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, 2011

Bosses still bullying me, says 'cross on the dashboard' British Christian

Bizarre: To get rid of the cross on his dashboard, they took away his van. What help is an electrician without a van for his gear?

The electrician who won his battle to display a cross in his company van after his plight was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday has accused his employers of victimising him following his return to work.

Former soldier Colin Atkinson was facing the sack from the publicly-funded housing association where he has worked for 15 years before a public outcry forced his bosses to back down.

But since his return to the job in early May he says Wakefield and District Housing has reneged on its agreement with him by moving him to another workplace 16 miles away, then withdrew the company van at the centre of the row and told him to travel by bus instead. He claims the company is trying to force him out.

Mr Atkinson, 64, said: ‘I thought common sense had triumphed when the company agreed I could go back to work. But I have found there is still a lot of hostility against me, even though I have done nothing more than defend the basic rights of Christians to express their faith in public.

‘My employers have broken their promises and I believe they are trying to humiliate me or dismiss me for seeking to stand up for my rights. It is disgusting what they are doing.’

He clashed with the housing association, the fifth largest in Britain, after refusing management requests last year to remove the eight-inch cross from his van.

Senior managers had insisted that Mr Atkinson was breaching ‘diversity’ policies as well as uncompromising new rules they introduced in December last year banning employees from adorning company vehicles with personal symbols.

But following heavy criticism by religious leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, the firm backtracked. Not only did they allow Mr Atkinson to display his cross on the van’s glove compartment, they also dropped all disciplinary action against him.

He was also told he could return to his three-day-a-week job as a training officer overseeing apprentices at the association’s Austin Road depot in Castleford, West Yorkshire.

However, he said he was subsequently treated coldly by one of his managers, who had been one of those who had asked him to remove his cross from his van last year. About a month after Colin returned to work, the manager disappeared from the office.

Mr Atkinson, who lives in Wakefield, said: ‘The company told me that one of the reasons the boss was off was because I was in the office, though I had never been anything but civil towards him. They asked me to move to another centre, Winston House, which was about 16 miles away. I was the only person from my department working there. I agreed reluctantly at the start of this month but it was very difficult to do my job properly there.

‘Moreover, they withdrew my company van, saying that I could travel on the bus if I needed to see apprentices working on site. I was told this was part of general financial cutbacks.’

Mr Atkinson, who has been represented by human rights lawyer Paul Diamond, said he lodged a grievance procedure against the company for breaching its agreement and a week later was asked to stay at home.

He added: ‘Meanwhile, the boss resumed work three weeks ago but I feel he should be the one who should be moved, not me. My bosses have now offered me a pay-off to retire early but a condition is that I, my wife Geraldine and all my family would be prevented from speaking out publicly. That is not my style. It would be breaching my human rights.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Mr Atkinson, said: ‘After a public outcry, Colin was allowed to return to work and to continue to display a palm cross in his van.

‘However, since the media attention died away, he has suffered continued harassment and victimisation, and Wakefield and District Housing has not honoured its agreement to allow him to return to work. It seems that WDH hoped that Colin could be bought off and go quietly. But he will not be gagged or bullied.’

Wakefield and District Housing was unavailable for comment.


Mother wins right to more than half of ex-husband's £500,000 crash compensation payout as `her needs are greater'

A woman battling her amputee ex-husband for the lion's share of his £500,000 compensation has won her right to over half of his money in a landmark ruling, after the Appeal court declared her and their children's immediate needs were more important than those of the disabled man.

Lord Justice Thorpe ruled that the money Kevin Mansfield received in 1998 after losing a leg in a road smash - five years before he met his former wife Cathryn - ought to be 'available to all his family' and that her needs and those of their children are 'primary' and outweigh his own.

Mr Mansfield, 41 now faces having to sell his home, a specially adapted bungalow in Chelmsford, Essex - to meet the court's order that he pay £285,000 to 37-year-old Cathryn, so she can buy a new home for herself and their two children.

But Lord Justice Thorpe left Mr Mansfield with a glimmer of hope by also ordering that £95,000 of the money must be paid back to him by his ex-wife if she remarries a partner who can support her, or in 14 years time, once their children have grown up.

Mr Mansfield was still a student when he lost a leg and suffered serious spinal injuries when he was hit by a car in 1992. He met his now ex-wife Cathryn five years after receiving £500,000 compensation in 1998.

The couple split up in 2008, soon after having twins, Carys and Corben - now aged four - through IVF treatment. Mr Mansfield told the court that almost the whole of the family's wealth at the point of their divorce derived from his damages payout.

At a divorce hearing in May last year, he heard a judge rule that his compensation should be regarded as an asset of the marriage and divided accordingly. He took his case to the Appeal Court, but Richard Todd QC, for Cathryn Mansfield, insisted it made no difference that his damages payout pre-dated his marriage.

'No part of a personal injury award is sacrosanct. No part of the award is ring fenced, not even that part awarded under the heads of pain, suffering and loss of amenity,' Mr Todd said. 'When he took on the responsibility of a wife, and they decided to have two children, he knew that the capital would have to be used for their benefit too.'

'The court would regard it as illogical that, whilst earnings should be taken into account and thus be fully available for the support of the family, a sum paid by way of compensation should be treated otherwise. 'This is capital which replaces earnings which would otherwise form part of the marital acquest. The wife has suffered real relationship-generated disadvantage.'

Turning to Mr Mansfield's request that some of the money should be returned to him by way of a charging order over his wife's new home, Mr Todd continued, 'The husband talks of a charging order. Such an order would leave the parties locked together contrary to the spirit of the clean break and would also make it impossible for the wife to meet her long term reasonable needs.

'When confronted with competing needs, the court is required to give first consideration to the needs of the children. The court carefully weighed the competing needs of the parties. The need of the husband to be properly housed, fully taking into account his disabilities, was carefully measured against the wife's need to care for the children.' he said.

The QC added that the wife disputed that all the assets of the marriage came from her husband's damages award, claiming she had contributed £30,000 to buying the former marital home, plus the 'sweat of her brow' in carrying out a 'great long list' of DIY improvements to the house.

Mr Mansfield, representing himself, told the court, 'I love the children I think the world of them. I wouldn't be here today if I didn't care. There has been a lot of effort put into attacking me, but not a lot of due diligence. 'For me this chapter of my life should be closed. The insurance company did not just pay out the money to me on a whim.'

Giving the court's judgement, Lord Justice Thorpe said, 'This appeal raises a single point of significance - the degree to which a judge in ancillary relief proceedings should reflect a substantial award for a personal injury claim. The husband received approximately half a million pounds in his personal injury claim in 1998 before he ever met the wife.'

He added: 'I have been of a fluctuating mind during argument, but have come to the conclusion that the judge went into the conflicting needs of the parties with considerable care and found that £285,000 was the minimum needed to meet the needs of the wife and children.'

'£285,000 may be on the high side and it might be that the wife was fortunate to receive that quantification, but it would be unprincipled for this court to interfere.'

The judge went on to impose a £95,000 charging order on Mrs Mansfield's new home, to be paid back either when the couple's children turn 18, or when they finish their first degree, or if she remarries a partner who can support her.

In a statement outside court after the judgement, Mrs Mansfield said that she had brought the case for the sake of their children.

'From first to last, this case was all about our wonderful twins and how they would be housed. I am so very glad that a very wise Court of Appeal has approved the orders made by the lower courts that I should have £285,000 for housing both them and me," she said.

Mr Todd added: 'The judge achieved what he wanted to achieve which was the security of the roof over the children's heads during their minority.

Commenting on the legal importance of the case, the barrister went on: 'This case is going to be of huge importance to many other cases in future involving divorce and personal injury. 'It will now become the authority for all such future cases and emphasises that personal injury is significant factor when looking at any damages in a divorce case.'


Murdoch Made Scapegoat For Ills of British journalism

It shows that the country is on a downward trajectory and confirms the fact that since the age of Diana, Princess of Wales, Britain has become emotive, reactive and possibly worse. We have lost our individualism and sense of fair play, replaced by a lemming-like hysterical group reality.

I am talking about what is now becoming known as Murdoch-gate, the all consuming news story about phone-hacking that has brought down one of this country's oldest and widest-circulated newspapers, The News of the World.
The fact that the scandal has not taken on the name of the newspaper, or phone-gate or hack-gate, but has been personalised to vilify Mr Murdoch is quite telling - and quite disturbing.

Let me be clear - other than an admiration for Murdoch as one of the great captains of industry of our time, a businessman and capitalist with few peers - I have no specific brief for him. I have had only tenuous links to Mr Murdoch (talkSPORT, for instance whose chief executive at the time was Kelvin McKenzie, the former Sun editor. News Corp, I believe, was an investor, but to what extent I do not know).

Let me also be clear that I am not defending the actions of individuals, or even a possible culture - that I'm sure was not limited to The News of the World or News International titles, but probably found itself endemic - especially in the highly competitive world of tabloid journalism and even possibly the broadsheets.

There is no way of defending the indefensible act of hacking into the phone of Milly Dowler. The pursuit of a story is one thing. But those that crossed that line should be held responsible to the full extent of the law.

But there is more at play here and this has progressed from news story to an all engulfing firestorm of around the clock 24-hour coverage, fuelled by a large dose of rank hypocrisy and blown up by a storm of emotional game-play that has created a lynch-mob mentality.

We now find ourselves at a point where a newspaper is closed down in a week.
Other newspapers - who either to a lesser or greater extent may have also used dubious methods to get a story - have weighed in solely out of commercial interest.

Those on the left - such as the Independent and the Guardian are foaming at the mouth over the destruction of Murdoch - his papers and his company, for ideological reasons.

Yes, credit must be given to the Guardian for uncovering and doggedly pursuing this story in fine journalistic traditions - it goes to the heart of government and the police. But personalising it around Murdoch, or the calls for the head of Rebekah Brooks, is purely ideological.

The liberal left hate Murdoch for several reasons: He is successful, he is pro-American, he stands up for Israel, he owns Fox News and is seen and perceived as a conservative.

It is a meme of the left that they - and only they - hold the truth. Any other view is not only wrong but evil, and has no place in society. Author Jonah Goldberg wrote a book about it entitled Liberal Fascism. It really is.
In this country, a lynch-mob mentality has developed. Preening actors such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan are allowed to rant and rave in the most fantastical way ("all NOTW journalists are scum"... "just in it for the money") without much challenge. Parliament, instead of addressing its own faults and the fact MPs cozied up to journalists, called for Murdoch to call off his bid for BSkyB ahead of his official bid withdrawal on Wednesday - as if a private business decision is any of their business.

The police, who corruptly passed information, are now trying to pass the blame on to Murdoch. By making Murdoch, the person, a hate figure, instead of uncovering the individuals at his papers that did wrong, we are entering a very dangerous area.

I say to the newspapers that are fomenting this campaign, be careful what you wish for as you may just get it. The free press that holds governments to account will be eroded.

I am not in favour of hacking the phones of tragic missing young girls, but I am for the vigorous pursuit of stories in the public interest, blowing the whistle on malfeasance and exposing corruption and waste in government as the News of the World did a very good job of for many years.

And those of us who, as a group, have been scapegoated in the past, should be wary when it happens again - even to Rupert Murdoch.


The Norway Massacre and Europe's War on Free Speech

by Soeren Kern

Media outlets in Europe and the United States are accusing Western critics of Islam and multiculturalism of complicity in the mass killing of more than 70 people in Norway. The attempt to exploit this crime for political gain is not just a case of malicious opportunism. It also represents the latest and most unsavoury salvo in the long-running war on free speech in Europe.

Anders Behring Breivik, a deranged Norwegian accused of bombing government buildings in Oslo and then killing scores of young people during a 90-minute shooting rampage on a nearby camping island called Utoya, published a 1,500-page manifesto in which he vents his anger at the direction in which mostly leftwing elites in Norway and elsewhere in Europe are leading his country and the continent as a whole.

As it turns out, parts of the manifesto include cut-and-pasted blog posts from European and American analysts and writers who for years have been educating the general public about the destructive effects of multiculturalism and runaway Muslim immigration. By dint of duplicitous logic, these analysts and writers are now the victims of a smear campaign: multiculturalists are accusing them of inciting Breivik to murder.

These same analysts have, of course, been a constant bane on an unaccountable European elite determined to foist its post-modern, post-nationalist and post-Christian multicultural agenda on a sceptical European citizenry.

Unwilling to countenance opposition, these self-appointed guardians of European political correctness have laboured to silence public discussion about issues such as the rise of Islam in Europe and/or the failure of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into European society.

The primary weapon in this war on free speech has been lawfare: the malicious use of European courts to criminalize criticism of Islam.

Prosecutions of so-called anti-Islam hate speech are now commonplace in Europe. Some of the more well-known efforts to silence debate about Islam in Europe have involved high-profile individuals like Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, and Brigitte Bardot, a French animal rights activist.

Other recent assaults on free speech in Europe include the show trials of: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a housewife in Austria, Susanne Winter, a politician in Austria, Lars Hedegaard, a journalist in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a politician in Denmark, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician in Finland, Michel Houellebecq, a novelist in France, Gregorius Nekschot, the pseudonym of a cartoonist in the Netherlands, and the late Oriana Fallaci, a journalist and author in Italy.

In other cases, physical violence has been the preferred method of silencing contrary views of Islam in Europe. In 2002, for example, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Muslim immigration, and in 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam. In 2010, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard narrowly escaped being assassinated by an axe-wielding Muslim extremist in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city.

Many theories attempt to explain the rise of multiculturalism in Europe. Among these is the idea that European elites, determined to prevent a repeat of the carnage of the Second World War, embraced multiculturalism as a tool to try to dilute or even eliminate the national ethnic, religious and or/cultural identities that contributed to centuries of violence in Europe.

But in recent years, the secular purveyors of European multiculturalism have moved far beyond their initial objective of creating an American-style "melting pot." European socialists now view multiculturalism as a means to eliminate the entire Judeo-Christian worldview. This is certainly the case in Spain, where socialists have joined arms with Islam in a "Red-Green Alliance" to confront a common enemy, Christianity, as represented, in this case, by the Roman Catholic Church.

To be sure, decades of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration have already transformed Europe in ways unimaginable only a few decades ago. In Britain, for example, Muslims currently are campaigning to turn twelve British cities -- including what they call "Londonistan" -- into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence. More than 80 Sharia courts are already operating in the country. At the same time, Mohammed is now the most common name for baby boys.

In France, large swaths of Muslim neighbourhoods are now considered "no-go" zones by French police. At last count, there are 751 Sensitive Urban Zones (Zones Urbaines Sensibles, ZUS), as they are euphemistically called. An estimated 5 million Muslims live in the ZUS, parts of France over which the French state has lost control.

In Germany, anti-Semitism (which is often disguised as anti-Zionism), has reached levels not seen since the Second World War. An April 2011 report, for example, found that 47.7% of Germans believe "Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians," and nearly 50% of Germans believe "Jews try to take advantage of having been victims of the Nazi era."

In Norway, large sections of Oslo are being turned into Muslim enclaves subject to Sharia law and to the dictates of local imams. The citizens of Oslo are also struggling to cope with an epidemic of rapes. According to recent statistics, 100% of aggravated sexual assaults which resulted in rapes over the past three years were carried out by Muslim immigrants. Norwegians are now trying to deal with the large-scale torching of automobiles, which, as in France, is being attributed to Muslim youth.

In a Wall Street Journal essay titled "Inside the Mind of the Oslo Murderer," Bruce Bawer, an American analyst who lives in Oslo, writes: "Norway, like the rest of Europe, is in serious trouble. Millions of European Muslims live in rigidly patriarchal families in rapidly growing enclaves where women are second-class citizens, and where non-Muslims dare not venture. Surveys show that an unsettling percentage of Muslims in Europe reject Western values, despise the countries they live in, support the execution of homosexuals, and want to replace democracy with Sharia law. (According to a poll conducted by the Telegraph, 40% of British Muslims want Sharia implemented in predominantly Muslim parts of the United Kingdom.)"

Bawer describes Norway as a country that stands out for its refusal to confront any of the real dangers posed by Islamic radicalism. He also says the failure of mainstream political leaders to responsibly address the challenges posed by Muslim immigration has contributed to the emergence of extremists like Breivik. Pressure cookers without a safety valve eventually will explode.

Bawer writes: "In bombing those government buildings and hunting down those campers, Breivik was not taking out people randomly. He considered the Labour Party, Norway's dominant party since World War II, responsible for policies that are leading to the Islamization of Europe -- and thus guilty of treason. The Oslo bombing was intended to be an execution of the party's current leaders. The massacre at the camp -- where young would-be politicians gathered to hear speeches by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland -- was meant to destroy its next generation of leaders."

The question remains: in the aftermath of the attack, will the Norwegian left rethink its non-interventionist approach to Islam and Muslim immigration? In a number of other European countries, governments on the center-right have been doing an about-face on multiculturalism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have all declared in recent months that multiculturalism has failed. In June, the Dutch government announced it would abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands. In Spain, the conservative Popular Party, which is widely expected to win the next general election, has promised to enact new measures that will require all immigrants to learn the Spanish language to obtain residency permits.

Some analysts say these measures are too little too late. But one thing seems clear: European multiculturalists are feeling some unfamiliar political heat. After decades of high-handed stifling of debate, the gradual unravelling of multiculturalism in Europe explains the obsessive zeal with which many are exploiting the Norwegian tragedy.

By falsely accusing conservatives of complicity in a crime in which they had no part, multiculturalists are seeking to delegitimize and silence criticism of their social re-engineering scheme. But they are unlikely to succeed as the consequences of their worldview are becoming clear for all to see.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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, 2011

Reaction to Breivik is troubling too

The impact and legacy of an act of mass violence is directly influenced by the significance and meaning that societies attach to it. Unfortunately, the task of making sense of such a senseless event often becomes complicated by competing groups of moral entrepreneurs who have every incentive to interpret the massacre from the standpoint of their own party line. Sadly, the search for answers often turns into an advocacy free-for-all as people use every violent disruption to life as an argument for vindicating their pre-existing agenda.

That is why, in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, many commentators sought to hijack this tragedy to provide a platform for their message.

Competing views about the tragic loss of lives in Norway are often informed by the speaker's political interpretation of the problems facing European society. Those who regard radical Islam as the problem could often barely conceal disappointment that the perpetrator of this act of terror was not a hardened jihadist terrorist. In turn, advocates of multiculturalism went to great lengths to remind their audience that this was the deed of a blond, white right-wing Christian fundamentalist. In Europe, where one person's fear of home-grown terrorism is dismissed by another as an expression of Islamophobia and where culture contact can be described as multiculturalism or an invasion of foreigners, the interpretation of Anders Behring Breivik's murderous behaviour is often driven by concerns that have little to do with this episode.

Almost immediately, the blame game acquired grotesque proportions. Glenn Beck, a well-known right-wing shock jock, compared the Norwegian teenage victims of the massacre to members of Hitler Youth. On the opposite end of the political divide, bloggers were implying that conservative commentators such as Andrew Bolt, Keith Windschuttle and Melanie Phillips, who were cited with approval in Breivik's 1500-page manifesto, were in some sense responsible for his violent behaviour. It is almost as if for some zealous moral entrepreneurs the massacre provided a wonderful opportunity for settling old scores.

The self-serving politicisation of the search for an explanation of this event can only promote the agenda of the perpetrator of this act of terror, which is to disorient the public.

A tragic act of misfortune always creates a demand for answers. But often individual forms of destructive behaviour possess no wider meaning for society. Whether it is the random killing of students in a school massacre, the depraved acts of the Unabomber or the methodical slaughter of young people camping on a Norwegian island, the search for meaning is unlikely to yield useful results. Society cannot second-guess which individual may participate in an act of human depravity. It is always tempting to point the finger at people and institutions that we despise, but such cheap point-scoring merely distracts attention from the fact we need to gain meaning from drawing on the moral resources of our community and not from pathologising our opponents.

A society that is confident about its values has nothing to fear from the incoherent ramblings of a mass murderer such as Breivik. The best way to respond to his demonisation of European society is by confidently upholding an open-minded, tolerant and democratic set of values and institutions. Unfortunately, all too often the response to Breivik betrays a lack of confidence in such values. So the otherwise exemplary management of this tragedy by the Norwegian government was marred by a censorious concern with insulating the world from being exposed to Breivik and his views. That is why the government decided that, to prevent him from addressing the media, he would appear in a closed court to hear the charges against him.

Of course there is an argument for not providing terrorists with the publicity they crave. But the reaction to Breivik is not simply fuelled by a distaste for those who glorify violence. It is also underpinned by a censorious agenda that seeks to prevent unacceptable views from being heard. This was the attitude signalled by Mark Colvin, presenter of ABC radio's PM, when he boasted that he got through the Norway story without mentioning Breivik's name. The idea that news presenters should be arbiters of what can and cannot be heard is antithetical to the values of a free society.

It is symptomatic of our illiberal era that so much energy has gone into preventing Breivik's manifesto from being accessed by people online. A group of activists led by Anonymous has called on people to destroy Breivik's legacy by republishing sabotaged versions of this text. The aim of this crusade, titled Operation UnManifest, is to create so much confusion that no one will be able to work out which version of the manifesto is the original.

Outwardly, this campaign appears as a harmless bit of fun at the expense of a social outcast. The censoring of Breivik's manifesto is not a loss to European civilisation. But this act of censorship has the paradoxical effect of endowing the content of this manifesto with a mystique and significance it does not possess. It is also motivated by a dangerous illiberal impulse that suggests that because "I loathe this man, you cannot read his statement". But who gave anyone the right to prevent people from reading Breivik's ramblings?

Trusting people to make up their own minds about the content of this manifesto demonstrates that the kind of free society that Breivik seeks to destroy continues to thrive. Perversely, this act of petty censorship undermines precisely the value of tolerance that Breivik himself so despises. Yet it is precisely in a moment such as this that the tolerance of a society is tested.


Birmingham's historic Gun Quarter is renamed... because PC critics say it glorifies crime

It encapsulates a manufacturing heritage stretching back 250 years. During the Napoleonic Wars, almost 1.9million muskets, rifles, carbines and pistols were manufactured for the Government in the district's numerous weapons factories.

But Birmingham's historic Gun Quarter is now to be renamed because of concerns that it could be linked with the firearms crime which blights other parts of the city. Officials said residents no longer wanted to be associated with weapons of war.

Instead the district to the north and west of the city centre will be known as St George and St Chad in recognition of a local church and Birmingham's catholic cathedral.

Yesterday, opponents of the rebranding exercise said the Gun Quarter had been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, while even the Dean of St Chad's Cathedral said the decision sounded 'irrational'.

Tim Huxtable, Birmingham City Council's Tory head of regeneration, said the decision had been taken after a public consultation, although one petition received by the council was signed by just 50 people objecting to Gun Quarter.

He said: 'We listened to the local community, which is the whole point of consultation. The views of local people seem quite clear.'

Sir Albert Bore, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: 'What kind of nonsense is it when we replace the Gun Quarter with St George and St Chad? 'Like it or not, and I am not into the arms trade myself, the Gun Quarter has a historical connection with this city. This is just political correctness.'

The name change was described as a 'terrible shame' by the owner of one of the few surviving gun makers in the district. Simon Clode, managing director of Westley Richards and Co, said: 'This is an important part of Birmingham's history. The area is not well occupied by gun makers now, but it's still the Gun Quarter.'

The Very Reverend Canon Gerry Breen, Dean of St Chad's Cathedral, said the name change was 'almost as irrational as deciding not to call the Black Country the Black Country'.

Reverend Larry Wright, Rector of St George's Church, however, said he was among those who had lobbied the council to change the name. 'We wrote on behalf of our own congregation - many of whom wanted a name change to move away from any suggestion that this area was associated with gun crime,' he said. 'But they could have come up with something snappier (than St George and St Chad).'

A council spokesman insisted the gunsmith area would live on as a separately defined part of the new St George and St Chad quarter.


Wolf-whistling is "intimidation"?

As stereotypes go, it's a classic. And when two young builders wolf-whistled an attractive woman as she passed by they probably imagined they were indulging in a bit of harmless fun.

The woman's husband, however, failed to see the funny side, and following a complaint to their bosses the pair have been suspended.

Council officials in Royston, Hertfordshire, received a furious email from the husband, who has not been named. He accused the builders of harassing his wife, leaving her so uncomfortable that she was refusing to walk past the area again.

The allegation was passed on to the council's contractors Maylim Ltd and the alleged offenders - described locally as Albanians - were taken off the job for several days.

They will now be allowed back after their accuser decided not to take matters further, although they are still facing a `discussion' with bosses today. Maylim yesterday insisted sexist behaviour was `terrible for the company image' and it was taking the allegations seriously.

Managing director Thomas O'Mahony said: `We acted within half-an-hour of being alerted to the complaint. It's company policy to immediately suspend anyone who is made the subject of a complaint by the public.

`We don't tolerate wolf-whistling or any form of sexual harassment. It's unacceptable - we are in the public eye and our image is important.

`The two men are in their mid-20s and they have been invited in for a discussion. They denied the allegations and were frustrated to be off work. Now we know that the complainant doesn't want to take this further the men will be allowed to go back to work.'

The incident was said to have happened last week in Fish Hill Square, where £400,000 is being spent turning the area into a `civic space' with seating and a sculpture.

Locals - both male and female - expressed sympathy for the builders yesterday. Hairdresser Jane Westley said: `I don't think wolf-whistling's too much of an issue. If I got wolf-whistled I think I'd find it a compliment. It's just what builders do.'

Another woman, who asked not to be named, said: `I guess it's their bit of harmless fun while working - to admire girls walking past in the summer.' A 34-year-old man added: `Everyone thinks it's a strange complaint to make. I feel bad for the guys off work.'

Wolf-whistles originated among sailors to draw colleagues' attention to a pretty woman. A number of building firms have now banned them as inappropriate. Workmen who repeatedly make obscene comments to passers-by can also be convicted of a breach of the peace.


When animal activists attack!

Comment from Australia

Sometimes, you wonder who the real animals are, and what kind of condition they keep themselves in.

On the weekend, I dropped my daughter at a friend’s birthday party at Lennon Brothers Circus. Lennon Brothers is one of the few remaining Australian circuses with animals, and a group of protestors had set up shop out the front.

Never in my life have I encountered such an unruly, rude rabble of misfits, thugs and foaming-at-the-mouth ideologues. Not content to peacefully pursue their aims, they actively victimised the poor helpless children attending the circus with some of the most vile slurs imaginable.

In one instance, one of the protestors yelled through the megaphone “keeping lions in cages is like your mummy and daddy keeping you in jail”. Can you imagine how my eight year old daughter felt? Or any of the other kids walking in? How on earth does victimising children legitimise any grown-up cause – worthy or unworthy?

After dropping my daughter, I calmly approached some of the protestors to express my indignation. Part of that conversation involved me identifying myself as a journalist and pointing out that I have previously written pieces supporting animal welfare.

“Liar!” a woman wearing a lion mask screamed. A man with a spotted bow tie was even worse. Pointing at my four year old son under my arm, then pointing at the lion’s enclosure, he screamed “mammal, mammal!” as though to indicate that both my son and the lions deserved the same humane treatment.

I don’t necessarily disagree with his sentiment. But his tone was another thing entirely. It was the wild, manic tone of someone with severe anger management issues. And it was right in the face of my frightened son.

Now, it just so happens that I’m not such a big fan of circuses with animals, for two simple reasons.

Firstly, I believe the most exciting circus acts are always the ones involving people. Indeed, my daughter came home raving about the contortionist but had little to say about the lions.

Secondly, I don’t believe that performing animals send a good message to kids. It suggests that animals are there for our amusement, which I most firmly believe they are not.

That, by the way, is an entirely different issue from the issue of animal cruelty, which is the main issue the protestors were banging on about in their vicious, mean-spirited way.

So are circuses with animals cruel? Not according to fifth generation circus man and lion tamer Warren Lennon. “The lions have exercise yards available to them from 7 am to 9 or 10 o’clock at night,” he told The Punch yesterday.

“The tricks they do are similar to the movements they make in the wild. They jump, they walk along a plank. We don’t make them jump through fire or anything like that, we don’t use whips and although we use sticks, they are used for direction, not to hit the animals.

The Punch contacted Animal Liberation, who organised the protest. They said their immediate goal is to lobby local councils to outlaw animal circuses, while their long term goal is to shift all circus animals to free range zoos. This is what happened with the elephant Arna from Stardust Circus, who trampled and killed a handler.

Animal Liberation believe the animal “snapped”, although there was some suggestion the animal was only trying to nudge its handler awake after he suffered a heart attack, and inadvertently crushed him.

Whatever the truth in the case of Arna the elephant, Warren Lennon believes free range zoos would be a death warrant for circus-raised lions. “These lions they would die in a free range zoo. They were born in the circus and they are used to the companionship of the trainers. I’d like to see these animal libbers save some species from dying over in Africa. Lions are on the endangered species list, you know.”

Lennon believes that Australia leads the world on regulations for animals in circuses and zoos. But Animal Liberation Communications Manager Lynda Stoner doesn’t see it that way. “Animals were never intended to be objects of entertainment,” she says. “At Taronga Zoo in Sydney, there are signs explaining the dysfunctional behaviour of former circus elephants, who spend much of the day swaying back and forth.”

Stoner and her colleague Emma Hurst, who helped organise the protest, were both shocked when I told them of the behaviour of many of the protestors. That’s shocked as in disgusted, not shocked as in surprised, because this was not the first report of shonky misbehaviour that had filtered back to head office.

Hurst suggested that the news of the protest went out via Facebook, and that some of the protestors might have been blow-ins who were not members of Animal Liberation. “I stand by our right to be there and hand out flyers, but Animal Liberation is a completely non-violent organisation, and we do not support any sort of abuse towards people or anything like that,” she said.

That’s good to hear. Most animal rights groups these days are reasonably level-headed. Well, maybe not PETA, but most. But those lunatic protestors out the front of Lennon Brothers circus were anything but level-headed, that’s for sure.

And with their inexcusable behaviour, they completely invalidated their cause.



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, 2011

Norway: No Media Bias?

Gadi Adelman

This was written a few days ago but is still to the point

Anyone who reads or watches the news knows that journalism isn’t what it once was. From the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from MSNBC to Fox they all lean one way or another. All have an agenda and all follow it to the letter.
Although some people say I am a journalist, I am not. I write Op-Eds (Opinion Editorials). I have an agenda. Even though I use only facts when writing, anyone who has read anything of mine knows where I stand. 
Depending who you ask or where you studied journalism, one of the first rules is to keep your bias out of the story. So what happened?
Somewhere during my lifetime it seems that all journalists or to be more specific, reporters, all took sides. The way they state things or in many cases, don’t state them is a pure and blatant attempt to sway the reader.
Case in point, within hours of the tragedy in Norway before the authorities had even finished searching the island of Utoya and the death toll was still rising rapidly, the liberal or left wing media was happy to report  that the only suspect , Anders Behring Breivik was “a right-wing fundamentalist Christian”.
Interesting since I have read reports, from al-Jazeera no less, that he was a Jew hating neo-Nazi and a member of a neo-Nazi online forum, to the supposed fact that he was an Islamophobic, far-right Zionist and lover of Israel according to the Jerusalem Post.
Talk about your “Sybil” complex, if half of what is being reported is true this guy is the poster child of multiple personalities. Or, then again, perhaps he is just nuts?
But to get back to my point, let’s look at the last time a Muslim committed a crime here in the U.S. that actually made the news.
Saleh Ali Alramakh, a 21 year old Saudi caused a flight to be diverted to land in Cleveland. The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, native was accused of causing a major disturbance prior to take off and twice more once in the air as well as assault on a flight attendant on United flight 944 from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, on July 8.
When first reported, there was no mention of Alramakh’s name, his citizenship or the fact that he was a Muslim. This occurred on several news wires long after others were reporting his name, but why?
It seems we see this time and time again when the suspect is a Muslim, for some reason that is conveniently kept out of the story. I could fill a page with examples, but if you are reading this article I am sure you can think of several, so I won’t bother to waste the space or time.
We can go back to 2009 and Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and see this as well. After the news had no choice but to report the shooters name, the reporters were writing articles on what the possible motive could have been.
Reuters reported two days after the attack in an article titled “Motive probed in Fort Hood shooting rampage”, President Obama stated when questioned about possible links to Islamic terror,
“We don't know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.”
Of course not all the news agencies were yet reporting that Hassan had yelled “Allahu Akbar” while gunning down 43 people leaving 14 dead either. I say 14 due to 21-year-old Pvt. Francheska Velez who was pregnant at the time of her murder.
When the story first broke, it didn’t matter that Nidal Hassan was a Muslim. It didn’t matter that he was constantly stating things like,
“Muslims are being persecuted by the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
It didn’t matter that a class mate of his stated he asked him pointedly, “Nidal, do you consider Shari'a law to transcend the Constitution of the United States?” And he said, “Yes.”
"We asked him if homicidal bombers were rewarded for their acts with 72 virgins in heaven and he responded, 'I've done the research — yes.”
It didn’t matter that he handed out business cards with S.O.A. (Soldier Of Allah) printed on it.
No, it didn’t matter. Much like Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, even 2 days after his attempt when he was found and arrested, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. stated that,
“it was too early to designate the failed bombing as an attempted terrorist incident.”
The Washington Post reported after his arrest,
An overseas angle does not necessarily mean that the incident was planned or financed by al-Qaeda or another organized group, investigators said. "Think smaller," said one senior law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Even long after the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing, news outlets were still reporting this attempted terror attack had nothing to do with the fact that Shahzad was a Muslim or had recently been to Pakistan to train with the Taliban.
He was just a poor, down on his luck normal American who was at the end of his rope. The Huffington Post reported it this way,
Not long ago, Faisal Shahzad had a pretty enviable life: He became an American citizen after emigrating from Pakistan, where he came from a wealthy family. He earned an MBA. He had a well-educated wife and two kids and owned a house in a middle-class Connecticut suburb.
In the past couple of years, though, his life seemed to unravel: He left a job at a global marketing firm he'd held for three years, lost his home to foreclosure and moved into an apartment in an impoverished neighborhood in Bridgeport.
Remember the Hutaree Christian Militia? ABC reported it as follows on March 10, 2010,
The anti-government militia allegedly plotted to kill law enforcement officers with improvised explosive devices and projectiles before being foiled by FBI raids that started Sunday in three states that netted nine members of an extremist group, federal authorities said today.
Going after a group like the Hutaree can be dangerous, ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett said.
"This crowd tends to be heavily armed and they are all conspiracy theorists that the government is trying to take over," he said. "And so you have to be very careful and cautious when starting arresting people like this because you can walk right into an ambush."
Unless you really search it out, you probably never saw what was reported by Channel 10 WILX in Lansing Michighan on May 3.
Nine members of a Michigan militia will be released from jail pending trial after a federal judge on Monday harshly criticized the government's claim they had conspired to overthrow the U.S. government.
The decision is a significant defeat for federal authorities, who spoke in tough and triumphant terms after arresting members of a southern Michigan group called the Hutaree in March and charging them with conspiracy to commit sedition and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.
She said the nine defendants in custody can be released until trial under strict conditions, including electronic monitoring. They won't actually be freed until they return to court for paperwork and other processing Tuesday.
So, this “dangerous” Militia group that made the headlines nationwide for days as “Right wing Christian terrorists”. But, when released after the Judge stated, “the rambling, scornful recorded conversations offered as evidence didn't prove the group poses an imminent threat,” this only makes the local news?
I don’t think we can call those that write the mainstream news “journalists” or even “reporters” anymore. I think maybe they should be called “exploiters”.
Don’t get me wrong, it is possible after all that this nut in Norway, Anders Breivik is a right wing fanatic, they do exist. But I can still count on one hand the number of right wing terror attacks since 9/11, whereas to count the terror attacks in the name of Islam or Allah I would need 17,494 fingers.


MSM Thuggees Run Amok Over Breivik

Edward Cline

Call me Gunga Din. Or at least the Gunga Din who stood on the pinnacle of the Temple of Kali in the 1939 movie production of Kipling’s poem, and sounded the alarm of danger for the approaching British-Scottish troops of the Thuggee ambush that lay ahead of them. Or perhaps I should hand the bugle to Adrian Morgan of Family Security Matters, or to Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, or to Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, or to Steven Emerson of IPT, or to Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish, or to Daniel Pipes and Raymond Ibrahim of the Middle East Forum….

In my previous commentary, “The Oslo Factor: Blame Free Speech” I noted half-way through that The Washington Post was leading the way to government regulation or suppression of speech by hammering its nail in the coffin of “Islamophobia,” and added:
There will be a chorus of hammering by the Main Stream Media (MSM), and calls for “responsible” speech. Which is not the same thing as free speech.

“Responsible” speech is not freedom of speech. Enforcement means force, with concomitant penalties, fines, and jail time. Only the government can define and enforce “responsible” speech. One is either free to speak, or one is not. Denmark, Britain, and other countries have already broken ground with overt or covert censorship, and have penalized individuals who have “irresponsibly” spoken out against Islam and against the “Camps of the Muslims” who are immigrating into their countries at government invitation in the names of multiculturalism, indiscriminate tolerance, and moral equivalence.

I noted that:
You see, he [Breivik] was “Islamaphobic.” He was also crazed and insensitive and insulting and perhaps even saw his country being stealthily taken over by the enemy in the guise of Muslims and Marxists. So, anyone who criticizes Islam or Muslim behavior in Western countries – or even in Muslim countries – will be branded by association with Breivik. Well-reasoned arguments, evidence of stealth jihad, connections between multiculturalism, Islamic hubris, and the Islamification of the West, impeccable scholarship, reputations for truth-telling and fact-finding, will be dismissed as “Islamaphobic,” intolerant, bigoted, and hateful.

To my knowledge, my warning was one of the earliest in the current avalanche of commentaries about the unintended consequences of Anders Behring Breivik’s act of terrorism in Norway. Critics of Islam, anti-jihadist and counter-jihadist writers and thinkers are all now the liberal-left’s “fall-guy,” having been the “inspiration” of Anders Behring Breivik to do what he did.

Now we know, courtesy of Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083,” that he was not in essence a “Christian fundamentalist,” but an alienated, nihilist lone wolf who seized upon virtually any anti- or counter-jihadist thought to buttress his psychological disorder and sanction his admitted criminality. Imagine an alleged advocate of capitalism concocting a Brunswick stew of the economics John Law, John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith, and Frédéric Bastiat and calling it “capitalism,” and then car-bombing the General Motors tower in Detroit.

Sultan Knish has produced a brilliant and revealing analysis of what Breivik is and is not.

But, like The Washington Post, The New York Times has also fashioned its own Thuggee ambush. It began on July 25th with an innocuous unsigned but very subtly-worded article reporting the arrest of Breivik and his background.

Toward the end of high school, he joined the youth wing of the Progress Party, drawn to its anti-immigrant platform and market capitalist bent. But those who knew him from those days said that he failed to leave much of a mark.

And at the end of high school, was Breivik already being “enabled” by Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and the English Defense League? Assuming he graduated from high school in 1995 or 1996, did Spencer’s Jihad Watch, Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, and the EDL even exist? Or the Gates of Vienna? Or any other “right-wing,” anti-Islamic or counter-jihadist blog? As he grew older, Breivik may have matured physically, but not mentally.
With the 1,500-page manifesto, which he said took three years to complete, Mr. Breivik endeavored to find common cause with xenophobic right-wing groups around the world, particularly in the United States. He quoted extensively from the anti-Islam writings of American bloggers, and cut and pasted a whole section of the manifesto written by Theodore J. Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, into his own, replacing “leftism” with “multiculturalism” as the object of aspersion.

Yes, “leftism” and “multiculturalism” are deserving of aspersions, considering the demonstrable and incalculable destruction they have caused. But that is no reason to suggest, as the Times article implies, that Breivik’s evaluation of those phenomena is evidence of a pandemic of unsound minds that ought to be shunned or put into the straightjacket of “responsible” speech.

That article was preceded on July 24th by the first overt attack on anti-Islamic and anti-jihadist writers, “Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.,” by Scott Shane. It would be up to lawyers and the courts to determine whether or not the article is slanderous in nature. What the article is not, however, is a news article. Its sneering tone and borderline allegations disqualify it from being treated as a sterling instance of objective reporting. Key suggestive or slanderous terms are highlighted in this sampling of Shane’s style of insisting on guilt by association:
In the document he posted online, [Breivik], who is accused of bombing government buildings and killing scores of young people at a Labor Party camp, showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam.

“Acrimonious”? Say, rather, a principled opposition that documented the violence and stealth jihad of Islamic activists? If any acrimony was present in that opposition, it was reserved for policymakers who have allowed Islam to advance unopposed to eradicate Western civilization.

More broadly, the mass killings in Norway, with their echo of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an antigovernment militant, have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts.

So, to belong to a handful of outspoken individuals who have done their best to warn Americans of the very real peril of Islamic supremacism and the inroads it has made in this country (not to mention Iran’s inching closer to acquiring nuclear weapons with which to vaporize Israel and the West) presumably is to belong to a “subculture” of loons and hash-smoking drop-outs who regularly consult Ouija boards for their wisdom. Note that Mr. Shane does not even honor us with the term “counter-culture.” We are members of a “subculture,” untouchables or pariahs from whom to keep children away lest we infect them with a disease.

And there is nothing wrong with being “anti-government” when your government is thoroughly reaming you and your country with astronomical debt and the expansion of federal power over your diet, lighting fixtures, and speech. But the insinuation here is that to be “anti-government” is to be a bomb-throwing anarchist whose first and sole style of argument is violence, assassination, and machine-gunning a camp full of defenseless teenagers and young adults.
The revelations about Mr. Breivik’s American influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting Mr. Spencer and other self-described “counterjihad” activists on the defensive, as their critics suggested that their portrayal of Islam as a threat to the West indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway.

“Self-described”? Mr. Shane should check Mr. Spencer’s credentials. What Mr. Spencer and his fellow counter-jihad activists know about Islam would fill a Pentagon warehouse. What Mr. Shane knows about Islam would fill a thimble. Would he accuse Barack Obama of being a “self-described president”? Or Harry Reid of being a “self-described” senator?

Mr. Spencer wrote on his Web site jihadwatch.org, that “the blame game” had begun, “as if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.” He did not mention Mr. Breivik’s voluminous quotations from his writings.

“Voluminous quotations”? That should be more a credit to Mr. Spencer’s persuasive writing than an insinuated indictment of his alleged culpability Breivik’s crime.
Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

“Emerge”? Here it is suggested that the literature of anti-jihadist writing is a polluted “infrastructure” from which the Creature from the Black Lagoon emerges to cause havoc and death.
Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.” “If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists,” she wrote.

Atlas Shrugs is just “another blog” whose owner is supposedly just as suspect and culpable as Robert Spencer, because Breivik often visited the site and posted comments on it. To be cited by a psychotic killer is presumably prima facie evidence of one’s own psychosis.

Finally, Roger Cohen’s New York Times editorial, “Breivik and His Enablers” of July 25th takes off the gloves. It is such a scurrilous and venomous screed that it bears a full reading. However, here are some highlights:
No doubt, that is how Islamophobic right-wingers in Europe and the United States who share his views but not his methods will seek to portray Breivik.

Translation: Don’t pay attention to anything these people say. They deny responsibility and are in denial. Anyone who criticizes Islam or Muslims is a bigoted, paranoid fruitcake, just like Breivik.
We’ve seen the movie. When Jared Loughner shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords this year in Tucson, Arizona — after Sarah Palin placed rifle sights over Giffords’ constituency and Giffords herself predicted that “there are consequences to that” — the right went into overdrive to portray Loughner as a schizophrenic loner whose crazed universe owed nothing to those fanning hatred under the slogan of “Take America Back.” (That non-specific taking-back would of course be from Muslims and the likes of the liberal and Jewish Giffords.)

No, Mr. Cohen, what we have seen before is the MSM in action to discredit legitimate and articulate opposition to Obama’s domestic policies, and also and also anyone who opposes Islamic jihad. If any organization was in overdrive then, it was the MSM. As it is now.
Breivik is no loner. His violence was brewed in a specific European environment that shares characteristics with the specific American environment of Loughner: relative economic decline, a jobless recovery, middle-class anxiety and high levels of immigration serving as the backdrop for racist Islamophobia and use of the spurious specter of a “Muslim takeover” as a wedge political issue to channel frustrations rightward.

Yes, Mr. Cohen, Breivik was a loner. And his violence was not “brewed” by any external causes, but in his own mind. And, “Islamophobia” is neither racist nor unhealthy; if one objects to Islamic beheadings, stonings, rapes, murders, car bombs, suicide bombers, and terrorism – all repeatedly committed by Muslims who have their own brand of racism – Islamophobia is a life-saving mindset. And “Muslim takeovers” of Western cities – say, of Luton, of Bradford, of Malmo, of Dearborn, even of Oslo, where a day before the Oslo bombing, a Norwegian woman was raped in broad daylight on the steps of the Norwegian parliament by a Somali immigrant – are hardly “spurious.” Or perhaps Mr. Cohen would consider moving Tower Hamlets in London, which is more or less a successful Muslim secession from London and the U.K.

Further into his editorial, Cohen manages to implicate Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, and without naming her, Angela Merkel of Germany, who stated that Muslim integration into Western societies, is a dismal and dangerous failure. In short, Cohen’s editorial is instructive only in the sense that one can see just how vile, nihilist, and hateful the left can be.

Finally, the employment of the term anti-Muslim is a package-deal, one that includes by implication any thoughtful and considered opposition to Islamic ideology. One can be faultlessly “anti-Muslim” if one knows, among other things, that Muslims regularly bow East in homage to a gussied-up meteorite, treat women as chattel, revere a murderous brigand and pedophile, and more or less surrender their minds and souls to the authority of grotty-looking imams and mullahs. In practice, the Islamic creed, whatever its sect, is so grotesque that one has difficulty satirizing it.

But the usage of the term “anti-Muslim” is wrong. Spencer, Emerson, Geller, Horowitz and other regular writers on Islam, are not “anti-Muslim,” but anti-totalitarian. Islamists themselves admit that Islam is totalitarian, and not just a Wontonka-worshipping creed.

Now, for the longest time, I had never understood what a right-winger was. Aside from the caricature of a right-winger as a gun-toting, Bible-quoting, goose-stepping, Storm-Trooperish goon wielding a night-stick, the term, I eventually realized, is an emotive one that connotes the absolute power of fascism. But fascism is simply socialism with a gun, or King Kong astride the Empire State Building beating the breast of collectivism and national “unity.”

It is Nazism, or corporatist socialism, with all businesses, industries, and all citizens working for the greater glory of the collective and taking orders from on high. It is Mussolini, and Tojo, and Nasser, and Saddam Hussein, and the Perons. Fascism can be embroidered in many different cultural and ethnic colors, but they all boil down to the surrender and sacrifice of the individual to the state or the race or the collective.

And in the context of today’s peril, aside from fascist tendencies in this country, it is the Islamic Ummah, or Muslim “community,” which will not find “peace” until it embraces the whole globe, when believers and unbelievers alike are in thrall to it. In essence, a “right-winger” is not a champion of individual rights, private property, freedom of speech and other liberties. There are secular “right-wingers” and religious ones and they are all enemies of freedom. The term is a misleading misnomer, measured on a scale whose origin dates back to Revolutionary France and the Reign of Terror. But on its own terms, a “right-winger” is simply a “left-winger” in disguise, seeking the same repressive, totalitarian ends.

So, the standard spectrum of political ideology has for decades been established and perpetuated by an invalid premise. The whole yardstick is leftist. Please, people, stop being fooled by it. Reality beckons. “Right-wingers” are simply “Left-wingers” in drag.

Conservative writers, such as Ron Radosh and David Horowitz, perpetuate the fallacy by defending “conservatives” against charges of nascent “right-wing” terrorism.

Perhaps more importantly than diverting attention away from the legitimate concern with Islamic jihad and the stealthy introduction and imposition of Sharia law in Western nations, is the blank check the MSM is handing our government to monitor and perhaps repress legitimate criticism of Islam. Many of these “Islamaphobic” websites are sponsored, edited and written for by Christians. Because Breivik was initially alleged to be a “fundamentalist Christian,” ergo, goes the illogic, all Christian and other critics of Islam are potential mass murderers and must be reined in. And if not actual mass murderers, then they are ideological “enablers” of them who must be taught to be “responsible.”

If censorship comes to this country, it will be by the invitation of the MSM and the left-liberal political and intellectual establishment. Then we shall see the true “right-wingers” at work.

In the meantime, I shall continue blowing my bugle, and be thankful that I number among the “blackfaced crew” of “bhistis” who carry the water of reason. We oppose the Thuggees of Islam and their enablers on the Marxist-liberal-left, who carry the strangling cloths of multiculturalism and the burial picks of political correctness.

And, should someone object to my use of the term “Thuggee,” I recommend going here for the etymology and history of the term. He will see that not only would Breivik have fit into the mindless fanaticism of the cult of Kali – he was willing, after all, to ally himself with Islamic “extremists” and inaugurate a reign of violence – but that the Hindu cult had Islamic origins.

What a coincidence!

Or not.


American-born Muslim attempts to attack army base

An AWOL Muslim soldier who refused to be deployed to Afghanistan because of his religious beliefs admitted to an alleged "terror plot" to attack Ft Hood, Texas, the US Army said in a memo overnight.

Pfc. Nasser Jason Abdo was arrested Wednesday afternoon by the Killeen Police Department near the Texas base, which was the site of a November 2009 massacre, allegedly committed by another Muslim serviceman.

The alert, obtained by FOX News Channel and sent to all Army units, said the 21-year-old suspect was found with a large quantity of ammunition, weapons and a bomb inside a backpack, adding that he admitted to planning the attack during police interviews.

Chief Dennis Baldwin of the Killeen Police Department confirmed that, based on statements Abdo made during questioning, "military personnel were a target of this suspect" and said he would characterise the absentee soldier's plans as a "terror plot."

Abdo was being held by the Killeen Police Department pending federal charges, Mr Baldwin said, describing him as "a very dangerous individual" and adding that, "as far as we know, he acted alone."

Abdo, a Texas native, entered the service in March 2009 but applied for conscientious objector status in June 2010, on the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan, citing his religious beliefs as a Muslim. Just days after his application was approved, Abdo was hit with 34 counts of possession of child pornography and his military discharge was put on hold.

Abdo adamantly denied that he put child porn on his government computer and claimed the charges were the military's way of retaliating against him. He told WSMV-TV last month, "I think that all sounds pretty fishy."

The soldier then went AWOL on July 4.


Murderous Muslims again

You dare not disagree with them about religion

An Indonesian court has sent a "chilling message" by giving Muslim extremists light sentences for a vicious mob attack in which three sect members died, rights activists say. Twelve people stood trial but none faced murder charges in what human rights campaigners say is a travesty of justice in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The sentences range between three and six months' jail - less than prosecutors had sought and well below the maximum penalty of 12 years.

Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old who repeatedly smashed a victim's skull with a stone, was sentenced on Thursday to three months in jail for manslaughter. Idris bin Mahdani, who led the 1500-strong mob in the February attack, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and received five months and 15 days in jail.

Most of the convicted men are likely to walk free within weeks, observers said. "The Cikeusik trial sends the chilling message that attacks on minorities like the Ahmadiyah will be treated lightly by the legal system," Human Rights Watch deputy chief for Asia Phil Robertson said. "This is a sad day for justice in Indonesia."

In rare criticism of its Southeast Asian ally, the United States said it was "disappointed by the disproportionately light sentences", which came within days of a visit to Indonesia by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The United States encourages Indonesia to defend its tradition of tolerance for all religions, a tradition praised by President [Barack] Obama in his November 2010 visit to Jakarta," a US embassy statement said.

The Obama administration resumed military ties with Indonesia's notorious special forces unit last year, citing improvements in the human rights situation in the country.

The European Union delegation in Jakarta expressed "strong concerns" over the light sentences.

The violence against the Ahmadiyah sect members in Cikeusik, western Java, was one of the most horrific in a long line of attacks on the minority group in Indonesia in recent years. Ahmadiyah, unlike mainstream Muslims, do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet and are regarded as heretics and blasphemers by conservatives in countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan.

A secretly filmed video of the Cikeusik rampage sparked international concern when it appeared online within days of the attack. The reaction in Indonesia, however, was muted. The footage shows police fleeing the scene as the enraged mob - armed with machetes and knives and shouting abuse at the "infidels" - launched an unprovoked attack on a house owned by an Ahmadiyah follower.

A handful of Ahmadiyah men tried to defend the property with stones and slingshots but they were quickly overwhelmed. Then the killing began. The mob clubbed and stoned their defenceless victims to death in front of police, then stood around and joked over their shattered bodies. Several Ahmadiyah tried to flee but were hunted down and badly beaten.

Robertson said the appalling "savagery" demanded a strong response from a country which has ratified international covenants on freedom of religion and claims to have a pluralistic religious tradition. "But instead of charging the defendants with murder and other serious crimes, prosecutors came up with an almost laughable list of 'slap-on-the wrist' charges," he said.

Prosecutors managed to convince the court that the video justified a reduced sentence for the killers.

Meanwhile Ahmadiyah member Deden Sujana is facing up to four years in jail on charges of incitement, disobeying police orders and maltreatment because he ignored police orders to evacuate the house.

Ahmadiyah spokesman Zafrullah Ahmad Pontoh was cautious in his response to the sentences. "Let the legal power handle the case. It's only a worldly punishment," he said. "We'll forgive those who ask us for forgiveness, but so far we haven't heard them asking us for forgiveness."

The graphic footage, which is available on the video-sharing website YouTube, was filmed by an Ahmadiyah follower who mingled with the attackers and watched his friends being murdered. The man is now in hiding under police protection, fearing for his life.



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, 2011

'No porn or prostitution': Islamic extremists set up Sharia law controlled zones in British cities

Islamic extremists have launched a poster campaign across the UK proclaiming areas where Sharia law enforcement zones have been set up. Communities have been bombarded with the posters, which read: ‘You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced.’

The bright yellow messages daubed on bus stops and street lamps have already been seen across certain boroughs in London and order that in the ‘zone’ there should be ‘no gambling’, ‘no music or concerts’, ‘no porn or prostitution’, ‘no drugs or smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’.

In the past week, dozens of streets in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham have been targeted, raising fears that local residents may be intimidated or threatened for flouting ‘Islamic rules’.

