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.


30 June, 2010

An all-Australian issue today

Australia's new Leftist Prime Minister does not support legalising homosexual marriage

Most Australian conservative commentators are thoroughly freaked by Ms Gillard's far-Left background. But there is little of that to see in her deeds or policy positions whilst in government. Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out on the Left and a Rightward drift is in fact normal as people get older and wiser. I suspect that we are seeing quite a lot of that in Julia. It may also be worth noting that she owes her ascent to PM not to her party's Left but to its Right.

Such a drift has certainly happened before in the Australian Labor Party. Former Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon is a good example of that. Starting out as a Leftist firebrand he ended up so far Right he was almost out of sight. He even used police to crush a strike. I can't remember even the very conservative Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen doing that. The Labor party is tribal, however, so Laborites still honour him, rather incredibly. A major new hospital building in Brisbane was named after him not long ago by the State Labor government.

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia. Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show this morning. "We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples," Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

The new Prime Minister was left waiting on air while Kyle and Jackie played a song - Gettin' Over you by David Guetta featuring Fergie. "I can listen to a song," Ms Gillard said, when Kyle expressed concern it might be inappropriate to leave her waiting. The choice of song wasn't quite to her taste, however. "I'm a really kind of an eighties dag," she said.

Ms Gillard said she would do her best to be frank with the Australian public in her new role. "I think when you're doing something as complicated as being Prime Minister, there are days when people are going to look at what you're doing and go, 'That's fantastic,' and there are going to be other days when they look at what you're doing and say, 'Why on earth did she do that?'," Ms Gillard said.

"So I'm not going to try and promise people everything's going to be smooth sailing and they're going to be applauding at the end of each day because the job's too tough for that, but I'll be trying my best to be as frank as I can with the Australian people about the challenges we face."

Asked if she would be outlawing redheaded jokes now that she was Prime Minister, Ms Gillard laughed and said she would still allow them. "But expect to get a response when you do," she said.


An openly atheist Prime Minister!

This will go down a lot better in Australia than in the USA. Australians are an irreligious lot and even the small minority of churchgoers often have very vague religious beliefs. She is however not one of the hate-filled atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. See the rubric below

NEW Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared she does not believe in God, Christian or otherwise. The bold assertion risks alienating some Christians and other spiritualists, but is likely to please many others for its simple honesty.

In a morning radio blitz designed to introduce her new Prime Ministership to as many voters as possible before an election, possibly is called within weeks, she was asked if she believed in God. "No I don't. I'm not a religious person," she said bluntly to ABC Melbourne. "I was brought up in the Baptist Church. I grew up going to Baptist youth group and all the rest, but during my adult life I've found a different path.

"I'm, of course, a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."

She said she would allow people to judge her as they saw fit, but maintained she would not "pretend a faith" she did not feel. "For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine," she said.

"What I can say to Australians, broadly of course, is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives."

The sheer straight-forwardness of her comments is likely to win her plaudits for not being seen to walk both sides of the street on a question which most people regard as an essentially personal matter.

Nonetheless, her frank position is in stark contrast to most political leaders, who have often paraded religious faith as the moral underpinnings of their policies. Kevin Rudd, for example, was often criticised for his invocation of faith and his habit of holding weekly Sunday morning doorstop interviews in front of a Canberra church. Just days ago, both Mr Rudd and Liberal leader Tony Abbott, a Catholic, conspicuously courted the Christian vote at the politically conservative Australian Christian Lobby.

Ms Gillard did not take the Bible in her hand when sworn into Parliament in 1998.


The downside of Julia's living arrangements

Living as a de facto with her partner may suit Julia Gillard, but does that make her a good role model for others?

Julia Gillard doesn't want to move into the Lodge until she gets a democratic tick of approval. Or so she says. Maybe the real reason she is stalling is to test the waters about public reaction to moving her first bloke in there with her.

Most media commentators are relaxed about a de facto first couple. Why not, they say, everyone's doing it. What's the big deal about living together?

They are right about the fact cohabitation - what some call "marriage lite" - is changing the social map. Census figures show the proportion of adults in de facto relationships more than doubled between 1986 and 2006. With other countries showing similar shifts, many social scientists studying this trend conclude marriage lite is not a change for the better.

It's fine for Gillard - a 48-year-old woman - to live with her bloke. Yet as a popular role model for women, her lifestyle choice may influence other women into making big mistakes about their lives.

Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children - Gillard is an exception - and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships that look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.

People often drift into living together - someone's lease runs out or they get sick of running home for fresh shirts and underwear. They slide rather than decide, and frequently fail to discuss their mutual expectations for the relationship.

It's the women who end up stranded when they spend years in a succession of de facto relationships waiting for Mr Not Ready or Mr Maybe to make up his mind. Women's tiny reproductive window means they pay a high price for wasting precious breeding time in such uncertain relationships.

While the de facto lifestyle leads some women to miss out on having children, others are taking the risk of becoming parents despite these unstable relationships. A growing proportion of children is now born to de facto couples - up from less than 3 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 2000, according to data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics Survey.

It is often assumed these children will provide the glue to keep de facto relationships together, but sadly this is not so. David de Vaus, a sociology professor from La Trobe University, found cohabiting couples who have children are more like to break up than married parents, increasing their risk of the negative impacts of family breakdown.

If Gillard chooses to play house with Tim Mathieson in the Lodge, this choice sends a strong message to the huge numbers of women who rightly admire her and seek to follow her example. A lifestyle suited to her particular needs may be riskier for many women and their children.

As a Labor politician, Gillard is hardly likely to spell this out. Her brand of politician is too nervous of offending natural constituents to express concern about lifestyle choices. But it wasn't always like that.

In 1972, an intriguing discussion between Germaine Greer and Margaret Whitlam was published in The National Times. Whitlam, whose husband had just become prime minister, was outspoken in her criticism of ex-nuptial births, declaring it was irresponsible to produce children outside wedlock. When Greer confessed she was considering having a child on her own, Whitlam was forthright: "Well, I think that's just a selfish thought."

Later in the interview, she relented a little. "It may be all right for people who are well known and who have position and who can organise themselves . . . but it's not OK for everybody," she said, questioning the impact of Greer's decision on her many fans.

At the heart of this conversation was role models. People in the public eye, our influential leaders, need to think through whether others who don't share their circumstances will follow their example and get into trouble.

Every day we see well-known Australians making dubious lifestyle decisions being lauded in the media - celebrities choosing to become single mothers, unwed fathers, parents dragging children through a succession of chaotic "blended" families.

Pat Rafter was made Australian of the Year just as he was about to become an unmarried father. What did that say to his many male fans about the importance of committed fathering?

Politicians today rarely question social trends, even when all the evidence is they are having negative social consequences. John Howard was the rare exception, when he went into bat for a child's rights to a father in the debate over single mothers and IVF. But the actions of our role models speak louder than any words. The well-heeled tennis hero cheerfully embracing unmarried paternity, the feminist toying with sole parenthood, the prime minister living with her boyfriend - why wouldn't their many fans not seek to walk in their shoes?


Australia most Leftist major newspaper sinks to new low in an antisemitic attack on a Jewish businessman

The Melbourne Age newspaper has stunned and appalled the Jewish community today by confecting a scandal about the fact that the Prime Minister’s partner works for a Jewish businessman Albert Dadon.

It inaccurately describes Albert as an “Israel lobbyist” which suggests he is paid to promote Israel. That’s simply not correct and conveys a false impression. Dadon is an investor, in property and many other things and was the Chair of Melbourne’s international Jazz Festival and created the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, which we assume he modelled on the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue formed by Phil Scanlon.

We have never read Scanlon described as a “pro-American lobbyist.”

(The Age) suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel. This is about as low and disturbing as it gets.

Indeed, we understand that the editor of the Age, Paul Ramadge, has previously put much effort into duchessing Mr Dadon in an attempt to rescue that newspaper’s reputation in Melbourne’s Jewish community which increasingly regards it as an apologist for misogynist and racist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that are sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Sources tell VEXNEWS that Dadon went to some effort to encourage The Age to open its eyes to both sides of the story in the Middle East and that a member of The Age’s staff was invited to attend Australia Israel Leadership Forum events, including one in Israel.

Ramadge endorsed this and went to some trouble to undo the damage done by his predecessor Andrew Jaspan whose attacks on Israel seemed to know no decent bounds. That reputation will be confirmed by today’s breathtakingly anti-semitic attack that deems all Jews to be “pro-Israel lobbyists”.

The story was based around a letter from a retired and grouchy Arabist crank, Ross Burns which prompted a page seven story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Naturally the Age put it on the front-page and beat it up within an inch of its life.

We have previously written of the fact that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a real problem with anti-Israel bias. Ross Burns, a career diplomat who was given many sweet plum Ambassador appointments, is a perfect embodiment of this.

Burns has now retired into the comfort of superannuation and is completing a PhD at Macquarie University on archaeology in Syria. He very frequently visits Syria. He has a keen interest in its antiquities and ancient ruins.

He has a long history of blowing anti-semitic dog-whistles against Israel, with a steady stream of cranky letters to the editor, speeches, appearances on an appreciative ABC and so on.

His latest suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel.

This is about as low as it gets. Where will this obscenity end? Will The Age’s Jewish employees soon be subjected to tests to ensure they are not “pro-Israel lobbyists.”

As for Burns, he is an old crank, who is just running out his private hatreds of Israel in public view, for his private benefit. No doubt he’s prominent on the wily Syrian Ambassador’s invitation list to sip on Johnny Blue in the wee hours. He’s an angry old man who is entitled to peddle his nasty views. But The Age has a greater responsibility than that.

And when journalists wonder why we will celebrate the imminent demise of this newspaper, this is why. Many journalists worry about what most regard as the Age’s inevitable end.

Two newspapers in a city are better than one, as a general proposition. Certainly better for journalists at both publications. Competition is a force for good, for consumers too. But The Age’s sickening effort today reveals it not to be a force for good in any respect.

The newspaper’s revenues are in freefall, its employees facing further redundancies, its circulation numbers rigged, the shares of parent company the most shorted in the entire stock market. Its end is nigh. And we’ll be dancing in the streets when that day finally comes.



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 June, 2010

Gender Quotas for German Business?

Germany's Justice Minister has called on companies to increase the number of women in top positions. On Wednesday, however, the 16 states' justice ministers proposed going further. They want to impose specific quotas for female managers.

The German chancellor may be a woman but in the German business world it is still extremely difficult for women to rise to the top. In companies listed on the German stock exchange, or DAX, women are still trailing their male co-workers on the career path.

