APES!"

"So let's treat them as the knuckledraggers they are," his pony-tailed sidekick might respond.

So it goes. The evidence is everywhere. Take the hapless boyfriend in the feminine hygiene ads who is too stupid to know what a tampon is or who runs away to the bedroom and refuses to come out until his girlfriend stops talking about them. Or the sap who wonders what "being regular" means in that cereal commercial featuring comedian Julia Morris, only to be told he doesn't get it. (If he gets bowel cancer that'll teach him, the stupid fool.) Or the ads where men's love of cars is treated as some kind of male-specific mental illness, his wife/partner rolling her eyes as he waxes the hood. Or the insurance ad where the bloke wouldn't know his arse from his elbow if a cyclone wiped out his uninsured home — fortunately his clever wife is there to help the simpleton understand. Even that "small penis" anti-speeding ad demeans men . . . and quite frankly wants to make me speed even more in revenge.

(One suspects that advertising targeted at the rich and wealthy has a somewhat more respectful tone: "Hey moron! You've made millions in computer software! Now buy this Learjet, you unreconstructed ape!" is unlikely to work with Bill Gates and his ilk.)

Then there are the dads – those chumps stupid enough to provide for their family and perpetuate the human race. Ad after ad depicts dad as some kind of daggy embarrassment, a Neanderthal more comfortable in the shed working with his tools or back in the Stone Age. Thank God mum is here to meet all of our emotional needs, prepare our food and discuss important life issues in baffling code ("I found something in your room"). Need more proof? As my friend Graham suggested, just take a look at what is written on the back of one syrup tin: "Pancakes — easy enough for dad to try!". Men built the rockets that went to the moon, but in 2010 man is barely intelligent enough to open a tin of pancake syrup.

In fact, there used to be a Japanese sitcom whose title translates roughly to "Stupid Dad", the story of a middle-aged Japanese salaryman who works himself to death in the traditional Japanese manner, only to be regarded as an idiot by his wife and family.

That's how modern advertising regards men – as an ageing salaryman unworthy of respect and who will buy any crap, no matter how it is pitched at them. Surely we deserve better.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


13 July, 2010

Racial, gender quotas in U.S. financial bill?

What one finds when reading congressional legislation is invariably surprising. Take the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, for instance, which was created by merging Senate and House bills. When the Senate returns from recess one of its first actions will be to vote on the bill, which passed the House on June 30.

I was searching the bill for a provision about derivatives. What did I find but Section 342, which declares that race and gender employment ratios, if not quotas, must be observed by private financial institutions that do business with the government. In a major power grab, the new law inserts race and gender quotas into America's financial industry.

In addition to this bill's well-publicized plans to establish over a dozen new financial regulatory offices, Section 342 sets up at least 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. This has had no coverage by the news media and has large implications.

The Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks, the Board of Governors of the Fed, the National Credit Union Administration, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau...all would get their own Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

Each office would have its own director and staff to develop policies promoting equal employment opportunities and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of not just the agency's workforce, but also the workforces of its contractors and sub-contractors.

What would be the mission of this new corps of Federal monitors? The Dodd-Frank bill sets it forth succinctly and simply - all too simply. The mission, it says, is to assure "to the maximum extent possible the fair inclusion" of women and minorities, individually and through businesses they own, in the activities of the agencies, including contracting.

How to define "fair" has bedeviled government administrators, university admissions officers, private employers, union shop stewards and all other supervisors since time immemorial - or at least since Congress first undertook to prohibit discrimination in employment.

Sometimes, "fair" has been defined in relation to population numbers, for example, by the U.S. Department of Education in its enforcement of Title IX, passed in 1972 as an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which pertains to varsity athletic opportunities for male and female undergraduates.

Title IX was intended to protect against sex discrimination, but not to allow the use of quotas. Indeed, it specifically prohibited arbitrary leveling of student numbers by gender.

Yet in 1997 the courts essentially sided with an interpretation of the law promulgated by the Department of Education that left universities with no choice but to adopt a proportionality standard for college sports if they wished to avoid lawsuits. If 55% of the students are female, then 55% of the varsity sports slots have to go to women. Financial institutions might have to meet a similar proportionality standard.

Lest there be any narrow interpretation of Congress's intent, either by agencies or eventually by the courts, the bill specifies that the "fair" employment test shall apply to "financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants and providers of legal services." That last would appear to rope in law firms working for financial entities.

Contracts are defined expansively as "all contracts for business and activities of an agency, at all levels, including contracts for the issuance or guarantee of any debt, equity, or security, the sale of assets, the management of the assets of the agency, the making of equity investments by the agency, and the implementation by the agency of programs to address economic recovery."

This latest attempt by Congress to dictate what "fair" employment means is likely to encourage administrators and managers, in government and in the private sector, to hire women and minorities for the sake of appearances, even if some new hires are less qualified than other applicants. The result is likely to be redundant hiring and a wasteful expansion of payroll overhead.

If the director decides that a contractor has not made a good-faith effort to include women and minorities in its workforce, he is required to contact the agency administrator and recommend that the contractor be terminated.

Section 342's provisions are broad and vague, and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies. To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies' efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.

Setting up these Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion is a troubling indictment of current law. Women and minorities have an ample range of legal avenues already to ensure that businesses engage in nondiscriminatory practices. By creating these new offices, Congress does not believe that existing law is sufficient.

Cabinet-level departments already have individual Offices of Civil Rights and Diversity. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance are charged with enforcing racial and gender discrimination laws.

With the new financial regulation law, the federal government is moving from outlawing discrimination to setting up a system of quotas. Ultimately, the only way that financial firms doing business with the government would be able to comply with the law is by showing that a certain percentage of their workforce is female or minority.

The new Offices of Women and Minorities represent a major change in employment law by imposing gender and racial quotas on the financial industry. The issue deserves careful debate - rather than a few pages slipped into the financial regulation bill.


What does it mean when thousands of "Americans" mourn the death of a preacher of terrorism?

In the words of his admirer, the Islamochristian and former CNN Mideast editor Octavia Nasr, Fadlallah "hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel," "regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens," was a Holocaust denier, and was "designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department."

The mainstream media constantly demands of us that we assume, without examination, that most Muslims in the U.S. -- all but a few "wackos," such as are found in "any religious group" -- are loyal citizens who love Constitutional liberties, abhor jihad terrorism, and have no intention of bringing Sharia here, at any time or in any way, in whole or in part, now or in the future.

So why would "thousands" of Shi'ites in Detroit be mourning this cleric, who green-lighted the 1983 Hizballah attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241? Hizballah's founder Hassan Nasrallah has said, "If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." Wouldn't patriotic, pluralistic American Muslims oppose Fadlallah, and not engage in such a public display of mourning, simply as a matter of principle?

Or could it be that we've been sold a bill of goods about what Muslims in the U.S. really think, and need to examine that subject much more closely?

Meanwhile, the noble Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press tells his readers that this bloodthirsty jihadist was "controversial." Yes, the U.S. government makes some claims about him, but the Muslim leaders mourning him in Detroit say those claims are inaccurate, and well now, that settles it, doesn't it?

More on this story. Tiny Minority of Extremists Update: "Popular, controversial Muslim cleric mourned," by Niraj Warikoo for the Detroit Free Press, July 10:
Thousands of Shia Muslims in metro Detroit are mourning the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a Lebanese cleric who was enormously popular locally but controversial to his critics. Six nights of memorial services at three Shia mosques conclude Sunday at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

Fadlallah, 74, who had been ill, died Sunday. He was considered a top scholar in the Shia Muslim world, a grand ayatollah whose views had a great deal of influence on everything from marital relations to women to politics. In Dearborn, he was probably the most respected cleric among Lebanese-American Shia Muslims, according to experts and local leaders.

Speaking to hundreds this week inside the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn, Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said that Fadlallah was a "man of peace, man of justice ... a man of antiterrorism and antiviolence."

The U.S. government, however, considered Fadlallah to be a terrorism supporter and spiritual leader of Hizballah. It says he sanctioned the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. Fadlallah's supporters say those claims are inaccurate and that he often criticized terrorism.

To many, he was seen as a progressive who was a strong supporter of women's rights....

Yes, as a Sharia supporter, he no doubt strongly supported a woman's right to be beaten if disobedient (Qur'an 4:34), to be one of a stable of four women (plus slave girls) servicing a man (Qur'an 4:3), to have her testimony counted as half that of a man (Qur'an 2:282), etc. etc. etc.


Badly behaved children shouldn't be excused

"Medical" conditions should not be blamed or used as an excuse for children's bad behaviour

'It's not his fault, he's got a disability," said the mother as her son ran around the outpatient clinic causing mayhem. He had just upturned a table, sending magazines skidding across the floor. One of the receptionists began picking them up and looked at me, rolling her eyes.

"He's got conduct disorder, you can't blame him," his mother continued as I ushered them into my room. While I was working in child psychiatry, I'd frequently see children such as this boy whom, to the casual observer, would be branded as "badly behaved". But in medicine, extremes of such behaviour have in recent years attracted psychiatric diagnoses. They are now illnesses. Terms such as "school refusal disorder" and "oppositional defiant syndrome" (hostile and defiant behaviour to authority figures) are labels often given to children. But are these illnesses in the traditional sense? And, if so, what causes them?

A team based at Cambridge University, and funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, published research last week, which, it is claimed, suggests that abnormalities in the brain may be responsible for anti-social behaviour. This is of great importance because it helps to establish such behaviour firmly in the realm of psychiatric morbidity. The study, based on brain scans conducted on teenage boys who had childhood or adolescent onset "conduct disorder" (characterised by aggressive and anti-social behaviour) shared similar brain patterns – typically less activity in the parts of the brain associated with processing emotions.

I'm not sure that such a reductionist approach is helpful. While the implication is that abnormalities in the brain are the cause of the behaviour, this ignores the fact that our environment and experiences help shape these neurological connections. Are such defects present at birth or do they develop in response to external factors? The research cannot show if parenting skills impact on the presence of such abnormalities.

The sentiment that the mother voiced – that blame cannot be attributed to anti-social behaviour because it is a medical condition – is pervasive. Yet we must take responsibility for our actions, and surely children need to understand this. Of course, there are times when a diagnostic label can be beneficial. It helps professionals understand the problems, and enables access to services and interventions. But the downside to this is that the medicalisation of behaviour comes with a tendency to remove responsibility. Children suddenly become untouchable, beyond reproach or remonstration.

While children can only be held responsible for their behaviour to a degree because they are, after all, minors and are, by definition, still developing emotionally and morally, the medicalisation of behaviour absolves everyone from responsibility.

But the law sees things differently. Adults with anti-social behaviour have also been shown to have structural differences in their brains, but does this mean they can be excused when they break the law? Of course not. I think we're doing children a disservice by giving them the impression that because they now have a medical label, they are unable to control their behaviour. After all, when they become adults, anti-social behaviour is dealt with legally, rather than medically. It also stops us asking about social and environmental factors. The brain may hold the key to our behaviour, but it's not to blame for it.


Courts send children to live with violent parents

These latest findings will be no surprise to anybody who has followed the incessant reports of social worker idiocy -- particularly reports from NSW (in Australia) and Britain

COURTS are delivering children to their abusers and ignoring or disbelieving claims of domestic violence.

Australian academics have found that children are sent to live with abusive parents because lawyers and judges are emphasising shared parenting, at the expense of the child's safety. The investigation also found:

* Professionals in the family law system often do not believe allegations of domestic violence or counsel the innocent parent not to mention it for fear of sounding vindictive and of risking contact with their children.

* After divorce or separation, four in 10 children are scared to spend time with the father and almost one in 10 does not feel safe with the mother.

The Federal Attorney-General's Department commissioned the report as part of a review of 2006 changes to the Family Law Act.

University of South Australia adjunct professor Dale Bagshaw, who co-led a team of academics from UniSA and interstate, said the system needed a complete overhaul to make child safety the highest priority.

"The biggest problem reported to us was kids going into unsafe situations because the emphasis on parental rights has been given the same emphasis as the safety of the child," Professor Bagshaw said.

"We are arguing that ... the safety of the child should be given the highest priority and any accusation of violence should be investigated before the child is sent to stay with the abusive parent."

Professor Bagshaw said throughout the separation process, children felt powerless because they were not given a say about parenting arrangements or their wishes were ignored.

The report's recommendations include that children's welfare needs be paramount, that victims' rights be given priority over children's contact with the perpetrator, and that all family law professionals should have more education on family violence.

Law Society of SA president Richard Mellows said while he could not comment directly on the report, he was aware there were public misconceptions about the legal changes.

He said courts still had to determine what was in the best interest of the child when making parenting orders, and that any proof of violence would be heard in court.

Researchers spoke to more than 1000 adults and more than 100 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


12 July, 2010

It's cheaper to let thugs out to commit crimes than to keep them in jail, says British probation boss

If justice and protection of the community is too expensive for Britain, it's time Britain cut back on other things -- like its vast bureaucracy

The public may have to put up with being the victims of serious crime to save money, a Government inspector said today. Andrew Bridges, chief inspector of probation, warned that it costs £80million a year to keep 2,500 of the country's most dangerous inmates behind bars.

The convicts have served the minimum sentence given by the courts but are being kept locked up for 'public protection'.

Mr Bridges predicts they could commit as many as 40 further serious crimes a year between them if released - a category that includes murder, manslaughter and rape.

But the inspector, who is supposed to monitor whether probation officers are effective, said the public must ask whether spending £2million a year to prevent each crime is value for money.

He asked: 'Is the public prepared to accept the "cost" of having more prisoners managed in the community to achieve what could be substantial financial savings? Grownup choices need to be made.'

Critics questioned whether it is part of Mr Bridges's 396,000-a-year job to make such remarks. David Green, director of think-tank Civitas-said: 'I would have thought the probation service is sufficiently dysfunctional for him to find enough to do without adding to its problems by calling for the release of 2,500 dangerous criminals. 'In the end it does not come down to costs, it comes down to justice and public protection. He has taken a narrow view of this, a shallow view.'

In his annual report, published today, Mr Bridges, also said that, under the last Government's early release scheme, around 30,000 convicts per year were released 18 days before their sentences reached the halfway point. On average, 500 of them committed a total of around 600 further offences during that period.

He said the cost of keeping 30,000 people in custody for around a fortnight is £48million - giving a figure of around £80,000 to prevent each offence. In other words, he argued, we are locking up 59 people who may not need to be behind bars in order to imprison one who is going to offend in that 18-day period.

The final figures for Labour's so called End of Custody Licence scheme actually show 81,578 prisoners were released up to 18 days early between 2007 and its abolition earlier this year - including more than 16,000 violent offenders. In all, 1,234 of them committed a total of 1,624 new offences during the time they would normally have still been locked up - including at least three murders.

This is despite the fact that the offences committed by the 80,000 inmates given early release between 2007 and the abolition of the scheme earlier this year included at least three murders.

Mr Bridges said he wanted to start the debate 'despite the difficulties in measuring reoffending, and in isolating what makes it more or less likely to happen'. His report adds: 'At a time when public expenditure is under especially close scrutiny it would be wise to consider the price paid for this rather drastic form of crime prevention, both financially and otherwise.'

Simon Reed, of the Police Federation, said: 'What price can we put on justice? I thought part of the criminal justice system was to punish and rehabilitate. It appears to be doing neither.'

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is already spent on imprisoning those who have broken the law. 'It is insulting to victims of crime and law abiding taxpayers who pay for the prison system to suggest that the public should accept an increase in crime if they want savings to be made.

'Our prison system needs urgent reform, and a good place to start would be to cut wasteful spending, such as giving inmates luxuries like Sky TV, before telling taxpayers to put up with more crime.'


The Leftist love-affair with Islam continues

They are united by hatred of the rest of us. Comments from Australia

EVERY Australian school student would be taught positive aspects about Islam and Muslims - and that Australia is a racist country - under a proposal by an education think tank.

The plan is outlined in the Learning From One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools booklet, published during the week by the Australian Curriculum Studies Association and the University of Melbourne's Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies.

It says there is a "degree of prejudice and ignorance about Islam and Muslims", and Australian students must be taught to embrace difference and diversity.

The booklet refers to the al-Qai'da of Osama bin Laden as "a famous name" synonymous with the traditionalist movement in Islam. It makes no reference to terrorism. It says "most texts used in Australian English classes still have a Western or European perspective".

Its authors are offering free seminars to teachers, which promise to "provide avenues for you to introduce Islam- and Muslim-related content in your classrooms" and "equip you with the skills to meet the needs and expectations of Muslim students in a multi-faith classroom".

But education experts have branded it a biased and one-sided approach that ignores Australia's Christian heritage and Western culture. "The book fails to mention the terrorist nature of such Islamic fundamentalists or describe their terrorist acts like the Bali bombings," education consultant Dr Kevin Donnelly said.

"Ignored is what some see as the inherently violent nature of the Koran, where devout Muslims are called on to carry out jihad and to convert non-believers, and the destructive nature of what is termed dhimmis - where non-believers are forced to renounce their religion, are discriminated against and forced to accept punitive taxation laws.

"Given that Australia's schools, on the whole, are secular in nature and the argument that classrooms should not be used to teach a particular faith, it's understandable why introducing religion into school subjects for many would be unacceptable," Dr Donnelly said.

ACSA executive director Catherine Schoo said the booklet was misunderstood. "This is simply a resource for non-Muslim teachers who may want to improve their understanding of issues Muslims face in Australian schools," she said. [A big backdown!]

SOURCE. (Andrew Bolt has further comments on the matter)

Tough new British laws planned for illegal gipsy camps

Long overdue. The Labour Party just tolerated Gypsy abuses

Gipsies who set up illegal camps could have their caravans and vehicles confiscated under new laws being planned. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, is drawing up legislation that would allow councils to sell off the seized assets and use the money to repair the land the travellers targeted. Officials would also be able to move caravans to holding sites where the families could live if they chose, under the plans.

And town halls will be expected to have enforcement staff on call over bank holiday weekends – a key time for gipsies to move on to sites while officials are away. Enforcement notices would be served immediately ordering a halt to the creation of the camp, and illegal caravans would be removed within days rather than months.

Figures in May showed that the number of gipsy caravans in England has risen significantly in recent months, from 17,437 in July 2009 to 18,355 this January. Of these, 1,224 were on land which did not belong to the travellers, including 652 which were listed as "not tolerated" by the legitimate owner. There were another 2,395 caravans on land owned by gipsies, but 1,159 of these did not have planning permission.

Earlier that month, residents of Meriden in the West Midlands protested outside Solihull borough council after a group of travellers began digging on land they owned but did not have planning permission to develop.

They had lodged a planning application to use the land as a "gipsy site for 14 pitches to site 14 mobile homes, 14 touring caravans and associated ancillary developments" on a Friday afternoon. Council officials left for the weekend without examining the application and police ordered residents to remove a makeshift roadblock intended to stop diggers being brought on to the site.

Mr Pickles’ proposals will be balanced with a more intensive effort to improve life for genuine gipsy communities who abide by the rules, in particular giving better access to health care and education.


Don’t tinker with Britain's vetting rules: Scrap them

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act is based on a poisonous assumption: that every adult is a potential abuser unless state-approved

In response to UK deputy minister Nick Clegg’s call for suggestions for laws and regulations that should be scrapped, spiked writers will put forward their suggestions for which laws should be consigned to the shredding machine of history. Here, Josie Appleton, convenor of the civil liberties group, the Manifesto Club, puts the case for dumping the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act.

My vote for the law to be scrapped goes to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. The Act was passed in October 2006 – with cross-party backing and virtually no detractors – and means an unprecedented degree of state intervention into everyday adult-child relations.

The law states that every adult who works or volunteers with children or ‘vulnerable adults’ (the homeless, disabled, elderly or sick) should go on a database and be subject to constant criminal records vetting by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

At a stroke, a whole swathe of civic life, much of it entirely voluntary and altruistic, became conditional on people joining a fantastically intrusive state licensing system. If you carried out what officials called ‘the regulated activity’ (ie, listening to children read or helping out with coffee mornings at the old people’s home) either ‘frequently’, ‘intensively’ or overnight, you would have to register. If you failed to do so, you would be guilty of a criminal offence and subject to a fine of up to £5,000.

So the security checks imposed on the mother volunteering at her local nursery became greater than those imposed on sellers of explosives. As we revealed in a recent Manifesto Club report, some two million volunteers would have to go on the vetting database for the most benign and everyday of activities.

At base, the vetting database is not actually a system for child protection from abusers. Professor of social work Sue White has described how in 26 years of experience she had not met one child who this system would have helped. None of the high-profile abuse cases of recent years would have been prevented by this database, since the perpetrators either did not have criminal records or did not meet their victims through their work.

The vetting database is first of all a system for the state management of adult-child relations. It is not about the identification of strange or perverted behaviour, but about the regulation of the mass of decent adults and of normal behaviour.

In the past, the state would hold lists of people who were barred from working with children. Now – with the vetting database – it wants to hold a list of nine million people who have been cleared. This is in effect a safe adult list, and your ISA registration number would be your safe adult ID number. Every adult is presumed to be a paedophile until proven otherwise; it seems that only constant state surveillance can offset our predatory instincts.

The database is based on the assumption that an unmonitored relationship between adult and child means a potential to abuse. The dividing line for registration on the vetting database is the ‘potential to form a relationship of trust’ with a child.

Civil servants have wracked their brains about how many frequent or intensive meetings with a child are required to suggest the potential to form a relationship of trust. First, they thought once a month or three days at a time was sufficient. Then the Singleton Review last December moved the boundaries, and decided that the dividing lines should be somebody who worked with children once a week or four days at a time.

The Lib-Con coalition government has suspended registration on the vetting database, which was due to start at the end of July, while it conducts a review of the scheme. The Manifesto Club has been calling for this for the past three years and so we are delighted.