Choudary, who runs the banned militant group Islam4UK, warned: ‘We now have hundreds if not thousands of people up and down the country willing to go out and patrol the streets for us and a print run of between 10,000 and 50,000 stickers ready for distribution.

‘There are 25 areas around the country which the Government has earmarked as areas where violent extremism is a problem. ‘We are going to go to all these same areas and implement our own Sharia-controlled zones. ‘This is the best way for dealing with drunkenness and loutishness, prostitution and the sort of thug life attitude you get in British cities.’

The former lawyer added: ‘This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes – the fruits if you like of Western civilisation. ‘We want to run the area as a Sharia-controlled zone and really to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term.’

Scotland Yard is now working with local councils to remove the posters and identify those responsible for putting them up.

Choudary said he was organising a protest against the Far Right in Waltham Forest this weekend following last Friday’s killing spree in Norway by anti-Islamic gunman Anders Breivik. He said: ‘We are going to put the events in Oslo on the agenda. We are going to be marching and addressing this issue. It is a whole new scenario now. The Muslim community needs to be vigilant. There is an undercurrent against Islam. ‘I do believe a Norway-style attack could happen here.’

The campaign comes just months after stickers proclaiming a ‘gay-free zone’ and appearing to reference the religious Islamic text of the Koran appeared in Tower Hamlets.

Women in parts of East London including Tower Hamlets have been threatened with violence and even death by Islamic extremists if they did not wear headscarves.

James Brandon, of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, which has dubbed the intimidation the work of ‘Talibanesque thugs’, said: ‘This is a small group which is not representative of these communities. ‘It’s great news that the police have decided to investigate this. This has the potential to divide communities and upset people.’

Yesterday the leader of Waltham Forest Council, Chris Robbins, said: ‘As soon as we heard about these posters we worked over the weekend to take them all down. ‘Since then we have been going through our CCTV images and working with the police to try to identify the culprits. Our policy is to use the full extent of our powers to prosecute any offenders.

‘People should not get the wrong idea about our borough because a handful of small-minded idiots, who do not live here, decide to deface our streets with ridiculous posters.’


How six staff warned in vain about the behaviour of British paedophile who raped toddler

Six workers at a nursery raised concerns about the behaviour of a colleague who went on to rape a toddler, but bosses let him stay in his job.

A judge expressed astonishment yesterday that nursery assistant Paul Wilson was not fired but given a written warning that allowed him to continue working. Mrs Justice Macur said: ‘It is a matter of some incredulity, when reading the reports and complaints that were lodged on your file, that you continued to be employed by that nursery.’

Wilson, who used a mobile phone to film two shocking attacks on the infant, was ordered to serve at least 15 years before he can be considered for parole.

Mrs Macur said the 21-year-old, who worked at the Little Stars Nursery in Nechells, Birmingham, had caused unknown harm to the toddler and more than 20 young girls who he abused online.

Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Mrs Justice Macur told Wilson that any right-thinking person would regard his crimes as wicked.

Wilson, of Newbold Croft, Nechells, pleaded guilty in June to two charges of rape, 16 counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, 25 of making indecent images, and three of distributing images of children.

The counts of rape related to attacks on a toddler committed in a toilet block and a classroom at the Little Stars nursery last year, while the majority of the other offences were committed against girls aged between 12 and 16.

Shockingly, Wilson was training to be a primary school teacher at the time of his arrest.

Condemning Wilson as a predatory paedophile, Mrs Justice Macur told him that the offences had been 'sophisticated and persistent' in their manner. Some of the sexual acts which he had incited children to commit via webcams would be viewed in hindsight by the victims with horror, the judge said. 'You have humiliated and corrupted and defiled,' she told Wilson. 'You are highly deviant, highly manipulative. You are intelligent and the more dangerous for being so.'


The Green/Left push for media censorship in Australia

By James Allan, Garrick professor of law at the University of Queensland.

LATELY the Gillard government has been clothing itself in GetUp! attire, but last week it flirted with adding some ShutUp accessories.

The problems started when the political agenda of this government started to sound remarkably like the agenda of the far left special interest group GetUp!

It's a world view that allows you to believe democracy is a sufficiently malleable principle that you can barefacedly lie to the voters and not pay a big price. (How many billboards have you seen GetUp!, that self-styled protector of democratic values, pay for condemning Julia Gillard for lying to the voters? That would be zero, right?)

I suspect I'm not revealing any state secret when I say the political policy positions of GetUp! -- reeking of po-faced pieties and "We are the World" platitudes -- are distinctly minority ones. If this becomes your core support group as a government then you are in big, big trouble. Which is when Gillard moved from GetUp! to ShutUp. Apparently the thinking is that we have too much free speech here in Australia. Maybe we ought to pick up on the great democrat Bob Brown's musings and go back a few centuries so we can regulate what the press says.

You really can't be against ensuring that only proper, acceptable views get disseminated, can you? I mean, it works in Cuba and Iran and Venezuela, doesn't it? Or if you decide to display your independence from Brown, to show voters who really is boss, you may just opt to bring in new privacy laws that allow new ways to sue other people.

But putting all the siren song supporters of privacy laws to one side (and we can all await with eager anticipation the next GetUp! billboard in support of this latest thought-bubble policy creation), here is what is at stake.

Any new privacy law regime will make inroads on what people can say. It will take some speech off the table.

There is an inevitable trade-off between free speech concerns and privacy concerns. If you shift the goalposts in favour of more privacy, then by definition you place more limits on free speech.

And I think that's a terrible idea. First off, our laws are already easily sufficient to handle phone hacking situations of the sort engulfing Britain at present. So that's a red herring, plain and simple.

Second, more aggressive privacy laws work not simply by allowing people actually to sue. They work also by creating an atmosphere where people censor themselves because they are afraid of being sued, precisely in the same way that our terrible hate speech laws at present over-reach.

Just look at France, which has strong privacy laws. You had an atmosphere there, no doubt also culturally influenced, where the past exploits of Dominique Strauss-Kahn came as a surprise to most people, save reporters. Do you think those exploits, and I explicitly assume that the New York City charges against him will collapse, but do you think his behaviour might influence whether some people voted for him?

Tony Abbott should have no part in this ShutUp agenda. In any contest between free speech and privacy I think long-term best consequences favour the former much more often. Certainly our present status quo needs no rebalancing in favour of more speech restrictions, and that's true even if it's sold under the banner of some human right to privacy, with a few perfunctory references to international treaties.

Amazingly, however, our present GetUp!/Gillard government seems to think a new ShutUp agenda may help it out with the voters. You have to wonder what planet it inhabits.

We can all only watch this train wreck of incompetence with incredulity. From GetUp to ShutUp, the whole thing has been one giant F . . kUp.


Norway: it’s not ‘naive’ to defend liberty

After Friday’s murderous attacks Norwegians are right to resist increased surveillance that will compromise citizens’ freedoms.

Before all the gruesome details of Friday’s harrowing attacks in Norway had emerged, speculation was rife as to who was responsible and how Norway should respond. In international television studios and opinion pages, several commentators remarked on Norway’s ‘lack of preparedness’ and false sense of safety. There was outright condemnation of Norway’s ‘absurdly slack security’ and hints that this is a wake-up call for a country that has long imagined itself to be one of the safest places on Earth. Surely, some suggested, Norwegians can’t be so naive as to believe that openness is an appropriate value in this era of global terror?

The proper response to this kind of chastisement came from Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was asked at a press conference hours after the attack whether the events would make Norway a less open society. He said: ‘Our answer must be more democracy, more openness, to show that we will not be cowed by this kind of violence.’

Norway and its Scandinavian neighbours are indeed known for their ‘slack security’ and for cherishing openness. Here, politicians still move about relatively freely and among Scandinavians there is still a measure of resistance against efforts to roll out surveillance regimes. For instance, being under the constant, watchful gaze of CCTV cameras, as Brits are, is an alien concept.

It is precisely this sense of security that terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing racist who carried out Friday’s attacks, want to shatter. The aim of terrorism is not just to kill and maim, but also to instill a sense of insecurity and paranoia across society. Instead of giving in to this, the proper response should be a show of resilience, to demonstrate that the democratic values that terrorists - whether of Muslim or Christian persuasion - attack are not so easily done away with.

Unfortunately, in the past decade politicians and lawmakers in Western societies have perpetuated a politics of fear, rather than resilience, in response to terrorist attacks. In the UK and elsewhere, there has been a rollout of heavy-handed security regimes, with increased surveillance, clampdowns on free speech, the extension of police powers to issue stop-and-search orders, and so on - all in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’. As fundamental liberties are trampled on in the name of preventing attacks, our leaders are in fact doing the terrorists’ dirty work for them.

As for Friday’s attacks, the full picture is yet to emerge as to what Anders Behring Breivik’s motives were, whether he acted alone or with the assistance of a wider network, and what precisely he imagined his heinous act would achieve. In statements to his lawyer, he said that he wanted to hurt the ruling Labour Party and its recruitment as much as possible, which is, presumably, why he chose as his targets the government quarters in Oslo and an idyllic, isolated island where the next generation of Social Democrats gather every year for a summer camp.

But this was no precisely-targeted attack. Instead, for Behring Breivik, this was a warning to Norway as a whole. He has said that he wanted to change the political climate in Norway through violence. In other words, he wants to re-shape Norwegian society to fit with his unhinged world outlook, as described in a 1,500-page document that he penned and titled ‘2083 - A European Declaration of Independence’. In this diary-like pamphlet, compiled over nine years, Behring Breivik attacks everyone from Muslims to proponents of multiculturalism and members of the ‘cultural Marxist elite’.

Too often over the past decade, terrorists have indeed been allowed to re-shape society through violence. Not because they have won large swathes of people over to their misanthropic causes but because political rulers have used the spectre of terrorism to justify clampdowns on some fundamental freedoms, infusing Western societies with a climate of illiberalism. Now, instead of chastising Norway for being ‘naive’ for holding on for so long to democratic values, it should be encouraged not to give them up.

Scandinavia is, of course, not immune to illiberal impulses. For instance, since Sweden experienced its first suicide bombing at the end of last year, it has seen an extension of the state’s surveillance powers and some vocal lobbying for clamping down on freedom of expression and association as a way to prevent terrorism.

At the time, some Swedish politicians took the opportunity to defend the fiercely debated ‘FRA law’, which gives the Swedish intelligence bureau the right to snoop on every single email, telephone call, facsimile and SMS message crossing Sweden’s borders. Others said that the Stockholm attack justified the terror-prevention law that was introduced in December 2010. This law criminalises public incitement, recruitment and education ‘for the purpose of terrorism and other serious crimes’. It is designed to meet the requirements of the European Council’s convention on the prevention of terrorism. As similar laws in Britain have shown, these measures tend to blur the boundaries between speech and action, between thought and deed, as anything from championing Hamas to speaking ill of the West or criticising multiculturalism can be categorised as speech that ‘incites terrorism’.

Not only can such laws have severe long-term consequences for citizens’ liberties, while doing little practical to stop terrorism, but they also help instill a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude that is paralysing and encourages a deep sense of distrust and paranoia.

Norway’s security services may have misjudged the threat from right-wingers, as has been claimed, but it is impossible to predict fully the erratic behaviour of deeply disturbed individuals. It is also undesirable to organise society according to the presumption that a terrorist attack may always be about to happen.

Those now lecturing Norway on being too open, too free and too lax would do well to listen to some of the voices coming from within Norway itself. Rather than rallying for knee-jerk draconian measures, in the past couple of days many Norwegians have spoken up for liberty, stating that more intervention into the private lives of citizens is not a price worth paying. As one commentator put it, ‘We will not have a Norway with new restrictions on movement, more uniforms and therefore also more interventions in the lives of those of us who do not want to comprehend the language of terror. Then the terrorists would win.’

Let’s hope that Norway’s leaders stay true to their promise of retaliating Friday’s attacks ‘with more democracy’ - and that other leaders pay heed to it, too.



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, 2011

Iran: ‘We Have No Option but to Destroy Israel’

In reaction to the recent assassination of Iranian scientist Dariush Rezaiinejad, chief commander of the Basij Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi stated:
The main plot for this criminal act was conceived by the American government, and since it is scared of the reaction by the Muslim world due to the uprisings in the region, it had the Zionist regime commit the heinous act....

In order to protect the security of our country, we have no option but to have the Zionist regime wiped off the map.

Naghdi, who was born in Iraq, was a member of the Iranian Quds Force involved in international terrorism before he was appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei to the post of commander of the Basij in 2009. He has previously threatened to assassinate American generals in retaliation for the killings of the Iranian nuclear scientists.

Last Saturday, the Iranian scientist was gunned down outside his home in Tehran by assailants on a motorcycle. Since then, the state-owned Iranian media has sent out conflicting reports: first, that the scientist was a physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear program; later, that he was just a student studying for a master’s degree in electricity.

Iran’s Fars News Agency, operated by the Revolutionary Guards, claimed that the scientist was one of the researchers working on electric detonators which can be used on missiles or nuclear bombs. They stated that it was because of this activity that he was assassinated by the enemy.

The reaction by Iranian officials indicates that the slain scientist was an integral and important part of the Iranian nuclear bomb program. Said Tehran Governor General Morteza Tamadon to reporters during Dariush Rezaiinejad’s funeral procession in Tehran:
Undoubtedly, this was an American-Israeli project against our intellectuals and thinkers, with the aim of discouraging the Iranian nation from continuing the path it has taken.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said the assassination was planned by the U.S. and Israel:
The days of adventurous U.S. policies in the region are numbered, so the U.S. has turned to terrorist groups to cover up its failures.

MP Kazem Jalali of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee also alleged that the assassination was a terrorist operation:
The Zionist regime and the U.S. are behind these terrorist actions. … The Zionist regime and the U.S. are the axis of terrorism in the world.

Radicals ruling Iran are determined to make the bomb, and reports from Iran indicate that Iranian officials are now considering a measure to move all of their nuclear scientists, along with their immediate families, to a secure site such as the Parchin military complex.


Britain looks likely to adopt a version of a "workfare" program set up some years ago in Australia by a conserrvative administration

THE MINISTER charged with tackling Britain's welfare dependency crisis has drawn on Australia for inspiration by copying policies introduced by the Howard government and continued under Labor.

The former British Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, now secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the the Cameron government, said he was openly plagiarising Howard government polices which sought to lure people off welfare rather than further entrench dependence.

The policy approach, once controversial in Australia, is now accepted and pursued by both major political parties whereas it is stirring controversy now in Britain.

Mr Duncan Smith will copy the 1998 Jobs Network initiative which involved outsourcing job placement services away from the now-defunct Commonwealth Employment Service and paying private providers.

"As a country, Britain has taken too long to understand the basic message that we shouldn't be so concerned with who delivers support or how they do it, but whether what they do works," he said.

Mr Duncan Smith is proposing a harsher version of welfare-to-work reforms that have been implemented by the Coalition and Labor and which involve incentives for moving into work and penalties for refusing to do so.

At the heart of his reform agenda is his Universal Credit scheme, which involves rolling Britain's seven unemployment benefits into a single benefit.

The rate at which the benefit will be withdrawn when a person does some work will be lessened to increase the incentive to work. But the penalties for refusing work will be harsher.

The first refusal will involve a three-month suspension of benefits, a nine-month suspension for the second breach and three years for the third.

He said he was not necessarily advocating Australia matches his scheme, but said conservatives around the world "need to capture the idea of poverty rather than leaving it to the left".

"They are conservative reforms to improve the quality of life of people rather than just an issue about money.

"For too long Conservatives had left this area to the left, only occasionally making forays to attack spending on welfare and everything was viewed through the lens of saving money or catching scroungers," he said

Both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are advocates of welfare-to-work measures. This year's federal budget contained measures to break the cycle of dependency, end long-term unemployment and ease the blowout in the disability support pension.

Mr Duncan Smith was being hosted by the conservative think-tank, the Menzies Research Centre.

Also in Australia yesterday was the former British Labour prime minister, Tony Blair. He and Ms Gillard met in Melbourne. At a press conference, Mr Blair declined to comment on domestic policy matters but did agree pricing carbon was the best way to reduce emissions.


Is Islam Misrepresented?

Decades ago Marshall McLuhan observed, “The medium is the message.” As the print and electronic media penetrate more and more every aspect of life, their influence increases greatly in shaping views and behavior of the public. The power of the media is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it can serve to expose injustices, wrongdoings, and flaws. On the other, it is able to propagate misinformation and outright disinformation.

Manipulation and control of the media is of critical importance to the rule of totalitarian states. Free societies, although less subject to laundered information, are still at considerable risk of being selectively informed or misinformed outright. The public can be deceived more easily by the overlords of the media when political correctness is used as subterfuge for promotion of certain ideas.

A case in point is the media’s portrayal of Islam, articulated by politicians and pundits—the talking heads on television and radio, as well as the analysts who write for newspapers and magazines in the West. Time and again we hear and read that Islam is a religion of peace, in spite of the fact that Islam has been a religion of violence from its inception to the present. This mantra, “Islam is a religion of peace” is repeated so often that it has become an indisputable statement of fact in the minds of many.

While radical Muslims kill, behead and rape, the MSM remains silent and repeats the same mantra of Islam’s peacefulness in the name of multiculturalism. They insist that the civilized world accept Islamic culture, under the rubric of multiculturalism. Muslims and their frequently well-paid apologists use the multiculturalism umbrella only in non-Islamic lands to shield themselves from the torrent of legitimate criticisms that those who know Islam better shower on this cult of violence peddled as the religion of peace.

Don’t listen to me and don’t listen to these conniving dissimulators. Find out for yourself. See if the euphemism of multiculturalism is ever printed in the Islamic press, or ever appears in any form anywhere in Muslim countries. This multiculturalism gambit is Islam manufactured to pull the wool over the eyes of non-Muslims while Muslims carry on with their unrelenting campaign of eradicating anything or anyone non-Islamic everywhere in the world.

Those of us, through reason and tremendous act of will, who have freed ourselves from the enslaving yoke of Islam placed around our necks from birth, know about all the heinous inside dirt of this plague of humanity. We have experienced Islam first-hand and up close from the inside. We have studied the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sunna. We have seen Islam in action where it holds sway. Some of us even tried desperately to cling to this security blanket that was wrapped around us from birth. Yet, the more we studied and the more we experienced Islam, the more our efforts to remain in the fold became untenable.

We broke away from Islamic slavery and found it to be our solemn duty to expose this fraud of a religion, help other Muslims to free themselves from it, and warn the good-hearted and gullible non-Muslims against falling prey to it.

Recall former President George W. Bush on several occasions repeated the mantra and attributed the horrific violence committed under the banner of Islam to a small band of extremists? The former President’s assertion was either based on ignorance of the facts about Islam or his attempt at political correctness. Perhaps the President’s reticence to speak on the true nature of Islam was due to his desire to avoid inflaming the already charged feelings of many about Islam. In any event, truth is sacrificed and the public continues to cling to the false notion that Islam is a peaceful religion. People who dare to disclose the true nature of Islam run the risk of being castigated as a bigot or a hatemonger.

Even a cursory examination of Islam’s history and Islamic texts conclusively proves the exact opposite of peacefulness. Islam was, and continues to be, a movement of unbridled violence.

The Arabs who sallied out of the Arabian deserts did not fan out to the outside world with the Quran in one hand and flowers in the other, preaching love and peace from street corner to street corner, thereby capturing the hearts and minds of the people. Islam was forced upon every people at the point of the sword and the imposition of backbreaking jazyyeh (special taxes) levied on those who were spared death and allowed to retain their religious beliefs. In spite of paying heavy Jazyyeh, the non-Muslims were treated, at best, as second-class citizens in their own homelands.

The abominable persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic countries is a standard operating procedure. In many Islamic countries non-Muslim marriages are not recognized as legal unions and the children of the couples are stigmatized as bastards. Never mind Saudi Arabia, the cradle of barbarism, and even Egypt, the more civilized Islamic country and recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens and deprive them of their legitimate human rights.

The pundits, the analysts and the politicians are doing a great disservice to the public, each segment for its own expedient reasons, by parroting the mantra regarding the peaceful nature of Islam. As a matter of fact, the so-called small band of Islamic extremists is the true face of Islam. Admittedly, from time to time and place to place, Muslims have shown a degree of tolerance for non-Muslims. This tolerance dates back to the very early years of Muhammad himself. Early on, Muhammad was meek and proclaimed, “For you, your religion, and for me, my religion.” This assertion lasted but a few years until Muhammad’s movement gathered strength and Islam became the only alternative to death or heavy taxation. The imposition of Jazyyeh was a clever ploy for filling the Islamic coffers to support its armies and to finance its further conquests.

A longstanding Islamic practice is to be meek while weak and assume despotic intolerant power as it gains strength. Recent migration of Muslims to non-Islamic lands began as a seemingly harmless, even a useful, trickle of cheap needed labor. Before long, greater and greater numbers of Muslims deluged the new territories and as they gained in numbers—by high birth rate as well as new arrivals—Muslims began reverting to their intolerant ways by, for instance, demanding legal status for Shariah (Islamic laws), the type of draconian laws that for the most part resemble those of humanity’s barbaric past.

Islam is indeed misrepresented. Islam is not misrepresented by its “detractors.” It is misrepresented by Islamic mercenaries: organizations and individuals generously funded by states as well as wealthy believers who are making billions of dollars pumping and selling oil at astronomical prices. Prestigious universities in the West, always looking for handouts, are tripping over one another to establish Islamic studies programs staffed by professors who sing the praise of Islam. Islamic associations routinely intimidate newspapers if they dare to print the truth about Islam. Legions of lawyers, both Muslims as well as hired guns, are on the lookout to intimidate and silence any voice speaking the truth about Islam. The media that fall in line may receive generous advertising and other incentives from Islamic lobbyists.

Hence, it is a fact that Islam is misrepresented. It is misrepresented very effectively by non-Muslim individuals and institutions who are generously rewarded by the modern day Islamic conquerors. This time around the Muslims are using the immense petrodollar they extract from the addicted non-Muslims.

The sword is temporarily replaced by just as deadly a weapon—the petrodollar. Before long, the Muslims aim to add a more deadly modern version of the sword—the Islamic bomb. With the bomb on one hand and the other hand on the oil spigot, the non-Muslim world will be brought to its knees by the religion of peace and brotherhood.


Lawsuits no way to defend privacy or free speech

Comment from Australia

JULIA Gillard's retribution over her perceived enemies in the press has latched on to an extremist rights agenda that would reregulate free speech and encourage a more litigious society.

Her Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor has been directed to respond to the News of the World phone hacking scandal by making it easier for Australians to sue media companies for invasions of privacy. Such journalistic practice already is illegal in Britain and Australia. And there is no evidence of such Fleet Street "red top" outrages here.

But O'Connor claims that "mass breaches" here highlight that Australia has "no general right to privacy" and thus "no certainty for anyone wanting to sue for a breach of privacy".

So the left-wing junior minister from Victoria has dusted off a 2008 Australian Law Reform Commission privacy report which, from page 2535 of its third volume, argues for an extremist "tort of invasion of privacy".

Yet, as the ALRC has argued previously, the concept of a general tort of privacy is vague and nebulous, a concern repeated a decade ago by then High Court chief justice Murray Gleeson. The Law Council of Australia more recently has backed the existing "appropriate and adequate recourse to individuals who consider that a media organisation has interfered with their privacy".

But to understand the issue, it first has to be removed from the grip of the lawyers, particularly those with a rights agenda or a political grudge. For the economic issue is that digital technology has slashed the cost of gathering, analysing and distributing information, including about people.

This has raised a host of issues from ensuring that banks and hospitals keep personal financial and health records confidential, to closed circuit cameras following people's every move, to alarm that sex partners could post explicit video clips on YouTube.

But it still has been an overwhelmingly good thing, providing cheaper access to services and allowing people to bypass traditional media to communicate directly among themselves.

The new digital technology also reduces the gatekeeper role of the traditional media: anything seems to go in social media. Yet, exploiting the NOTW scandal, Labor's privacy tort is aimed at traditional media companies because they are a political target and because they still have deeper pockets than some random blogger or hacker.

The legal trick is to conflate the various digital concerns into a new form of property right: a general tort against invasion of personal privacy akin to someone breaking into your property or a home invasion. Conventional private property rights are a foundation of a democratic market economy. But a property right over individual privacy necessarily intrudes into a more basic foundation of an open society: free speech.

O'Connor fudges around this. And sensible people, such as my old mate Barrie Cassidy on the ABC's Insiders on Sunday, find it hard to understand why anyone could caution against protecting people's privacy.

The objection is that elevating privacy to a fundamental human right is designed to get around the problem that protecting it is not costless. It aims to avoid having to measure the extent of the actual problem and to figure out the most effective ways to deal with it.

Hence, the Victorian lawyers' guild argues against "any selective analysis of the costs and benefits" of the state's charter of human rights now being reviewed by the Baillieu government.

Yet getting a handle on who actually benefits, by how much and at what cost to others is central to good regulation.

There is ample evidence of the costs of allowing such open-ended rights to take root in the legal system. Before being reined in over the past decade, allowing people to sue for injury to their reputation or even honour became an Australian legal absurdity that transferred money from deep-pocketed media companies to politicians and defamation lawyers.

Even judicial officers began to exploit this legal protection racket. Without any proof of actual injury to reputation, damages for mere slights ballooned to way beyond payouts for serious workplace accidents or for common assault.

Like privacy, people's reputations are more than their own business. People rely on the reputations of those from whom they buy food, trust with their savings, take medical advice or leave their children to care for. Protecting both reputations and privacy restricts others from being properly informed by the marketplace of free speech.

Again like protecting privacy, it similarly sounds only just that those whose negligence causes injury to others should be made to pay. But not when the lawyer-controlled courts stretch the concept so far that the public liability premiums for a local fete, a surf club sausage sizzle or a local playground become prohibitive or if insurance companies refuse to cover the risks of medical surgery.

Just as defamation and negligence torts have been reformed, however, the privacy tort push has gathered momentum with the European human rights agenda, been transmitted to Britain (where it mostly has enriched celebrities) and then transported to Australia via a few activist lower court judges. This has created such uncertainty, argues the ALRC, that a whole new privacy tort needs to be legislated.

The absurdities already extend to defining as private what happens in public spaces. On the weekend, my 77-year-old father went back to the historic North Sydney pool underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge where he swam in schoolboy competitions. He was told he could not photograph the public pool because of privacy concerns of those swimming in it.

Languishing in the polls, the Prime Minister demands that News Corporation's Australian arm answer unspecified "hard questions" over the NOTW phone hacking scandal. The Greens leader who props up her government, Bob Brown, calls The Australian the "hate media" and pushes for an inquiry into breaking up News Limited.

Communications Minister and Labor factional warlord Stephen Conroy complains that another Murdoch paper, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph, is inciting "regime change", inviting the probity concern that media regulation could be influenced by politics.

Yet Gillard's privacy tort threatens all the media, not just those Labor seeks to intimidate. Putting the whole media offside is a bizarre strategy for a Prime Minister languishing in the polls and trying to sell a tax she promised never to introduce.



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, 2011

Norway shooting: Glenn Beck compares dead teenagers to Hitler youth

Hitler's national socialists and Norway's present-day socialists are certainly not the same but they were/are nonetheless both authoritarian socialists who muzzle debate. Norway's penal code (Straffeloven, section 135 a) prohibits "hate speech" and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or ridicule someone or that incite hatred, persecution or contempt for someone due to their skin colour, ethnic origin, homosexual life style or orientation or, religion or philosophy of life. So criticism of Muslims is illegal.

And we read here how the island had long been a training ground for Norway's Leftist leadership. So Beck is right to point out similarities. Leftists always go into paroxysms of rage in response to any criticism so their rage against Beck in this case is just routine

Glenn Beck, the leading Right-wing American broadcaster, has prompted outrage after comparing the teenage victims of the Utoya Island massacre to the Hitler Youth. Beck said that the Labour party youth camp on the island, where 68 people were murdered, bore "disturbing" similarities to the Nazi party's notorious juvenile wing.

Beck, a multimillionaire darling of the Tea Party movement, said on his nationally-syndicated radio show: "There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Torbjørn Eriksen, a former press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister, described the comment as "a new low" for the broadcaster, who has frequently been forced to apologise for offensive remarks. "Young political activists have gathered at Utoya for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Glenn Beck's comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful."

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a Washington-based campaign group, said the remark by Beck, a free agent after being forced out of the Fox News channel earlier this year, was "absolutely disgusting".

Beck's controversial statements and conspiracy-filled rants have made him one of the most divisive figures in US politics and media in recent years. Last year he said he regretted calling Barack Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture". He later apologised for mocking Mr Obama's young daughter Malia.

In February he apologised to Reform Judaism, a group that campaigns for the modernisation of the Jewish faith, after comparing them to "radicalised Islam".

But he refused to apologise in May after mock-vomiting on his live TV show following a cancer-awareness advert starring a nude Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain. Beck said that Miss McMcCain, whose father survived cancer before running for the US presidency, should "wear a burka" because she was apparently unattractive.

Despite Beck expressing surprise that political movements would hold camps for children, followers of his 9/12 Project – which aims to "recapture the spirit of the day after America was attacked" – have this summer been doing just that.

Organisers of the "vacation liberty schools" in several states told the Daily Telegraph how they taught children as young as eight a Tea Party-endorsed curriculum spanning religion, economics and political principles.


Background to the anti-immigration terrorist attack in Norway

Daniel Greenfield prefaces his remarks below with a "psycho-analysis" of Anders Behring Breivik -- but he has more confidence in his judgment than I do. I am a much published psychologist specializing in the study of political psychology -- including neo-Nazism -- and so far I see nothing very unusual in Breivik. The things that people point to -- his use of "sim" computer games, for instance -- would also be true of many millions of young men who do not become terrorists -- JR

It was Breivik who pulled the trigger, but it was the Norwegian authorities who created and then ignored the social problem of Islamic immigration, that enabled him to exploit it in a burst of horrifying violence.

The Oslo killings are a tragic reminder that conflicts rarely remain one sided. And it is foolish to expect them to. Violence begets violence and extremism creates extremists. Terrorism gives birth to more of the same.

Oslo has become symbolic of pacifist idealism, which is why the bloodshed is so stunning, but also inevitable. Any ideal pursued to a far enough extreme gives birth to its opposite number. Violence attracts idealism and idealism attracts violence. Both pacifism and violence represent unbalanced extremes. And extremes often have a way of coming together in an explosive collision of opposites.

The search for blame in all the usual places is inevitable, but counterproductive. The Oslo killings are another item on the ledger of the high cost of Islam. The explosive rage on both sides fueled by a social instability created by aggressive immigration with no thought to its impact on the country as a whole. It was Brevik who spent nine years planning and carrying out the attacks, but it was the political authorities who had created a scenario that made it possible.

There are of course shootings carried out all the time with no larger political justification, and it is possible that Brevik would have acted regardless of any of the events of the past nine years. But it is far more likely that by giving him an antagonist to fight, the authorities brought those violent events into being.

Violence driven by social instability must be at least partly laid at the feet of those who caused the social instability. And that is not a handful of American critics of Islam, but the Norwegian authorities whose social and immigration policies created an explosive situation that had already exploded into violence before.

We cannot regard Brevik as an isolated phenomenon or as the creature of a handful of foreign pundits. He was a Norwegian whose views and attitudes echoed those of many of his countrymen. His violent response to social problems created by the authorities and aimed at the authorities should be deplored. But at the same time we must learn the lessons of not the act itself, but of the social instability that gave rise to it. It is the best chance of avoiding a repetition of it by those who would, like Brevik, exploit social instability as a means of promoting a violent solution.

Muslim violence, whether it is planes being flown into skyscrapers or women being raped with religious sanction, are likely to inspire answering acts of violence. Such acts should be condemned, yet so should the apathy toward the social instability created by Muslim immigration that gives rise to them.

When a woman is raped on the steps of the Norwegian parliament, it should be every bit as shocking as Brevik’s massacres, not because their damage is equal, but because they are both wake up calls to a major social problem that cannot be swept under the rug.

Muslim immigration and its attendant violence gave Brevik his casus belli to take action against the authorities. It may inspire future Breviks as well. It is easy to blame the pattern of ideas that Brevik cited in his manifesto, but the manifesto and the ideas are the children of an existing social problem. A problem so severe that a woman can be raped on the steps of the Norwegian parliament with no one moving to intervene.

The European media will use the Oslo killings to argue against the regional trend of examining Muslim immigration. But they have it exactly backward. A social problem cannot be solved by refusing to examine it or by silencing all discussion of it. Social problems breed and worsen in silence. As do all things in the dark. Brevik’s shootings should rather be a wake up call to seriously examine the impact of Muslim immigration on Oslo in particular, and Norway in general.

Brevik was not a Muslim, yet he was motivated by Islam, as surely as the most devout Jihadist. Islam defined his actions, as surely as it does theirs. The only difference is that they were acting for Islam, while he was acting against it. But the problem of both Brevik and the Jihadist emerges from a common source. Islam.

Violence rarely remains one sided. In Norway, Brevik has added a second side to a triangle, whose third side is politically correct apathy and nervous pacifism. That second side is as bloody as the first, and no more removable without addressing the first side and the third.

Whether it is the Madrid bombings or the Oslo rampage—all these horrors are a reminder that Europe’s current policies have failed. That integration has not worked and multiculturalism has given rise to hostile cultures living side by side. Brevik’s actions and growing tension on the far right remind us that apathy and mouthing multicultural slogans can no longer substitute for a serious examination of the problem.

This latest horror warns us that violence will be exploited by the violent, and that the European equation is now in danger of having a third variable. We have had the Jihadists and the apathetic authorities, now there are the Breviks. Dangerous men looking for a cause and a reason to fight. And the social instability and violence created by Islamic immigration gives them a reason.

Anti-government violence in Norway and Sweden, countries which have repressed free speech the hardest, is no coincidence

Talk of suppressing extremism will not prevent the Breviks, it will only encourage them by giving them a more definite enemy to fight. Anti-government violence in Norway and Sweden, countries which have repressed free speech the hardest, is no coincidence. Authoritarianism only feeds anti-government tendencies. It is impossible for Europe to rid itself of the Breviks, without also ridding itself of the social problems that make them possible.

The best way to stop the Breviks of the future, is to steal their thunder. To seriously examine the high cost of Islamic immigration, the failures of integration, the violence taking place under the shadow of multiculturalism—and to honestly and seriously address these things.

Brevik would not have acted if he did not believe that the authorities would play into his hands. If the Norwegian government really wishes to defeat the ideas he championed, it must pull their claws, by addressing them as social problems, rather than by denying them and repressing their critics. Europe’s history of domestic radicalism should provide ample reasons to show why such an approach is unwise and counterproductive.

As long as a social problem remains neglected and a source of social instability proliferates, then the violent tendencies of dangerous loners will be channeled into its path. That is how World War I began. It may be how World War III will begin. The duty of responsible authorities is to address the social problem, not with slogans, but with concrete and realistic measures. If a social problem is a swamp, then it must be drained. Oslo’s social problem is Islamic immigration. The fever swamp of violence cannot be drained, until the immigration that feeds it is drained as well.


Eviction of travellers from Britain's biggest gypsy camp delayed while bailiffs undergo 'cultural awareness training'

400 travellers to be moved on next month after being at the site for ten years

A multi-million pound eviction of travellers from Europe’s largest illegal camp could be delayed because bailiffs supposedly need ‘cultural awareness training’.

Hundreds of people are set to be removed from Dale Farm near Crays Hill in Essex next month, after years of legal battles. But Basildon Council has started approaching travellers’ groups for bespoke training, ‘specifically for the forced removal of gipsy and traveller women and children’.

Officials are looking for guidance as they fear the process, which is likely to spark violent confrontations, could breach equality legislation. However, one organisation has already refused the request and warns others would follow its lead.

Share, which promotes traveller health and welfare, revealed it had been approached by the council to train staff at Constant and Co, the firm of bailiffs appointed to deal with the situation. Chairman Tommy Mordacai said: ‘I just can’t believe they would contact us and ask about forcibly removing women and children.’

And in a formal response to the council, he wrote: ‘As you are from the inclusion and diversity team I would expect you to be able to understand and appreciate the serious long-term damage and health implications that the removal will have upon the women, children, and men.’

The stand-off means the operation, which is set to cost up to £18million, including police and bailiffs’ fees, plus returning the land to its former greenbelt status, faces being put on hold.

Travellers have lived on legal plots at Dale Farm for decades but hundreds began arriving in 2001 and set up home there without planning permission. Around 1,000 are based there now, almost half illegally. Many marched through nearby Gloucester Park to protest at the town hall over the eviction threat.

They are due to be removed on August 31 after a Court of Appeal ruling last year. But many have spoken openly of having pitched battles with the authorities. Barbed wire barricades and dangerous high-pressure canisters have been placed around the site in readiness for what some describe as a ‘state of war’.

But local resident Len Gridley, whose land is bordered by the travellers’ site, complained: ‘What training could the bailiffs possibly need? They do this job every day.’ Constant & Co, which regularly handles traveller evictions, yesterday refused to comment. But its website boasts that staff are ‘employed nationally on a daily basis to recover possession of land from unwanted trespassers’. It adds: ‘We are the most experienced, professional and busiest company in this type of work.’

A council spokesman said: ‘Share was just one organisation which has refused. ‘The funding has only just been finalised so this could not be arranged earlier. ‘We are confident that there will be an organisation which will provide the training.’

However, Richard Sheridan, president of the Gypsy Council, said: ‘I won’t be helping them with it. ‘Those bailiffs will be throwing women and children out from their homes. No amount of training can make them do that in a nicer way.’


The chimp they tried to turn into a human: An extraordinary experiment in which scientists raised a chimpanzee as their child... with chilling results

The woman volunteer thought Nim was coming to hug her, but instead the young chimp lunged, biting so deep into her cheek that his fangs pierced her mouth.

As she clutched her bleeding face, the little ape was beside himself, using the same piece of sign language again and again to attract her attention. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ he repeated.

This haunting recollection is one of many contained in a riveting new film, Project Nim, by the director of the Oscar-winning Man On Wire, about one of the most bizarre scientific experiments of recent times.

British film-maker James Marsh’s latest subject undertakes a journey every bit as astonishing as tightrope artist Philippe Petit’s walk on a wire strung between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Centre.

Nim was a chimp that was raised as a human child in order to test out the radical theory that man and his closest relative could learn to talk to each other.

Tragically, as Marsh’s film relates through a mixture of archive footage, re-enactments and interviews with those who took part in the early-Seventies experiment, this is a tale that ultimately says more about human arrogance than simian intelligence.

For those who have been charmed by the recent tale of Digit, the gentle adult gorilla that shares the marital bed of the devoted French couple who look after him, here is a much darker side to man’s attempts to bond with his ape cousins.

A helpless pawn ripped — quite literally — from his mother’s breast, Nim was a victim of the naïve, hippy- culture-infused world of early-Seventies New York. He fell into the clutches of a hapless band of woolly social scientists who gave him human clothes, human food and enough doting young lady volunteers to send his simian hormones haywire. If it were not for what happened later, it could have been a Woody Allen comedy.

Project Nim began in November 1973 with Nim’s birth at a primate research centre in Oklahoma. He spent just a few days in the arms of his real mother before she was knocked out with a tranquilliser dart and her screaming baby was handed straight to his delighted new, human, mother.

Nim had been selected by Herb Terrace, an ambitious psychology expert at New York’s Columbia University, to prove a premise that was ‘way out’ even for the Seventies: that a chimp raised as a human and taught sign language could learn to communicate in grammatical sentences. Finally, man might understand what animals were thinking — and perhaps vice versa.

Terrace, a small, mustachioed man with a huge ego, had named the little creature Nim Chimpsky — a pun on Noam Chomsky, the famous thinker who insisted that only humans have the capacity for language

However, Terrace thought differently and had chosen Stephanie LaFarge, a former student and lover, to bring up Nim in the large Manhattan townhouse she shared with her self-confessed ‘rich hippy’ writer husband, Wer, and their seven children.

But it was a disastrous decision — Stephanie never bothered trying to discipline Nim. She did not take any notes on the experiment and did not keep a log of Nim’s progress, but she did breastfeed him and give him alcohol and puffs on her cannabis joints.

He was encouraged to lay waste to their expensive home and wind up his rival for her affections, Stephanie’s husband. Home movie footage shows the little creature, a blur of black and white in his romper suit, charging around as Stephanie recounts dreamily how she let him explore her naked body as he moved into puberty.

‘I never felt sexually engaged with him,’ she recalls, which is a blessing at least. Yes, it certainly was the Seventies.

Chimp throats cannot reproduce human speech, so the idea was to teach him sign language. ‘Drink’ was the first sign he learned, followed by ‘eat’, ‘me’, ‘Nim’ and ‘hug’. Volunteer Jenny Lee remembers his heart-warming empathy. ‘Whenever you were upset he would come over and sit with you and kiss the tears away,’ she says.

But it didn’t last. Laura-Ann Petitto, a pretty Columbia researcher recruited to the project, recalls turning up at the house to find ‘utter chaos’. She was particularly appalled to find Stephanie fixated by Nim’s penchant for what is delicately known as self-abuse.

Finally, realising things had gone awry, Terrace moved Nim to a big empty house in the suburbs where Laura-Ann became his new ‘mum’ and the band of helpers swelled.

If any of ‘his people’ showed the slightest signs of vulnerability — even just accidentally turning their back to him too quickly — the hair would rise on his arms and, Laura-Ann recalls, he’d ‘go into attack .... he had to draw blood’. She still has the scars, running down her arms, to prove it.

Nevertheless, in his own way, Nim was devoted to her — and very jealous of her affections. Laura-Ann had begun an affair with Terrace and one day, as she packed up to leave after a language session with Nim, the chimp showed what he thought of her disloyalty.

Jumping 25ft from a second-floor window, he grabbed his favourite female and started pounding her head into the pavement. It took four men to get him off.

‘He wasn’t my child, he wasn’t my baby,’ she said in the film, her voice still quivering at the memory. ‘You can’t give human nurture to an animal that could kill you.’

But still the gallant band behind the experiment persevered. Renee Falitz, a small but plucky professional sign language teacher, became Nim’s new mother figure until he one day sank his fangs deep into her cheek. When Nim was finally allowed to see her again and immediately reached for her face, she was off. ‘It was like breaking up with a bad boyfriend,’ she recalls.

By now, it was clear that someone was going to get seriously hurt before too long. Much to the disgust of his underlings, Herb Terrace flew Nim back to the Oklahoma research centre where he had got him fewer than four years earlier.



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, 2011

CA: CPS rips apart family

The case of Jeffrey and Erica Henderson provides a continuation of the critical examination of Child Protective Services in the United States, as well as the legal framework in which CPS operates.

The Hendersons were investigated at their home following an anonymous tip that Mr. Henderson had slapped his daughter. Jeffrey Henderson was arrested on the scene, and their 6 children subsequently put into foster homes. The Hendersons speculate that the call was placed by their landlord, whom they had reported to the Health Department for having dangerous mold issues in their rental. Regardless of who placed the call, it is instructive to look at the chronology of how the system of "protecting children" has responded to this perceived threat to the welfare of six children ranging in age from 10 months to 8 years, all based on one phone call. This story might prove to be a similar cautionary tale as that of citizen spy programs in tyrannical regimes. The Hendersons' story, as well as the wider story of CPS abuse, reveals American society and its values, while questioning whose interests are really being served by removing children from the custody of their own parents.

For background, the Hendersons are proponents of homeschooling, home birthing, no vaccines, and are Messianic Jewish by faith. The Hendersons assert that their children are loved, well-cared for, and nurtured children and have not abused by their parents. However, the chronology provided below suggests that these children have been repeatedly and profoundly abused by the very system supposedly charged with their protection.

The following timeline of events was provided by Erica Henderson, mother of these six children. Clearly, this is a one-sided representation of events and we cannot verify each of the statements, but most telling is the fact that all charges were eventually dropped. Yet, their children remain in foster homes under the direction of CPS. Until this family is reunited, we feel that the term kidnapping is properly applied.

May 25, 2010 – Pasadena police came to our door investigating child abuse stemming from an anonymous call made to 911. The caller said she heard Jeffrey slap Abigail. We did not let the police in. After almost two hours of talking to the police, they used a battering ram to gain entry to our home without a warrant and without our consent.

During these two hours they tried to obtain a warrant by a judge in Pasadena and were told they could not have one as there were no exigent circumstances. They ran in, guns drawn, and told Jeffrey to get down on the ground. He did. Jeffrey was beaten, cuffed and taken to the hospital. Jeffrey was detained and ticketed from the hospital for PC 148 a1, resisting an officer. The officers searched our home, strip searched and interviewed our children and found no evidence of abuse. I was never arrested or ticketed.


Brace yourself for the 'cultural Olympics' an orgy of politically correct and expensive nonsense

The most eagerly anticipated event in next year’s Olympics — the men’s 100m final — will be over in less than ten seconds. The entire Games, which begin almost exactly a year from now, will last only 17 days.

But there is a sideshow to the sporting events that has already been groaning on for three years — even though few people have heard of it — and which will not finish until after the last athlete has returned home.

If you haven’t yet come across the Cultural Olympiad, it won’t be long before you receive an invitation to watch this ‘cultural feast’: it might be in the form of schoolchildren waving flags, a large inflatable object floating down a river or some other event supposed to ‘inspire creativity’ and ‘leave a lasting legacy for the arts in Britain’.

The arts, we are always being told, have never had it so tough. Certainly, there might be some truth in that if you are running an orchestra or a much-loved local theatre, hard hit by the recent Arts Council cuts. But if you want to get together a few hundred people to fly kites and explore issues of migration and global warming, there seems to be no shortage of cash.

In 2009, the Cultural Olympiad received £16 million of Lottery money, much of which has been spent already. There is also funding from private sponsors including BP and BT, and the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, which has 13 so-called ‘creative programmers’ — each overseeing a region of the UK — who have decided which projects to support in the run-up to the Games.

But what are we getting for all this money? (And we shouldn’t forget that when the Lottery was established it was supposed to fund useful social projects, not fritter away cash on politically correct nonsense.)

In the West Midlands, the money is being spent on a giant puppet of Lady Godiva that will be driven to London ‘dressed for her journey into the 21st century in a coat crafted by local artists chronicling the West Midlands industrial and engineering heritage’. All very splendid, I am sure, except that it misses the whole point of the story of Lady Godiva, who rode naked through the streets of Coventry.

That aside, no one seems to have the first idea of what this has to do with the Olympics.

In London, more money has been spent as part of the Cultural Olympiad installing LED displays on the roofs of bus shelters, apparently ‘to breathe new life into all corners of the capital, transforming the previously unloved tops of bus shelters into a London-wide digital canvas’. Just one problem: unless you happen to live or work in a tall building with a bus stop directly outside it, you won’t be able to see any of these ‘installations’.

In East Anglia, a series of large-scale events involving as many people as possible will be recorded to create a feature film ‘exploring the themes of trade, defence and migration’. For one of the events, the artists are looking for volunteers to spend 12 hours on the beach at Felixstowe, repeatedly raising and lowering the flags of the 205 countries taking part in the Olympics. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, a performance artist will be towing a portable ‘island’ around the coast of South-West England, exploring ‘issues of climate change and land ownership’.

In Scotland, an artist is busy cutting down trees to create a football field. It will be used to play two matches between teams of immigrants to Britain in order to celebrate diversity — before the pitch is abandoned so the trees can grow back. At least this artist doesn’t appear to be claiming to be exploring ‘issues of climate change’. But he would certainly do the environment and the public purse a favour by leaving his chainsaw at home.

The Cultural Olympiad was not dreamed up by the organising committee of London 2012. Any city that holds the Games is required by the Olympic charter to include cultural events.

Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who founded the modern Olympics, insisted the Games should include a programme of arts ‘to serve to promote harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship among the participants and others attending the Olympic Games’. Between 1912 and 1952, there were even gold medals awarded for architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture.

One of the most unlikely Olympians — and one which the International Olympic Committee would probably rather forget — was Adolf Hensel, winner of the gold medal for town-planning in the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. He won the honour for designing the stadium in Nuremburg, which was later used for Hitler’s rallies.

London 2012 will take the cultural side of the Games to new levels of daftness. You don’t get to be part of the Cultural Olympiad just by painting, singing or dancing; there has to be a fatuous political message thrown in.

There will be a Shakespeare Festival, but needless to say it is one in which the play Coriolanus has been ‘re-imagined in the era of 24-hour news, celebrity culture and a new global polity’.

Also, Romeo And Juliet ‘finds new purchase in the soil of contemporary Iraq, when sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia, ignited and fuelled from outside, has left a population exhausted by a cycle of violence and revenge’. It’s fine if the Iraqi theatre company which is putting on this show wants to produce a play about modern-day Iraq, but why does it have to try to ride on Shakespeare’s back?

The Cultural Olympiad is full of the cliches found in so much publicly funded modern art. There is a competition in which young people work with professional film-makers — a perfectly good idea in itself, except that one of the winning entries inevitably features a sullen youth in a hoodie, holding a spray can and moaning about being misunderstood.

The Cultural Olympiad is a bit like the Millennium Dome: in trying to be everything to everyone it will end up creating nothing of any value.

Surely the biggest cultural legacy of the Olympics ought to be a new arts venue or two for exhibitions and concerts in an area of London without such a facility. Yet so far, the Olympic Legacy Company — which oversees the future of the Games’ facilities — has no firm plans to reuse any of the Olympic venues for the arts.

Those that will not be used for sports are due to be demolished, while the main stadium is destined to become yet another football stadium.

Still, this huge arts project probably can’t turn out worse than the Athens Olympics. There, the highlight of the Cultural Olympiad was supposed to be an art exhibition called Outlook. It turned out to be little more than attention-seeking filth, with a painting juxtaposing a crucifix and an erect penis, and a photograph of a man apparently copulating with a water melon.

There is one genuine cultural legacy of the Athens Olympics: the badminton venue was taken over by an American director to become a successful and self-sustaining theatre. In keeping with the farce that was the 2004 Olympics, however, the Greek government wants to demolish it.

Judging from the ticket sales, the London Olympics looks set to be a great success. But that’s certainly not thanks to the Cultural Olympiad. The world’s greatest sporting event would be better without a third-rate arts festival attached.


Even With Same-Sex "Marriage," the Left Remains Intolerant

After campaigning for “equality” (which is something certain persons believe they secure only by being “married” to someone of the same sex), homosexual activists in New York were ecstatic to see New York legislators fabricate same-sex “marriage” on June 24. This was largely the result of promises and assurances about how same-sex “marriage” would not in any way affect those whose religious beliefs prevent them from condoning homosexual behavior.

Of course, these were untenable promises to begin with, as those who live in the other states where same-sex “marriage” has been fabricated can well attest. For how can one presume, unless they’re only pretending to presume, that a state-issued sanction of such an unheard-of and manufactured arrangement would result in anything less than world-shattering ramifications for the spectator as well as the participant?

And we already see the beginnings of these ramifications in the small community of Barker, New York, where Laura L. Fotusky, the town clerk, has turned in a letter of resignation that will relieve her of her post on July 21: three days prior to the day on which homosexuals can start “marrying” in that state. Fotusky is resigning, rather than staying on board to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because she believes “there is a higher law than the law of the land, it is the law of God in the Bible.”

There will undoubtedly be those who think Fotusky has gone a bit overboard by resigning, but those who think that way have actually underestimated the battle that’s now upon us.

For example, consider what Governor Andrew M Cuomo said when asked about Fotusky’s resignation: “The law is the law; when you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose….If you can’t enforce the law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.” Or consider the situation we see continually unfolding in other same-sex “marriage” havens like Vermont, where same-sex “marriage” was fabricated in 2009. There, the owners of the iconic Wildflower Inn are being sued because they refused to host a wedding reception for a same-sex couple. Wow, so much for the tolerant Left, huh?

There’s also a ripple effect throughout the clergy in New York, and the whole of New England for that matter. Careful readers of Associated Press reports on July 18 noticed a clear differentiation being made between “gay clergy” (homosexual clergy) and “heterosexual clergy.” So again, it seems the outpouring of support for same-sex “marriage” on the grounds that it was the missing ingredient to peace and harmony throughout the land has only resulted in the development of new categories, new job requirements, and harshness toward those who don’t want to play along.

And this is just the start, of course. Some Christian-run businesses in New York, like the Wildflower Inn in Vermont, won’t want to condone same-sex “marriage” once the licenses are issued, and the Left is really going to get tolerant then.


Ninth Circuit Recognizes Church's Right to Equal Treatment Under the Law

In a great victory for religious liberty and equal treatment under the law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has overturned a federal district court’s ruling which barred Centro Familiar Cristiano Buenos Nuevas Christian Church from occupying and holding worship services in its own building in downtown Yuma, Ariz. The city had rejected the church’s 2007 request for a permit to occupy the property while letting non-religious membership organizations locate in the downtown area without having to obtain a permit.

The city’s actions forced the church to pay for a property it could not use and also to pay rent on another building needed for services and worship. Eventually, the added expense of “thousands of dollars a month” to the church’s budget crushed it financially, and it was forced to give up its downtown building.

The church was initially concerned when the city said it must go through the burdensome process of applying for a “conditional use permit.” Still, the church was confident that the city would grant the permit since the city’s own law stated that the buildings in the downtown district were zoned for membership organizations and businesses to operate public assemblies. Under the city’s law, any membership organization (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.) or business desiring to accommodate people with a common purpose (in a movie theater, a dance hall, etc.) was free to locate there. But the church soon learned that the city refused this privilege to organizations that were religious in nature.

Adding insult to injury, the city withheld the permit on the grounds that the church would “blight” entertainment in Yuma’s Old Town District. The city believed in essence that the church would lessen the free flow of alchohol in the area and thereby dampen the party atmosphere. City staff also targeted the church for exclusion because it would not generate tax revenue (even though multiple tax-exempt uses already operate in the area).

In addition, the city asserted that the church would not draw patrons to the area. This particular conclusion was obviously shortsighted. It completely ignored the fact that church congregants attending educational and worship events throughout the week would frequent area businesses just like persons gathering for theater events do. Moreover, many of the small offices and residences allowed in the zone would draw far less business and entertainment patronage than a multi-member church assembly.