This is not a new problem for Germany. In 2001, the Justice Ministry established a governmental commission to develop a Corporate Governance Codex. Many big companies such as Adidas, Deutsche Bank and Siemens now subscribe to the document, which was recently amended to explicitly call on companies to increase the number of female managers in the future.

But while German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), has faith in the newly strengthened codex, her counterparts in Germany's 16 states are skeptical. On Wednesday, they announced the creation of a study group to examine the possibility of forcing businesses to advance women's careers by implementing quotas.

Bavaria's Justice Minister Beate Merk, whose Christian Social Union (CSU) is one of three coalition parties governing at the federal level in Berlin, proposed measures that would require a gradual increase of female board of director and governor members from 15 to 40 percent over several years.

Lack of progress

"In spite of the commitment companies made nine years ago, significant progress has not been made," Merk told reporters on Wednesday. Small family-run businesses, as well as companies operating in industrial sectors that don't employ a great number of women, would be exempt.

However, these considerations are not enough to ease the fears of critics. "The framework in Germany is just not conducive for women to make it to the top," Anne Zimmermann, who deals with social policies for the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. While her organization also believes measures have to be taken to improve women's career prospects, Zimmerman argues that Germany should make it easier for women to combine family life and a career first, before thinking about making new laws.

In a speech Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger gave to members of the Corporate Governance Commission on June 16, she stressed that amending the codex to explicitly include opening up opportunities to female employees at all levels of the economy may very well be the last chance businesses have to solve the problem on their own before the government takes action.

'Utilize potentials better'

"A better participation of women in leadership positions of companies is more than pure family-friendly politics. The goal has to be to utilize potential better and be economically more successful," Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told her audience.

Last month, Family Minister Kristina Schröder argued that companies could be forced to adhere to quotas and report on how they implement them. She told business daily Handelsblatt that while companies could decide for themselves how high the number of woman in leadership positions should be, their success or lack thereof would become public knowledge and make them receptive to public pressure.

Some companies in Germany such as Deutsche Telekom back in March and energy giant E.on this week, have recognized that incorporating more woman into their hierarchies is beneficial to their organization as a whole. Deutsche Telekom was the first DAX company to pledge to raise the percentage of women at mid to high level management to 30 percent. E.on followed suit, with Regine Stachelhaus, the company's new personnel director, telling Handelsblatt that she wanted to boost the number of women managers from the currently low level of 12 percent.

But the state justice ministers are still not convinced that the amended codex will achieve what the previous one failed to or that companies can be relied upon to voluntarily add more women to the top managerial level. In their eyes, improving career chances for women in high-level positions in big DAX companies will require legislative action.

At the moment, only 21 members of the board of directors and governors at German companies registered on the stock exchange are women. This means that only 3 percent of top level managers are female. Proponents of the law implementing quotas are hoping the new study group will arm them with the necessary material to convince the federal minister in Berlin.

"We hope that reasonable arguments and suggestions will prevail -- even in politics," Stefan Heilmann, spokesman at the Bavarian Justice Ministry told SPIEGEL ONLINE.


ODD Humanitarianism

Mike Adams

I have a former student who has found the perfect job. She’s working with troubled youths in a faith-based program that allows her to finally put her psychology degree to use – a full eight years after she graduated from college. She likes the job, but she called my office recently to vent about a boy who suffers from Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).

I have a B.A. and an M.S. in psychology. But I must confess that I needed some explanation of ODD because it wasn’t yet a disorder when I studied psychology back in the 1980s. So I asked my former student simply to describe the behavior of the boy with ODD. The conversation went something like this:

Erica (not real name): He is constantly pitching a fit over nothing – or nearly nothing. He argues with everything I say and there is no such thing as a rule he does not question.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, he has ODD. I mean, he actively defies and refuses to comply with every request made by every adult. I mean that literally. And he does it just to annoy us and to upset us. But he won’t take responsibility for his behavior or his mistakes. It’s never his fault.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, I said he has ODD. He’s also easily annoyed by other people. And he’s full of resentment and anger.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, there’s more to it than that. I know he has ODD because of the hateful words he uses when he’s upset. He is just so spiteful and so bent on gaining revenge against anyone he thinks has wronged him.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: I guess you’re right. He is a jerk.

The exchange with Erica was funny and we both eventually laughed about the absurdity of the whole idea of ODD. But the current trend towards viewing all undesirable behavior as symptomatic of a disorder to be treated, as opposed to a wrong to be punished, is no laughing matter.

There are a number of problems associated with redefining all undesirable forms of behavior as “disorders” to be cured. Among them is the unanticipated consequence of depriving man of his humanity. If a man is merely a victim of some disease then he cannot really be considered evil. If he has no potential to be evil, he has no potential to be good.

C.S. Lewis pointed out another unanticipated consequence of our rush to treat, rather than punish, people who do evil things. He noted that the same intellectuals who determine when an illness has set in will also determine when that illness has dissipated. And they have a powerful incentive to drag out the entire process. Who among us would not rather take our punishment and be done with it – as opposed to waiting in perpetuity for the official clearance of a doctor?

If you are not at all concerned with what I am saying please consider the history of the 20th Century. Not long after Nietzsche declared that “God is dead” we began to “progress” beyond the concepts of good and evil. Nietzsche predicted that we were moving into dangerous territory. He also predicted that the 20th Century would be our bloodiest. Even a broken philosopher is right twice a day.

During the 20th Century, Theodor Adorno initiated a movement towards classifying conservatism as a psychiatric disorder. Long before that, Sigmund Freud had been working hard at the task of classifying religion as a psychiatric disorder.

Today, the effort seems to have spread into the realm of nearly every conceivable form of behavior. It is worth noting that the number of disorders legitimated within the medical profession is directly correlated with the number of defenses legitimated by our legal system.

We must rethink our deference to intellectual busybodies who are in a constant search for complex “problems” in need of “solutions” which require their expertise. Put simply, the principal “problem” with humanity is the human heart. It is inclined towards evil, which must be punished if there is to be any hope for humanity.

Returning to an emphasis on punishing evil, rather than curing disorders, is an idea that has consequences. Among those consequences would be a loss of livelihood for many psychiatrists who need to earn a living. But to do otherwise would result in a loss of humanity for many lost souls in need of redemption.

As is always the case, that which seems to be a “problem” in need of a “solution” is nothing more than a simple trade-off. And where trade-offs are involved, choices between alternative visions of the world are inevitable.


Israel’s PR is not the problem

When Israel loses yet another PR battle, many of her friends complain that Israel is partly to blame because she is woefully inept when it comes to PR. I am not one of them..

Glenn Jasper, Ruder Finn Israel, recently suggested that Israel should have all its spokesmen deliver the same message. After all, that’s what the Palestinians do. That might be a good idea except that Israel is a nation of presidents and each president will deliver his or her own message. They can’t be disciplined.

Alex Fishman suggested that Israel should consider the PR battle as more important than the military battle and organize accordingly: "Hence, the manager of this war on our side should not be the army via the IDF spokesman, but rather, someone on the highest national level, with the best professionals, who would have the knowledge and ability to write the “scripts” for the war and enforce them on all our executive arms, including the army.”

Good as these suggestions are, they don’t go to the heart of the matter.

To start with there is a coalition of forces including antisemites, leftists and Islamists, that are dedicated to Israel’s destruction. They couldn’t care less about truth and justice so a better PR campaign would be irrelevant. Then there is the main stream media that presents news to support their agenda rather than the truth. The fact that they suppressed the flotilla videos, which made Israel’s case better than a thousand words could have, is testimony to this fact. They have constructed a narrative in support of their agenda and any facts that are not in keeping with it, are ignored.

But there is something more going on that is little noticed and much determinative. Governments lead by the US also construct a narrative depending on their agenda and they don’t let truth and justice get in the way.

Long before the Oslo accords, the US began to suppress negative information on Arafat and the PLO as she wished to build a peace process around them. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the US made no issue of the violation of the accords by Arafat. She was not about to let such violations scuttle the peace process. In effect Arafat could do whatever he wanted, and this included killing American diplomats, so long as he gave lip service to the peace process. Caroline Glick called the “peace process” an “appeasement process” the goal of which was, not peace, but appeasement.

Iran and Syria also learned this lesson. They could keep killing Americans in Iraq as long as they denied their complicity. The US rarely called them on this because if she did, she would have to do something about it.

President Bush waged a campaign against Syria to hold them accountable for the assassination of Harari and to get them out of Lebanon. Syria put up a strong enough fight to get Bush to abandon his original agenda. Bush then started a process of accommodating Syria rather than attacking her. Pres Obama continued this process. Now Syria is openly arming Hezbollah in violation of Res 1701 and aligning with Iran. The US response is to embrace her, to engage her, to send envoys and generally make nice. Obviously pointing the finger at Syria is inconsistent with the present US goals.

Similarly the US has been attempting to engage Iran and to co-opt her into helping in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus the US refrained from supporting the green movement when it challenged the government. For the same reason she is unwilling to verbally attack Iran or to apply effective sanctions. She is even prepared to live with a nuclear Iran if only Iran will cooperate and even, if not.

In the last year or so Turkey has entered centre stage in the Middle East and is throwing her rhetorical weight around especially since backing the flotilla. Not one critical word did Obama utter. To the contrary he believes “Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process.”

Examples are legion but what has this to do with Israel’s efforts at public relations? Lots. The flip side of this coin is that when the US wants to force someone to do something, either friend or foe, she must first demonize them. But the US can’t demonize a friend without a pretext so she first creates a crisis as her springboard.

In March of this year the US feigned outrage over Israel’s announcement of a housing project in Ramat Shlomo. This outrage legitimated the subsequent US attack on Israel.

Similarly, Israel’s legitimate self defense in the flotilla attack in which she killed nine violent “activists” was enough of a pretext for demonizing her and putting pressure on her. On May 31 after news of the deaths surfaced, Obama was a bit more restrained in his condemnation of Israel than his European allies and called for all the “facts and circumstances”.

Had he been genuine in this, he would have, after the videos of the attack on the IDF went viral the next day, totally sided with Israel and nipped the demonization in the bud, but he didn’t. He had an agenda and he wanted to use this crisis to announce the blockade was “unsustainable”. He allowed the pressure to mount so he could achieve his ends.

Shelby Steele argues most convincingly that “the end game of this isolation effort is the nullification of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation”. He attributes this scape-goating of Israel to a “deficit of moral authority” in the West. While that is sadly true, it ignores the fact that realpolitik, which has taken hold of the Obama administration, dictates a similar result.

Yet I would argue that the pursuit of self interest by the US is assured greater success with Israel as a strong ally rather than without her.