We want to ensure, however, that the current review doesn’t end up with yet more consideration of the meanings of ‘frequent’ and ‘intensive’ activity. Wherever officials draw the line for database registration, it will still be an absurdly bureaucratic exercise. It would still present big problems for voluntary groups and children’s organisations, not the least of which is trying to work out the tortuous specifications of exactly who is supposed to register.

What is needed is a deconstruction of the vetting and barring scheme, right down to its poisonous roots. We don’t need yet another edit of this thoroughly wrong-headed piece of legislation: throw it all to the fire.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


11 July, 2010

Being watched constantly is too high a price for safety

Eminent Leftist lawyer JULIAN BURNSIDE below on CCTV cameras. He has a point and admits that the problem is where to draw the line but I can't say I am as bothered with existing practice as he seems to be. Burnside is Australian born but British-based

The human instinct for privacy runs deep. All people have a need to be private, but privacy is not coherently protected in Australia, except in Victoria and the ACT.

Like most human needs, the desire for privacy has to yield to competing interests. Traders need our names and contact details; banks need our financial details; doctors need a lot of personal information; governments expect us to tell them our income and, of course, law enforcement agencies need all manner of information when investigating crime.

But just as a reasonable expectation of privacy has its limits, so also does the right of others to acquire information about us. Balancing legitimate rights to information against legitimate expectations of privacy is a difficult and delicate task. The difficulty increases as techniques for surveillance become more sophisticated.

The first CCTV surveillance camera in a city was installed at Olean, New York, in 1968. In 1981, a CCTV camera was installed in a major road leading into Melbourne. Its purpose was to help with traffic during a forthcoming Commonwealth heads of government meeting. It was a novelty that many did not welcome. It caused a high degree of anxiety - and not just among civil libertarians. The Victorian government assured the public that the camera would be removed after the meeting was over. It wasn't.

All major cities now have thousands of CCTV cameras watching public spaces. They are so pervasive that most people have stopped thinking about them. In most cities in Australia, the average citizen is likely to be captured on film about 15 times a day. Like most civil liberties, the right to privacy is hard to regain when it has been lost. All we can do is preserve what little privacy is left to us. So beware the beguiling arguments of governments intent on knowing everything about you.

In Britain, there are more than 6 million CCTV cameras. Not many people seem to care, but it is worth reflecting that most of the cameras we see around town are monitored all the time. If the cameras were replaced by spies, we might react differently. Imagine a society in which the citizens were regularly watched by 6 million human observers. It sounds like East Germany under the Stasi, or the system of surveillance foreshadowed by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Few governments would survive politically if they put an army of informers on the streets. CCTV cameras watch us all the time, but they do not cause the same fuss. When questions of privacy are raised, there are two standard answers. First: if you've nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. And second: it is necessary to fight crime. Both arguments are wrong.

The argument that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" goes to the heart of what the need for privacy is about. Privacy is not about hiding wickedness. It is an expression of the basic need to be left alone. Most people draw the curtains at night. It's not because they have something to hide, but because they need to feel that they are not being watched. They are not trying to hide guilty secrets: they need to feel private.

Governments in Australia have never tried to justify the argument that CCTV cameras are necessary, or even effective, in reducing crime. It is as if the matter is too obvious to need proof. But in Britain, figures released last year showed that just one crime per year was solved for every 1000 CCTV cameras in use. Some local authorities in Britain have justified the cost of installing CCTV cameras by saying that surveillance drives prospective criminals into other areas. In other words, they do not prevent crime, they simply move it elsewhere.

But let us suppose that the use of CCTV surveillance is effective to some extent in reducing crime. Let's be more extravagant and assume, against the evidence, that CCTV surveillance is highly effective in reducing crime. Would that justify increased use of CCTV surveillance? Try this little thought-experiment: a great deal of criminal activity happens at home - child abuse, spouse abuse, sexual assault and so on. We could reduce those forms of criminal conduct by a simple device. Let every room of every house in the land be equipped with a CCTV camera.

Let the cameras all be connected to a large database, so that anything that happens anywhere in any house will be recorded. If a crime is committed, video evidence of it will be available.

The effect on crime figures is likely to be dramatic. But how many of us would support such an idea? We would all spend our lives knowing that some nightmare ministry was watching every detail.

This might reduce crime, but most people, I suspect, would think the price was too great. Because our privacy matters very much, even when we have nothing to hide.


Reinstated, the British foster parent struck off for allowing Muslim girl to convert to Christianity

A foster parent struck off after a Muslim girl in her care converted to Christianity has won the right to be reinstated.

Gateshead Council’s decision to remove the carer from the register provoked a storm of controversy after it was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday last year. The carer, who had looked after children for ten years and had a perfect record, was blamed for failing to ‘protect and preserve’ the girl’s Muslim faith when she was baptised, even though she was over 16 and had made up her own mind to change her religion.

Gateshead’s decision was quashed by a court in Leeds last week, prompting criticism of the former head of its children’s services, Maggie Atkinson, who is now Children’s Commissioner for England.

The foster carer, who cannot be named to preserve the anonymity of the girl, said last night that her loss of income had been ‘devastating’. She added: ‘In addition to losing the Muslim teenager, another girl I was looking after was taken back into care. And I lost the farmhouse I rented to look after vulnerable teenagers.’ She said she was seeking damages from the council.

She added: ‘Despite my experiences, I still hope to foster again in the future. I simply enjoy helping young people.’

The carer, a devout Christian in her 50s, was asked to look after the Muslim teenager after the girl was threatened with an arranged marriage and faced violence from her family. She said she never pressurised the girl to convert to Christianity and the council was aware that she was attending a Christian church, but her foster manager became ‘incandescent with rage’ when she was baptised.

Council officials advised the girl to reconsider her decision, and struck the carer off in November 2008.

Ms Atkinson said: ‘The decision to remove a carer would only be made if it were in the best interests of the children. 'I am sorry it had such an effect. I hope that the ruling and Gateshead’s move to reassess the situation will go some way to reversing this.’ [Nasty b*tch!]


Catholics angry as celebrities hijack rosary beads as a fashion statement

It's lucky Catholics are more tolerant than Muslims or the fashion shops selling them would be burnt down. Muslims use prayer beads too. I wonder if any "celebrities" will be seen wearing them?

CATHOLICS are outraged after discovering rosary beads - sacred jewellery used in prayer - are being flaunted as a fashion statement. The strings of beads with a cross are now as likely to be found in cheap jewellery stores as they are in a church, with fashion franchise Diva selling three styles of a rosary necklace with a silver cross pendant for $14.99 each.

The beads are a hit with teenagers, but national president for the Catholic Women's League Australia, Madge Fahy, said it was inappropriate for people to wear them as jewellery. "It is totally disrespectful to the religious beliefs of Catholics" she said. "I believe it's an abuse of our religious object. Rosary beads are solely used for prayer."

Ms Fahy said non-religious followers of fashion should have more regard for a sacred symbol of the Catholic Church. "Don't wear them unless you're prepared to use them for what they are made for. They are not a fashion item, they are for prayer and for rosary - don't wear them."

Variations of the rosary bead necklaces are being sold by fashion chain Sportsgirl for $19.95 and also by Dolce & Gabbana.

The craze has been driven by celebrities such as Madonna, David Beckham and Britney Spears, who have adopted the beads as a necklace. In pop star Lady Gaga's latest film clip, she controversially lies on a bed swallowing a set of black rosary beads while dressed in a red leather nun's outfit.

Rosary beads fan Jennifer Holmes admits she bought them for fashion reasons. "I bought them because I liked the colour and the length of the necklace, plus crosses are such a beautiful and peaceful symbol" she said.

"I do not wear them as a religious symbol even though I am a Catholic - I bought it as a fashion accessory. "Subconsciously religion may have played some influence, but to me it's just another necklace with a beautiful piece added."


Government stopping charities from feeding the homeless

The National Coalition for the Homeless has issued a report detailing laws and ordinances in a couple of dozen localities across the nation that prohibit charities – churches, civic organizations, charities, etc. – from feeding the homeless. Or, at least, inhibit their ability to do so with burdensome regulation.

You can read the full report here. Some examples:
– Gainesville, Florida began enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day.

– Phoenix, Arizona used zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to community members, including many homeless people, outside a local church.

– Myrtle Beach, South Carolina adopted an ordinance that restricts food sharing with homeless people in public parks. …

– In Orlando, Florida the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the City of Orlando on behalf of local organizations, challenging a 2006 law requiring a groups sharing food with 25 or more people to obtain a permit that was only available twice a year per park. A federal district court found the law to be unconstitutional and in violation of Free Exercise of Religion and Freedom of Speech in October of 2008. The city has appealed the decision and the appeal is pending.

– In San Diego, California the zoning department attempted to prohibit a local church from serving a weekly meal to community members, many of them homeless.7 In 2008, attorney Scott Dreher successfully defended the church’s First Amendment right to practice its religion. The weekly meal continues to take place on church property and serves 150 to 200 people each week.

I did some Googling as well to flesh out more examples, and found communities all over the country who are essentially criminalizing or at least prohibiting/inhibiting private charity.

This seems like lunacy to me. There are people who are destitute and hungry. There are other people who are willing to give of their own time, talent and wealth to provide for those people. But the government is limiting their ability to do so, or in some instances stopping them.

Why? The motivation is hard to pin down. One chief motivation, no doubt, wanting homeless people out of parks and public areas. They believe that feeding them in a public place like a park only lures more homeless to that park. And some people just don’t want to see homeless people during their day-to-day lives. It’s the old “not in my back yard” attitude.

There is no doubt some truth to that, but I think there’s another motivation at work here as well.

But I think another motivation may well be that the government hates competition. Rather than allowing private charities like churches, etc. do their own part to feed the homeless I think the government would much rather homeless get help through government-sanctioned, government-funded, government-administered social programs.

Because that gives more power to the government. That justifies bigger budgets for the government. That means more bureaucrats employed by the government. And besides, the government always knows best right?

If we allow citizens to help one another, if we put the emphasis on individual acts of charity and families/friends taking care of their own, then we have a diminished need for government. And the government isn’t in the business, these days, of promoting independence.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


10 July, 2010

'I'll end health 'n' safety farce': New British PM vows to cure Labour neurosis

He's got a big hill to climb to achieve that

Britain's health and safety 'neurosis' will end as Labour regulations are torn up, David Cameron reveals today. The Prime Minister pledges to free police, emergency workers and teachers from red tape which has been blamed for creating a culture where someone must be to blame for any mishap.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, he says health and safety has 'gone mad' and promises to implement key advice from a forthcoming government review.

Margaret Thatcher's former Trade Secretary Lord Young will recommend excluding the police, paramedics, ambulance drivers and other emergency services from prosecution under health and safety laws while they are carrying out their duties. His report, commissioned by Mr Cameron, will also propose lifting the red tape which has made many school trips impossible.

Excursions will be legally classified as classroom activities. Parents will be asked to sign a one-off consent form when their child joins a school giving permission for such trips throughout their school career.

People who work from home, or are self-employed, will also be exempted from onerous health and safety 'risk assessments' of their own living spaces.

'These things will happen,' promised the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said it was clear from 78-year-old Lord Young's work that there was 'too much intrusion' into everyday life from health and safety bureaucracy. 'He has done a brilliant job helped by members of the public who have been sending in examples, including a schoolteacher who sent in a ten-page form that has to be filled out when you do any sort of school trip.'

He said the health and safety obsession had 'encroached into various different parts of national life, whether it's stopping Bonfire Night or stopping an ambulance getting to an emergency. We need to deal with it all in a comprehensive way.'

The Prime Minister said the Government was particularly determined to stop teachers refusing to take pupils on school trips because of red tape.

'We all want our children to have great experiences outside the classroom, whether it's visiting museums or farms or geography field trips or residential courses. We want all the things we had in our own childhood to be available today.

'There is a worry that it's becoming too difficult to do because there are too many forms to fill in, too many risks to assess.

'Of course teachers have to be responsible for those in their charge. But the common law does a huge amount of that anyway without adding these extra layers.'

Mr Cameron did not rule out abolition of the Health and Safety Executive, the quango which oversees law and regulation in the area. 'We do have a good record of health and safety at work in this country, and we have a low level of industrial accidents and that's important.

'You can deal with this problem without jeopardising that at all. The neurosis comes from excessive litigation fears, unclear law, mission creep, Europe, town halls. It's all of those things and we have to deal with each one. That's what we will do.'

Despite the challenges of his new job, Mr Cameron has appeared remarkably unruffled in the first few weeks. But he confessed that while he might appear at ease, 'I'm paddling manically below the surface.' He added: 'I'm finding it a challenge, but a rewarding challenge because after five years of talking I'm finally able to do some doing.'

To add to the pressure on the Cameron family as they adjust to life in Number Ten, the Prime Minister's wife Samantha is weeks away from giving birth to their fourth child.


Cry halt when Islamists take liberties

Comment from Australia. Incitement to violence is not usually regarded as protected free speech and could amount to the crime of sedition

LAST weekend's Hizb ut-Tahrir conference in Sydney, part of a series of events being held around the world by the group to campaign for the formation of a transnational Islamic caliphate, has served to remind us of the main challenge that has emerged to the security of the modern liberal democratic state.

It is not a military threat from another nation state or a threat to borders from people-smuggling. Nor is it a threat posed in secular, ideological terms such a fascism, Stalinism or communism. Today the threat is radical Islamism. Unlike traditional Islam, which sought to avoid modernity, modern Islamism seeks to confront it, seeking not only to expose the incoherence at the heart of secular modernity but to engineer an apocalyptic confrontation with it.

At the vanguard of this movement is Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation). First established in the Palestinian territories in 1953 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group was formed in opposition to the creation of the democratic state of Israel in 1948. Since then, it has grown into a sophisticated worldwide movement with offices across Europe, Asia and Australia.

Islamism's supranational ideal and protean character means that it can organise, plan and recruit much more effectively in Western cosmopolitan cities such as London, Paris or Sydney than from its more traditional homelands in the Middle East or South Asia.

The committed Islamist prefers tactics translated from a national to a transnational battlefield as a means of subverting open democracies and destabilising the alliance structures built by the US during the Cold War.

Islamism also addresses the conflicted allegiances of minority second-generation communities living in the West by offering its recruits a simple explanation and a complete solution to a broad range of grievances. Democracy and Western foreign policy are seen as the root cause of all evil. In order to facilitate the global insurgency and its appeal, its strategists exploit the infrastructure of global communications technology, particularly the internet. Following the Sydney conference, Hizb ut-Tahrir issued a press release denouncing Australian foreign policy, rejecting efforts to engage with "moderate" Islam, and calling on all Muslims to work outside the democratic process.

There's no easy solution to countering this broader challenge of political Islamism and its potential radicalising influence on vulnerable youth. We know that radicalisation by peer pressure and introduction to a firebrand preacher are better predictors of violent extremism than education, unemployment, mental illness or wealth.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's Australian activities and its website introduce and reinforce a sense of alienation among Muslim youth. One way to support mainstream Muslims in addressing this dangerous ideology is to facilitate their engagement online, bringing religious knowledge to bear on issues being debated in extremists' virtual study groups.

We should continue to closely monitor Hizb ut-Tahrir. They take advantage of our tolerance of intolerance and engage in ideological warfare. They seek to create an "us and them" divide with the rest of Australia, including the vast majority of Muslims who don't subscribe to its ideology. Banning the group, however, may prove counterproductive. It could drive radicalisation underground and encourage support for even more extreme views. Penetrating and monitoring these groups poses a particular challenge for our security agencies. But the federal government, having recently committed $10 million to counter radicalisation programs during the next four years, should be examining if we need to change our legal approach to this group.

The sedition laws in the Criminal Code, for example, make it an offence to intentionally urge the use of force or violence by one group in the community against another on the basis of race, religion, nationality or political opinion.

Terrorist offences in the Criminal Code target preparatory activity or activity that renders more likely the carrying out of a terrorist act. And some of Hizb ut-Tahrir's extremist material may contravene Australia's anti-discrimination laws. Its inflammatory online material should be examined by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to see if a take-down notice should be issued to the group.

We have seen in other parts of the world how the sort of hatred of the West that Hizb ut-Tahrir promotes can turn into violence at short notice. Western democracies such as Australia have an obligation to protect their citizens, and to defend the values and principles of their political system.


Stop policing our thoughts, including the hateful ones

Presenting himself as part John Stuart Mill, part Uncle Sam, the Lib-Con deputy PM Nick Clegg last week launched his Your Freedom initiative for which he NEEDS YOU to help make Britain a ‘less intrusive, more open society’. You log on to the Your Freedom website, propose which nannying New Labour laws and other unnecessary legislation should be fed into the shredding machine of history, and who knows, says Clegg, ‘some of your proposals could end up making it into bills that we bring before parliament’. The ultimate aim, in Cleggspeak, is to ‘restore Britain’s traditions of freedom and fairness’.

Okay then. Leaving aside, for now, the small matter that freedom is better understood as a living, breathing thing that individuals exercise every day rather than as a tradition that the authorities must preserve on our behalf, spiked is going to take this initiative in good faith. Over the next two weeks we’ll call for the repeal of various acts of law, in the interests, not merely of restoring certain freedoms, but of clarifying what freedom is and why it is, in our view, the most important thing in society. And to kick off: Clegg, I want you to rip up the Racial and Religious Hatred Act.

Introduced by the New Labour government in 2006, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act is an attack on what is for spiked the most important freedom of all, the freedom upon which all other freedoms are built, the freedom without which we cannot be free-thinking, free-associating, independent citizens: freedom of speech. The act captures the dual fear that has motivated the authorities’ many, myriad attacks on free speech over the past decade and more: their fear of ideas, which they consider to be toxic and virus-like, and their fear of the masses, whom they look upon as an easily stirred-up mob, a pogrom waiting to go forth and decimate.

Building on earlier acts of law that criminalised inciting racial hatred, the 2006 act makes it an offence to ‘stir up religious hatred’, too. It makes it a crime to use words or imagery – explicitly covering everything from placards to plays performed in a theatre to making a recording with the intention of distributing it – which intend to ‘stir up hatred against persons on religious grounds’. The use of any ‘threatening words’ or ‘display of any written material’ which is designed to spread hatred of a religion or its adherents is banned and punishable by a fine or prison sentence.

One of the most striking things about the religious hatred legislation is how determined New Labour was to introduce it, and how keen it was, initially, not only to criminalise the ‘stirring up’ of hatred but also any potentially hurtful criticism and ridicule of a religion and its followers. New Labour first floated the idea of criminalising religious hatred and ridicule after 9/11, when it predicted, wrongly of course, that there would be an outbreak of mob madness against Muslims. After much wrangling, and boosted by another, post-7/7 panic about anti-Muslim uprisings (which again was wrong), New Labour finally introduced the legislation in 2006.

But its outrageously Orwellian desire to make it a crime to ridicule religion was defeated – by comedians, campaigners and, unfortunately, the House of Lords – and the final act contains a clause pointing out that nothing in the legislation ‘prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents’.

This, however, was a shallow ‘victory’. For while New Labour was forced, to its great umbrage, to give up on its illiberal ambitions to curtail open debate about religion and to police and punish some of our thoughts – such as our thoughts of anti-religious ridicule or our feelings of antipathy – it still reserved, and institutionalised, the right of government to police and punish other thoughts we might have – the hot-headed, hateful ones. So effectively we are free to ridicule religions, but not to really, really ridicule them. We are free to ‘dislike’ religious faith (thanks for that, New Labour), but not to hate it and certainly not to express our hatred of it. New Labour might have given up on outlawing the expression of any form of dislike of religion, but its criminalisation of words and images that might ‘stir up of hatred’ of religion still represents the policing of our minds, our emotions, our thoughts, our words.

The authorities’ belief that all heated language is potentially inciteful and dangerous is captured in the terminology used in the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. There was a time when, in legal terms, to incite meant to be in a close relationship with another person or group of people and to try to convince them or cajole them, face-to-face and intensively, to commit a crime. Today the term ‘incitement’ is used far more promiscuously so that everything from a speech at a rally to a Jamaican dancehall song playing at a disco to a placard saying ‘I hate Islam and you should hate it too’ can be said to incite hatred or violence. This reflects a new, degraded view of the public, those listeners to dancehall music and viewers of daft placards, as incapable of rational interpretation, judgement and cool-headedness. In the view of the powers-that-be, all public speakers are now akin to those criminal inciters of old, and all listeners are like their wide-eyed charges, easily led towards doing Something Bad.

Indeed, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act goes even further than using the super-woolly redefined category of ‘incitement’ and instead repeatedly uses the vague phrase ‘stirring up hatred’. And it clearly believes that this hatred can be ‘stirred up’ – whatever that means – in any number of ways and settings. So it outlaws the display of hatred-stirring written material on demonstrations, for example, and also says that the directors, producers and actors in a play that ‘involves the use of threatening words’ that could ‘stir up religious hatred’ are guilty of a criminal offence.

The Act’s refusal to distinguish between criminal conspiracies, heated demos or works of art shows that it believes all words, whatever the context, can be dangerous, and that all people, whether on a rowdy protest or in a quiet theatre, are easily ‘stirred up’. Context and meaning count for nothing when you view the mass of the population as one hateful image away from turning into a super-mob. And this is only one of many pieces of legislation that polices us so patronisingly. Clegg, the obscenity laws, the ban on glorifying terrorism, the treason law and all those word-curbing quangos – from Ofcom to the Advertising Standards Authority – must go too.