As noted by the appeals court, the porous nature of the city’s position became obvious when it was learned that the city does not even require permits for prisons, post offices, and apartment buildings that want to locate in the Old Town District. These land uses contribute far less to the city’s stated desire to create an “entertainment” district than a church, which would indeed attract patrons to downtown theaters and restaurants.

The church contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, and we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the church in federal court. The suit alleged that the city had violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which is a federal law that says that churches can’t be treated differently from secular assemblies in a given area.

After a federal judge ruled in favor of the city in January 2009, ADF filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit, which sided with the church, ruling that “it is hard to see how an express exclusion of ‘religious organizations’ from uses permitted as of right by other ‘membership organizations’ could be other than ‘less than equal terms’ for religious organizations.”

Noted the court:

"Many of the uses permitted as of right would have the same practical effect as a church of blighting a potential block of bars and nightclubs. An apartment building taking up the whole block may be developed as of right, and so may a post office or prison. Prisons have bars, but not the kind promoting “entertainment.” Thus the ordinance before us expressly treats religious organizations on a less than equal basis."

The Ninth Circuit’s decision should be heralded because it shows that government officials cannot use broad and contradictory commercial justifications to favor non-religious businesses or membership organizations over religious ones. The city’s actions left this small congregation with a mortgage to pay on a building it couldn’t use for two years while it had to pay for another meeting place in a remote area at the same time. Moreover, it should set an encouraging precedent for other churches that may find themselves in the same predicament.



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, 2011

The photography phobia again

'Big Brother' British police warn bird lover: You could be sued for filming parakeet cull (... and whatever you do, don't give the photos to a newspaper)

A bird lover who is battling to save rare parrots says the police tried to ban photographs he took of Government officials destroying their nests. Simon Richardson, who is campaigning against a cull of monk parakeets, said he was shocked when police told him he could be sued for thousands of pounds for invading the officials’ privacy.

Mr Richardson stood in his street and took pictures of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs staff as they removed nests from a tree in his neighbour’s garden.

Several hours later, two uniformed police officers visited his home and allegedly told him he could face prosecution under privacy laws. Mr Richardson, who runs a business analyst company, also claims he was told that if he published the pictures in a newspaper, the police would take action.

He believes the policeman who admonished him was wrongly referring to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says ‘everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence’.

His version of events has been backed by another campaigner who overheard his conversation with the officers. Kate Fowler, from the animal rights group Animal Aid, described the police as ‘heavy handed’ and ‘smacking of Big Brother’.

Earlier this year, Defra launched a £90,000 eradication programme targeting the South American birds that began breeding in the mid-Nineties after escaping from an aviary close to Mr Richardson’s home in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. Though common internationally, the UK population of the bright green birds is thought to number only 100 to 150.

Defra says the birds, which are often kept as pets, pose a danger to crops and pylons because they build large communal nests, as well as to other species.

In response, Mr Richardson began a ‘Stop The Monk Parakeet Cull’ to save the population of 33 parakeets in Borehamwood and has
collected more than 2,300 signatures on a petition.

Defra arrived at his neighbour’s property on May 23 and spent five days removing the nests. Mr Richardson took the pictures on May 24. He said: ‘The birds were nesting in the tree at the end of my neighbour’s garden and from the road you could see a cherry-picker going up and down. My neighbour allows Defra on to his property.

‘I took pictures from the road, went and did some shopping, and when I came home there was a police car outside my house. About five minutes later there was a knock at the door and there were two police constables.

‘One said: “Regarding the filming you were doing, I should advise you that you are liable to be sued for thousands of pounds for invasion of privacy. Furthermore, were your pictures to appear in the local paper, we would become officially involved.” I was quite shocked about this and the way he said it, because it was like a threat.

‘I asked who had reported me and they said it was Defra. I got advice from a barrister and he said the police had no business saying I was liable to be sued because being sued is a civil matter. ‘The barrister said that what the policeman was probably referring to was Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which is the right to a private family life and does not apply in this case.

‘If the Defra workers were concerned about being identified in a newspaper because they feared for their safety or for professional reasons, then the police should have explained that to me and I would have completely understood.’

When police knocked, Mr Richardson was on the phone to Ms Fowler, who said: ‘The words the policeman said were a little menacing. It smacks of Big Brother.’

A Hertfordshire police spokesman said: ‘The officers were called to prevent a breach of the peace and while they gave advice to the householder about taking photos, there was no threat to be sued by the Constabulary. We’re sorry for any confusion.’

A Defra spokesman said: ‘Staff contacted the police when they became aware of an individual trying to photograph them.’ He added that staff did not advise police about any potential prosecution under privacy laws.


Slump in growth brings long overdue blitz on red tape in Britain

Fairly minor but a move in the right direction

Ministers will this week launch a new drive against the red-tape strangling high-street shops - including the rules governing what can be sold to children - as figures show Britain's economy is still in the doldrums.

Figures to be published by the Office of National Statistics are expected to show the economy shrinking in the second quarter of 2011 - a period which included bank holidays for Easter and the Royal wedding.

The first quarter of the year saw growth coming in at 0.5 per cent - with ministers braced for a fall to around 0.2 per cent for the second quarter, piling the pressure on the coalition as it seeks to deliver its programme of public spending cuts.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, uses an article in The Sunday Telegraph to vow the government will "stick to our plan" of deficit reduction and to "go for growth". He says more must be done to stop businesses being "weighed down" in red tape. "When we're faced with choices in government, we should always choose growth," he argues.

Ministers will this week seek to ease pressure on the crucial retail sector by announcing a major simplification of the various laws governing the sale of "age-restricted" goods. They will outline plans to simplify the current regime which sees more than 20 separate pieces of legislation affecting what can and cannot be sold to different age groups. In total almost three-quarters of the current regulations are set to be done away with altogether while others will be combined.

For example, it is currently an offence to sell most fireworks to people under the age of 18, while "caps" for toy guns can be sold to 16 year-olds. Christmas crackers cannot be sold to those under 16, while it is also illegal to sell most knives - including kitchen knives - to anyone under 18.

Computer games have age restrictions of 12 and 15 while the those over 17 can buy cross bows and air rifles. Retailers are also banned from selling aerosol paints party poppers, liquor chocolates and petrol to minors.

Laws governing the sale of "poisons" are also likely to be changed or done away with because they currently apply to retailers who sell common household cleaning products.

A coalition source said: "There will not be a free for all in terms of selling dangerous goods to young people - far from it - but there is an urgent need for the current complexity of laws and regulations to be greatly simplified."

The blitz will be trumpeted by ministers as the first concrete results from the coalition's 'Red Tape Challenge', launched by David Cameron in April, which invited businesses to use a website to demand changes to burdensome regulations.

Ministers see the retail sector as crucial in helping the economy recover. Last month retail sales rose 0.7 per cent but this was on the back of heavy discounting by leading stores. The sector has also had to cope with the increase in VAT to 20 per cent which came in earlier this year.

Mr Osborne said: "In the end, if we don't have a successful, growing and competitive economy we won't be able to achieve anything else. So at a time like this, when we're faced with choices in government, we should always choose growth. "That means doing without that new regulation, however worthy its purpose. It means changing our planning system, so the presumption is in favour of new economic development not against it. "It means reducing the costs of employing people, so more people get work. It means rewarding enterprise and supporting businesses in the tax system.

"You may be surprised, but none of these things are easy to do. For every piece of regulation, there's a pressure group arguing for it."

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, wrote in an article for the PoliticsHome website: "Last year's recovery has already been hugely undermined by George Osborne's policies. "Our economy has seen no growth at all over the last six months, while other major countries have grown much faster.

"The reasons why our recovery has stalled since the autumn are clear. Consumers and businesses have reined in their spending and investment plans as they anticipate spending cuts and tax rises which go too far and too fast.

"The VAT rise in January has added to the squeeze on hard-pressed families and pensioners. And consumer confidence has taken a huge knock since last spring when the Tories invented the deceit that, like Greece, Britain was somehow 'on the brink of bankruptcy'."


Official political correctness much worse in Germany than in Australia

By Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, a German economist now living in Australia

FORMER career civil servants and central bankers seldom have star potential. Their work rarely excites the public and their pictures do not usually appear on front pages. This would have been Thilo Sarrazin's fate as well. A former state treasurer in the city of Berlin and director of the German Bundesbank, Sarrazin was mainly known to political insiders.

All of this changed last August when he published the book Germany abolishes itself (Deutschland schafft sich ab). Within months the provocatively titled tome of 464 pages, laden with statistics and footnotes, became the best selling non-fiction book in German post-war history. More than 1.5 million copies have been printed to date. Its author developed into an unlikely media star whose name recognition in Germany now surpasses the Pope and the chancellor.

Sarrazin's media success may be unlikely but it can be explained. In a media society governed by political correctness, he did not play by the rules. Perhaps because Sarrazin was used to speaking his mind behind closed doors he believed he could also get away with it in public. As it turned out, that was too optimistic an assumption.

The main points Sarrazin made in his book were neither particularly new nor were they factually incorrect. Like many authors before him, he pointed out that German society is ageing and shrinking because of low birthrates. He also offered a blistering critique of the welfare state, which he claimed had created a persistent, uneducated underclass.

Sarrazin then dared to suggest that due to the availability of welfare entitlements for the poor and career incentives for the rich the great majority of children are now born to parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Finally, he explained how Germany's haphazard immigration system had failed to attract high potentials and instead became exploited by poorly educated migrants. The additional point that Muslim migrants are segregating from mainstream society, again backed up by unambiguous statistical data, was the icing on the cake of Sarrazin's assault on everything that the guardians of political correctness regard as sacred.

The media and Sarrazin's former colleagues in the political class were quick to condemn the book and its author. The empire of political correctness was striking back.

Before the book had even been released, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the attacks on Sarrazin. "The book," she declared, was "not helpful", as if that had ever been a requirement for new publications. Of course, Merkel had not read it as she was frank enough to admit. Neither did she intend to, as she told a newspaper weeks later.

What was the slogan of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four? "Ignorance is strength." Quite.

Politicians from Sarrazin's own Social Democratic Party accused him of "economism" and "borderline racism". Protestant church leaders condemned the book's "cynical view of humanity". Left-leaning intellectuals protested against Sarrazin's alleged eugenicist, biologist and social Darwinist views.

Judging by the reactions he provoked, Sarrazin had turned himself from a respected member of society into a political pariah overnight. The witch-hunt did not even stop the chancellor and the federal president from pressuring the Bundesbank, still a formally independent institution, to sack its board member. In the end, however, it was Sarrazin who resigned from his position because he could no longer stand the stress, but not before being formally acquitted by the bank of all allegations of professional misconduct. In this way he also spared his employer from becoming further embroiled in the scandal.

Despite the whole affair it had triggered, the book at the heart of the debate is a remarkably sober account of Germany's social, economic and political problems. Reading through it, it is hard to understand how this dry and often technical analysis could ever have triggered such passionate reactions. But maybe that is because at the time few commentators gained an unfair advantage over their colleagues by actually reading it.

In this sense, the Sarrazin debate is revealing about the political climate of Germany. Apparently, it is enough to touch on a few taboo subjects to prevent a reasonable discourse. From an Australian perspective, however, Sarrazin's purported crimes against political correctness are hard to understand. With most of Sarrazin's positions he would find himself in the bipartisan mainstream of Australian politics.

Welfare reforms in Australia were controversial when first proposed. Started under the Hawke and Keating governments, they were extended under John Howard. Today, a welfare state based on mutual obligations and the principle of employment first are shared by both main parties.

In a similar way, Australia's basic immigration policies are not disputed between Labor and the Coalition, despite the excitement over illegal arrivals. Both sides of politics recognise that for migration into Australia to be successful it is important to ensure that potential migrants have the language and professional skills necessary to succeed in Australia. Nobody would consider it racist to say that a basic proficiency in English should be a requirement for prospective migrants.

It is quite likely that with these two very basic propositions on welfare reform and immigration policy, widely accepted across the Australian political spectrum, you would be considered an extremist in Germany. The rules of political correctness as applied in many European nations now consider it discriminatory to ask whether migrants can economically contribute to their host societies. And to question the unconditional right to welfare payments is seen as an assault on human dignity.

When a society can no longer seriously debate political issues, controversial as they may be, it is not just a blow to freedom of speech. It also undermines a nation's capacity for economic reform. Truths may sometimes be painful and feelings may be hurt, but a society that cannot stand vigorous debate risks becoming stale and stagnant.

Sarrazin was not a dangerous extremist but just worried about his country's future. Rightly so, as the reactions to his book show.


Australia: Another case of regulation hurting those it is supposed to help

CHILDCARE centres have slashed their number of baby places by 20 per cent in the wake of federal government reforms that require them to increase staff ratios.

Under reforms that took effect in January, centres have to provide one carer for every four children, instead of one to five, but the industry has responded by cutting placements instead of putting on extra staff.

Already in extreme shortage, childcare places for children aged under two have become even scarcer, a survey of 120 Sydney childcare centres by Childcare NSW has found. "Overall we have found there has been a 20 per cent reduction in available placements," Childcare NSW president Vicki Skoulogenis said. "Parents are at the point where they can't afford childcare, and are seeking alternative care or backyard and unregulated care."

Lienna Mandic, who runs five daycare centres, has reduced baby placements in her centres for economic reasons. "At Quakers Hill we had five baby places, and now we have four because we could not put on another staff member for one baby. I had 10 places at Glenmore Park, it's gone to eight and I had 15 at Guildford and now it's 12 just to meet the ratios," Ms Mandic said.

Roxanne Elliott from care forkids.com said the industry had made it clear offering child care for babies was becoming too expensive. "There's always been a critical shortage for under-twos but, from a business perspective, the industry has indicated it might not be cost-effective to offer placements," Ms Elliott said.

John Owens, who runs two child care centres in Naremburn, said despite putting up fees $10 a day for babies, he could not afford to continue to offer places for under twos. "We will look at reducing our baby numbers because we can't afford it," Mr Owens said.

The impact is being felt by mothers like Emma Grogan who put her name down at several centres when she was five months' pregnant, but, with her maternity leave up in three months, is still without a place for her daughter Lilliana.

"It's ridiculous, this is my first baby - she is nine months' old and I started looking over a year ago, and they have all said I have to go on a waiting list," the 35-year-old business consultant from Leichhardt said.

Federal Child Care Minister Kate Ellis hit back, saying: "We will not let relentless fear-mongering on the cost impacts of these reforms distract us from delivering the right outcomes for Australian children and their families".



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, 2011

Why the state should butt out of our personal lives

It is a sign of the times that the only debate we seem to have about nudging is ‘does it work?’ rather than ‘what gives them the right?’.

This week, the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee published a report into behaviour change. It provides revealing insights into the limitations of the fashionable idea that we can be ‘nudged’ into changing our ways on a range of problems, from obesity to climate change. What the report doesn’t do, however, is challenge the idea that our behaviour needs to be changed in the first place, and that it is the role of government to do it.

The committee that prepared the report was chaired by Baroness Julia Neuberger and included such luminaries as former UK chief scientific adviser, Lord Robert May, and the first chairman of the Food Standards Agency, Lord John Krebs. In the course of their enquiry, they questioned a wide variety of academics, politicians, business leaders and representatives of NGOs. Their report thus provides an unusually wide survey of opinion from the movers and shakers of modern British society.

The thinking behind the enquiry is laid out in the opening paragraph. ‘Many of the goals to which governments aspire - such as bringing down levels of crime, reducing unemployment, increasing savings and meeting targets for carbon emissions - can be achieved only if people change their behaviour.’ This single sentence reveals how the politics of behaviour has become so central to political thought today. Clearly, crime is a form of behaviour, so no surprises there, though the causes of crime surely run much wider than individual choices. Unemployment has usually been seen in the past as an economic problem, not one of individual behaviour. Carbon emissions could more easily be reduced by major infrastructural investment rather than by badgering people to fiddle with their thermostats or to use the bus sometimes instead of the car. So why the obsession with personal behaviour?

The logic of this outlook, as the report says, is that ‘understanding how to change the behaviour of populations should be a concern for any government if it is to be successful’. Of course, governments have long had mechanisms to try to alter behaviour. The most obvious one is to use the criminal law to make something either illegal (like smoking in pubs) or compulsory (like wearing a seatbelt in cars). Slightly less draconian - but manipulative nonetheless - is the authorities’ attempts to influence behaviour in economic ways, by providing incentives (for example, generous subsidies to the middle classes to install solar panels and wind turbines) or disincentives (like setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol). If all else fails, the government can just spend hundreds of millions of pounds nagging us to lose weight, get fit, stop smoking or use a condom.

One problem with these kinds of mechanisms is that they look a bit authoritarian, or at the very least hectoring. It’s really rather obvious that the government is demanding that you behave in a different manner. New Labour clearly had absolutely no problem with stating this fairly openly, which is why Tony Blair and Gordon Brown famously oversaw the creation of over 3,000 new criminal offences, congestion charging in London, on-the-spot fines for not recycling, and so on.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, like to kid themselves that they are lovers of liberty - yet the truth is that they want to meddle in our lives just as much as New Labour did. So they put forward the idea of ‘non-regulatory and non-fiscal measures with relation to the individual’ that alter our ‘choice architecture’. Essentially, when we’re not really thinking about our behaviour or don’t really care very much what we do or how we do it in a particular situation, we can be subtly directed towards doing the right thing.

To use the definition provided by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in what the Lords report calls ‘the currently influential book, Nudge’, a nudge is ‘any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.’

There are situations in which such nudging is fairly benign. Laying out a sports stadium in such a manner that we naturally tend to walk in a certain direction, helping to reduce logjams and congestion, could be one. The most talked about one from Thaler and Sunstein’s book is giving men something to aim at when they urinate, the result being that more of the urine goes in the bowl and less on the floor. Or a nudge could simply be a case of making it as easy as possible for me to do the good thing I wanted to do anyway, like including a freepost envelope with a request for a donation or putting a tickbox on a driver’s licence form to agree to organ donation.

But these are pretty banal issues. Not pissing on the floor is hardly a massive societal concern. Solving unemployment or reducing obesity, however, are a different matter entirely. And that is where the Lords report is rather damning, because the other problem with this kind of behaviour change is that it doesn’t work for any issue where we stop and think about what we want to do. The committee notes that in the evidence it heard ‘although much was understood about human behaviour from basic research, there was relatively little evidence about how this understanding could be applied in practice to change the behaviour of populations’. It adds: ‘Our central finding is that non-regulatory measures used in isolation, including “nudges”, are less likely to be effective. Effective policies often use a range of interventions.’

It’s not just nudging that the committee is dismissive of. Lecturing people about their habits, in isolation, is also ineffective, it says. In fact, a major theme of the report is just how little hard evidence there is that many lifestyle interventions, short of simply forcing people not to do something, really work in changing the behaviour of populations. Even then, there’s another leap to be made from changing behaviour to having the ultimate desired effect, like improving health or reducing crime. So, for example, smoking has been very effectively banned in workplaces in the UK. In the past four years, I’ve barely seen anyone light up in a pub in England. But has this led to a reduction in the rates of smoking-related deaths? Despite various dubious attempts to prove otherwise, the answer is almost certainly ‘no’.

But debating the effectiveness of such measures is really beside the point. What has received far too little discussion is whether it is morally and politically acceptable to have our choices manipulated on the basis that Government Knows Best. The report only briefly touches on this, acknowledging that ‘in some circumstances, changing behaviour will be considered controversial’, and adding later: ‘As a general point, we accept that regulatory interventions which restrict choice may be judged more acceptable if there is good evidence that they will be effective in tackling an urgent issue which is having significant detrimental effects on the population.’

That means that the authorities can decide what is good for us. As long as the government determines that an issue is urgent and having a detrimental effect, and that a particular intervention is effective to stop it - and frankly the evidence can always be spun to prove this beneficial effect - then the committee can see no good reason to oppose it. The individual’s choice to engage in that activity - like eating fatty food, smoking, drinking or refusing to recycle - is simply disregarded. The language of nudge seems a neat way to implement such behaviour change.

It is a testament to the low horizons of modern politics that the hottest idea around is changing our behaviour. It is alarming to note that the only discussion considered worth having is not about our rights or autonomy but about how successfully we can be manipulated.


Casual Hate: The Subtle Side of Christian Persecution

Earlier this month I participated in Coptic Solidarity's Second Annual Conference in Washington D.C., titled: "Will Religious and Ethnic Minorities Pay the Price of the 'Arab Spring'?" Panelists included Middle East specialists, prominent members of the Coptic community, and other minority leaders from the Muslim world, including Kurds, Berbers, and Sudanese animists.

Held at the U.S. Capitol, nine members of Congress made statements and showed their support, including Sue Myrick, Chris Smith, and Frank Wolf. Walid Phares, a Congressional advisor who also participated, asserted that their appearance is encouraging and indicates that at least some members of Congress "are aware about the plight of minorities in general and of Christian communities in the Arab and Muslim world, and are particularly concerned about the Islamist and jihadi threat to these communities."

Because the conference spanned two days, I spent lots of time surrounded by Christian minorities. The casual anecdotes I heard, spoken not with outrage—the province of the privileged—but simply as backdrops to more mundane stories, revealed how endemic anti-Christian sentiment is to the Muslim world, so much so that Christians themselves have almost become immune to it, expecting it, reserving their actual complaints for times of physical persecution (including but not limited to Islamist-inspired theft, kidnapping, rape, church attacks, etc.).

In other words, if the formal speeches held at the Capitol documented the hostility and discrimination Christians face under Islam, the informal conversations, held over food and drink, drove the point home.

Thus one Coptic businessman complaining about how he lost a legal case in Egypt, though he was clearly in the right, was quickly interrupted by the grinning fellow across him, who asked whether his opponent was Muslim or Christian; when the businessman, rather coyly, said Muslim, everyone laughed knowingly, some even suggesting he was a fool for even going to court.

A women discussing her baby's erratic sleeping habits revealed why: the mosque next door, which always blasts Koranic verses on the megaphone around 4 a.m., constantly wakes him up in terror and tears; and though the baby does not understand the words, the mother does, pointing out that most of the verses being blared are especially hostile to Christians, like 5: 17, 5:51, and 9:29.

Any number of Copts looked at me incredulously when I inquired why a well qualified Copt did not bother applying to an important post in Egypt that seemed almost tailor-made for him: I was duly informed—that is, reminded—that best jobs are reserved for Muslims.

One refined-looking woman expressed her resignation: though a Christian, she sometimes wears the burqa in Egypt, simply so she can go about her daily business without being sexually-harassed, molested, called derogatory names, or spat upon (this recent story certainly validates her reasoning).

Some anecdotes were spoken in jest: one rather colorful Copt I bumped into in the restroom told me—between fits of laughter—how he once tried to use a mosque bathroom in Egypt; when the Muslims discovered he was a Christian, they chased him out, throwing shoes at him and calling him a "son of a bitch."

Indeed, a resigned sense of humor seemed to pervade many of these stories—as if to say, "Since there's nothing we can do about it, let's make light of it."

Other stories were spoken with stoic reserve. I have in mind the cigarette-puffing Assyrian couple from Iraq, who had lost everything to the unloosed forces of jihad—their home, their relatives, their business, their savings—and are trying to begin anew in America. Interesting was the man's lament, that gone are the "good old days"—under Saddam—when Christians were afforded some protection.

As I listened to all these stories, I thought to myself, here is the great and unfathomable gap between the few formal reports on Christian persecution reaching a few American politicians, and the daily reality experienced by millions of Christians under Islam.


The law is an ass: Victim says wrong man being punished

Why are pedophiles a protected species? The public intererst is surely served by their identity and whereabouts being known

THE plug has been pulled on outspoken radio star Derryn Hinch by a magistrate who yesterday imposed an extraordinary gag order.

Hinch, who had a liver transplant just two weeks ago, could have been jailed after he pleaded guilty to four charges of deliberately breaching suppression orders that prohibited the identification of sex offenders.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told a pale and breathless Hinch that he would have had no hesitation in jailing him but for his poor health.

Instead, he ordered that the 67-year-old broadcaster be confined to his home for five months, and placed strict conditions on what he can say and to whom he can say it.

Last night, a victim of a shocking paedophile attack called Hinch a hero for sacrificing his freedom to name and shame sex offenders.

Andrew Taylor, who was tortured, sexually abused and starved by one of the named offenders, said the law had punished the wrong man.

"Derryn has taken a stand and been punished for it. And I'm behind him 100 per cent," Mr Taylor said. "He is a hero to victims. He is a god to us. He will get up and fight for what he believes in. "What's wrong with a law that put's someone like Derryn Hinch away but lets sex offenders walk the streets? "Derryn was prepared to stand up for us. "A paedophile can get away with a slap on the wrist but the moment you name them for being what they are, you get charged, you get locked up."

Mr Taylor, who waived his right to anonymity, said it was a constant thought that his attacker could be living in the next street and he would not be told.

Mr Rozencwajg told Hinch he had five previous breaches of the law in various "name and shame" campaigns over the years. "It is clear that the offences were committed in a deliberate fashion, you being fully conscious that your actions were prohibited by law," Mr Rozencwajg said.


Court kicks out frivolous discrimination claim‏

TITLE IX: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..."

What happens when two cheerleaders get into a lengthy feud over a boy, then the younger is left off the varsity squad the following season? In Texas, a lawsuit happens, with said suit being laughed out of an appeals court upon its official review date.

As first reported by the Dallas Observer, the Title IX lawsuit filed by Liz Laningham -- the mother of former Carrollton (Texas) Creekview High cheerleader Sami Sanches (who is not pictured among the most recent group of Creekview cheerleaders below) -- was thrown out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals with the legal equivalent of a good, forceful kick to the rear end.

The following passage comes directly from the legal opinion given in the Laningham-Sanches case. In fact, it's the statement that starts off the lengthy court opinion, which you can read in full at the bottom of this Deadspin post right here.
Reduced to its essentials, this is nothing more than a dispute, fueled by a disgruntled cheerleader mom, over whether her daughter should have made the squad. It is a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court. We find no error [with the lower court's judgement] and affirm.

Now, one might wonder how the mother of a high school cheerleader could possibly be delusional enough to think that a claim of a vast school conspiracy against her daughter would be validated by a federal court. In fact, one might also wonder what made her feel entitled enough to cite prior legal decisions that found proof of sexual harassment and discrimination against rape victims and students who happened to bear an unfortunate likeness with Monica Lewinsky, in that aforementioned court claim.

The answer, it seems, is that Ms. Laningham was quite delusional indeed. Among a serial list of issues raised in her original legal writ, the Dallas Observer pulled out the following salient complaints … none of which, one could argue, have absolutely anything to do with the kind of systematic discrimination Title IX and sexual harassment laws are intended to protect against:
1. The school did not remove the freshman cheerleading squad captain after she told Sanches she'd kissed her boyfriend.

2 The way the squad chose jump sequences at homecoming was patently unfair.

3. Rank favoritism.

4. The scheduling of the end-of-year banquet for cheerleaders was too favorable to senior girls.

5. Laningham was threatened with a lawsuit by other parents because she failed to return cheerleading videos.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a test case in when you know a lawsuit is extraordinarily frivolous. The fact that other parents had to file a suit against Laningham just to get her to return cheerleading squad videos is proof enough that she didn't have the greatest track record of responsible "cheerleading stewardship," for lack of a better term.

Still, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't yet finished in its criticism of Laningham's irresponsible legal advocacy. In fact, it went so far as to criticize the grammar of the original filed brief in its footnotes, which it did with the following piece of exceptional intra-documentary referencing:
"Usually we do not comment on technical and grammatical errors, because anyone can make such an occasional mistake, but here the miscues are so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them. …

"And finally, the sentence containing the word 'incompetence' makes no sense as a matter of standard English prose, so it is not reasonably possible to understand the thought, if any, that is being conveyed. It is ironic that the term 'incompetence' is used here, because the only thing that is incompetent is the passage itself."

Ouch. Laningham just got served ... a really nasty court decision.

Thus concluded what Prep Rally can only consider to be the greatest review of a frivolous high school athletics lawsuit of all time. It's a legal opinion that may be incredibly difficult to top in the future, too, given its brash handling of the case and willingness to try and set a precedent for how such future frivolous lawsuits will be handled.



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, 2011

Five-star hotel Claridge's 'threw us out for being white and English'

Staff wanted to serve wealthy Arabs instead, claims socialite Taki Theodoracopulos

One of Britain's most exclusive hotels has been accused of throwing out a visitor - for being white and English. Claridge’s in Mayfair, central London, has been a favourite venue for the rich and famous and is often referred to as 'an extension of Buckingham Palace'.

But socialite and writer Taki Theodoracopulos has accused the establishment of favouring rich Arabs who spend frivolously over British aristocrats.

Theodoracopulos said that he was with a group of friends at the hotel's bar when he was asked to leave because the staff 'were hoping for Gulf people'. 'We were neither drunk nor obstreperous but we were refused a table although the place was less than one third full,' Theodoracopulos wrote in his Spectator magazine High Life column.

Theodoracopulos said that he had dined nearby with his group of friends, including the Marquess of Worcester and his brother Lord John Somerset. The 74-year-old Greek-born writer said that he wanted a table but was asked to leave. Theodoracopulos, who has homes in London, New York and Switzerland, is demanding an apology and calling for a boycott of the venue.

'Harry Worcester had the brilliant idea to go to Claridge’s bar for a drink,' he wrote. 'After politely suggesting that the management should give us one, the maitre d’ came over and asked us to leave. 'Lord Worcester protested, as did his brother Lord John Somerset. I was at the bar and unaware we were being given the heave-ho. Once I caught on, it was too late. My party was out the door.

'So here’s what I think happened and why I am outraged. We were speaking English, we were white and we had not demanded myriad bottles of champagne.

'The staff were obviously hoping for Gulf people, whose moolah (slang for money) derives from the theft of their countries’ resources. 'The idea that four English-speaking European gents with four ladies in tow are asked to leave Claridge’s is as outrageous as it’s foul.'

The hotel has denied any knowledge of the incident and rejects the idea that they prefer wealthy Arabs as guests. 'We have checked. There is no record of such an incident. I think he is being deliberately provocative and mischievous,' a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.

But Theodoracopulos said he stands by his story is 'still very upset by what happened.'


“Of course I support a free press, but …”

All-party support for regulating the media threatens to reverse the historic gains of the struggle for press freedom

You would be hard pressed to know it from the madness of recent news headlines, but there has been an even more important issue at stake in the hacking furore than whether Rebekah Brooks would lose her key to the News Corp executive washroom, or whether a committee of British MPs would get to enjoy an orgasm of outrage in front of Rupert Murdoch this week.

What matters far above and beyond all of that is the future of a free press. And it already seems clear that, no matter who might eventually get convicted of what and how far Murdoch’s shares might fall, the biggest loser will be press freedom.

We have entered the age of ‘I support a free press, but…’ Every leading British politician who has spoken on this subject of late has begun by assuring us that of course they want to see a free, even a ‘raucous’ press, one that ‘can make our lives miserable’, etc. This just the warm-up, going through the motions.

Then comes the punchline: ‘But….’ In the light of recent revelations, they conclude, the ‘culture’ of the press must, of course, be made more responsible, to produce a more ethical servant of the ‘public interest’. And to ensure the raucous Fleet Street Kids behave themselves along these lines, new proposals for more intervention in the news media have been streaming off the presses with the support of all parties – parliamentary hearings, police investigations and a judge-led public inquiry empowered by the government to ‘craft a new system of press regulation’.

The notion that more official regulation of the media is a good thing for the people goes against the tide of history. The fight to free the press from state control has been central to almost every major struggle for liberty and democratic revolution.

It was in the midst of the English Revolution of the 1640s that John Milton wrote his pioneering pamphlet against the system under which nobody could publish anything without a licence from the king, so that ‘unoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailer in their title’. Milton asked only for a ‘free and open encounter’ between Falsehood and Truth.

When the American revolutionaries wrote the Bill of Rights into their new Constitution in 1789, the First Amendment could not have been clearer about the principle of the press being freed from state control in a democratic society. ‘Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.’

In the 1840s, the first articles a young Karl Marx had published in a German newspaper were a polemical series against the control of the press by the Prussian state. Marx argued that ‘The free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people’s soul, the embodiment of a people’s faith in itself…. It is the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself, and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom.’

This is just part of the history of struggle that has brought us to something imperfectly approximating a free press. Yet now, in twenty-first-century Britain, it seems the authorities are agreed upon the project of turning back the clock. More than 200 years after the American Puritans declared that politicians ‘shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press’, our allegedly liberal British politicians appear bent on doing just that. The fact that the new anti-press regulations have this time been justified as a defence of victims rather than of kings, and as an attack on the power of Murdoch rather than on the liberties of the public, does not alter the fact that they represent a poke in the ‘vigilant eye of a people’s soul’.

Worse, as this is the UK 2011, and our elected politicians lack the nerve to do things in their own name, they have handed over the future of press freedom to a judge: the unelected and unaccountable Lord Justice Leveson, who now apparently has the authority to reverse the gains of history. Tory prime minister David Cameron told parliament this week that, although a new legal regulator of the press might be needed, of course he did not personally favour ‘full statutory regulation’. But the judge’s inquiry was free to consider all options, and if m’lud decided to bring the press under full state regulation then, said Cameron, ‘we will have to be guided by what this inquiry finds’.

So the government and the judges are out to restage the battle for a free press. Yet where are the Miltons and Thomas Paines of today? Most of those who would claim to be liberals have not only gone over to the other side, but are leading the regime’s cavalry charge against press freedom. Liberal journalists waving their anti-Murdoch banners have been in the forefront of the campaign for more legal and police action to control the tabloid press, using high-profile victims such as murder victim Milly Dowler’s parents as human shields in their propaganda war. Some allegedly liberal commentators have even proposed that journalists should once more be licensed before they can publish anything. Great idea – why not go the whole historical hog and say the queen has to endorse the licence? Or maybe in the age when celebrities rule the Earth it might be more appropriate to put Princess Kate in charge of licensing the press.

It is quite a thing to realise that these supposedly cynical journalists and campaigners are naive enough to imagine that new regulation of the written word will only affect the ‘bad’ tabloid press, not the ‘good’ outlets that they write for and read. It is reminiscent of the left wingers in the 1930s who campaigned for and applauded the introduction of a Public Order Act to counter the fascists – and were then astonished when the state first turned the new laws against them.

We do not actually live in an absolute monarchy or a Prussian police state. The British newspapers are not all about to be closed down (unless they go out of business) and the internet is flourishing. But the danger to a free press comes not only from censorship. The more insidious threat is conformism. The current drive to tame the tabloids can only reinforce the consensus that there are things than cannot be said, ideas that cannot be questioned, and issues that should not be investigated. If the one-note drone of the media and the Twittertariat during the hacking scandal – all repeating the same moralistic message, over and over again – is a sign of things to come, then the free press is already on the missing list.

There is a long record of self-censorship in the British media. George Orwell noted it in his 1945 essay, ‘Freedom of the press’, which he wrote as a preface to Animal Farm (though it has rarely been published with the book). Orwell observed that, even during the national crisis of the Second World War, the state had not been a heavy-handed censor: ‘The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary…. Things are kept right out of the British press, not because the government intervenes but because of a general tacit agreement that “it wouldn’t do” to mention that particular fact.’ We are now faced with a new generation of gutless, risk-averse self-censors at the forefront of the illiberal liberal media, telling us that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to say that.

The judge’s inquiry may be free to consider all options, but we can be reasonably sure that he will not conclude that there is already too little freedom and too much regulation of the press, both formal and informal. Whatever the outcome of all the investigations and inquiries, the tabloid press has been found guilty. It’s time to make a stand for a raucous, irreverent and offensive media that is prepared to question everything, before we find ourselves convicted of practising irresponsible journalism without a licence.


Corruption behind British correctness?

It's just done more subtly in Britain -- and in good taste, of course

Britons love to lecture the world about integrity and the rule of law, but the News of the World phone hacking scandal has laid bare a web of collusion between money, power, media and the police.

Far from the innocent, upright democracy of its self-image, Britain is showing a seamy side that anti-corruption campaigners say is getting worse and may be politically explosive as society becomes more unequal due to the financial and economic crises.

Behind a facade of probity, London offers a haven for oligarchs and despots, a place where foreign media magnates have bought access to and influence over the government.

The scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media empire has already destroyed a newspaper, cost two top police officers their jobs, seen the arrest of powerful media figures and embarrassed the prime minister and political elite.

But it points to a bigger problem in British society -- overly cozy relationships among elites that are ethically dangerous, even when they do not involve outright criminality.

Britain says it has been bolstering its legal and regulatory system. Just this month a new law on bribery tightening rules for UK firms operating abroad entered force.

But some of the world's leading transparency campaigners say that the hacking scandal exemplifies unhealthy links between power and money.

"The bottom line... is that for some time there has been undue influence on UK governments and public policy by powerful private interests," says Daniel Kaufmann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.

"It is ... often a more sophisticated form of high-level political corruption. It may not be strictly illegal -- or it may be more subtle -- but that does not mean it is not very costly for society or the economy," said Kaufman, a former director of the World Bank Institute and creator of the closely watched Worldwide Governance Indicators.

If unchecked, "elite capture" of political systems can become "privatization of public policy" -- a growing danger in both Britain and the United States, he said.

As with media barons such as Murdoch, the influence of the financial services industry is so strong, Kaufmann argued, that politicians have long avoided questioning it.

That acquiescence contributed to the global financial crisis. It has also made Britain one of the key banking centers for the world's most corrupt oligarchs and despots.

Financial secrecy arrangements -- such as Britain's system of financial "trusts", which allow powerful figures to mask the ownership of assets -- have rarely if ever been challenged by the government, say financiers and campaigners.

When power elites in the Middle East looked for somewhere to send their money during the "Arab Spring" uprisings this year, wealth managers told Reuters London was the prime beneficiary. Much may have been legitimately earned, some almost certainly not.

Both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif owned property in London through complex trusts and front companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.

Through its close links with tax haven satellites such as the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, experts say Britain is at the center of many such schemes.

"London has become the money launderers' destination of choice," says John Christensen, a former economic adviser to the Channel island of Jersey, who now runs the Tax Justice Network, a group campaigning for tighter regulation.

"If you look at the way we talk about and measure corruption in the West, it's either Africa or Asia which comes out worse. But we are using a distorted prism."

It's not just Britain. A Reuters investigation this month showed how some U.S. states -- notably Wyoming and Delaware -- were failing to meet international standards, offering "shelf companies" to help hide assets and avoid tax.

Christensen argues that states have been losing control of the financial system for more than 30 years and now find themselves increasingly at its mercy.

Even groups such as Transparency International -- which has traditionally focused on criticizing "conventionally" corrupt states in emerging economies -- are beginning to shift their attention to developed world corruption.

TI published a report earlier this month entitled "Britain: more corrupt than you think", showing that a majority of people believed corruption was worsening in the country.

"It is not that corruption is endemic in the UK as it is in some other countries but there is a worrying degree of complacency," said Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International UK. "The focus (now) is on corruption in the media and allegations about bribing the police... but we are also particularly worried about political party funding, parliament, sport and the prison system."

Even recent gains are not always what they seem. For example Transparency International points to the UK Bribery Act. The law's introduction was delayed after frantic lobbying by companies who said it would make them uncompetitive, prompting officials to effectively water down some of the guidance on how rigorously it would be enforced.

The institution responsible for enforcing it, the Serious Fraud Office, is also suffering budget cuts -- as are other bodies aimed at tackling grassroots corruption in prisons, police, local government, and taxation. The previous government halted bribery investigations into arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the national interest.

Not everyone despairs. Some argue that the Internet and social media may prompt a new era of transparency, raising the reputational risks for governments that fail to clean up their act.

The Brookings Institute's Kaufmann argues that antimonopoly regulations and diverse political systems involving more than two main parties could help by making it harder for oligarchs to control the system.

Activists warn of growing public discontent. In Britain, lobby group UKuncut has organised direct action including flash mobs outside firms they accuse of avoiding tax -- although they say they had no hand in throwing a cream pie at Murdoch on Tuesday at a parliamentary committee.

"It's a bit like the beginning of an avalanche where it is very hard to predict where it will end up," said Tim Hardy, a left-wing blogger describing himself as a cheerleader for the officially leaderless group.

Nor is discontent limited to the political fringe. One former senior British official said on condition of anonymity that groups such as UKuncut "have more of a point than they know".

Political advisers to banks warn of a growing global anti-establishment backlash.

John Bassett -- a former senior official at the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute -- says that coming after the financial and economic crises the hacking scandal "has revitalized the narrative of a corrupt elite.

"The long-term result is likely to be a further erosion in the credibility of the British establishment, particularly the media and police, in the eyes of citizens."


It's not the media that's invading our privacy, it's the government

Comment from Australia

PRIVACY and Freedom of Information Minister Brendan O'Connor claimed yesterday in The Australian, "This government believes in a free media and freedom of expression, and we also believe in the right to a private life."

Perhaps he does but the actions speak louder than words. It's not the media that is invading everyone's privacy, it's the government.

In one after another aspect of life state and federal governments have dispensed with any presumption that your behaviour, opinions or associations are none of anyone else's business.

An increasingly large share of our tax dollars is being used to employ a growing army of people to prescribe, monitor, enforce and report on activity that ought to be considered private.

A serious review of privacy should open up debate about the effectiveness or desirability of present prohibitions on private action.

A serious privacy review might consider, for instance, why we don't allow an adult video game classification or the public value of last year's decision to ban a gay zombie film from being shown at a Melbourne film festival.

In most cases each individual intrusion is innocuous; in some cases the short-term impacts are arguably beneficial, such as the curbs on smoking. But it's a part of a trend to regulate recreation, speech and consumption even further.

It is, for instance, illegal in NSW to raffle cosmetic surgery, although cosmetic surgery and raffles remain legal. It's also illegal to use a solarium if you're under 30 -- an age of consent without precedent anywhere else in law -- and it's illegal to box until you're 14, although horse riding remains a more dangerous sport. In Queensland it's illegal to skateboard, scooter or roller blade after dark. "I'm not anti-fun, I'm pro-safety," Labor politician Rachel Nolan said when announcing the changes. "This is just as much about common courtesy as it is about common sense."

Her press release and subsequent statements offered no data on the safety case or indeed the courtesy case but, then, one can generally be guaranteed an absence of facts when government resorts to claiming a measure is about common sense.

The election of the Baillieu government in Victoria ensures it will no longer be the only state in the federation where a smoking enthusiast can indulge the no doubt twilight years of their hobby with a water pipe.

Last year fireworks were finally banned in the ACT after continuing complaints not of human injury but of nervous animals.

On the horizon or under consideration for bans in various states and territories at the moment are energy drinks, junk food advertising, "offensive" T-shirts, helium balloons, "exploitative" advertising, trans fats and canals.

Elsewhere additional resources are being applied to crack down on activities that have long been regulated but that warrant a fresh think about how useful or desirable this prohibition is. More resources than ever are being applied to the regulation of prostitution, firearms and drugs without a clear picture of the specific public benefits to be obtained or comparative analysis of competing approaches.

Meanwhile, every day that passes without a resolution to a serious challenge such as indigenous literacy seems to usher forth yet another resource-devouring intrusion into private life. If the government is serious about privacy its first task should be to identify those areas where government could improve privacy rights simply by keeping its own nose out of other people's business.



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, 2011

Absurdly naive study of the effects of marriage on children

Excerpt from a media report below. The researchers found that children tended to have similar levels of educational achievement to their parents regardless of whether the parents were married or not. Any student of IQ could have predicted that. IQ is overwhelmingly hereditary and negligibly influenced by the family environment. And IQ is the chief determinant of educational success. So the finding tells us nothing new or relevant

What is interesting is the socio-emotional progress of the child. What the study found was that parents reported satisfactory development in that respect regardless of whether they were married or not.

But that finding is entirely consistent with the children of marriages being better off in social development. It could well mean that married couples expect more of their children and so are less satisified even though the kids are quite good by objective standards

I note however that I have not been able to find online the full details of the study. The so-called more detailed report put online by the IFS is very scant on detail.

And what are economists at a fiscal studies body doing carrying out such research? When non-psychologists do psychological research they very commonly make methodological howlers. And even many psychologists can be psychometrically naive and end up using invalid measuring instruments. Being a psychometrician, I must have had a hundred or more academic publications pointing that out.

NO conclusions would seem warranted by this study

David Cameron's promised tax-break for couples has been dealt a blow after an influential think tank found that marriage actually provides few benefits to children.

Instead, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that parents' qualifications are more likely to help or hinder the educational and emotional development of a child. It found there was 'little or no evidence' to support the idea that marital status affects children in the commonly held belief, pouring cold water on Mr Cameron's plans to fix 'Broken Britain.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies concedes that there is a difference but says this is down to the education attainment of a child's mother and father.

The report from the IFS concluded: 'We can find no strong evidence that marriage leads to better cognitive or social outcomes for children than cohabitation. 'Policies aimed at encouraging parents to get married before they bear children thus require a rationale other than one based on the impact of marriage on child development.'

Ellen Greaves, research economist at the IFS, said: 'It is true that children born to married couples are on average more cognitively and emotionally successful than children born to cohabiting couples.

'But careful analysis shows that this largely reflects the differences between the types of people who decide to get married and those who don't. 'On average those who marry tend to come from more advantaged families, and are more cognitively and emotionally successful themselves, than those who cohabit.

'This explains the differences in outcomes for children. Marriage itself appears to confer little, if any, benefit in terms of child development.'

The children were broken up into three different age groups and then asked to carry out tasks. The three-year-olds had their vocabulary tested by being asked to identify pictures.

Five-year-olds had to recognise patterns and also had their vocabulary tested while the seven-year-olds were given basic maths problems and had to answer word recognition.

The second part of the study, sponsored by the Nuffield Institute, involved the questioning of parents to find out how they believed their child was developing through a series of 40 questions.

For their study the IFS used information from the Millennium Cohort Study, a sample of children born in the UK in the early 2000s; and the British Cohort Study, a census of individuals born in a particular week in 1970, whose children were surveyed in 2004.


The BBC's bias has been one of the most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga

Ten years ago, BBC2’s Newsnight devoted an entire show to the resignation of Peter Mandelson as Northern Ireland Secretary. I described it in these pages as one of the most shocking programmes I had ever seen.

Though this was the second occasion on which the accident-prone Mr Mandelson had been forced to resign, the programme was almost entirely sympathetic to him. Only political allies were summoned to mutter reverentially over his political corpse. For a terrifying moment, the BBC was synonymous with New Labour.

A BBC boxwallah later conceded that the coverage had been unbalanced, and issued a kind of half apology. Will the Corporation make amends for an equally shocking example of bias on Tuesday evening’s Newsnight?

The subject under discussion was Rupert Murdoch. Various people were gathered to offer their point of view. Virtually everyone was hostile. The media mogul was by common consent a thoroughly bad thing.

There were contributions from the veteran American investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, Earl Spencer (brother of Princess Diana), the novelist Will Self and a Tory MP called Louise Mensch. All were in varying degrees critical of Mr Murdoch and his newspapers, and some widened their attack to include the whole of the popular Press.

The lugubrious Mr Self even opined that Mr Murdoch had introduced the culture of envy into British society. Perhaps he should re-read a few Victorian novels when he has the time. Needless to say, this idiocy was not even questioned by the Newsnight presenter, Gavin Esler.

Not only was there no one present to speak up for Mr Murdoch, there weren’t even any neutral parties to say what I happen to believe — that there are good things and bad things about the Press tycoon and his influence on our culture, and it is facile to portray him in a wholly negative way.

I appreciate that Newsnight is hardly mainstream viewing, and that it enjoys a small audience. But it is worth citing as a kind of bellweather of BBC coverage, which has been unremittingly hostile to Mr Murdoch and his newspapers over the past couple of weeks. For all his sins, wasn’t he the man who saved newspapers by defeating rapacious trade unions? Hasn’t he kept The Times going for 30 years despite losses of hundreds of millions of pounds?

Let me restrict myself to other examples of BBC bias from the past 48 hours. Tuesday evening’s News At Ten reported Mr Murdoch saying that he had been asked to enter No 10 by the back door so as to escape notice when visiting David Cameron, but cut his subsequent remark that he did exactly the same when calling on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Later in the bulletin, the Corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, and its business editor, Robert Peston, lined up like a couple of undertakers to pass judgment on Mr Murdoch’s performance, and that of his son James, in front of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Much as I respect Mr Robinson, and accept that he normally strives to be even-handed, his account of Rupert Murdoch being uniformly doddery and out of touch with his company was somewhat selective. He also came close to suggesting that David Cameron had been ‘compromised’, and declared that he was in a ‘quagmire’.

Perhaps he is, but this is the kind of judgment one expects from a newspaper commentator, not a supposedly neutral reporter on our public service broadcaster. BBC journalists who used to restrict themselves to reporting events are increasingly drawn into punditry, and so are bound to sound partial. In recent weeks that has meant being virulently ‘anti-Murdoch’.

On yesterday’s Today programme on Radio 4, Sarah Montague interviewed Trevor Kavanagh, a columnist on the Murdoch-owned Sun.

Though he has no executive responsibilities, and does not even visit the Sun’s offices, Ms Montague insisted he state that phone hacking had never occurred on his newspaper. Mr Kavanagh, who handled himself well, should have demanded the same assurance from her about the BBC.

Later on the programme, the same Sarah Montague interviewed the distinguished novelist P.D. James, who is 91 in a couple of weeks. Lo and behold, after a few moments Ms Montague turned the subject around to the BBC’s unflagging obsession — phone hacking.

I could go on. Anyone with a grouse against Rupert Murdoch is invited to dilate without any requirement to produce evidence. A Panorama ‘special’ about him on BBC1 on Monday evening was a straightforward hatchet job in which ‘victims’ of the News of the World (some of them men whom you would not necessarily invite home to meet your mother) queued up to denigrate him and his newspapers. Barely a word was said in his favour.

Naturally, I don’t deny that the phone-hacking affair is an extremely important story, which has rightly been covered extensively by all media organisations. My point is that the BBC has not treated Rupert Murdoch fairly. It has conjured up a rampant monster. Moreover, its preoccupation with the scandal has been so all-consuming that it has downplayed or ignored other important stories, such as the increasingly worrying tribulations of the Eurozone and the worsening economic prospects in this country.

None of this would matter very much if the BBC were not a subsidised public sector broadcaster with a greater ‘reach’ than all of its rivals combined. (How much of it would survive if it were forced to compete in the cut and thrust of the commercial market?) By the way, the estimated audience of all BBC news bulletins on television and radio is some 20 times greater than that of the Murdoch-controlled Sky News, which has been reporting the scandal with commendable objectivity — unlike the BBC.

As an institution, the BBC loathes Murdoch because he has brilliantly built BSkyB into a formidable programming rival, and in particular shattered the Corporation’s former pre-eminence in sports coverage. And, of course, many Left-leaning BBC journalists (which means most of them) regard him as an anti-Christ for being Right-wing, unashamedly pro-American, and a free marketeer.

He is too powerful, and so I am glad he is not proceeding with his bid to acquire the rest of BskyB. He has in some respects impoverished our culture — for example, by introducing ‘Page 3 girls’. But he has also done some good things, and however much it may distress high-minded liberals such as the aforementioned Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, millions of people choose to buy and read his newspapers.

Incidentally, Mr Bernstein would do well to ponder the fact that nearly all American newspapers driven by obsessive liberal agendas are dying — undermined by unappealing journalism and the kind of pomposity he displayed this week.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron announced that broadcasting organisations including the BBC will also be investigated by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into Press ethics. Will the inquiry panellists (most of whom are of a distinctly centre-Left hue) look at the Corporation’s coverage of this scandal? I’m not betting on it.

But I still hope that the BBC — the only media organisation in Britain that regulates itself — will examine its shaming coverage of this scandal, and in particular Tuesday’s edition of Newsnight.

Imagine the Murdoch media writing about a crisis in the BBC in the sort of biased and tendentious way that the Corporation has covered his travails. There would be an outcry, and rightly so. That is the measure of the failings of our impregnable public service broadcaster in reporting this story.


Herman Cain Catches Heat Over Mosque Comments

Bob McCarty

When I saw Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain come under fire over the weekend for comments he made about the construction of mosques in the United States, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Why? Because, in my not-too-distant past, I worked with churches nationwide as an audio-video design and installation consultant. From my office at Norman, Okla.-based Fowler, Inc. I traveled the country and was involved in the construction process from project design and blueprints to final construction.

For almost five years during the late 1990s, I worked with hundreds of Christian leaders across the country whose churches were engaged in new construction projects. I witnessed firsthand how, in many parts of the United States, it required a minimum of several months of cutting through bureaucratic red tape for church bodies to gain approval of new construction or renovation projects from their respective local government planning and zoning commissions. Sometimes, it took years as members of those government bodies seemed to work overtime in putting up roadblocks.

Six years have passed since I left Norman, but my contacts in the industry tell me little has changed. Though I have no way of knowing whether or not the delays stem from anti-Christian bias, I suspect some do. But do you read about the delays caused by local government bureaucrats? Rarely.

On the flip side of the coin, however, it becomes headline news across the country for citizens in a U.S. town or city to oppose construction of a mosque — or for a presidential candidate like Cain to hold such a position.

An Atlanta radio talk show host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain generated a lot of buzz Sunday when he used Murfreesboro, Tenn., as an example. In short, he told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that protests and legal challenges to a planned mosque in that city are an example of local residents pushing back. Painted as most controversial, however, was his contention that his view doesn’t amount to religious discrimination, because Muslims are trying to inject Shariah law into the U.S.

Cain’s comments fall in line with the thinking that allowing Shariah Law in this country is akin to committing national suicide.

When all is said and done, however, the controversy above leads to two logical conclusions: As Americans, we must promote the spread of Christian family values in order to stem the spread of Islamic beliefs and Sharia Law. In addition, we must get involved in politics at every level of government — down to and including the planning and zoning commissions — in order to prevent the possibility of anti-Christian bias via government bodies.


Rick Perry's Christianity is Good for America

Ben Shapiro

For those who couldn't tell from my name, I'm a Jew. Not only am I Jew, I'm an Orthodox Jew. I pray three times a day to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I keep kosher. I wear phylacteries in the morning, and I say the Shema at night.

And I love Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "The Response."

On August 6, Perry is hosting a "day of prayer and fasting" in Houston. "With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis, people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God's help," Perry said in announcing the event. "That's why I'm calling on Americans to pray and fast, like Jesus did, and as God called the Israelites to do."