This is not to say that Israel should cease its PR efforts. She shouldn’t. She should continue to provide her friends with the truth so that they maintain their friendship lest they be infected as well. Notwithstanding all the demonization she is subjected to and the realpolitik, she has managed to keep the goodwill of the American people and others who value truth and justice. Ultimately, this is her trump card.


BOOK REVIEW of Ferraris For All: In Defence of Economic Progress, By Daniel Ben-Ami

For centuries, economic growth and mass prosperity were understood to be highly desirable, yet today these social objectives are under siege. Daniel Ben-Ami’s new book is a clarion call to begin a counter-offensive

It is always exciting when a book challenges basic assumptions and makes us look again at issues we thought we had fully grasped. Daniel Ben-Ami’s new book does just that. With Ferraris for All, Ben-Ami has identified a very important new trend: widespread questioning of whether economic growth benefits society. Indeed, many now conclude that the pursuit of growth and prosperity is on balance detrimental, and therefore should be tightly constrained. If Ben-Ami is right – and I believe he is – then current debates over economic development and social progress need to re-evaluated.

At first glance, the idea that Western societies are no longer intellectually supportive of economic growth and prosperity seems just flat-out wrong. The notion that increasing wealth brings social benefits and is desirable has been a foundational assumption since at least the Industrial Revolution, and probably earlier. And it appears to be going strong today. Doesn’t the economic crisis have everyone hoping for a return to growth? All of the current angst over high unemployment levels, and the debates about how best to avoid a ‘double dip’ recession, must indicate that we all recognise the value of wealth-production, right?

Not necessarily, says Ben-Ami; the popularity of growth is not as strong as you might first think. Ben-Ami, a financial journalist and frequent contributor to spiked, highlights the myriad ways that growth is questioned, if not outright opposed, today. This anti-growth trend has, in some respects, crept up on us without being noticed. And it has, according to Ben-Ami, affected the general response to the economic crisis as well.

“Ben-Ami catalogues the many social advances that accompany expanding wealth”

Ben-Ami’s argument is a subtle one. He recognises that only a small minority – such as ‘deep greens’ and other marginal groups – openly call for negative or zero growth. They are not the focus of his critique. But, at the other end of the spectrum, unabashed defenders of growth in the West are also in a minority today. This represents a significant change from the past, when support for material progress was largely a given.

Most thinkers today fall between these two polar opposites, Ben-Ami contends. Growth is not rejected, but nor is it embraced; on the whole, it is considered problematic. In the abstract, people support growth, but, as Ben-Ami notes, they quickly raise concerns: ‘Is the world in danger of running out of finite resources? Does economic activity threaten to create runaway climate change? Could the world survive if China enjoyed developed-country living standards? Is greater prosperity really making us happier? Are we caught in a rut of rampant consumerism? Does economic growth create dangerous inequalities? Did the excessive greed engendered by economic growth lead to the downturn that emerged in 2008?’

Ben-Ami uses the term ‘growth scepticism’ to capture our ambiguous attitude towards material progress. Many have heard the saying, ‘I’m not a racist, but…’. As we know, after the ‘but’ comes a point that proves that the speaker is indeed racist. Growth scepticism follows a similar format. Ben-Ami says, ‘If growth scepticism were to be summed up in one phrase, it is “I’m in favour of economic growth, but…”’. What inevitably follow are conditions that undermine the original proposition, such as ‘it must be sustainable’.

Concerns about the side effects of growth have existed for a long time, going back at least to the Romantic reaction against industrialisation. Ben-Ami argues that today’s situation is different: the restrictions placed on growth are more all-encompassing than ever before, and include environmental, moral and social limits. Ben-Ami builds up a picture of the various ways that growth is challenged. To my knowledge, Ben-Ami is the first writer to bring together the usually disparate discussions of the environment, happiness and inequality, and show how they all challenge the desirability of growth.

Ben-Ami maintains that, rather than challenging growth scepticism, the 2008 recession gave it greater impetus. The growth-sceptic outlook that prevailed prior to the downturn encouraged us to explain it by reference to unbridled greed, instead of structural economic factors. And this greed and excess were said to characterise all of us, not just a few bankers. Ben-Ami cites Neal Lawson of the UK Labour Party-linked think-tank Compass, whose book All Consuming criticises mass consumption. The subtitle of Lawson’s book – ‘How shopping got us into this mess and how we can find our way out’ – makes it clear we are all to blame. Consequently, unlike earlier periods of economic crisis, there has been no radical opposition; instead, we hear calls for greater restraint in order to curb our excesses.

“Ben-Ami shows that ‘progressives’, who once demanded more, more, more, have now abandoned progress”

Looking at the world through Ben-Ami’s eyes, it does appear strange that people are so down on growth today. He catalogues the many social advances that accompany expanding wealth: people are living longer and healthier lives, and they are more educated and have greater leisure time. He recognises that serious problems such as poverty and inequality remain, but he argues that the solution to these problems is more growth, not less.

The limits to growth that critics cite are not insurmountable, says Ben-Ami. For example, he argues that the answer to climate change is more and better technology, rather than reduced energy use and cutting back on economic growth. But technology is expensive, which is why growth is so important. Cynicism about growth is negative because it denies us the resources to deal with problems.

Ben-Ami’s robust defence of growth might lead some to assume that he is a free-market conservative, but he’s not. As he points out, historically the left were supportive of growth and mass prosperity, but today ‘most self-proclaimed radicals emphasise the need to impose limits on consumption and economic growth’. In the preface, Ben-Ami aligns himself with the radical Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, who wrote: ‘We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance… We call for a great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume.’ As the book’s cheeky title, Ferraris for All, suggests, he wants to raise mass living standards, at a time when many respond to inequality by calling for a levelling downwards.

Ben-Ami’s discussion of how ‘progressives’ abandoned progress highlights the fact that ‘left’ and ‘right’ can be misleading categories today. In the past, when the desirability of growth was a shared assumption, the right-left debate was over the system that best delivered growth – capitalism versus communism, or free-market versus state-directed capitalism. Today many prefer to fight old wars and bang on with these same arguments. But, as Ben-Ami’s book makes clear, those who do so miss that the world has changed. There is now a more fundamental debate to be had and won – not over how best to grow, but over whether growth is desirable at all.

Ben-Ami’s book is likely to be mentioned with other works that speak up for historical advances, such as Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (reviewed in this issue of the spiked review of books here). Ben-Ami’s distinctive contribution is to clarify the ideological barriers to progress. Thanks to him, those who wish to defend the pursuit of material and social improvement know the nature of the anti-growth beast, and are thus in a better position to slay it.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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 June, 2010

Violent inner-city crime in Britain, the figures, and a question of race

The reality of violent inner-city crime is indicated today by statistics obtained by The Sunday Telegraph. The official figures, which examine the ethnicity of those accused of violent offences in London, suggest the majority of men held responsible by police for gun crimes, robberies and street crimes are black. Black men are also disproportionately the victims of violent crime in the capital.

The statistics, released by the Metropolitan Police, permit an informed debate on a sensitive subject for the first time.

One prominent black politician said last night that the black community needed to face up to major challenges. Shaun Bailey, a Tory election candidate in London and a charity worker, said: “The black community has to look at itself and say that, at the end of the day, these figures suggest we are heavily – not casually – involved in violent crime. We are also involved in crime against ourselves – and we regularly attack each other.”

The data provide a breakdown of the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against for a range of violent and sexual offences in London in 2009-10. They show that among those proceeded against for street crimes, 54 per cent were black; for robbery, 59 per cent; and for gun crimes, 67 per cent. Street crimes include muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property.

Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5 million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The police figures also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims. They made up 29 per cent of the male victims of gun crime and 24 per cent of the male victims of knife crime.

The Met declined to comment on the statistics. However, some officers will see them as a justification for Operation Trident, a unit targeting black-on-black murder and violent crime. Others will see it as justification for targeting a disproportionate number of black men under stop and search powers. Figures released annually have shown black people are at least six times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

On sex offences, black men made up 32 per cent of male suspects proceeded against, and white men 49 per cent. The statistics also suggest that black women are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime committed by females.

Richard Garside, of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: “Given Britain’s long history of racism and imperialism it should not greatly surprise us that black and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately members of social classes that have tended to experience greater victimisation and to be the subject of police attention.

“Just because the police treat black men as more criminal than white men, it does not mean that they are.” Simon Woolley, speaking as the director of the Operation Black Vote pressure group, but who is also a commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Although the charge rates for some criminal acts amongst black men are high, black people are more than twice as likely to have their cases dismissed, suggesting unfairness in the system.” [or reluctance to convict blacks]

The Sunday Telegraph obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request after Rod Liddle, the writer, caused controversy last year when he claimed in an online blog published on The Spectator website that “the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community”.

The comments led to claims that Mr Liddle was racist, However, Mr Liddle said: “I cannot think of anything more vile than racism. The issue here is not racism, it is one of multiculturalism.”

The statistics suggest that Mr Liddle was largely right on some of his claims – notably those on gun crimes, robberies and street crimes. The figures suggest, however, that he was probably wrong on his claims about knife crimes and violent sex crimes.

The figures relate to those “proceeded against”. This includes those prosecuted in court, whether convicted or acquitted; those issued with a caution, warning or penalty notice; those the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge; and those whose crimes were “taken into consideration” after a further offence. Unsolved crimes are not included. The figures do not take into account that any one perpetrator may have committed numerous offences .


Bigotry against Oxford English in England

England is very accent-conscious, with "Oxford English" (Received Pronunciation) being most prestigious. In the entertainment industry it is now being discriminated against, however.

Few, if any, actors speak the Queen's English as beautifully as Sir Roger Moore, but the former James Bond star believes that if he were starting out now in his profession it would prove a handicap rather than a help.

"You have to have a regional dialect to get anywhere these days," says Sir Roger, 82. "Deborah, my daughter, complains she is always being turned down for parts because she is not regional in her speech, which is a great pity.

"I think it is probably the fault of television. You don't hear what we used to call 'West End actors' voices' on series like Holby City, Casualty and The Bill. I notice, too, on the children's programmes they are all talking 'a bit like that,' and that's encouraging the next generation to talk in this so-called 'estuary English' we have now. I think it is sad that proper English is disappearing. I don't see why it went out of fashion."

The charming actor was in London to host the launch of Masterpiece London, a collectibles fair at the former Chelsea Barracks which continues until tomorrow. It includes an auction in aid of Unicef, which Sir Roger represents as a special ambassador.