Unfortunately, many liberals and atheists campaigned against religious hatred legislation on the basis that it protected religious people but not atheists – us! – from ridicule. And so the final law also outlaws ‘stirring up hatred’ against people on the basis of their ‘lack of religious belief’. This is a travesty, not only because I am most inclined today to stir up hatred (well, to really, really ridicule) New Atheists, with their illiberal, intolerant, screechy streak, but also because it misses the main point: that the authorities have no business policing and punishing our hatred of anything. So long as we don’t physically attack someone or something, we should be free to hate it as much as we like and to tell people that we hate it. Hatred might not always be big and clever (though it can sometimes be a trigger for positive changes, if aimed at dumb political traditions rather than people who believe in God), but it’s a thing that lies in the realm of thought and speech, and the authorities have no business there. If we are not free to hate – that is, to think what we want to think, to feel what we want to feel, and to express it as we see fit – then we are not free.


Intolerant, Insensitive and Downright Annoying

Long and painful self-analysis has revealed that I am the embodiment of the title’s characteristics. Nothing can make me change. Counseling won’t help. Neither will a thorough astrological review. Ditto for yoga or aroma therapy. Not even a session chanting mantras in the hot tub. I cannot change, for I am a Christian.

I am intolerant because I refuse to accept the modern definition of tolerance. This new, enlightened definition did not storm the landscape in hard boots. It did not thrust itself on the American culture as a result of a single, polarizing event. It crept, instead, ever so slowly into our national lexicon. It diffused below the radar of conscience. It succeeded in becoming the anchor of our modern morality.

My old college copy of the American Heritage Dictionary states clearly that to tolerate means to “...recognize and respect, as the rights, opinions, or practices of others whether agreeing with them or not.” With respect to another’s particular inclinations or behaviors, the classic definition of tolerance allows me to honor their freedom while still honoring my conscience. I am able to judge actions, not people, from afar and hold those actions up to the scrutiny of my moral code. Both of our free wills are rightly respected. Makes perfect sense.

The revised definition of tolerance, however, removes my ability to disagree with another’s actions. I am now under pressure to recognize, respect and approve all actions of my fellow man, regardless of where such actions reside on the moral continuum. In other words, I must sanction that which is immoral, unlawful, or just plain sinful to avoid severe penalty. What severe penalty? The notorious badge of “intolerant.” It’s the label that ends the discussion, closes the issue and hisses loudly that its recipient is a social leper. For absolute censorship, I expect “judgmental” added on as well.

So there I am - accused, indicted and executed without a trial. The true import of this penalty is that it now taints everything else that I have to say in the future. Its broad scope ensures that I am properly vilified as one who considers himself above all others, looking down with disdain on a vast ocean of sinners. The sentence passed on me ensures that my moral code is bludgeoned out of existence. It’s been deemed old-fashioned, out-of-touch, or completely unenlightened. I am now persona non grata for my temerity in declaring anyone’s behavior to be wrong.

Funny thing is, in labeling me intolerant my culture fails to realize that I am simply honoring the time-honored precepts I have chosen to live by. I am not operating from a set of principles developed on my own. I am not rendering my personal opinion. As a subscriber to a code of life known as Christianity, I have sworn to honor its demands. Going to Mass, fasting and prayer are part of my faith and pose few problems to society. Caring for the poor and dispossessed even garner a degree of respect and approval. Identifying right and wrong actions, however, opens the door to untold woe. I am instantly silenced and shunned for observing these demands of the same code of faith. Could it be that the modern notion of tolerance, unmasked, is simply hard-core intolerance?

On to my insensitivity. Yes, I am utterly insensitive, a regular Attila the Hun. A bona-fide lost cause. Why? Because, like tolerance, the term sensitive has been modified to fit the emerging theology of the now. Due to numerous socio-political contortions, I no longer have any earthly idea what this word means. My faithful dictionary reminds me that to be sensitive means, “...susceptible to the attitudes, feelings or circumstances of others.” No doubt it is important to pay attention to welfare of others. Compassion and understanding are two hallmarks of human nature. Makes perfect sense.

But wait. Since nobody ever wants to be perceived as devoid of such attributes, what better way to obtain sanction for wrongdoing than to declare someone as lacking in them? Modern sensitivity casts a shadow that spans from those truly heartless all the way to those rejecting the latest self-indulgence. Its scope allows every deviancy to be protected by the gospel of feelings. We are now in the position of having to render at least tacit approval of another’s actions or risk alienation. Being labeled insensitive, just like intolerant, results in societal leprosy. Cowering in fear of such a badge of infamy, we sell out our values without a whimper. We are just like the villagers who lived adjacent to the concentration camps. In order to avoid retribution, we support the “atrocities” while pretending we really don’t know what’s going on. We offer our souls to the God of feelings rather than the God of Abraham.

When I point out wrongdoing, when I fail to approve a deviant lifestyle, or when I choose not to accept another’s brand of morality, I am awarded the “insensitive” badge for my vest. Sew it on, for I cannot back off for fear of society’s punishment. I cannot water down or compromise my beliefs. I simply do not have that choice.

Which brings me to being downright annoying. Here I am, plodding through life wearing the badges of my societal sins. Now that my status is known, I present a problem to the enlightened ones. They know for what I stand and have to figure out how to avoid my bothersome beliefs. After all, my faith may awaken long-dormant notions of right and wrong in their own minds. Perhaps my presence will prompt them to walk down the hallways of conscience, chancing upon old friends. Loyal but bothersome friends like virtue, truth and faith.

It’s kind of like inviting your loud Uncle Joe to your Christmas party. Protocol demands you tender an invitation, but you cringe at the thought that he’ll regale your guests with stories from your childhood. Stories that are terribly embarrassing mainly because they’re all true. Having a guy like me around is equally troublesome. Someone might discover that what I profess to be true is actually just that.

Thanks to my Baptism, I bought into the notion that God has standards which he established for a reason. He set the bar at a challenging height. His Commandments, Beatitudes and Gospels are designed to continually fortify my intolerance and insensitivity toward sin. When I don’t live up to his standards, I am compelled to take responsibility for my failures. With utter disdain for my transgressions, I must humbly seek Reconciliation. In turn, God lavishes his mercy and forgiveness. In his goodness, however, God never relieves me of the mandate to live rightly. I am continually reminded to,“...Go and sin no more.”

So, off I go in search of others who still like old-fashioned dictionaries. I look for those whom society deems intolerant, insensitive and annoying for their steadfast refusal to capitulate to the culture. Those who still believe that God’s law is not negotiable. Those who understand that we cannot redefine our vocabulary to serve as a smokescreen for sin.

When a new term or a redefined old term comes along, I must ask the key question: What exactly am I being asked to compromise? I must demand clarity. I must ask the hard questions. I must not let my culture off the hook with feel-good euphemisms. I must not allow myself to be manipulated. Too much is at stake.

I have already navigated the minefields of political correctness, multiculturalism, diversity, alternate lifestyles and inclusion. With every one of these fancy terms, drilling down uncovered the multitude of moral compromises buried in their meaning. None could stand the scrutiny of my trusty dictionary.

I am unashamed of the new badges on my vest. They tell an important story. By all means alert the enlightened members of society. Have them strike my name from all party invitations. Delete me from their Christmas card list. Make sure they don’t include me in any important convention, meeting or event. After allFree Web Content, if I am included people might come over and check out my vest.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


9 July, 2010

Islam and the Left - Two Sides of the Same Coin

The Islamists and the Leftists have the same goal. Absolute power. Islam, like Communism, is a means to that end

On the surface of it they seem to have very little in common. The left claims to be progressive, embraces gay bars, abortions, feminism, worker’s rights civil rights, multiculturalism and obscene slogans. The Islamists throw acid in women’s faces, hang gays on every streetcorner and repress minorities and freedom of expression.

This seeming contrast baffles many who demand to know how for example the left can champion Islamic regimes which mandate the death penalty for homosexuality. The answer is very simple. The people asking the question have mistaken the facade for the reality.

The left is socially progressive only in its revolutionary phase. The Soviet Union, Castro’s Cuba and Communist China all had much the same view of gay people—that Iran does today. While gay writers in America campaigned for the USSR or Cuba, both those regimes imprisoned gay writers. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in the USSR until its actual fall. None of this bothered liberals in the West, who were happy to trek to Moscow, meet with Soviet leaders and blame the US for the Cold War. And then come home and talk about how intolerant the United States is.

The USSR was happy to discuss the civil rights of African-Americans in the US. Liberals however did not care that most of the African-Americans who came to Russia early after the revolution wound up in Gulags or dead. This has been documented in books such as Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union by Robert Robinson, an African-American engineer who came to find a job but was unable to leave for over four decades, while remaining constantly in fear for his life in a racist society.

Then there’s Castro’s Cuba, which practices unofficial racial segregation. Yes, not a fact you’re likely to see in a Michael Moore documentary.

Jorge Luis García Pérez in Cuba, a pro-democracy activist who was only recently released from prison, said: "The authorities in my country have never tolerated that a black person oppose the regime.” Carlos Moore has said; "There is an unstated threat. Blacks in Cuba know that whenever you raise race in Cuba, you go to jail. Therefore the struggle in Cuba is different. There cannot be a civil rights movement. You will have instantly 10,000 black people dead.” Do you think that any of the Hollywood liberals like Spielberg or Costner who fall over themselves praising Castro care? Why would they.

Shall we discuss worker’s rights? In the West, Communists championed unions. In the USSR, striking workers were meant with machine gun fire. In 1962, workers in the city of Novocherkassk tried to go on strike to protest pay cuts. They were gunned down in the street in front of city hall by Soviet troops. This mind you was in the days of the relatively "moderate” Communist regime of Khrushchev. Independent unions were illegal there. Just as they are illegal in the USSR.

It’s possible to write volumes on this topic, but let’s just cut to the chase. An actual left wing dictatorship brutally represses everything they claim to fight for.

While in the West, experimental artists were cheering on the USSR, in the USSR, such art was considered degenerate, just as it was in Nazi Germany. And the same went for literature. The USSR did push a sham feminism and occasionally abortion rights, not because they believed in it, but because they needed to expand the workforce.

On the other hand divorces were hard to come by, and women who obtained them risked being expelled from the Communist Party. All the elements of political equality and civil rights that the left claimed to be fighting for, were in fact completely absent from Communist regimes. And that never bothered the left at all.
The social progressivism of the left has never been anything but a fraud

The social progressivism of the left has never been anything but a fraud. A tool used to recruit bohemian activists to fight on their side, while purging them once the revolution was successful. The left tries to overturn the values of a target society as part of a comprehensive revolutionary assault. That doesn’t mean that its actual values are different. Once the left gains absolute power, it seeks to create a static and unchanging system. The perfect Utopian society with immovable laws administered by an endless political bureaucracy.

In the real world this translates into a repressive search for stability. Which means banning exactly the same things that the left had been fighting for. And the first thing to be banned is always the right to dissent. A right that the left insists on for itself when it is out of power, but does not permit to others when it is.

George Orwell expressed this closed circle at the end of Animal Farm by having the "new bosses” who were once pigs become indistinguishable from the farmers, the "old bosses”. The pigs had not been interested in an animal run farm. What they all along wanted was to take over. To become the farmers. Championing the rights of all animals to be free was only a tool to accomplish their end goal. Absolute power.

This finally brings us back to Islam. There has never been any contradiction between the left making common cause with Islamist movements and regimes that murder gay people. Because if the Left in the West ever gained absolute power, they would murder them too. For that matter 90 percent of the idiots attending their anti-war rallies would end up in front of a firing square. Does this sound far-fetched to you? Guess what, virtually every Communist regime did the same thing in its time.

Do you know what the worst possible way to survive a Communist takeover is? It’s being a member of a right wing organization. Do you know what the second worst way is? Being a member of a left wing organization. Do you know what the third worst way is?

Being a member of the Communist party before the takeover. Yes, the third worst thing to be when the Communists take over, is to be one of them. Because you’ll only get to live long enough to help wipe out the members of right wing organizations and the members of left wing non-Communist groups, before your own turn comes.

This is not just the norm for Communists, it’s a common pattern on the left. The French Revolution degenerated into horrifying massacres and endless executions in exactly that same way. First the radicals purge "enemies of the state”, then they purge each other, then they themselves are purged to make way for a more stable system. The end result is a repressive state that has wiped out anyone who might want to change things. Which was the goal all along.

So the idea that the Left would have only moral objections to the Islamists is just plain naive. In fact the Left and the Islamists agree on the essential bullet points, including the part about using actual bullets and who they want to kill. As far as both Left Wing and Islamist leaders are concerned, 90 percent of their movements consist of nothing more than useful idiots good for nothing but cannon fodder.

Don’t believe me? When was the last time, a Hamas leader sent one of his sons to blow himself up? It never happened. And never will.

The Islamists and the Leftists have the same goal. Absolute power. Islam like Communism is a means to that end

The Islamists and the Leftists have the same goal. Absolute power. Islam like Communism is a means to that end. This is what makes them so dangerous. Their goal is to create absolute tyrannies based on ideologies that promise a better world. The ideology is what brings them to power as useful idiots kill and die, thinking that they’re fighting to create a Utopian society run according to the Koran (a book supposedly dictated by an illiterate merchant who used his claims of getting divine messages from angels to rule over an entire region) or Marxism (essays produced by a man who never worked for a living, but was supported by the profits from a textile factory) that will usher in a new era where everyone (except all the people they killed) are happy.

The Left is on the same page as the Islamists. Just as they were on the same page as the Nazis. Just as they’re on the same page with every reactionary totalitarian regime in the world, except those that they think they can overthrow, or those that are allied with the Great Satan or the Imperialist Capitalist Powers.

The Left tells its followers that they’re smarter and more moral than ordinary people. What it really means is that they’re dumber and more willing to sacrifice for its goals. The Islamists tell their followers that they’re braver and more religious than ordinary people. What they mean, is that their followers are suicidally stupid and easily led around the nose. The common denominator isn’t very hard to see. The Left is the Islam of the West. And Islam is the Left of the Middle East. But labels like that are virtually meaningless. Both are just totalitarian movements using gullible idiots following an ideology worked out by vicious greedy men to seize power. That is all there is to it in the end. The rest is just technique.

The Left has no problem allying with Islam. Nor does Islam have a problem allying with the Left. That is because they both agree on their enemies and their objectives. They have more of a problem allying with people who actually want to be free, then they do with slaves and their slavemasters. Of course once in power, one would have to absorb or destroy the other. Just as Communism and Nazism united to consume Eastern Europe, with the inevitable consequence that once the job was done, one would have to destroy the other. Hitler successfully fooled Stalin and nearly destroyed the USSR with a first strike. Islam will likely do the same thing to the Left, just as it did in Iran.

The Red-Green Alliance

The Red-Green Alliance works because both are variations on a theme. The theme is totalitarian rule. It is not the Left that threatens Islam, nor Islam that threatens the Left—but free societies and individual freedoms. When such societies prove successful, then they particularly infuriate those who insist that they must be replaced with their totalitarian rule. These twin impulses, fear of a loss of control over their own societies, and a lust for power, is what energizes the Jihad of Islam and the Revolutions of the Left. Both want control, rather than freedom. And offer promises of Utopian tyrannies in exchange for freedom.

Destroying Europe, America, Israel, Australia, Canada, etc is about power. Absolute power. And it is about putting out whatever light still shines in the West, for fear that it will spread. The light of freedom and civilization stands in the way of tyranny. And tyranny is the endgame of both the Left and Islam. Two sides of the same coin. Janus, with one head looking back to the impossible past of Mohammed, and with one head looking forward to the even more impossible future of Communism. Both forcibly ignoring the present in which people can still be happy and free.


British cities 'waste millions' on pointless jobs

Councils have wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money employing people to do pointless jobs, a Cabinet minister will warn today. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, will criticise positions such as “audience development officers”, “cheerleading development officers” and “communications waste strategy officers”. All have been employed by local councils in recent years.

Mr Pickles will also say that the failure of councils to share chief executives and other senior officials wastes money. He will tell councils to stop making the superfluous appointments and call on local authorities to merge departments.

Mr Pickles’s decision to publicly name and shame workers for doing “pointless” jobs is likely to inflame tensions with trade unions. Councils are under pressure to save tens of billions of pounds as part of the Coalition’s austerity drive.

In a speech today to the Local Government Association’s annual conference, Mr Pickles will tell councils they must publish job descriptions on their websites. “Putting jobs on your website not only shows local people where their money is going,” he will say. “It will also enable them to question whether those jobs are really needed at all.”

A number of councils employ “audience development officers” to help promote local museums and heritage sites. Rebecca Williams, an audience development officer at Warwickshire council, hit back at Mr Pickles’s suggestion that her job was a waste of taxpayers’ money. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe in it,” she said. “We work with the county museum service and the county records office to make them accessible to the people of the county.”


New Leftist Australian Prime Minister is still keen on internet censorship

She has now postponed any action on the matter until after the imminent Federal election but has not resiled from her aims

THE federal government hopes to introduce legislation to enable its controversial internet filter by the end of the year. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the legislation would be this year "sooner rather than later".

Timing for the web filter legislation, which has earned the ire of ISPs and internet freedom advocates, depends on the date for the looming federal election and whether Labor wins office. Political commentators have earmarked August to October as possible election dates. The polls are likely to occur before the Victorian election in late November.

Since the plan was mooted in 2007, Senator Conroy has changed his mind several times on how the filtering scheme would eventually work. The latest measure is to create a list of web pages comprising refused classification-rated content and force internet service providers to automatically block them. Legislation will be introduced to require all ISPs to filter the RC content list.

New Prime Minister Julia Gillard backs the filtering plan. She made her support known to ABC radio today, saying she understood public concerns over the scheme but that Senator Conroy was working to find a resolution that would be in the "right shape".

When asked if Ms Gillard had set a deadline for the filtering legislation to be introduced, Senator Conroy said: "We are prepared to spend as much time as necessary to make sure we get it right. "The discussions we're having behind the scenes with various players are more interested in getting the implementation and the actual policy right rather than saying it's got to be done by some artificial deadline."

Those talks include consultation with ISPs on how to increase accountability and transparency for RC material. "I expect it (the legislation) to be this year. I expect that we will table the legislation this year sooner rather than later. "If you're thinking 'does that mean December?' - no, I wouldn't think it would be December, but there could be intervening events that I am not in control of," Senator Conroy told reporters in Sydney today.

The policy would be implemented 12 months from the passage of legislation.

RC broadly consists of illegal content but Google and various internet experts believe the list could potentially contain legitimate material.

Labor Senator Kate Lundy's suggestion for an opt-in approach has been rejected.

US Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich has urged the government to ditch the plan, saying child pornographers can be captured and prosecuted without using mandatory internet filters.

Ms Gillard told ABC Darwin she was happy with the policy aim of the filtering plan. "Clearly you can't walk into a cinema in Australia and see certain things and we shouldn't on the internet be able to access those things either so Stephen Conroy is working to get this in the right shape.

"I'm happy with the policy aim and the policy aim is if there are images of child abuse, child pornography ... they are not legal in our cinemas, you would not be able to go to the movies and watch that ... you shouldn't ... no one should want to see that. "You're not able to go to the movies and see those kinds of things why should you be able to see them on the internet? I think that that's the kind of moral, ethical question at the heart of this."

But she understood concerns raised over the filtering program, especially how it would impact speed and remove proper use of the internet. "It's not my intention in any way to jeapordise legitimate use of the internet," she said.

The filtering legislation was expected to be introduced in the autumn or winter parliamentary sessions but former prime minister Kevin Rudd postponed it until after the next election.


Hard time may be the only deterrent for young offenders

by Damien Leith, commenting from Australia

Last weekend my heart sank as I watched the 60 minutes investigation into the horrific UK murder in 1993 of 2-year-old James Bulger. The vicious murder of the toddler by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables is regarded as one of the most violent crimes of Britain’s modern history, particularly because the boys who committed it, were themselves only kids at 10 years of age. This story always leaves me deeply saddened and sickened to my stomach every time I hear about it – not just as a father, but as a human being. The fact that two young boys could be so calculated, violent and evil is hard to comprehend.

When you hear about terrible things like this, the last thing you expect is to discover is that they were carried out by children themselves. It’s terrifying. What’s equally hard to comprehend is the sentence they received – 8 years of detention and rehabilitation. Is that a suitable punishment?

At the time, the public were outraged, many claiming the sentence was too lenient and that rehabilitation was a waste of time. “Lock them up and throw away the key”, was the catchcry. There was further outrage when it was later discovered that the boys won a court battle to receive new identities as soon as they’d turned 18, which was the same time they were allowed back into society.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of little James’s death but the case is far from closed. Last week it was revealed Jon Venables, now 27, has violated parole and faces potential jail time on child pornography charges. This is outrageous and makes a mockery of the whole process.

It makes me question: what was the rehabilitation? Is there really any such thing as rehabilitation and if so, how can you be 100% certain that it’s effective?

Some claim that irrespective of an individuals up-bringing and personal circumstances, there are those that are innately prone to violence and harm; it’s inherent to who they are. The real question is should the justice system be more strict with youth offenders?

I remember when I was growing up I used to hear people say that it didn’t matter what you did wrong, if you were under the age of 16 you’d never go to jail. Instead, you’d be sent off to a juvenile detention centre. Among the “bad boys” in town, that never frightened them and the thought of time in “juvy” was not enough to deter their actions. Is that still the case now?
I would imagine that there are very few adults out there who could claim that jail time wouldn’t scare them and it makes me wonder should youth have something similar to be frightened about – a fate behind bars – to avoid?

This week The Manly Daily reported a gang of 15 youths dressed in black, wearing caps and beanies invaded and robbed an Elanora Heights IGA store in plain sight of the security cameras. Many laughed directly into them. Clearly those youths aren’t worried about the consequences of their actions. They’re committing crime for kicks without a care in the world. What happens in these cases when police catch the culprits? It would seem that juvenile detention isn’t an effective threat.