The left has entered the same bizarre and fetishistic anti-religious frenzy they always do when someone on the right mentions God. Asking God's help and guidance constitutes abdication of personal responsibility according to Justin Elliott of Salon, who headlined his idiotic piece on The Response, "Rick Perry Platform: Let God Figure it Out." Barry Lynn, executive director of the secularist Americans United for Separation of Church and State, remarked, "I have never seen a governor initiate and lead this kind of Christians-only prayer rally." The Freedom from Religion Foundation sued to try to stop Perry from attending the rally, even though it's not a state-sponsored event.

There is nothing wrong with Perry's "The Response." In fact, it is profoundly right to request that God look kindly and benevolently on the United States of America. Even those who don't believe in God should be able to recognize that peaceful public displays of faith strengthen the unity of our nation.

Reliance on God allows Americans to stop turning on one another, as President Obama would prefer. Class warfare is simply un-Christian; it is profoundly anti-religious, since it presumes that property is not God's to distribute, but man's to redistribute. There is a reason why Marx despised religion and why Marxism's first dictate in any country is the destruction of Christianity. Furthermore, there is no question whatsoever that the religious community in America provides more charity per capita than the non-religious community.

As to the odd notion that Christians such as Perry are Waiting for Godot to create jobs and solve unemployment, Perry's own record contradicts that. Under his watch, Texas has created more jobs than all the other states combined during Perry's time as governor. If Perry's Christianity is a factor in his politics, there are plenty of other governors who might want to open up the Bible.

Those who are concerned about Perry's openly Christian worship are again wrongheaded. For folks who love to spout about diversity, they sure hate to see it in action when the word "Jesus" is used.

This is where the rubber meets the road for Perry's Jewish critics. "There are many houses of worship here in Texas, not just Christian churches," said Kim Kamen of the American Jewish Committee about "The Response." "As the leader of our state, we hope he will bear that in mind." Overall, the Jewish community remains uneasy about public displays of Christianity.

They shouldn't. Perry is Christian, yes. So are the vast majority of those who will attend "The Response." In fact, so are almost 80 percent of Americans. And Perry's brand of Christianity is what maintains the sacredness of Judaism and the unbreakable bond between America and Israel. Invocation of Jesus shouldn't just be tolerated uncomfortably by the American Jewish community -- it should be welcomed.

The same people who believe deeply in Jesus are now standing shoulder-by-shoulder with the Jewish state. While fellow Jews like Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic babble that people shouldn't donate money to help Israel fight fires because Israel is "a rich country," Christians like Perry donate the cash that helps put out the fires. Would that we had more Perrys in the world and fewer Goldbergs.

Overall, "The Response" is a net positive for the country, without a doubt. Those who despise traditional religion in general -- pro-abortionists, militant gay-marriage activists -- oppose "The Response" for their own reasons. But everyone else, religious and secular, should recognize the overwhelming good that displays like "The Response" do for the nation. Americans still stand for God and country. Remove one half of that equation, and the rest of the structure falls.



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, 2011

Australia: African adopts 'Daniel McClean' name on his CV to try to get job interviews

A lot of this "racism" is created by the diversity industry itself. If I were an employer, I would be wary of hiring an African too. What if he proved unsuitable for the work and I had to fire him? I would run the risk of being accused of racism for doing so -- and then getting taken before a heavily biased "tribunal" over it. Better to opt for the simple life and not hire him in the first place

A SUDANESE man who has applied unsuccessfully for more than 1000 jobs has resorted to using a fake Anglo name on his resume in a desperate attempt to get work.

Former refugee Agnok Lueth, 23, who fled war-torn Sudan for Melbourne in 2004, created the resume alias "Daniel McClean" because he believed Australian employers were unwilling to give him a fair go under his real name.

Mr Lueth sent out hundreds of resumes for jobs he was qualified for, but only received callbacks on applications with the fake names. Of the six applications with the fake name, he got five callbacks.

The Swinburne University biomedicine and commerce double degree student can speak three languages, has a favourable work history and volunteered for three years for an Australian aid organisation.

Despite meeting the job criteria for positions as a waiter, shop assistant, call centre worker and bank teller, Mr Lueth told mX he felt overlooked by employers.

"I did a test to see if it was an experience problem or something more," he said. "I sent six resumes with my qualifications but used a different name, and I was surprised at how quickly I heard back from five of the companies for interview requests."

Mr Lueth could not say why the five calls did not lead to a job interview. He said one employer only asked him two questions.

The Australian Human Rights Commission's Graeme Innes said there was a growing trend of immigrants adopting western names in the hope it would help them get hired.

"Unfortunately, there are elements of racism in our community and there are definitely people in Australia who make employment decisions on a racist bias," he said. "We like to call ourselves a tolerant society, but this happens a lot more often than we think."

Since university timetable clashes forced Mr Lueth into the job hunt in 2009, he has relied on Centrelink payments and a Smith Family scholarship.

"Sometimes I just feel like giving up," he said. "The Sudanese community is thankful for all the opportunities we're given in Australia, but we have something to make this nation defined by the strength of its diversity."

Smith Family Learning for Life team leader Anne Marmion said Lueth's efforts to secure a job had been "massive". "When a young person has to change their name because they're discriminated against, it's an indication of bias and prejudice in our society and a fear of those who are different," she said.


British Judge's fury as he has to free pervert, 73, who launched sex attack on teenager

A judge attacked ‘woefully inadequate’ sentencing guidelines yesterday after he was forced to allow a pervert to walk free from court.

Peter Bowers said his ‘training, history and background’ led him to believe nothing short of a custodial sentence would be appropriate for 73-year-old David Glover. He wanted to jail him for three years after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl – but said the pensioner would then be freed on appeal.

Sentencing guidelines advise judges to impose only a community order for Glover’s offence. Judge Bowers branded this ‘repugnant’ and gave Glover a suspended prison term to register his ‘dislike’ of the system.

‘Unfortunately, we are saddled these days with what are called sentencing guidelines and for your particular offence it seems to be suggested that the sentence should be some sort of community order,’ he said. ‘If I did give you an immediate sentence of two years or more, your barrister would be able to go to the Court of Appeal and they would overturn it.’

Glover, who pleaded guilty to three offences of sexual assault, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision and ordered to go on a sex offender treatment programme. He was also banned from having unsupervised contact with under-18s for the rest of his life.

The court was told how Glover, a retired council worker from Hartlepool, had convinced himself that his teenage victim was somehow attracted to him. He contacted the teenager through the internet in summer 2009 and made sexual remarks to her online and when they were in each other’s company.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that Glover fondled the girl’s breasts over her clothes and tried to kiss her and put his hands in her underwear.

Judge Bowers told Glover: ‘You don’t really understand what was going on in your mind and the only way that can be dealt with is if you have the sex offender treatment programme.’


Building a wall between adults and children

The vital interactions between one generation and the next are being hampered by overblown fears of ‘stranger danger’

A few days ago, a group of school children dressed in uniforms got on the morning train I was on, all excited and chatting loudly. One of them sat down on the empty seat beside me, somewhat away from the others. Most of the passengers seemed to enjoy seeing the children and witnessing their excitement at getting out of school for the day, but there was no interaction with them and I continued to read my book.

But I was interrupted by the girl next to me, who told me: ‘I like your jacket.’ Surprised at this, I turned to her - she looked to be about 12 - and replied: ‘Thank you.’ She seemed to want to chat so I asked if the school was going on a trip and she confirmed that there were 60 pupils on the train, accompanied by teachers and other adults. She’d forgotten the name of the place where they were going, but she said they’d need to change trains and then catch a bus. She wasn’t entirely sure.

The girl told me that she was in her last year at primary school and was going to start at a ‘good’ secondary school nearby in September. She then asked me what I was reading and I told her a bit about the book. She wasn’t really interested in my response, so I asked where she was going to spend the school holidays. She was going to Albania for three weeks and was really looking forward to it. Her family goes there every year. She’d like to go to other places, too, she said, and I suggested that maybe she could when she grew up, had a job and money.

I recount this story in detail because these days it is unusual for an adult to have a conversation with a child they don’t know and it was a refreshing and pleasurable experience. But the really noteworthy thing is what happened next. A young woman, a teacher I assumed, approached us and told the girl to stop talking to me. Didn’t the girl remember that the school discourages children from talking to strangers?

I was flabbergasted but suggested to the teacher that by inference she didn’t trust me with the child. She denied it was anything personal, but that the children were told at school never to talk to people they didn’t know. I suggested that might be a problem but she reiterated that it was school policy. I suggested that maybe the school policy was wrong but she declined to respond, reiterated her instructions to the girl and walked away.

The girl and I sat in uncomfortable silence from then until her and the other children got off the train. I felt insulted, cheapened and angry by the exchange with the teacher. How has something as innocent and ordinary as talking to a school child been turned into a suspicious act?

I’m as aware as the next person of the ‘stranger danger’ obsession, and as a former health visitor I couldn’t but feel personally insulted by what the teacher said. I’ve worked with children and families for most of my life and I love kids. Of course I know this wasn’t a personal attack, but it hit home because it was so wrong.

It was astonishing that the young teacher had herself so absorbed the ‘stranger danger’ obsession that she felt confident to approach me, a woman old enough to be her mother, and indirectly tell me off. She felt no need to exercise discretion in view of the situation – the kids on an outing, a busy train, in full view of other passengers and teachers.

I was left wondering how these kids are ever going to learn how to interact with strangers, or how to assess situations for themselves and make nuanced judgements about other people? As a friend of mine told me on Facebook: ‘Our generation learned a lot as kids from adults in the wider community. They tolerated us hanging around and bugging them to show us how to do what they were doing. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible for most kids today and they suffer immeasurably as a result. As do we adults, because this vital inter-generational traffic is pretty much banned. Sadly, many teenagers are now shocked and affronted if you try to engage them in intelligent conversation.’

Raising and teaching children, while primarily a responsibility for parents and schools, is something that everyone should play a part in. In turn, adults need to communicate with children to understand the next generation. The communication between one generation and the next should not be shut down simply because of exaggerated fears about ‘stranger danger’.


Sharia law at work in Australia

SHARIA law has become a shadow legal system within Australia, endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed under the Marriage Act.

A system of "legal pluralism" based on sharia law "abounds" in Australia, according to new research by legal academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq. They have found that Australian Muslims have long been complying with the shadow system of religious law as well as mainstream law.

But in family law, not all Muslims were registering their marriages and some were relying on religious ceremonies to validate unions that breached the Marriage Act. This included "polygynist marriages", in which a man takes multiple wives, and marriages where one party is under the lawful marriage age.

Their research, which will be published on Monday in the University of NSW Law Journal, says that the wider community has been "oblivious to the legal pluralism that abounds in this country".

The findings come soon after Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, triggered a backlash inside the Islamic community when he called for Australia to compromise with Islam and embrace legal pluralism. Mr Patel later said he supported secular law and it had been a mistake to even mention legal pluralism.

The latest research has found that while polygamy is unlawful, mainstream law accommodates men who arrive in Australia with multiple wives and gives some legal standing to multiple partnerships that originate in Australia. "Valid Muslim polygynist marriages, lawfully entered into overseas, are recognised, with second and third wives and their children able to claim welfare and other benefits," they write.

Changes to the Family Law Act in 2008 meant that polygamous religious marriages entered into in Australia could also be recognised as de facto marriages. "It means a second wife can be validly married under Islamic law . . . and be a defacto wife under Australian law with the same legal entitlements as any other de facto relationship," they write.

The findings on polygamy were confirmed yesterday by Islamic community leader Kuranda Seyit. His personal view was "one wife is enough". But a small minority of Muslim men were taking second wives in ways that breached family law and their Islamic obligations.

"A second wife is permitted under Islam, but it is very difficult and there must be absolutely equal treatment of both wives," said Mr Seyit, who is director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations.

He was aware of a very small number of "exploitative" arrangements in which men were taking much younger second wives and not complying with the sharia requirement of equal treatment. "It's definitely a minority, but unfortunately is does exist and I think it comes down to the standard of living that Australia affords many men who normally would not be able to afford such a situation," Mr Seyit said.

In their article, associate professor Sadiq and Ms Black note that research on Islamic marriage found in 2008 that 90 per cent of Muslims did not want to change Australian law.

They write that many Muslims support the protection of human rights and had come to Australia because of practices such as genital mutilation and honour killings in countries ruled by unreformed versions of sharia. However, they suggest there should be "tweaking" of family law to take account of sharia.

They suggest that the Family Law Act could be changed to ensure that when courts make parenting orders Muslim children are given similar rights to those enjoyed by indigenous children. This would require courts to consider they have a right to enjoy their own culture and the culture of people who share their culture.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said if there was ever any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law "then Australian law wins out". "There is only one law that's applicable in Australia - that's Australian law based on our common law tradition," he said. "Our constitutional founders included a provision against the state endorsing or prescribing any religion or religious practice."

He said the Family Law Act included specific provision for courts to consider, among other factors, an individual's lifestyle and background culture and traditions. "The government believes these provisions to be adequate," Mr McClelland 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, 2011

Garbage bin correctness in Britain

Householders have been threatened with £1,000 fines if they leave their wheelie bins out for too long. The penalty would be the largest ever imposed on those who fail to remove their empty bins from the pavement after they have been emptied.

Letters warning of the £1,000 fine have been sent out in Bedford, where council chiefs say bins on the pavement are a hazard to blind people. (!)

The local authority has issued its threat just a month after the Government condemned such draconian punishments as ‘clearly disproportionate’. Ministers have promised a new law to strip councils of the right to levy large fines. The Bedford fines are more than 12 times greater than the on-the-spot penalties routinely handed out to shoplifters.

The letters distributed among the 65,000 homes in the borough say that anyone who fails to take their bin back in within 24 hours of their rubbish collection will be liable for the fine. The threat provoked a furious response in the town.

Matthew Hipkin, 37, said: ‘It’s an absolute waste of council money and time to have people walking the streets checking if someone has put their bin away. ‘I understand the principle of keeping the streets clean but the council has put across its point in the wrong way. It is being way too heavy-handed.’

A father of two who did not want to be named added: ‘I’ve had these threatening letters when I left my bin out on the pavement because the binmen hadn’t turned up.

‘Other times I’ve had to walk ten doors away to pick up my bin because they’ve been left scattered in the road after collection. It’s a ridiculous waste of our council tax. Why don’t they just make sure the bins are collected on time?’

Bedford is run by elected Liberal Democrat Mayor Dave Hodgson, and the three major parties each have 12 elected councillors.

A spokesman for the authority said: ‘We’ve been working with Sight Concern Bedford and the Royal National Institute of Blind People to encourage households to put their wheelie bins away, to help make pavements safer for blind and partially sighted people.

‘Where we receive reports of households repeatedly leaving out bins which can cause problems to such people, the council will write to the households concerned and advise that this is an offence for which they may ultimately be fined.’

Some councils have threatened £1,000 fines as their ultimate sanction for people who fail to follow recycling rules and put the wrong material in the wrong bins. A £1,000 fine is the largest possible under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act.

In the Government’s Waste Review last month – which failed to bring back weekly bin collections – ministers said punishments for erring householders should not be higher than fines for criminals. The review said of £1,000 fines: ‘It cannot be right for this kind of threat to be hanging over householders.’


Intolerant homosexuals

Over the last two weeks a series of seemingly unrelated events demonstrate one clear idea. Radical activists, small in number and not even representative of the homosexual community at large, are intolerant bigots, who seek to do harm not just to people with who they disagree, but to those that would be helped by the groups they disagree with.

Activists, and to some degree their mouthpieces in the media have conducted witch-hunts designed to hurt not just the ones who have different ideological viewpoints, but wish to disrupt the charity that people who disagree with them advocate for.

It is profoundly, viciously hurtful to the innocent people in need of help, and it is an attack on free speech, association, and the practice of religious freedoms.

In Los Angeles, California the founder of TOMS shoes was so harassed by the activists, they all but forced Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, into a near apology for appearing at an event in which Focus On The Family recorded an interview with the shoemaker. The purpose of which was to inspire listeners to help put needed shoes on the feet of African AIDS orphans. Secondarily Focus hoped it might also inspire listeners to begin their own companies ordered around the economy of compassion, and budgeting for those in need.

Activists launched online petitions to attempt to pressure customers from shopping with TOMS shoes because of some imagined "alignment" with a supposed "hate group." Though the only institution to ever classify Focus On The Family as a hate group is a group that could easily qualify for the designation themselves - The Southern Poverty Law Center - at least by the standards they use to define "hate."

The irony of the matter is that Jim Daly, Focus On The Family's president, has purposefully chosen to engage those who disagree with some of Focus' positions on public policy, and has even attempted to find common ground on things like reducing abortions, increasing adoption, and in the event of the TOMS shoe event -- give foot coverings to African AIDS orphans who might otherwise step on something that would cut their feet, develop infection, and damage their health, if not take their life.

Throughout the course of this week, acting on the work of radical extreme activists, ABC News' Brian Ross, brought investigative journalism to an all time new low. Pretending to do some sort of "investigation" into the counseling clinic that is operated by the spouse of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, Ross ran consecutive hit pieces on the clinic and made enormous intellectual leaps of gymnastic strides to tie the negative outcome to Bachmann.

Through the use of hidden cameras, men who behave in homosexual fashion, videotaped sessions with Christian counselors at a clinic. On tape the counselors attempted to give them advice on how to re-channel their sexual behaviors. The undercover footage was edited and reported on in such a way to attempt to make it appear as though the counselors were brainwashing clients. The tiny little problem here however was that these men who engage in homosexual behavior, went to the clinic asking the clinic to help them find ways not to engage in the behavior any more.

The activists released selective b-roll of the videos, Brian Ross "investigated" the matter, and Diane Sawyer made assertions just short of saying that Michele Bachmann wanted homosexual men to kill themselves.

Shoddy journalism, pathetic advocacy, brought about by the worst "sting" operation ever conceived.

Lastly, mostly due to the TOMS shoes controversy, a number of other angry and radical activists, have attempted to blacklist other retailers like Delta Airlines, PetSmart, Microsoft, and Apple from participation in a give-back program to ministries like Focus On The Family (which bolsters healthy families), Promise Keepers (which like President Obama calls for men to exert a stronger presence in the life of their children), Angel Food Ministries (which feeds the hungry) and others.

The activists wished to injure the retailers because they presently participate in giving back to legitimate 501c3 organizations when constituents of those organizations shop online and purchase using a content application or shopping mall that the ministry may provide. The technology is provided by a group, formerly known as Christian Values Network, and is now known as the Charity Give Back Group.

By denying the give-back opportunities that the retailers offer, the activists are hurting the formation of healthy families, fighting for increased fatherlessness in the home, and literally hoping the poorest of the poor in America will go hungry.

Why? Because people who have a disagreement with their idealogical positions dare to express it?

The radical sexual activists in America today are the least tolerant people on the planet. Because while homosexuals are welcome in every church in America to come and sit, sing, pray, and learn. Most Christians--evangelical and catholic--are being told, "You're not even allowed to do good... Even for those in need."

These activists are the most intolerant people in America, and the outcomes they desire lack the virtue to improve the world.

It would be helpful if retailers of all stripes, let these debates happen in the idealogical spaces of our society, and not take the fight to the market square where these tiny numbers of radicals are attempting to squelch the commerce and relationships of every Catholic and Evangelical Christian in America.

For the retailers, that's a lopsided and losing proposition. But by at least remaining neutral at they would not be perpetrating the ill will that the radical activists seek to inflict. And grateful families, fathers, and formerly hungry kids, I'm sure, would express their thanks!


Making Sense over Israel

Michael Reagan

President Obama wants Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders. That would mean handing some of Christianity's most sacred sites over to the Palestinian government, which for all intents is controlled by one of the world's most radical terrorist organizations, Hamas.

Do you want them to control some of the most sacred sites of our Christian history? I didn't think so.

In a speech May 19, the president endorsed the Palestinians' demand that their future state be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, a move that has infuriated our ally Israel and is certain to endanger Christians' free access to holy sites.

In a meeting this week, the so-called "Quartet" -- diplomats from the United States, European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- apparently reached no agreement on a common set of principles for new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But Quartet representative Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, told Bloomberg Television the group wants to "take [Obama's] speech and turn it into a framework of guidance for these negotiations."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is moving forward with its proposal for United Nations statehood recognition, which will likely come before the Security Council later this month and the General Assembly in September.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas clearly sees the U.N. proposal as a big bargaining chip, stating that he will have "no choice but the United Nations" unless talks are restarted. The Arab League has now voted to support the Palestinians at the United Nations.

We can only assume that Abbas also wants a framework based on Obama's speech, if negotiations are advantageous to his cause, but he is clearly determined to pursue his goal by any available method.

Although the United States is seen as promoting the Quartet initiative as an alternative to immediate Palestinian membership in the United Nations, it is hard to believe that the Obama administration will oppose membership if and when a border agreement is reached.

After Obama's May 19 remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the president's proposal and said a return to the pre-1967 borders would be disastrous for his country.

Netanyahu called the pre-1967 lines "indefensible," saying such a withdrawal would jeopardize Israel's security and "leave major population centers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) beyond those lines."

And although Obama was careful to mention the possibility of "land swaps" in his proposal -- presumably to allay the fears of those who are rightly concerned that the pre-1967 borders are his goal -- the president seems more concerned with brokering a deal than with Israel's security.

Mention of East Jerusalem and its holy sites is noticeably absent from the Obama proposal. In a scenario with pre-1967 borders, Israel will lose East Jerusalem.
The president needs to reassure Israelis that the United States stands firmly behind their sovereignty over the border. There can be no wiggle room here. Either we are with the Israelis or against them.


The new sexual revolution: Today's women are rejecting promiscuity for monogamy and motherhood

By Bel Mooney

Her sexcapades were famous. Even in middle age, the novelist Erica Jong had no shame in describing the liaisons she took part in — which included a fling with the husband of her friend, the American domestic goddess (and now fallen businesswoman) Martha Stewart.

Jong’s best-selling book Fear Of Flying (published in the UK in 1974) portrayed women as voracious sexual beings, harbouring erotic appetites just as raunchy as those of men — and catapulted her into celebrity.

Yet now, this pioneer of the sexual revolution is doing the unthinkable — and has declared that ‘sex is passé’.

Writing in the New York Times, she muses on the fact that younger women — including her daughter — are not so obsessed with sex as her own generation (also mine) was, back in the years of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.

Jong says she is ‘fascinated to see, among young women, a nostalgia for Fifties era attitudes towards sex’. She argues that older women are ‘raunchier’, but younger ones are ‘obsessed with motherhood and monogamy’.

While some people have jumped to the conclusion that Erica Jong has finally seen the error of her wild ways and started to question the ‘anything goes’ attitude of her youth, sadly this is not the case.

Jong laments the fact that her daughter’s generation seems to have rebelled against this obsession with sex, and she is bewildered to observe that while her generation ‘idealised open marriage’ their daughters ‘are back to idealising monogamy’.

But is this true? Certainly, I’ve also noticed a tendency towards conservative attitudes in my 31-year-old daughter’s generation and even younger women. In the same way that they are proud to dress up in old-fashioned cap and gown to receive their degrees, they look for commitment in the shape of a wedding ring — or, at least, a shared mortgage.

And this move towards monogamy and motherhood is surely something we should celebrate, rather than denigrate.

In 1967, my friends and I despised those traditional values. We (or, at least, many of us) wanted to be different from our mothers’ generation and — yes — it wasn’t cool to believe in fidelity. ‘Seize the time’ was the motto.

But these days, as Jong writes: ‘If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to discover monogamy . . . Just as the watchword of my generation was freedom, that of my daughter’s generation is control.’

Interestingly, an American survey carried out earlier this year found that younger women were indeed much more choosy about having sex on a first date than older women. Even though we live in a sexually-obsessed culture, it seems that many young women today are far more careful than we give them credit for.

Of course, the images we see of Saturday night antics in Britain’s town centres would seem to disprove this. But it’s important to remember that not all young women go out, get drunk and get laid.

Sensibly, Erica Jong points out that generalising about social trends is dangerous. Still, her theory is that ‘sex has lost its frisson’ because there’s so much explicitness in popular culture and on the internet.

If you have too many sweets, you feel sick. If everything is allowed, you don’t crave it any more.

Explicit sex can become boring in the end — hence the theory that people have to rachet up the degrees of porn they watch, to find it sexy — with disturbing effects on society as a whole. Brought up in this culture, it’s easy to see how this generation of 20s-to-early-30s females can feel embarrassed by their parents’ oh-so-cool sexual permissiveness.

The young women I know want to value and be valued and willingly embrace the idea of monogamy, fully aware that at times it can be challenging.

As for bringing up the next generation — I have heard my own daughter fulminate against young girls dressing ‘like tarts’, asserting that if she is ever ‘blessed with a child’ (as she always expresses it), she would want to instil old-fashioned values from the start.

Interestingly, Jong’s own daughter, the writer Molly Jong-Fast, has written frankly of her own hippie upbringing, addictions, recovery — and her resulting desire to be ‘normal’. What she means is monogamy and children. In other words, maturity.

Yet her mother’s latest views on sex reveal a disturbing lack of maturity. Not only does she wish that her generation had succeeded in spreading the gospel of promiscuity, she also pokes fun at maternity, too.

I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I used to hold many of her ideas. Back then, there was no thought for sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and Aids — ‘bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’. The sexual revolution supposedly guaranteed instant and anonymous sexual gratification, with no thought for the consequences, and no sense of personal responsibility.

Why, Jong asks, have the young become so strait-laced, so narrow?

She dismissively sums up their views: ‘Better to give up men and sleep with one’s children. Better to wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breastfeed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him.

‘Our current orgy of multiple maternity does indeed leave little room for sexuality. With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion?’

So there we have it — she feels there’s something repellent about procreation. That isn’t what sex is for.

This famous cheerleader for the ‘me’ generation — the ones liberated by the Pill who also considered abortion to be a right — sneers at the values of younger women who have observed the damage done by ‘free sex’ and ‘open marriage’.

But we got it so wrong, Erica! It wasn’t just the free love, it was the diminishing of the role of motherhood.

Nowadays, many educated young women, brought up to focus on their careers, leave pregnancy until their late 30s, often storing up untold complications and heartache.

So it’s shocking to read an influential woman writer trivialising the important job of child-bearing — in a horrible phrase which insults the many women who find it hard to conceive — ‘our current orgy of multiple maternity’.

How tacky also to mock young women for ‘breastfeeding all hours’ in order to keep their partners at bay. Did Jong herself believe that her own breasts ‘belonged’ to her three husbands? If so, the sentiment is as revolting as the raunchy culture of lads’ magazines which regards women’s breasts lasciviously as mere sexual playthings.

Any self-respecting feminist from the Seventies, Eighties or Noughties might like to point out that a woman’s breasts are her own and their purpose is to give any child they have a healthy, nutritious start to life.

Once hailed as a revolutionary writer for women, Erica Jong tells us: ‘The backlash against sex has lasted longer than the sexual revolution itself.’ But what does that actually mean? She says we are rejecting ‘passion’ — as if people (of all ages) no longer fall in love and yearn to set up home together.

It’s all nonsense. Men and woman find meaning when they commit to each other

The truth is — there is no ‘backlash’ against sex. Certain people will always be led by physical passion, as well as the most basic lust. It is part of the human condition.

But the sexual revolution of which I once felt a part acted to legitimatise selfishness and exploitation. Oh yes, we trumpeted some fine ideas about freedom, about the impossibility of ‘belonging’ to another person, about marriage — which was legal thralldom to a man — being only a piece of paper, about only having one life ... and so on.

But the semi-political ideas about freedom that became part of the zeitgeist in the early Seventies influenced far more people than we realise, dignifying self-indulgent and bad behaviour as being somehow commendably liberal.

Of course, casual sex and infidelity have always played a central role in the relationships between men and women. But in earlier times there were clear boundaries. For the sake of the family (which meant the health of society), as well as social norms, men and women would think twice about skipping away from their responsibilities.

In a golden economic age, that attitude seemed (to the likes of Erica Jong and me) intolerably repressive. But young women of today are having to face much harsher options.

They see that confronting this difficult world with somebody you care for at your side, and raising children together, offers a far greater comfort (as well as challenge) than that experienced by all those ‘beautiful people’ casting off their zipless velvet loon pants and cheesecloth shirts for loveless couplings back in the grubby ol’ summer of love.

Erica Jong is an undeniably talented and creative writer, yet the ideas she still cherishes are ultimately demeaning to men and women. She still believes that ‘physical pleasure binds two people together’ — whereas surely what really holds people together is love, mutual respect and devotion to the family, even when sexual passion has diminished or gone.

Of course, sex is an essential — and sometimes wonderful — part of life. But what distinguishes humans from animals is the need for meaning.

Men and woman find meaning when they decide to commit to each other, work as a team to solve problems, raise children, find friendship within their love and tackle the sometimes wearisome challenges of middle age and growing old together.

Oh, I know it doesn’t always work. But if that’s what our daughters are seeking, then I know they are much wiser than my and Erica Jong’s generation.



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, 2011

British Town hall snoopers get personal in intrusive 'diversity' questionnaires

Millions are being bombarded by town halls with intrusive questions about their private lives. People are being routinely grilled about their sex lives, disabilities, religion, ethnicity and employment. Questionnaires are often sent out unsolicited after someone contacts the council with a complaint or for advice.

Some authorities are spending tens of thousands of pounds a year on printing and postage at a time when they are cutting frontline services.

The practice fuels the controversial multi-million pound equality and diversity industry in local government, where hundreds of officials are employed on generous salaries and gold-plated pension schemes.

A snapshot survey of councils by the Daily Mail found that around 85 per cent of those that responded send out the forms, despite the fact they replicate much of the information gathered in this year’s census.

Questions include whether householders are bisexual, gay, lesbian or straight, whether they have a long-term illness or disability and how this affects them, and their ethnicity. Other sections gather information on employment status and age.

They are despatched by councils under a requirement to ‘promote and ensure’ diversity under the Equality Act 2010, which was brought in by the last Labour government and consolidated numerous legislation including the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Yet there is considerable confusion over whether the gathering of such information is a legal requirement. Some councils believe it is, yet others said they did not send out the forms.

The Mail contacted 30 local authorities and had responses from 14. Of these, 12 said they used the forms to gather information on residents, including Labour-run Luton borough council, Tory-led Southend council and Tower Hamlets council in London, which has an independent elected mayor.

If the proportion were applied across England and Wales, it would mean 359 of the 419 local authorities request information from residents.

John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance accused council chiefs of wasting funds on the ‘irrelevant’ and ‘bizarre’ schemes. ‘Spending reductions have to be made and this is exactly the sort of thing that can be cut with no effect on services,’ he said. ‘Central government must remove ridiculous statutory burdens from councils but in the meantime local authorities should ensure that they aren’t doing more than is absolutely necessary to comply with barmy legislation.’

A spokesman for the Home Office, which is responsible for the Equality Act 2010, said: ‘There is nothing in the legislation that states these forms have to be sent out.’

Grandmother Richenda Legge was so outraged when North Norfolk District Council sent her an equality monitoring form after she rang to complain about her bin collections that she shredded it. ‘I really saw red when I read the question about my sexual orientation.

There was a choice including heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual,’ said Mrs Legge, 56, who lives with her husband Bill, a retired engineer, in Beeston Regis.

‘As it happens, I am happily married to Mr Legge. But I can’t see what any of this has to do with the fact that my rubbish wasn’t taken away. At a time when the council is making cuts it seems an absolute waste of money to send out things like this. There was even a reply-paid envelope.’

Helen Eales, leader of the Tory-run council, admitted the forms were ‘intrusive’ and served ‘no practical use whatsoever’. She said: ‘The rules state we have to demonstrate that we are being fair to everyone. But I fail to see how knowing that a transsexual called us about their wheelie bin would help us in any way.’


Wanting a traditional Christian church service is "bullying"?

A vicar was forced out of his rural parish when his ‘bullying’ congregation rebelled against his attempts to modernise the traditional Christmas service. The Reverend Jonathan Cruickshank fell out of favour with church wardens after introducing modern hymns to the service and welcoming those who didn’t attend the church all year round, a friend said.

A whispering campaign then apparently began behind his back, with villagers claiming he had abandoned tradition in favour of ‘happy-clappy’ informal services.

He and his wife Pauline left the parish in May after claiming they were ‘not made to feel welcome’ during his two-year tenure at the three churches in Holbeton, Noss Mayo and Newton Ferrers near Plymouth, Devon.

The Bishop of Exeter, Dr Michael Langrish, wrote a letter to the three congregations, blaming them for creating a ‘culture of bullying’ that drove Mr Cruickshank away. He wrote that this would ‘never be acceptable within the Christian church’ and blamed people working to ‘different agendas’ for the problems.

A friend of the vicar, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The wardens call the shots and Jonathan simply fell out of favour with them. ‘These people are traditional and don’t like change. At the end of the day, they run the church.

‘He made the Christmas service more informal by introducing modern hymns and welcoming people who don’t come to church all year round. ‘The wardens didn’t like this and a whispering campaign started behind his back. ‘People started to get the idea in their heads that the old order of service was being ditched in favour for a more “happy clappy” service, but it wasn’t like that.

‘The bishop had asked Jonathan to try to modernise the church and he was just following orders while trying to be sympathetic to the traditional values of the church.’

Bishop Langrish’s letter was recently read out to the stunned congregations in Holy Cross, St Peter’s and All Saints churches.

It said: ‘It’s clear there are a number of issues which need to be addressed if the church in this area is to move on and fulfil its purpose of furthering God’s mission. ‘It is very difficult for a parish priest to be an effective minister when different places and people are working to different agendas.’

The bishop said he was looking for a new priest who had the skills and experience to ‘address these issues’. A member of the congregation said hearing the letter was ‘quite a shock initially because it was a letter really condemning the parishes and the way they had obviously treated the outgoing vicar’.

The village, which has a population of around 1,100 and house prices averaging £400,000, tends to be home to retired executives and businessmen.

Mr Cruickshank, a former Royal Navy chaplain, is now the vicar of St Peter’s Church in St Peter-in-Thanet, Broadstairs, Kent. He described his vocation in life as ‘reaching out with tender, loving care to welcome all to the Christian faith and to teach and grow that faith for all ages’.


If the Labor Party leader is such a hero, why won't he tackle the REAL threat to our way of life - the BBC?

By Melanie Phillips

By common consent among political commentators, Ed Miliband’s lamentable leadership of the Labour Party has been miraculously transformed by the News of the World scandal.

With the Prime Minister seemingly paralysed by his unwise friendships with now-compromised News International executives, the Labour leader has been making the political running.

He has achieved this through the simple trick of demanding what had already become inevitable, such as the resignation of Rebekah Brooks or the termination of Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB. The result is that the formerly reviled Miliband has gone from zero to hero.

Apparently intoxicated by the novel experience of not being scorned, he has now ratcheted up his demands by calling for News International to be broken up.

But far from reinforcing his newly-discovered statesman credentials, this merely exposes his agenda as callow and partisan. For sure, the News of the World did things that were wrong; and when the full extent of this behaviour is established, those responsible should be held to account, however high up the chain of command they happened to be.

But why should it follow that News International should therefore be broken up? After all, it is possible to imagine that everyone involved in this affair — including the entire Murdoch clan — might be replaced by people with totally clean hands to run the company.

The reason, says Miliband, is that Murdoch has ‘too much power over British public life’. But this is transparently disingenuous. For there is a media oligarchy which exercises far more power in Britain than News International. And that is the BBC.

The BBC’s monopoly over the media is indeed a running scandal. After all, just imagine if News International had been given the legal power to levy a tax on everyone who bought a newspaper in order to fund the Murdoch empire.

People wouldn’t stand it for a moment. It would be considered an utter abuse of democracy. Yet that is precisely the privileged position the BBC occupies.

Ah, say its defenders, but the BBC is a public service broadcaster, and therefore of course merits a public subsidy as a great British institution which must be preserved at all costs.

Well, that argument just won’t wash any more. For the BBC wraps itself in the heroic mantle of a public service remit which it has systematically betrayed.

That remit was to educate and elevate public taste, as well as to entertain. But for years now, the BBC has instead been playing to the lowest common denominator, competing in the ratings market as ruthlessly as any commercial broadcaster.

In addition, it has also used its public subsidy to gain a wildly unfair competitive edge, with an enormous market share in television, radio and on the internet which has crowded out smaller competitors. Ofcom figures show that its share of TV news is more than ten times bigger than Sky’s and that BBC websites have ten times the market share.

Indeed, since it is a direct competitor of BSkyB, the disproportion and relish with which the BBC has been reporting the News of the World scandal — allowing it on some current affairs shows to drive out all other news — leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Moreover, the BBC’s role in all this is even more questionable when you factor in the real reason for Miliband’s double standard.

For his motives surely have precious little to do with any criminal behaviour or monopoly power. No, the real reason is that for the past three decades the Left has been desperate to bring Murdoch down. For such people, he is a hate figure of diabolical proportions. The venom and hysteria he inspires are truly irrational. He ignites passions far more incendiary than are generated by any tyrant or war criminal. Indeed, to them the Left turns a blind eye, while treating Murdoch as if he dismembers babies before breakfast.

The reason is that he acts as a kind of lightning rod for Left-wingers — the object of a massive displacement neurosis arising from all their rage and disappointment, not least with themselves.

For example, both Left-wing newspapers and the BBC blame Murdoch for the decline of standards in the media, from high seriousness to celebrity culture and tacky trivia.

But at the BBC, that was the result of its own misguided response to the explosion of digital channels and the arrival of a cornucopia of broadcasting choice. And even high-minded newspapers such as the Guardian decided more than two decades ago to fill their pages with trivia because they judged that the general public was becoming dumber and shallower.

No, Murdoch’s real crime in the eyes of the Left-wing intelligentsia is simply that he has stood in the way of their total capture of the culture.

The dominance of Left-wing ideas has been such that even among so-called conservatives, many of them have become accepted as mainstream. And one of the most powerful architects of that shift has been the BBC.

Even its own executives have sometimes been forced to admit that, far from the objectivity required by its public service remit, the BBC generally subscribes to a Left-wing ‘group-think’ which dictates the agenda both in its journalism and entertainment programmes.

With some honourable exceptions, whether in its drama, comedy, news reporting or current affairs, the BBC’s output rests upon certain articles of faith.

For example, traditional Christians are all fundamentalist bigots; the science of man-made global warming is settled; opponents of mass immigration are racist; Eurosceptics are swivel-eyed fanatics; and all who oppose these opinions and more are Right-wing extremists. And then to add insult to injury, the BBC forces people to pay for the privilege of being told day in, day out that their own views are stupid or prejudiced.

What’s more, such is the enormous power and influence of the BBC through its reputation for trustworthiness and fairness that it has arguably moved the very centre of political gravity in Britain to the Left.

By contrast, Murdoch’s popular papers have tended mainly to follow public opinion once voters’ minds are made up. So they respond to and then amplify what people already think. But for the Left that is anathema, because nothing can be allowed to disrupt the great project to tell people what to think and shut down all opinion to the contrary.

Murdoch’s empire has acted as at least a partial antidote to that agenda by defending America, Israel and the interests of the West. Which is why he provokes near-apoplexy on the Left. And which is why they are all slavering at the prospect of bringing down a media organisation which provided an element of competition to the true monopoly of the BBC and the Left-wing intelligentsia.

The great irony, of course, is that for all those years while this scandal was taking place, the Labour Party fawned over Murdoch and his lieutenants. While he was riding high, none of them saw fit to challenge the power they now purport to find so unacceptable.

Only now Murdoch is lying bleeding on the ropes does Miliband flex his puny muscles. And they call that leadership.

The Murdoch empire may need to be brought sternly to book over the hacking scandal. But the media monopoly that really has undermined and demoralised British society and deserves to be broken up is the BBC. And that is one monopoly over British public life which Ed Miliband unsurprisingly finds to be no abuse of power at all.


Not Cruel and Unusual, but Costly, Punishment

Democratic California state Sen. Loni Hancock is pushing legislation to end California's death penalty. "Capital punishment is an expensive failure and an example of the dysfunction of our prisons," she explained in a statement. "California's death row is the largest and most costly in the United States. It is not helping to protect our state; it is helping to bankrupt us."

You have to hand this to death penalty opponents: For decades, capital punishment opponents have tried to thwart California's 1978 death penalty law with frivolous appeals that clog courts, delay punishment and burn through taxpayers' dollars. They now have been so successful that they can argue that California's death penalty doesn't work and costs too much.

Hancock is right about the dysfunction. Since 1978, California has executed 13 inmates, even though juries have sent close to 800 inmates to death row. California's lethal-injection protocol has been on hold since February 2006, when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel stayed the execution of convicted rapist/murderer Michael Morales, lest Morales suffer any pain.

Death row inmates are likelier to kill themselves than they are to be executed. A new report published in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review notes that 78 inmates died on death row from natural causes or violence.

The report also lays out the costs of the death penalty. If you take the $4 billion it estimates that state and federal taxpayers have paid since 1978 to administer California's death penalty and then divide that number by 13, you find that each execution cost $308 million on average. The report estimates that the death penalty cost Californians $184 million in 2009.

In response to the report, Hancock put together SB 490, which would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. Hancock spokesman Larry Levin explained that the death penalty has been a "third rail" of California politics, but with the report's new numbers on the law's price tag, "we saw a moment."

One of the report's co-authors, Loyola law professor Paula M. Mitchell, told the Los Angeles Times she wants to abolish the death penalty. The other, Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, was on the three-judge panel that denied the appeal of Robert Alton Harris, who killed two 16-year-old boys before his 1992 execution.

On the one hand, the report does a solid job quantifying how much taxpayers must pay for the death penalty. Mitchell and Alarcon even found numbers that estimate defense costs for inmate appeals -- an average of $635,000 on federal appeals alone.

On the other hand, the authors gloss over the role of frivolous appeals and bonehead rulings by federal judges. The report states that federal courts granted new trials or penalty hearings in roughly 70 of 100 now-disposed cases. That means federal judges have overturned juries in cases reviewed by state courts in 7 in 10 cases.

Kent Scheidegger of the tough-on-crime Criminal Justice Legal Foundation puts the onus on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where too many judges are "simply looking for a reason to reverse."

When I asked Hancock whether the 9th Circuit's 70 percent reversal rate bothers her, she answered, "No, not if they're following the law." And: "Thank God we have a constitution. We're not one of those countries where they cut off hands and execute people without due process."

Don Heller wrote California's 1978 death penalty ballot measure. He now opposes capital punishment. A former prosecutor, he told me that he "evolved" in private practice after dealing more closely with defendants and seeing too many "pretty inept" lawyers representing capital cases. He concluded, "We're just spending way too much money for a system that has flaws in it."

In a letter to Hancock, Scheidegger hit the report for leaving out the savings of the "plea bargain effect," i.e., when murderers plead guilty -- forfeiting the chance they might be found not guilty at trial -- in order to avoid capital punishment. "What would happen to those cases if there were no death penalty?"

And what happens when California's death row lawyers discover they've got time on their hands and a receptive audience in the 9th Circuit? Next argument: Life without parole is too expensive.



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, 2011

British Labor party b*tch shows true Leftist form

MP in four-letter blast at blind man: 'Out of my way' Labour whip shouts at reporter

A Labour whip unleashed a four-letter tirade at a blind man for getting in her way during a fraught exchange in the Houses of Parliament.

Lyn Brown, the burly MP for West Ham, barged into the back of Talksport political editor Sean Dilley, and his golden retriever guide dog, as he was walking in a corridor towards Portcullis House.

Witnesses were shocked to see a clearly stressed Miss Brown bulldoze into the back of Mr Dilley before overtaking him, shouting: 'For ****'s sake, move out of my ******* way.'
Tirade: Lyn Brown MP launched a verbal attack on a blind radio reporter who got in her way at Parliament

The journalist asked her to be more careful as he did not want to crash into his guide dog, Chip. Miss Brown then sniped back: 'You are such a rude ******* man, you just walked right in front of me.'

One source said a frustrated Mr Dilley then replied: 'I'm blind, you stupid woman.' He then demanded to know Miss Brown's name, as he could not see who had bumped into him, but Miss Brown replied: 'I am not giving it to you, **** off.'

Mr Dilley threatened to ask security guards to identify her, to which Miss Brown replied: 'You just do that and see what happens.'

She was pursued by Commons security and did not stop, saying: 'You are harassing me, leave me alone.' The security guard had to call for police assistance and a report was compiled by the Commons authorities.

A witness said Miss Brown, 51, was 'clearly in a rush' but her brusque manner shocked Mr Dilley, who was born blind. The Commons source said: 'She was shockingly rude. There was no need for her to use language like that. 'Frankly I was surprised because Labour is supposed to be a party which is sympathetic to people with disabilities.'

The witness added: 'The blind man she crashed into seemed very distressed by her manner and stream of swearing. 'I heard him saying that he was blind and calling her a stupid woman but frankly had I been barged into like that I would have been using much stronger language. 'The security people were muttering that if she had spoken to them like that, they would have carted her off to the prison cell in Westminster.'

Miss Brown was hauled before her boss, chief whip Rosie Winterton, for a dressing down. The Mail understands she was made to issue an apology to Mr Dilley. A Labour source said: 'There has been a misunderstanding. Lyn has apologised. They now both consider the matter to be over.'


Privileged brat jailed for his rampage of hate

Charlie Gilmour, the son of the Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour, has been jailed for 16 months for going on a drink and drug-fuelled rampage during a student fees protest in London.

Charlie Gilmour admitted violent disorder after joining thousands demonstrating in London's Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square last year. During a day of riots he was seen hanging from a Union flag on the Cenotaph and leaping on to the bonnet of a Jaguar car that formed part of a royal convoy. He was found on Friday to have also hurled a rubbish bin at the vehicle.

The court heard the Cambridge University student had turned to drink and drugs after being rejected by his biological father, the writer Heathcote Williams, and had taken LSD and valium in the hours leading up to the violence.

Gilmour's rock star father and mother Polly Samson watched from the public gallery as their 21-year-old son was told he must serve half the jail term behind bars.

Passing sentence at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court in Surrey, Judge Nicholas Price QC accepted that his antics at the Cenotaph on Whitehall did not form part of the violent disorder, but accused him of disrespect to the war dead. "Such outrageous and deeply offensive behaviour gives a clear indication of how out of control you were that day," he said. "It caused public outrage and understandably so."

His conduct at the war memorial had prompted a deluge of "vituperative and in many cases obscene" emails and other forms of communication, he told Gilmour. These were, he added, "not just to you but, it is with deep regret, to your whole family, who were of course totally blameless."

Gilmour, who apologised afterwards for his behaviour, had claimed he had not realised the significance of the Cenotaph - an excuse the judge scoffed at. "For a young man of your intelligence and education and background to profess to not know what the Cenotaph represents defies belief," he said. "You have shown disrespect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to those who fell defending this country."

Gilmour was part of a 100-strong mob that attacked a convoy escorting the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during last year’s student riots, the court heard on Thursday.

The Cambridge University undergraduate, who was also photographed swinging from a Union flag on the Cenotaph, leapt on the bonnet of a Jaguar carrying royal protection officers before allegedly throwing a bin at the vehicle.

Shouting slogans such as “you broke the moral law, we are going to break all the laws”, the 21-year-old son of the multi-millionaire pop star went on the rampage during a day of extreme violence in central London.

Video captured by police officers outside the Houses of Parliament showed Gilmour, from Billingshurst, West Sussex, waving a red flag and shouting political slogans. The judge watched one clip in which he was shouted: “Let them eat cake, let them eat cake, they say. We won’t eat cake, we will eat fire, ice and destruction, because we are angry, very f------ angry.”

As the clip was shown in court on Thursday, Gilmour sat in the dock giggling and covering his face with his hands in embarrassment.

On another occasion he could be seen urging the crowd to “storm Parliament” and shouting “arson”.

In addition to attacking the Royal cars, he was also part of a mob that smashed the windows at Oxford Street’s Top Shop as staff and customers cowered inside.

Gilmour, who was escorted into court by his father and his mother, Polly Samson, has already pleaded guilty to violent disorder and appeared at Kingston Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday.

The case was adjourned until today while Judge Nicholas Price QC decided whether Gilmour threw a bin at a car in the Royal convoy, which he had denied.

The judge was told that palace staff feared for the Royal couple’s safety when the convoy of three cars came under attack as the Prince and his wife made their way to the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium. Royal protection officers and staff from the Royal household provided witness statements describing their fear as the cars were set upon by a baying crowd.

Sophie Densham, the private secretary to the Duchess of Cornwall, said she heard people shouting, “off with their heads”, “Tory scum” and “give us some money”. Will Mackinlay, equerry to the Prince of Wales, described seeing a person with long hair, who was later identified as Gilmour, sitting on the bonnet of a Jaguar carrying royal protection officers, before watching someone hurl a bin at the car. “I was very concerned for the safety of the convoy and the people travelling in the convoy. I was also concerned how the royal protection officers would react,” he said.

During the five-minute assault, the rear passenger window of the Royal vehicle was smashed, lime green paint was thrown over it and the Duchess was prodded in the side with a stick.

There is no evidence that Gilmour attacked the Rolls-Royce in which the Royal couple were travelling.

The student, who has just completed his second year studying history at Girton College, Cambridge, was among thousands of people who protested against plans to raise tuition fees.

The court heard that Gilmour had been identified at a number of flashpoints during the day, and was photographed attempting to set fire to a pile of newspapers outside the Supreme Court. A police officer stamped on the burning paper to put it out.

After being photographed swinging from the Cenotaph, he issued an apology describing it as his “moment of idiocy”. In a statement, he said: “I feel nothing but shame. My intention was not to attack or defile the Cenotaph. Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment.”

Gilmour’s biological father is the poet and playwright Heathcote Williams but he was adopted by the pop star when his mother, a writer and journalist, remarried.


Let convicts choose: Prison or the lash?

by Jeff Jacoby

ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO, I wrote a column -- "Bring back flogging" -- that called for reviving corporal punishment for convicted criminals. Rather than continuing to lock up millions of offenders, many of them nonviolent, in crowded and brutal prisons, I suggested, it would be more humane to punish at least some of them with a straightforward whipping and let them get on with their lives. Americans have been taught to think of flogging as hopelessly barbaric and primitive. But is corporal punishment really less civilized than a criminal-justice system that relies almost exclusively on caging human beings?

It was a pretty good column, and I always had a hunch it would make an even better book. Now it has, and I only wish I had written it.

Peter Moskos, a criminologist at the City University of New York and a former Baltimore police officer, has just published In Defense of Flogging, a serious if startling proposal to drastically shrink America's "massive and horrible system of incarceration" by letting most convicted criminals choose between going to prison and a semipublic flogging with a rattan cane. An absurd thesis? Don't reject it out of hand, Moskos says, before considering what you would want for yourself. "Given the choice between five years in prison and 10 brutal lashes, which would you choose?" A flogging would be intensely painful and bloody, but it would be over in a few minutes. Prison would mean losing years of your life, being locked away from everything and everyone you care about.

Offered those alternatives -- hard time or the lash -- most people would choose the lash. Better the short, sharp humiliation of a flogging than the prolonged emotional torture of being shut in a cage. Better to be punished and be done with it.

Its title notwithstanding, In Defense of Flogging is less a brief for the resumption of corporal punishment than an indictment of America's appalling system of mass imprisonment.

The United States locks up people at a rate unmatched anywhere on Earth. There are 2.3 million people behind bars in this country -- more than the populations of Boston, Baltimore, and San Francisco combined. Both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the whole, the United States has more prisoners than any other country. With an incarceration rate of 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, America outjails not only every advanced democracy -- in Canada and Western Europe, the rate of imprisonment is about one-seventh what it is here -- but even the world's dictatorships and autocracies. In Russia, the incarceration rate is 629 per 100,000. In Cuba, it's 530. In Iran, it's 220.

Are Americans safer because so many of their fellow citizens are behind bars? That's far from clear. "From 1970 to 1991 crime rose while we locked up a million more people," Moskos writes. "Since then we've locked up another million and crime has gone down." Was it only the second million who were the "real" criminals?

Prisons are good at keeping violent predators off the streets, but relatively few people are imprisoned because we fear what they might do if we release them. Most inmates are locked up because locking people up is the way we punish virtually every offense -- from committing murder to laundering money to selling marijuana. Prisons were originally conceived as a means of curing criminals and bringing them to penance. What they have turned into is a vast American gulag of pervasive brutality and brain-numbing boredom, replete with psychological damage, pervasive drug use, gang intimidation, and an estimated 200,000 rapes a year.

For dangerous felons there may be no alternative to incarceration. But for millions of nonviolent common criminals, low-level drug offenders, and white-collar swindlers, Moskos writes, "the punishment of prison is far, far worse than the crime they have committed." Why not offer them instead the option of corporal punishment, under a doctor's supervision, and followed by immediate release? Considering all the costs and cruelties imposed by America's gigantic penal system -- imposed not only on the individuals we lock up, but on their families, on the taxpayers, on minority communities -- wouldn't flogging be a more humane and reasonable alternative?

Granted, flogging criminals would be ugly. But it would also make their punishment immediate and transparent. And it wouldn't be nearly as destructive and dysfunctional as keeping 2.3 million people in cages. America's penal system is a national disgrace. In Defense of Flogging suggests one way to make it better.


Thousands on secret British council blacklists: Personal details kept of residents who dare to complain

Thousands of people involved in disagreements with council staff have had their personal details stored on secret blacklists.

Bureaucrats have listed the details of members of the public who have been involved in rows with teachers or dustmen over seemingly trivial matters. Scores of councils hold databases of ‘undesirables’ – individuals who could potentially pose a threat to their staff. They hold the details of almost 9,000 people, but most have never been charged with or convicted of a crime.

Personal information such as car registration numbers, telephone numbers, household pets, nicknames and distinguishing features are listed on the databases.

Earlier this year the Coalition pledged to crack down on the legacy of Labour’s surveillance society. Ministers have investigated the number of state powers of entry contained in primary and secondary legislation and were astonished to discover 1,200 in existence – more than 400 of which were created by Labour.

Thirty-four of the 78 councils in England contacted by the Daily Mail admitted having the watch lists and five more are planning to introduce them this year. The total will be higher because there are more than 350 councils in England.

Councils have wildly different criteria for placing people on the blacklist. Many are put there simply after a form is filled out by a member of staff and then rubber-stamped by a manager.