Airline pays up over insulting "all men are pedophiles" policy

An airline has been forced to compensate a traveller who said he was made to feel like a "pervert" after being banned from sitting next to a young boy. Mirko Fischer sued British Airways after an incident last year, accusing the airline of branding all men as potential sex offenders and claiming innocent travellers are being publicly humiliated.

Mr Fischer, 35, found himself next to the boy when he switched seats with his pregnant wife so that she could be next to the window. However cabin crew demanded he return to his original seat, saying that company policy banned male passengers from sitting next to children they don’t know.

Mr Fischer said the incident, which occurred on a British Airways flight from Luxembourg to Gatwick, UK, on April 20 last year, left him feeling “embarrassed, humiliated and angry”. "This policy is branding all men as perverts for no reason," Mr Fischer, who lives in Luxembourg with his wife and their daughter Sophia, said. "They accuse you of being some kind of child molester just because you are sitting next to someone.”

Mr Fischer sued the airline for “loss and damage of injury to his feelings”. British Airways has admitted sex discrimination in the case and agreed to pay him costs of £2161 ($3500) and £750 ($1000) in damages, the UK's Telegraph reported.

Mr Fischer has donated the payout, and £2250 of his own money, to two child protection charities.

The airline is reviewing the policy but has not admitted that it is discriminatory. "We had 75,000 unaccompanied children fly with us last year and it is an issue we take very seriously," a British Airways spokesman said. "We are pleased to have settled this matter with Mr Fischer and are sorry for any difficulties caused."


Fanning the Flames of Feminism

What's REALLY good (or bad) for women?

By Rich Tucker

Here’s something you don’t hear from a conservative every day: I’m a feminist. Wait -- don’t go scrambling for the emergency exit just yet. This doesn’t mean I’m joining NOW. But, having recently welcomed a daughter into the world, I want nothing but the best for her.

Of course, what’s good for an individual woman isn’t necessarily going to be good for women in general. But, by definition, a “feminist” should support policies that benefit women in toto.
For example, across the millennia humans have evolved so that roughly 105 men are born for every 100 women. Don’t ask me why that works, but it does. So, as a feminist, one ought to oppose China’s one-child policy, which has encouraged millions of families to abort daughters.

There are now roughly 120 boys born in China for every 100 girls -- a “gendercide,” as some call it. “In eight to 10 years, we will have something like 40 to 60 million missing women,” U.N. resident coordinator Khalid Malik warned in 2004. “Missing” means gone forever -- killed simply because of their gender. This fact alone ought to have feminists up in arms.

Instead, “feminism” has allowed itself to become a one-issue platform. Support abortion on demand, you’re in. Oppose it, you’re out.

Remember Bill Clinton? Sure, he took sexual favors from a vulnerable, younger woman in the Oval Office, the sort of behavior that would seem to reinforce gender stereotypes and set back the cause of women’s rights to the Mad Men-era.

Yet, “the President’s behavior, offensive as it was, does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense,” declared the National Organization for Women’s executive vice-president in 1998. “In fact, the conservative majority in Congress, with their relentless attacks on women’s rights, is a far greater threat to women and our families,” Kim Gandy added. Clinton wasn’t only the ultimate survivor, he was, apparently, the ultimate feminist. Small wonder that others are also trying to recapture the word “feminist.”

In its latest hit piece on Sarah Palin (perhaps its last such attack before it quietly folds) Newsweek magazine declares that, “Palin has been antagonizing women on the left of late by describing herself as a ‘feminist,’ a word she uses to mean the righteous, Mama Bear anger that wells up when one of her children is attacked in the press or her values are brought into question.”

This is likely to become more than a pedantic debate over the definition of a particular word. And Palin’s version seems more likely to benefit women than traditional feminism does.

For evidence, flip a few pages deeper into the same magazine. Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison (two women who are reportedly tired of being invited to weddings) take the usual liberal feminist stand. They write that “marriage is -- from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway -- no longer necessary.”

Is that so? “According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in 2008 for single parents with children was 35.6 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent,” writes poverty expert Robert Rector in a recent paper from The Heritage Foundation. “Being raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.”

Again, what works for some individual women isn’t what’s best for women in general. Yes, “In 2010, we know most spousal rights can be easily established outside of the law, and that Americans are cohabiting, happily, in record numbers,” as Bennett and Ellison write. But the majority of American women, and women in general, benefit from marriage.

But maybe not for long. The July edition of The Atlantic declares “The End of Men” on its cover. Women are, purportedly “taking control of everything.” Oh, good. Does this mean we can finally end the discriminatory Title IX that has eliminated hundreds of men’s college sports programs? Or, even better, have it applied to women, to ensure that no more than 50 percent of all college graduates are women?

In any event, assuming men stay around a bit, “To reduce poverty in America, policymakers should enact policies that encourage people to form and maintain healthy marriage and delay childbearing until they are married and economically stable,” Rector concludes. “Marriage is highly beneficial to children, adults, and society. It needs to be encouraged and strengthened, not ignored and undermined.”

That’s a good description of policies that could make more conservatives into feminists in the years ahead.



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 June, 2010

Black female cleric to be appointed as chaplain for Britain's parliament

This is just destructive rubbish from a unprincipled little turncoat (Bercow). It completely disrespects the role of a chaplain, who is supposed to be someone to whom people in trouble will feel able to talk and receive a sympathetic hearing. But everybody is most likely to feel at ease with someone like themselves. How many of Britain's politicians are going to feel at ease in unburdening themselves to a far-Left woman from an entirely different background?

She has led calls for the Church of England to apologise for its role in slavery and has lambasted racism in the clergy. Her views have been described as ‘radical, Left of centre’. How is such a person one with whom all parliamentarians are going to feel at ease? She could at most be a chaplain only to a small coterie

A row has broken out between two of the most senior figures in the worlds of church and state over the promotion of a female cleric.

In a significant step towards giving women clergy greater prominence, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has selected the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a Jamaica-born priest, to be the next chaplain to the Commons.

She would be the first woman and the first black cleric to be appointed to the centuries-old role, which is particularly prestigious as it currently also involves being installed as subdean of Westminster Abbey.

However, Mr Bercow's historic appointment was threatened by the Very Rev John Hall, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, who was strongly opposed to such a move. The dean has refused to accept her as his deputy and has insisted that the role is now broken up so that he can appoint a different candidate, understood to be a male cleric.

Last month, Mr Hall and Mr Bercow separately interviewed Mrs Hudson-Wilkin, one of the Church of England's leading female clerics, but they have only just reached a settlement in recent days, following weeks of wrangling over the appointment.

She was on a shortlist of six names that was drawn up after interviews between candidates and representatives from Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and the House of Commons.

A source close to the discussions said that the two men had differing opinions on the appointment. "The Speaker wanted someone with a strong and distinctive character who would be pastorally sensitive and effective working with a diverse group of people at the Commons," he said. "Rose appeared to fit the role perfectly, but the dean was looking for someone who would fulfil more of a ceremonial role. "He didn't think that she suited his needs at the Abbey."

As subdean at the abbey she would have been involved in many of the services of national commemoration held there, which, in the past, have included the funerals of the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the Queen's golden jubilee.

The incumbent, Canon Robert Wright – who is retiring – is subdean at Westminster Abbey, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Queen, as well as being chaplain to the House of Commons. The chaplain is based at St Margaret's church opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The abbey has also been the setting for every coronation since William the Conqueror's in 1066. It is a so-called Royal Peculiar, under the jurisdiction of its dean and chapter and answering directly to the Queen rather than a diocesan bishop.


One Brit dares to condemn Black racism

And the black racist actually confirmed her racial thinking later. Her thinking is in fact perfectly reasonable but if a white politician had said something similar, all hell would have broken loose right across the country

Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott was seething after being branded a ‘racist’ and an expenses cheat by political pundit Andrew Neil. Left-winger Ms Abbott was savaged by Mr Neil on his late-night BBC show This Week over her decision to send her son James to the £12,700-a-year City of London School.

Ms Abbott, who earned £36,000 a year as a regular guest on the show alongside Michael Portillo until stepping down to fight for the Labour leadership, had defended her stance, saying: ‘West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children.’

Mr Neil hit back by demanding: ‘So black mums love their kids more than white mums, do they?’

Furious Ms Abbott said: ‘I have said everything I am going to say about where I send my son to school.’

Mr Neil persisted: ‘Supposing Michael said white mums will go to the wall for their children. Why did you say that? Isn’t it a racist remark? If West Indian mums are as wonderful as you say, why are there so many dysfunctional West Indian families
in this country? And why do so many young West Indian men end up in a life of crime and gangs? ‘You didn’t want your son to go to a school full of kids who have been brought up by West Indian mums.’

As Ms Abbott repeatedly refused to reply, Mr Neil asked: ‘Would you like to make it clear that West Indian mums are no better than white mums or Asian mums?’

When Ms Abbott, squirming in her seat, replied, ‘I have nothing to say,’ Mr Neil taunted her: ‘You don’t want to do that – you still think West Indian mums are the best?’

The clash came after Ms Abbott said last week: ‘I knew what could happen if my son went to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd. They are subjected to peer pressure and when that happens it’s very hard for a mother to save her son. Once a black boy is lost to the world of gangs it’s very hard to get them back.’


Thousands take to the streets to mark Britain's Armed Forces Day

This would have caused some teeth-grinding among Britain's many far-Leftists. Anything that celebrates Britain is anathema to their hate-filled minds

In glorious sunshine Britain paid joyful tribute to the cream of its military on Saturday as thousands took to the streets to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

In the shadow of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, where the main parade was held, veterans of World War Two, the Falklands War and soldiers who have served in Afghanistan marched side-by-side; age and youth united by pride in service to their country.

A 50,000 strong crowd lined the route from Cardiff Castle to Cardiff Bay to watch more than 200 march past, led by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in an open topped Rolls-Royce.

It was one of 350 events which took place across the country, in cities including Glasgow, Plymouth, Nottingham and Manchester. At Wimbledon, 14 servicemen and women were applauded by the Centre Court crowd as they took their seats in the Royal Box.

In Cardiff, The Duchess of Cornwall, in bright turquoise, was clearly thrilled to be taking part. She waved and smiled happily at the crowd, many of them waving Union Flags and Welsh flags, and tapped her fingers in time to the stirring military tunes played by the band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. As her husband climbed onto the podium at the Bay to take the salute she playfully dusted down his collar, sharing a private joke.

The Prince, Royal Colonel of the Welsh Guards and Colonel in Chief of the 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards – both on parade yesterday – wore the ceremonial uniform General as he took his place beside two Royal Artillery Regimental Guns.