We heard earlier this year about the wheelchair bound Canadian who was viciously assaulted by two boys aged 15 and 16, the 15 year old was out on bail at the time and had a history of violence. What’s going to happen to these two kids now, how long before they’re back on the streets doing similar violent attacks?

Our schools are making headlines too. Ministers regularly state schools are probably the safest places for kids, which I don’t doubt, but we can’t overlook the fact that violent assaults at schools have increased in the past five years. I was shocked recently to read that police in Penrith were investigating an incident where a 9-year-old boy threatened a classmate with a knife. What drives a 9 year old to do something like that?

If kids are starting so young, what does the future hold? In such an environment it’s no wonder parents are criticised for “helicopter parenting” or being overly protective.

Kids are exposed to far too much violence and crime from a young age; on the internet, on handheld games, in movies and even among young celebrities. Lindsay Lohan was sentenced this week to 90 days in jail for repeated violation of her probation; three years too late, since her crimes stem back to arrests in 2007.

The system failed here, she was allowed to re-offend a number of times before finally being punished. What a joke – whatever happened to the saying, “only do the crime if you can do the time”?

As a parent it’s hard not to worry about what our children will be exposed to in the years ahead. Kids are bringing knives to school, not only as a weapon but as protection. I don’t want to one day discover that my kids are worried about their safety, that they feel the need to carry something for protection. I don’t want them to fall into the wrong type of company and end up going down a desperate path.

The message out there should be loud and clear, there will be consequences to your actions. The last thing we want in Australia is a case like Jon Venables – he committed a horrendous crime 17 years ago, was ‘rehabilitated’ and now is up on charges again. It’s a sickening thought.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


8 July, 2010

A nasty one for the "sisters"

To feminists, Christian women must be the ultimate downtrodden victims of the "patriarchy" and hence deeply frustrated and unhappy. Like most feminist dogma, however, the truth seems to be the reverse. Fundamentalist Christian women seem in fact to be overwhelmingly happy and content with their church and religion. See below:

Two months ago Jim Henderson and Lisa Whittle contracted with The Barna Group to ask women to respond to a number of questions about their experience with the church.

They (Barna Group) spoke with 603 women who met the following qualifications: 18 years or older, described themselves as “Christian” And had attended a Christian church service at least once during the past six months. Among those women, 63% met the survey criteria for being a “Born Again Christian.” ...

1. 84% say that their church’s perspective on women in ministry is almost identical, very similar, or somewhat similar to their own.

2. 83% say that their Senior Pastor is somewhat, highly or completely supportive of women leading in their church

3. 82% say they can tell by their church’s actions that the church values the leadership of women

4. 81% say that their church provides women with the same degree of leadership opportunities as Jesus would.

5. 72% say they possess a lot of spiritual freedom in their life

6. 70% say that the media has little influence on their decision-making

7. 71% say fear is not something they experience ever or often in their life

8. 62% say that ALL leadership roles are open to them in their church.

9. Only 1% say they often struggle with jealousy

10. Among those who feel they are capable of doing more to serve God, and should be doing more, only 4% say that their fear of failure is holding them back from doing more to serve God.


These results have caused some fury among women who claim to be Christians but who pick and choose what Bible teachings they like. e.g here and here. It is they who seem to be the unhappy ones. Putting your own wisdom above the wisdom of the New Testament is an unpromising way to find and experience the great power of real Christianity. The big-ego women concerned would be wise to heed Matthew 5:5.

I note that the most conservative diocese in the Anglican communion -- Sydney -- has their theological seminary overflowing with students -- and a large number of the students appear to be women -- despite a clear Bible-based teaching in that diocese limiting the formal role of women in the church to the rank of deacon: No women priests, let alone Bishops!

School sports day ban for father with no criminal records check

Insanity as only the British can do it. Every jumped-up little pipsqueak who gets a tiny bit of power loves to hurt people by excercising it

A school turned a father away from his son's first sports day after banning parents who have not been checked by police from mixing with pupils.

The taxi driver had gone to watch his son, a year seven pupil, compete in sprints and egg-and-spoon races. But teachers refused to let him spectate because they did not believe he had undergone checks by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Rather than argue, the 'mortified' father left quietly so he would not embarrass his son as he took part in the games at the 1,200-pupil De Lisle Catholic Science school in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

The school's policy says that any parent who has not passed the checks is banned from attending events in which pupils take part. The rules are aimed at shielding children from paedophiles.

But critics say they have gone far beyond their original remit. For example, parents picking up groups of children from school or hosting foreign exchange pupils have to undergo checks or face fines.

Yesterday the father said that he regularly underwent Criminal Records Bureau checks for his job as a taxi driver. The father, who did not want to be named to protect his son's identity, told a Talksport radio programme: 'I couldn't believe it when they told me I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have the relevant CRB checks. 'I'd called the school that morning to ask if it would be OK if I came along and they said it would be no problem. But when I got to the school the assistant head teacher said that as I hadn't had a CRB check then I couldn't watch.

'Rather than kick up a fuss and embarrass my son I just turned around and walked away. I was fuming. She made me feel like it was wrong to want to watch my son take part in his first sports day. 'I'm a taxi driver and I have to have regular CRB checks as part of my licence. I've never had any trouble.

'What is the world coming to when parents can't watch their own kids take part in what is a big day in their young lives? I'm all for protecting kids, but surely there has to be a place for common sense.'

The school said in a statement: 'We fully appreciate that one parent was upset by our policy regarding the attendance of parents at sports days. 'As standard procedure, all our policies are subject to regular review and are changed to meet the needs of our students. 'We regret that on this occasion one parent was upset and we look to review our policy appropriately.'

A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council told Talksport: 'Parents should have access to school activities. 'We certainly do not issue any guidance to say parents should have a CRB check to attend school sports days. 'The day-to-day running of the school is a matter for the school and its governors, but we are contacting the school to discuss their policy with them.'


Homosexual priest blocked from becoming Church of England bishop

Conservative parishes have the big congregations and hence most of the money. Money talks even to the dressup queens who run the Church of England

An openly homosexual cleric has been blocked from becoming a Church of England bishop, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. Members of the Crown Nominations Commission, which includes Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, rejected calls for Dr Jeffrey John to be made the next Bishop of Southwark. The Dean of St Albans, who is in a civil partnership with another priest, was on the shortlist for the post and was considered to be a front-runner for the job.

David Cameron had been made aware of his nomination and is believed to have been supportive of promoting the homosexual cleric. However, a secret meeting of senior Church figures has decided to overlook Dr John amid fears that his consecration would have provoked a split in the Church.

Conservative Anglican leaders had warned that evangelical parishes would not recognise him as a bishop and instead would seek “alternative episcopal oversight”.

But the snub will infuriate liberal clergy who believed he was the outstanding candidate and that his appointment would signal a move towards greater inclusion for homosexuals in the Church.

It is understood that discussions at the two-day meeting, held at a secret location in Stepney, were heated with members of the Commission arguing over whether they should select Dr John. Dr Williams is said to have been furious at the pressure placed on him and the other members by a leak to The Sunday Telegraph, which revealed the dean was on the shortlist. He asked the rest of the Commission to swear an oath of secrecy about the talks.

Church insiders considered that his name would not have been included unless there were plans to make him a bishop, as Dr John was forced to stand down from becoming the Bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a homosexual, but celibate, relationship. His supporters fear the development represents further embarrassment for the controversial dean and is another sign that the Archbishop is unwilling to advance the liberal cause.

But the Rev Paul Dawson, spokesman for Reform, the conservative evangelical group, said: “It’s appropriate that he shouldn’t be a bishop until he publicly changes his mind about what he teaches. “But this issue won’t go away, whether it’s Jeffrey John or someone else. We know that, and we will continue to encourage those electing bishops to choose those who are willing to uphold the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Church of England.”

The name selected by the Commission for the next Bishop of Southwark will be forwarded to the Prime Minister before being rubber-stamped by the Queen. It is not expected to be announced until the autumn.


The new frontier: 'Covering' conservatives

By Jonah Goldberg

There has been a lot of news in the last week or so: the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings, the cratering economy and stock market, even the World Cup. But for a few days at the end of June, Beltway pundits were consumed with the ballad of David Weigel, a blogger for The Washington Post, briefly assigned to cover the "conservative beat."
And just what is the conservative beat?

Well, according to many of the nation's leading editors, it's that shadowy, often-sinister world where carbon based-life forms of a generally humanoid appearance say and do things relating to, and supportive of, conservative causes and the Republican Party. These strange creatures have been observed using complex tools, caring and nurturing their young and even participating in complex social rituals. Most worship an unseen sky god that traces its roots back to the ancient Middle East. Even more astounding, these creatures are having a noticeable impact on American politics.

And that is why many of our leading journalistic enterprises have found it worthwhile to assign full-time reporters to the task of spelunking through the dark caves of conservatism to better understand these fascinating, if vaguely worrisome, beings.

The 'party of Mordor'

As for Weigel, though he officially resigned from the Post, theories still abound about whether he really jumped from his perch there or was pushed. Either way, the reason he had to go stemmed from comments he made in an off-the-record online chat group for liberal journalists. He said he hoped that Internet phenom Matt Drudge would "set himself on fire" and that Rush Limbaugh should drop dead.

Conservatives, according to Weigel, are obsessed with protecting "white privilege" and are bigots for opposing gay marriage. The GOP is the "party of Mordor" and, if left unchecked, will one day deliver the West into the hands of Sauron. (Not really, but if you read between the lines, it's in there.) Note: Weigel's actual work product was far more balanced and seemingly open-minded than what you'd expect knowing his private views.

The incident has sparked a lot of discussion over how mainstream journalistic institutions such as The Washington Post and The New York Times should cover conservatives. Even if you leave aside the ancient arguments about media bias, this is still an old debate. In 2004, the Times assigned a reporter to cover conservatives full-time in order to better inform their readers and staff how the conservative movement works.

"We wanted to understand them," explained editor Bill Keller. The Times' ombudsman later observed that the "decision not to create a liberal beat, it seems to me, reflected the reality that the Times' coverage of liberals had no gaps similar to those in its reporting on the conservative movement." Translation: The Times is staffed almost entirely by liberals and their news judgment flows directly from that fact.

Many mainstream news outlets have been caught flat-footed on some major stories in recent years precisely because of this attitude.

For instance, Van Jones, the White House "green jobs czar," was brought down by controversies that went ignored by most leading news outlets but were widely covered by (the hugely successful) Fox News and the thriving conservative press. It seems at times that if conservatives consider something big news, the editors at such places as the Times and the Post must first conduct an anthropological analysis: Why are these right-wing natives so upset?

It's difficult to exaggerate how bizarre this predicament is. In America, self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by 2 to 1. And yet many of our leading journalistic bastions have found themselves stuck in something akin to media monasteries with a Fort Apache complex.

Now The Washington Post is scrambling to figure out how to cover conservatives. Part of the reason the Post looks so lost is that it seems apparent that it thought it was hiring a conservative to cover conservatives when Weigel was more like a libertarian-leaning liberal with a good conservative phrase book and a dashing right-wing pith helmet. A registered Republican, Weigel nonetheless voted for Barack Obama, John Kerry and Ralph Nader for president. Meanwhile, left-wing groups who find the news media insufficiently liberal are now clamoring for their own reporters to cover the "liberal beat."

Lefty, meet righty

What a strange hot mess the press has gotten itself into. And there are no easy answers about how to clean it up. One solution, offered by The Washington Examiner's Byron York: Hire a lot more openly ideologically committed — and fair-minded — reporters, but with one caveat: Have the conservatives cover the liberal beat and the liberals cover the conservatives. York rightly notes that a little ideological distance tends to temper the cheerleading. It's a good idea.

But here's some even simpler advice for liberal editors unwilling to break out of the bunker: Just try to keep in mind that these strange alien creatures are also potential customers. [Something Rupert Murdoch realizes -- to his great advantage -- JR]



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


7 July, 2010

Erratic Facebook censorship: Dolls must not have nipples -- but assisting law enforcement is a no-no

The above image is linked from a family newspaper so Facebook is obviously in the hands of an unresponsive and robotic bureaucracy in such matters

Facebook's prudish police are out in force yet again, this time threatening action against a Sydney jeweller for posting pictures of exquisite nude porcelain dolls posing with her works.

Victoria Buckley, who owns a high-end jewellery store in the Strand Arcade on George Street, has long used the dolls as inspiration for her pieces and hasn't had one complaint about the A3 posters of the nudes in her shop window.

But over the weekend she received six warnings from Facebook saying the pictures of the dolls, which show little more than nipples, constituted "inappropriate content" and breached the site's terms of service.

The warnings said Facebook would remove the images and Buckley is worried she will be banned from the site if she re-posts them.

It comes after the site incurred the wrath of mothers all over the world by banning photos of them breastfeeding their children, calling such shots "obscene content". Facebook has also come under fire for banning images of a British woman's mastectomy scars, published on the site to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Buckley said Facebook were behaving like "philistines" and blamed the issue on "American puritanism". "Really here we're talking about nipples on a doll - I've got A3 posters of her in my window in the Strand Arcade that have been up for months and we haven't had one negative comment. The doll herself is in the window," Buckley said. "Somebody's got a Michelangelo fan group on there and they do have a picture of the Statue of David ... why is that OK and this isn't?"

And these aren't just regular barbie dolls, they're high-end porcelain figures designed by Marina Bychkova of Enchanted Doll in Canada, featured in art and culture magazines all over the world.

Those who want to buy one face a two to three year wait and they can cost anything from $5000 to $45,000, which is the price one sold for on eBay in January. "The shoe designer for Louis Vuitton collects her dolls and they're really hard to get hold of, they're really precious things, they're not just a barbie or something," said Buckley.

"They're the right scale for my jewellery, they interact with it visually, so I actually design collections around these dolls and their interactions with my jewellery."

For now, Buckley has censored the images of the dolls on her Facebook fan page but has posted the uncensored versions on a new group dedicated to the doll called "Save Ophelia - exquisite doll censored by Facebook".

Buckley wants to gauge Facebook's response to the images being posted on that group before deciding whether to put the uncensored version back on her own fan page.

Her emails to Facebook have so far fallen on deaf ears, although this may be because Sunday is a public holiday in the US. Buckley had also posted the photos to Flickr but these were removed for similar reasons.

"I've invested quite a lot of money in this campaign for my jewellery and I'm quite reliant on the Facebook page to get the message out," she said, adding thousands of people had said they love the dolls and imagery. "You can invest thousands of dollars and months of your time building a new campaign and you put it on sites like Facebook and Flickr and it just takes one person [complaining] to bring the thing down. "I've got another campaign coming up soon with another doll but I don't know what to do."

Ironically, while Facebook is overzealous in targeting relatively innocuous images on the site, it has been criticised by police for its unresponsiveness to real criminal issues. The Australian Federal Police has said the site's woeful relationship with law enforcement bodies was hampering police investigations and putting lives at risk.


British couple threatened with social services because their children ride bikes to school

A couple who let their two young children cycle to their private school have been warned they could be reported to social services unless they supervise the journey. Oliver and Gillian Schonrock let their son and daughter, five and eight respectively, make the one-mile trip from their home on their own. They say it helps to teach the youngsters independence, self-confidence and responsibility.

But other parents and teachers at £12,000-a-year Alleyn's Junior School in Dulwich, south east London, are said to think the practice is irresponsible and dangerous. Headteacher Mark O'Donnell has met with Mr and Mrs Schonrock and told them the school is under an obligation to consider the children's safety and has a legal responsibility to notify the council if they fear it is being put at risk.

Mr Schonrock, 40, the managing director of an e-commerce company who walked alone to school as a boy, said: 'We wanted to recreate the simple freedom of our children. 'Like everybody else our age we spent a lot more time with our friends playing in the streets or parks without parental supervision and without our parents becoming unduly worried. 'These days children live such regimented lives. They can do nothing unless it's planned. We are trying to let them enjoy their lives and teach them a little bit about the risks of life.'

Mrs Schonrock, also 40, said she is 'confident that the benefits to our children far outweigh the potential risk from 'stranger danger', road traffic accidents and other factors.'

The couple's children cycle on the pavement from their home in west Dulwich to the school. Their route takes them alongside roads that become busy with traffic during the school run. At the halfway point they cross a road where there is a lollipop lady on duty.

On the return journey they are supervised, either by one of the parents or their nanny, which is deemed acceptable - but the Schonrocks have been told that they must ensure their children are accompanied on the journey to school as well or they will be referred to Southwark Council's Children's Services department.

Headteacher Mr O'Donnell told the Sunday Times: 'If a school feels a child in their care is at risk, they have a legal responsibility to notify the local authority.

'Is an eight year old responsible enough to come to school with a five year old and take responsibility when it comes to crossing busy roads? Or what would happen if the five year old has a tantrum?'

Mr and Mrs Schonrock say rules on child protection, rather than the school, are to blame for the predicament they find themselves in. Mrs Schonrock, who as a girl took the bus to school from the the age of four with her six-year-old sister, said: 'The question is do the government have the right to put an obligation on schools to not allow any level of risk whatsoever?'

Although schools are not responsible for children on their journey to school, guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families states that if a school 'believes or suspects that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm' then it must refer the case to social services.

Today Catherine McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children's Services at Southwark Council, said: 'As this is an independent school, it is for them to decide how they arrange transport to school with the parents of their pupils.

'However, if an independent school does contact us, we'd give them the same advice as we do to our own schools, that they should develop a school travel plan with parents and children so they can get to school safely and in a way that promotes healthy living and is good for the environment. 'This would include both cycling and walking.'


Whitewashing Democrat White Supremacy

It must be nice to be a liberal, where you have friends in the “mainstream” media, the education system and elsewhere to help you rewrite and whitewash inconvenient things about your past and present.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is racist…even though it was Republican Abraham Lincoln who send hundreds of thousands of white American soldiers to their deaths to win the freedom of all black Americans.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim Holocaust Museum killer James W. Von Brunn is a Rightwinger…even though his beliefs have far more in common with the Left than with the Right.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is the party of bigotry and animosity toward black Americans…even though a greater percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

And when you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is full of racists…even though the Democrat Party has been filled with them–including the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-VA).

Liberals didn’t want people to know that when Byrd was alive, but now that he has died, questions of “legacy” and “lifetime accomplishment” are unavoidable, bringing Byrd’s past membership in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) unavoidably to the surface. But never fear: apologists still abound–even among the KKK.

From the Daily Caller:
“He wasn’t a Klansman long enough to get his sheet broke in,” said Travis Pierce, national membership director for the Ku Klux Klan, LLC, one of several groups that uses the KKK name. “It’s much ado about nothing.”

It’s unknown how long Byrd held membership in the Klan. According to the Washington Post, the future senator joined in 1942, and later publicly stated that he lost interest after about a year, although in a letter dated 1946 Byrd wrote, “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.”

During his tenure, Byrd held the titles of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops within the organization. What he did in those positions is somewhat difficult to pin down, since the Klan is a loose-knit organization, and roles differ between local chapters.

So now the claim is that Byrd wasn’t a Klansman long enough for it to matter, nor did he have enough “responsibility” for his virulent racism to be held against him.

Well, I don’t know of any organization that would appoint some bumbling rank-and-file drone to be a recruiter, i.e. someone responsible for building up the membership. A recruiter for any organization believes in the mission of the group, knows it well enough to articulate it to potential recruits, and should obviously be passionate enough about it to inspire someone to join the organization.

I don’t really know what the day-to-day duties of an “Exalted Cyclops” involve, but it’s pretty clear that he was some sort of leader within the group. That is not insignificant.

To be fair, it appears that somewhere along the way, Byrd repented of his ways. In fact, Wikipedia cites this apologetic statement from Byrd in 2005: "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened."

It certainly sounds sincere, and I hope it was.

But the Democrat Party doesn’t get to whitewash and revise history, pretending Byrd’s racist past didn’t happen or it didn’t matter–especially after all the years of hypocritical propaganda they’ve spread about the Republican Party.

It’s a sure bet that there are racists in both the Republican Party and Democrat Party–in the past and today. But the unwashed, unvarnished history makes it clear where most of them have been hanging out. Let’s be clear: the pandering, race-baiting Democrat Party is in no position to be throwing stones. It would be nice to finally see an end to it…but I won’t be holding my breath.


Britain's disastrous "social housing" system

Comments below from a whistleblower at a London council where he works as a senior planning officer

Not long ago, I had to do a field visit to one of our sites to show some properties to a family. The houses are new-builds in a really good, central location - I'd love to live in one myself. Three storeys, with three or four bedrooms, really nice - they were so new that the paint was still wet.

The family had just arrived in London from Somalia. It didn't take long for them to decide they'd seen enough. They didn't speak much English but they made it clear they weren't happy with the bedrooms on the top floor - apparently they didn't like the sloping eaves.

But the deal-breaker came with their next questions. First, they wanted to know if the property came with an automatic right-to-buy with a discount, which it didn't. They are thinking of council-owned properties, but we are a housing association - a not-for-profit organisation that is funded by government grants, bank loans and rental income - so we hold on to our stock and simply let it out.

I thought that question was a bit odd, considering the family supposedly didn't have a penny to their name, which was why they were throwing themselves on the mercy of the good old British taxpayer. Where would they get the funds to buy a townhouse in central London?

This 'penniless' family also wanted to know whether they got a residents' parking space with the property. I had to tell them 'No' to that as well. They shrugged and spread their arms, as if to say: 'How on earth do you expect us to live here? Why are you wasting our time dragging us here?' And off they went.

They could afford to be so sniffy because we have Choice-Based Letting (CBL). Once, there was pressure on applicants to accept properties when they came up or risk dropping back down the list. Now that's gone, so they can just keep saying No till we deliver exactly what they want - they're actually more demanding than tenants in the private sector.