Telford and Wrekin Council said it lists residents ‘if a person behaves in a way which is felt could pose a significant threat of physical or mental harm to employees’.

Doncaster Council said a ‘person needs to pose a potential danger to an employee of the council, or someone acting on behalf of council’ to be put on the list.

But in many councils hundreds of staff can access personal information about people logged as a potential threat, even though they have no contact with the public and so could never be in danger.

Last night Daniel Hamilton, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It beggars belief to think that so many councils are wasting precious financial resources compiling databases of “undesirable” local residents.

'While councils have a duty to protect their staff, they also have a duty to respect the privacy of local residents. ‘People who have never committed a crime should not have their details logged like common criminals. Their details should be deleted immediately.’

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has warned councils that they have a legal duty to keep the information secure. A spokesman for his office said councils had a duty of care to protect their staff, which could involve putting them on a list. But he added: ‘These markers should be used very carefully and should contain the reasons for identifying individuals as being potentially violent.’

He said councils should inform residents who are on the database, setting out how they ended up on it. Only in extreme cases where a council believed that telling a resident they were on the list would lead to a violent reaction should they not approach the individual.

Good citizen treated like a criminal

When she spotted a drunk trampling flowers in a park, Jane Clift saw it as her public duty to report him. But her efforts led to a nightmare in which she was branded potentially violent and put on a council blacklist with thugs and sex attackers.

Her details were circulated to public and private bodies, including doctors’, dentists’, opticians’, libraries, contraceptive clinics, schools and nurseries.

Their staff were advised not to see her alone. The 44-year-old former care worker was forced to withdraw an application to become a foster parent and to leave the town where she had lived for ten years.

Her ordeal began in August 2005 when she called the police after the drunk threatened her in a park in Slough, Berkshire. He had fled by the time police arrived, but they advised her to contact the council, which was running a campaign to persuade people to report anti-social behaviour. When a worker in the anti-social behaviour unit allegedly failed to take action, Mrs Clift went to a higher level. A co-ordinator claimed she became ‘very difficult’ during a phone call.

In December 2005, Mrs Clift received a letter from the council to say she had been put on the register of potentially violent people. After a four-year legal battle, the High Court ordered Slough Council to pay her £12,000 in libel damages.



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, 2011


Comments from Britain

A yen by the elite for a "controlled" press is behind the overheated attacks on Murdoch

"THIS is our Berlin Wall moment." So said The Guardian columnist George Monbiot on Wednesday, in response to Rupert Murdoch's decision to withdraw his bid for BSkyB. Other commentators have rummaged through more recent democratic upheavals to find the right words to express the momentousness of Murdoch's travails. "It's like the Arab Spring," media expert Roy Greenslade said: "Rupert Mubarak faces empire meltdown as a revolution threatens to denude him of his power."

A Liberal Democrat MP borrowed from Martin Luther King to express his giddy glee at what the phone-hacking scandal has done to the "Murdoch empire". Politicians are "free at last" from this media mogul's pressure, he said, "free like the prisoners emerging into the sunlight in Beethoven's opera, Fidelio". And in case anyone was in any doubt as to the impact of this very British revolution, socialite and journalist Jemima Khan spelled out how the world has changed forever. "I'm told Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks were refused a table at the River Cafe last night when they tried to book. Inconceivable a month ago," she tweeted.

These excitable hacks do a grave injustice to the freedom-hungry masses of yesteryear by lumping their struggles in with the media-led agitation against Murdoch. For no amount of shameless plundering of past democratic moments can disguise the fact that what we are witnessing in Britain is a media coup led by a tiny gaggle of illiberal liberals. This not a mass movement for change, still less is it something akin to the collapse of Stalinism in Europe in 1989. Rather, the anti-Murdoch moral crusade represents the convergence of various minority interests, and the biggest loser won't be Murdoch but media freedom.

So many commentators have allowed themselves to be swallowed by schadenfreude that they have lost the ability to step back and ask: what is motoring this crusade and what will its impact be?

The first nonsense notion that needs to be put to bed is that the extent to which the phone-hacking scandal has dominated media and political debate is a reflection of rocketing public disgust. There has been "a fit of public outrage", claims one reporter. Labour leader Ed Miliband even described Murdoch's decision to close the News of the World as a victory for "people power".

In truth, the public is nowhere near as exercised over these matters as the liberal media and its lapdogs in parliament are. Public polling guru Deborah Mattinson says at her most recent focus group on politics, the phone-hacking scandal "didn't even come up". In this era of recession, people have more pressing things to worry about.

In Mattinson's words, they're "more concerned about their own family finances than the Murdoch family's finances".

Descriptions of anti-Murdoch media agitation as "people power" is a see-through attempt to paint a cliquish crusade as something more dignified. What poses as a movement for moral decency against low-rent newspapers is really a collection of individuals and organisations motivated by vengeance, grubby business interests or simply a burning desire to de-fang the tabloids.

The two politicians at the forefront of the crusade are John Prescott, former Labour deputy prime minister, and Chris Bryant, Labour MP. It can't be a coincidence that both have been badly burned by Murdoch tabloids, finding their extramarital affairs (Prescott) or their penchant for posing in their Y-fronts on gay-sex websites (Bryant) splashed across their pages. Likewise, one doesn't need a degree in political science to see why Hugh Grant has transmogrified overnight from floppy-haired actor into a one-man army against tabloid hacks: he's never forgiven them for the fun they had at his expense after he indulged in certain roadside larks with a hooker in Los Angeles in 1995.

Privacy lawyers, who long to muzzle the media on behalf of wealthy clients, have also thrown in their lot with the anti-Murdoch crusade. They are licking their lips at the prospect of a shift in public opinion following the revelation that the News of the World didn't only hack celebs' phones but also murder and terror victims' phones, a shift from favouring press freedom towards favouring the superinjunctions and other medieval forms of censorship beloved of the privacy lobby.

The Guardian's agenda also isn't difficult to decipher. It has a longstanding animosity towards the "Murdoch empire", blaming it for everything from the demise of the Labour Party in the 1980s to the denigration of Britain's political culture. And The New York Times has turned this British scandal into a big issue in the US not because it is a paragon of journalistic integrity but as part of its corporate stand-off with The Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch assets in the Big Apple.

These self-interested crusaders may pose as warriors against alleged criminality in the tabloid press, but their true target is the culture of the tabloid press, the age-old arts of muckraking and sabre-rattling, which they consider vulgar and offensive. Under the guise of ending illegal phone-hacking, they're really pursuing a culture war against what they view as the ugly, mass, populist media.

So Grant won applause on BBC television's Question Time when he said "I'm not for regulating the proper press, the broadsheet press. But it is insane that the tabloid is left unregulated."

The extent to which the crusade is now about stamping out what is perceived to be an inferior form of journalism and public debate can be seen in the way that the crusaders flit between condemning alleged crimes at the News of the World to condemning the culture at it and other papers.

Indeed, following the closure of that Murdoch title, having smelled the blood of the Right, some liberal hacks turned their sights on other, non-Murdoch tabloids. Peter Wilby at The Guardian effectively told his readers-crusaders to avoid resting on their laurels and instead to turn their tabloid-hatin' attentions to the Daily Mail. "The Mail, with its suburban, curtain-twitching prurience, is in some respects worse than Murdoch's tabloids," he declared. "It has been a consistent enemy of liberal policies and it remains deeply hostile to scientists warning of global warming."

Opposed to liberal ideas? Insufficiently green? Suburban? Kill it off.

Destroy it. Send it to the same graveyard where the News of the World, scourge of highbrows everywhere, is now kicking up a stench.

After all, as Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman put it, these are papers that "most of us had little to do with". "Most of us" is an interesting choice of phrase. He clearly isn't referring to the 7.5 million people who enjoyed reading the News of the World or the million "curtain-twitching suburbanites" who dumbly devour the Daily Mail but to his own coterie of tabloid-allergic friends and colleagues.

This cuts to the heart of the anti-Murdoch moral crusade: its pretensions of "people power", its anti-crime posturing, is a cover for its declaration of war against the culture of the "lower orders", against those rags that dare to say things that run counter to the cosmopolitan outlook of the city-centre elites.

The fallout of this cultural crusade on press freedom will be dire. Already Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to institute a new regulatory body with "more teeth" -- and presumably therefore more bite -- than the Press Complaints Commission. He is setting up an inquiry to investigate press behaviour and morality, seemingly having forgotten that it is the media's job to investigate government, not the other way round.

And more than 350 years after poet John Milton wrote an impassioned plea to the parliament of his day asking it to bring to an end the system of government licensing for newspapers, there is a serious debate about reintroducing licences for journalists, presumably to ensure that the suburban ones, who don't buy into global-warming alarmism or support "liberal policies", are kept out.

These are deeply troubling times for press freedom. The likeliest side effect of the anti-Murdoch moral crusade will be the homogenisation of the press, the straitjacketing of journalism, the enforcement of middle-class moral conformism. That is far too high a price to pay just so some celebs and politicians can get revenge on Rupert. If you agree with Milton -- that we should have "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" -- then you should stand against this intolerant cultural tide.


“You cannot pluck the rose without the thorn”

The death of a free press, the hacking off of investigative journalism - the scandals nobody is talking about

What do you think about hacking into the phone messages of abducted teenager Milly Dowler or the relatives of other victims of murder, terrorism or war? Are you for or against it?

Personally, having weighed it carefully, I think it’s a bad thing. And so it seems does every other human being who has commented, including everybody associated with the News of the World and the detective who is said to have carried out these acts of phone-hacking for that ex-newspaper. Nobody is trying to defend the indefensible.

When everybody is repeating the same thing, particularly in tones of moral outrage, you can be pretty sure that there are other uncomfortable questions left unasked. So let us, just for a moment, talk about something else. Such as the responses to the scandal which threaten to make everything worse. You do not need to be a champion of Rupert Murdoch’s empire or a fan of the News of the World (and, despite having taken the ‘Murdoch shilling’ by writing for The Times, I am neither) to see that there are other scandals developing here, almost unchallenged. To name just a few:

The scandal of the closure of a popular newspaper being celebrated as a triumph of democracy.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the end of the News of the World was a victory for ‘people power’, and many others on the liberal left celebrated the death of their tabloid bête-noire as if they had won an election. In fact, the pressure that did for Britain’s best-selling newspaper, read by millions of actual people each Sunday for 160-odd years, was generated by a relative handful of modish journalists and online ‘activists’ (active with their typing fingers anyway). It was less a triumph for people’s democracy than a confirmation of the tyranny of the intolerant Twittertariat.

The British petit-bourgeois intelligentsia has always feared and despised mass newspapers and the vulgar throng who consume them (for the history of this elitist disdain, see John Carey’s The Intellectuals and the Masses). More recently they have turned ‘tabloid’ into a swear word and blamed the Murdoch redtops for brainwashing the public – a convenient let-off for their own inability to win a political argument with normal newspaper readers.

Now at last they have succeeded in depriving the public of their allegedly mind-altering Sunday fix. Oh Brave New World, that does not have the News of the World in it! The illiberal liberals would only be happier if they could have extinguished Murdoch’s Sun, too. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp (great music, shame about the politics) symbolically wiped his arse with the final edition of the News of the World on stage at a music festival on Sunday. Why didn’t the sanitisation police just go the whole hog and burn the evil tabloid at the stake?

The scandal that British politics has become an arms race to see who can whip the press hardest.

Asked at the weekend what his party stands for now, the first thing Labour leader Miliband could come out with was… reform of the press. So a party of the political living dead that has abandoned any pretence of principles has finally found something to believe in. Who needs an alternative vision of the economy or the future when you can bash the tabloids?

Not to be outdone, Tory prime minister David Cameron made a big speech to announce that yes, it’s all very well for the media to ‘speak truth to power’, but it’s also important that ‘those in power can tell truth to the press’. In which case, why don’t government ministries cut out the middle men and write the newspapers themselves? They could call it the Ministry of Truth (for the history of this institution, see George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four). At any moment before last week, such an arrogantly censorious statement from a UK government would have sparked a furious press reaction. Yet so cowed have the media been by recent events that they uttered barely a whimper.

If this is what politics has become, little wonder that cries of ‘Hugh Grant for prime minister!’ have been heard on every celebrity chat and comedy show. It began with the Hollywood crusader for superinjunctions and censorship trying to act like the prime minister he played in the execrable Love, Actually. Now it looks as if Cameron and Miliband are actually trying to act like Hugh Grant.

The scandal of sectional interests posing as the ‘public interest’.

Mention of Grant should remind us that question marks hang over many of those who have recently discovered such a heartfelt concern with journalistic standards. Is Grant the moral crusader for media regulation in any way related to the posh British actor who was splashed all over the press after being caught with his pants down with a Hollywood hooker?

Has Lord John Prescott the outraged critic of the tabloids ever met the buffoonish Labour deputy prime minister who was made into an even grosser figure of ridicule by the papers’ exposure of his affair with his secretary?

Does Chris Bryant, who has toured every news studio to denounce the Murdoch press, remember the young Labour MP exposed in the press for posting pictures of himself in his underpants on a gay sex website? And so it goes on.

Ours is an age in which it often seems nobody can offer any strong opinion without being accused of acting on behalf of some ‘special interest group’ or of protecting narrow economic interests. Yet in this case the usually clear-eyed cynical commentariat appears to be suffering from collective selective amnesia, unable to see any connection between the past well-publicised antics of outraged celebrities and politicians and their sudden passion for press reform. Instead they have all been allowed a free hand to attack ‘tabloid culture’ from behind the banner of ‘the public interest’ – a standard which is not, of course, to be set by the lowly public themselves, but by high-minded journalists or the judiciary.

The scandal of the hacking down of investigative journalism.

In the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, the general consensus in the political class appears to be that the British press does too much prying into other people’s business and pokes its nose where it is not wanted much too far and too often. In fact there is already far too little investigative journalism in the UK media. And the response to the hacking scandal suggests that in future there will be even less of it.

What the News of the World was alleged to have done to Milly Dowler and other victims and relatives was not, of course, journalism. As spiked pointed out from the start, it was voyeurism. The problem was not so much the phone-hacking of private information – such tactics could be justified in pursuit of a story in another situation. It was that these things were done for no purpose other than to spy on personal feelings and prey on the emotions of victims and their relatives. Such a voyeuristic attitude is not, it should be noted, entirely confined to the News of the World; all mainstream media outlets have become obsessed with reporting feelings as much as facts in recent years.

The irony is that the News of the World was also almost the only British newspaper that still put serious resources into investigating stories and making the news, rather than simply reprinting what it was handed. Its exposés of corruption and hypocrisy often dominated the following week’s news. Some of us might not always have approved of the subjects it chose to investigate. But that should surely have been a cue for more probing investigative journalism of a different stripe.

Instead there is now likely to be even less boldness in that direction in the face of the outcry about hacking – and whatever replaces the News of the World on Sundays could well be a pale imitation. In the furore about phone-hacking, it seems to have been forgotten not only that investigative journalism is crucial to public debate, but that it will always involve underhand methods, since it is about finding out what others don’t want you to know.

The scandal of a free press left to die slowly, unmourned.

This is the worst undiscussed scandal of all. The harrying to closure of the News of the World by illiberal liberals marks a milestone on the road to ruin. Yet it has been met in media circles not with outraged protests, but with the familiar mix of cynicism and naivety: cynicism that claims it is simply a ‘business decision’ by the Murdochs (as if killing your cash cow was good business), and naivety that suggests you can ‘clean up’ and regulate the tabloid press while miraculously leaving ‘good journalism’ untouched.

In reality, the more influence that ministers, judges, policemen, commissions and crusaders are able to exercise over the media, the less freedom of expression there is going to be for all. Freedom of the press, like any freedom, is not divisible. You cannot have more controls on the ‘bad’ and let the ‘good’ (whatever that might be) run free. As a wise German wrote 170 years ago, ‘lack of freedom is the real mortal danger for mankind…. [L]eaving aside the moral consequences, bear in mind that you cannot enjoy the advantages of a free press without putting up with its inconveniences. You cannot pluck the rose without its thorns! And what do you lose with a free press?’

As that man Karl Marx also wrote, a ‘bad’ free press is always better than a ‘good’ controlled one - if you hope to get to the truth about politics, war, or scandals.


Rule by media in Britain

In the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown years, Rupert Murdoch's empire exploited an alternative and corrupt system of government.

When I went to work in the House of Commons as a lobby correspondent nearly 20 years ago, I assumed that the British constitution worked along the lines we had been taught in textbooks at school and university. Which is to say: Britain was a representative democracy; the police were reasonably honest; and the country was governed under the rule of law. I naively expected MPs to be honest and driven by a sense of duty, and ministers to be public-spirited.

During my first few years at Westminster, I came to appreciate that most of my assumptions were hardly true. In particular, it became clear that power had seeped away from the Commons, which had lost many of its traditional functions. It rarely held ministers to account, and ministers no longer made their announcements to the House, as Erskine May, the rulebook of Parliament, insisted they should; instead they were leaked out through journalists.

For a number of years I was a part of this alternative system of government. We would be fed information confidentially and behind the scenes, and treated as if we were more important than elected MPs.

All this was very flattering – and professionally very useful – but I couldn’t help sensing that something was wrong. It wasn’t just that the media had taken over the function of Parliament, it also meant that the traditional checks and balances no longer operated. Above all, information could be put into the public domain privately and therefore unaccountably.

All newspapers were guilty of being part of this new system, but it was exploited in particular by the Murdoch press. I believe that when Rupert Murdoch arrived on the British scene in the 1960s, he was, on balance, a force for good. The deference that still defined a great deal of political culture was challenged by Mr Murdoch, and better still he took on and defeated the print unions, which had all but destroyed the British newspaper industry in the 1970s.

But by the 1990s, Murdoch’s newspapers were starting to abuse their power. The best way of demonstrating this is perhaps by examining the career of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International who is in such trouble this week. Her professional career is, in a number of ways, a parable for the times we have lived through.

One of the greatest adventuresses of her era, she emerged on the scene when New Labour under Tony Blair was on the verge of power. During this time she was married to Ross Kemp, the EastEnders actor who was one of the most powerful defenders of New Labour. They lived in south London, emphasising the faux-proletarian credentials that were such an important, if misleading, part of the New Labour message.

As New Labour’s star waned, Rebekah Brooks changed course. She ceased to be the cool, metropolitan figure favoured by New Labour. She moved to Oxfordshire, took up riding and became the central figure in the now notorious Chipping Norton set.

Meanwhile, her titles changed their allegiance. The political editor of the Sun might have been deemed to lack the impeccable social credentials demanded by an incoming Tory government. He was replaced by an Old Marlburian.

The identical transfiguration took place at The Times, where Phil Webster, one of the few remaining journalists in Fleet Street who has come up the hard way, was removed. Webster, who had been a favourite of the Blair government, found himself replaced as political editor by Roly Watson, who had been a member of Pop, the exclusive club at Eton, at the same time as David Cameron.

A pattern was clear. Rebekah Brooks (like all the News International insiders) attached herself like glue to whichever political party held the ascendancy.

During the Blair years, News International executives, Mrs Brooks among them, would attend the annual Labour Party conference, but they were scarcely treated as journalists. When Tony Blair gave his leadership speech, they would be awarded seats just behind the cabinet, as if they had been co-opted into the Government.

Arguably they had. The first telephone call that Blair made after he had escaped from the conference hall was routinely to Rupert Murdoch himself. And when ministers who had been favoured by the Murdoch press left office, they would be rewarded. David Blunkett and Alastair Campbell were both given columns on News International publications.

A version of this process repeated itself when Gordon Brown became prime minister, with Rebekah Brooks attending Sarah Brown’s cringe-making “pyjama party” at Chequers. It may not suit Mr Brown, who made such a passionate speech in the Commons yesterday, to remember it but he, too, was part of the Murdoch system of government. And so was David Cameron, who last October threw a party for his closest friends to celebrate his 44th birthday. Reportedly everyone present had known the Prime Minister all his adult life – with the exception of Mrs Brooks.

There was a very sinister element to these relationships. At exactly the same time that Mrs Brooks was getting on so famously with the most powerful men and women in Britain, the employees of her newspapers (as we now know) were listening in to their voicemails and illicitly gaining access to deeply personal information.

One News of the World journalist once told me how this information would be gathered into dossiers; sometimes these dossiers were published, sometimes not. The knowledge that News International held such destructive power must have been at the back of everyone’s minds at the apparently cheerful social events where the company’s executives mingled with their client politicians.

Let’s take the case of Tessa Jowell. When she was Culture Secretary five years ago, News International hacked into her phone and spied on her in other ways. What was going on amounted to industrial espionage, since Ms Jowell was then charged with the regulation and supervision of News International, and the media group can scarcely have avoided discovering commercially sensitive information, even though its primary purpose was to discover details about Ms Jowell’s private life.

Yet consider this: Ms Jowell was informed of this intrusion at the time and said nothing. More curious still, she retained her friendship with Rebekah Brooks and other News International figures. Indeed, Ms Jowell appears to have been present at the Cotswolds party thrown by Matthew Freud, son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch, only 10 days ago.

James Murdoch, heir apparent to the Murdoch empire, was also present. These parties were, in effect, a conspiracy between the British media and the political class against the country as a whole. They were the men and women who governed Britain and decided who was up and who was out. Government policy was influenced and sometimes created. I doubt very much whether Britain would have invaded Iraq but for the foolhardy support of the Murdoch press.

The effect on government policy was wretched. Decisions were determined by consideration of the following day’s headlines rather than sound analysis. Furthermore, private favours were dispensed; Blair when prime minister spoke to his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi about one of Murdoch’s business deals in Italy.

Of course it was all kept secret, though details did sometimes leak out. All recent prime ministers have insisted that their meetings with Murdoch were confidential and did not need to be disclosed, as if they were somehow private affairs. Mercifully, Cameron – who has partially emerged from the sewer thanks to his Commons statement – has put an end to this concealment.

It has taken the horror of the revelations concerning the targeting by the Murdoch empire of the family of Milly Dowler, terrorist victims and even relatives of British war dead to bring this corrupt, complicit, and conspiratorial system of government to light.

The process of exposure has taken far too long, but there is at last hope. Two years ago, Rebekah Brooks contemptuously turned down an invitation to give evidence to MPs about how she operated. Next week, Rupert Murdoch, his son James and the reluctant Brooks will all be dragged before them.

The system of collaboration between an over-mighty press and timorous politicians is being exposed. There is hope that we can return to a more decent system of government; that Parliament can reassert its rights, and that ministers will make their decisions for the right reasons and not simply to ingratiate themselves with Murdoch and his newspaper editors. Perhaps the sickness that has demeaned and distorted British politics for the last two decades is at last being challenged and confronted.



Comments from Australia

Gillard and Brown are both trying to shoot the messenger

The push by Bob Brown and Julia Gillard for a parliamentary inquiry into the media is so cynical, manipulative and transparently biased that if we really were as evil as they believe we’d congratulate them both for joining the dark side.

We're useless! Let's blame News Ltd!We're useless! Let's blame News Ltd!

Both leaders are seeking to establish a connection in the public’s mind between the obscene and illegal practices exposed in the UK and perfectly conventional and legitimate journalism and commentary in Australia with which they just happen to disagree.

It is extraordinary both how blatantly they have hijacked the issue and how seamlessly the more naïve and ideological sections of the community have followed them to this at best offensive and at worst dangerous illogicality.

The UK phone tapping scandal is about a British newspaper or newspapers engaging in illegal activity against ordinary citizens, most disgracefully, in some cases, the victims of crime.

This is now being used as justification by the Prime Minister and Senator Brown for a parliamentary inquiry into the local media. But why?

Do they have any evidence of phone tapping here? No.

Do they have any evidence of illegal activity here? No.

Do they even accuse reporters of behaving in a dishonest fashion or employing dishonest practices to obtain information here? No.

Yet still Brown wants an inquiry into media practices and ethics here.

That, it appears, is Australian journalists’ reward for not engaging in dirty and unscrupulous practices and generally being fairly decent types: A McCarthy-esque fishing expedition based on not a shred of evidence. Not even an allegation.

This absurd logic is the equivalent of police officers walking up to random people in the street and forcing them to prove they are not criminals.

And how will it work? Will rumpled press gallery scribes be dragged from their beds to testify which politicians they were drinking with the night before? Who said what? What was on or off the record? Will they have to give up sources? Expose whistleblowers? Will they, as Senator Joe encouraged so enthusiastically in the 50s, have to name names?

And of course media ownership will be scrutinised. And why is that again? Were the dodgy practices engaged at News of the World caused by concentration of media ownership? Er, no.

In fact the running theory as to why such dirty tricks were employed is that competition in the UK newspaper market is so fierce and so cutthroat that papers would resort to anything to get the edge on their rivals – even those in the same stable.

So no, it’s not that there’s any indication of dodgy behaviour or that media ownership has caused dodgy behaviour, so what is it? Why are we having this inquiry again?

Well gosh, no one can really say. But there might be a teeny-weeny clue in the fact that Brown describes the Murdoch press as “hate media” and that Gillard this week told the press gallery: “Don’t write crap.”

Now it’s one thing for a politician to point to a news report or editorial or opinion piece and say “that is crap” and tell the world why, but it’s a tad chilling when a Prime Minister instructs reporters not to “write crap” in the middle of a debate about a new regulatory framework to govern the media. Who’s going to enforce that edict? The Ministry of Truth?


Anti-Murdoch politicians can't stand the heat

David Flint

I AM no toady of the Murdoch empire. Its newspapers were tough on me in the years leading up to the republican referendum.

I remember The Courier-Mail saying the only reason people took any notice of what I said was not the content but the fact I was chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

On one occasion I wrote an open letter to Lachlan Murdoch dissenting from his position on the referendum. It didn't exactly win me plaudits in News Limited newspapers but, to their credit, they published it.

Later, when John Laws mistakenly thought I was behind moves against him at the ABA, some key News Limited opinion writers jumped gleefully on to that bandwagon. The point, of course, is no public figure should complain when the media applies the blowtorch. As the saying goes, "If you don't like the heat, don't go into the kitchen."

I mention this only to point out I don't owe the Murdoch empire anything. Like many readers I have often disagreed with its papers' editorial line. I thought their campaign against the Whitlam government was too one-sided and that they obsessively magnified any small error of judgment by the Howard government.

The Australian's support of Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election was particularly inexplicable. The paper was committed to labour market deregulation but everyone knew Rudd and Julia Gillard were not only going to wipe out Work Choices, they were going to take labour market regulation back to before the Hawke and Keating governments.

More recently, I think The Australian's support of the carbon dioxide tax on the basis of the so-called precautionary principle and on the primacy of market solutions misses the point. This is not a real market but an artificial construct concocted by bureaucrats and academics to be rorted by merchant bankers.

In the meantime Sky News Australia, unlike the US Fox News which is screamingly right wing, is to the left even of the ABC. A typical example: on July 15, who did it choose to comment on the carbon tax? Two well-known supporters of the tax, John Hewson and Graham Richardson, with a sympathetic interviewer. And although The Daily Telegraph is doing a sterling job in exposing politicians of all sides, its prominent photo column Street Talk seems to meet mainly left-wing people.

The point is News Limited is not a monolith with opinions settled centrally by Rupert Murdoch as a latter-day Lenin. It is richly diverse, more so than the ABC or Fairfax Media. And while Murdoch is no saint, he has done great things for the media. His move to Wapping saved the British press from the slow death to which the print union bosses had sentenced it. His creation of a national Australian newspaper was visionary.

But with the emergence of the latest anti-Murdoch bandwagon I smell not one rat but two.

Let me say the phone hacking indulged in by the News of the World and possibly other British newspapers is reprehensible.

But why were the latest revelations withheld until News International's bid to take over BSkyB was almost put to bed? Why were they leaked to a left-wing opposition newspaper?

This inspired some weak British politicians suddenly to find sufficient courage to challenge the bid. Now some Australian politicians who've been subject to perfectly legitimate attention in the Murdoch media are jumping on the News of the World bandwagon with demands that Murdoch be investigated here and possibly curtailed or even punished.

Wheeled out to defend the carbon tax, Paul Keating is calling for the immediate enactment of a privacy law. But there is no pattern in Australia of massive intrusion by the Murdoch media into the private lives of public figures. In fact the last significant improper media intrusion that I can recall was that of a Fairfax newspaper into the private life of Richard Pratt, who died in 2009.

I was chairman of the Australian Press Council for 10 years and after that chairman of the ABA for six. I cannot recall one occasion when a journalist alleged they had been directed by Murdoch to do something illegal or unethical. That included journalists who no longer worked for News.

When I was at the Press Council I did oppose a proposal that we support the establishment of a special press takeovers tribunal to stop Murdoch's takeover of the Herald and Weekly Times. This was not to favour Murdoch; my argument was this was a matter for the general competition law and there shouldn't be a special competition law or government tribunal for newspapers. The last thing we should ever do is give politicians any greater control over speech than they have, for it will be used only to restrict it.

For years defamation law was abused, mainly by politicians, to stop the investigation of matters of legitimate public interest.

And when Canadian Conrad Black asked for permission to increase his share in Fairfax to make it defensible against hostile takeovers, a political condition was put on it. If a privacy law were enacted the principal beneficiaries would be politicians with something to hide.

The point is some politicians who can't stand being challenged are now hoping they can use the News of the World debacle to nail the Murdoch newspapers, especially The Australian and The Daily Telegraph. No doubt they also hope to silence, or at least intimidate, talkback radio.

The problem for the Prime Minister and Greens leader Bob Brown is they are failing -- monumentally -- to explain what most people find inexplicable. In Gillard's case this is exacerbated by the fact most Australians have stopped listening to her because they think she lies.

The answer for both of them is more speech, not taking away freedom of speech and of the press.

The last thing we need are more laws or inquiries. What we need is good limited government and, if they can't give us that, an early election.


Feds backing off a witchhunt into the Oz media

THE government has moved to downplay the scope of any inquiry into the Australian media, instead putting an overhaul of privacy laws back on the agenda.

As Greens leader Bob Brown stepped up his calls for an investigation into local media ownership and regulation in the wake of the British phone-hacking scandal, Tony Abbott warned that threats of an "inquiry into the media when it is reporting the government's difficulties marketing a new tax smacks of official persecution".

The Opposition Leader said there was "no evidence -- none -- that the Australian media have engaged in any of the practices that rightly closed a UK publication".

"Politicians criticising the media resemble footballers criticising the referee. The media rightly hold us to account and we have to take the rough with the smooth, the fair with the over-the-top when it comes to media outlets' news judgment and commentary," Mr Abbott, a former journalist, told The Weekend Australian.

Senator Brown is yet to discuss his push for an inquiry with Julia Gillard or Mr Abbott. However, his call for full-scale investigation won the backing of federal independent MP Rob Oakeshott.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said he was confident Australia's telephone interception laws were already strong enough.

He also ruled out government regulation of media ethics. "I think it's a very important aspect of democracy to have an independent and robust media and there'll be no suggestion of the government regulating the media," he said. "However, it may well be that there is an appropriate dialogue between the community and the various press councils and electronic media organisations."

The Prime Minister left the option open on Thursday to consider a parliamentary inquiry into Australian print and broadcast companies, but Wayne Swan said yesterday he did not believe an inquiry was needed into whether Australian journalists were involved in phone-hacking practices.

John Hartigan, the chairman and chief executive of News Limited, the publisher of The Weekend Australian, said this week he was "hugely confident that there's no improper or unethical behaviour in our newsrooms".

The Treasurer said he accepted Mr Hartigan's statements that News Limited was not engaged in these practices. "I think it's good to have a healthy debate about the quality of journalism, about ethics, and I'll leave it at that," he said.

But he used the debate over the media to take aim at News Limited's The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, accusing it of campaigning against a carbon tax.

"It's their right to do that, but they can't pretend that the coverage is balanced when all they do is oppose a price on carbon continuously and include that in their coverage in a way which isn't balanced," Mr Swan said.

Senator Brown is also pushing for Australians' right to privacy to be enshrined in the law, and the government has placed the issue back on the agenda.

Mr McClelland said it was "inevitable" that the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of privacy would be revisited. The ALRC recommended in 2008 that courts should have the power to make an order for damages, an injunction or an apology in cases where individuals suffered a serious invasion of privacy.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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, 2011

"Diversity Is Where Nations Go To Die"‏

Take a look at this photograph. It appeared in The Toronto Star’s education section on Saturday:

It’s the scene every Friday at the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto. That’s not a private academy, it’s a public school funded by taxpayers. And yet, oddly enough, what’s going on is a prayer service – oh, relax, it’s not Anglican or anything improper like that; it’s Muslim Friday prayers, and the Toronto District School Board says don’t worry, it’s just for convenience: They put the cafeteria at the local imams’ disposal because otherwise the kids would have to troop off to the local mosque and then they’d be late for Lesbian History class or whatever subject is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The picture is taken from the back of the cafeteria. In the distance are the boys. They’re male, so they get to sit up front at prayers. Behind them are the girls. They’re female, so they have to sit behind the boys because they’re second-class citizens – not in the whole of Canada, not formally, not yet, but in the cafeteria of a middle school run by the Toronto District School Board they most certainly are.

And the third row? The ones with their backs to us in the foreground of the picture? Well, let the Star’s caption writer explain:

At Valley Park Middle School, Muslim students participate in the Friday prayer service. Menstruating girls, at the very back, do not take part.

Oh. As Kathy Shaidle says: Yep, that’s part of the caption of the Toronto Star photo. Yes, the country is Canada and the year is 2011.

Just so. Not some exotic photojournalism essay from an upcountry village in Krappistan. But a typical Friday at a middle school in the largest city in Canada. I forget which brand of tampon used to advertise itself with the pitch "Now with new [whatever] you can go horse-riding, water-ski-ing, ballet dancing, whatever you want to do", but perhaps they can just add the tag: "But not participate in Friday prayers at an Ontario public school."

Some Canadians will look at this picture and react as Miss Shaidle did, or Tasha Kheiriddin in The National Post:
Is this the Middle Ages? Have I stumbled into a time warp, where “unclean” women must be prevented from “defiling” other persons? It’s bad enough that the girls at Valley Park have to enter the cafeteria from the back, while the boys enter from the front, but does the entire school have the right to know they are menstruating?

But a lot of Canadians will glance at the picture and think, “Aw, diversity, ain’t it a beautiful thing?” – no different from the Sikh Mountie in Prince William’s escort. And even if they read the caption and get to the bit about a Toronto public school separating menstruating girls from the rest of the student body and feel their multiculti pieties wobbling just a bit, they can no longer quite articulate on what basis they’re supposed to object to it. Indeed, thanks to the likes of Ontario “Human Rights” Commission chief commissar Barbara Hall, the very words in which they might object to it have been all but criminalized.

Islam understands the reality of Commissar Hall’s “social justice”: You give ’em an inch, and they’ll take the rest. Following a 1988 cease-and-desist court judgment against the Lord’s Prayer in public school, the Ontario Education Act forbids “any person to conduct religious exercises or to provide instruction that includes religious indoctrination in a particular religion or religious belief in a school.” That seems clear enough. If somebody at Valley Park stood up in the cafeteria and started in with “Our Father, which art in Heaven”, the full weight of the School Board would come crashing down on them. Fortunately, Valley Park is 80-90 per cent Muslim, so there are no takers for the Lord’s Prayer. And, when it comes to the prayers they do want to say, the local Islamic enforcers go ahead secure in the knowledge that the diversity pansies aren’t going to do a thing about it.

Nobody would know a thing about the “mosqueteria” story were it not for the blogger Blazing Cat Fur, whom I was honoured to say a word for in Ottawa a few months back. He broke this story and then saw it get picked up without credit by the Toronto media. He does that a lot. Currently, he’s featuring the thoughts of Jawed Anwar, the editor of The Muslim, a publication for Greater Toronto Area Muslims, and of Dr Bilal Philips, a “Canadian religious scholar” who was born in Jamaica but grew up in Toronto and has many prestigious degrees not only from Saudi Arabia but also from the University of Wales, where he completed a PhD in “Islamic Theology”. Dr Philips is in favour of death for homosexuals and, as one Canadian to another, Mr Anwar was anxious to explain to his readers that that’s nothing to get alarmed about:
Although, there is no clear-cut verse in Qur’an that categorically suggests killing of homosexuals, sayings of Prophet Muhammad suggests three types of sentences, and among that one is death. Bilal Philips is suggesting, based on his opinion on the Qur’anic/Prophetic principles of society. He is not advising the Islamic judiciary to kill any gay person they found, but what he is “suggesting” is judicial punishment of death sentence for those who confess or are seen “performing homosexual acts” by “four reliable witnesses without any doubt.”

The essence of Islamic laws is to protect the life of human beings. And it happens that sometimes killing of a person can save thousands and sometimes millions of lives. The Islamic judiciary can punish a person with death sentence to save others’ lives.

Okay, great, thanks. Glad you cleared that up. Two eminent “Canadian” Muslims are openly discussing the conditions under which homosexuals should be executed – and doing so in the cheerful knowledge that Commissar Hall, so determined to slap down my “Islamophobia”, isn’t going to do a thing about their “homophobia”. She’s more likely to accept a complaint from another “Canadian”, Mohammad Baghery, who accuses Michael Coren of the crime of “making fun of Muslims”. (Barbara Hall's incoherent thoughts can be heard here: appropriately enough, she sounds like the robot voice that instructs you to buckle your seatbelt.)

Imagine if you're a soi-disant moderate Muslim, genuinely so. You came to Canada because Yemen's a dump, and you don't want to waste your life there. And your daughter loves it, and wants to be Canadian, and be just like the other girls in her street. And then she goes to Valley Park Middle School: What if she doesn't feel it's a religious obligation to attend Friday prayers (as some Muslims argue)? Think there's much chance of being able to opt out easily at Valley Park? What if she wants to dress as she wishes to rather than as the Wahhabi/Salafist imam orders? What if she doesn't want to tell the creepy perve imam whether she's menstruating or not? What, in other words, is her chance of being able to attend Valley Park as a regular Canadian schoolgirl?

I've had cause to mention before Phyllis Chesler's photographs of Cairo University's evolving dress code over the last half-century. Here's how the female students looked in 1978:

In 1978, the female students in Cairo looked little different from the female students at the University of Toronto, or Kingston. Now the schoolgirls of Toronto look no different from Cairo. Ms Chesler's pictures are a story of transformation, but that transformation is not confined to the Middle East. For snapshots of Canada's own particular transformation, one might take Berton père et fils. Until his death in 2004, Pierre Berton was the great popularizer of Canadian history, a man whose best-known soundbite was that "a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe". It wasn't true even then, but it spoke to an agreed national myth. His son, Paul Berton, became the somnolent editor of The London Free Press, who used what little energy he had to protect the tender sensibilities of his city's fast-growing and belligerently assertive Muslim community. His successor is even more protective. From Pierre Berton to Paul Berton is also a story of transformation: A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe in a niqab?

If you didn’t know it before that Valley Park photograph, you should now: “Diversity” is where nations go to die. If local Mennonites or Amish were segregating the sexes and making them enter by different doors for religious services in a Toronto grade-school cafeteria, Canadian feminists would howl them down in outrage. But when Muslims do it they fall as silent as their body-bagged sisters in Kandahar. If you’re wondering how Valley Park’s catchment district got to be 80-90 per cent Muslim is nothing flat, well, Islam is currently the biggest supplier of new Canadians, as it is of new Britons and new Europeans. Not many western statistics agencies keep tabs on religion, but the Vienna Institute of Demography, for example, calculates that by 2050 a majority of Austrians under 15 will be Muslim. 2050 isn’t that far away. It’s as far from today as 2011 is from 1972: The future shows up faster than you think.

A world that becomes more Muslim becomes less everything else: First it’s Jews, already fleeing Malmo in Sweden. Then it’s homosexuals, already under siege from gay-bashing in Amsterdam, “the most tolerant city in Europe”. Then it’s uncovered women, already targeted for rape in Oslo and other Continental cities. And, if you don’t any longer have any Jews or (officially) any gays or (increasingly) uncovered women, there are always just Christians in general, from Egypt to Pakistan.

More space for Islam means less space for everything else, and in the end less space for you.

Mohammad Baghery is not Canadian. Jawed Anwar is not Canadian. Dr Bilal Philips is not Canadian. The men who separate boys from girls and menstruating girls from non-menstruating girls every Friday at Valley Park Middle School are not Canadian. Perhaps, were we a different kind of society, they would over time become Canadian. But, because they don’t have to, they won’t. Because they look at the witless “Pride” parade and the diversity blather and Barbara Hall and Bernie Farber and Co handing each other Mutual Backslap Awards all year long, and Mohammad and Jawed and Bilal understand that they’re what comes after Canada. This year it’s maybe just one mosqueteria. Next year, two or three more. Half a decade on, who knows? South of the border? The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, for reasons that are unclear, already has a taxpayer-funded “Muslim Community Affairs Unit”. But don’t worry, your small town in Minnesota will be getting one soon enough. As this Salafist lady told the woman from The New York Times, demonstrating how she gradually adopted full-face covering:

It just takes time… You get used to it. Look at that picture from Valley Park: Toronto’s already used to it.


Britain needs the rich to get richer

The Government needs the rich to take an even bigger slice of the nation's wages if future spending plans are to be met, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Although growing levels of income inequality have been identified by economists as one of the causes of the recent crisis, analysis by the OBR shows that the Government is more dependant than ever on the rich for tax revenues.

Due to the UK's progressive tax system, the rich pay a far greater share of income tax, which is expected to raise £158bn this year – 27pc of total receipts. As a result, the OBR estimates, for every one percentage point increase in the share of total wages taken by the top 5pc of earners the state receives an extra £2.4bn.

In the eight years between 2000 and 2008, the OBR found, the top 5pc of earners increased their share of the wage pool from 23.3pc to 26.4pc – generating an extra £7.2bn in tax. The top 5pc earn above £60,000, while the bottom 50pc are on less than £18,500.

"If the recent trend of increasing income inequality were to continue it would potentially drive an increase in personal tax receipts," the OBR said in its Fiscal Sustainability Report. "Conversely, a reversal of income inequality would lead to a fall in revenues."

The report demonstrated that the Government cannot afford to let personal tax receipts fall because it is already facing the loss of £29bn of revenues over the next two decades as cars become more fuel-efficient, people smoke less, and North Sea oil and gas reserves are depleted.

"Future governments are likely to need to find replacement revenue streams to keep the tax burden constant, let alone to meet the costs of the ageing population," the OBR said. The report's central finding was that Britain needs an extra £22bn-£58.5bn of tax rises or spending cuts as the costs of the ageing population make the public finances "unsustainable".

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: "It is a little risky for the public finances to be so dependant on such a small chunk of the population." He added that, if the income distribution changes, the Government would "adjust accordingly" by raising rates for those on lower pay.

Earlier this year, Min Zhu, the new deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned: "The increase in inequality is the most serious challenge for the world."


A Queer and Present Danger

Mike Adams

It looks like the Gaystapo is really up in arms over my recent series of articles on Cisco’s firing of Frank Turek. I can tell because I’m starting to get emails from them that are full of ALL CAPS – not to mention intentional misunderstanding of the central moral and legal issues I’ve been discussing. The following, which was posted on a homosexual website and then sent to my private email address, is illustrative:
How many times does this have to be explained before people finally figure out how the freedom of speech works? The freedom of speech is NOT a freedom from consequences. Your constitutional rights are ONLY protected from GOVERNMENT intervention. That’s it. The freedom of speech ONLY exists to protect you from the government stepping in an [sic] telling you what you can and can’t say.

Private companies and private citizens are not the government.

If (Frank Turek) had been arrested for what he said then yes, it’s a free speech case. If Cisco was entirely funded by tax payer dollars thus making them an extension of state or federal government then yes, it would be a free speech case. Neither occurred. It is not a free speech case.

Most companies, especially those that deal with sensitive information like Cisco, have very strict policies about how employees conduct themselves online in their free time. And your [sic] patently wrong that there’s “no evidence that Turek’s extracurricular activities affected his work with Cisco and its employees in the least” because the initial complaint was made by someone who attended one of his seminars. An employee complained about another employee. So yes… there is evidence that it affected Cisco employees because that’s where the complaint came from.

Sorry for getting a bit ranty but I am sick to f---ing death of homophobes trying to hide behind free speech as if it’s this magic stupidity shield that makes it ok to be a moron.

This is one of the rare times I agree with a member of the Gaystapo. In fact, his “ranty” missive is right in two important respects:

1. The Frank Turek case is not about the First Amendment. That is why we have never asserted that it is about the First Amendment. It is about tolerance and the manner in which employees treat one another. Even a blind homosexual, like a blind squirrel, occasionally finds a nut – although, in this case, I should probably say “acorn.”

2. Private speech does have consequences. When you express yourself in the court of public opinion, people may well be angered by what you say. Consequently, they might not want to work with you. I suppose that even a broken homosexual, like a broken clock, is right twice a day.

The fact that Cisco Systems has angered many people with its speech – in the form of one-sided homosexual activism – is clearly exacerbating its current financial woes. In fact, Fox News is reporting that Cisco is considering slashing as many as 10,000 jobs as it struggles to recoup from recent market losses.

Furthermore, according to Bloomberg News, Cisco is mulling cutting as many as 7,000 spots by the end of August. The 10,000 figure represents one-seventh of its total workforce. Cisco, which is the world’ largest networking-equipment maker, is also providing early-retirement packages to several thousand workers. There have been no indications as to whether Cisco will consider employee stance on the issue of same-sex marriage when making the proposed workforce cuts.

Regardless, these potential job cuts come after Cisco suffered an 18% decline in fiscal third-quarter earnings and revealed plans for $1 billion in cost reductions amid a weaker-than-expected outlook for the current quarter. This significant decline coincided with the public controversy concerning the Turek firing – a quarter during which CEO John Chambers received thousands of letters of protest concerning Cisco’s policies of inclusion and diversity. The company’s shares have declined 23.7% year-to-date and lost nearly one-third of their value over the past 52 weeks. Yet there is no indication whether Cisco will now take time off from firing Christians for their religious beliefs and instead devote their time to regaining the confidence of their shareholders.

I’m sorry for getting a bit ranty but I am sick to death of the Gaystapo trying to hide behind free speech. It’s not a magic stupidity shield that makes it okay to function as a company full of sanctimonious hypocrites. No one wants to do business with a company like that. And it’s not really a First Amendment issue.


What would the founders do about welfare?

Forty-four million Americans are on food stamps — up from 26 million in 2007. Spending on the program has more than doubled as well, to $77 million. Meanwhile, reports of abuse have skyrocketed.

It’s not the only anti-poverty program that seems to be growing like Topsy while accomplishing little. The federal government currently runs over 70 different means-tested programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care and social services to poor and low-income persons. They cost nearly $1 trillion per year — more than the 2009 stimulus package and no more successful.

Adjusted for inflation, welfare spending is 13 times higher today than it was in 1965, when Washington launched the War on Poverty. Yet the proportion of people living in poverty remains essentially unchanged.

In Vindicating the Founders, Thomas West notes that: "In 1947, the government reported that 32 percent of Americans were poor. By 1969 that figure had declined to 12 percent, where it remained for ten years. Since then, the percentage of poor Americans has increased to about 15 percent. In other words, before the huge growth in government spending on poverty programs, poverty was declining rapidly in America."

So what was driving down poverty rates before LBJ declared “war”? Let’s go back to the beginning.

Our nation’s founders recognized the need to take care of the sick and indigent who couldn’t help themselves. Quoting natural rights philosopher John Locke, West writes that “[T]he law of nature teaches not only self-preservation but also preservation of others, ‘when one’s own preservation comes into competition.’” In other words, society is organized for the security of its members as well as their liberty and property. A society that fails to respond to those in need jeopardizes its own preservation.

In the early days of the American experiment, local governments — not the feds — assumed this responsibility. But there was careful emphasis that “poor laws not go beyond a minimal safety net,” West notes, and that aid be provided only on the condition of labor. Only the truly helpless, those “who had no friends or family to help, were taken care of in idleness.”

The founders saw a great danger in overly generous welfare policy — that it would promote irresponsible behavior. That, in turn, would threaten the inherent natural right of every individual “to liberty, including the right to the free exercise of one’s industry and its fruits.”

Contrast that with today’s anti-poverty measures. Of 70 federal welfare programs, only one — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — actively encourages greater self-reliance. The remaining 69 encourage irresponsible behavior. Unsurprisingly, abuse of the system is rampant. Food stamp recipients sell benefit cards on Facebook, then falsely report lost cards. And recipients include prison inmates as well as millionaire lottery winners.

Our founders would not be surprised. While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Similarly, Jefferson argued that “to take from one … in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

This is why the founders encouraged reliance upon family, private charity and community. This approach ensured that aid to the needy was provided as personally as possible. Family and community can make crucial distinctions between the deserving and undeserving poor, whereas government cannot. Many individuals, for example, need a government handout far less than they need moral guidance and correction, which church groups and family can provide.

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, however, the War on Poverty turned these concepts on their head. Incentives for self-reliance, industry and hard work were reversed. Programs offering financial aid and child care to single women incentivized single-parent households while discouraging marriage. By 1995, a non-working, single mother of two was eligible for benefits equivalent to a job paying close to (and in some states, even more than) the average salary. Small wonder the decline in poverty rates was checked.

America needs to return to the principles that worked so successfully before Washington embraced the European welfare state model. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, with sound poverty policy, “industry will increase … circumstances [of the poor] will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves.”



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, 2011

Breast-feeding British mother 'told to leave council headquarters because she would offend Muslim visitors'

A mother was ordered not to breastfeed her baby in public because she was in a ‘multicultural building’. Emma Mitchell, 32, was about to feed 19-week-old son Aaron when a receptionist at a town hall warned her to stop.

Last night Mrs Mitchell condemned council staff, saying it was time people recognised the law which allows nursing mothers to breastfeed in public.

‘It was just awful. I felt humiliated, intimidated and guilty through the whole thing,’ she said. ‘What I was doing was one of the most natural things a mother can do. You hear everywhere that breast is best for your baby, so why wouldn’t I be allowed to do that?’

The incident occurred when Mrs Mitchell, from Oldham, was in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Oldham Civic Centre. The mother of two was asking about hiring a babysitter for her two boys when Aaron became hungry and started crying. She then asked the receptionist if she could use a corner of the room to feed him, but she refused, saying it was a ‘multicultural building’.

Mrs Mitchell, who is married to Neil, 43, a lorry driver, said: ‘She then rang the manager who told me that I couldn’t breastfeed here and to go into the shopping centre’s public toilets instead.

‘A member of the complaints department came down and spoke to the receptionist. ‘But she then told me that I had caused an uproar. I just asked to be allowed a place to feed my crying baby.’

Michelle Booth, 38, a friend who was at the civic centre, said: ‘I don’t understand. It’s political correctness gone mad when they’re worried about offending people of other cultures over something so natural.’

Under UK law, mothers can breastfeed in public under the provision of goods, services and facilities section of the Sexual Discrimination Act, whatever the age of the baby, in places such as council buildings, cafes, restaurants, libraries and doctors’ surgeries.

Last night councillor Shoab Akhtar, of Oldham Council, said: ‘We fully support the right of mothers to breastfeed their children and actively encourage it due to the long-term health benefits it provides. ‘Mrs Mitchell’s disappointing experience has highlighted the need to make all our staff fully aware of our policy and our legal requirements.

‘Staff will be trained in the coming days to ensure this never happens again, and we will be contacting Mrs Mitchell to apologise. ‘Staff should make every reasonable effort to assist a mother’s need to breastfeed, whether she requests the use of a private room or otherwise.’


Muslim morality

No "women and children first" among Muslims, apparently

As a four-year-old girl desperately paddled towards a life jacket amid the wreckage of SIEV 221, a man bobbing in the monstrous Christmas Island swell grabbed it and then kicked her away, an inquest has heard.

Local Australian Federal Police officer, Special Constable Shane Adams, stood on the cliffs at Rocky Point on December 15, trying to help the 89 asylum seekers and three crew members whose boat had smashed into rocks.

He spotted the girl after the boat broke apart trying to dog paddle towards a life jacket he had flung into the sea.

Constable Adams said he then noticed a man aged about 35 in the water nearby. "He reached out and grabbed the life jacket, pushed out with his right foot and struck the young girl on the shoulder, pushing her back," he told the inquest on Christmas Island.

That was the last time Const Adams saw the girl. Before the boat was torn to pieces amid the backwash at Rocky Point


Outraged cultural elites name and shame the evil tabloid hackers

Frank Furedi

THE furore that surrounds the demise of the News of the World has little to do with the specific morally corrupt practices at that tabloid.

Rather, as with other highly stylised outbursts of outrage in recent years from the MPs' expenses scandal to bankers' bonuses, this is a media-constructed and media-led furore. The main reason the sordid phone-hacking affair has become the mother of all scandals is because the media assume that anything which affects them is far more important than the troubles facing normal human beings.

Outrage-mongering, an accomplishment of the media, is parasitical on today's depoliticised public life. In the absence of political conviction, strongly held views have been replaced by expressions of outrage. The cultural elite substitutes its agenda for that of the public and an outraged media reality becomes the reality.

In the past week, many journalists have claimed the News of the World's phone-hacking practices have offended the British public. Even a sensible columnist such as Matthew d'Ancona argues that "David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch are swept up in a public fit of morality". In truth, this public fit of morality is confined to a relatively narrow stratum of society. People in the pub are not having animated debates about the News of the World's heinous behaviour. Rather it is the Twitterati and those most influenced by the cultural elite who are drawn to the anti-Murdoch crusade.

Take Justine Roberts. She runs the parenting website Mumsnet and is the partner of Ian Katz, deputy editor of The Guardian. She claims Mumsnet users' outrage about the phone-hacking scandal is the most intense she has ever witnessed on the website. No doubt intense outrage is exactly what she and her mates feel. Yet those who run the competing website Netmums report that, while many of their users were angry about phone hacking, a far larger number were interested in the online discussion about sports. Netmums attributes the difference to the fact that their participants are likely to be less cosmopolitan.

Often, when people speak on behalf of public opinion, what they are expressing are their own views.

Since its discovery in the 18th century, public opinion has tended to be represented in a way that flatters those who claim to represent it.