The day had got under way shortly before 11am when the government representatives – Liam Fox, secretary of state for defence and Cheryl Gillan, secretary of state for Wales – were introduced to old soldiers, several of whom had recently attended the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk in France.

The Queen sent a message of support, saying the troops operated in the "most difficult and dangerous of circumstances". "The men and women of our Armed Forces have always been admirable examples of professionalism and courage," she said. "Then as now, they perform their duties in often the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, both at home and overseas."

In A private speech to troops and their families Dr Fox said that Islamic extremists who disrupt the homecoming parade of British troops should be “silenced”. “Let’s silence the negative voices that attack our Armed Forces but gladly enjoy the security and freedom our Armed Forces provide,” he said.

“While those who criticise our Armed Forces have a right to do so in a democracy, we too, as the moral majority, have a right to take pride in the flag of our nation, an emblem of the freedom we hold dear as the true British patriots, and the freedom that most races, cultures and faiths will aspire to.”

Peter Featherstone-Williams, 52, a Falklands War veteran, who served as a radio officer first class on-board HMS Bristol, a type 82 guided missile destroyer, was among six veterans and members of the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 who had spent Friday night camped out on the banks of the Taff river especially to celebrate the Cardiff event.

"I cannot describe the utter pride I feel, to watch the young serving men and older veterans being clapped and cheered like this," he said as he took his place in the Bay, shortly before the Drumhead Service. "It is so important that younger generations see firsthand the unbreakable bond that unites men who have seen combat. "It doesn't matter which conflict you served in. That bond is there. And to see the public take pride in what we have done and applaud the brave squaddies of today who are still proud to wear the uniform is a wonderful thing to witness."

For Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton the highlight of the day was the fly-past by The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – comprising a Lancaster and a Spitfire. "The BBMF is a source of national pride, an example of the nation's resilience and indomitable spirit in the face of adversity and a tangible link between the modern RAF and its illustrious forefathers," he said...

In carnival spirit the crowd, many of them young families, sat spellbound as veterans talked of their memories and regaled teenagers with slightly more ribald versions of World War Two ditties....

On Saturday, Edinburgh was named as the host of next year's Armed Forces Day.


The union-only protection racket

by Jeff Jacoby

THIS IS THE KIND OF THING, Charlie Baker was saying one day last week, that "makes people crazy about state government."

The Republican gubernatorial candidate was standing near the site of the University of Massachusetts-Boston's forthcoming expansion -- a 10-year master plan for at least $750 million in new construction and renovation projects. On June 14, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority had voted to proceed under a Project Labor Agreement, meaning that only workers who pay dues to a union will be hired for one of the largest building projects now in the offing. Since roughly 80 percent of the construction workforce in Massachusetts is open-shop (non-union), the PLA amounts to naked political favoritism for organized labor -- and a raw deal for everyone else. Baker condemns PLAs as unjust, and pledges to ban them in state contracts if elected.

Governor Deval Patrick, on the other hand, openly touts his success in steering lucrative construction contracts to the politically-wired sliver of trade workers who choose to belong to a union. "Take our biggest construction project, the $300 million undertaking at Worcester State Hospital," he told the Building Trades Conference in Plymouth in March. "96 percent of the construction spending is being carried out by union workers."
Something is plainly wrong when elected officials boast of excluding the vast majority of contractors and their employees from the chance to work on public projects. If the situation were reversed -- if union members were the ones being blackballed by the administration -- voters would be outraged. Is it any less outrageous when bids are rigged in favor of unions?

There is no economic rationale for these union-only deals. They are discriminatory and anticompetitive, and thus drive up costs significantly. When Suffolk University's Beacon Hill Institute analyzed the costs of building126 Boston-area schools, it found that PLAs inflated the winning bids for construction projects by almost 14 percent, and added an extra 12 percent to the actual construction costs. When it comes to public construction, PLAs all but guarantee that taxpayers will be overcharged. As The Wall Street Journal observed wryly in April: "Boston's Big Dig, Seattle's Safeco Field, Los Angeles's Eastside Reservoir project, the San Francisco airport, Detroit's Comerica Park -- all were built under PLAs marked by embarrassing cost overruns."

Baker describes the Patrick administration's decision to require a PLA for the UMass-Boston overhaul as "arrogant." But that doesn't really go far enough.

The primary justification for PLAs is that they preserve "labor peace." Union leaders promise not to strike or otherwise disrupt a construction project in exchange for the government's guarantee that all contractors hired to do the work will operate as union shops and that all workers will pay union dues. PLAs, in other words, amount to a protection racket. To put it in Hollywood terms, unions tell government officials: "Nice construction project ya got here. Be a shame if somethin' was to . . . happen to it."

Not surprisingly, taxpayers resent such extortion. Earlier this month, voters in the southern California municipalities of Oceanside and Chula Vista handily enacted ballot initiatives prohibiting PLAs on city-funded construction. A similar measure goes on the ballot in San Diego in November.

According to a statewide Suffolk University-7 News survey taken in March, Massachusetts residents have no use for PLAs either. Asked whether private contractors working on public projects should be compelled to hire exclusively through union hiring halls, 69 percent said No. Opposition to excluding non-union laborers from work that their taxes help fund was expressed by clear majorities of both men (77 percent) and women (61 percent); of Democrats (52 percent), Republicans (88 percent), and independents (76 percent); of whites (69 percent) and minorities (67 percent). The same was true when respondents were sorted by age or geography -- strong majorities were against union-only mandates. Even among union households, 59 percent were opposed.

If support for open competition on public projects is so unambiguous, why doesn't Patrick join Baker in renouncing deals like the one effectively shutting out open-shop contractors from UMass-Boston? With voters so opposed to PLAs, what does the governor gain -- or think he gains -- from embracing them? It's that kind of thing that "makes people crazy about state government," Baker says. That's a message he should keep hammering home.



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 June, 2010

Democrats' Vision Problem

Jonah Goldberg

Head to the local big-box electronics store and buy yourself: a Panasonic home theater system ($500), an Insignia 50-inch plasma HDTV ($700), an Apple 8GB iPod Touch ($175), a Sony 3-D Blu-ray disc player ($219), a Sony 300-CD changer ($209), a Garmin portable GPS ($139), a Sony 14.1-megapixel digital camera ($200), a Dell Inspiron laptop computer ($450) and a TiVo high-definition digital video recorder ($300).

This is not an endorsement of any of these products. I don't own any of them (though if the manufacturers are keen to find out my opinion, they can send me some non-returnable demos). But you can fill your shopping cart with these items for less than $3,000. The average American worker needs to work 152 hours to earn that much money.

In 1964, however, the average American worker could buy one pricey stereo from Radio Shack after working 152 hours. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry, a University of Michigan economist, crunched the numbers.

What's the point? Well, there's a big one. We are constantly told that the American working man is so much worse off than he used to be. And if you measure income one way, you can make that case.

Indeed, the Democratic Party in recent years has become obsessed in looking at the economy only in that one negative way to justify its avocation: giving more stuff to the poor and middle class because they are "falling behind."

The wealth of nations, according to Adam Smith, the founding father of the market economy, is not measured in GDP or cash reserves. Rather, it "consists in the cheapness of provision and all other necessaries and conveniences of life."

By that standard, American wealth in general, and the wealth of poor Americans, has skyrocketed in the last half-century, and the government had relatively little -- though certainly not nothing -- to do with it. And it's not just that consumer items are cheaper than ever, they're also better than ever. An iPhone today isn't just better than yesterday's phones, it's better than yesterday's cameras, calculators, portable stereos and computers. Many of the standard features on a 2010 Honda Accord were considered luxury items 10 years ago and almost unimaginable 20 years ago.

Now, you might argue that while, say, TiVo might be a great convenience, it's not a necessity. Given the divergent TV tastes in the Goldberg household, I might disagree. But fair enough: The real necessities are food, clothing, shelter and medical care, according to most people.

Well, food has gotten steadily cheaper -- for everybody -- over the last century. For instance, Perry calculates that eggs cost about one-tenth as much as they did at the beginning of the century. Moreover, Americans, with their allegedly stingy government, pay about half as much for food as Europeans do.

So, what has gotten more expensive? According to St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz, there are only four areas that have become more expensive over the last century as measured in their "labor price": housing, cars, higher education and medical care. With the arguable exception of a college degree, all are marked with wildly improved quality. And the main reason for rising medical and college costs (and to a lesser degree housing costs) is that the government has distorted the market by "helping."

For example, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., underwent Lasik eye surgery in 2000. He paid cash, and it cost $2,000 an eye. "Since then," he told the Washington Post, "it's been revolutionized three times and now costs $800 an eye. This sector isn't immune from free-market principles." No, but it is protected from them.

Even so, the costs of housing, food and clothing combined have dropped over the last century from about 75 percent of the average family's expenditures to around 35 percent, largely thanks to the ability of the market to democratize innovation and decrease the cost of necessities and conveniences.

None of this is to say that the middle class and the poor aren't facing tough times, or that our government policies are perfectly suited to their needs.

But ever since the dawn of the Obama presidency millennia ago, the air has been thick with claims that government needs to get much more deeply involved in the private sector. According to Obama and Co., only government can provide what the working people in America need, and "doing nothing" is the only unacceptable suggestion. "The one thing I don't want to hear," as Obama likes to say, is that more government isn't the answer.

Maybe he should get his hearing checked by the same guy who did Ryan's eyes


The shallow socialism of hating Michael O’Leary

As evidenced in a new collection of his ‘wit and wisdom’, the cocky Ryanair boss both embarrasses his fellow capitalists and annoys the hell out of anti-capitalists

by Brendan O’Neill

‘For years flying has been the preserve of rich f*ckers. Now everyone can afford to fly.’ At a time when capitalists have had every drop of character wrung out of them by being forced to learn managementspeak and to rebrand themselves as ‘socially responsible’ in order not to upset the likes of Naomi Klein, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, sticks out like *** in a punch bowl. Or like a pope on a Ryanair flight. (O’Leary dressed up as the pope to preach about the wondrousness of low air fares on Ryanair’s first flight from Dublin to Rome.)

In recent decades CEOs around the world have been forced to wash their gobs out with the soap of corporate responsibility, giving rise to a generation of fat capitalist bosses who are not fat, not openly capitalistic, and not particularly bossy. Yet O’Leary, as evidenced in this new collection of his ‘wit and wisdom’, talks openly about wanting to make as much moolah as possible as quickly as possible. ‘If the drink sales are falling off, we get the pilots to engineer a bit of air turbulence. That usually spikes up the drink sales’, he says. And that’s the thing with leery O’Leary – you don’t know if he’s joking or not.