Our problem as a housing association is that we are subcontracted to local authorities and have no say over the lists of people for whom we have to find a house - we are simply given the list and if someone is on it, they have the right to take one of our properties (with their rent heavily subsidised by taxpayers).

Even if it would be overwhelmingly obvious to a five-year-old that the applicants were chancers, we have to smile and say, 'Yes, sir' or 'No, madam'. In fact, we can't even describe them as 'tenants' any more - we've been told we must call them 'customers'.

The legal position is that local authorities have a statutory duty to house those in need and will determine whether they need emergency housing (such as immediate B&B accommodation) until a long-term property is found.

That's where I come in. I've been doing this sort of work for 15 years and we see a massively disproportionate number of people arriving from overseas.

The law was changed in 2000 to say that asylum seekers would not be eligible for social housing but it doesn't seem to have hugely affected the types of people that we are seeing. I suppose that's partly because once asylum is granted, they do become eligible - and those who go on to get British citizenship can invite members of their family to come over and join them.

Overall, the system is a joke. It rewards those family members who have just stepped off a plane by giving them a wonderful property in a central location, while Britons who have been here for years or even generations have got no chance of getting to the top of the list.

This is because British applicants tend to be already living with family - parents, etc - so technically qualify as being housed. Recent arrivals with kids in tow do not and are given priority. That said, single mothers as a group are hugely over-represented among social housing tenants; the perception of girls becoming pregnant to get a council flat isn't completely without foundation.

My particular bugbear, odd as it may sound, is satellite dishes. These pose a huge problem for us, especially with our Turkish 'customers' (for some reason a lot of the families we are asked to house are Turkish).

The first thing they want to know - well, after the free parking and the right to buy, of course - is whether they are allowed to put a satellite dish the size of a small helipad on the front of the property. Some of them need to put up two dishes so they can guarantee getting all the channels they want.

As a result, some of our properties end up looking like GCHQ. I'm told the problem is something to do with the signal for Turkish TV not being strong enough.

We always say No. If they think we really mean it - because the house is a new-build or period property - they will turn the place down, no matter how nice it is.

Properties with open-plan kitchens can be a problem too, as Somalian or other Muslim 'customers' often don't want a kitchen that opens straight on to a reception room, and these type of houses are always turned down. I was given the reason by one man: If he wanted to invite other men around to play cards or whatever, he didn't want them to see his wife making food in the kitchen.

I really have no idea how some of the people who come to us become eligible for such heavily subsidised properties, although I have my theories.

One of our 'customers' is a musician of west African descent who is doing really well and often appears on TV. Certainly, tributes on his website as well as comments from his agent are effusive about just how successful he is. Yet he and his family recently rang us to arrange some property viewings - they were on the council list and wanted rehousing in a more central location.

He was very fussy: it had to be a period, character property and it had to be in London Underground's Zone 1 - ie, central London. We showed him a beautiful, four-storey Georgian property in a central London square with a park in the middle. He seemed delighted, as well he should be - this is a house worth well over £1 million and a normal rental would be £1,000 a week. He's getting it subsidised for £130 a week.

My personal view is that this house should be sold and the money invested in new-builds - we could have a dozen flats for the same money, and so help lots of families, not just one. But no one else in the department seems to agree. I can't understand it: surely we are supposed to provide a safety net for as many people as possible, not the keys to the palace for just one family?

Anyway, this family didn't seem to appreciate their good fortune. As soon as they moved in, they bombarded us with a litany of complaints. Nothing was ever right. For example, we had just installed a new fitted kitchen, leaving space for white goods - we don't supply those, that's down to the tenants. Sorry, customers!

Anyway, this family had brought with them a 'slim fit' dishwasher. But the space we'd left was for a standard-sized unit. Believe it or not, they wanted us to come back, take the kitchen out and refit it with units that matched their dishwasher.

In any case, I don't know how that family qualified for social housing. If I were being charitable, I would guess that they had got on the list before they had a better income and managed to stay on it.

The truth is that once you're on the list, you seem to be there for life: the system isn't continuously means-tested. What should happen is that tenants - customers - should be retested periodically to ensure that they still qualify for this enormous subsidy from the taxpayer. As I say, it should be a safety net, not a state-sponsored bonanza for a lucky few.

It really rankles that someone who is clearly earning a lot more money than me gets to live in Millionaire's Row at taxpayers' expense, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. I commute into work from a small flat outside of London as I can't afford to buy anything more central.

A less charitable explanation for why this musician and his family got the star treatment (and one that a lot of my colleagues believe to be the case) is that there are cliques in local authority departments - be they West African, Indian, Pakistani, whatever - who 'look after their own'.

These cliques bump friends and relatives to the top of the list, even if they don't fulfil any of the criteria for social housing. This is done either as a favour or in return for a backhander.

I know it happens. One area I deal with is in South London. There is a large Portuguese community there and I would often get a call from one local lady, a Portuguese grandmother who seemed to act as an agent for new arrivals. She'd ring me regularly and say: 'Chrees, you have nice flat? I have lovely family who just come from Portugal, need nice three-bed flat.'

The first few times I'd say: 'Luisa, you know I can't do anything unless they're on the list.' She'd reply: 'Don't worry, Chrees, they will be on list tomorrow, please just show them some nice flats.' And sure enough, the family would be on the next version of the list we'd get. She clearly knew someone in the housing department who would put her families on the list in exchange for cash - which she could afford to pay as she was charging these families a lot of money in return for her securing a council flat for them. Of course, the family was happy to pay a big one-off fee because once they were in the system they were in for good, and they would get a centrally located flat for a peppercorn rent for life.

I'm speaking out now because I find the whole system corrupt and unfair - and, above all, a monstrous waste of taxpayers' money. Our houses often go to those who have been in the country for less than a month and have no intention of ever contributing anything to Britain through taxes. Meanwhile, those who have been here for years paying tax have got little or no chance of getting a flat.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


6 July, 2010

Student jailed over false rape claim made so she could get more time to do her coursework

False rape claims are a dime a dozen in Britain -- but they have a dreadful effect on the men concerned

A student falsely claimed a cleaner raped her - so she could get an extension on her university coursework. Temitope Adenugba, 24, was struggling to meet a deadline while studying at Oxford Brookes University last year. She phoned police to tell them she had been abused as a child, before complaining she had also been subjected to a serious sexual assault as she slept in her college digs.

When officers went to see her at her halls of residence to take a statement, Adenugba pointed at cleaner Kunle Ogunmola and said: 'Can't talk here, that's the man who raped me.' Mr Ogunmola was arrested, before a subsequent police investigation exposed Adenugba's catalogue of lies.

Last night, her victim said she had put him through a 'year of hell'. Mr Ogunmola said she had destroyed 'my reputation, my confidence and my life'.

Adenugba concoted the story in an attempt to get an extension on her end-of-term coursework, the court heard.

Sentencing her to 18 months in jail at Oxford Crown Court, Recorder Rabinder Singh QC attacked Adenugba's 'malicious allegations'. He added: ' It's extremely easy to make an allegation of rape when there's no foundation whatsoever. It's likely to have the perverse impact of guilty men walking free.'

The court heard that police attended Clive Booth Halls of residence, Oxford on May 21 last year after Adenugba reported historic abuse against her as a child. Officers interviewed her but were stunned when she told them Mr Ogunmola had used a key to get into her room on April 13 and raped her.

A full police investigation was launched and the cleaner was quizzed and later arrested. Detectives, however, found any keys taken by Mr Ogunmola had been returned by April 12 and he would not have had access to her room at any time.

Adenugba also claimed her victim had been harassing her with phone calls, but analysis of mobile phones showed this was a lie.

Mr Walsh added that Adenugba, who admitted perverting the course of justice, had made a fictitious rape complaint against a previous partner in October 2006.

Walter Scott, mitigating, said his client had made the claim against Mr Ogunmola after an earlier false allegation of harassment against the same man 'didn't have the desired effect of extending her time to do her coursework'. He added: 'She was not seeking to directly attack the victim, he was chosen rather arbitrarily.'

Last night Mr Ogunmola, 47, said he had only met the student twice before she made her accusations. He said on the first occasion she had pleaded with him to lend her some money as she desperately needed to get home to see her family in London. The devout Christian lent her £20 - all the money he had.

He said: 'I was absolutely devastated when I was told she had accused me of being a rapist. I decided to help her because she reminded me of my daughter, who is the same age and is also at university. 'But in return she destroyed my reputation, my confidence and my life. I'm still trying to convince my wife that I'm innocent and I don't know if I can ever repair the damage she has done.'

He added he had only met the student twice and did not even know her name before the police told him. 'I felt freedom for the first time when she was convicted. I hope it will teach her a lesson and stop other people like her doing what she did. She is a very devious girl, but I am a Christian and I forgive her for what she did.'


Swimmers plunged into dark after British council covers swimming pool windows 'to protect Muslim women's modesty'

A council has sparked anger after officials blacked out windows on a glass-panelled swimming pool to protect the modesty of Muslim women.

Darlaston Leisure Centre in the West Midlands' town of Walsall, was hailed for its 'ultra-modern' design when it opened ten years ago. But now council staff have covered 250 windows with dark-tinted film following complaints from Muslim swimmers.

But other users say the move has plunged the pool into almost permanent darkness and branded it 'political correctness gone stark-raving mad'. Pauline Poole, 65, a retired legal secretary from Walsall, said: 'I returned to swimming after having a cataracts operation some months ago and was looking forward to looking out on some lovely trees while swimming.

'What I found was a situation that reminded me of how it felt like before my operation, like looking at a horrible cloudy view. 'If it was done for a minority of people, then why was there no vote on it?'

Retired building surveyor John Ewart, 63, from Walsall, added: 'I cannot believe this council has agreed to something so loony. 'The whole thing smacks of political correctness gone stark raving mad. 'A lot of the people who swim are elderly or retired and they now have to swim in the gloom.'

A worker at the pool, who did not want to be named, said: 'The windows were covered up and it's probably cost a few hundred pounds. 'Several customers complained it made the pool dark and dingy but we didn't have a choice.'

The council initially refused to replace the windows with frosted glass because it was too expensive. Today, the council defended the decision, saying they had 'listened to the concerns of users'.

Councillor Anthony Harris said: 'I'm pleased that we've been able to make these modifications because not only does it show we're listening to the views and concerns of our users but also because it enhances the privacy of swimmers.'

A spokeswoman for Walsall Council said the complaints had predominantly come from the Muslim community but that non-Muslim women had also objected. She said: 'We received a request from the Muslim Community to protect the modesty of swimmers. 'There were also requests made by some non-Muslim users as well.'


The Blackmailer Paradox

Game Theory and Israel's negotiations with Arab countries

Reuben and Shimon are placed into a small room with a suitcase containing $100,000 of cash. The owner of the suitcase offers them the following: "I'll give you all the money in the suitcase, but only on the condition that you negotiate and reach an amicable agreement on its division. That’s the only way I will give you the money. "

Reuben, who is a rational person, appreciates the golden opportunity presented to him and turns to Shimon with the obvious suggestion: "Come, you take half the amount, I'll take the other half, and each of us will go away with $50,000."

To his surprise, Shimon, with a serious look on his face and a determined voice says: "Listen, I do not know what your intentions are with the money, but I'm not leaving this room with less than $90,000. Take it or leave it. I’m fully prepared to go home with nothing."

Reuben can not believe his ears. What happened to Shimon? he thinks to himself. Why should he get 90%, and I only 10%? He decides to try to talk to Simon. "Come, be reasonable," he pleads. "We're both in this together, and we both want the money. Come let’s share the amount equally and we’ll both come out ahead.”

But the reasoned explanation of his friend does not seem to register on Shimon. He listens attentively to Reuben’s words, but then declares even more emphatically, "There is nothing to discuss. 90-10 or nothing, that's my final offer!" Reuben's face turns red with anger. He wants to smack Shimon across his face, but soon reconsiders.

He realizes that Shimon is determined to leave with majority of the money, and that the only way for him to leave the room with any money is to surrender to Shimon’s blackmail. He straightens his clothes, pulls out wad of bills from the suitcase in the amount of $10,000, shakes hands with Shimon and leaves the room looking forlorn.

This case in Game Theory is called the “Blackmailer Paradox." The paradox emerging from this case is that the rational Reuben is eventually forced to act clearly irrationally, in order to gain the maximum available to him. The logic behind this bizarre result is that Shimon broadcast total faith and confidence in his excessive demands, and it is able to convince Reuben to yield to his blackmail in order for him to receive the minimum benefit.

Arab - Israel Conflict

The political relationship between Israel and Arab countries is also conducted according to the principles of this paradox. The Arabs present rigid and unreasonable opening positions at every negotiation. They convey confidence and assurance in their demands, and make certain to make absolutely clear to Israel that they will never give up on any of these requirements.

Absent an alternative, Israel is forced to yield to blackmail due to the perception that it will leave the negotiating room with nothing if it is inflexible. The most prominent example of this is the negotiations with the Syrians that have been conducted already for a number of years under various auspices. The Syrians made certain to clarify in advance that they will never yield even an inch of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli side, who so desperately seek a peace agreement with Syria, accept Syria's position, and today, in the public discourse in Israel, it is clear that the starting point for future negotiations with Syria must include a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, despite the critical strategic importance of the Golan Heights to ensure clear boundaries that protect Israel.

How to Avoid Failure

According to Game Theory, the State of Israel must make some perceptual changes to improve its position in the negotiations with the Arabs, and to ultimately win the political struggle.
A. Willingness to renounce agreements: The present Israeli political approach is based on the assumption that an agreement with the Arabs must be reached at all costs, because the present situation, with the lack of an agreement, is simply intolerable.

In the “Blackmailer Paradox," Reuben's behavior is based on the perception that he must leave the room with some amount of money even if it is the minimum. Reuben’s inability to accept the possibility that he may have to leave the room empty-handed, inevitably causes him to surrender to extortion and to leave the room in shame as a loser, but at least with some gain. Similarly, the State of Israel conducts its negotiations from a frame of mind that does not allow her to reject suggestions that do not conform to its interests.

B. Consideration of repeat games: Based on Game Theory, one should consider a one-time situation completely differently from a situation that repeats itself again and again, for in games that repeat over time, a strategic balance that is neutral paradoxically causes a cooperation between the opposing sides.

Such cooperation occurs when the parties understand that the game repeats itself many times, therefore they must consider what will be the impact of their present moves on future games, when the fear of future loss serves as a balancing factor. Reuben related to the situation as if it were a one-time game, and acted accordingly.

Had he announced to Simon that he was not prepared to concede the part due him, even in light of a total loss, he would change the outcome of the game, for the future, although it is quite likely that he would leave the room empty-handed in the current negotiation.

However, if both encounter a similar situation in future, Shimon would recognize Reuben’s seriousness and have to reach a compromise with him. Likewise, Israel must act with patience and with long-term vision, even at the cost of not coming to any present agreement and continuing the state of belligerence, in order to improve its position in future negotiations.

C. Faith in your position: Another element that creates the “Blackmailer Paradox," is the absolute certainty of one side in its positions, in this case the position of Simon. Full certainty creates an internal justification of one’s convictions, and in the second round serves to convince his opponent that his positions were right. This results in the opponent's desire to reach a compromise even by acting entirely irrationally and distancing him from his opening demands.

Several years ago, I talked to a senior officer who claimed that Israel must withdraw from the Golan in any peace settlement because, from the Syrian point of view, the land is sacred and they will not give up on it. I explained to him, the Syrians convinced themselves that this is sacred ground, and it was this that succeeded to convince us as well. The deep conviction of the Syrians, cause us to surrender to the Syrian dictates. The present political situation will be resolved only if we convince ourselves of the justice of our views. Only total faith in our demands will be able to convince the Syrian opponent to consider our position.

Like all science, Game Theory does not presume to express an opinion on moral values, but rather seeks to analyze the strategic behaviors of rival parties in a common game. The State of Israel plays such a game with its enemies. Like every game, in the Arab-Israeli game there are particular interests that shape and frame the game and its rules. Unfortunately, Israel ignores the basic principles that arise in Game Theory. If the State of Israel succeeds in following these base principles, its political status and its security will improve significantly.


Bureaucracy at work in Ohio

My driver's license expired earlier this year, therefore, I went to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles License office to get it renewed like I had done many times previously.

Simple process -- turn in the old license and sit and wait for paperwork to be prepared for the new license. Then you're called, given an eye test, posed for new picture, asked to confirm the information on the new license and finally pay the fee, which seems to jump faster than inflation, and you're done.

The clerk asked me to look over the final product. My new license was spiffy, had a holographic surface which gave it a high-tech look. But I noticed a couple discrepancies.

"Uh, ma'am, this says that I don't need corrective lenses which is contrary to every other license I've had since my first decades ago."

"Well, obviously your vision has improved and you no longer need glasses to drive," she snipped.

I was taken aback but not nearly as much as when I asked about my hair. "Excuse me, but how did my hair color change? I was born blonde and have always been a blonde. You put down brown hair. What's with that?"

"Sir, it looks brown to me," with even more snip in her voice.

"Wait a minute! Hair color is like a genetic thing isn't it? You know, recessive vs. dominant genes and all that stuff they taught in high school? How is it the license bureau can change genetics?"

"We're full service," she said, walking away.

I yelled, "Hey, what's the chance of making me taller?" but she had disappeared out of earshot which was fine since I'm sure she wouldn't appreciate my sarcasm.

So, I walked into the license bureau as a blonde-haired guy who wears glasses and walked out as a brown-haired guy with 20-20 vision.

Interestingly, simple bureaucratic scribbles have created discrepancies in all my previous school, medical, military service, security clearance and background investigation records.


Bureaucracy at work in Australia

Can bureaucracies be trusted with ANYTHING? Nobody's in charge and nobody gives a damn

It's supposed to be a guide for newcomers to WA about everything they need to know about living here, but a new government directory is instead more likely to cause confusion.

The Directory of Services for New Arrivals in Western Australia was launched recently by Multicultural Interests Minister John Castrilli.

He described the directory, in its third edition and available in hard copy as well as online, as the "most comprehensive ever produced" and one which provided "an essential road map" for newcomers to the state.

But the directory contains incorrect information, including details relating to Tax File Numbers, residency requirements for immigrants, wrong names for organisations, the omission of other significant organisations, and a host of grammatical errors.

The errors are repeated in the online version, which is meant to be "regularly updated" and more comprehensive, according to the guide.

Among the errors are stating the residency requirement for citizenship is two years - it is now four - and no mention of the citizenship test, including the requirement for a basic knowledge of English.

The Association for the Blind and Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre have been incorrectly named, while the section on ethnic and religious schools omits to mention any.

Another section on ethnic groups mentions 10 out of the 100 or so active in WA. The list of hospitals in the metropolitan area omits the Armadale-Kelmscott Memorial Hospital.

The guide is littered with spelling and grammar errors, including mentioning that the Ethnic Communities council of WA has a "lieracy" and reading program to encourage people to learn English.

WAtoday.com.au asked Mr Castrilli's office if he considered the errors acceptable, what would be done about them, how many copies of the book were printed and at what cost. His office has not responded to the questions.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


5 July, 2010

Religion and the American revolution

In September of 1775, five months after the battles of Lexington and Concord, and while the shot heard ‘round the world later immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson still echoed, some Continental Army volunteers gathered at a church in the small coastal Massachusetts town of Newburyport, located almost 30 miles northeast of Boston. They were about to go to battle—an initiative led by, of all people, Benedict Arnold. The men decided that a little prayer accompanied by an extemporaneous sermon might be a good idea.

The town’s Old South Church had found a bit of recent fame as people proudly pointed out that the bell in its clock tower had been cast by a fellow named Paul Revere, who had just months before made a name for himself on horseback. Revere, of course, is better known for his connection to a certain Old North Church. But some of the citizen-soldiers listening to Chaplain Samuel Spring’s challenge that day knew that they were also in the presence of another important bit of history—something they saw as very relevant to the emerging War of Independence.

As they listened to the sermon that day, many of them couldn’t help but be preoccupied with the pulpit itself. On the Sunday immediately following the battles of Lexington and Concord, the local minister, Dr. Jonathan Parsons, spoke fervently about liberty. His passion prompted a man named Ezra Hunt to step into the church’s aisle to form a company of 60 fighting men on the spot—said to be the first such group to attach itself to the fledgling Continental Army.

But as if those two connections to the greater cause weren’t enough, there was a third even more compelling reason many of the men found the venue so fascinating. It was what was under the pulpit that inspired them.

Five years earlier, during another Bay State September, someone who had actually founded the Old South Church back in yet another September—in 1740—had been scheduled to preach a sermon. He was America’s most famous clergyman, although his preferred appellation was—“revivalist.”

George Whitefield was back in town and a great crowd was anticipated at church in Newburyport that day. But it was a sermon, one of his more than 18,000, he would never preach. Reverend Whitefield died that morning in the church parsonage. The great voice that had cried out in the wilderness of colonial America fell silent. A few days later, with much grief and ceremony, the revivalist was buried in a crypt directly beneath that pulpit at Old South Church—where his grave remains to this day.

Many of the men sitting in the church on September 16, 1775, preparing to go to war, were restless. No disrespect was intended for the chaplain, they just wanted him to be done with his remarks so they could see Whitefield’s tomb. They wanted to make a connection—not only with history and fame: but with what we might now refer to as the DNA of faith.

Lost to many Americans today via the whitewash of history that has led to a bit of a cultural brainwash when it comes to the founding era, is the story of Whitefield and the Great Awakening he helped spark. The common revisionist narrative today places faith and matters of religion on the periphery of history—an enduring lunatic fringe encompassing past and present. This better fits the secularist worldview espoused by those who want us to see government, statism, and struggles for social justice as not only the way to move boldly into the future, but also as consistent with our past.