In one of the first English-language studies of public opinion, William Mackinnon wrote in 1828: "Public opinion may be said to be that sentiment on any given subject which is entertained by the best informed, most intelligent, and most moral persons in the community." Mackinnon's definition was more candid than those who now try to present elite views as the opinion of the masses.

Of course, all of us have a tendency to project our beliefs on to other people and no doubt the vanguard of the anti-Murdoch camp has convinced itself that it is the authentic voice of Britain. So Labour Party leader Ed Miliband can refer to the demise of the News of the World as the result of a heroic display of people power. Well, of course it is, if by "the people" Miliband is referring to the metropolitan cultural oligarchy. Depicting a media insider-led coup as an expression of people power is a self-serving fantasy. Will history characterise a campaign from above that involved a few hundred people and succeeded in shutting down a newspaper read by millions as an expression of people power? I think not.

My argument is not that the views of the media do not matter. They do, and are frequently successful in their attempts to influence people's attitudes. Indeed, the News of the World itself was very effective at transforming its readers' insecurities into a kind of morally disorienting outrage.

The News of the World's name-and-shame campaign against pedophiles in 2000 demonstrated how quickly vigilante journalism can turn people's anxieties into outrage.

Readers' responses to the News of the World's name-and-shame campaign expressed, if not Miliband's people power, then certainly a form of public outrage. But this was the outrage of people living on council estates, who are often dismissed as brainless tabloid readers. There were some very good reasons to be appalled by the somewhat frenzied atmosphere created by the campaign. But the main reason members of the metropolitan elite tended to be hostile to it was because this was an expression of outrage from below, representing the malevolent universe of the tabloid reader.

If Mackinnon had been alive, he would have described the frenzied atmosphere surrounding the name-and-shame campaign as a form of "popular clamour". He made a clear moral contrast between the "clamour" of those who do not reflect on things and the "opinion" of those who do. Today, this has been recast as the outrage of those who matter (outrage from above) against the outrage of those who do not matter (outrage from below).

The News of the World turned the cultivation of outrage from below into an art form. And paradoxically, its demise is largely due to the outrage from above directed against it by its opponents. The group-think, group-speak moralising of the crusade against the Evil Murdoch Empire is the cultural elite's equivalent of the anti-pedophile name-and-shame campaign.

These two campaigns have far more in common than they would ever admit. In the case of the vigilante mob, the hysterical search for perverts became a way of evading the routine problems that face people in difficult circumstances.

And the moral outrage directed at News International is also motivated by the impulse of evasion. It is a displacement activity for those bereft of political imagination, who prefer moral condemnation to the project of coming up with an alternative.

What both these campaigns indicate is that the politicisation of outrage renders public life utterly simplistic. Such outrage offers us scapegoats, but never any solutions.

A powerful mood of cultural dissonance prevails in British society today. Under the surface, there is an increasingly uneasy relationship between conflicting values and lifestyles. Sometimes it appears as if the cultural elite and "the rest" live in entirely different worlds. Such dissonance is particularly striking in relation to how the tabloids are perceived.

For the cosmopolitan elites, the tabloid is a lowlife and degenerate form of media, which could only possibly be considered satisfying or interesting by morally inferior people. For the millions of people who buy these papers, they are merely sources of news and entertainment.


Revenge of the political class -- on journalists who expose them

The travails of the Italian economy threaten Europe’s, and our, prosperity. Our war in Libya is unwinnable, according to a senior French minister. The British economy splutters along with little sign of recovery.

But none of this is of the remotest importance. All that matters is the phone-hacking scandal. I can’t recall a story that has so obsessed politicians and the media. Being a journalist, I am naturally agog, though I wonder whether the wider nation is as convulsed with shock and rage as David Cameron appears to believe.

The general turbulence among the political class is reminiscent of Revolutionary France before Robespierre got it in the neck. Would it be out of place to ask whether all this hysteria is not a touch overdone?

I am as loud as the next man in my condemnations of the behaviour of News International, and ardently hope that senior figures in the company walk the plank. I admit I have enjoyed the spectacle of Rupert Murdoch, the so-called ‘Sun King’, being chopped down to size, though it is ridiculous to pretend he is wholly evil.

And I am glad — though I admit I had not at first thought it important — that he has now withdrawn his bid to acquire the 61 per cent of BSkyB he does not already own. This is a dreadful humiliation. He has lost a newspaper, the News of the World, which he recklessly sacrificed in the hope that it would help his bid, and now the bid itself has collapsed.

What a setback! Photographs of Murdoch reveal him as a shell-shocked old man who cannot quite understand what is happening. Even his stewardship of the media empire he has built up is now in question. As for his son, James, ever succeeding him — forget it. Murdoch’s critics have achieved far more than they could have dreamt of only a week ago.

And yet, though the once invincible media mogul has been worsted, and although the now properly diligent police investigation is certain to lead to more arrests and some prosecutions, there is a sense that this story is only beginning.

The two inquiries under Lord Justice Leveson unveiled yesterday by Mr Cameron will spawn huge debate over the coming months. I can’t help wondering whether the inquiry on media ethics is justifiable.

A newspaper group behaved appallingly, and many leading politicians, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, became far too close to Rupert Murdoch, who has duly been wrung, trussed and roasted. Why should all other newspapers, many of which are losing money, now be led into the dock, where — unlike in other recent inquiries — witnesses will be cross-examined under oath?

Compare what happened after Tony Blair led us into what I believe was an illegal war in Iraq. Very reluctantly he set up the Hutton inquiry, while his successor, Gordon Brown, asked Sir John Chilcot to conduct a second investigation, which has yet to report.

Even though they were not conducted under oath, at least we’ve had two inquiries into the Iraq War. But there has been no official examination of the scandal of MPs’ expenses, though there have been a handful of court cases.

Equally, the bankers who brought this country to within an inch of financial ruin have not been required to give a public account of themselves.

In all these instances enormous mistakes were made, and there were countless identifiable victims. There are, it is true, some unfortunate victims of the News of the World phone hacking, though no one has died or lost any money. Other newspapers, not owned by Murdoch, are being dragged into this process without having been accused of having done anybody any harm.

Politicians, in other words, are giving the Press a harder time than they have ever given themselves, or the bankers.

True, part of the remit given to the inquiry by Mr Cameron seems absurdly vague (how can you usefully investigate ‘the contacts made and discussions between national newspapers and politicians’?) and the purpose of the ethics tribunal may simply be to kick these issues into the long grass.

But it is more likely that the intention is to shackle the Press with new regulations, and bring it partly under the control of politicians.

If only there were a single leading politician who had displayed statesmanship and a sense of balance over recent days I would be more optimistic.

Mr Cameron has turned on his good friend Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International; virtually disowned his former spin doctor, Andy Coulson, whom he recruited against much good advice; and even told Rupert Murdoch, whose support he moved heaven and earth to obtain, to get his act together.

Whatever the truth of Gordon Brown’s new allegations of dirty tricks on the part of The Sun and its then editor, Mrs Brooks, no one can dispute that between the time he took over as Prime Minister in June 2007 and his dumping by the Murdoch papers in September 2009 he was on friendly terms with Mr Murdoch, saw much of Mrs Brooks socially, and did not betray any of the contempt for News International he now expresses.

There is much score-settling going on. Another example was the savage treatment of Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates by the Commons Home Affairs select committee on Tuesday. Mr Yates was at fault in dismissing calls to re-open the phone hacking inquiry in 2009, but he is a honest and hard-working policeman who should not have been treated like a common criminal.

Some of the Labour members on the committee, including its chairman Keith Vaz, appeared to be punishing Mr Yates for causing their party embarrassment by leading the ‘cash-for-honours’ investigation, which culminated in Tony Blair being interviewed by the police. Mr Vaz’s career has been dogged by allegations of sleaze. Between him and Mr Yates, I know which man I would rather have by my side in a trench.

This rampant score-settling has spread much wider than News International and the police to encompass the whole of the Press. It is hard not to think that some MPs, stung by media coverage of the expenses scandal, are trying to get their own back. David Davis, the Tory former leadership candidate, has nobly spoken up on behalf of a free Press, but such voices are worryingly scarce.

I long for someone on either front bench with a sense of proportionality, someone who is not intent on covering his tracks or getting even, someone who can rise above the hysteria and does not fuel the spookily unifying feeding frenzy that has seemingly possessed the House of Commons. Ed Miliband, who has been riding at the head of the posse shooting his rifle into the air, is not my man.

Can’t we get this scandal in perspective? Rupert Murdoch is on the way out, and on the whole I’m pleased about that. Others working for News International will follow, some of them in handcuffs.

The Metropolitan Police have some explaining to do. An inquiry into all that seems a good idea.

But, believe it or not, there are actually some more important issues in the world than phone hacking. Moreover, this country does still have pretty good newspapers, and a wide variety of them, too, which our political class must not be allowed to destroy in its Robespierrean fervour.



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, 2011

Church of England dying -- and a bishop shows why

The Church of England will cease to exist in 20 years as the current generation of elderly worshippers dies, Anglican leaders warned yesterday.

The average age of its members is now 61 and by 2020 a “crisis” of “natural wastage” will lead to their numbers falling “through the floor”, the Church’s national assembly was told. The Church was compared to a company “impeccably” managing itself into failure, during exchanges at the General Synod in York.

The warnings follow an internal report calling for an urgent national recruitment drive to attract more members. In the past 40 years, the number of adult churchgoers has halved, while the number of children attending regular worship has declined by four fifths.

The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, a Synod member from Norwich, told the meeting that some projections suggested that the Church would no longer be “functionally extant” in 20 years’ time. “The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said. “The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that.

“These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy … 2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage, that is people dying. “Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all.”

Andreas Whittam Smith, the first Church Estates Commissioner, who leads the Church’s £5.3 billion investment fund, said the demographic “time bomb” for Anglicans should be seen as “a crisis”. He told the assembly: “One of our problems may be that decline is so slow and imperceptible that we don’t really see it coming clearly enough.

“I have seen large companies perfectly and impeccably manage themselves into failure. Every step along the road has been well done. “Every account is neatly signed off.” Then finally they find they have “gone bust”, he said. “I sometimes feel the Church is a bit like that.” He added: “I wish that all of us would have a sense of real crisis about this.”

And a bishop unwittingly exhibits some of the politically correct attitudes behind the decline. The church's gospel is boring political correctness, not the love of Christ

Maths lessons are too “capitalist” and should be reformed to promote Christian values, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, told Synod.

The meeting heard that teachers should not illustrate lessons with examples of “profit and loss”, or encourage children to save in order to buy bikes or toys.

Instead, lessons should focus on the maths involved in giving donations to charity, saving for an overseas project, or even “tithing” – giving 10 per cent of one’s income to the Church, Synod members said.

In his speech to the assembly, Bishop Butler said: “We need to explore different models from a Christian perspective of how we approach all the curriculum, not just RE.”


British squatters to face prison under plans for new offence

At long last

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, wants to end so-called “squatters rights” and give home owners and businesses more powers to act against those who take over properties. A consultation to be launched today proposes introducing a new offence of squatting which could carry a jail sentence.

Business owners would also be given the legal right to force their way in to their own properties if squatters have taken over. Currently only home owners are allowed to force their way back in to their homes.

Police and other enforcement agencies will also be encouraged to prosecute squatters for any other related offences such as criminal damage, burglary and using electricity without permission. It follows a separate Government announcement of plans to end access to legal aid for squatters fighting eviction.

There are an estimated 100,000 incidents of squatting every year. A Ministry of Justice source said: “Squatting causes misery for hundreds of innocent home owners and businesses each year and it is clear we must make a stance and do the right thing

“Ken Clarke is clear that the current outdated system which works in favour of the squatter must go. “The consultation we are launching is the first step to making that happen. Ken Clarke was aghast to find that not only do rightful owners face an uphill struggle evicting squatters if they take over a property but currently the taxpayer through legal aid can foot the bill for any squatter who tries to fight eviction

“Our new bill will put a stop to that while we investigate making squatting more generally a criminal offence.”


Disgusting old hatreds still live on among the Australian Left

Want to see stormtroopers picketing Jewish shops? You don't have to go to 1930s Germany. You can see it in Melbourne right now

A century ago, Australia was a relatively tolerant society. Even so, Jews and Catholics were banned from Protestant-dominated gentlemen's clubs in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere. In other words, discrimination against certain minorities became acceptable and fashionable. Consequently, it was rarely commented on or even noticed.

Today Australia is an accepting society which formally outlaws discrimination on the basis of race or gender and disapproves of intolerance towards minorities. Except, it seems, Jews and Catholics.

On the evening of Friday, July 1 - at the commencement of the Jewish sabbath - there was a demonstration outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne. This was part of the Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel. Demonstrators prevented customers entering the premises. The reason? The Strauss Group, the parent company of Max Brenner, supplies confectionary goods to the Israeli Defence Force.

There's not much connection between buying hot chocolate on a cold winter night in Melbourne and the events in the Middle East - where Israel remains, with the possible exception of Iraq, the only democracy. Yet this was a violent demonstration. Victorian Police suffered three injuries and 19 protesters were arrested. Demonstrators called for the destruction of Israel and chanted: "From the river to the sea/Palestine will be free." The protest was reported in the Herald-Sun but all but ignored by The Age and the ABC.

Michael Danby, the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, put the matter in perspective when he commented: "These people are prejudiced fanatics who should look into their soul. While 1500 people are murdered in Syria, they launch their own sad little attack on a chocolate shop because it also has stores in Israel."

Danby's point about double standards is well taken. There is little doubt that most ABC and Age journalists would regard a violent boycott of a kebab shop, in opposition to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, as both a provocation and newsworthy.

Then there are the historical parallels. In the mid-1930s, Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists used to go on rampages outside Jewish-owned shops in London's East End - some were boycotted, others smashed up. The British government responded by implementing the Public Order Act. Mosley targeted Jewish traders because they were Jews. The BDS protesters targeted the Max Brenner chocolate shop because its parent company does business in the Jewish state of Israel.

The demonstration in Melbourne (there was also one in Sydney in June) has attracted little attention, apart from coverage by Andrew Bolt and reports in the Australian Jewish News. This suggests society has become complacent when the target of a protest is Jewish.

It's much the same with traditional Catholics, such as Tony Abbott. Last week he was subjected to two negative advertisements: one by the Labor Party, endorsed by the ALP national secretary, George Wright; the other by the left-wing CFMEU, which was endorsed by the trade union's national president, Tony Maher.

The Labor advertisement has Abbott being woken by an alarm clock and then going through his wardrobe to choose his attire for the day. Among the outfits rejected are a red pair of swimming briefs, bicycle clothing and a cassock with a crucifix on the front. Get it? Abbott, who trained as a seminarian, once thought about being a Catholic priest.

The CFMEU advertisement is more of the (sectarian) same. The Liberal Party leader is presented as one of the popes of old who rejected Galileo's scientific findings. Abbott is presented as not merely someone who declines to believe that the world is round but a Catholic who wears a crucifix on his cassock.

I know and respect Wright. I doubt that the newly appointed ALP national secretary understands just how sectarian Labor's advertisement is - or that such anti-Catholic material is capable of offending conservative Catholics who vote ALP. But that's the point. Like pro-Israeli Jews, conservative Catholics are readily taken for granted.

As is its practice, Britain's irreverent Private Eye publishes anonymous reviews. Whoever had the task of assessing the latest offering by the atheist A.C. Grayling made a perceptive point about modern Western manners. He or she pointed out that, for the likes of Grayling, Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists make easy targets.

The reviewer added: "The wise would quite like to be equally contemptuous of Muslims and Hindus, but these persons generally have brown skins and thus criticism of their religious beliefs is better avoided." Australia's very own born-again atheist Catherine Deveny admitted as much on Q&A in February when she said she was "flat out" attacking the "Catholic faith".

Conservative Catholics are a large enough minority to look after themselves. However, there is reason to be concerned about the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in the West. Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada have been relatively free of this blight in recent times. Not so Europe, including western Europe.

In his recent essay From Blood Libel to Boycott, Professor Robert Wistrich paints a disturbing picture of anti-Semitism in contemporary Britain. A similar case has been made by the British lawyer and historian Anthony Julius about the hostility to academic Jews exhibited by the University and College Union in Britain.

Wistrich asks the hard question: "Why is Anglo-Jewry the only important ethnic or religious minority in contemporary Britain that has to provide a permanent system of guards and surveillance for its communal institutions, schools, synagogues and cultural centres?" A similar question could be asked about Australia - both with respect to Jewish property and anti-Catholic sectarianism.


Australia: Didn’t sign up for an internet filter? Have one anyway

HAVE you received an email about Australia’s internet filter lately? Seen a brief note from your internet service provider?

No? Neither have I. Yet, like the majority of Australian internet users, my access to the internet is being filtered. A list of hundreds of websites is being blocked from view. ‘Which websites?’ you ask. It’s hard to say. They’re on a secret list.

‘Why didn’t the Government tell me?’ you ask. The Government isn’t overseeing this operation. In fact, the Australian Government has no control over this filter at all. It’s something a select group of internet providers have taken on all by themselves.

Are you concerned yet? You have a right to be. As suspected, Australia’s internet filter crept on to the worldwide web very quietly.

This filter, you see, was not the much-publicised version devised by Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. It would have seen every website lumped into the ‘Refused Classification’ basket banned from view. There were more than a few Australians concerned about what that filter might ban, including political debates on topics such as euthanasia and abortion.

The RC filter still on the Labor policy table, though we’ll have to wait for the results of a Classification review before it rears up again. That is due next year. The filter we now have (surprise!) was instead devised as a stop-gap while we wait for our full-blown filter. It is just as secretive, however.

Optus has confirmed it plans to start censoring the web this month, though it won’t say when. Telstra flicked the filtering switch on July 1, as did CyberOne.

So what exactly are they filtering? At this stage, the voluntary filter is designed to block child abuse material. According to the Communications Minister’s department, that includes the ACMA list of about 500 websites plus Interpol’s list of sites. We don’t know how long this list of websites is. No one will say.

So why should you be concerned? No one here is in favour of child abuse, after all. Here’s a list to get you startled.

1. Subscribers have not been told.

I expected to know when Australia got its first internet filter. I also expected to be notified when my long-time internet provider installed one. Telstra has told me nothing about it. Millions of others are in the same boat. If it’s for our own good, why aren’t we being told about it?

2. We don’t know what is on this list.

It’s all very well for the IIA to come out in support of this voluntary, commercial filtering, but even they won’t say what exactly is being filtered. Can we have content descriptions at least? Will there be a repeat of the incident in which Wikipedia was blocked in the UK due to an album cover the Internet Watch Foundation didn’t like? Nobody knows.

3. No appeals process.

Discover your website is being blocked unfairly? Perhaps you have a saucy album cover on your website? There is no way to appeal this ban. You could perhaps lobby the IIA or individual service providers, but there is no pre-constructed method to get your site off this list.

4. Companies are in charge.

This internet filter affects millions of Australian internet users yet it’s being governed by companies. Forget child abuse. Why not block customers whinging about Aussie telcos? Why doesn’t Vodafone block Vodafail? It’s possible now.

5. Paving the way for a bigger filter.

Much more serious is the threat that this system could be expanded to become Conroy’s planned internet filter. If no laws are required to set up this system, what is preventing its expansion to all Refused Classification sites? What is to prevent the banned website list getting longer? Based on this current experience, we would never know just how long the list was and wouldn’t discover a website was banned until we tried to visit it. This filter could become downright insidious without notice.

There is hope, however. Quite a few Australian internet providers do not see it as their job to block websites. These include iiNet, Internode, Exetel and TPG. Those looking for a way to protest this quiet filter can opt for any of these services.

We shouldn’t have to change service providers to make a political point though. This filter is not something Australians were allowed to vote upon and it’s not something about which we’ve been adequately informed. The Government won’t say anything about it as they’re not in charge of it and the ISPs are not even telling their customers.

If a site is illegal, take it down. If more law enforcement is needed online, fund it. Installing a voluntary, commercially introduced ban on a list of unknown websites? Dodgy.



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, 2011

At last, British equality police decide Christians DO have right to follow beliefs

Christians who disagree with gay equality rules should have the freedom to follow their conscience, a watchdog ruled yesterday.

In a major U-turn, the Equality and Human Rights Commission declared that judges should not have backed employers who pursued Christians for wearing crosses or for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples.

‘The way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief,’ the commission said.

Just seven months ago it had championed the cause of civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in their successful bid to sue Christian hoteliers who had refused them a double room.

But yesterday the commission, which is led by former Labour politician Trevor Phillips, said the law was confusing. The intervention by the equality quango follows protests at the weekend from Church of England leaders, who said judges had encouraged a legal ‘chill factor’ against Christianity.

It also comes at a time when the EHRC is facing action from Home Secretary Theresa May to curb its £60million a year spending. Mrs May has accused it of wasting money and failing to do its job.

Yesterday the commission said judges had interpreted equality laws too narrowly. Its lawyers have intervened to call for more leeway for Christians to express their beliefs and live by their consciences in four human rights test cases shortly to come before the judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The cases are those of Nadia Eweida, the BA check-in clerk who was told she could not wear a cross with her airline uniform, and of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse removed from the wards of her Exeter hospital because she refused to stop wearing her crucifix.

The commission also wants to raise the case of Lilian Ladele, a registrar removed from her job after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor who declined to give sex therapy to gay couples.

Miss Ladele was refused permission to take her case to the Supreme Court because judges said no important legal principles were at stake.

Mr McFarlane’s case was brushed aside by Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Laws, who said: ‘Law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational … it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary.’

Yesterday the commission said: ‘Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims.The way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.

‘The courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses.’

The commission said it wanted to see a new legal principle of ‘reasonable accommodations’ to allow a religious believer and their employer to reach a compromise. It said that under this principle, a Jew who did not wish to work on Saturdays could be given his or her wish simply by a change to work rotas. This would give religious believers similar legal status to disabled people.

Commission legal director John Wadham said: ‘Our intervention in these cases would encourage judges to interpret the law more broadly and more clearly to the benefit of people who are religious and those who are not.

‘The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person’s needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. ‘It seems reasonable that a similar concept could be adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs.’

The commission said there should be an end to legal confusion which has stopped some people from wearing crosses while others are allowed to do so, and which has led some employers into ‘unnecessarily restricting people’s rights’.

It added that because of the confusion in the law, ‘it is difficult for employers or service providers to know what they should be doing to protect people from religion or belief-based discrimination’.

When backing Mr Hall and Mr Preddy against the hotel, Mr Wadham had said: ‘The right of an individual to practise their religion and live out their beliefs is one of the most fundamental rights a person can have, but so is the right not to be turned away by a hotel just because you are gay.’


"Regional racism" in Britain

There is an underlying reality to this. Regional Britain IS looked down on by South-Easteners

Northern versions set in Liverpool of The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea will fuel 'regional racism', an MP has claimed. TV programmes Desperate Scousewives and Mersey Shore will reinforce the negative stereotype cast on Liverpool life, Labour MP Steve Rotheram claimed.

Wannabe contestants queued round the block for the chance to star in MTV's Liverpool version of Geordie Shore, while auditions for the Merseyside twist on American mega-hit Desperate Housewives are yet to take place. TV insiders said the Liverpool shows would give Southern rivals The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea a run for their money.

But Mr Rotheram, a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, said the programmes will do more harm than good with fame-hungry contestants putting themselves in the firing line.

Mr Rotheram said: 'TV programmes about our great city seldom portray the positive side of Liverpool life. I think often simply reinforce the stereotype so I'm not looking forward to it. 'We've got to break this cycle. For some people down in London, Bread and Brookside were documentaries.

'You don't get the same suspended belief in Manchester about Shameless or Coronation Street or with cockneys about Eastenders for Only Fools and Horses. 'Why they think that something being made in Liverpool portrays ordinary Liverpool life I don't know, I don't understand. 'I don't think there is any doubt. It's one of the last great isms that needs to be tackled and it's regional racism. I'll definitely be switching off.'

The former bricklayer added that he too sometimes feels victimised by the prejudice aimed at his Liverpool roots. He said: 'No doubt about it, I get it all the time.It's so tired.

'This year Liverpool is hosting the Labour Party Conference and even people on my own side they are saying listen: ''If I come down in my car my hubcaps will be alright won't they''.'

A spokeswoman for E4 confirmed that Lime Pictures was developing Desperate Scousewives for the channel, but said nothing had been confirmed yet. Mersey Shore is already in production.

'Bosses are reportedly keen to sign up Wayne Rooney's cousins glamour model Natalie. They said there had been a 'massive' amount of interest from young people hoping to follow in the footsteps of stars such as The Only Way Is Essex cast member Amy Childs.


Australia: NSW Leftist politicians sent to ethics class

They sure need it

LABOR MPs will be sent to ethics classes after the former government recorded six scandals within eight weeks last year.

A review of the ALP's massive defeat at the state election this year recommends regular continuing education and training in ethics for all caucus members.

The ALP general secretary, Sam Dastyari, said the party would accept all recommendations of the review by former deputy premier John Watkins and the state secretary of the Queensland ALP branch, Anthony Chisholm. "We will be implementing every recommendation in full," he said.

The Labor leader, John Robertson, told the state ALP conference in Sydney at the weekend that the party had to be "honest with ourselves and honest with the people we represent".

The deputy leader, Linda Burney, is a strong advocate of further education and training for MPs, who she said had to "sink or swim" on entering Parliament.

The Watkins/Chisholm review said scandal had haunted the last term of the state Labor government. "Embarrassing, tawdry and devastatingly regular reports of scandalous, inappropriate and corrupt behaviour became the norm," the review said. "Those scandals ranged from the sordidly criminal to the adolescently stupid, but all did their damage.

"The party selected candidates who should never have been in Parliament. Whether that was due to centralised choice of candidates, factional patronage, abuse of the N40 rule or just carelessness, NSW Labor certainly paid dearly for its mistakes."

The review said education and training in ethical standards and ministerial duties and responsibilities may have helped avoid some of the scandals which included Karyn Paluzzano lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Paul McLeay viewing pornography at work, and Ian Macdonald's travel rorts [Sir Lunchalot!]

"There is no denying that those involved in scandal showed a deep lack of respect for the people of NSW, for the NSW Labor Party, for other members of caucus and for the government."

Geoff Gallop, from the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney, said it was a good idea to constantly remind public officials of the standards of behaviour expected of them. "It never hurts to remind MPs that they have an obligation, not an option, to act in the public interest," he said. "Many a politician has fallen foul of the law because they forgot that."


Australia: "Multiculturalism" is not confined to Melbourne

Sydney police have yet to learn that the race of offenders must be kept secret, apparently. Melbourne police have known that since about 2007

A GIRL'S pleas for help were ignored as she was being sexually assaulted by two men in a Sydney shopping mall, police said yesterday.

The 15-year-old was dragged into a garden bed by two men as she walked through Parramatta Mall at Church St about 2am on Sunday.
She told police she cried out for help to a nearby male but he apparently ignored her and kept walking.

After being released, the girl went to a fast food restaurant in the mall and told her friends what had happened.

They contacted police and a crime scene was set up. Police said the men they want to question are both of black African appearance and are appealing for anyone who can assist the investigation to come forward, particularly the male passer-by.



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, 2011

When British political correctness gets TERMINALLY obnoxious

Father fined 1,000 pounds and found guilty of harassment for warning families about a paedophile

A father who warned another parent about a convicted paedophile has been fined œ1,000 and found guilty of harassing the sex offender. He was horrified to find his ex-wife's new husband - stepfather to his daughter, 11 - had served three jail terms for sex crimes.

A reporting restriction imposed to protect the stepfather's identity means that none of the family members can be named. One of the stepfather's sentences was for molesting two 12-year-old girls as they slept at his house.

A court heard the father raised the alarm after discovering four of his daughter's friends had been invited to the family home for a sleepover to celebrate her birthday. When he showed the mother of one girl a newspaper clipping revealing the stepfather's convictions, all the parents stopped their children going to the sleepover.

Following that action, as well as repeated phone calls to the home of his ex-wife and her husband, the father was arrested and convicted of harassment at Worcester Magistrates Court and fined œ1,000.

The father told the court he spoke out because he would have `felt responsible' if one of the children at the sleepover had been harmed. He added: `My decision was to speak up to one of the parents and leave it up to their discretion. `I was concerned for her daughter as I always have been for my own. My daughter is open to quite considerable harm in my eyes.'

A judge heard how the defendant's ex-wife began a relationship with the convicted paedophile in 2007 and is now married to him.

The defendant said he initially socialised with his ex-wife and her new partner, but relations soured when he learned of the man's past.

The stepfather was convicted of attempted rape in 1980 as a teenager. He was convicted of the same offence in 1988 and was jailed again in 1996 for molesting the two girls.

The court heard the defendant had signed a police harassment notice after earlier claims that he may have discussed the stepfather's past with others. The notice required him not to reveal the stepfather's convictions to anyone, including his own daughter.

But he breached the order last September by alerting the other parent. Prosecutor Owen Beale said the father, frustrated at what he saw as decreasing access to his daughter, also called his ex-wife's home 14 times in two hours one evening the same month, and rang her mobile phone three times.

In one message he said of the stepfather: `You are a self-confessed paedophile, rapist, fraudster, the lot... I just want to speak to my daughter.' In another, he threatened to come `round to sort things out once and for all'. The couple were at home but did not answer the phone. Instead they noted down the content of the messages and informed police.

The father told the court on Thursday that he made the calls as he had been unable to reach his daughter on her mobile because of poor reception in the area where she lives, and did not contact police or social services about the sleepover because he `didn't think they would act quickly enough'.

Mr Beale said of the fact the defendant's daughter was under the same roof as a convicted sex offender: `The authorities were not concerned that there was a risk because they left her there.'

District Judge Mark Layton described the case as `hugely difficult' but said the charges against the father had been proved. He must pay œ775 costs and a œ15 victim surcharge, and banned from contact with the stepfather


Church of England calls for legal right to wear a cross

Christians who wear crosses at work or discuss their beliefs with colleagues must have legal protection from persecution, the Church of England demanded yesterday.

Church leaders revealed that they have held talks with Coalition ministers about attempts by employers to suppress Christianity and how these are supported by judges and courts.

Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church's Mission and Public Affairs Council, told the General Synod: 'We have had a sympathetic hearing and look forward to practical responses.'

The development follows five years of deepening hostility among bosses to workers who wear crosses or talk about their faith. Last year, in a key test case, Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin was denied the right to wear her crucifix while working on an NHS ward. An employment tribunal said wearing the cross was not a ‘mandatory requirement’ of her faith.

A number of individuals working for hospitals or health authorities have been suspended or sacked from their jobs for talking to colleagues or patients about Christianity. And senior judges have dismissed the claims of those who say they should be able to act in accordance with their beliefs at work.

Last year an Appeal Judge upheld the sacking of Relate counsellor Gary McFarlane, who refused to give sex therapy to gay couples, saying the law could not give protection to people who acted on religious grounds.

Lord Justice Laws also dismissed the arguments of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in the matter, saying his 'concerns are formulated at such a level of generality that it is hard to know precisely what Lord Carey has in mind'.

The talks with ministers were disclosed to the Synod by Dr Philip Giddings, who is chairman of its Mission and Public Affairs Council, which is responsible for furthering Christian faith. Dr Giddings said: 'In several encounters with Government ministers, notably on the Big Society, we have stressed the need to address the chill factor which leads employers and others to assume that the law is more restrictive than it is. 'We have had a sympathetic hearing and look forward to practical responses.

'The law does not prevent Christians from expressing their views at work. The law, rightly, expects everyone, including those of no faith, to act with due respect for other people's rights and duties in the field of religion or belief. 'However some employers have interpreted the law in ways which seem to assume that reasonable and respectful expressions of faith are, almost by definition, offensive. This is a cause of great concern.

'We shall continue to monitor the emerging case law on how far employers can lawfully limit the ability of Christians to manifest their faith in the workplace.'

Church leaders have been far from united in their enthusiasm for standing up for the rights of Christians at work. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has been willing to face reversals in the courts by taking the part of people like Mrs Chaplin who face attempts to make them remove crosses or stop discussing their beliefs.

Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu – currently out of action while he recovers from an operation – is also publicly opposed to attempts to stop people expressing their Christianity.

But Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has been largely silent on the argument. He did not mention it in his recent article for the New Statesman. Dr Williams instead described Mr Cameron’s Big Society idea as 'painfully stale' and suggested it was an attempt to paper over the effects of spending cuts.

If the Big Society is to become a reality, it must rely on the availability of volunteers around the country – something the Church of England is able to provide.

Legislation to steer the courts away from using employment or equality law to suppress Christian displays may find support from European judges at the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They ruled earlier this year that Italian schools may continue to put crucifixes on the classroom walls, saying that Christian imagery did nothing to harm non-Christian pupils.

The Strasbourg judges are shortly to be asked for a decision in one of the first British cases of a worker being refused the right to display a Christian symbol. Five years ago BA refused check-in clerk Nadia Eweida the right to wear a cross with her uniform.

Miss Eweida forced the airline to back down, and is now going to Strasbourg to try to reinforce the rights of religious believers to display their faith in public.


Some sexism is OK, apparently

"Weaving Spiders Come Not Here" is the motto of San Francisco's Bohemian Club. The motto is supposed to represent the club's edict against doing business during its annual Bohemian Grove retreat, which commences on Thursday on 2,700 acres, 75 miles north of the city. As club spokesman and member Sam Singer explained, "It's a group of gentlemen who are really genuinely interested in arts, theater, jazz and rock 'n' roll." The retreat gives members a chance to "get away from work. It's forbidden to talk about or solicit business at the club or grove."

The "weaving spiders" motto also provides cover for a club that discriminates against women. Thus, in the Bay Area, good liberals and civil libertarians, who would not dream of joining a club that refuses to admit blacks or Jews, raise their glasses in a club that discriminates against women.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, is a member. Vaughn Walker, the former federal judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage law, is a member. MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews is a member.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is a member. Ditto band member Bob Weir. There are more big names on the right, starting with former President George H.W. Bush, former Gov. Pete Wilson and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Business titans have long bankrolled the retreats. A roster of 2010 members released by norcaltruth.org -- the club does not release its membership -- includes a couple of Rockefellers and the ubiquitous Koch brothers. Hence conspiracy theories about sinister deals cut amid the redwoods.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is a member. William R. Hearst III, trustee of the Hearst Corp., which writes my paycheck, has been a member. I have friends who are members.

John McCain has addressed the group. Ditto Francis Ford Coppola. Like good Democrats, Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have avoided Bohemia. "When I first started and they acquired my services, it was to help handle protests at the grove and the City Club," Singer noted. "Over the years, it's gone from a thousand people to literally one person."

That one person is Brian Romanoff of norcaltruth.org, and he told me he doesn't go there to "protest" so much as to "reach out and inform the members" as to why they should make retreat policy seminars -- on Afghanistan or nuclear power -- public.

He thinks some members are "probably guilty" of war crimes. He doesn't reach out to them. "I don't really want to get to know Henry Kissinger."

Sonoma State sociology professor Peter Phillips attended the retreat in 1994. The club was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. He told me that he met a lot of "ordinary rich guys" and "some very important people." Some men kept coming back to the same camps every year to discuss intimate issues -- their prostates, wives -- in an atmosphere analogous to a men's group.

Phillips also saw and heard a lot of networking. "They're very clearly talking politics and business constantly." No weaving spiders? "I proved the opposite, quite clearly. I heard conversations about business. 'If GE comes in on the deal, we can get the Japanese to join' -- three men walking down a trail together."

Note to Mr. Hearst: I believe in the right to free association. I do not want the government to encroach on men's right to socialize among themselves, or force men to share gyms, bathrooms and poker games with women and shutter fraternities.

The Bohemian Club has a right to exist. California courts have upheld the club's right to exclude female members, but ordered it to hire female staff at the club and at the grove's food facilities.

I also believe in free speech, but that doesn't mean I would say things I believe others have the right to say. I do not believe the Bohemian Club is a social/theater/music club -- although I believe the former member who told me that's what the club's emphasis used to be.

Now I buy Phillips' summation -- that the retreat presents powerful "men celebrating their male eliteness, which is kind of how the world works."

The male-only bastion's discriminatory polices hurt women trying to compete in business and politics -- and everyone in politics knows it.


Australia: Give us our own laws, say Islamic leaders

ISLAMIC leaders want Muslims in Australia to get interest-free loans for religious reasons. The nation's Islamic leaders want recognition of sharia law as it applies to banking practices, according to an exclusive Herald Sun survey of imams. There was also a call for recognition of sharia law as it applies to family law.

The survey showed some imams are sceptical that Osama bin Laden's death will be of benefit to ordinary Muslims, and they are unhappy with the way US forces disposed of his body. The survey has also revealed:

STRONG condemnation of MPs who criticise Muslim women for wearing the burqa/nijab.

CONCERN that ordinary Muslims are still being linked to terrorism.

DISGUST that innocent people in Muslim countries are being killed in the "war on terror".

The survey was conducted in the wake of a $55,000 Federal Government training program for imams on Australian laws and values. They have been told to preach core Australian values such as the fair go, freedom, and responsibility.

"Other than the two major issues mentioned, I don't see other sharia law that Muslims would seek to have legally recognised," he said.

Fellow WA imam Sheik Burhaan Mehtar said sharia law often was raised to scare non-Muslims, but a dialogue would lead to better understanding. "Islamic banking and the non-slavery of humans is a classic example. Interest is slavery," he said.

Islamic Council of Victoria board member Nazeem Hussain said legal and tax barriers currently prevented local banks from offering Islamic finance products. "That's a massive market ... we'd encourage the Government to seek ways to tap into that market," he said.

Imam Parker said bin Laden's demise might serve as closure for those convinced he masterminded the 9/11 attacks. "But the reality is that the negative impact on Islam and Muslims has not changed, and it will take many decades for that to change," he said.

Sheik Burhaan Mehtar said the symbolic victory of bin Laden's death would remain hollow while people in nations such as Afghanistan suffered a "terror of death delivered from the skies" by the US and its allies.

Gold Coast imam Imraan Husain reflected a general view that bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic funeral rites.

Victorian imam Sheik Ramy Najmeddine said Muslims felt there was an unfair link between terrorism and Islam. "But we believe this is being broken down by the good work that members of both the Muslim and non-Muslim community are doing."

Sheik Mohamadu Saleem, a spokesman for Board of Imams Victoria, accused some MPs of trying to get political mileage out of the burqa issue. "It is mere political expediency," he said.

Victorian imam Abdinur Weli said: "If only Muslims are the people who are told what to wear, then it is discrimination."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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, 2011

15-Year-Old Girl Faces Life in Prison for a Miscarriage

It is certainly an anomaly to allow abortion and prosecute the woman below but the basic idea of protecting the unborn certainly warrants some sanction -- if only as a warning to others.

The danger, however, is arbitrary prosecution. Official advice is that women should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Yet there is good medical evidence that light drinking does no harm. Would a woman who followed medical evidence rather than official advice be prosecuted in the event of a miscarriage? Possibly. So it is clear that the law as it stands is unsatisfactory. There should be flexibility as to penalty and a clear stipulation about what counts as a breach

While Leftists say that the unborn have no rights, however, balanced reform is going to be difficult

Rennie Gibbs became pregnant at the age of 15 and subsequently lost the baby when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy in December of 2006. Stillborn, it was. Prosecutors in Mississippi discovered she had a cocaine habit and charged the girl under the 130-year-old "depraved-heart murder" statute - which is filed when someone is suspected of placing another person in imminent danger of death.

If convicted of the death of her child under this law, Gibbs faces a mandatory life sentence in the state.

As several outlets have pointed out, Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. The case was argued before the Mississippi State Supreme Court way back on May 25, so currently, we're just awaiting a decision over Gibbs' fate. Their decision could have huge ramifications for the rest of the country.

Right off the bat, that should raise a red flag as to what is going on here. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.

"If it's not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is," said Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer who argued the case on behalf of Gibbs. "I hope it's not a trend that's going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme."

The tactic of prosecuting an unsympathetic woman is a purposeful one to blur the line between abortion and homicide. Rennie Gibbs is just one part of the larger puzzle on the new assault against abortion. Since anti-choice opponents have come to realize they won't have much success over-turning Roe vs. Wade entirely, they have attempted to chip away at it with minor encroachments like the de-funding of Planned Parenthood or by prosecuting miscarriages so that eventually pregnancy termination procedures will be so expensive and difficult to do properly that it effectively becomes banned.
It is a remarkably sly tactic that has produced detrimental results for something that is still a constitutionally protected right.

Studies have shown that abortion rates have remained fairly steady whether the medical procedure is legal or not, suggesting in part that making it illegal does little to deter women from having one. Yes, abortion is a political can of worms, especially in America. But at the end of the day the outlawing of the serious medical procedure could potentially be more harmful.

No woman takes the decision to terminate her pregnancy lightly, and Planned Parenthood would be the first to say its intention would be to make abortion safe, legal and a last resort.


Following Media Criticism, TOMS Shoes Founder Apologizes for Speaking at Focus on the Family Event

You can bet if he had spoken at a pro-homosexual meeting, no one would notice or care, but you speak to people who do not support the homosexual lifestyle, you are a target

Following media criticism, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie has released a statement apologizing for speaking at an event with Focus on the Family (FOTF) about "faith in action." He used the release to make sure people know that his appearance was a mistake and that he and his company support "equal human and civil rights for all." And, he drove home the fact that FOTF will not be affiliated with his "One for One" movement giving shoes to children in developing countries:
"Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company's part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.

Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.

So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud."

"What has been reported" refers to a recent article in Christianity Today that suggested FOTF is "working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa." Following the event announcement and Christianity Today's article, Ms. Magazine organized a petition through Change.org asking TOMS to cut ties with "the notorious extreme right-wing, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-woman fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family."

FOTF describes its core beliefs as follows: All people are of infinite value, marriage is the foundation of family life, children are a gift from God, sex is an expression of love, and Christians have the responsibility to promote truth and social policy that improves the strength and health of the family.

Following Mycoskie's statement, media outlets have spun and twisted "Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner," to mean "Focus on the family misrepresented [its] relationship with TOMS Shoes."

In reality TOMS Shoes was referenced in three sentences of a larger 3500-word feature about FOTF's attempt to "thrive-and survive-past its founder." FOTF is never quoted claiming to be a "TOMS giving partner," only "making slow strides" to to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa.

Do you think this is a sign of things to come? Will companies be increasingly black-balled by the media for participating in any sort of apolitical charity work with groups supporting traditional marriage and pro-life views?


Texas Woman Says She Was Fired Because of Her Gray Hair

Image is important to a business and a woman who won't do even minor things to assist the business SHOULD be fired. When so many women change the color of their hair, to say that a woman has a RIGHT to one particular color is absurd

A 52-year-old Houston woman is suing after what she says was an order from her boss to dye her shoulder-length gray hair.

Sandra Rawline, who was an escrow officer and branch manager at Capital Title of Texas, said she was also instructed to wear "younger fancy suits" and lots of fancy jewelry. When she refused to dye her hair, Rawline says she was told her services were no longer necessary and she was replaced by a younger woman.

Rawline filed an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in federal court in Houston.

Capital Title of Texas says it didn't terminate Rawline in 2009 because of her age or appearance, but because a customer no longer wanted to do business with her. CEO Bill Shaddock calls the allegations "completely baseless and preposterous."


A Sharia law advocate now sits on America's highest court

Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan's views render her the first Supreme Court Justice who actively favors the introduction of Sharia law into national Constitutions and legal systems. It's unprecedented in American history. We now have a liberal, pro-Sharia justice sitting on the highest court in the land. And is it any wonder? After all, as Obama's Solicitor General, it was Kagan who blocked as many as nine lawsuits from being heard by the Supreme Court. Although the nine cases listed on the high court's docket had nothing to do with Obama's eligibility issues, there is no arguing Kagan's advocacy for Islamic rule and Sharia Law as evidenced below. What do you want to bet that she refuses to recuse herself on any Sharia-related decision and instead leads the charge to legitimize Sharia law in America?

Christine Brim of the Center for Security Policy summarized Kagans' 2003-2009 career as Dean of Harvard Law School in the following five points. They tell the story of Elena Kagans' "deep appreciation" of Sharia law.


With Kagan's direction, Harvard's Islamic Legal Studies Program developed a mission statement dedicated "to promote a deep appreciation of Islamic law as one of the world's major legal systems." That mission statement guided her actions and those whom she directed as Dean.

Under Kagan's direction, her chief of staff at the Islamic Legal Studies Program aggressively expanded non-critical studies of Sharia law - fulfilling her mission "to promote a deep appreciation of Islamic law." In 2003, the year Kagan became Harvard Law School Dean, Islamic Legal Studies Program Founding Director Frank Vogel and Associate Director Peri Bearman founded the Massachusetts-based International Society for Islamic Legal Studies. In 2007, Bearman and Vogel founded the Islamic Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools.


When Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal offered $10 million to New York City's Rudy Guiliani on October 11, 2001, Guiliani refused to accept it, because the prince insisted that U.S. policies in the Middle East were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Guiliani stated, "There is no moral equivalent for this act." But, when Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal offered $20 million to the Islamic Legal Studies Program in December 2005 - Kagan accepted it; after all, the Saudi royal family had funded the program since its inception to establish the moral and legal equivalency between Sharia law and U.S. Constitutional law. As presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, has noted, Harvard Law School currently has three chairs endowed by Saudi Arabia, including one dedicated to the study of Islamic sharia law.

In 2001 Guiliani made a decision not to accept Talal's blood money. But in 2005, Kagan made a decision not just to accept it, but to implement Talal's policies at Harvard.

Not only there, but as reported earlier this year, "Kagan is the main reason why the Supreme Court ruled against the 9/11 families" in a suit filed by thousands of 9/11 family members that traced funding for the 19 hijackers to certain Saudi royals, along with banks, corporations and Islamic charities. Kagan, as Obama's Solicitor General, said in her brief "that the princes are immune from petitioners' claims" and that the families' claims that the Saudis helped to finance the plots fell "outside the scope" of the legal parameters for suing foreign governments or leaders.

So Kagan actively solicited Saudi financing to promote Sharia law in the U.S., and she actively protected Saudi financial backers for terrorism against the U.S., as being immune from claims by 9/11 families.


In December, 2006, Kagan hired Noah Feldman, architect of Iraq's Constitution requiring Shariah, as a star faculty member at Harvard Law School. On March 16, 2008, Feldman published his controversial article "Why Sharia" in the New York Times Magazine, which promoted "Islamists" - the Muslim Brotherhood - as a progressive democratic party, and promoted Sharia as a model not just for Muslim-majority countries but for all: "In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world." The article was adapted from his book The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, which was published in late March, 2008.

On September 16, 2008, Kagan whole-heartedly endorsed Feldman's promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia Law by honoring him with the endowed "Bemis Chair" in International Law. Feldman's speech on receiving the award was revealing: he advocated for an international, "outward interpretation" of the Constitution that could "require the U.S. to confer rights on citizens of other nations," and allow for an "experimental Constitution."

As to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist worldwide political organization that Feldman and Kagan support? Their motto is as revealing as Feldman's speech:

"Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."

Given that slogan, you could well ask if Feldman really meant the Muslim Brotherhood when he wrote about "Islamists" in the book Kagan so admired that she gave him an endowed chair. And he anticipated that question; in the second footnote in his book he states,

"Throughout this book, when I refer to Islamists or Islamism, I have in mind mainstream Sunni Muslim activists loosely aligned with the ideology of the transnational Muslim Brotherhood (MB).the Brotherhood broadly embraces electoral politics, but without eschewing the use of violence in some circumstances, notably against those whom it defines as invaders in Iraq and Palestine."

In summary, Kagan made the decision to honor Feldman, author of "big-lie" forms of pro-Sharia propaganda, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, with an endowed chair. Feldman states flatly that the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he admires, does not "eschew the use of violence against those whom it defines as invaders in Iraq and Palestine." Kagan's financial backer, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, insisted that the U.S. policies in the Middle East (specifically in Israel and Palestine) were a cause of the 9/11 attacks. Like the Muslim Brotherhood, the prince did not "eschew the use of violence" against the U.S. And when 9/11 families sued the Saudi royals who funded the September 11, 2001 "use of violence" against the U.S., Kagan used her power as Solicitor General to protect the group that had been her financial backers at Harvard.



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, 2011

The rise of equal rights organisations that have 'led to bigotry'

Equal rights organisations can actually encourage bigotry, a study claims. Groups which campaign on issues such as gender equality and gay rights have been found to worsen prejudice if they try to tell people how to think.

Presenting a more subtle argument was revealed as a more potent way of combating prejudice.

Canadian researchers gave students two brochures aimed at tackling on-campus prejudice. One took a forceful approach while the other encouraged independent thought. Results published in journal Psychological Science revealed that those who had been harangued demonstrated significantly more prejudice than those offered a less controlling approach.

Study author Dr Lisa Legault, from the University of Toronto Scarborough, suggested that equal rights campaigners may even encourage hostility towards the minorities they are seeking to protect.

She said: ‘People need to feel that they are freely choosing to be non-prejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them. ‘We need to focus on the reasons why diversity and equality are beneficial.’

Discussing how the findings could be used to inform future anti-prejudice campaigns, Dr Legault added: 'Controlling prejudice reduction practices are tempting because they are quick and easy to implement. They tell people how they should think and behave and stress the negative consequences of failing to think and behave in desirable ways.

'But people need to feel that they are freely choosing to be nonprejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them. 'We need to focus less on the requirement to reduce prejudices and start focusing more on the reasons why diversity and equality are important and beneficial to both majority and minority group members.'


Another charming British social worker

Social worker struck off for placing paedophile in foster family where he sexually abused young daughters

A social worker was struck off yesterday for placing a teenage paedophile with a foster family – where he carried out sex attacks on their two children. Julian Swan failed to tell the family the 19-year-old had a history of ‘sexually inappropriate behaviour’ with children, a disciplinary hearing was told.

It heard Swan, 51, failed to check social service case notes on the teenager before sending him to the family in 2008. The teenager went on to rape the couple’s two-year-old son and molested their nine-year-old daughter while staying under their roof.

The mother, giving evidence through a video link, said: ‘I specifically asked Mr Swan if the teenager posed a risk to us as a family. ‘Mr Swan’s response was that he poses no risk whatsoever.’ The family were told he had ‘sexual contact’ with a girl at a hostel – but that it was brushed over.

The mother said: ‘Mr Swan said he had been informed by a hostel worker the girl was promiscuous and had let him into her room. It was presented to us as an isolated incident.’

The couple agreed to look after the teenager hoping he could be a ‘big brother’ to their two children. They were not told he had sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, exposed himself and touched a young boy sexually at a care hostel and faced other allegations of ‘sexually inappropriate behaviour’ with a young boy.

The teenager admitted rape and indecent assault at Cardiff Crown Court where he was told he would be released from prison only when he was deemed ‘no longer a risk’.

Swan denied misconduct at the hearing of the Care Council for Wales while working for Vale of Glamorgan council’s social services in Barry, South Wales. Bryan Jeffreys, director of learning and development, said: ‘He had accepted that he had not read the files. Tragically, they had not been taken into account. ‘If he had checked the files... the young person would not have been placed and the young children would not have been abused. Mr Swan was later genuinely shocked by the content of the files.’ The hearing was told a ‘red light’ system on the boy’s notes showed there was a risk.

Swan, who had been a social worker for eight years, claimed he was being made a scapegoat and had acted in good faith. He said: ‘I never sought to diminish my responsibility but there is a shared responsibility.’

He was found guilty of not reading the case file, failing to carry out an adequate assessment and not informing the carers of the risks. He was yesterday banned from working for social services ‘to ensure protection of members of the public’.


And the charming British police again: You're guilty until proven innocent

'They tagged me a murderer': Fury of grieving mother accused of killing her toddler son who died of natural causes

A YOUNG mother whose son had been sent home from hospital despite being desperately ill with pneumonia was devastated to find him dead in his bed. But that was only the beginning of the nightmare for 20-year-old Abby Podmore. Within an hour she was arrested on suspicion of murdering Alfie, three.

She said ‘heavy-handed’ police sent two riot vans and 17 officers to arrest her and she was held for questioning overnight.

Miss Podmore was released the following day after post mortem examination results revealed the child had died of natural causes.

Devastated Miss Podmore soon found that a white police tent had been erected outside her home, and she was arrested on suspicion of murder just hours after her son's death. She was kept in custody overnight until a doctor acting under orders from the local coroner informed police that Alfie had died from natural causes.

The dental nurse, from Quinton, Birmingham, has been unable to return home since the incident, with some members of the local community believing she played some part in little Alfie's death.

Alfie was sent home from nursery on February 2 this year after he became unwell. He was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital the following day, suffering a high temperature, a rash and pain in his left shoulder. Doctors diagnosed the child with a gastric illness and prescribed him anti-acid medication before sending him home. But a post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicaemia.

He started improving, but the following day, February 6, he became ‘very restless’ and she was up with him until 4am. She said: ‘When I eventually woke up the following day my first thought was to check on him. ‘I ran upstairs and he was lying on the bottom of his bed and wasn’t breathing. ‘He was freezing cold and had blood coming out of his nose. I started trying to resuscitate him while phoning the ambulance. I was terrified.’

Miss Podmore, who is trained in life support, continued trying to revive Alfie until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrived shortly afterwards and told her to change her clothes and leave her house and stay at her brother’s home around the corner. She followed their instructions but now suspects they were already making preparations to preserve the scene and keep her clothes for forensic analysis.

Miss Podmore has hit out at police, saying that she feels she was denied the chance to grieve properly for her dead son. She said: 'I was still struggling to cope with the news that my little boy had passed away when police officers came to tell me I was being taken into custody on suspicion of my son's murder. I wasn't even allowed to see his body for 10 days after he died.

'I am ashamed that they would even think that I would do that to my child who was my world and my everything. ‘My son had just died and I was thrown into a cell and branded a murderer,’ said Miss Podmore, who is separated from Alfie’s father. ‘I’ve been robbed of my chance to say goodbye to him and this has ruined my life.’

The grieving mother has made formal complaints to both the hospital, which admits it ‘let Alfie down’, and West Midlands Police.

However officers have still not explained what prompted them to arrest her. She suspects that a neighbour told police she heard crying that night, but she said the noise would have been made by Alfie because he was in pain.

Miss Podmore, who has not been able to return home since Alfie died due to the stigma surrounding her arrest, said that she wants others to avoid her experiences. She said: 'I love my little boy and did the very best I could for him. When he became ill my mother took him to hospital and when I got to the hospital we were later told he had a simple gastric illness and to take him home.