I feel torn about O’Leary, not knowing whether to like him or loathe him, mainly because I’m a Marxist. But – and this is absolutely true – I first felt the tingling of Marxist thought in the nerve endings of my brain while on one of those vomit-inducing, wailing-baby-packed ferry crossings between Britain and Ireland. I was 18 and sailing from Dublin to Holyhead, devouring Lenin’s State and Revolution in one of the ship’s corridors (because it was the only place on the godforsaken vessel where there wasn’t a drunk person singing ‘The Fields of Athenrye’) in preparation for a discussion about the book back in London. ‘The working class must break up, smash the “readymade state machinery”, and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it’, Lenin said, making me wish the ship would hurry up so that I could get back to London and start rousing for a revolution.

Yet now, courtesy of O’Leary’s exploitation of airline workers, I can get to Ireland, puke-free and feeling fresh, in two hours rather than twenty and for a tenner (if I’m lucky) rather than £100. As O’Leary himself says: ‘The alternative to progress is Thomas Hardy’s Wessex: horse-drawn carts, people living below the poverty line, and only the very rich going on Italian tours. Now we make it possible for everybody to go on Italian tours.’ What’s a modern Marxist to do?

It’s easy to see why O’Leary, who since 1985 has turned Ryanair from a tiny Irish airline with one plane flying between Gatwick and Waterford into the largest airline in Europe, winds people up. He irritates his fellow capitalists because he refuses to follow the PC rules of the new Caring Capitalism and thus exists as a constant reminder (a constant reminder known to dress as Santa for press conferences) of what capitalists are primarily motivated by: maximising profit. And he annoys the hell out of what passes for radical anti-capitalists these days because he refuses to play their game: to be meek, to apologise for making money, to make ads featuring black kids and white kids running through deserts to a soundtrack of Kiri Te Kanawa (he prefers ads featuring sexy women dressed as schoolgirls under the banner ‘HOTTEST back-to-school air fares’).

What other CEO could have a collection of his quotations published? O’Leary is un-PC. ‘Germans will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get low fares’, he says. He’s confrontational. On greens he says: ‘We want to annoy the f*ckers whenever we can. The best thing to do with environmentalists is shoot them.’ He’s unapologetic. On Ryanair’s ‘No Refund’ policy, he has said: ‘You are not getting a refund so f*ck off.’ And: ‘We are not interested in your sob stories.’ And: ‘People will say, “As the Founding Fathers wrote down in the American Constitution, we have the inalienable right to bear arms and send in our complaints by email.” No you bloody don’t. So go away.’ And: ‘We don’t fall over ourselves if you say “My granny fell ill”. What part of “No Refund” don’t you understand?’

Unlike Lord Alan Sugar, he doesn’t cosy up to politicians. ‘If I were David Cameron I would stop competing over who is better at riding a bicycle and call for a serious debate on the next generation of nuclear power stations. Sticking a windmill on top of your house is not the answer.’ He hates the EU oligarchy. ‘Sometimes it’s good to show Brussels the two fingers’, he has said. ‘Yes I have read the Lisbon Treaty. It’s a f*cking pain-in-the-arse document. I nearly died of boredom’, he said in the run-up to the first Irish referendum on Lisbon in 2008, before telling Irish voters that they should say ‘Yes’ to it anyway because that would be in his – ie, a European-based capitalist’s – interests. In a recent newspaper interview he said: ‘I’m disrespectful towards what is perceived to be authority. Like, I think the prime minister of Ireland is a gobshite.’

He saves his hottest ire for environmentalists. There is not a businessman on Earth (well, none that I know of) who isn’t currently bending over backwards to appease his green critics by drafting emission-reduction strategies etczzz – except, that is, O’Leary. ‘The BBC runs green week, ITV runs greener week, Sky runs even greener week, Channel 4 runs even bloody greener week, and each time they use a picture of aircraft taking off’, he complains (quite accurately as it happens).

When the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said in 2006 that flying is a sin, O’Leary accused the man of God of spouting the ‘usual cliched horseshit that he obviously heard at some dinner party with the chatterati’. Most eco-criminally of all, O’Leary has said: ‘The fact that our tea and coffee supplier is a Fairtrade brand is a welcome bonus, but the decision was based on lowering costs. We’d change to a non-Fairtrade brand in the morning if it was cheaper.’ And his vision for the future? ‘Let’s go nuclear… and then watch the eco-nuts go crazy.’

O’Leary’s verbal assaults on the sandal-wearing brigade (as he refers to them) captures why he is so hated, why some greens and anti-capitalists are more agitated by his capitalist company than by almost any other (apart, of course, from BP). Ours is an age of capitalism-in-denial, when capitalists are encouraged to present themselves as ethical actors rather than profit-makers and to hold back from doing too much R&D in case it leads to the further dirtying of the planet by mankind’s greedy, grubby hand. Indeed, there has been a wacky meeting of minds between capitalists and anti-capitalists in recent years, as both have reoriented themselves around the project of Making Capitalism Nicer – the bosses by investing billions into corporate social responsibility projects, and their critics by staging carnivalesque protests whose main demand can be summed up as: ‘You need to be even more corporately socially responsible and stuff!’

This bizarre political union between the fat cats and the skinny anti-caps is best captured by the fact that, in the words of Reason magazine, Naomi Klein’s anti-capitalist bible No Logo has ‘inadvertently served as the most influential marketing manual of the decade’, as big companies have incorporated its anti-branding, pro-caring message into the big consensual mission to make capitalism less fat, ugly and cocky.

And the problem with O’Leary – ‘jumped-up Paddy’ that he is (his words) – is that he’s pissing on the parade. His refusal to bend the knee to the social and responsible and green agendas serves to remind us that, actually, capitalism is still about exploitation, division, conflict. Asked how he keeps his staff motivated and happy, he said: ‘Fear.’ He doesn’t play the ‘I love my staff’ game played by other bosses (who then think nothing of sacking people), instead saying: ‘MBA students come out with, “My staff is my most important asset.” Bullshit. Staff is usually your biggest cost.’

He reminds us that the relationship between state regulation and capitalist enterprise is still often a fraught one. On the European Commission’s introduction of new rules in relation to low-fare airlines, he said: ‘There are f*cking Kim Il-Jungs in the Commission. You cannot have civil servants trying to design rules that make everything a level playing field. That’s called North f*cking Korea and everybody is starving there.’ And his loudmouthness reminds us that capitalists are more than happy to f*ck (to use O’Learyspeak) the workers when they need to: ‘I don’t give a damn about labour laws in France. We’ll break the laws in France if that’s what needs to be done.’

With his unguarded utterances, O’Leary reveals that capitalism is not – and never will be – a hunky-dory arena in which floppy-haired bosses and their ping-pong-playing workforce gather together to make the world a better place. Instead there’s tension, there’s competition, there’s self-interest, there’s fear, there’s conflict, there’s angst.

The capitalists hate him for this because he is giving voice to the kind of deep-seated issues that they have worked hard to rebrand. And because - with his undoubted impact of changing many people’s lives for the better by opening up virtually the whole of Europe to the less well-off - he reminds today’s undynamic, conservative, regulation-inviting capitalists what their class used to do as a byproduct of their drive to maximise profits: break down barriers and drive the economy and society into new areas.

And the ‘anti-capitalists’ hate O’Leary’s outspokenness because for them – obsessed as they are with the surface of capitalism rather than its inner workings and relations – there is nothing worse than an arrogant, foul-mouthed, money-making man. Indeed, the anti-O’Leary outlook in radical circles captures how shallow contemporary anti-capitalism is. Today’s rads are less concerned with the exploitation of workers and the hampering of human progress than they are with the logos and wording and cockiness levels of contemporary capitalism. Which is why they hate Ryanair but love Whole Foods.

Indeed, such is the backward-looking nature of ‘anti-capitalism’ today that O’Leary, simply by being an anti-green blusterer and wind-up merchant of epic proportions, can come across as more progressive than his anti-capitalist critics. Where they want to ground flights, or at least make them more expensive in order to make them less frequent and thus help ‘save the planet’, O’Leary says: ‘[In the past], nobody moved more than three miles from where they were born. Young people now want to go to Ibiza on bonking holidays. Let them. Ask them in downtown Afghanistan if they would like the M25 and they would bite your hand off.’ At the very least, the rise of Ryanair has allowed me and millions of others to get off those bloody ferries and into the skies, which gives us far more free time to do other things – even to continue reading Lenin and to dream of that revolution.


Boo to the Rooney-bashers

England’s finest footballer needs to be let off the leash, not lectured about his anger, language and beliefs

In England’s dismal start to the World Cup, the most depressing thing ‘for me’ (as all pundits must say these days) was seeing Wayne Rooney forced to apologise to the nation for ‘any offence caused’ by his criticism of the England fans who booed the team at the end of the Algeria debacle.

Of course the disappointed fans in South Africa have the right to boo, barrack or bollock as they see fit – free speech is the least you should expect for such an expensive trip. But then the frustrated Rooney should also be free to reply in kind. Surely the football fans of today are not so pathetic as to be mortally offended by Rooney’s rather restrained riposte, to the TV cameras, ‘Nice to see your own fans booing you’. Yet the media and self-appointed fans’ spokespersons decided this was, in the words of the BBC’s normally opinion-free Alan Shearer, ‘totally unacceptable’, with many apparently more upset about Rooney’s momentary ejaculation than by the load of wank he and his team mates served up for 180 minutes on the pitch.

Indeed it has become open season on Rooney, who has apparently gone from national hero to zero overnight, accused of insulting the nation, misleading the youth and embodying What’s Wrong With Football. You surely know you are in trouble when the execrable Piers ‘Moron’ Morgan not only demands that you be dropped from the England team but also feels free to describe you as an ‘overblown, overpaid, overhyped halfwit’ who has ‘committed that hideously self-defeating crime of starting to believe his own bulls**t’, in a contender for the pots-and-kettles remark of the year.

What’s going on? The shock-horror headlines about Rooney ought to be no more than ‘Very good footballer has couple of very bad games’. And given the goldfish-like attention span of much of the media, should he score against Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon and England scrape through to the knockout stages, no doubt he will be lauded once again.

Yet much of the recent Rooney-bashing has relatively little to do with events on the field. It shows another side of what is really ‘wrong with the game today’. Football has become so over-inflated in importance that somebody such as Rooney is now expected to carry not only the nation’s sporting dreams but also its moral welfare. Brought on as a substitute for society’s crocked public life, football has in effect become a receptacle for all of the cultural crap of the twenty-first century, from ‘role models’ and thin-skinned syndrome to political correctness and therapy culture. Rooney now finds himself in the firing line of all that.