Sadly, such a future may, in fact, be ours if enough people don’t wake up, but no amount of tinkering with textbooks can actually change what really happened way back when. The enlightenment and passion that burned so bright during the epochal moments of our national gestation nearly two and a half centuries ago on these shores were fueled by something quite spiritual and profound.

There will be reenactments this weekend illustrating Revere’s ride, volleys fired, and a declaration proclaimed, but what will be missing as America rounds up its usual respects this 4th of July will be a cultural revisit to the seeds planted in the hearts and minds of men and women in the decades before 1775-1776.

If America was born 234 years ago this weekend, the case can be made that she was conceived 35 years earlier. Long before men named Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hancock, and Franklin became notable and influential, there were a few clergymen—preachers—who meteorically blazed across the colonial sky.

Chief among these preacher-cultural celebrities was George Whitefield. Ordained in the Church of England at the tender age of 22 in 1736, he quickly became well known for his voice—it was loud and commanding, but never shrill and off-putting. It was said that he could speak to 30,000 people (Benjamin Franklin counted them once) and that all could hear him, even in the open air. His diction and flair for dramatics had audiences hanging on every word. Historian George Marsden suggests that Whitefield’s communication gifts were so remarkable that even uttering the word “Mesopotamia” could bring people to tears. The preacher spoke with “Much Flame, Clearness, and Power.”

Whitefield emphasized personal conversion with his powerful messages on the new birth from Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John. The converted formed new churches—hundreds of them—and revived existing churches that had long been spiritually moribund.

Interestingly, George Whitefield was not without his critics. Much of his opposition came from clergymen. The preacher was adept at using the media of his day (e.g., among the first to understand the power of newspapers) and he was certainly a showman.

Biographers have regularly referred to him as “Divine Dramatist” and “Pedlar (variant of “peddler”) in Divinity.” One Boston cleric of the day complained that Whitefield “used his utmost craft and cunning to stoke the passions and engage the affections of the people.” But Whitefield not only took it all in stride, he saw the criticism as, in fact, drawing attention to his work and helping his cause. He was the first modern preacher to bring innovation, marketing savvy, and advertising to ministry.

The chronological locus for the Great Awakening was the period of 1740-1742, but the residual and enduring effects lasted into the revolutionary period. And this is where the history being taught in schools today—and that most of us grew up hearing—misses the boat.

In their book, God Is Back: How The Global Revival Of Faith Is Changing The World, John Micklethwait (editor in chief of The Economist) and Adrian Woolridge (Washington bureau chief of The Economist)—both men Oxford-trained secular journalists—argue for the obvious connection between the Great Awakening and the American Revolution. They see our struggle back then, in contrast to the French Revolution, as “a unique event in modern history—a revolution against an earthly regime that was not also an exercise in anti-clericalism.”

While revolutionary France “defined itself by its hostility to religion,” they contend “Americans saw no contradiction between embracing the values of the Enlightenment and republicanism while at the same time clinging to their religious principles.”
And we have the Reverend George Whitefield, among many others, to thank for this.

When the sermon was finally done at Old South Church that September day in 1775, some of the citizen-soldiers sought out the church’s sexton and asked to see where Whitefield was buried. The sexton actually opened the coffin and a few of the officers obtained tiny bits of material from the dead preacher’s collar and wristband, carrying them into battle as good luck charms.

Of course, I am not all that into amulets and such, but I find myself cutting these men some slack. Their simple excision of fabric was really an exercise in remembrance and connection. They knew that what they were going to do soon in battle was somehow, someway tied to what Whitefield and others had been part of years before.

Some years ago, a member of my congregation visited that church in Newburyport and brought me back some pictures of the scene. The crypt was still there, but it was surrounded by half-empty paint cans, buckets, and other typical church basement stuff (I am sure it’s been cleaned up since). It was almost like some had forgotten the significance of what they had down in that basement.

Then again, reading much of the history written about the 18th century these days, it’s pretty clear that America, for the most part, has long-since forgotten the spiritual roots of the revolution we’ll all sort of remember this weekend.

Oh—and here’s a Newburyport footnote. The town was back then associated with great preaching and in 1805 another future visionary and liberator was born to grow up there—William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist. There may, in fact, be something to faith DNA.


Politicians beginning to hear the people say 'enough' on "multiculturalism"

VOTERS in Australia and Britain have had their fill of out-of-control multiculturalism.

AT first blush, Julia Gillard's volte-face over immigration would seem to be as unlikely as Osama bin Laden singing the Star Spangled Banner or Richard Dawkins taking holy orders.

Here is a politician with a solid pedigree on the "anti-racist" Left rejecting former prime minister Kevin Rudd's call for a "Big Australia" formed by continuing large-scale immigration.

Instead, Gillard has said she understands the anxieties of folk in western Sydney, western Melbourne or the Gold Coast growth corridor in Queensland.

As for the boats of asylum-seekers, Gillard has made clear she wants to be even more effective in stopping them in order to protect "our sanctuary" and "the Australian way".

In other words, Gillard is signalling that she sympathises with the concern that large-scale immigration and multiculturalism are threatening Australia's core values and identity, a position the Left denounces as bigotry.

Consequently, Gillard's remarks have produced predictable cries of "racism" and "dog-whistling". So why has the new Labor leader ventured into this particular cultural minefield? The explanation is that something tumultuous is happening, not just in Australia but in Britain too, something so unusual that people are stumbling around in a state of stunned disorientation.

It is that politicians are at last actually taking seriously what their electorates are saying to them about immigration and multiculturalism. This is that they will no longer put up with a policy which threatens to destroy their country's values and way of life, and will vote accordingly.

In Britain even more than in Australia - where at least John Howard or Tony Abbott have tackled such issues - race and culture have long been totally taboo. No debate has been possible about whether mass immigration might be a bad thing for communities or the country as a whole.

Even to question this has been to invite instant denunciation as a racist from the dominant left-wing intelligentsia, for whom anti-racism has long been their signature creed.

The Conservative leader and now Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is driven by the need to bury the label of "the nasty party" that was hung round the Tories' neck, was accordingly too nervous even to mention immigration during the recent election campaign, even though it was at the very top of the list of voters' concerns.

But Cameron didn't win the election, and is now forced to govern in a coalition with the left-wing LibDems. His failure to talk about immigration is said to be the reason why he failed to win an election that was thought impossible for him to lose.

Nothing concentrates the political mind so well as the spectre of defeat. And so now in both Britain and Australia a political sea change is taking place.

In both countries, voters are stating unequivocally that they have seen through all the spin about multiculturalism, all the false arguments about the alleged economic advantages of mass immigration, all the bullying and name-calling about racism.

They look at their neighbourhoods and realise that their culture and national identity are being replaced by something entirely new. No one has ever asked them for their consent to this. And they are simply not going to take it any more.

In Britain, the public services are buckling under the sheer weight of the numbers coming into the country.

More explosive is the cultural transformation, particularly by the large influx and expansion of Muslims who, rather than accommodating themselves to British society, expect it to accommodate itself to them.

So Britain is being steadily Islamised, with more than 1700 mosques, the development of a parallel jurisdiction of sharia law in Muslim enclaves, banks offering sharia financing, extremists given free rein on campuses and relentless pressure to suppress and censor any criticism of Islam or the Muslim community.

In parts of Australia too there are similar worries about the growth of the Muslim community, the pressure not to criticise any aggression it may display and the simultaneous onslaught upon Australian values by the likes of [Muslim cleric] Sheik Hilaly.

Listening to such concerns pays electoral dividends, as shown by Abbott, who has made such headway by defending the traditional values and national integrity of Australia as an entirely justifiable and moral position.

So Gillard is now humming the same tune, saying she sympathises with voters' desire for strong management of Australia's borders, and pledging "sustainable population" increase with the "right kind of immigrant".

A similar political convulsion is occurring in Britain. The Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, has promised to put a cap on immigration, a pledge that was in the Conservative manifesto but rarely mentioned during the election campaign.

Even more striking is the abrupt change of tune among several contenders for the leadership of the defeated British Labour Party. While front-runner David Miliband is sticking with its open-door immigration policy, his younger brother Ed has said "we never had an answer for the people who were worried about it".

Former Labour health secretary Andy Burnham claims the party has been "in denial" about the issue, which was "the biggest doorstep issue in constituencies where Labour lost".

Most jaw-dropping of all, former education secretary and hard man of the Left Ed Balls has said high levels of immigration under Labour had affected the pay and conditions of "too many people", and has called for better protection for British workers if the European Union expands any further.

Such death-bed conversions are of course driven by cynical political considerations. Nevertheless, they are levering open an ideological fixation which has not just sunk democratic politics into disrepute but driven culture and morality in both Britain and Australia off the rails altogether.

For the doctrines of anti-racism and multiculturalism have not ended intolerance, prejudice or discrimination. They have instead institutionalised reverse discrimination and up-ended truth, morality and justice.

Following the Marxist doctrine that prejudice is restricted to those with power, they have given Third-World ethnic minorities special protection from rules or conventions that apply to everyone else.

They have also served to falsify the history of both Britain and Australia in the minds of countless thousands of young people, who are taught propaganda based on a false or distorted story of national oppression and shame.

Multiculturalism threatens to undermine societies, by removing the cultural glue that binds all citizens together and balkanising the country into interest groups fighting for supremacy.

Once upon a time, the need to have strong borders and endorse a historic cultural identity were axiomatic elements of citizenship and national survival.

But mass immigration and multiculturalism are predicated on what is called "transnationalism", the belief that the nation is the source of all the ills of the world and must be replaced by supranational institutions and cultural identities.

This is precisely what -at a visceral level - the people of both Australia and Britain understand and are refusing to accept.

And at last, in both Australia and Britain, politicians are being forced to listen.


Islamist leader tells Australian Muslims to 'shun democracy'

Are these the people we want in any Western society?

LEADERS of the global Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir have called on Australian Muslims to spurn secular democracy and Western notions of moderate Islam and join the struggle for a transnational Islamic state.

British Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Burhan Hanif told participants at a conference in western Sydney yesterday that democracy is "haram" (forbidden) for Muslims, whose political engagement should be be based purely on Islamic law.

"We must adhere to Islam and Islam alone," Mr Hanif told about 500 participants attending the convention in Lidcombe. "We should not be conned or succumb to the disingenuous and flawed narrative that the only way to engage politically is through the secular democratic process. It is prohibited and haram."

He said democracy was incompatible with Islam because the Koran insisted Allah was the sole lawmaker, and Muslim political involvement could not be based on "secular and erroneous concepts such as democracy and freedom".

His view was echoed by an Australian HT official, Wassim Dourehi, who told the conference Muslims should not support "any kafir (non-believer) political party", because humans have no right to make laws.

Mr Dourehi also urged Muslims to spurn the concept of moderate Islam promoted by governments in the West, including in "this godforsaken country" of Australia. "We need to reject this new secular version of Islam," he said. "It is a perverted concoction of Western governments. "It is a perversion that seeks to wipe away the political aspects of Islam and localise our concerns. We must reject it and challenge the proponents of this aberration of Islam."

The conference, which followed the theme The struggle for Islam in the West' was the first major event held by the Australian branch of HT since a seminar in 2007 which coincided with calls for the group to be banned.

HT is outlawed in much of the Middle East but operates legally in more than 40 countries, campaigning for the establishment of a caliphate or Islamic state. HT's platform rejects the use of violence in its quest for an Islamic state, but supports the military destruction of Israel.

But the group's presence sparked angry protests outside as members of the Australian Protectionist Party (APP) yelled anti-Islam chants. The APP met in a small park to express their need to "protect" the Australian way of life.

Conflict between the APP and HT amounted to an exchange of words, anti-Islam chants and the occasional drive-by of young Muslim men yelling obscenities from their car at the APP protesters.

One passer-by, a young Muslim man, yelled at the APP group: "You people have absolutely no idea", sparking a fiery exchange of accusations and finger-pointing.

Nick Folkes, the Sydney organiser for the APP, believes that the HT should be banned in Australia and thinks that practising sharia law should be illegal in Australia. "Sharia law is an archaic legal system that treats woman as second-class citizens," he said. "We're not asking them to change their skin colour or religion. But if they come here, they must reject sharia law."


More "child protection" insanity in Australia

If it had been middle class parents involved, the child would have been taken away from them like a shot. But, for some (probably Marxist) reason the underclass are sacred

A HEROIN-addicted sex offender has won custody of his young daughter because the girl's mother is considered an even more unsuitable parent.

Child protection campaigners yesterday lashed the Federal Magistrates' Court decision to leave the girl in such conditions as outrageous and "defying logic".

Granting custody of the girl, aged about 5, to the father, the court branded the mother dishonest and criticised her continuing drug use. The court heard the mother, who has shoplifting and prostitution-related convictions and a history of drug use, left the labour ward to buy heroin soon after giving birth. The father, who also has a string of convictions, was put on the sex offenders' list after being convicted of wilful and obscene exposure.

The girl, who has behavioural problems and a speech impediment, has suffered serious injuries. Her plight was reported to the Department of Human Services last year after she was treated for a serious burn to her buttocks. Each parent blamed the other for it. The girl also had injuries from a dog bite and once suffered an injury from being hit with a shoe.

The couple separated soon after the birth, and the father is reported to have been violent to the mother. But, despite concerns he had taken drugs as recently as last December, and kept a knife and sword collection, the court last month ruled the girl should live with him.

"The father provides calmer parenting with more clearly set boundaries than the mother does," the magistrate said. "A history of inadequate supervision combined with heroin and marijuana use create a serious concern that (the girl) may be neglected by her mother." The girl will spend two out of three weekends with her mother.

The court gave the father custody because the mother continued to use drugs and "had been dishonest with the court". Her drug-screening tests repeatedly indicated the presence of benzodiazepines and opiates. She was even suspected of once taking drugs while in the court precinct arguing for custody. Her home was once described as filthy and strewn with vomit and faecal material, though the court accepted its cleanliness was usually "probably in an acceptable range".

The father is on a disability pension and hasn't worked in almost 10 years because of depression. "There was no evidence (he) is making any notable contribution to society," the court said. It said he "was using drugs or doing something else he did not want to admit" as recently as last September, and had lied about his whereabouts when meant to be caring for his daughter. But he was making progress with his addictions. It ordered him to dispose of his weapons.

The Australian Childhood Foundation's Joe Tucci said the decision "defies logic". "Children shouldn't ever be placed in a situation where the rights of the parents . . . override their right to protection," he said. "The decision should be about whether a child is safe or not, not which parent is the better to look after them. "The community expects children to be looked after by their parents, and if the parents fail this then the courts need to look after them."

Child protection campaigner Hetty Johnston said the ruling was "outrageously dangerous". "There's no way staying with either parent should have even been an option. This isn't in the best interests of the child," she said.

A Department of Human Services spokesman said it was no longer involved in the case. [And isn't interested, apparently]



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


4 July, 2010

Prominent Canadian Leftist's strange conception of free speech

Last March, when controversial American conservative pundit Ann Coulter first proposed to speak on the University of Ottawa campus, the school’s vice-president academic and provost, François Houle, sent an infamously smug, patronizing letter to Ms. Coulter, warning her to “educate” herself about what kinds of speech are and are not acceptable in Canada “before your planned visit here.”

He added a thinly veiled threat that “promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.” To avoid arrest or a lawsuit, he cautioned ominously, “weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.”

Now, thanks to an access to information request by The Canadian Press (CP), we have learned that U of O president Allan Rock, the former federal Liberal Justice minister — not Mr. Houle — was the force behind the intimidating email to Ms. Coulter.

The CP reports that the day before Mr. Houle’s message was sent to Ms. Coulter, Mr. Rock sent his own message to Mr. Houle instructing him to warn her of the potential for legal action should she go ahead with her planned address. In a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Rock wrote that “Ann Coulter is a mean-spirited, small-minded, foul-mouthed poltroon … ‘the loud mouth that bespeaks the vacant mind.’ She is an ill-informed and deeply offensive shill for a profoundly shallow and ignorant view of the world. She is a malignancy on the body politic. She is a disgrace to the broadcasting industry and a leading example of the dramatic decline in the quality of public discourse in recent times.”

A firestorm followed the release of Mr. Houle’s sneering email. He received hundreds of angry, often vicious emails. Dozens of newspapers, this one included, wondered about his fitness for the job a leading a university, which is supposed to be a sanctuary for free inquiry, not a shrine for the worship of political correctness.

Not once during the maelstrom heaped upon Mr. Houle did Mr. Rock step up and admit he was actually the person behind his vice-president’s correspondence. Indeed, the emails obtained by CP indicate that after criticism of the provost’s letter heated up, Mr. Rock — who as Justice minister for Jean Chrétien was responsible for such controversial legislation as the gun registry and divorce laws that force men to pay tax on the child support they send their ex-wives — considered making a public offer to Ms. Coulter to return to the university and speak. Such a move would have been self-serving, making Mr. Rock look like the defender of free speech, even though it was him all along who wanted to “chill” Ms. Coulter’s remarks.

Mr. Rock was not the only one hoping to intimidate the controversial writer into moving her speech off campus. Mr. Rock seems to have been acting on the request of Seamus Wolfe, Ottawa’s student federation president, who had posters for the Coulter event removed from student union property and who wrote to Mr. Rock urging that “you notify Ms. Coulter that she is not welcome on our campus, and that her event will not occur on uOttawa property.”

Of course, Messrs. Rock, Houle and Wolfe all would see themselves as champions of free expression, which highlights the danger posed by of hate-speech laws: They give intellectual cover to censorship by permitting politically correct persons simply to define any speech with which they happen to disagree as “hate speech.”

In this regards, perhaps most troubling was Mr. Rock’s instruction to Mr. Houle that the latter urge Ms. Coulter “to respect that Canadian tradition” of free speech “as she enjoys the privilege of her visit.”

Free speech is a right, not a privilege. The right to speak one’s mind did not descend from government or a university official. The world “privilege” implies a freedom that can be taken away at the pleasure of those in power or on the bench. By their nature, privileges cannot be bulwarks against the abuse of power.

For a former head of the Law Society of Upper Canada to have such a false concept of fundamental political rights is appalling. Indeed, it casts doubt on his ability to lead a university.


Britain's travesty of a justice system

The Tories are just as bad as Labour

What unites Michael Howard and Ken Clarke (and the Labour Party, and the Liberals) is that they wilfully don’t have a clue about crime or disorder. They wilfully know nothing about policing. They wilfully don’t understand what happens in prisons. They know that the truth is very Right-wing indeed, so they hide from it.

Deliberate ignorance is the essential qualification for all politicians, academics and ‘home affairs correspondents’, and civil servants in the Ministry of Injustice which Mr Clarke now heads. All the information is readily available to anyone who wants it. But it leads to conclusions which our elite can’t bear, mainly the need to rough up, punish and frighten the wicked. So they pretend it doesn’t exist.

You can tell how ill-informed politicians and media types are by a series of easy tests. Here are some.

Do they refer to ‘bobbies on the beat’? This is a clear sign of a dunce on the subject. The modern generation of uniformed social workers, loaded down with stab-vests, retract­able batons, handcuffs, frying pans, helmet videos, SatNavs, pepper sprays, homophobia detection devices and sociology books, cannot possibly be called ‘bobbies’ by anyone who understands the English language.

As for ‘the beat’, don’t these people know that there has been no such thing for 40 years? The regular foot patrolling of the streets of this country by uniformed const­ables was ordered to cease by the Home Office Police Advisory Board on December 7, 1966.

Since then, foot patrols have only been sent out as an occasional special concession, or in some lucky city centres – when the police are not too busy driving their cars or filling in forms.

The next sign of criminological ineptitude is the wearisome claim that prison doesn’t work. The idea is spread that because so many ex-prisoners reoffend, this means jail isn’t a deterrent.

But this leaves out the truth, which is that it is far harder to get into prison in modern Britain than it is to get into university. You have to try and try, and will be fobbed off for years with meaningless ‘cautions’, fines you don’t have to pay and ‘community service’ you can laugh at.

Only hardened criminals (plus middle-class council tax rebels and people who defend their homes) ever actually get locked up. No wonder they reoffend.

If a second offence got law-breakers confined in austere gaols with exhausting hard labour, hard beds and sparse, tasteless food, without in-cell TVs or pool tables or phones (or drugs), and run by grim-jawed warders who took no nonsense, the reoffending rate would drop to near-zero in a week.

What’s more, thousands of potential criminals would be scared into behaving themselves. That’s all the ‘rehabilitation’ this country needs, and the only kind that works.

But I’m sorry to say that this sort of unfashionable approach, while it hugely improved the lives of millions, would be deeply unpopular at the BBC, which is the only unpopularity Mr Clarke and his boss David Cameron really care about.


A Leftist British journalist shows what a worm in the brain Leftism can be

In December 2001, the Independent’s Robert Fisk earned international infamy when he filed a dispatch from Afghanistan about a group of young Afghan men and boys who nearly beat him to death. “In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk,” he wrote. “Or any other Westerner I could find.”

A more fitting example of the Western foreign correspondent “gone native” — recognizable by ample amounts of self-loathing and patronization toward dark-skinned people — could not be found. The article, “My Beating by Refugees is a Symbol of the Hatred and Fury of this Filthy War,” inspired the Internet phenomenon of “Fisking,” the painstaking deconstruction of a news article or column, sentence by sentence, with biting and caustic commentary.

I’ve largely ignored Robert Fisk since then, so predictable and overwrought is his work. Last month, however, a fellow journalist who covers Afghanistan and Pakistan placed into my hands a copy of a speech he had delivered just days earlier to the fifth Al Jazeera Annual Forum. Titled “Journalism and ‘the words of power,’” it’s a typically rambling, occasionally conspiratorial discourse on the venality and corruption of the Western news media — in other words, a hallmark of the Fisk oeuvre, with some sprinkles of Foucault thrown in for good measure (the Independent reprinted the speech, in modified form, here).