'The police later told us that things should have been done differently, they apologised and said that police protocols were not correctly followed but my whole life has been turned upside down because of what happened. 'I haven't even been able to return home or grieve properly and I wouldn't want anyone else to suffer as I have. I hope that speaking out will ensure valuable lessons are learnt.'

Miss Podmore has also made a formal complaint to the police and this is being investigated by the Professional Standards Department.

Guy Forster, a medical law expert from the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who is representing the family, said: 'For Abby the past six months have been unbearable; firstly suffering the unimaginable pain of losing her only child and then being wrongly blamed for his death. 'Abby and her partner, who was also arrested, are still suffering as a result of the heavy-handed actions of the Police and feel that they have lost their good name and reputation, with some members of the local community wrongly being led to believe they had some part in Alfie's death.'

A full inquest is now listed to take place on 29 September 2011 at Birmingham Coroners Court.

A spokesman for the hospital said: ‘Investigations are still ongoing but it has become clear that there was more that we could have done to help Alfie.’


Charming British army bosses again -- sacrificing lives to totally irrational political correctness

Soldier killed after Army bosses barred him from opening fire on Taliban insurgents planting roadside bombs

A widow revealed how her soldier husband was blown up in Afghanistan days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged. Sergeant Peter Rayner, 34, phoned his wife in a ‘highly stressed’ state four days before his death and was upset that his fears were not taken seriously.

She said he and his men had watched the enemy, using night-vision goggles, plant improvised explosive devices and were not allowed to attack them. He was allegedly told by one officer: ‘I am an Army Captain and you will do your job.’

Sergeant Rayner was serving with the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and was leading a ten-man patrol in Helmand when he was killed in an explosion last October.

Yesterday Sergeant Rayner’s widow Wendy told an inquest in Bradford that the Army had promised that her concerns would be dealt with, but she said: ‘I have been fobbed off.’

Mrs Rayner told Bradford Coroner's Court her husband, who joined the Army at 17, had feared his own death. She said: ‘He was concerned about the number of explosive devices being planted in the area they were patrolling and had told higher ranks because he feared one of them would be killed. ‘He said they could see people planting these devices but could do nothing about it. ‘I feel that maybe if a bit more had been taken on board about what he had said then things might have been different.’

Mrs Rayner said her husband was ‘highly stressed’ when he called her, claiming that officers had ‘laughed off’ his concerns and he had been told to do his job. ‘He loved his job and I believe he deserved more respect,’ she said. ‘I know it was a routine patrol, but I believe that if he had been given a bit more respect and not just laughed off maybe they could have done something about it, we are losing too many men out there.’

Sergeant Rayner told his wife that officers told him that he and his men could not open fire on insurgents planting bombs or make contact with them. His complaints were rejected by a Sergeant Major and a Captain, the inquest heard.

The widow said: ‘I thought about it long and hard and I think he deserves his last words to be heard.’ Adding: ‘Now it's my day, people will listen because I'm in court.’

Mrs Rayner rejected the offer by the coroner to adjourn the hearing so that officers involved could be called to give evidence. The coroner recorded a verdict that Sergeant Rayner was unlawfully killed.

Outside Bradford Coroner’s Court Mrs Rayner fired a further broadside at the Ministry of Defence, calling for rules of engagement to be changed to protect soldiers. ‘They are not allowed to return fire unless they are fired upon. But all the lads have expressed concern because the patrol area was filled with IEDs. ‘They can shoot at us and take us out but the lads can’t do that to them.

These terrorists and Taliban can do what they want yet our soldiers try to do their job and get persecuted by the law. ‘If they are going to be soldiers let them be soldiers and do their jobs. The job is hard enough as it is.

‘There will be an internal investigation, but I think the rules of engagement need to be looked into if someone is planting IEDs and threatening lives.’ She said two of Sergeant Rayner’s colleagues had also been killed before her husband’s death.

‘I am really annoyed. If they had listened a bit more then it would not have happened. He should have been taken more seriously. He was just trying to protect his men. He did protect his men – but got himself killed.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The whole point of a counter insurgency operation is to protect the civilian population.’ He said soldiers had to go through a series of stages before opening fire and were sometimes asked to exercise ‘courageous restraint’ even when shots had been fired. ‘It is all about winning hearts and minds and using the least force possible,’ the spokesman said. [Maybe the spokesman should be sent on patrol among IEDs]



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, 2011

Politicians’ Immoral Behavior Becoming Acceptable

Politicians today are getting away with higher levels of disgraceful behavior. Even just a few years ago it was a shock when a high-level political official did something immoral or promoted inappropriate values. When former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders said in 1994 that masturbation should be promoted to deter young people from engaging in risky sex, President Clinton fired her. Clinton himself was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 for perjury relating to his extramarital liaison with Monica Lewinsky and sexual harassment of Paula Jones.

Now, the media scarcely covers most politicians’ shameful behavior. Inappropriate acts by high-level Democrats have mostly been ignored during the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arranged last month for Lady Gaga, a pop singer known for her shocking behavior and skimpy outfits, to sing at a Europride gay, lesbian and transgender festival in Rome. Gaga’s disgraceful acts include pretending to be stabbed to death during concert performances and falling on the floor in a pool of blood. Clinton’s efforts promoting someone that offensive in order to enable them to appear at a controversial festival received almost no scrutiny. No one even questioned why the State Department was inserting itself into the business of questionable pop stars.

In May, First Lady Michelle Obama invited rapper “Common” to the White House to perform at a poetry night. Common has called for the burning of George W. Bush and praises a Black Panther cop killer in his song lyrics. Michelle Obama honored singer Beyonce at the 2011 Billboard Awards and also thanked her for being a “role model” for her girls. Beyonce is known for wearing practically next to nothing and singing songs like “Naughty Girl,” about desiring a one night stand.

Contrast these music artists with those invited to the White House by prior presidential administrations; Nancy Reagan invited the Beach Boys to the White House and President Nixon invited Elvis. With all the talent in America, it would have been easy to find someone more deserving who would stand up to public scrutiny as an appropriate role model. Rock stars may not be role models, but the President and his wife certainly are looked up to as role models and their choices should reflect as such.

Although married former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was forced to resign over sexting other women, several politicians like Rep. Charles Rangel defended Weiner’s actions and received no admonition. Rangel said the new bar for acceptable immoral behavior should extend to Weiner, "I know one thing - he wasn't going with prostitutes. He wasn't going out with little boys. He wasn't going into men's rooms with broad stances. I mean all of those things I understand. I'm 80 years old."

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer actually came out ahead after getting caught using a high-priced prostitution ring in 2008; CNN rewarded him with his own television show.

Last month, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Cal.) casually compared radical Islamic militants to “Christian militants” and the media barely batted an eye. Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington, DC and currently a DC Councilman, regularly visits strip clubs, brazenly defending them as “erotic clubs.”

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal.) has probably made more revolting statements directed at conservatives than any other Democrat politician. He called former House Ways and Means committee chair Bill Thomas a "c--ks----r.” He belittled married Republican Congressman Scott McInnis, "You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake." He referred to Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) as a “whore” for the insurance industry and said her knowledge of healthcare came from “pillow talk” with her physician husband. He told former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is black, that he is "a disgrace to his race and his profession" because he opposes Stark’s liberal positions on healthcare. He falsely said that former Rep. J.C. Watts’ (R-Okla.) children were born out of wedlock. Nothing has happened to Stark and he continues to get reelected to Congress.

At the same time, traditional moral values are being pushed out. President Obama discontinued the traditional White House prayer service on the annual National Day of Prayer. Last year, respected Pastor Franklin Graham was disinvited from a National Day of Prayer ceremony at the Pentagon, due to pressure placed upon the Obama administration by the Council for American-Islamic Relations. In 2009, Obama signed an executive order repealing a policy President Bush signed in 2001 prohibiting federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells beyond the 60 cell lines that existed at that time. He also signed an executive order overturning a policy that prohibits the use of American tax dollars to fund overseas organizations that fund or promote abortion.

The media has been complicit in this moral decay, by providing only scant coverage and avoiding any “judging” of the actions of those involved. The problem with allowing our leaders to slide into moral relativity, though, is that it is a slippery slope. If it is ok to perjure yourself regarding an extramarital affair, then why not perjure yourself about white collar crime? This collusion by Democrat politicians and the media is taking the country in a dangerous direction that will make it easier for corrupt politicians to run the country.


The wonders of British multicultiralism

'Voodoo' caretaker who trafficked young girls and made them eat hearts is jailed for 20 years

A council caretaker who smuggled two teenage girls into Britain and forced them to work as prostitutes after they were put under a voodoo curse was jailed for 20 years today.

Failed Nigerian asylum seeker Anthony Harrison, 32, also became the first ever person to be convicted of trafficking the victims out of the UK in a groundbreaking case. A jury at Woolwich Crown Court unanimously convicted Harrison of a string of trafficking charges but cleared him of two charges of rape.

The girls involved, aged 14 and 16, from Edo in Nigeria, are believed to be the first 'Juju' voodoo rites victims to give evidence in a European court.

The two teenagers - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - underwent a series of perverse ceremonies which saw one of them stripped naked, cut all over her body with razors and locked in a coffin for hours. Another ceremony saw her forced to drink blood while yet another involved eating a chicken's heart.

The Juju rituals were intended to ensure the victims were 'bound' to a medicine man and would never reveal the truth about their harrowing ordeals. Until now, those who have undergone such rituals have refused to speak out of fear that a curse would kill them.

Harrison, of Albert Square, Stratford, east London, worked for Newham council under the name Charles Pepple.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Shorrock said: 'The trafficking of young girls from rural villages in Nigeria so they can be compelled to work as prostitutes is a vile business. 'When they are as young as these girls and their innocence and credulity is exploited by subjecting them to Juju ceremonies to terrify them into obedience and silence, it is a trade that is viler still.'

Prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones added: 'It is the first time the crown have been able to persuade victims of this type of trafficking to give evidence in court.

Harrison led a double life as a 'key player' in a people trafficking gang which used bizarre rituals to trap the children into sex slavery.

He arrived in the UK in April 2003, claiming to be Liberian, but evidence suggested he was actually from Nigeria. Although his asylum application and subsequent appeals were refused, he was granted indefinite leave to remain under the Home Office 'Legacy' programme.

In 2009, Harrison oversaw the smuggling of the girls while he worked for Newham council. Harrison then shipped them on to Spain and Greece to work in the sex industry.

When the trial started, Judge Shorrock warned jurors that they would hear evidence of terrifying voodoo rituals and gave them the chance to absent themselves from the trial.

The case evokes memories of the five-year-old west African boy, later identified simply as Adam, found washed up next to the Globe Theatre in 2001 after he was smuggled into Britain. He had been drugged with a 'black-magic' potion and sacrificed in a Juju ritual killing before being thrown into the Thames.

Jurors heard how the two girls were sold by their families in Nigeria to people traffickers. After being subjected to Juju rituals in Africa, they were given 'scripts' to tell UK immigration staff that they were claiming asylum, having been forced to flee their country because they were accused of being lesbians.

Once in the UK, both girls were placed in care before they absconded in order to contact their handler, Harrison. Both girls were from a part of Nigeria where Juju magic or medicine 'exists side by side and in conjunction with other religions such as Christianity.'

Ms Karmy-Jones told jurors 'It is what many of us would immediately jump to call black magic, or a kind of voodoo, but we would probably be incorrect in that simplification,' she said.

'I am not going to give you any huge detail, other than to say that Juju is amongst those who believe in it considered to be very strong magic and is greatly feared.

'Both girls were subjected to ceremonies involving this magic, although each appears to have been quite different, and it has taken a long time - two years of painstaking work - for the police involved in the investigation to build up sufficient trust for these two girls to talk more openly about what happened to them.'

Jurors heard both girls feared they would die if they exposed their captors to UK authorities.

Welcoming the conviction, DC Andy Desmond of the Metropolitan Police's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command said: 'I would like to pay tribute to the two victims who showed tremendous courage by talking to the police and agreeing to testify against their captor.

'I hope that this conviction sends out a strong message to other victims who have suffered similar experiences that you can speak out without fearing for your lives. 'The MPS is fully aware of this crime. We will listen to you, we will not dismiss you and we will do all we that we can to bring the perpetrators to justice.'


An unholy marriage of snobbery and snideyness

The cultural elite’s support for homosexual marriage is more about distinguishing themselves from homophobic plebs than fighting for equal rights

Gay marriage has emerged as one of the most controversial and divisive issues of our time. For more than a decade it has been the hot-button issue in US politics. On Friday, New York state legalised gay marriage, leading to predictions that it will become an even testier issue in the coming months. This new law ‘could propel gay rights as a political wedge in the 2012 [presidential] elections’, predicted the Wall Street Journal.

In Britain, too, many campaigners and commentators argue that it is not enough for same-sex couples to be able to enter into civil partnerships – they must also be allowed to marry. Meanwhile in Australia, the Queensland conference of the Australian Labor party (ALP) recently passed a motion demanding support for gay marriage at the ALP national conference in December. Similar resolutions have already been passed by Labor conferences in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. It is clear that for a section of the ALP, as for many left-leaning politicians and observers across the Western world, support for gay marriage is now a matter of principle.

Whatever one thinks about the pros and cons of gay marriage, a tolerant society cannot deny the right of homosexual couples to formalise their relationships. But the campaign for gay marriage is not just about rights; it is also about the contestation of values and attitudes.

From a sociological perspective, the rise of the campaign for gay marriage provides a fascinating insight into the dynamics of the cultural conflicts that prevail in Western society. Indeed, over the past decade the issue of gay marriage has been transformed into a cultural weapon, which explicitly challenges prevailing norms through condemning those who oppose it. This is not so much a call for legal change as a cause, a crusade – and one which endows its supporters with moral superiority while demoting its opponents with the status of moral inferiority.

The campaign for the legalisation of gay marriage does not simply represent a claim for a right; it also represents a demand for the institutionalisation of new moral and cultural values. This attitude was clearly expressed last weekend by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission. He argued that Christians, particularly evangelical ones, are more troublesome than Muslims in their attitudes towards mainstream views. In particular he warned that ‘an old-time religion incompatible with modern society’ was driving Christians to clash with mainstream views, especially on gay issues. Incidentally, by ‘mainstream’ he of course means views which he endorses.

Phillips’ choice of words implies that opponents of gay marriage are likely to be motivated by ‘old-time religion’, which is by definition ‘incompatible with modern society’. From this standpoint, criticising or questioning the moral status of gay marriage is a violation of the cultural standards of ‘modern society’. What we have here is the casual affirmation of a double standard: tolerance towards supporters of gay marriage, and intolerance towards opponents of gay marriage.

The claim that certain values and attitudes are ‘incompatible’ with modern society tends to serve as a prelude to stigmatising and attempting to silence those values and attitudes. That is why the so-called enlightened opponents of ‘old-time religion’ more than match the intolerance of those whom they denounce as homophobic bigots.

In the Anglo-American world, gay marriage has become one of those causes through which the cosmopolitan cultural elites define themselves and construct a moral contrast between their kind and ordinary folk. What’s really important for them is the sense of superiority experienced through the conviction that ‘we’ are not like ‘them’. In this way, a clear moral distinction can be drawn between the forward-looking attitudes of an enlightened, courageous minority and the backward-looking prejudices of a homophobic majority.

It is the sense that supporting gay marriage is now a virtuous thing to do, as culturally sanctioned by a cosmopolitan elite, which encourages otherwise apolitical pops stars such as Britney Spears to tweet things like, ‘So happy! Today is a great day for love and equality’, in response to the news that a US federal judge ruled that a California ballot banning gay marriage was unconstitutional.

The rhetorical affirmation of gay marriage can speedily place a celebrity on the right side of the cultural divide. And no one with an aspiration to succeed in showbusiness can afford to be on the other side. Take the case of American comedian Tracy Morgan. After he was criticised for joking about homosexuals earlier this month, he quickly apologised. But he did not simply say ‘I am sorry’; he felt obliged to demonstrate his right-on credentials by coming out as an ardent supporter of gay marriage.

He declared: ‘I believe everyone deserves the right to be happy and marry who they want: gay, white, black, male or female.’ What his statement lacked in conviction it more than made up for with ritualistic acquiescence. In truth there was little else that Morgan could say if he wants his television career to flourish.

In the US, questioning the status of gay marriage is often depicted, not simply as an expression of disagreement, but as a direct form of discrimination. The mere expression of opposition towards a particular ritual, in this case gay marriage, is recast as more than a verbal statement – it is itself an act of discrimination, if not outright oppression.

So American journalist Hadley Freeman recently argued in the UK Guardian that gay marriage is not a suitable subject for debate. ‘There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgment of subtleties and cultural differences’, she wrote. But ‘same-sex marriage is not one of those’. Why? Because ‘there is a right answer’, she hectored, in a censorious tone. The phrase ‘there is a right answer’ is really a demand for the silencing of discussion. And just in case you missed the point, Freeman concluded that opposition to her favourite cause should be seen for what it was: ‘as shocking as racism, as unforgivable as anti-Semitism’.

It is worth noting that the rise of support for gay marriage, the emergence of this elite crusade against sexual heresy, coincides with the cultural devaluation of heterosexual marriage. Today, heterosexual marriage is frequently depicted as a site for domestic violence and child abuse. A review of academic literature on the subject would indicate a preoccupation with the damaging consequences of heterosexual marriage. Terms such as the ‘dark side of the family’ invoke a sense of dread about an institution where dominating men allegedly brutalise their partners and their children.

This preoccupation of professional victimologists is reflected in popular culture. Cinema and television constantly give us stereotypical stories about unhappy, failed and dysfunctional heterosexual marriages. In contrast, same-sex unions are treated with reverence in popular culture, depicted as mature relationships between loving equals.

Of course, heterosexual couples continue to get married, but there has been no time in history when the institution of heterosexual marriage has enjoyed such feeble affirmation. Indeed, these days heterosexual couples are often likely to hear the refrain ‘Why get married?’ or ‘Why wait for marriage before having children?’.

Paradoxically, in some quarters the idea that marriage for heterosexuals is no big deal coincides with the cultural sacralising of same-sex unions. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that behind the gay-marriage discussion there lurk some profound questions about how to endow intimate relationships with meaning today. And in such circumstances, elite-sanctioned snobbish intolerance is really no more acceptable than anti-gay prejudice.


The British liberal elite despise the working class

If you ever watch the later films of Mike Leigh, you will notice that all of them have a recurring character. From High Hopes through to Secrets and Lies through to Vera Drake, this character always, always makes an appearance.

And the character is that person who has left his or her working-class community. That person who has turned their back on their working-class roots and foolishly gone off in pursuit of the middle-class dream.

The character is usually a woman. She is always miserable and soulless. She lives in a big but heartless house, full of perfectly polished ornaments. And she is forever committing embarrassing social faux pas, which of course middle-class Mike Leigh fans find hilarious. Leaving aside Topsy Turvy, I challenge you to find any recent Mike Leigh film which doesn’t feature that character.

And it’s a character which speaks to a very powerful prejudice amongst today’s liberal elite – a prejudice which says that there is something weird, something unnatural, something morally dubious about working-class people who leave their communities.

It is seen as an act of betrayal. They have abandoned community solidarity and have been won over by, or rather have been brainwashed by, the rampant Thatcherite culture of consumption and one-upmanship.

In answer to the question of who or what is demonising the working classes today, I would say that that prejudice is one of the most decisive things. That prejudice against working-class people with ambition, against working-class people who aspire to own more stuff or to move to nicer, leafier suburbs or simply to have The Good Life, is really the driving force behind modern liberal snobbery.

It’s a prejudice which has been around for nearly 30 years. Right from Loadsamoney through to the attacks on ‘Essex Man’ and ‘Basildon Man’ through to the assaults on yuppies, with their vulgar fast cars and their vulgar common accents – working-class people with material aspirations have had a special place in the middle-class canon of hate figures.

They are often depicted as fishes out of water, trying to live a life that they are hilariously ill-suited for. So one group that everyone loves to mock is the footballer’s wife, drinking her Chardonnay, living in a ghastly Mock Tudor mansion, ruining Tuscany for everyone else by insisting on holidaying there. Who do these people think they are? What are they doing in our social circles?

That sentiment was explicitly expressed in a Guardian article about a nouveau-riche nightclub frequented by the footballer Wayne Rooney. It described the club as ‘a tawdry place where the clientele seem to be under the misapprehension that drinking champagne is a symbol of class’.

And it is that prejudice against the grasping, greedy sections of the lower orders which fuelled the attack on so-called chavs in recent years. Chavs are mocked for having bling, for their love of fashion labels, for daring to wear Burberry, which of course only posh people can really carry off.

Ironically, the so-called defenders of ‘chavs’ also buy into this prejudice. So in his book, Mr Jones favourably quotes Hazel Blears as saying: ‘I’ve never understood the term “social mobility” because that implies you want to get out of somewhere… And I think there is a great deal to be said for making who you are something to be proud of.’ In other words, know your place. The one thing that chav-bashers and chav-defenders share in common is a profound discomfort with working-class individual aspiration.

This liberal prejudice has even been given the stamp of scientific authority in recent years. Books by the psychologist Oliver James and the social scientist Richard Wilkinson claim it is a provable fact that our desire for more and more stuff makes us mentally ill. If you chase after material goods you will catch a disease known as ‘Affluenza’. That is how powerful and deeply ingrained the liberal disgust for aspirant working-class people has become: it has been turned into ‘science’.

What is behind this relentless cultural demonisation of working-class people who might want to leave their communities or create new lives for themselves? I think there are two points to make about this prejudice.

Firstly, it is just wrong. It is wrong to make such a savage distinction between good working-class people who stay in their communities and bad working-class people who abandon them. Or between ‘rugged individualism’, which is seen as bad, and ‘community spirit’, which is seen as good. In fact those two things inform and reinforce each other.

There is far more interplay between the individual and the community than this childish prejudice lets on. Often the youthful ambitions of working-class individuals will actually be nurtured by their family and friends, who want them to go somewhere better. And those individuals who do leave and who do make loadsamoney almost always keep a connection with their community: they might employ their old working-class friends or they might send a weekly cheque to their mother or grandmother.

The idea that it is bad to be socially mobile, and by extension that it is good to be socially immobile, is really just a rehabilitation of the old sneering prejudice that the poor should not get ideas above their station.

And the second point about this prejudice, which is far more powerful on the left than it is on the right, is that it speaks to a profound shift that has taken place in left-wing thinking in recent years. It speaks to a shift from focusing on ‘class consciousness’ to focusing on ‘class identity’; from treating working class as a political and social condition to treating it as a permanent and fixed identity.

In the past, radical left-wing thinkers, even some champagne socialists, were more interested in ‘class consciousness’. They were more interested in the working class becoming conscious of its position as a class and of its power to overthrow the class system. Indeed, the aim of radical left-wing activism was really to bring about the end of the working class.

Today, liberal and left-wing thinkers are obsessed with ‘class identity’. They have turned being working class from a social predicament, a social status, into a fixed cultural identity. They see it, not as something that might be and maybe even should be brought to an end, but as something that should be celebrated.

So they go all misty-eyed for the culture and values and spirit of these noble savages, and at the same time they have created a whole armoury of abuse and insults for any working-class person who dares to reject his identity and to try to become something else. In their fatalistic, identity-obsessed outlook, the working-class person who leaves his community is not simply trying to ‘get on’ – he is sinning against the natural order of things, against his fixed position in the world, against the whole politics of identity. Their embrace of the idea that working class is an identity, rather than a product of the capitalist system, makes them furiously hostile to anybody who dares to break out of that. Ironically, in such circumstances, the man or woman who rebels against his working-class identity, as defined for him or her by others, is striking a far better blow for working-class self-respect and self-determination than those middle-class outsiders who say: ‘Be proud of who you are.’

It’s no wonder, then, that according to a report published by the think-tank Britain Thinks last week, fewer and fewer workers are describing themselves as ‘working class’. When being ‘working class’ no longer means being powerful and transformative, but instead means knowing your place and living like a permanent exhibit in a cultural zoo that will apparently exist forever, it isn’t surprising that people want to wriggle free from that. Maybe they are refusing to to accept the Fate designed for them by those middle-class celebrators of the old, decent, back-broken working class. And of course when they refuse to accept that Fate, by making loadsamoney or by draping themselves in bling, they are severely chastised for their disobedience.

In truth, there is nothing permanent about being working class. The working class has only existed for a few hundred years, and there is no reason that this class should still exist in a few hundred years from now. I hope it doesn’t. And I hope that the next working-class uprising will be against the elitist and middle-class do-gooders who encourage working people to revel in their identity, as if they are going to live like this and work like this forever.



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, 2011

The promotion of homosexual marriage is a shallow claim of superior wisdom

Pat Buchanan

"The opponents (of same-sex marriage) have no case other than ignorance and misconception and prejudice." So writes Richard Cohen in his celebratory column about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's role in legalizing gay marriage in New York state.

Now, given that no nation in 20 centuries of Christendom legalized homosexual marriage, and, in this century, majorities in all 31 states where it has been on the ballot have rejected it, Cohen is pretty much saying that, since the time of Christ, Western history has been an endless Dark Age dominated by moral ignoramuses and bigots.

For the belief that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral and same-sex marriage an Orwellian absurdity has always been part of the moral code of Christianity. Gen. George Washington ordered active homosexuals drummed out of his army. Thomas Jefferson equated homosexuality with rape. Not until 2003 did the Supreme Court declare homosexual acts a protected right.

What is the moral basis of the argument that homosexuality is normal, natural and healthy? In recent years, it has been associated with high levels of AIDS and enteric diseases, and from obits in gay newspapers, early death. Where is the successful society where homosexual marriage was normal?

Not until the Stonewall riots at a gay bar in Greenwich Village in 1969 was the case broadly made by anyone but the Mattachines of Frank Kameny that homosexuality deserved to be treated as a natural and normal expression of love.

Still, Cohen is not without a point when he uses the term "prejudice."

As Albert Einstein observed, "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18." By 14, most boys have learned on the playground there is something disordered about boys sexually attracted to other boys. Hence the need for politically correct universities to purge such ideas from young minds and indoctrinate them in the new truths of modernity.

But are we really wiser than our ancestors? As Edmund Burke wrote of the thinkers of his time:

"Many of our men of speculation, instead of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek and they seldom fail, they think it more wise to continue the prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and to leave nothing but the naked reason."

Great minds once found merit in the "prejudices," or inherited wisdom, of a people, as a spur to virtuous behavior. Again, Burke:

"Prejudice is of ready application in an emergency. It previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical and unresolved."

In our new society from which traditionalists are seceding, many ruling ideas are rooted in an ideology that is at war with Burke's "general prejudices."

High among them is that homosexuality is natural and normal. That abortion is a woman's right. That all voluntary sexual relations are morally equal. That women and men are equal, and if the former are not equally represented at the apex of academic, military and political life, this can only be the result of invidious discrimination that the law must correct. That all races, religions and ethnic groups are equal and all must have equal rewards.

Once a nation synonymous with freedom, the new America worships at the altar of equality.

Writing on the same Washington Post page as Cohen, a day earlier, Greg Sargent exulted in Cuomo's law as "a huge victory ... for equality ... a major defeat for those self-described 'conservatives' who hate government except when it is enforcing a form of legalized discrimination that comports with their prejudices."

Sargent also has a point. But behind the "prejudices" of conservatives about the moral superiority of traditional marriage are 2,000 years of history and law. What is the intellectual and moral basis of Sargent's notion?

He claims "majorities of Americans are not prepared to assign sub-par status to the intimate relationships of gays and lesbians."

Certainly, that is true of the Albany legislature.

But why then does Barack Obama seem so hesitant to embrace gay marriage?

In 2012, we shall find out who is right politically, when the issue goes on the ballot in battleground states. But is moral truth to be discovered at a ballot box? Do we have no superior moral compass than majority rule?

"A new kind of America is emerging in the early 21st century," said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver last week, "and it's likely to be much less friendly to religious faith than anything in the nation's past."

He added, pointedly, "If Catholic social services should be forced to alter their Catholic beliefs on marriage, the family, social justice, sexuality (and) abortion," they should terminate those services.

Prediction: We are entering an era where communities will secede from one another and civil disobedience on moral grounds will become as common as it was in the days of segregation.


Gaza flotilla: Riding on a wave of narcissism

Gaza-bound do-gooders claim they only want to send ‘love’ to Palestinians. The evidence suggests they’re more in love with themselves

Here we go again. The second Gaza-bound armada, named Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human, is currently awaiting clearance for departure at a Greek port. This year the organisers, rather than sailing under the pretence of being a humanitarian mission, have largely admitted, even boasted, that what matters is The Message.

Of course these activist voyages to Gaza, which have been sailing for the past three years, have always had a political intent. However, delivering cargo was also talked up as a significant part of the mission. So when the Israeli authorities denied crew the right to hand over their cargo in person, it gave the activists an opportunity to shout to the world’s media that Israel is an inhumane power preventing Palestinians from receiving wheelchairs, toys, medicines.

This year, however, the focus is more openly on the message. ‘The Freedom Flotilla is indeed “a political provocation”. Why shouldn’t it be?’ says an American member of the International Solidarity Movement. This year, the US ship involved in the flotilla, named The Audacity of Hope, is literally loaded with messages – it is carrying what have been called ‘love letters’ from Americans to Gazans.

The flotilla organisers still promote the patronising idea that Gazans are suffering an acute and unique humanitarian crisis and are hermetically sealed off, even starved and ghettoised, more so than any other people in the world. And ironically, this has played into Israel’s hands: it has allowed the Israeli government also to focus on occasionally giving ‘humanitarian assistance’ to the Palestinians, rather than on more pressing and awkward political matters, such as lifting restrictions on the free movement of goods and people that really hinder economic prosperity in Gaza. The Israel-based NGO Gisha, which campaigns for freedom of movement, has rightly expressed its frustration with the flotilla’s pity for Palestinians, since it reduces Palestinians to the level of passive recipients of Westerners’ or Israelis’ aid and favour.

Yet beneath the flotilla activists’ aloof assertions that they are helping to end the siege on Gaza, whether by delivering essentials in earlier years or by becoming pen pals with Palestinians this year, in truth their real motivation is a desire to imbue their own lives with a sense of moral purpose.

The flotilla organisers claim to be acting in solidarity with Palestinians, and no doubt there are many Palestinians who welcome the global media spotlight and the pressure on Israel to ease the blockade on Gaza. But it is a curious type of solidarity that is so singularly narcissistic and self-satisfying.

For instance, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and one of the most high-profile crew members of the US ship, has said: ‘Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: what else would I do?’ Now aged 67, Walker has apparently found a new purpose in life, namely to bring ‘letters of love’ to the ‘children of Palestine’. She sees herself as an experienced elder, bringing words of wisdom and comfort to Gaza’s children.

Her focus on Palestinian children is not simply a soppy cliché; rather it’s a way of placing herself in the role of mother. She and her boat companions want to care for and protect Gazans, maternally, to feed them and nurture them and give them ‘love’. Palestinians are deemed to be helpless not only because they live under a de facto occupation, but because, in the view of the flotilla activists, they are incapable of securing their rights without the benefit of the life experiences of the likes of Walker.

Another flotilla passenger, Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy, says Palestinians need Westerners to ‘leverage our privilege’ on their behalf. For Naiman this doesn’t only mean acting as a human shield and protecting Palestinians from evil, but also telling Palestinians how they ought to conduct their political struggle. ‘[It’s not so much] “showing” in the sense of teaching’, he says. ‘It’s more a question of “showing” in the sense of demonstrating a successful example.’

There is very little self-effacement in the so-called solidarity that the flotilla-ists are extending to Palestinians. On the contrary, this is a media stunt disguised as a risqué act of self-sacrifice. This becomes most clear in the activists’ insistence that they are putting their lives on the line ‘for Palestinians’. In an article for the CNN News website, Walker speculates about what will happen if the Israeli soldiers ‘insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us’, while Naiman, writing in the Huffington Post, says he is participating ‘in this voyage at risk to my life’. Yes, the Israel Defense Forces launched a fiasco of an intervention into last year’s flotilla, with violent confrontations that led to the deaths of nine activists. But the IDF hardly plans to score such a PR own-goal again.

By painting Israel as the scum of the Earth and the Palestinians as the salt of the Earth, the flotilla crew are not only narcissistically advertising themselves as the noble saviours of Palestine. They are also hoping to relegitimise and reinvigorate the West’s moral imperative to act as the heroic rescuer of the Middle East. Indeed, for all the hyping up of the flotilla’s non-violent resistance and the crew’s ostensible backing of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, in fact the flotilla crew are a war-thirsty, interventionist bunch.

After last year’s flotilla, many ‘radical’ activists and commentators called for Israel to be punished by the ‘international community’. Some suggested sanctions, others called for NATO to send in its troops, and yet others wanted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be put on trial for ‘war crimes’. This week, the acclaimed Swedish crime fiction writer and two-time flotilla crew member, Henning Mankell, told Swedish press: ‘I’m considering suggesting very soon the setting up of an international tribunal with independent experts on international law who can confirm that the [Israeli blockade of Gaza] is illegal.’ How helpful. Perhaps he can get Wallander on the case?

Today, denouncing Israel seems to be one sure-fire way of creating a sense of consensus at a time when there are few issues that unite people in the West. So everyone from one-hit-wonder authors to street-cred-seeking politicians, from Nobel Prize laureates to Islamists, wants a piece of the anti-Israel action. It has become a badge of honour for members of respectable Western society to be able to stake a claim in the struggle against Evil Israel and in defence of The Children Of Palestine – whether they do it by going native and moving in with families in the West Bank, by donning that trendy political garment the keffiyeh, or by taking to the high seas in boats where journalists nearly outnumber crew members, which means you might get your name and photograph in an international newspaper.

Today, following the Arab uprisings, many Western radicals are envious of these foreigners who seem to be expressing their political passions in a way that has become alien here at home. So for some, boarding the flotilla this year looks like a chance to play a role in the changing set-up in the Middle East. (The Canadian boat is even named Tahrir, after the square that became the epicentre of the Egyptian uprising.)

But this is not political solidarity as we might have understood it in the past. Rather this flotilla is riding on a wave of Western narcissism. And in the end, it’s the Palestinians who will pay the price for it – not only by being reduced in the eyes of the world to the level of helpless children who need Alice Walker to mother them, but also by potentially becoming the targets of Israel’s unpredictable, defensive responses to being put under the global spotlight once again.


Stand up for Britain's silent majority, Patten tells BBC as director-general admits: We failed to address immigration

The BBC should avoid pandering to 'metropolitan prejudices' or a 'tasteless common denominator' by standing up for the silent majority, its new chairman has declared.

Lord Patten said the corporation should listen to accusations that it is 'drowning' viewers and listeners with 'prejudices' and 'stereotypes' from the urban elite. In a plea for the broadcaster to become more representative of the licence fee payer, he said the ideas of the wider public 'deserve to be considered and reflected'.

His comments will be seen as an attempt to address the long-standing claim that the BBC is guilty of a London-centric, Left-leaning bias which alienates large sections of the public.

On the issue of standards, Lord Patten added it would be an 'act of treason' if the BBC reduced quality to chase ratings.

Last night, giving the Royal Television Society's Fleming Memorial Lecture 2011 – his maiden speech as chairman – Lord Patten also said criticism that the corporation was 'not impartial' should 'keep us on our toes'.

Speaking last night, Lord Patten said public trust ‘suffers’ when corporate behaviour ‘doesn’t fit the ideal’ and the organisation needed to ‘distance itself from the market’.

His measures will also see the number of senior management roles reduced by almost two thirds from about 550 to 200. A freeze on bonuses for the board will be made permanent and private health insurance will be phased out for top bosses.

He said: ‘Waste, self-indulgence and inefficiency at the BBC are inexcusable, as they are anywhere else in the public sector ... that’s why, watching from the outside, the issue of senior executive pay has looked so toxic for the institution as a whole.’

He insisted the broadcaster should reflect 'the full breadth of opinion that exists on most controversial topics'.

And he said any mistakes in its reporting were an 'assault on our own values', warning that episodes like these risked undermining its 'brave journalism'.

Referring to 19th-century French writer Gustave Flaubert, he said: 'We should also listen hard to those who accuse us of drowning our viewers and listeners in a small metropolitan pond of stereotypes and prejudices, what Flaubert called “received ideas”. 'The customarily “unreceived” deserve to be considered and reflected too. And audiences in every different part of the UK should feel the BBC is relevant to their everyday lives.'

The corporation has previously been accused of failing to represent views and lifestyles of rural viewers, often making them figures of fun, as in comedies such as The Vicar of Dibley.

BBC executives have also in the past conceded the corporation was guilty of promoting Left-wing views.

Lord Patten's comments come after a BBC report in 2007 suggested the corporation was out of touch with large swathes of the public and guilty of self-censoring on subjects it found unpalatable. It warned that such behaviour would cause people to lose faith in the broadcaster.

Lord Patten said last night: 'Public support is central to the BBC's on-going success.'

The new chairman also issued a clarion call on high standards in the BBC's output. 'Above all, we should pay greatest heed to any justified assertion that we are guilty of descending to a tasteless common denominator,' he stressed.

'Were that to be true, it would be a real act of treason to all that we are supposed to stand for.'

The BBC has come under fire from viewers for derivative programmes and apparent attempts to chase ratings. Lord Patten said 'political bias' had been 'the charge of almost every government since the BBC was founded', but added that some criticism 'should be taken very seriously'.

On its journalism he warned: 'We should also take any mistakes in reporting, let alone the use of dubious evidence, as an assault on our own values. 'The brave journalism that uncovers cruelty in a welfare home is devalued when we fall short of our own highest standards in other programmes.

'Criticism that we are not impartial should keep us on our toes, determined to tell things as we see them while taking account of the full breadth of opinion that exists on most controversial topics.'

Sensitive or 'taboo' subjects such as immigration were avoided by the BBC, the corporation's director-general admitted yesterday.

Mark Thompson conceded that the broadcaster had been 'anxious' in the past about playing into what it may have perceived to be a Right-wing political agenda. But he claimed it had now changed its position and was responsible for raising the topic of immigration during last year's general election.

Mr Thompson added that the BBC had a duty to address 'sensitive and difficult' issues a 'significant proportion' of the public wanted to hear about.

In an article for the New Statesman magazine, he admitted: 'There have been occasions, I believe, in the past, when the BBC has had limitations. 'For example, I think there were some years when the BBC, like the rest of the UK media, was very reticent about talking about immigration.

'There was an anxiety whether or not you might be playing into a political agenda if you did items about immigration.' Mr Thompson went on to insist that he did not like the idea that certain subjects were 'taboo'. He said: 'In the 2010 election campaign, none of the parties was talking about immigration.

'We believed we should deal with it, because the public – not everyone, but a significant proportion – was saying to us that it was a real issue. 'We've got a duty, even if issues are sensitive and difficult to get right, to confront what the public want. I don't like the idea of topics that are taboo.'

Last year, Mr Thompson accepted that the BBC had been guilty of 'massive' Left-wing bias.

And in 2007, a BBC Trust report criticised the corporation for coming late to several important stories, including Euroscepticism and immigration, which it described as 'off limits' in terms of a liberal-minded comfort zone.

Mr Thompson also defended the large numbers of journalists the BBC sends to events such as Glastonbury and the Olympics.

And he insisted that staff were low paid compared with other broadcasting organisations.

The BBC was criticised last month for sending 407 people to the Glastonbury festival – at a cost of £1.5million.

But the director-general said: 'In the British press, the BBC sending a few hundred people to the Beijing Olympics was a national scandal. We sent about a tenth of the number sent by NBC, the U.S. broadcaster.

'We're known internationally for the small numbers of people we send, but in a newspaper 100 sounds like a lot, in the way £7million for taxis does. It depends on the context. We should make sure we're doing these things with as few people as we can and I think we do.'


Ten great myths about Britain's foreign aid: After Cameron described critics as 'hard-hearted', how your money is squandered

As he pledged to pour hundreds of millions more into propping up Afghanistan, David Cameron this week accused critics of his foreign aid policy of being ‘possibly hard-hearted’. The fact is we’ll soon be spending more on the Third World than on the Home Office and, while other budgets face cuts, overseas aid is being increased by billions. Here, IAN BIRRELL reveals what really happens to all that money ....

MYTH 1: We can afford to spend a few billion pounds to help the world’s poor

Defenders of aid say we have a moral duty to help those less fortunate and we are a rich country that can afford it. This argument is put forward by ministers and supporters such as the heiress Jemima Khan, who claims Britain is wealthy enough to spend such trifling sums on aid.

Here are the facts. When Tony Blair established the Department for International Development (DFID) as the political wing of the charity movement in 1997, its budget was £2.6 billion — more than twice the Foreign Office allocation.

Today, we spend £8.1 billion, which will increase to £11.4 billion in 2014 — a 34 per cent rise, despite spending cuts elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly, MPs are getting a growing postbag over this. We are giving more than £300 per household to the world’s poor while public sector jobs are lost and vital services for the elderly and disabled are closed. The head of the Royal Navy has warned there may not be enough money to pursue the war in Libya.

Four out of five voters oppose the cross-party consensus of increasing aid spending, according to a new YouGov@Cam survey. I share the ideals behind foreign aid — and, if it worked, I would say spend more. Unfortunately, the policy is based on old-fashioned concepts, outdated figures and all too often makes life worse, not better, for people in poorer nations.

MYTH 2: We must hit the UN target to give away 0.7 per cent of our GNP in aid

Ah yes, the sacred target. For a government promising to sweep away targets, the Coalition is strangely wedded to this particular one.

We’re handing over 0.56 per cent of national income — far more than our economic rivals. Germany contributes 0.38 per cent of its income, while we donate twice as much as Japan and five times as much as Italy.

But this target is absurd, arbitrary and outdated. It was first calculated more than four decades ago based on theoretical data from the Forties, and was the result of back-of-the-envelope calculations of the needs of poor countries.

Since then, Western economies have soared while many poor nations have stagnated.

Five years ago, the United Nations itself said the amount of aid really needed was 0.44 per cent of national income.

Development economists applying the original calculations to today’s world yielded an aid goal of just 0.01 per cent of rich countries’ gross domestic product (GNP).

MYTH 3: Aid works

The economist Peter Bauer famously said aid transfers cash from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. His words have been underlined by scores of studies that found idealism tempered by harsh reality.

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo revealed the West had given more than half a trillion pounds to Africa, but over the past three decades the most aid-dependent recipients saw negative annual growth rates.

Haiti is another example. It was given official aid of more than £6 billion — four times as much per person as Europe received under the Marshall plan for post-war reconstruction — in the 50 years before last year’s earthquake.

Private aid poured in as well, with more charities operating in Haiti per capita than any other place on the globe. Despite this, income fell by a third.

It has, of course, endured despotic leaders, dreadful corruption and political unrest.

The same goes for the Dominican Republic, with which it shares an island — but while receiving far less aid, this nation saw incomes and life expectancy soar over this period.

MYTH 4: OK, it hasn’t worked in the past, but it will in the future

Whenever people point out that mountains of money have disappeared into thin air, the aid lobby says it has learned the lessons of the past.

So yes, cash funded dictators, fuelled corruption, fostered a dependency culture and aided genocidal killers, but things are different now. The new buzzword is ‘smart aid’.

To be fair to Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, he has stopped some of Labour’s most outrageous abuses, such as £115,000 spent on stalls at summer music festivals in Britain, and he is right to boost transparency and encourage trade. But the flawed fundamentals remain the same.

And his department’s top civil servant admitted this week the Government still has no idea how much money is being lost to fraud and corruption.

MYTH 5: We will ensure 100 pence of value for every £1 spent on aid

This was the message Mr Mitchell gave a sceptical Tory Party conference last year, which he repeated to an equally sceptical looking Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last month. But it’s not true.

There have been many attempts to quantify how much Western aid really helps intended beneficiaries.

Generally, it is estimated by think-tanks and charities that the real figure is in the region of 40p in every pound, though British aid is seen as more cost-effective than most.

The rest is swallowed up by bureaucracy, corruption, consultants, charity costs and duplication between donors — bear in mind dozens of countries and thousands of charities give aid. Indeed, an African nation must waste precious resources churning out 10,000 action reports for aid donors a year.

One UN adviser looked into a house-building project in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, that began with £92 million in the bank. The job was sub-contracted so many times through agencies in Geneva, Washington and Kabul — each taking administration fees — that by the time the money got to those working on the project, they could afford to buy only some wooden beams from Iran.

They were delivered for five times the normal cost by a company owned by the Bamiyan governor, but turned out to be too heavy for village houses. So they ended up as firewood.

Or take India, which spends £1.5 billion a year on a space programme, but is still one of the biggest recipients of our aid.

The World Bank just carried out the first major evaluation of its aid programmes and found so much corruption that only 40 per cent of grain given to the poor reaches its target.



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, 2011

Liberal Judges: Equality Violates Equal Protection Clause

Go figure!

Last week, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which amended Michigan’s constitution in 2006 to ban racial discrimination and preferences in government contracts, employment, and education. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the judges claimed that the constitutional amendment violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause by eliminating racial and gender preferences. The two judges in the majority were appointed by Clinton; the dissenting judge was appointed by Bush.

The ruling contradicts common sense — how can the Equal Protection Clause require that people be treated unequally? — and turns the Constitution upside down. The ruling in Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Regents of the University of Michigan also contradicts multiple prior court rulings over the years. A virtually identical state constitutional amendment in California, known as Prop. 209 or the California Civil Rights Initiative, was upheld in 1997 by another federal appeals court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson, a ruling that the Supreme Court declined to overturn. It was also upheld by the California Supreme Court in a 6-to-1 vote in Coral Construction, Inc. v. San Francisco (2010).

The court’s ruling striking down the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative was contemptuous of its own past precedents. In 2006, a different panel of the Sixth Circuit earlier overturned a preliminary injunction against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Granholm, concluding that the legal arguments against it had no merit. Those meritless legal arguments were the very arguments later relied upon by a different group of judges on the same court to strike it down in the July 1 ruling.

The Sixth Circuit’s bizarre ruling to strike down equality as a violation of equal protection will harm taxpayers by increasing the cost of government contracts. Taxpayers of all races pay more when government contracts are assigned based on race, rather than awarded to the lowest bidder. Even fairly mild racial preferences impose substantial costs on businesses and taxpayers.

For example, in the Domar Electric case, Los Angeles accepted a bid for almost $4 million to complete a contract rather than the lowest bid of approximately $3.3 million, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $650,000. The lowest bidder was rejected solely because it failed to engage in affirmative action in subcontracting. California’s Proposition 209 later limited this sort of racial favoritism by banning racial preferences, saving taxpayers money. A number of state affirmative-action programs have since been struck down under Prop. 209, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is modeled directly on Prop. 209. (I cite the Domar case because it involved an affirmative-action program that has been depicted by supporters as unobjectionable and unburdensome because it did not mandate racial quotas. Racial quotas can lead to even larger disparities between the lowest bid and the bid accepted by the government, resulting in much higher costs to taxpayers).

Similar savings in government contracts can be expected if the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is ultimately upheld (it is codified in Article 1, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution). The Michigan Attorney General has announced plans to appeal the ruling striking it down.


British Women's Institute banned from tending flowers on roundabout memorial in case they're run over

When a council scrapped a floral display at a war memorial to save cash, the Women’s Institute volunteered to tend the flowers for free. It seemed the perfect solution to the problem – until the dreaded health and safety issue reared its head.

A councillor deemed it ‘too dangerous’ to let the women look after the flowerbeds because they might be run over on the way to the memorial, which is on a roundabout where four minor roads intersect.

The extraordinary ban has infuriated the institute’s local leader, who pointed out that its members were perfectly capable of looking both ways before stepping off the pavement and that they ‘don’t all have Zimmer frames’.

The row started after Spelthorne Borough Council in Surrey last month decided to remove the display at Shepperton war memorial to help save £14,000 a year in gardening fees.

The nearby Upper Halliford WI sent a letter to the council saying its members would happily set up a rota to tend the flowers.

But Tory councillor Robin Sider, who sits on the planning committee and is also chairman of Shepperton Horticultural Society, said he reluctantly could not allow it. ‘It was a wonderful gesture,’ he said. ‘However the war memorial is on a very dangerous roundabout, so while I am appreciative of their help I can’t let them undertake the task in case any one of them was run over. 'It’s a very busy stretch there, where four roads meet. It would be too much of a risk for them.’

Julie Bloomfield, president of Upper Halliford WI, said she expected to fight the decision. ‘I told Mr Sider we could help out by tending the flowers, but he was very adamant that we should not jeopardise our lives to tend the war memorial. ‘I wouldn’t have thought it was much of a problem. We all know how to cross roads and not all of us have Zimmer frames.

'I agree with helping out when you can, but we are not being allowed to in this case because of health and safety concerns we might get run down.’

Catherine Broad, 54, who lives near the war memorial, said she was appalled the offer had been turned down. ‘When we are encouraged to dig in and help as part of Big Society, you would think this is exactly what is meant.’

Last year Bucknell Women’s Institute in Shropshire was told to complete a risk assessment despite having tended to the garden at the village railway station without an accident in 25 years.

And in 2004 the WI was banned from bringing home-made cakes into Saffron Walden Community Hospital, Essex, for patients because members’ kitchens had not been inspected.


Do Kids Prefer Playmates of Same Ethnicity?

Finding: "Birds of a feather flock together"

Multicultural daycares don't necessarily foster a desire for kids of visibly different ethnicities to play together. A study on Asian-Canadian and French-Canadian preschoolers has found these children may have a preference to interact with kids of their own ethnic group. Led by researchers from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, the findings are published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

"We found Asian-Canadian and French-Canadian children seemed to prefer interacting with kids of the same ethnic background," says Nadine Girouard, a research associate in the Concordia Department of Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH). "Both groups were more interactive with children of the same ethnicity and, when matched with kids from another background, preferred solitary play."

This study builds on previous investigations that have shown preschoolers prefer to play with children of the same ethnic group. The research team also observed how multicultural playmates could influence conflict among peers of the same ethnicity -- findings that contradict previous studies. "We observed that Asian-Canadian children frequently removed or attempted to remove toys from each other," explains Girouard. "When interacting with peers of the same ethnicity, Asian-Canadian pre-schoolers were more competitive."

Participants were recruited from six daycares located in Montreal and its suburbs: 30 mostly, second-generation Asian-Canadians and 30 French-Canadians. Children were paired with peers they had known for at least three months. According to the research team, social mores likely prompted a lack of interaction between cultures. "Asian-Canadian children talked less and they chose non-verbal ways to interact and collaborate," says Girouard.

French-Canadian children used longer sentences when interacting with same-ethnic peers, yet decreased their verbal interactions when playing with Asian-Canadian peers. "Children of both groups adapted their behaviours by speaking less in the case of French-Canadian children and by speaking more in the case of Asian-Canadian children," says coauthor Dale Stack, a professor in the Concordia Department of Psychology and CRDH member.

"Consistent with some past research, self-expression and social initiation are highly valued in Canadian culture, self-restraint and cooperation may be more important in Chinese and Asian-Canadian culture and this has an impact on multicultural peer interactions," she continues.


Britain's useless justice system -- too soft to be any deterrent

More than 150 rapists freed early from prison went on to rape again

Ministry of Justice statistics revealed last night the shocking extent to which sexual predators are re-offending, many after being freed from prison early.

The figures were described as ‘astonishing and alarming’, and prompted calls for tougher sentences for violent sex attackers.
Casebook of the serial offenders

Critics demanded better monitoring of dangerous offenders to ensure they cannot repeatedly commit horrendous crimes.

The disclosure comes after a storm of protest over Government plans to halve jail terms for rapists and other violent offenders who admit their guilt.

Ministers performed a U-turn over the proposal last month, but suspicion remains that judges are under pressure to reduce sentences and release offenders early as the Ministry of Justice seeks to cut millions of pounds from its budget.
Casebook of the serial offenders

Since 2006, a total of 154 convicted rapists have been jailed a second time for the same crime. It means these repeat sex attackers are responsible for around one in every 30 rapes.

The official data also shows a sharp increase in the numbers of rapists released from prison every year, and that more are serving less than half their sentence.

The figures were revealed in response to parliamentary questions by Conservative MP Priti Patel. Last night she said: ‘The public will be astonished and alarmed by these facts.

‘This is more evidence that these people should get longer sentences to be kept off the streets. ‘It is concerning that some of these rapists are being released too early and then going on to commit more crimes and causing untold extra trauma for their victims.’

Anti-rape campaigners said the protections put in place to stop dangerous criminals reoffending were obviously not working.

Angie Conroy, of Rape Crisis, said: ‘It may cost more for longer sentences and better offender programmes but the alternative is the cost to society of more rape attacks.’

A teenager known only as Emily, who was raped by convicted offender Alan Weston, said: ‘Rapists need longer sentences, not shorter ones. These people ruin the lives of others and they should not be allowed the same privileges the rest of us have.’

Emily, who suffered a nightmare ordeal lasting for 15 hours after she was snatched off the street, said her parents still become anxious whenever she goes out, calling and texting her constantly for details of her whereabouts. ‘It really upsets me to see the way it still affects my family,’ she said. ‘We are all still paying a price. Victims of rape and their families get a life sentence, so why don’t the rapists?’

The Ministry of Justice statistics show that a total of 4,960 criminals were convicted for rape attacks in the last five years. Of those, 154 – or around three per cent – had already been convicted of rape. More than one in ten already had a record for some form of sex attack. The figures also show a total of 769 rapists were released from prison last year, compared with 515 five years earlier.

Sentencing rules mean anyone sentenced to a fixed prison term short of life is automatically released at the halfway point.

There has also been a sharp rise in the number of offenders let out without having served even half their jail term. Last year 86 rapists served less than 50 per cent of their sentence, compared with just 15 in 2001.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Anyone who commits a serious, violent or sexual offence should, and will continue to, receive a long prison sentence. ‘We work to minimise the risk posed by offenders in the community through continuous risk assessment and management.’



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, 2011

From human rights to the EU, the tide's turning against the liberal thought police

By Melanie Phillips

Might the tectonic plates of British politics be beginning to shift just a fraction towards a state approximating to reality?

The Home Office is shortly to publish a discussion paper about rethinking one section of human rights legislation. This is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’.