Since he exploded on to the football stage aged 16, there has always been an ambivalence about Rooney, the brilliant Scouse ‘rough diamond’ from the streets of Croxteth – especially among the New Football crowd. He was mocked for supposedly being thick and uncultured, from a fighting Irish background – and then mocked again for going ‘posh’ when it was reported that he was studying for a couple of GCSEs (his childhood sweetheart and wife, Coleen, already has a hatful) and following the lead of his Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, by taking an interest in what Fergie no doubt calls ‘feen weens’.

The recent Rooney hullabaloo shows that he has become so elevated in the football firmament, however, that his every word and deed must be subjected to serious analysis and portentous meaning. The player who stands out for his combination of being an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent is no longer, it seems, allowed to be normal, with the normal emotions and beliefs of other people.

So when Rooney answered a press conference question about the large crucifix he wears in training by saying straightforwardly ‘It’s my religion’, he was immediately cut short by a Football Association PR man stating, Ali Campbell-like, ‘We don’t do religion’. Why? Presumably they were worried that Rooney might offend and alienate all non-Catholic England fans.

And when Rooney complained to those TV cameras while being booed off at the end of the Algeria game, it was not considered enough for the management to tell him to ‘calm down’ in the style of Harry Enfield’s Scousers. Instead he had to be put both in the stocks and on a couch by the national media, with pundits condemning him for setting a bad example while experts lined up to express their fears that Rooney is a ‘timebomb’ waiting to explode England’s campaign. The therapy culture that has forced footballers such as Tony Adams and Paul Merson to go through the public confessional in the past was now homing in on Rooney. It was sad to see the player who refused to apologise after being sent off in the last World Cup being browbeaten into bending the knee so quickly this time.

But why should Rooney or any other footballer be expected to act as a role model for anybody else? What on earth is wrong with being angry and frustrated and kicking holes in the wall when your whole World Cup appears to be going down the drain?

Some of us could not care less about the drone of the self-righteous media moralisers and the self-appointed spokesman for England fandom on the websites and radio phone-ins. Rooney is a footballer. What matters is how he performs on the pitch. He has been playing badly under the weight of expectations (and possibly of injury). And all of the excess baggage he has been loaded down with in recent weeks is hardly going to help.

As I have noted before, ‘for me’ Rooney is the finest England footballer seen in 40 years since the golden generation of Booby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves (only Paul Gascoigne in his short-lived pomp comes close). Rooney has the talent to take on the world, as he showed as a teenager in Euro 2004. There is surely a danger however of some of the spirit being knocked out of him. He has already been hobbled by being messed about by Ferguson at United, who made him act like a water-carrier for Ronaldo before finally giving him his head last season. In the first two World Cup games he seemed hidebound playing for Capello’s England, where he has so far been denied the freedom to rampage around as he does like nobody else. When your world-class striker starts coming back to the halfway line looking for the ball, you are in serious trouble.

Instead of letting Rooney loose, however, we seem intent on tying him up in yet more rules and etiquette and analysing the life out of him. Enough.

Sport is perhaps the one area of life where it is still possible for grown men and women to have heroes. If so, Rooney is my hero – a truly remarkable thing for a Manchester United fan ever to say about a Scouser. Like many others, I could not care less about his religious beliefs or language skills or his anger management issues or whatever. I do not want him to teach my children how to behave – that is my job. His is to show us things with a football that we could never dream of doing.

The boy-man wonder may be seen by some just now as, in the words of one headline ‘Rooney the loony’. But he is our loony. That is football, whether those who treat it as a national moral crusade/therapy session understand it or not.

Should England mess up again versus Slovenia on Wednesday and be eliminated from the World Cup that some foolhardily claimed they would win, no doubt Rooney will be crucified again by erstwhile worshippers in the media for his mistakes and faux pas. The same thing happened to David Beckham of course after he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup. When he was subsequently booed by some opposition supporters around the country, United fans responded with a rousing chorus of ‘You can stick your fucking England up your arse’. I would not blame Rooney if he responded in similarly unrestrained terms next time.


1948, Israel, and the Palestinians — the true Story

Far from being the hapless objects of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who from the early 1920’s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival. This campaign culminated in the violent attempt to abort the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, which called for the establishment of two states in Palestine. Had these leaders, and their counterparts in the neighboring Arab states, accepted the UN resolution, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place.

The simple fact is that the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” The words are those of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the branch of Zionism that was the forebear of today’s Likud party. In a famous 1923 article, Jabotinsky voiced his readiness “to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.”

Eleven years later, Jabotinsky presided over the drafting of a constitution for Jewish Palestine. According to its provisions, Arabs and Jews were to share both the prerogatives and the duties of statehood, including most notably military and civil service.

Hebrew and Arabic were to enjoy the same legal standing, and “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice-versa.”

If this was the position of the more “militant” faction of the Jewish national movement, mainstream Zionism not only took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the future Jewish state but went out of its way to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence. In January 1919, Chaim Weizmann, then the upcoming leader of the Zionist movement, reached a peace-and-cooperation agreement with the Hashemite emir Faisal ibn Hussein, the effective leader of the nascent pan-Arab movement.

From then until the proclamation of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, Zionist spokesmen held hundreds of meetings with Arab leaders at all levels. These included Abdullah ibn Hussein, Faisal’s elder brother and founder of the emirate of Transjordan (later the kingdom of Jordan), incumbent and former prime ministers in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq, senior advisers of King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (founder of Saudi Arabia), and Palestinian Arab elites of all hues.

As late as September 15, 1947, two months before the passing of the UN partition resolution, two senior Zionist envoys were still seeking to convince Abdel Rahman Azzam, the Arab League’s secretary-general, that the Palestine conflict “was uselessly absorbing the best energies of the Arab League,” and that both Arabs and Jews would greatly benefit “from active policies of cooperation and development.” Behind this proposition lay an age-old Zionist hope: that the material progress resultingfrom Jewish settlement of Palestine would ease the path for the local Arab populace to become permanently reconciled, if not positively well disposed, to the project of Jewish national self-determination.

As David Ben-Gurion, soon to become Israel’s first prime minister, argued in December 1947: "If the Arab citizen will feel at home in ourstate, . . . if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social,and cultural level of the Jewish community,then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge will be built to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance".

On the face of it, Ben-Gurion’s hope rested on reasonable grounds. An inflow of Jewish immigrants and capital after World War I had revived Palestine’s hitherto static condition and raised the standard of living of its Arab inhabitants well above that in the neighboring Arab states. The expansion of Arab industry and agriculture, especially in the field of citrus growing, was largely financed by the capital thus obtained, and Jewish know-how did much to improve Arab cultivation. In the two decades between the world wars, Arab-owned citrus plantations grew sixfold, as did vegetable-growing lands, while the number of olive groves quadrupled.

No less remarkable were the advances in social welfare. Perhaps most significantly, mortality rates in the Muslim population dropped sharply and life expectancy rose from 37.5 years in 1926-27 to 50 in 1942-44 (compared with 33 in Egypt). The rate of natural increase leapt upward by a third.

That nothing remotely akin to this was taking place in the neighboring British-ruled Arab countries, not to mention India, can be explained only by the decisive Jewish contribution to Mandate Palestine’s socioeconomic well-being....

Had the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs been left to their own devices, they would most probably have been content to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. This is evidenced by the fact that, throughout the Mandate era, periods of peaceful coexistence far exceeded those of violent eruptions,and the latter were the work of only a small fraction of Palestinian Arabs.

Unfortunately for both Arabs and Jews, however, the hopes and wishes of ordinary people were not taken into account, as they rarely are in authoritarian communities hostile to the notions of civil society or liberal democracy. In the modern world, moreover, it has not been the poor and the oppressed who have led the great revolutions or carried out the worst deeds of violence, but rather militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed classes of society....

In Palestine, ordinary Arabs were persecuted and murdered by their alleged betters for the crime of “selling Palestine” to the Jews. Meanwhile, these same betters were enriching themselves with impunity....

It was the mufti’s concern with solidifying his political position that largely underlay the 1929 carnage in which 133 Jews were massacred and hundreds more were wounded—just as it was the struggle for political preeminence that triggered the most protracted outbreak of Palestinian Arab violence in 1936-39. This was widely portrayed as a nationalist revolt against both the ruling British and the Jewish refugees then streaming into Palestine to escape Nazi persecution. In fact, it was a massive exercise in violence that saw far more Arabs than Jews or Englishmen murdered by Arab gangs, that repressed and abused the general Arab population, and that impelled thousands of Arabs to flee the country in a foretaste of the 1947-48 exodus.

Some Palestinian Arabs, in fact, preferred to fight back against their inciters, often in collaboration with the British authorities and the Hagana, the largest Jewish underground defense organization. Still others sought shelter in Jewish neighborhoods.

Much more HERE


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 June, 2010

Grieving families left distraught after British council rules that wooden crosses are 'too dangerous' for cemeteries

A small wooden cross in a cemetery is "dangerous"? Pull the other one! It's just that Leftist hatred of Christianity again

A council is under fire for banning crosses from one of its cemeteries - over health and safety fears. Families have been left distraught after North Somerset Council started to remove wooden crosses from its graveyards.

One woman has told how her mother-in-law's grave was targeted after she died of cancer in May. Liz Maggs placed a 26-inch high wooden cross bearing a personal inscription on Rosemary Maggs' burial plot at the Ebdon Road cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, while the family waited for a headstone to be made.

But when Mrs Maggs, 43, returned to visit the grave with her husband Charles and daughters Zoe, 16, and Danielle, 14, just a few days later she found the cross had disappeared.

She reported it stolen to cemetery staff but they told her it had been removed because it did not meet council regulations.

Mrs Maggs, a carer, was told if she wanted the cross back she had to go and look in an alleyway at the back of the cemetery where items which had been removed from graves were stored.

The fact that the cross had been removed upset Danielle so much that she collapsed. The teenager has been in hospital since September for treatment for a stomach condition and is only allowed out on rare occasions.

Mrs Maggs said the family paid more than £1,000 for the triple plot. She said she was not made aware of the guidelines and decided on the wooden cross after seeing dozens of similar tributes on other graves.

She said: 'The whole incident has left us all very upset. We had a look around and saw wooden crosses on other graves so thought something similar would be appropriate.'

She added: 'When I complained to the cemetery staff I was told it was removed as it did not adhere to regulations and it could pose a health and safety hazard. 'I am very angry that it was removed without us being told.

'I think the rules are completely over the top and this incident has been very upsetting at a time when the family is distressed.' Mrs Maggs has now taken the cross home and placed it in the family's garden.