The gist of Fisk’s speech is that journalists, in collusion with Western governments, use language in a corrupt and dishonest way to further the interests of imperialism. “More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power,” he told his audience. Yet Fisk is no less a victim of the supposed ills he diagnoses.

He deems the appointment of Tony Blair as the Quartet Middle East peace envoy to be “an obscenity of history,” right up there, one assumes, with Halabja and all the other massacres Fisk has witnessed in his decades-long career. There is the requisite attack on “Israeli colonization of Arab land” (can one imagine Robert Fisk or anyone of his ilk ever referring to “Jewish land” or “Christian land”?). He compares the blockade of Gaza to the Soviet army’s blockade of Berlin.

The speech is a cavalcade of hyperbole. He considers the shorthand, diplo-military term “AfPak” “as racist as it is politically dishonest.” He’s angered by use of the term “foreign fighters” to describe Arab Islamists fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan. After all, are not those men and women “in American or other NATO uniforms” also foreign fighters?. Technically they may be, but they are in Afghanistan at the behest of the internationally recognized Afghan government, and they serve there on a United Nations mandate. Only a man as dishonest and possessive of the corrupt politics of Robert Fisk would not be able to tell the difference between the two.

To account for the West’s moral failing, Fisk delivers the following non sequitur: “Maybe one problem is that we no longer think for ourselves because we no longer read books. The Arabs read books — I’m not talking here about Arab illiteracy rates — but I’m not sure that we in the West still read books.”

Well, if he’s not talking about literacy rates, what the hell is he talking about? The United Nations Arab Human Development Report, surveying 22 countries, presents stunning and incontrovertible evidence of the failures of Arab regimes to educate their people. Last year’s report found the adult literacy rate in these nations to average out at 70.3 percent over the period from 1995 to 2005. Of the first such report in 2002, which produced similarly dreary findings, a Jordanian journalist wrote that it “hangs out the Arabs’ dirty washing before the world and offers a wealth of information that mars the image of the Arabs in the world, but unfortunately the information is correct.”

That same report contained the infamous statistic that tiny and bankrupt Greece translates five times as many books into English as do all the Arab states combined. And what books “the Arabs” are reading seem to be dog-eared copies of Gamal Abdel Nasser speeches and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

But somehow, according to this vaunted interpreter of world events, it is Westerners who don’t understand. This is certainly the view of “the Arab street,” of whose dim prejudices Fisk is not so much a reporter but a fierce advocate.

This penchant for attributing the region’s problems on outside forces, a habit bred by anti-Semitism and a conspiracist worldview, is recognized by a courageous and honest band of Arab intellectuals, like the Jordanian writer I quoted above. But it is of little interest to Robert Fisk, who, by indulging the worst instincts of the people he covers, isolates the region’s liberals and sides with its reactionaries by ritually blaming the problems confronted by Muslims on everyone but themselves.


Want Your Own TV Show? Get Caught With a Hooker!

Just what does it take to get your own prime-time TV show on a purportedly reputable cable news network? Years of toiling in small markets, mastering the craft, breaking stories, building reputation? Nah.

Just be a disgraced governor, who, after making your reputation as the toughest of sheriffs – including busting prostitutes and prostitution rings – spent large sums while traveling on government business to employ prostitutes and dominatrixes furnished by a major pimping operation. While you were married too, by the way.

Former Gov. Spitzer, hypocrite of hypocrites, should be a reality TV star, maybe on Celebrity Rehab or some show like Blago’s wife did. He should be dumped in a jungle somewhere, or in Big Brother house, or even on the Playboy Channel. Isn’t that where Gov. Freak-Show Spitzer should be?

But in its wisdom, the bastion of journalistic integrity, CNN, has seen fit to ensconce him as a teller of truth and wisdom, host of a news discussion program. CNN’s president, appearing on the network’s own “Reliable Sources” program on June 27, defended the choice with arrogant, condescension, as if anyone objecting to it were one of Obama’s gun- and religion-clinging rubes. His actual defense was slight; Spitzer apologized, and he still has many good ideas to offer. One hopes none mirror his past good ideas, or CNN may be presenting prime-time orgies.

I’m usually for second chances. So, I guess, if CNN wants him, the public can stomach his pompous arrogance and he can muster the cajones to present himself as a serious thought-leader, well, more power to him. And, perhaps, CNN is the appropriate place for him. Sarcasm aside, lots of us step deep into muck of our own making at one time or another, and have to resurrect ourselves and rehab ourselves with some audience, so who am I to say Spitz shouldn’t have his turn. Martha Stewart went to prison and we didn’t ban her from selling towels and curtains, now did we?

But the Spitzer hiring shines the spotlight on a serious problem: We are becoming a reality-TV instant star society. People don’t need or want to take the time and trouble to earn anything. Or to bother preparing for and being qualified for the jobs they seek. (Look inside the Oval Office.) Snookie is the equivalent of Meryl Streep. Sleazebag Spitzer is the equal of Larry King. Or, for that matter, Anderson Cooper.

Sure, Fox gave Huckabee a show and made Palin a commentator, but as far as we know they are at least governors who served honorably, not driven from office and narrowly avoiding prison time over hooker escapades.

To be clear, though, the culprits here aren’t Spitzer or CNN. As Pogo famously said: we have met the enemy and They is Us. As a society, with consensus, we seem to be valuing instant stardom by any means, notably including sleaze over talent, ability, initiative, effort, investment. We now value unearned fame above earned credibility. Much of the public no longer makes this distinction, may not be intellectually able to, or don’t care.

Ironically, the mainstream media that has been a major contributing factor in fostering this new equivalency of gossip with news, trash and trivia with substance may wind up eaten by the very monster they helped grow.

But we are the even bigger losers, adrift in sea of sewage made of false moral equivalency. We are losing our entire culture, losing our sense of reality. If we view Lindsey Lohan’s latest drunken adventure as news worthy of running side by side in the CNN bottom-of-screen crawl with Obama’s latest thievery or the reports from the war fronts, we volunteer for our own debasement. What we are willing to reward with our attention and sanction by our absence of protest, we get more of.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


3 July, 2010

Democrat tributes to Byrd were to a man of no principles -- i.e. a good Leftist

Jonah Goldberg

It is a good rule of thumb not to speak ill of the dead. But what to do when a man is celebrated beyond the limits of decorum or common sense? Must we stay silent as others celebrate the beauty and splendor of the emperor's invisible clothes?

You probably know why I ask the question. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving member of the Senate in American history, died Monday. It was truly a remarkable career. But what's more remarkable is how he has been lionized by the champions of liberalism.

On Thursday, Byrd's colleagues took the unusual step of honoring him with a special service on the Senate floor, where he would lay in repose -- with some irony -- on the Lincoln Catafalque, the bier used to hold the slain body of the president who freed the slaves. The irony stems from the fact that for much of Byrd's life, his allegiances were with Lincoln's opponents in that effort. More on that in a moment.

Not long ago, the assembled forces of liberalism were convinced that the Senate was "broken," that the anachronistic filibuster impeded progress. The Senate itself, with its arcane rules and procedures, had become undemocratic and was in need of vital reform, according to all of the usual voices. John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and a sort of archbishop of liberalism these days, drew on his deep command of political theory and social science to explain that the American political system "sucks," in significant part due to the unwieldiness of the Senate.

Well, who better represented those alleged structural problems than Byrd? Nearly every obituary celebrates his "mastery" of the rules. This is from the first paragraph of the Washington Post's obituary: Byrd "used his masterful knowledge of the institution to shape the federal budget, protect the procedural rules of the Senate and, above all else, tend to the interests of his state."

Yes, what about his tending to his state's interests? For several years there's been a lot of bipartisan indignation over the perfidy of pork and "earmarks."

Who, pray tell, better represented that practice than Byrd? The man emptied Washington of money and resources with an alacrity and determination not seen since the evacuation of Dunkirk. There are too many of these Byrd droppings in West Virginia to count, but we do know there are at least 30 buildings and other structures in that state named for him. So much for Democrats getting the message that Americans are sick of self-aggrandizing politicians.

And so much for the idea that Washington has become calcified by a permanent political class. Better to celebrate the fact that he cast his 18,000th vote in 2007.

And then, of course, there is the issue of race. The common interpretation is that Byrd's is a story of redemption. A one-time Exalted Cyclops of the KKK, Byrd recruited some 150 members to the chapter he led -- that's led, not "joined," by the way. (If you doubt his commitment to the cause, try to recruit 150 people to do anything, never mind have them pay a hefty fee up front.)

Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bruce Bartlett notes in his book "Wrong on Race," Byrd knew he would fail, but he stood on bedrock principle that integration was evil. His individual filibuster, the second longest in American history, fills 86 pages of fine print in the Congressional Record. "Only a true believer," writes Bartlett, "would ever undertake such a futile effort."

Unlike some segregationists, Byrd's arguments rested less on the principle of states' rights than on his conviction that black people were simply biologically inferior.

Sure, he lied for years about his repudiation of the Klan. Sure, he was still referring to "white niggers" as recently as 2001. But everyone agrees his change of heart is sincere. And for all I know it was.

What's odd is what passes for proof of his sincerity. Yes, he voted to make Martin Luther King Day a holiday. But to listen to some eulogizers, the real proof came in the fact that he supported ever more lavish government programs -- and opposed the Iraq war. Am I alone in taking offense at the idea that supporting big government and opposing the Iraq war somehow count as proof of racial enlightenment?

Robert Byrd was a complicated man, but the explanation for the outsized celebration of his career strikes me as far more simple. He was a powerful man who abandoned his bigoted principles in order to keep power. And his party loved him for it.


Homosexual marriage a step closer in Britain

Homosexual couples could be allowed to “marry” in traditional religious ceremonies for the first time, a government minister has said. Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, said the Coalition was considering allowing same-sex couples to include key religious elements in civil partnership ceremonies. In a parliamentary answer, she disclosed that homosexual couples could be permitted to use “religious readings, music and symbols”.

This would make civil partnerships practically indistinguishable from traditional weddings as Parliament recently removed the bar on same-sex unions in churches and other places of worship through an amendment to Labour’s Equality Act.

The proposals will delight equality campaigners who believe civil partnership is a “second-class” status, but they prompted fierce opposition from mainstream Christian leaders who believe marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.

Church of England sources warned that the Government could not make such dramatic changes merely by issuing regulations or guidance, as the current Civil Partnership Act prohibits the use of religious services during the registrations. A spokesman made it clear that senior figures in the established faith would resist any moves effectively to legalise homosexual marriage.

The Rt Rev Michael Langrish, the Bishop of Exeter, added in a personal statement: “As some of us warned at the time, the amendment to the Equality Bill has opened an area of unhelpful doubt and confusion. The Church of England will not be allowing use of any of its buildings for civil partnership registrations.”

Lord Tebbit, a former Tory party chairman who spoke out against same-sex unions in churches in the Lords, said: “I wouldn’t want anything done to add to the pretence that a civil partnership is a marriage. That’s the key thing, and anything which changes the law would have to come back to the Lords.”

In 2005, same-sex couples in Britain were allowed for the first time to take part in ceremonies that made them “civil partners”. This gave them similar legal rights to married spouses, but the law required the events to take place in register offices or approved venues such as hotels and stately homes. The ceremony has had to be secular, with no hymns or Bible readings, in order to preserve the definition of religious marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

When the Equality Bill was being debated earlier this year, an amendment was added by Lord Alli that permitted civil partnership ceremonies to take place in places of worship if the relevant religious group permitted it.

Quakers, Unitarians and the Liberal Judaism movement will ask to be allowed to host the ceremonies but the Church of England will resist it, despite the wishes of some liberal clerics, as will the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Registrars provided by local councils would still have to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

No changes to the content of the ceremonies were proposed in the Lords, and in a parliamentary written answer last month, it was made clear that they must remain “entirely secular in nature” and cannot contain “any religious language”.

However, in a Parliamentary written answer provided on Wednesday to Chris Bryant, the ex-Labour minister and former Anglican priest who posed in his underpants on a dating website called Gaydar, it emerged that the Coalition is considering moving further towards legalising full homosexual marriage as it draws up the regulations on how civil partnerships can be held in places of worship.

Mrs Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat, wrote: “An amendment made in the House of Lords to the Equality Act 2010 removed the express prohibition on civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises. “In response to this amendment, the Government committed to talking to those with a key interest in the issue of civil partnerships on what the next stage should be for civil partnerships.

“This will include consideration of whether civil partnerships should be allowed to include religious readings, music and symbols. “This commitment was made through the document, Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality, published on 16 June 2010.”

She added that this would create a disparity with heterosexual couples who marry in town halls, as “there are currently no plans to allow religious readings, music and symbols during the registration of civil marriages”.

Mr Bryant said he believes the Government will eventually have to allow full homosexual marriage rather than creating the unusual situation under which same-sex couples can have religious language in their civil partnerships, but heterosexuals cannot in civil marriage.

A Church of England spokesman said: “The Church of England is not proposing to open its churches for civil partnership registrations. Any comment we might wish to make on the principles of these apparent proposals would be made through the formal consultation process.”

During the election campaign, the Conservatives were the only main party to suggest that they would consider allowing full homosexual marriage, a move that although contentious would be easier to legislate for than altering existing laws on civil partnership and civil marriage. Their Contract for Equalities stated: “We will consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

Peter Tatchell, the veteran gay rights activist who will today join London’s Gay Pride parade with a banner declaring: “Dave and Sam Cameron can marry, gays can’t. End the ban on gay marriage”, said: “Instead of tinkering with the second-class system of civil partnerships, the Government should bring forward legislation to legalise same-sex marriage.” He said the move to allow religious language in civil partnerships was a “small step forward” but added: “It still comes well short of marriage equality.”


Hollywood eminento slams the 'Old' and 'Bigoted' Views of Those Who Oppose Same Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court of California upheld Proposition 8 a little over a year ago but a new lawsuit was heard recently

The reinstatement of Proposition 8 in California, a bill which prohibits same-sex couples from legally marrying, continues to cut through the heart of Hollywood – and Mark Ruffalo is the latest celebrity to express his passion amid the ongoing fight for gay marriage rights.

“There’s a debate going on about gay marriage and whether children can be raised in an ‘unconventional’ family and go on to be sexually healthy, viable, productive people – that’s all used as an argument against gay marriage,” Ruffalo recently told Pop Tarts. “It’s so ridiculous to me.”

Nonetheless, Ruffalo remains confident that the push to continue preventing same sex couples from tying-the-knot, at least in California, is on its last legs – thus prompting those in opposition to use scare tactics as a last resort.

“It’s the last dying, kicking, screaming, caged animal response to a world that is changing, a world that’s leaving a lot of those old, bigoted, un-accepting views behind. It’s over,” he continued. “Those against it are very tricky and they’re using really dark ways to promote their ideas. But 75 percent of Americans want an appeal on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ They want gays to openly serve in the military. Ten years ago that was probably 30 percent. That number is more reflective of who we are as a nation today than anything else.”

Ruffalo was most likely referencing an ABC News-Washington Post poll that was conducted in February of this year, in which 75 percent of responses stated that homosexuals should be allowed to serve in the military openly, as opposed to 62 percent in January 2001 and 44 percent in May of 1993.

Ruffalo stars in the new film “The Kids Are Alright”, which is centered on a long-term, married lesbian couple (played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who have two teenaged children born by artificial insemination. However, the fabric of their seemingly fruitful and flawless family life starts to fall apart when the kids decide to seek out their sperm donor ‘father’ (Ruffalo) who turns out to be an earth-loving, college drop-out and bachelor who owns a flourishing local/organic restaurant.

“The more people get to experience ‘these people’ (gay and lesbian couples) who are not so much unlike themselves, the more accepting they become,” he said. “You can’t know somebody like that then want to take away something (like marriage) that is so precious to them.”

And in Ruffalo’s opinion, perceiving a homosexual person as being any different than somebody who is straight stems only from what we’re told by others.

“We live down the street from a gay couple with a young son, my son goes and plays there and has lunch there. My son is 8 years old, and not once has he come and asked why his friend has two poppas,” he added. “His family is no different to my family – they eat at the same time, send their kid to school, discipline him and love him the same way. It’s only the teaching that we give to the child that makes them see those distinctions.”


Something to Light a Firecracker About

Not so long ago, most Americans regarded the Fourth of July as "Independence Day," and called it that -- celebrating liberty and freedom, prizing independence above all. For the graduates of high school and college, Independence Day marks the breaking away from parents, of moving toward responsibility.

For many of us, it's a celebration mixed with more than a little concern. Where will this new independence take the young? What kind of adults will they become? Have we "done good" by them?

Have they been politically corrected and merely educated in soundbites and cliches by the megabyte so that they, as Sam Cooke famously sang, "don't know much about history." But not to worry. We've always known they're intelligent, and they may be smarter than we think. At least some of them.

The federal government wants more and more to tell us, by law and by bureaucratic regulation, what's good for us -- what to eat, what to spend our own money on, to whether and where to smoke a cigarette or eat a burger. When a senator asked Elena Kagan, the president's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, whether she believed Congress had the power "to tell people what to eat every day," she was stumped for an answer. The personal has become the political. The Founding Fathers are spinning.

But for an encouraging number of the young, maybe not. In a survey of 3,000 high school students by the Bill of Rights Institute, an Arlington, Va., based organization to educate young people in the ideas and ideals of the Founding Fathers, the top five heroes of the young are Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington and Thomas Paine. (Neither Elvis nor Michael Jackson made the cut.) The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were the documents that inspired them most, and "perseverance" and "courage" were cited as the two civic values most essential to American citizenship.

These students understand what's expected of them and hold the important stuff as really important, even if they (like the rest of us) sometimes honor it in the breach. This essay exercise is one of the largest in the country, with more than 50,000 participants, 70 percent from public schools. Teacher and student winners earn awards up to $5,000 and trips to the nation's capital. Best of all the kids, many of whom had never had a class in "civics," demonstrate an unusual appreciation not only of the meaning of citizenship, but an understanding of the burdens of citizenship.

A 12th-grade prize essayist writes of the importance of personal accountability in preserving liberty. "Although the Founding Fathers created constitutional checks and balances to prevent loss of liberty through abuse of power," writes T.J. Cahill of Lansing, Mich., "they foresaw that precautions are useless if each American is not individually responsible. To preserve liberty, we must each embrace our founders' legacy of responsibility."

The politicians could learn from a 10th-grader who identifies courage, strength and wisdom as the three qualities essential to great leadership. "Courage, because many times you will stand alone. Strength, because while you move against the crowd people will try to knock you down. Wisdom, which varies for every situation, to know when to pick a fight and when to hold your tongue."

The students were required to show a specific American value reflected in a founding document, embodied in a figure of American history and finally in the essayist's life. This requirement reverses the glib cliche that "the personal is the political," the basis for the destructive notion that everyone is entitled to preferences based on sex or group identity, and instead emphasizes how the political requires personal duty, the revolutionary idea that animated the Founding Fathers.

"If citizens desire to maintain small government," writes Haley Shopp of Mansfield, Texas, "they must take responsibility to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them in a way that is completely independent from government. Recognizing a widespread need among my classmates, I have established and run a math-tutoring center at my school. In this way, I hope to take part in a system that is uniquely American: to take personal responsibility to fix a problem, instead of relying on government for the answers."

Writes David Rinder of Morganville, N.J.: "Independence and the ability to control one's own destiny are ideals held dear by Americans."

Now that's something to light a firecracker about on this Fourth of July. We're entitled to have a good 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


2 July, 2010

Who are the real animals?

The British animal rights fanatics who waged a hate campaign against the fox attack family stand revealed today (and, oh yes, they're almost all supported by welfare payments). Nick and Pauline Koupparis with twins Isabella and Lola have received police protection because of the threats

The slur is particularly loathsome in the circumstances. For it is aimed at Pauline Koupparis, the mother of the twin girls mauled by a fox in their cots. 'What an attention-seeking wh**e this stupid woman is,' declares the poison pen author, an animal rights activist. 'If she is getting threats GOOD! I have no sympathy for her. I still think she is lying.'

'Stupid'... 'wh**e' ... 'liar' - this brutal vocabulary is part of a hate campaign being waged against Mrs Koupparis and is there, in black and white, for anyone to read on the internet.
Nick and Pauline Koupparis and twins attacked by fox

What could Mrs Koupparis possibly have done to deserve such a backlash? Nothing, apart from being confronted with a 'scene from a horror film' when she entered her daughters' bedroom at the family's £800,000 home in Hackney, East London, one Saturday night a few weeks ago - a nightmare Mr and Mrs Koupparis relived in their first full interview on BBC's Panorama last night.

'I put on the light,' recalled Mrs Koupparis, 40. 'I saw a fox - and it wasn't even scared of me. It just looked me straight in the eye. I started screaming after I saw blood on the girls.'

Most ludicrously of all, one contributor suggests 'Mrs Koupparis dressed up as a fox' to injure her daughters

In the immediate aftermath, one had only to see the anxiety etched on her face as she visited the youngsters in hospital to be convinced of the trauma she had endured.

Everyone, including detectives and the doctors who treated nine-month-olds Isabella and Lola, accepted Mrs Koupparis's account - because it was the truth, plain and simple.

Everyone, that is, except animal rights militants who began their campaign of hate as the story unfolded. Behind their wicked smears, which have left Pauline and Nick Koupparis feeling 'harangued and besieged', is the mentality of the lynch mob. And their wild theories are as bizarre as they are offensive.