Increasingly, it is being used by foreign criminals and illegal immigrants to dodge deportation by claiming they have the right to family life in the UK.

But other parts of human rights legislation cause just as much trouble — such as Article 3, which bans inhuman treatment, and which has been similarly used to paralyse deportations of undesirables.

To bring to an end the grotesque carnival of injustice and erosion of Britain’s security caused by human rights law, Britain would have to leave the Human Rights Convention altogether, or at the very least officially derogate from whole sections of the treaty.

But the Government has so far been extremely reluctant to embark on either course, due to the likely political and legal repercussions.

Human rights law is not the only issue on which it has been reluctant to face up to necessary hard choices and where the ground seems to be shifting rapidly.

Scarcely a day passes without some fresh and outrageous imposition upon Britain by the EU: a rise in its budget forcing Britain to cough up another £1.4 billion each year; threats to the hard-won British rebate; yet more invidious and crippling taxes.

And all this on top of the steady erosion of British self-government by the unceasing tsunami of European laws, rules and regulations.

Such is the mayhem being caused by human rights law and the EU that something rather significant is happening to British political life. Views hitherto derided as extreme and beyond the pale are becoming mainstream.

Only recently Lady Hale, a justice of the Supreme Court usually associated with overwhelmingly ‘progressive’ views, warned that the increasingly pervasive use of Britain’s Human Rights Act should be reined in. She also suggested that European human rights judges may have got it wrong by ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote. When an ultra-liberal such as Lady Hale voices such sentiments, it’s time to man the lifeboats!

Similarly, the view that Britain should leave the EU — once derided as the wittering of swivel-eyed, Little Englander fanatics — is being voiced by well beyond the usual suspects. Reportedly, two of David Cameron’s arch party ‘modernisers’, policy guru Steve Hilton and Policy Minister Oliver Letwin, say they think Britain should get out of the EU. And an ever-swelling number of Tory MPs appear to agree.

It is far too premature to say that the Prime Minister would even agree to derogating from the Human Rights Convention, let alone taking the far more explosive and separate step of leaving the EU.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable that, at the very least, it is becoming possible to have a debate about these propositions. For the terrible fact is that, until now, such a debate has been impossible because the Left-wing intelligentsia has ruthlessly shut it down.

This is true of a wide range of issues — such as immigration, multiculturalism, man-made global warming, equality and anti-discrimination laws, overseas aid and many more — on which only one viewpoint is permitted.

This has created a hidden iceberg of issues where the views of the people are not only ignored, but scorned as extreme or bigoted — and those who express them are accordingly deemed to be beyond the pale.

The results have been chilling. The equality agenda has deprived people with traditionalist religious views of the freedom to live according to their precepts.

Worse still, adherents of the ‘one view’ agenda lose their ability to tell right from wrong and truth from lies — and so end up justifying their own wrongdoing as a moral act.

This was vividly illustrated by the scandal over the leaked emails from the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, which revealed that prominent proponents of man-made global warming theory had tried to suppress the evidence that the world was getting cooler rather than warmer.

What was so remarkable was that they did so because they believed unshakeably that any challenge to their own viewpoint was simply impossible. So faced with evidence that actually busted their theory wide open, they felt morally justified in manipulating the data to shore up their own agenda.

The point about the Left-wingers who police and thus control our public debate is this: they believe above all else that they alone occupy the moral high ground. They thus divide the world into good and bad. Only their own view is to be permitted; any dissent is by definition evil.

So all dissenters are Right-wing, all Right-wingers are evil and all who oppose the liberal consensus are therefore evil Right-wingers who must be damned as beyond the pale.

This is, of course, a totally closed thought process, similar to the totalitarian tyrannies imposed by the medieval Church or Stalinism. Yet this monstrous repudiation of reason has effectively hijacked public debate. So how on earth can this have happened to Britain? In brief, it has been caused by a number of factors.

There was the onslaught by secularism upon Christianity and the moral codes of the Hebrew Bible.

There was the demoralisation of the political and intellectual elites after World War II, caused by the near bankruptcy of Britain and the end of Empire.

There was the resulting loss of belief in the nation. And so the elites were vulnerable to the ultra-Left ‘long march through the institutions’ that aimed to capture the citadels of the culture and turn all its values upside-down and inside-out.

The outcome was that Britain’s whole centre of political gravity shifted, as what was formerly considered ultra- Left thinking became deemed mainstream while what was formerly mainstream was labelled ‘Right-wing’. You have only to listen to BBC group- think to realise how completely all this has been achieved.

One result is that language itself has been hijacked. Words such as ‘rights’, ‘justice’, ‘tolerance’, ‘liberal’ and ‘centre ground’ have come to mean their precise opposite.

And argument has been replaced by gratuitous abuse and insults, such as ‘institutionally racist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘extremist’ or ‘mad’.

There is, of course, nothing remotely extreme or bigoted about wanting your country to govern itself, or for the justice system to protect people against wrong-doers, or for your country to uphold its ancient traditions and laws. On the contrary, these are all main- stream aspirations that have been denied systematically.

We are, in short, living through a terrifying erosion of freedom of expression and dissent of any kind, and an attack on thought and reason itself.

If ever there was an agenda for which conservatism was fitted, then dealing with all this is surely it. Conservatives spent much of the last century fighting off Soviet-style communism. But this bastard child of that creed is even more dangerous because it has undermined us from within.

The great task of politics is to reclaim politics for the long-suffering mainstream voters who find themselves disenfranchised.

Unfortunately, the Conservative Party has gone in the opposite direction, choosing instead to plant its standard on that Left-wing terrain masquerading as the centre ground.

The Government cannot deal with issues such as the EU or human rights law unless it addresses head-on this hijacking of language, morality and politics that threatens to engulf Britain and the west.

The prize would be great indeed for the politician who meets this, the supreme civilisational challenge of our times.


UK jobless have lost the work ethic, says Iain Duncan Smith report

Why work when the welfare state says you don't have to?

Jobless Britons have lost their work ethic, forcing bosses to employ migrants with a more conscientious attitude, a report has concluded. The study, by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, set up by Iain Duncan Smith, also called for a fourth ‘R’ – responsibility – to be added to schools’ traditional core subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, last week issued a plea for firms to take on more Britons, only for employers to say domestic labour lacked the work ethic of migrant workers.

Now his think-tank has supported that view, finding that, increasingly, bosses are unable to find reliable candidates among the British long-term unemployed – with two thirds saying they have turned down applicants for unskilled jobs because of a poor attitude. Employers, it concluded, see a good attitude to work and punctuality as more important than skills such as literacy and numeracy in securing a job.

Increasingly, they have been forced to turn to overseas workers, who are preferred because of their ‘motivation, capacity for hard work and ability to turn up for work on time’.

A survey carried out by the think-tank found that an overwhelming 82 per cent of employers rated attitude and work ethic as important when recruiting for ‘entry-level’ posts, compared to just 38 per cent who named literacy and numeracy.

Asked why they turned down applicants for unskilled jobs in sectors such as catering, manufacturing and retailing, some 62 per cent of employers cited ‘poor work attitude and ethic’ and 57 per cent ‘poor presentation’, compared with just 29 per cent who complained of a lack of academic skills. Jobs of this kind make up about one-third of the total workforce of 27million, but the report said many are taken by migrants.

Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of migrant workers has risen by 50 per cent, with the rise even more prominent among entry-level jobs. Around 80 per cent of the jobs created during Labour’s time in office went to immigrants, and official figures suggest numbers have risen since the Coalition took power last year.

The report said: ‘Many employers told us that they believe students should leave education “work-ready” and that currently too many students fall short. ‘Timekeeping, self-awareness, confidence, presentation, communication, teamwork and an ability to understand workplace relationships are too often below the standard required.’


The Dutch Ditch Multiculturalism

Doug Giles

Yep, the red light land of Heineken, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, legal weed, and 16 million bicycles has had enough of this multi-culti crud—especially as it pertains to the Creed of Tranquility. It appears as if the Dutch’s daftness in buying into the Kumbayah approach to relating with this wonderful, serene faith has bit ‘em in their own Euro butts.

Indeed, the sweet immigrants from Asia and Africa who, supposedly, simply wanted to expand the market for shawarma wraps in a fairer clime all of the sudden grew fangs when they got to Utrecht, became culturally defiant to Dutch distinctiveness and started killing the Netherlands’ national celebrities. Arnhem, we have a problem.

Garsh, who saw that comin’? Who’d a thunk it, Milly? Those criminal and cantankerous acts aimed at Dutch citizens are the mirror opposite of the PR that the PC police pummeled the Dutch with. Therefore now, because of the hell the greatest religion ever, ever, ever has levied on the land of levees, the Netherlands has been left with no other option but to say nevermore to multicultural yumminess.

To be specific, here is what’s going down from Ede to Amsterdam legislatively:

- The Dutch government is saying geen meer to multiculturalism because it has paved the way for the most amazing belief system ever to spawn parallel enclaves that hate the Dutch. Oops.

- On June 16th Dutch Minister of the Interior Piet Hein Donner tabled to parliament the official doc that states that both the government and the people are overwhelmingly sick and tired of the relativistic slop and are gonna shift gears and laud Dutch culture from here on out, and if any immigrant doesn’t like it they can kiss their chocolate sprinkles.

- In addition, the Dutch are not only refusing to play the nice game with zealots who loathe them but are also demanding obligatory integration to their norms, or you can say tot ziens to their windmills.

- All immigrants will be required to learn Dutch, and the Dutch authorities will not be lax with those who blow off Dutch ways and laws—which entails no more funky, full-face headgear for a certain awesome religion’s ladies, as well as no recognition of said special religion’s courts or laws.

- Also, the Dutch will not fund with exclusive monies the immigration of any group, especially those from the Religion of Calmness.

All of the above leads me to ask the following question of my fair readers in both the U.S. and abroad who are also experiencing, let’s say … challenges … with you-know-who: Have the Dutch gone crazy, or are they now where we infidels need to be?


Australia: NSW police to get power to lift the veil under new burqa laws

MUSLIM women who refuse to remove their burqas when ordered to by police face up to a year in jail after some of the world's toughest burqa laws were announced in NSW yesterday.

Police are to be given the power to force anyone to remove a face covering during routine traffic stops, if suspected of committing a crime or if they are considered a potential security risk.

If a woman defies police and refuses to remove her veil she could be jailed for up to a year or fined $5500. The penalties are in line with some of the world's toughest burqa rules. In France, where burqas are completely banned in public, women face fines of $202.

The unprecedented laws follow a furore over Carnita Matthews' refusal to remove her niqab - a full-length covering - when her car was pulled over by police.

Ms Matthews' conviction for making a false statement was overturned after a judge found he could not prove it was really her who made the statement, because her face was covered.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione called for the government to close the legal loophole that was preventing officers from identifying suspected criminals.

Premier Barry O'Farrell yesterday said there should be no discrimination - in favour of or against - any race when it came to helping police identify people suspected of criminal breaches.

"I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burqa, niqab, face veil or anything else - the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear," he said after a cabinet meeting.

Attorney-General Greg Smith is in charge of drafting the laws, which are expected to be introduced when parliament resumes in August.

Not every person who disobeys the police orders will be fined or sent to jail, with first offenders possibly given a warning. In a situation like Ms Matthews', a court will be able to apply a maximum sentence of 12 months and a $5500 fine.

Muslims Australia president Ikebal Patel said he supported the new laws but only for law enforcement purposes. "We are very supportive of any legislation required to ensure the law enforcements are not impaired," he said. "We would expect that this be done in a sensitive way."

Police previously had the power to ask women to remove veils during the investigation of serious offences but did not have such powers during routine car stops.



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, 2011

British class hatred

'I actually smiled when I saw they had double-barrelled surnames': Fury at columnist's crass Tweets about deaths of three gap-year boys

A newspaper journalist who cruelly mocked the the deaths of three teenagers killed on a gap year has been forced to apologise for her grossly insensitive comments on Twitter.

Guardian columnist Kia Abdullah tweeted that she had 'smiled' when she heard the news that students Max Boomgaarden-Cook, 20, Bruno Melling-Firth and Conrad Quashie, both 19, had died in a coach crash in Thailand.

The journalist, who has published a controversial book about paedophiles, asked her hundreds of followers if it was 'awful' that she felt no sympathy for the death of the three school friends, who had spent months saving for a tour of South-East Asia.

'Is it really awful that I don't feel any sympathy for anyone killed on a gap year?', she wrote. 'I actually smiled when I saw that they had double-barrelled surnames. Sociopath?'

Her flippant comments about the tragic deaths - just days after the boys died - received a torrent of disgusted Tweets.

Abdullah initially backtracked by deleting her insensitive Tweets, apologising for her 'stupid and heartless comments' and saying she 'should have known better'.

But the columnist then seemed to take a more defiant tone, insisting that she thought deleting her posts would be 'cowardly' but she was caving in to demand from shocked Tweeters, posting 'since the consensus is that I should, I will'.

She then appeared to recognise the anger surrounding her glib remarks, posting 'Rather glad I'm not on foursquare'; which is an application that lets people know online where the user is.

The News of the World reported that the grieving step-mother of Max, Madeleine Boomgaarden, used Twitter to respond to the contibuter's cruel jibes, telling her 'Your words have caused so much pain. 'As the step-mother of one of those boys whose Thai bus coach deaths you laughed at, hope you regret the pain & your career dented.'

The three gap-year students were killed in a road crash in Thailand just days after beginning their ‘trip of a lifetime’. The school friends had saved for months before setting off on a tour of South-East Asia.

They died instantly early on Tuesday last week when the coach in which they were travelling from Bangkok to the northern town of Chiang Mai was hit from behind by a bus.

Conrad, who had been due to start university in Manchester with Max in September, had celebrated his 19th birthday in the Thai capital on Saturday with his two friends and girlfriend Elisa Smith, who then flew back to London.

As a Twitter campaign was launched to persuade the Guardian website to ban Abdullah from writing for them, a spokesman for the newspaper said she was only an occasional contributor and they were not responsible for her.


More British social worker evil: Boy and girl put into care for months after social workers decide they can't cope with life... in YORKSHIRE

Social workers put two children in to foster care for months because they feared the youngsters would not be able to adapt to Yorkshire culture, it has emerged.

In what was described by one lawyer as one of the 'most bizarre' social services decisions they had ever encountered, the boy and girl were put into care in Hampshire 200 miles away from the White Rose county. Social workers believed the pair would feel 'isolated' if they were sent to live with a relative in the north.

However a lawyer has helped the West Yorkshire-based aunt of the children secure custody of them.

Nigel Priestley, senior partner with Ridley and Hall solicitors in Huddersfield, said: ‘Choosing to put children into foster care because of the "Yorkshire ‘culture" is one of the most bizarre social services decisions I have ever come across. ‘This case is an extreme example of the challenges that many kinship carers face.

‘All sorts of obstacles can be put in their way by social services but thankfully, my client had a very sensible judge and the support of an excellent legal team.’

The nine-month custody battle started last August, when the aunt applied to the courts to have her niece and nephew placed with her. But Hampshire Social Services decided not to place the children with her and the reason given was that the social worker didn’t think they could cope with ‘a different culture’.

The aunt, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was stunned when told the reason that her nephew and niece could not come and live with her. She herself had been brought up in Hampshire but moved to Kirklees several years ago, along with other family members.

She said: ‘The children had been in foster care for several months. They needed to be with their family at such a difficult time for them. ‘I put myself forward as a carer. I work. I have a loving family close by. I thought that, together, we could show them what real family life was like. They had had a tough time at home.

‘The court ordered an expert independent social worker to prepare an assessment of my ability to parent the children and she had no hesitation in supporting my application. ‘But to add insult to injury Hampshire ignored this assessment even though their own social worker decided that I could "provide a good level of care".

‘Their social worker decided that the children ‘had grown up within the southern region and couldn’t adapt to the change in area and culture’. ‘Apparently, speaking with a Southern accent would cause ‘difficulties and isolation’.’

Mr Priestley said: ‘I was born in Stalybridge, Cheshire, so I’m a comer-in but I have settled in Yorkshire. ‘The aunt has provided a great home for the children and they will adapt as children do.’


Britain's Chief Rabbi: Equality laws leading to new Mayflower exodus

New equality laws are forcing religious people to flee the country because they are being denied the freedom to live in accordance with their beliefs, the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has warned.

The Orthodox Jewish leader claimed that anti-discrimination policies had fuelled an “erosion of religious liberty" in Britain that was leading to a new “Mayflower”, a reference to the flight of the persecuted Pilgrim Fathers to America in the 17th century.

His comments follow growing alarm from leading religious figures over the increasing influence of equality laws. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has called on the Prime Minister to review equality legislation amid concerns that religious freedoms and Britain’s Christian heritage are under threat.

Speaking to the House of Commons public administration select committee, Lord Sacks said there was "no doubt'' numbers of religious believers in Britain were "extraordinarily'' low.

He continued: “I share a real concern that the attempt to impose the current prevailing template of equality and discrimination on religious organisations is an erosion of religious liberty. “We are beginning to move back to where we came in in the 17th century - a whole lot of people on the Mayflower leaving to find religious freedom elsewhere.”

The Pilgrim Fathers sailed on the Mayflower from Plymouth to America in 1620 to escape religious intolerance in England.

Charles Wookey, the assistant general secretary of the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales, told the MPs that religious organisations were struggling with “rapid social change”. This meant they were forced to alter practices that had been in place for many years, he said.

Recent months have seen a series of clashes of rights reach the courts as a result of equality legislation which was introduced under Labour and designed to prevent discrimination on the grounds of religion or sexuality.

Roman Catholic adoption agencies have closed because they cannot reconcile the requirements under the new laws with their belief that children should not be placed with gay couples.

In March, Owen and Eunice Johns, a Christian couple from Derby, were defeated in the High Court when they sought to overturn a ban on becoming foster carers which was imposed because their traditional beliefs meant they could never tell a child that homosexuality was acceptable.

In May, Margaret Forrester, a Catholic mental health worker, was sacked after a long disciplinary process which was launched because she shared a pro-Life booklet with a colleague.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, welcomed Lord Sacks’ remarks. “There has been a significant curtailing of religious freedom in this nation, due to the 'equalities' culture and the imposition of political correctness on the public,” she said. “These days, you can lose your job if you have 'incorrect' views. At the Christian Legal Centre we have 50 cases and have seen a number of Christians sacked or disciplined because of their beliefs.

“We were a nation admired the world over. Now people look at us in astonishment unable to believe that we have let such heritage slip so quickly and dramatically.”

However, secular campaigners described Lord Sacks’s comments as “fatuous in the extreme”. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called on the Chief Rabbi to withdraw his “foolish” statement and apologise for suggesting that his religion is not allowed to flourish in Britain. “If by religious freedom the Chief Rabbi means religious privilege, it is clear that he would be happier in some kind of theocracy,” he said.

“Rather than fleeing this country, he should thank his God that he lives here and knows that he and his people are safe and free to practice their religion within the law. “The equality laws that he disparages are a wonderful achievement and something that most people – including many Jews - welcome as progressive, just and long overdue.”


Radical Islamic leader scorns Australian troops fighting in Afghanistan

MUSLIMS "have an obligation" to target Australian troops in Afghanistan, an Islamic conference leader said. Branding the Afghan war a Western invasion, Uthman Badar, from the radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, said: "If our members exist in a country where an occupation has occurred, in capacity as individuals they would have an obligation to resist."

Asked directly if he condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Mr Badar replied: "If you are occupying someone else's land then those victimised people have the right to resist."

He also refused to condemn underhand tactics such as suicide bombing as long as "innocent, non-combatants" were not targeted.

He was speaking as hundreds of Muslims gathered in Lidcombe, in Sydney's west, to promote their call for the creation of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law, stretching from Spain to Australia. The group has been banned in many countries overseas, including parts of the Middle East. Although Hizb ut-Tahrir does not representmost of Muslims in Australia, it has a growing following here.

While Australian forces joined the war in Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and fight the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mr Badar said the Australian Government had no business being there. "You have no business in interfering with the people of the Muslim world," he said. "Military occupation should be resisted militarily. People there have a right to resist."

But Islamic Friendship Association of Australia chairman Keysar Trad said the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir were not shared by most mainstream Australian Muslims. "We would like to see the conflict in Afghanistan resolved peacefully and Australian troops return home safely," he said.

Outside the conference, police were forced to call for reinforcements, including the dog squad, when a group of about a dozen members of the Australian Protectionist Party chanting "no sharia law in Australia" almost came to blows with young men from the Hizb ut-Tahrir event.

Protest organiser and APP NSW chairman Darrin Hodges said: "Hizb ut-Tahrir have been banned in most Islamic countries in the Middle East. We don't understand why they haven't been banned 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.


3 July, 2011

Atheists to Fly July 4 Airplane Banners in 27 States: ‘God-LESS America,‘ ’Atheism is Patriotic’

It's pleasing that atheists can be patriotic too but this campaign seems more designed to provoke than anything else. Contrary to the claim, atheists are hardly marginalized. They have their own political party in fact: The Democratic Party

Get ready, America. This upcoming July 4 is about more than simply celebrating our nation’s founding. Apparently, it’s also an opportunity for Atheists to set the record straight about their patriotism.

Thus, on Monday, people in 27 states will have the opportunity to look up in the sky and see airplanes flying banners that proudly say “God-LESS America“ or ”Atheism is Patriotic.” The campaign, being organized by the New Jersey-based American Atheists, is sure to stoke the fires of controversy. CNN has more:
“I’m a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too,” Blair Scott, who calls himself a proud atheist, proclaimed. “This America belongs to everyone.”

Blair, the communications director for the New Jersey-based American Atheists, said atheists in the United States often feel alienated and face accusations of being anti-American because of their lack of belief in God. To combat those notions, his group is using Independence Day to say atheists love their country, too.

But, the campaign hasn‘t even been implemented yet and it’s already off to a rocky start. According to Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, the guy who helped organize the nation-wide blitz, of the 85 people in the nation who are able to fly these banner-bearing planes, only 17 agreed to participate. The fear of public reaction and the confines of personal religious belief led the majority of these individuals to refuse service.

SeattleWeekly.com has more:
Scott… tells Seattle Weekly that in larger cities and more liberal areas, he had no trouble finding pilots to take the banners to the sky. But in Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and other conservative states like Montana, Kansas, and Utah, there apparently wasn’t a single pilot to be found who would fly a banner promoting atheism.

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims that this reaction perfectly illustrates why the organization has more work to do. He says:

“This is a clear reminder of why we need to keep fighting because the bigotry against us is so thick that a lot of the pilots are afraid to fly our banners.”

American Atheists claim that the campaign is about showing the country that atheists are patriotic people too. But, these signs may end up being the catalyst for more friction between non-believers and religious adherents.


On the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon, why won't Britain be celebrating Waterloo?

The 200th anniversary of Waterloo, one of Britain’s greatest military triumphs, will pass with barely a murmur of commemoration, according to details slipped out by ministers.

There will be no national celebration of the battle in which Napoleon was finally overthrown to mark its bicentennial in four years.

Instead, there will be only ‘initiatives’ at army museums and ‘some commemorative activity’ at former homes of the Duke of Wellington, who led the British into battle.

The decision to play down the anniversary in June 2015 contrasts with the major events organised to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007.

They included a memorial service at Westminster Abbey and an apology on behalf of the nation by then prime minister Tony Blair.

It also appears to be a retreat from the attitude to the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005, which was widely celebrated.

Yesterday MPs and peers condemned the failure to mark the Waterloo anniversary. Lord Laird, the crossbench Ulster peer who drew the admission from ministers, said: ‘I am disappointed. There should be a national event about Waterloo. It would be good for tourism and teaching history.

'People who don’t understand history are like children, doomed to be always going round in circles.’

Waterloo, fought a few miles south of Brussels on June 18, 1815, marked the final destruction of Napoleon’s army and the end of his bloody 16-year reign as dictator of France and much of Europe. Often regarded as the

British Army’s greatest victory under its greatest general, it led to a generation of peace in Europe and kept Britain free of war on the continent for a century.

Baroness Rawlings, a junior minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is in charge of marking the anniversary, told peers: ‘Initiatives are being organised by a number of national and regional military museums to mark the occasion, including the National Army Museum and relevant regimental museums, which come under the remit of the Ministry of Defence.’

She added: ‘There is also likely to be some commemorative activity at associated heritage sites such as Apsley House, the home of the Duke of Wellington, and Walmer Castle.’

Critics of the low-key approach believe underplaying the significance of the event may be influenced by apprehensions over the reaction in France and modern-day Brussels, where some regard Napoleon as a champion of European unity.

Education expert Robert Whelan, from the Civitas think-tank, said: ‘Waterloo is a battle of the most immense importance, not just for the Britain, but for the whole of Europe.

‘Britain was fighting a dictator who had conquered Europe with a loss of life comparable to that in the Second World War. If we had not resisted, history would have been very different.

‘Why are we not thinking of building something like the Millennium Dome to mark the event? You can hardly overstate its importance.’

Tory MP and former Army officer Julian Brazier said: ‘The French co-operated in the celebrations of the Trafalgar anniversary. Sometimes people who think the French do not like us to commemorate our military victories mistake the psyche of that nation.’

A spokesman for the DCMS said: ‘A Government-endorsed Waterloo 200 committee, which includes historians and other interested parties, has been established for a number of years and is considering how the anniversary might be marked.’


Sex at Work?

Frank Turek

Are you supposed to have sex at work? I guess it depends on your profession, but for most of us the answer is “no.” Why then is corporate America obsessed with training about sex?

As described in several recent columns by Mike Adams, I was fired as a vendor by Cisco for my conservative beliefs about sex and marriage even though my beliefs were never expressed on the job. When a homosexual manager found out on the Internet that I had authored a book giving evidence that maintaining our current marriage laws would be best for society, he couldn’t tolerate me and requested I be fired. An HR executive canned me within hours without ever speaking to me. This happened despite the fact that the leadership and teambuilding programs I led always received high marks (even from the homosexual manager!).

How could an experienced HR professional commit such a blatant act of discrimination unless the Cisco culture was decidedly tilted left? Why didn’t Cisco’s relentless emphasis and training on “inclusion and diversity” serve to prevent this? Maybe it’s because “inclusion and diversity” means something different to corporate elites than to normal Americans. That’s why their training didn’t prevent the problem but actually created an environment of intolerance that led to the problem.

Cisco’s chief “Inclusion and Diversity” officer, Ms. Marilyn Nagel, had trouble on the phone defining what “inclusion and diversity” actually means at Cisco, so she sent me several links from the Cisco website. As in our conversation, I found no specific definition on the website but plenty of platitudes, such as Cisco is committed to “valuing and encouraging different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas.”

If that’s the case, then why not value my “perspectives, styles, thoughts and ideas?”

Because only certain perspectives, styles, thoughts and ideas are approved, you see. “Inclusion and diversity” to corporate elites actually means exclusion for those that don’t agree with the approved views. Whoops, there goes “diversity.”

Shouldn’t the real intent of Cisco’s value of “inclusion and diversity” be to ensure that people in that diverse workforce work together cordially and professionally even when they inevitably disagree on certain political, moral or religious questions? It would seem so. In a large multicultural workforce, people need to work together despite political or religious differences. That’s a noble and necessary goal. It’s totalitarian, however, to subject people to “diversity” training and corporate sponsorships that go beyond teaching respect for people to advocacy of what they do in bed.

All employees should treat one another with kindness and respect because they are fellow human beings, not because of their sexual behavior. If people are to be respected simply on the basis of their behavior, then none of us qualify for respect because we have all behaved badly on occasion.

So instead of trying to force all employees to accept any sexual behavior—especially something as controversial as homosexuality—the inclusion and diversity police should be urging us to treat all people with respect simply because we are human beings. That’s all you need to be productive at work anyway.

But as soon as you start telling people from different religious and cultural backgrounds what they must think about homosexuality, you will offend and create conflict andr resentment. As a Christian, I am commanded to respect all people. That’s what I was doing at Cisco. But don’t tell me that I have to respect and celebrate what people do in bed. Don’t tell me that I must violate my conscience or my God in order to make widgets. That’s not only immoral and un-American; it’s manipulative and stupid. How does accepting homosexual behavior have anything to do with job productivity? Are we supposed to have sex at work?

There simply is no business reason to judge my beliefs about sexual behavior or anyone else’s. And even if some corporate nanny could dream up a reason, it would not justify the assault on an employee’s conscience or religion.

Notice that Cisco did not have a problem with my behavior. My job performance was deemed excellent, and I was “inclusive and diverse” by working in a respectful manner with people of all moral, religious and political views.

Cisco had a problem with my thoughts. Although I certainly accepted homosexuals, I committed the thought crime of disagreeing with homosexual behavior and homosexual political goals. So despite all their talk about “inclusion and diversity,” Cisco deemed my thoughts about something irrelevant to the workplace as grounds for immediate exclusion. Do you think they would have excluded me if I had pro-same-sex marriage thoughts? Of course not—that’s an approved view that Cisco actually sponsors (even though they deny it).

But people who don’t accept homosexual behavior don’t have to work at Cisco then!

True, they don’t. But if Cisco or any other company wants to make it a requirement that every employee and vendor personally accept the behavior of homosexuality or homosexual political goals such as same-sex marriage, then tell us directly. Broadcast it to the world. Cisco can’t and won’t because such a requirement would be a clear violation of the religious protections codified in the Civil Rights Act, and it would result in a mass exodus of employees and customers.

Instead, they create an oppressive culture of political correctness under the false banner of “inclusion and diversity” to achieve the same ends. They tell the world that they value and encourage “different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas” while they punish or intimidate into silence people who have “different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas.” While Cisco executives would never admit this, their actions reveal this twisted truth: Cisco values homosexual behavior more than honesty, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

Is it the same at your workplace? Are you tired of having to hide your conservative or religious beliefs as if you live in a totalitarian state rather than America? If you continue to cower in silence before an intolerant militant minority, it will only get worse. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.” It’s time to do something—speak up.


Australia: Homosexuals are more important than remembering those who gave their lives for others???

Anzac Day is Australia's day of remembrance for those who have fallen in war

ACTING Chief Commissioner Ken Lay faces a revolt from rank-and-file members over their right to be paid to march in a gay-pride parade, but not on Anzac Day. Officers are paid to support the gay event, but not for participating on Anzac Day, unless they have served overseas in the military or as peacekeepers.

The police union argues all former military or peacekeeping personnel, regardless of service overseas, should be paid if they march on Anzac Day.

Victoria Police command did not respond to questions about whether the policy might change. But a police spokeswoman said paid leave to march for non-overseas ex-service people was being considered.

Police Association secretary Greg Davies said the union was pushing for the change during enterprise bargaining negotiations. He said if officers could march on full pay in the Gay and Lesbian Pride parade, it was "one in, all in" and former military staff who had not served overseas should be paid to take part in the Anzac parade.

Under former boss Simon Overland all officers could participate in the gay march. Attendance is classified as being on duty, according to the Police Gazette. But officers who were not former military or peacekeepers with overseas experience had to take time off to march on Anzac Day.

Victoria Police argued officers had attended the gay march since 2002 and it "significantly" improved the "trust, confidence and co-operation" with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

Mr Davies said the rules were discriminatory. He said the RSL was now the Returned and Services League rather than Returned Services League, and recognised all military personnel.



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, 2011

La rue to serfdom

Meegan Cornforth

Celebrity fashion designer John Galliano’s trial for a drunken anti-Semitic tirade is yet another blow to freedoms in France, where it’s illegal to publicly make offensive remarks ‘based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.'

Being racist and offensive is obnoxious, mean-spirited, ignorant and anti-social. It should not, however, be defined as a criminal act. A free society needs to have a sufficiently thick skin to withstand the rants of a racist drunk, and insulted individuals the courage to respond peacefully.

The insulted individual in this instance, Geraldine Bloch, is seeking just €1 in damages on moral grounds. ‘What we are after is an expression of regret and an excuse for what has happened,’ her lawyer stated. Her motive may be laudable, but it should not be the role of the courts to extract apology for hurt feelings. (Her boyfriend, apparently, is not quite so commendable – he is allegedly suing for an undisclosed but substantial sum.)

The controversy has led to Galliano’s dismissal as creative director at the house of Dior, and he has been strongly and publicly rebuked by actress Natalie Portman (and many others) for his anti-Semitic remarks. A spokesmodel for the Dior brand, Portman has refused to have any further association with Galliano, and is boycotting his designs, thus encouraging others to do the same.

This is civil society – albeit high society – in action, responding to unacceptable behavior. State interference in this case is unwarranted, superfluous and detrimental to freedom of speech and individual responsibility.

Galliano’s defence – addiction, depression and drink – obscures the real issue of the right to speak freely. This cornerstone of liberty is often ignored in attempts to be inclusive and politically correct.

Friedrich Hayek wrote his seminal work, The Road to Serfdom, in response to government reactions against the privations and economic hardships that resulted from World War II. State control and socialism were being rapidly accepted as a way of safeguarding economic, national and individual security. Hayek warned against this, writing, ‘from the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.'

We must indeed be vigilant against any repetition of the anti-Semitic atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, which Galliano referenced in his insults. But we must also be vigilant against a slow and unwitting creep towards oppression. France has even outlawed insulting one’s spouse. Where will it end? Suppressing free speech, however unpleasant, is a move towards authoritarianism and away from freedom. When the state steps in with its massive boots – be they Dior or hobnail – liberties get trampled.

John Galliano deserves the public’s condemnation, not a criminal sentence.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 1 July. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Lesbians-only housing in the Australian State of Victoria. Is this legal?

What about Victoria's strict anti-discrimination laws? I guess they can be "bent" for favoured groups. Under the same laws a Christian pastor was persecuted for LAUGHING at verses from the Koran

AS an older lesbian, Thelma Tapp was becoming anxious about ageing. She had heard stories of discrimination and homophobia inside nursing homes. But thanks to a new social housing project in Brunswick it is likely she will not have to face it.

The housing, for lesbians aged over 65 experiencing housing stress, is believed to be the first of its type in Australia. It was developed by the Matrix Guild of Victoria and the Victorian Women’s Housing Association.

The three, two-bedroom units in a complex in Albert St are wheelchair accessible, making them suitable for ageing tenants.

Thelma (not her real name) and two other women will be able to rent the units for one quarter of their income for as long as they wish. On the open market, the units would fetch about $350 a week - the equivalent of Thelma’s entire income.

A workplace injury has left her unlikely to work again and she had been homeless for 18 months, so the prospect of affordable long-term accommodation was a huge relief. “I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity and for the first time in 18 months I can finally call somewhere home,” she said.

Matrix will also put her in touch with other lesbians living in the inner-north. “I’m not going to be lonely,” she said. “It’s just been life changing.”

Matrix Guild housing convener Anneke Deutsch said its mission to provide affordable housing to older lesbians began years ago in response to reports of discrimination in aged-care facilities.

“When older women are vulnerable and reliant on people who might be homophobic doing personal care, often women prefer to stay closeted than be out,” she said. “We started off wanting to have an aged-care facility, but that’s a huge amount of work and we found most older lesbians wanted to live in their own homes.”

There are no statistics on the number of number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people over 65 in Australia. But given they make up about 10 per cent [Bollocks! More like 2%] of the population, there would be about 240,000, based on 2002 figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Ms Deutsch said housing stress was common among older lesbians because many had acquired little wealth. Ms Deutsch hoped the Brunswick project, dedicated to former member Heather Chapple whose $300,000 bequest helped fund the project, was the first of many.


Make this monster-in-law a minister!

By Amanda Platell (A prominent Conservative journalist in her mid-50s)

Carolyn Bourne has been branded as a snooty, toxic mother-in-law from hell after the venomous email she sent her future daughter-in-law, castigating her for a catalogue of social misdemeanours during a recent visit, was circulated on the internet.

Mrs Bourne’s supporters claim she has been unfairly vilified and that Heidi Withers, the object of her derision, is a spoilt, ill-mannered ladette who thoroughly deserved the opprobrium.

That didn’t stop Miss Withers’s father blasting back, calling Mrs Bourne a ‘snotty Miss Fancy Pants’.

In truth, neither side emerges from the unedifying spectacle with much dignity, but one thing is clear: no matter whose side you take, this very public spat is indicative of the gradual erosion of good manners and respect for others right across society.

Carolyn Bourne highlighted the fact that Heidi Withers didn’t know how to conduct herself as a guest in someone’s home. That’s just the tip if the iceberg. Today people also don’t know how to conduct themselves on the street, in supermarkets, restaurants or on public transport.

You don’t have to search hard for the evidence. Each morning, my day begins collecting the coffee cups, cigarette packs and food wrappings thrown into my garden by passers-by too lazy and ill-mannered to put their detritus in a bin.

After the weekend, the heath near my home resembles a landfill site, strewn with the empty beer cans, plastic cups and even used nappies left by visitors for someone else to clear up.

That’s just one small symptom of a wider malaise: the total lack of care or consideration for others that is endemic right across Britain.

When I arrived in this country from Australia, 26 years ago, one of the most striking things was the courtesy of all those I encountered.

The ‘pleases’ and the ‘thank yous’; the way people quietly queued for their turn; the thoughtfulness towards the elderly, even if they were total strangers.

Back then, no pregnant woman would ever be found standing on a crowded train, just as no house guest would ever dream of failing to write a thank-you note.

Look at Britain now.

However insensitive her email to her daughter-in-law may have been, you’ve got to admit Mrs Bourne had a point. And she wasn’t afraid to make a stand for the values she believed in. We could do with people like her in government.


Britain has censorship by elites

Recent coverage of celebrities’ sexual antics has been puerile, but it should not be judges who decide what we read -- but there is a certain inevitability about the son of a Fascist leader (Mosley) arguing for censorship

Speaking last night at a packed-to-the-rafters Index on Censorship event, ‘Injunctions are a necessary evil - privacy, free speech and a feral press’, Max Mosley, former head of Formula 1 motor racing, clearly did not think that his sex life, picturesque though it might be, was something the public needed to know about. Sat next to Mosley, Hugh Tomlinson QC was only too keen to agree. And well he might: Tomlinson’s most famous recent case involved the forlorn attempts of Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs to keep his lusty liaisons out of public view. ‘Private infidelities’, Tomlinson concurred, ‘should only be disclosed when there is some justification for the disclosure’.

And for Mosley and Tomlinson, that is the problem. Too frequently there is too little justification for the privacy-flaunting revelations that constitute – to use one of last night’s laziest tropes – ‘tabloid’ news. It is a familiar argument. Stories of steamy bedroom romps, usually involving more than two people and complete with ghost-written ‘in their own words’ blow-by-blow accounts, do not enlighten us or expose some incredibly important wrongdoing. Such tales are merely titillation for the rest of us. That is why, as Mosley put it, both he and Tomlinson have ‘no problem with injunctions’. They are simply ‘necessary evils’ to stop the press from turning the private, perfectly legal behaviour of individuals into public entertainment. Mosley even violated polite liberal etiquette and defended the right to privacy of evil-banker-in-chief, Sir Fred Goodwin, whose adultery was outed in parliament earlier this year: ‘[A disclosure that was] no more in the public interest than if Fred Goodwin played a round of golf’, said Mosley.

Of course, this defence of injunctions, this defence of the judiciary’s right to stop certain stories from being published, always goes hand in hand with a nominal defence of the freedom of the press. It’s just that the ‘press must not abuse their power’ as Mosley puts it. Or, as Tomlinson argues, it is about ‘boundaries’, about knowing where the freedom to speak about an individual’s behaviour ends and the freedom to have a private life begins. This is not an easy thing to judge when it comes to specific cases, they argue, which is why we need the judiciary to do the judging for us.

And here we come to the legal thicket that only the most perspicacious among us, ie, judges, can cut through. It’s an onerous task and no mistake. You see, our bewigged betters have to balance what are two contradictory principles, two principles that, since the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law in 1998, are seemingly equally compelling: freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

Weighing up the merits of both sides, the press on one, the privacy-shielding individual on the other, is no doubt difficult, especially when the law protects both. It might even vex those who are apparently the wisest members of society: judges.

But looked at in a different way, this public-vaulting, comprehension-defying contradiction is easily resolved. For the difficulty only exists from the perspective of the state and its judicial institutions. That is, one needs to stop seeing freedom in terms of the state. One needs to stop seeing freedom, reified in the form of human right - be it freedom of speech or a right to privacy - as things that the state provides and withdraws as it sees fit. Instead one needs to adopt the perspective of our freedom versus the state – our freedom to speak our minds, our freedom to speak truth to power. And we also need to have a bit more faith in our own powers of judgement, our ability, for example, to decide among ourselves whether so-and-so’s sex life is any of our business.

But that faith in our ability to exercise our freedom was in such short supply last night, with one exception: David Price QC, a lawyer whose most high-profile client is Imogen Thomas, the former beauty queen and Big Brother contestant who alleges she had an affair with Giggs. As he put it, the problem is that ‘Judges decide what you can and what you cannot read – that is censorship’. It is absurd, he continued, to have judges who ‘are unlikely to read the Daily Mail determining what the masses can and cannot read’. The people that should be making the judgments rather ‘are those buying the papers’.

The problem for Price was that so pervasive was the gentle contempt for the so-called masses at last night’s event, that many of his sorties against the power of the judiciary over our freedom were met by sniggers and guffaws. This contempt was rarely explicitly articulated; it operated by stealth and association. So when Mosley said that ‘if we don’t have the courts [making the decisions]’ then such judgements will be left to ‘tabloid enterprises’ - organisations that have carried out ‘systematic criminality’ - there was massive applause. Yet when people attack the tabloids, or, to use another favourite refrain from last night, ‘The Murdoch Empire’, what they are really attacking are tabloid readers and the willing dupes of The Murdoch Empire. Every round of applause for a dig at the tabloids and Murdoch was implicitly a self-congratulatory dig at the tabloid-consuming, Murdoch-seduced masses.

So popular was masses-bashing, that Mosley - a man far removed from the people - was coming across as an incredibly entertaining raconteur by the end of the night. ‘People that buy the News of the World do so because they have an inadequate sex life. I can’t think of any other reason for it’, he harrumphed to gales of laughter. But in that laughter, in the enjoyment of Mosley, there was a depressing dismissal of the freedom and judgment of those who don’t read the Guardian. That is, the people that read tabloids. The people don’t see The Murdoch Empire For The Evil That It Is. The people whose lives are so mundane, whose sex lives are so bland, that they can’t get enough of others’ peccadilloes on a Sunday morning.

If you don’t have faith in the powers of judgement of the wider population – the People - and trust only judges, you will never make a cogent case for freedom of speech.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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, 2011

Generation gap over etiquette

The mother in law below is perfectly correct and gives good advice about traditional British etiquette but young people tend to live in an "anything goes" world where such standards are like something from Mars.

It might be noted that the point of etiquette is to smooth over social relations and its basis is consideration of others. A British advice columnist sees the matter similarly

After having read the uncouth and unwise remarks of the father of the bride, however, there may also be a social class divide (as well as a generational divide) at work -- a hugely tense issue in Britain. The columnist I linked to above has some remarks on that

"Pray silence for the best man who will read out the mother-in-law's emails"

As any bride-to-be knows, making a good impression on one’s future mother-in-law is vital in ensuring that the big day goes according to plan. So when Heidi Withers received a vitriolic email apparently from her fiancé’s step-mother, accusing her of a lack of manners, it was clear she had not got off on the right foot.

Unfortunately things got a great deal worse when she forwarded the stern email to some of friends - who astonished by its tone - decided to give it a wider audience. In no time at all the email had gone viral, becoming an internet sensation, and reaching tens of thousands of readers.

Problems began when Miss Withers, 28, a PA, who lives with her fiancé Freddie Bourne in Fulham, west London, visited his parents at their home in Dawlish, Devon. Following the visit, Freddie’s step-mother, Carolyn Bourne, 60, a celebrated flower breeder, apparently fired off an email to her future daughter-in-law accusing her of being uncouth, rude and graceless.

The email said: “It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

It went on: “Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace.”

It added: “If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.” The email said Miss Withers’ behaviour had been so rude that it had left the family dog, Bomber, traumatized, depressed and anxious.

Listing a litany of alleged transgressions, the email accused Miss Withers of staying in bed too late; complaining about the food; cracking inappropriate jokes about the family and failing to send a card thanking them for their hospitality. It also said: "You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why...It is vulgar.”

In addition Mrs Bourne apparently criticised her future daughter-in-law’s plans for the wedding and said her aspirations were outstripping her finances.

The email said: “No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour. “I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that...) “If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.”

And in a stinging pay-off she apparently remarked: “One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.”

Mr Bourne, 29, who runs an online bicycle shop, Capital Cycles, refused to comment on the email last night but conceded the matter had been discussed within the family. He said: “Obviously this has been discussed within the family but we are not commenting other than that.” Mr Bourne would not comment on whether the wedding was still going ahead.

Meanwhile Mrs Bourne, who runs Whetman Pinks Ltd nursery near Dawlish in Devon, also refused to be drawn on the content of the stinging email. Yesterday she was attending a Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) plant show at Stonleigh Park, Coventry, with her husband Edward.

Mr Bourne said: “We are aware of what is being said. I know it is very boring, very repetitive and very dull but we will not be making any comment and neither will my wife.”

Miss Withers, who has a 23-year-old sister, September, was keeping a low profile last night and there was no sign of her at the flat she shares with her fiancé. Her parents, Alan and Sylvia, who live in Ledbury, Herefordshire, were also not available for comment last night.

Miss Withers and Mr Bourne have been together for several years and enjoyed an extensive trip across the United States in 2009.
The letter

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.

If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.

Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.

Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

* When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

* When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.

* You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.

* You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.

* You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.

* No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.)

If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.


Day Britain defied the militants: Schools are hit hard, but chaos elsewhere fails to materialise

Militant union leaders yesterday failed in their plans to bring Britain to a grinding halt. Only schools suffered serious disruption as hundreds of thousands of teachers walked out in strikes across the country. But the promised paralysis of the public sector machine failed to materialise.

Official estimates suggest up to eight in ten civil servants heeded calls to keep the country moving by going to work despite industrial action over pension reforms.

Downing Street insisted there had been 'minimal disruption' at border checkpoints, courts, driving test centres, coastguard stations, job centres and benefit call centres.

At the Ordnance Survey, of 1,118 civil servants, only one went on strike, while 90 per cent of staff at the Department for Communities and Local Government crossed the picket line.

However, officers had to be taken off patrol in London to replace the 95 per cent of 999 call handlers who abandoned their posts.

Yesterday's strike, while negotiations are ongoing with the Government about how to reduce the huge cost of public sector pensions, split the union movement. It also cast doubt on the ability of unions to muster sufficient support for a wave of industrial action culminating in a general strike in the autumn.

Christine Keates, head of the NASUWT - which did not join yesterday's action - said: 'It's important to keep the high moral ground. 'That means if there are negotiations, that you seek to exhaust all other avenues before resorting to industrial action.'

One senior Government source said: 'The whole thing has been a complete damp squib. 'It was not even as big as the strikes of the Labour years. We have been completely committed to talks with unions over public sector pensions, and remain so.'

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the civil servants' Public and Commercial Services union, insisted turnout had been 'incredible', claiming more than 200,000 of his members - twice the official estimate – stayed at home. He said his members had been left with no choice but to take action as the government was not prepared to 'compromise on any of the central issues of the strike'.

Ministers have accepted recommendations from former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Hutton that will mean public service pension contributions increasing by 3 per cent on average and retirement ages rising.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, who is leading talks with unions, said: 'What today has shown is that the vast majority of hard-working public sector employees do not support today's premature strike. 'Very few civil servants wanted this strike at all - less than 10 per cent of them voted for it - and they are right.'

Mr Maude said reform of public sector pensions, which are costing every family £1,000 a year, was 'essential' and said the planned changes would ensure that they will still be 'among the very best, with a guaranteed pension which very few private sector staff now enjoy'. 'They will be paid later because people live longer, and public sector staff will pay more, for a fairer balance between what they pay and what other taxpayers pay,' he added.

Labour leader Ed Miliband criticised workers for walking out while negotiations on reform of their pensions were ongoing, saying it would not help them win their argument. Up to 44,000 strikers took part in street protests, including 20,000 in central London. One female officer and six members of the public were hurt.

Scotland Yard said 37 were arrested in the capital for offences including drug possession, criminal damage and breach of the peace.

The crisis came as smatterings of violence broke out during a 20,000-strong march through London in protest against pension reform.

More than 3,000 officers were on duty manning the march and securing the Houses of Parliament where three quarters of civilian staff, including security guards, skipped duty.

So what is the truth about the affordability of public sector pension schemes? Lord Hutton's report made the need for reform absolutely plain. His analysis showed that 'the status quo is untenable' and that 'future costs are inherently uncertain'.

Official figures suggest that the country faces a bill of more than £900billion for total public sector pension liabilities over the decades ahead. That is three times the national debt of crisis-hit Greece - or more than the total debts of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland combined.

In the private sector, most get nothing. If they do have a company pension, it is typically worth about £25 a week. But they are having to pay for state workers' pensions, with a typical family forking out around £1,000 a year to meet the cost. As bitter pill as it is for millions of public sector workers to swallow, that is neither fair nor sustainable.


Why do you think this crooked Texas cop kept getting rehired?

A Dallas police officer with a troubled disciplinary history was arrested Wednesday and accused of stealing a gun from a motorist, authorities say. Officer Lavar Horne faces a charge of theft by a public servant and tampering with evidence. Both are third-degree felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Authorities say Horne conducted a traffic stop on April 28 during which he searched a vehicle and seized a handgun and marijuana. He allowed the occupants of the vehicle to leave without arresting them.

Horne, who was assigned to northeast patrol at the time, did not take the gun and the marijuana to the property room at the end of his shift as required, police officials said. Later, a man in the vehicle contacted a supervisor at Horne’s patrol station and told them that Horne had taken the gun.

Horne told the supervisor that he didn’t have the gun but later told police commanders that he had forgotten he had it in his bag. He told investigators that he threw the marijuana away, police said.

Investigators also found that he turned off his digital video recorder during the traffic stop. They also discovered that he had turned off his in-car computer and didn’t notify police dispatchers that he’d stopped a vehicle.

Horne, who grew up in South Dallas, was featured in November 2003 in The Dallas Morning News in a series of stories about the department’s questionable hiring practices.

The department rejected Horne the first time he applied in 2001. He failed the civil service exam. A three-officer screening board deemed him “unable to logically process information,” according to department records.

He reapplied, and the department hired him in December 2002. He was fired in October 2003 after the department discovered his license had been suspended for eight months for not having auto insurance. As a probationary officer, he had no right of appeal.

In January 2004, then-interim Police Chief Randy Hampton reinstated Horne after he told Hampton that he had never received notice that his license had been suspended. He also showed Hampton evidence that he had always had insurance. “Some people had been saying I was a bad officer, and I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m going to go back and do my job,” Horne told The News at the time.

Between 2005 and 2007, Horne was disciplined three times for missing court. In December 2008, he received a 20-day suspension after internal investigators said he had had turned in fake doctor’s notes.

When confronted, Horne admitted they were fake and said he made a mistake because he panicked. “I apologize to the department … for my conduct in making a very bad decision,” Horne wrote to police investigators. “I can promise and assure you this will not happen again.”

Around that same time, Horne also fell under scrutiny after vice detectives believed he had tipped off club employees about an impending raid. Horne denied having tipped anybody off and said he was not aware of the upcoming raid. Internal affairs investigators ultimately couldn’t prove that Horne had tipped anybody off.


Lavar Horne is black

Does NY’s New Homosexual Marriage Law Protect Those Who Oppose Same-Sex Unions?

New York’s same-sex marriage debate came to a close last Friday evening when the state Senate voted to allow homosexuals to wed. But, is the debate truly over? Already, new questions are arising over the rights of individuals and businesses to refuse serving or working for gay couples. From wedding photographers opposed to shooting a same-sex wedding to religious non-profits who may wish to decline health care coverage to gay partners, some are fearful that protections simply don’t go far enough.

WNYC quotes Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who claims that organizations and individuals are not adequately protected:
“There are profound consequences for re-defining marriage. And this religious liberty exemption in my view does relatively little or nothing to protect such organizations and individuals.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran of the Jewish organization Agudath Israel, also sees potential complications for his faith-based group. Shafran wonders what will happen if the organization denies same-sex employees health care benefits for their partners. He says:
“If we were to stand on our religious principles, which we would do, and not extend benefits because we don’t recognize the union as a marriage, then the state could say that funds … would be denied us because we are not subscribing to what the state considers to be proper marriages.”

According to Townhall.com, via the Baptist Press, there are some protections that are not included in the new law. A husband and wife photography team, for instance, would not be protected if the couple refused to take pictures at a gay wedding. Additionally, Alliance Defense Fund attorney Austin R. Nimrocks claims that there is nothing that can be done to prevent teaching same-sex marriage in public schools — something some opponents of the new law will surely have an opinion on. Nimrocks says:
“This language does not cover everything it needs to cover and everybody that needs to be covered. In terms of what it purports to cover, it remains to be seen whether it will be interpreted in the way that many legislators who enacted it are promising it will be. There are significant holes in this religious liberty language.

It does not protect individuals. It does not protect private business owners. It does not protect, for example, a bed and breakfast owner who is using their own private personal property in the type of intimate setting that a bed and breakfast is. It does not protect licensed professionals. For example, it does not protect counselors. It also does not protect lawyers — you may have a family law attorney who does not want to do a same-sex divorce because of their deeply held religious beliefs.”

The Boston Globe recently delved into the discussion, highlighting some interviews with anxious service providers. Bill Banuchi of Newburgh, N.Y., a provider of Christian marriage and family counseling seminars and services through his Marriage and Family Savers Institute, shared his worries over the new marriage law.

Banuchi fears that he will not be protected under the religious exemption portion of the bill due to the fact that he is a tax-exempt, non-profit educational charity:
“We have certain principles and ethical guidelines we’d have to compromise. We would be in violation of the law and open to being sued for discrimination, and we could lose our tax-exempt status if we refused to counsel couples according to their value system. Our value system is that the only authentic marriage is between a male and a female.”

Others dismiss these fears saying that current laws already prevent businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation. Still, there are a variety of questions surrounding how the new law will impact education, non-profits and individual businesses and entrepreneurs.

With one side viewing any and all refusals to serve homosexuals as discriminatory and the other side seeing the withholding of service as the result of a faith-based or personal view, the battle over individual rights is sure to loom.



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