Some have said the family dog attacked the children and that Mr and Mrs Koupparis covered it up so the animal would not have to be put down. The couple do not have a dog.

Others claimed the family used the case as propaganda to bring back fox hunting. The couple have no links to hunting.

Most offensively of all, some claimed on internet chat forums that the children were the victims of abuse, not an urban fox.

Then there were those who objected to the backlash against urban foxes which the story generated. One veiled threat reads: 'Save a fox, kill a baby.' Apparently, it was a sick joke, alluding to the fact a number of foxes in the neighbourhood were trapped and put down in the wake of the attack on the Koupparis girls. The implication being that the life of a fox is worth as much or more than that of a child to these fanatics.

The venomous posting resulted in the family being given police protection.

So what sick individuals could be behind such a campaign - and why would they target innocent victims such as the Koupparis family?

Once upon a time, the tactics employed against Pauline and Nick were reserved for those who worked - or were associated with - animal testing laboratories or who bred monkeys, guinea pigs or rabbits for medical research; not that this provides any justification. Today, however, it seems that anyone is fair game for the animal rights movement.

Only last month, panellists on Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time were subjected to threats simply for dispensing advice, in response to listeners, on how to kill garden pests such as moles and rats.

Then there is the head teacher from Kent who received death threats and excrement in the post over the slaughter of a sheep on the school farm. Never mind that the farm was established to educate pupils about food and where it came from and that the decision to kill the animal was taken following a vote by the children's school council.

Or how about Ian Watson, who set up a business in Hampshire to dispose humanely of squirrels, foxes and wasps - using methods approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He runs a gauntlet of death threats and 'silent phone calls' on an almost daily basis. One recent anonymous email warned him: 'If I COULD [only] SNARE YOU AND SHOOT YOU IN THE HEAD!!!'

But it is the treatment of Mr and Mrs Koupparis that is perhaps the most shocking illustration of the chasm that separates normal animal-lovers and the zealots from the animal rights movement.

The individuals who 'targeted' the parents of baby Isabella and Lola - the twins have now returned home and are making a good recovery - may not be terrorists in the conventional sense of the term, but their warped mindset is very similar to religious fanatics....

Last year, seven animal rights extremists were jailed for a ruthless campaign of intimidation to force firms into ending their dealings with Cambridgeshire-based Huntingdon Life Science, which carries out animal testing for medical research.

Targeted workers discovered their neighbours had been sent letters claiming they were paedophiles.

Is what Pauline and Nick Koupparis have had to go through these past few harrowing weeks any less wicked, any less distressing?

This story is not about the plight of urban foxes. It never was. It's about two baby girls, who were left badly hurt and who may yet be left with life-changing facial injuries.

But to the likes of the malicious Maria Bartlett, a fox is worth more than a child. As she told us: 'I'm an animal lover. To me, an animal life is more important than a human one.'

Could there be a more damning or disturbing insight into the people who have caused so much unnecessary anguish for the Koupparis family?


Blizzard of new instructions that mean British police help drunks home safely as officers are buried in red tape

Police officers are being buried under a 'snowstorm' of official diktats spelling out how to perform the simplest tasks, it was claimed yesterday. Manuals have been drawn up to explain how to use handcuffs and CS spray, and how to police 'high risk' cricket matches. Officers are even told to take drunks home in case they fall and hurt themselves.

Last year Government, police quangos and forces produced more than 2,615 extra pages of guidance on top of more than 6,000 pages of existing rules. One force issued a 93-page guide to riding a bike, but withdrew it after a public outcry.

Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O'Connor said that if all the pages were laid out end to end they would be three times the height of the Eiffel Tower. He warned that the array of rules and regulations designed to avoid every kind of risk was preventing officers from using their common sense and discretion. He added that the scale of the bureaucracy was responsible for taking officers away from the front line.

New regulations in every possible area of policing are forcing more officers to become specialists, and pushing them away from beat duties, he said.

A survey of 40 forces in England and Wales found the number of beat bobbies fell by 1,429 over three years from 2006, despite more officers being hired. Meanwhile 1,587 went into more specialist roles.

Sir Denis called for a cull of much of the guidance and a return to 'common-sense policing' with officers encouraged to make decisions for themselves. He said: 'The truth is they are not going to do much of all of this because it's impossible to absorb it. You'd need a Lancaster bomber to deliver it all. 'Instead you need to get back to a common-sense basis. People do want to see the lesser spotted constable, they really do. Quite a few forces have been taking constables away.

'The more of this stuff there is the fewer of them there are going to be. We need ministers to think if they want more legislation or to set up another public inquiry.'

His criticisms drew support from senior police officers, who backed the call for greater discretion....

Sir Denis was backed by Crime and Policing Minister Nick Herbert, who pledged 'fundamental reform' of the system. Mr Herbert said: 'The police have been tied up in a deluge of target-related guidance and doctrine. 'We can't just tinker with the system - we need fundamental reform, where we restore professional discretion and trust the police to do their job, while ensuring that the public can hold them to account.

'That's why we've announced that we'll scrap central targets and look again at the inspectorate performance regime. ‘And it's why we're determined to replace topdown, bureaucratic central direction of policing with stronger, direct local accountability.

'For too long, central government has sought to interfere in how policing is delivered when it is outcomes that should matter - safer streets with less crime.'

Inspectors found that of the 52 new documents produced last year, only two contained executive summaries. Another 60 manuals are 'on hold' awaiting approval.

The titles are mind-boggling. The contents are - more often than not - as politically-correct as they are pointless. Yet the upper echelons of the police service just cannot stop inflicting new ' guidance' documents on rank-and-file officers already drowning in needless red tape.


Killers and sex attackers 'could be spared jail in proposed British reforms'

And this insanity is coming from an allegedly conservative government. They want to make a system that is already pissweak into a total joke with no deterrent effect at all

Killers, sex attackers and serial burglars are being let off with prison sentences of less than a year, according to official figures that undermine plans to let loose more criminals. Some 70,000 offences from manslaughter and kidnapping to sexual offences against children attract sentences of less than 12 months every year.

Tory MPs seized on the evidence, warning that the coalition could leave people less safe.

Ken Clarke used his first major speech as Justice Secretary to question the value of ‘banging up more and more people’. He said that sending offenders to jail often proved to be a ‘costly and ineffectual approach that fails to turn criminals into law-abiding citizens’ and called for ‘intelligent sentencing’ with a greater focus on rehabilitation.

But analysis of the short sentences he wants to replace with community sentences reveals it will lead to thousands of serious criminals escaping a spell behind bars.

In 2008, the last year for which there are figures, nearly 20,000 cases of theft, more than 7,000 of violence against the person and more than 4,000 burglary convictions attracted lenient sentences of less than a year. More seriously, 80 people were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder but also escaped with such prison terms. Eleven of those were jailed for less than three months.

Six people convicted of manslaughter, three rapists and 74 guilty of wounding to endanger life also got off with less than a year behind bars.

Tory MPs opposed to the Government’s plans leapt on evidence that child sex attackers might also benefit from Mr Clarke’s proposals.

In total, 622 sex offenders got off with sentences of less than 12 months, including 315 guilty of sexual assault. Five people guilty of trafficking for sexual exploitation, nine convicted of incest, eight guilty of gross indecency with children and 103 of sexual activity with an under 16 got off with less than a year in prison.

The figures were obtained by Tory MP Philip Davies, who fuelled a growing rebellion last night by admitting that he would defy a three-line whip to vote against the measures. ‘The idea that people who are sent to prison for short periods of time do not commit serious offences is blown apart by these figures,’ he said.

‘Most people would consider most of these offences, like conspiracy to commit murder and gross indecency with children, extremely serious offences. ‘The idea that these people would be better not sent to prison and in community sentences to me is completely ridiculous and will horrify most decent people.’

The Justice Secretary is in danger of committing political suicide, Mr Davies insisted before urging a rethink. ‘Not only is Ken Clarke in danger of upsetting an awful lot of Conservative voters but he could also put at risk a great number of people by having these serious offenders roaming the streets,’ he added.

Yesterday there were signs of a growing rebellion on the Tory benches as former leader Michael Howard – who declared that ‘prison works’ when he was home secretary in 1993 – condemned the plans.

David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, demanded a Commons debate on the issue and called for longer, not shorter, sentences.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘There are some nasty people who commit nasty offences. ‘They must be punished, and our communities protected. ‘That is why this Government has committed to a full review of sentencing policy, to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending.’


Terminally Ill

The UN is sick beyond remedy. Its Human Rights Council last week concluded its most recent session, and as Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN aptly summarized it, the council “abandon[ed] human rights victims the world over and contribut[ed] to the spread of anti-Semitism.”

This, you may say, is nothing new, and you would be right. But the story of how we got here and where we are headed next helps to bring into focus the full vileness of this institution.

The council was created in 2006 as one cornerstone of an overhaul of the United Nations in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal, which had spread a dark stain on it like the one the BP gusher has unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The council was designed to supplant the Commission on Human Rights, which had been created sixty years earlier at the instigation of the United States. That body was formed under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and a panel of distinguished international scholars and jurists who also composed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Over the decades, the vaunting idealism with which the commission was conceived had given way to the tawdry politics that came to characterize the UN. It all came to be symbolized by the 2003 elevation of Libya to chair the commission, notwithstanding that Libya had been ruled as a personal fiefdom by Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi since 1969 and had made the Freedom House list of the “worst of the worst” of the world’s repressive countries every year since this category was conceived.

If Libya’s election was outrageous, that still does not fully explain why it received special attention. Previously elected chairs of this august body had included the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, as well as Poland and Bulgaria when they were Communist colonies of the former USSR. Whatever the reason, Qaddafi’s triumph seemed to have brought matters to a head, and when the oil-for-food program opened the trickle-gates of UN reform, the commission became a ready target. Secretary General Kofi Annan said its performance “casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”

Thus, throughout 2005, Annan worked hand in glove with the Bush administration to design a reform plan that would abolish the commission and replaceit with a Human Rights Council. The manner of its composition, the shape of its agenda, the frequency of its meetings were to be different from those of the old commission, and were designed to prevent the hypocrisies for which that body had become infamous. The question this raised was whether the abominable record of the commission had been due to structural defects or to a deeper flaw, namely the political atmosphere of the UN itself.

Now we know the answer. After four years, the record of the council is, if anything, worse than that of its predecessor. Kofi Annan’s perception that the old commission had “cast a shadow” on the UN was an optical illusion: he was seeing the UN’s own darkness.

The essence of the problem was illustrated by last month’s election of new members. (Members serve a three-year term, with one-third elected each year.) As usual, the “election” was like those of authoritarian regimes: the number of nominees exactly equaled the number of seats to be filled, so that members were left only to vote aye or nay. And as usual, dictatorial states had little difficulty cutting deals to get themselves nominated, notwithstanding the mandate instructing the members to “take into account the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Only Iran was kept off the list, and this had nothing to do with its practice of torturing and murdering citizens who ask for honest elections, but rather was due to the fact that Tehran has alienated not only the Western states but also the Arabs. Just to make clear that Iran’s exclusion should not be interpreted as a sign of disapproval of its treatment of its own citizens, the mullahs’ regime was put in charge of a separate UN body on women’s rights. Who better?

Freedom House teamed up with UN Watch to pressure the UN member states to keep in mind human rights when choosing council members. Of the 14 nominees, they judged only five “qualified” for seats, four others as “questionable,” and five as “not qualified.” Needless to say, all of the latter five were elected nonetheless. They were Angola, Mauritania, Malaysia, Qatar, and — you guessed it — Libya. The opposition scored its best showing against Qaddafi’s regime, rallying a grand total of 37 nay votes to 155 ayes.
In other words, only one-fifth of the member states cared a whit about the UN’s human rights efforts. There you have the whole story. The illness cannot be cured. It is terminal.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


1 July, 2010

Mother who refused to allow son to visit serial rapist dad is finally freed from NY jail after 19 days

Prisoners rights? A nasty judge jailed a mother for trying to keep her child away from an extremely bad influence!!

The Brooklyn mom jailed at Rikers Island for refusing to let her 9-year-old son visit his father - a serial rapist imprisoned in Arizona - was finally freed Tuesday night after 19 days of confinement.

Her first thought was of her children. "I'm going to hug and kiss them," said Sukhwant Herb, as she emerged from Brooklyn Supreme Court - still wearing black prison sneakers. "I miss them so much and I'm so happy to be out. I wouldn't wish this on anybody."

But in this bizarre case, Herb, 29, was kept prisoner for 25 hours after Brooklyn Family Court Judge Robin Sheares issued the original order for her release Monday evening, after the Daily News reported her plight Sunday.

Sheares was the judge who tossed Herb in jail in the first place, handing down a 50-day minimum sentence on June 10 after Herb defied an order to allow Seon Jr. to visit his his dad in prison.

The release paperwork was not sent to Rikers Island until yesterday morning. So Herb remained a prisoner throughout yesterday - first at Rikers, and then in a holding pen at Brooklyn Supreme Court - until Sheares called a hearing at 5:10 p.m.

Herb sat in the courtroom, stone-faced, during the brief procedure, in which she was released into her lawyer's custody and ordered to return to court July 29.

Sheares tossed Herb into jail after she violated the order - having a change of heart after originally agreeing to it - without offering bail consideration. The judge's move, and comments in court, sparked outrage in the city's legal community, especially since Herb was not charged with a crime and has no criminal record. Tuesday night, Herb's lawyer Dale Frederick said he will demand Sheares be removed for the the case.

Seon Jonas, 31, the father of Herb's son, was convicted in 2003 of raping three women in Phoenix. He obtained the visitation order last year.


Another money-grubbing whiner

These harassment claims are a nice littler earner for a lot of highly-paid women who flame out, particularly in Britain. Good to see one knocked back in Australia

A TRIBUNAL has thrown out a female cosmetics company manager's claim she that was picked on for being a woman. Jo-Anne Finch claimed CoverGirl and Max Factor distributor The Heat Group refused to promote her and victimised her for complaining about sexual harassment.

But the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed her claim as false in a decision scathing of Ms Finch's evidence. Judge Marilyn Harbison this week said she was a witness of little credibility whose many claims of bullying and harassment were "not just unproven but clearly false". "I am satisfied that many of the allegations were made without concern about whether or not they were true," the Judge said. "This jurisdiction should not be used to pursue such unmeritorious claims."

The costly legal catfight began four years ago and the case had 22 hearing days days in VCAT.

Ms Finch worked for the company from 2002 to 2006 and claimed she was discriminated against because of her sex, her pregnancy and her stress illness. She alleged she was forced to work in a "boys club", was given extra tasks not assigned to her male counterparts, and passed over unfairly for promotions. Ms Finch said men were given gift bags to pass on to clients but she wasn't.

Judge Harbison rejected her claims that her boss verbally abused her, made hostile remarks and sniggered at her.

The company had argued that when her work standards dropped Ms Finch did not react well to being counselled about it. They said they were forced to act after a string of staff quit, complaining about being bullied by Ms Finch and citing her "aggressive" style as their reason for leaving. While a great sales manager Ms Finch had been a poor people manager, it was argued.

VCAT heard The Heat Group had been founded by prominent businesswoman Gillian Franklin, who had introduced long maternity leave entitlements and flexible hours.

Judge Harbison said there was no evidence Ms Finch had been victimised in any way and or that she had been sexually harassed by male staff.

Ms Franklin welcomed the decision, saying the case had affected the company's good reputation. "We are proud of our achievements over many years in creating opportunities for women and helping all employees balance their work and family lives," she said in a statement.


Is this another Lindy Chamberlain affair?

Fundamentalist Christians are looked at askance by most Australians. Mainstream jurors were so sure Lindy Chamberlain (a Seventh Day Adventist) was a criminal that they jailed her for four years. Only clear new evidence exonerated and freed her.

The "Agape" mentioned below is a New Testament Greek word for "love"

LIKE many suburban couples, Raphael and Patricia Azariah work and study hard, raise their children and attend church every Sunday. Their religious beliefs, however, have thrust the parents of two into controversy - because they are members of the Agape Ministries Church.

Yesterday, the couple spoke to The Advertiser to refute "cruel and malicious" claims they promised their daughters in marriage to older men. They further denied accusations they allowed the girls, aged eight and six, to undergo firearms training. The couple detailed the persecution they have suffered in the wake of police raids on Agape properties that netted guns and ammunition. [Firearms possession in Australia is subject to some controls but is far from totally illegal. Guns can be found on most farms]

"I am not a nutter or a crazy-farm type of person," Mr Azariah said. "I am a person that believes in God, I am a Christian, I am a man who takes the Bible seriously. "Now I have lost my job - we have no employment and no income, and I've lost all that work as a result of what one can only describe as malicious lies."

The police raids, in May, triggered an avalanche of speculation about Agape Ministries. Former members and opponents dubbed it a cult, saying Pastor Rocco Leo defrauded millions from his followers to buy a South Pacific island. Detractors claimed Leo told his parishioners the world would end after microchips are implanted into everyone by the end of 2012. Mr Azariah's mother, Lesley Baligod, said her son and daughter-in-law had "betrothed" their children to much older men in the church.

Yesterday, Mr and Mrs Azariah spoke in the presence of their lawyer, Craig Caldicott, and two fellow church members. Mr Azariah - whose chosen last name means "the Lord is my helper" - joined the church in 1993.

He said there was no truth to any of the allegations. "Agape Ministries has never been a doomsday cult," he said. "It has never been preached, in our church, that the world is going to end. That's contrary to our beliefs, and to the Bible which says God has established the Earth forever. "I do not believe the world is going to end, and definitely not in 2012."

He said "disgruntled former members of the church" had taken that concept "from movies and the Mayan calendar". "And I've never heard anything about an island in Vanuatu," he said.

He said talk of microchips was a "misunderstanding" of comments made during Bible study classes. "People talked about all the media coverage around companies and governments using chips in phones, credit cards and to identify people," he said. "I am aware that some governments may do that, I know that there's tracking devices, but I don't particularly care.

"In Revelations it talks about 'the Mark of the Beast', and it's left for people to interpret that in their own way. "But it has never been taught, in the Agape church, that people are going to be microchipped and that's not a church doctrine."

What had most hurt his family, he said, were the allegations about his daughters Amanda and Danielle. "It is a load of hogwash, and it is without a doubt probably one of the most cruel things I've ever heard," he said.

The couple were accused of letting the girls take part in weapons training at firing ranges on Agape property. "Neither of my daughters have ever held a gun - they would not know how to," Mr Azariah said. "I am not aware of any firing range operated or owned by Agape Ministries."

Media reports led to the Azariahs being investigated by Families SA. "We were totally exonerated," he said.

Mr Azariah said he had given 10 per cent of his earnings to the church willingly. "I believe in it, it wasn't compulsory," he said. He blamed the rumours on former church members who disagreed with Rocco Leo.

He believed one of those former members had provided information to his mother. "The fundamental tenor of the Agape Church is that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected - we believe in love and forgiveness," he said. "It's for that reason I still love my mother and forgive her for what she's brought up against us."

A University of Adelaide graduate, Mr Azariah made his living as a music teacher at an Adelaide school until the church came under fire. "I probably had about 35 students, and taught another five privately. "Now I have been asked to take unpaid leave until all of this is sorted out.

"My wife, Patricia, had been studying horticulture, but because we currently have no income she is looking for employment."

He said his daughters had "fortunately" not been teased, and had the support of their school and peers.


Australia: No punishment for violent African gang?

Members of group that bashed man to partial blindness all avoid prison. Would whites have got off so lightly? What message does this send to other violent African gangs?

A GANG of youths whose bashing of an Indian man blinded him in one eye have all avoided jail. Majang Ngor, 20, the last of the gang to face court, was yesterday given an eight-month suspended jail term for the unprovoked attack on Kanan Kharbanda.

Prosecutors had wanted him jailed for four years. But Judge Susan Cohen said this would be unjust, given the penalties imposed on gang members who were more culpable. Ngor hadn't been an instigator or a ringleader.

At least three other youths - who can't be named because of their age - were given nine-month youth supervision orders in the Children's Court. The Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing against those sentences.

Ngor pleaded guilty in the County Court to recklessly causing serious injury, intentionally causing injury, robbery, and attempted robbery over the March 2008 bashing.

Mr Kharbanda, an accounting student, had been walking a friend to Sunshine station. One of Ngor's group demanded a dollar before hitting Mr Kharbanda in the face. Others joined in, kicking and punching; his friend was also hit and kicked to the ground. Mr Kharbanda suffered a fractured eye socket and broken nose. He has lost the sight in his right eye.

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said it was beyond belief that the youths had been let off "scot free". "It's disgraceful. The Indian community has the right - all citizens have the right - to be up in arms about it," he said.

Ngor told police they'd been drinking at a party and one of the group had suggested they go "hustling". He admitted joining the pack, but denied striking either victim.

Judge Cohen said the Sudanese refugee had since worked hard to reform himself. To his credit he'd finished year 12, got a stable job, and had stopped binge-drinking.

She said he hadn't caused the worst injuries, but had helped those who did. Violence at railway stations was of major public concern, but the matter was "less serious" than if weapons had been used.

The judge suspended the jail term for 15 months and ordered Ngor to do 40 hours of community work, saying the greatest public benefit would come from his rehabilitation.

Shadow attorney-general Robert Clark said it was extraordinary that none would spend time behind bars and said it is weak sentencing laws that allowed the gang members to walk free. "The victim of this crime will suffer a lifetime sentence with his injuries while the offenders are being let off with just a few hours of community service," he said.

"Imposing suspended sentences does nothing to build respect for the law, yet under John Brumby's weak sentencing laws vicious crimes like this bashing will continue to qualify for suspended sentences. "In contrast, a Baillieu Government will abolish suspended sentences for all crimes so that jail will mean jail," he said.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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