North Somerset Council said the cross on Rosemary Maggs's grave was not suitable because all the other graves in the cemetery had flat memorials, not upright headstones.

The authority said that because the cross stood about 2ft up from the ground it was a health and safety risk.

Council spokesman Nick Yates said: 'There are a number of regulations we ask people to follow and our staff did discuss with the family what could be placed in the cemetery and we do give relatives written information to this effect. 'Our staff try to deal with all situations in a sensitive way.'


Useless British police again

A once-distinguished body destroyed by political correctness and bureaucracy

A mother who accidentally locked her baby in a hot car was forced to smash her way into the vehicle with a hammer after the emergency services failed to turn up.

Leeona Woodburn, 20, from Kendal, Cumbria, phoned 999 as soon as she realised her son Logan was trapped inside the car. Almost thirty minutes later nobody had arrived to help her, so she grabbed a hammer from nearby National Tyres mechanic Steven Savage and smashed a rear car window. She was able to rescue her seven-month-old son herself but he was suffering from dehydration and had to be taken to see a doctor.

Miss Woodburn said: 'I was waiting and waiting and getting really distressed. I was told a police car would be sent straight over. 'Twenty-five minutes later I called them again and this time the woman on the other end said they weren't coming at all. 'They said it was a matter for the fire service. At that point I knew I couldn't wait any longer, I thought my son was going to die.

'Thirty minutes in that situation is a lifetime. It was a baking hot day and my son was scared, crying and started to throw up he was so hot. 'By the time I got him out he was absolutely dripping with sweat. I got him to the doctor who said he was suffering from dehydration.'

Miss Woodburn said she called 999 because that was the only number she knew and she does not understand why a fire engine was not called out on her behalf. 'If the police couldn't help, why didn't they send someone else?'

Mr Savage said: 'That baby was in a bad way by the time we got to him, because he was so hot. 'You'd expect the emergency services to rush to a situation like that. We were more than happy to help by giving Miss Woodburn the tools, but I am shocked the fire service was not sent.'

Chief Inspector Gordon Rutherford, head of Cumbria police communications centre, said: 'We are extremely sorry for the distress caused to Ms Woodburn.

'I have spoken to her to offer my sincere apologies and inform her that an investigation has been launched. 'This is not an example of the high level of service that Cumbria Constabulary routinely delivers. 'I would have expected a call handler to reassure Ms Woodburn and either inform her that officers would be with her in a set period of time or contact the fire service or AA to gain entry to her vehicle.' [Translation: We are embrarrassed to have our indifference publicized]


Jewish dance group attacked in Germany

But Muslim antisemitism is OK of course

A JEWISH dance group was attacked with stones by a group of children and teenagers during a performance at a street festival in the Germany city of Hannover.

One dancer suffered a leg injury and the group then cancelled their performance.

The teenagers also used a megaphone to shout anti-Semitic slurs during the Saturday afternoon attack, Hannover police spokesman Thorsten Schiewe said.

Police said the incident is under investigation and that they do not have an exact number of attackers yet.

Mr Schiewe said there were several Muslim immigrant youths among the attackers.

Two suspects, a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old, were being questioned, he said.

Alla Volodarska, whose Progressive Jewish Community of Hannover group held the performance, said that members were still in shock.

"What happened is just so awful. The teenagers started throwing stones the moment our dance group was announced, even before they started dancing."

Ms Volodarska said she did not attend the event herself, but had talked to several members of the eight-person dance group since the incident.

She said one dancer, a woman in her forties, was injured by several stones that hit her leg.

"There were many kids throwing stones, many of them, but we don't know the exact number," she said, adding that the community had performed Israeli group dances at many festivals in the past and never experienced this kind of hostility before.

Ms Volodarska said that the festival took place in Sahlkamp, an immigrant neighbourhood of Hannover.


More on Islamic derangement

That which a culture does not denounce, a culture promotes. Two items on the table tonight that need to get some wider play and some accompanying denunciation. First up, from Haaretz:
An Arabic children's choir has been racking up views all over the world with the new YouTube hit "when we die as martyrs, we will go to heaven."

The song was apparently recorded by the Jordanian-owned production company and television channel "birds of Paradise."

According to The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), one of the world's most comprehensive data centers on radical Islamic terrorist groups, the song is a hit on Arabic and worldwide websites and the children's choir performing it fast is becoming one of the most popular children's groups in the Arab world....

Journalist Fawzia Nasir al-Naeem wrote in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Jazirah that "[Birds of Paradise] is one of the most widely distributed children's song groups in the Arab world, and it seems to have crossed the ocean to Canada and Britain."

She added that the group represents a new wave in Jihadist youth indoctrination, as it is child-friendly, as opposed to previous Jihadist programs.

A culture that uses innocents to promote martydom is a culture that's sick. Beyond sick. It's evil. And there's nothing anyone can say that would convince me to see it differently. But wait... there's more cultural sickness:
Exactly three years ago, on May 22, 2007, an Egyptian scholar was disciplined by Al Azhar University, one of Islam's most prestigious institutions, after he issued a fatwa calling upon women to breastfeed their male colleagues. Dr. Izzat Attiyah said that his fatwa offered a way around mixing of the sexes in the work place since breast-feeding established a maternal relation even if the beneficiary was not the woman's biological son or daughter.

Now, a high-ranking Saudi, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican, a consultant at Saudi Arabia's royal court, has issued a fatwa asserting that women could give their milk to men to establish a degree of maternal relations and get around a strict religious ban on mixing between unrelated men and women. [Because] a man who often entered a house and came in contact with the womenfolk there should be made symbolically related to the women by drinking milk from one of the women. Under the fatwa, the act would preclude any sexual relations between the man and the donor woman and her relatives.

Sheikh al-Abaican thus "modernizes" Dr. Izzat's position — that the man must breastfeed directly from the teat — by suggesting that "the man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing....

At any rate, where do all these "adult breastfeeding" ideas originate? As usual: Muhammad. A canonical hadith tells of a woman who once asked Muhammad what to do about the fact that a young boy who had been living with her and her husband had grown into manhood: that a non-relative adult male was freely residing with them, seeing his wife without her veils, was upsetting to the husband. So the prophet told her to "breastfeed" the man. Shocked, she responded saying that he was a grown man; Muhammad said — according to some traditions, while laughing — "I know." The woman breastfed the man, and reportedly her husband was no longer upset, as the act of breastfeeding turned him into a kinsman. Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha — the "mother of the believers" — frequently relied on this practice to meet with non-related males (one of the greatest debates of her time revolved around how many "breastfeeds" were enough —one, five, or ten — to make a man a "family-member." See here for more hadiths).

The importance of this breastfeeding business has less to do with its sensationalist quality and more to do with what it says about the overbearing and intrusive nature of Sharia law in Muslim life. Muslims cannot escape adult breastfeeding simply because it is contained in Islam's most canonical hadiths (including Sahih Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawud and Ibn Maja). Moreover, it has been addressed — and endorsed — by such Islamic authorities as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Hazm. To reject this hadith is to reject the sources and methodology of usul al-fiqh — in short, to reject Sharia law.

Imagine for a moment with me... imagine that what you've just seen, heard and read, imagine if these things were practiced by a Christian sect... imagine if it were to become popular amongst many Christians... imagine the denunciations, how negative the press would be, how these items would be played over and over again on MSM outlets, how they'd be played again each year during Christmas and Easter... can you imagine the reaction?

But because these are Muslims, you'll only see this sort of thing if you go hunting for it... you know it's true. That which a culture does not denounce, a culture promotes.



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 June, 2010

The beginning of the end for Political Correctness in England? The counter-revolution has begun in Doncaster

You do not have to go all the way in supporting the English Democrats party, whose silly proposal for an English parliament would add another superfluous layer to already excessive government, to raise a glass to Peter Davies, the party’s elected Mayor of Doncaster. Davies, the father of Tory MP Philip Davies, is one of just 11 directly elected mayors and he is enjoying increasing media exposure because of his outrageous agenda which, against all the tenets of consensual British politics, consists of doing what the public wants.

In his first week in office he cut his own salary from £73,000 to £30,000, which is putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. He also scrapped the mayoral limousine. He is ending Doncaster’s twinning with five towns around the world, an arrangement which he describes as “just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense”. He intends now to reduce (that’s right, reduce) council tax by 3 per cent this year.

The “diversity” portfolio has been abolished from the council’s cabinet. From next year no more funding will be given to the town’s “Gay Pride” event, on the grounds that people do not need to parade their sexuality, whatever it may be, at taxpayers’ expense. Black History Month, International Women’s Day and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month are similarly destined to become history.

Council funding of translation services for immigrants has been scrapped because he believes incomers should take the trouble to learn English. Officials have been ordered to abandon bureaucratic gobbledegook language. Davies is saving the taxpayers £80,000 by disaffiliating from the pointless Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit. He aims to abolish all non-jobs on the council, as epitomised by “community cohesion officers”. He is taking advice from the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Campaign Against Political Correctness.

Davies’s views are calculated to put Harriet Harridan into intensive care for six months. He disregards all “green claptrap”, is creating more parking spaces to encourage traffic in the town for the benefit of business (”I’m not green and I’m not conned by global warming”). He has asked the Electoral Commission to reduce the number of Doncaster’s councillors from 63 to 21 (”If Pittsburgh can manage with nine councillors, why do we need 63?”).

You may be feeling disorientated, overcome by a surreal sensation, on hearing such extraordinary, unprecedented views. They are the almost forgotten, forcibly extinguished voice of sanity which most people had thought forever excised from British politics. These policies are common sense, which is something we have not experienced in any council chamber, still less the House of Commons, in decades. The establishment is moving heaven and earth to discredit and obstruct Davies. He is that ultimate embarrassment: the boy who reveals that the Emperor has no clothes.

If it is good enough for Doncaster, it is good enough for Britain. Our effete, corrupt, politically correct politicians must be compelled to follow suit. Once upon a time, such policies would have been axiomatic in the Tory Party. In the Cameron-occupied Conservative Party of today they are regarded as anathema.


Victory for the Boy Scouts‏ in Philadelphia

A Philadelphia jury has ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts, meaning they will not be evicted from their home or forced to pay rent, at least for now.

Outside the courthouse, a lawyer for the Boy Scouts, Jason Gosselin, told Fox News the Scouts won on the most important issue, that of First Amendment rights. The jury found the city posed an unconstitutional condition on the organization by asking it to pay $200,000 annual rent on property it was leasing for a dollar a year, in a building the Scouts built and paid for themselves, all because the city felt the Scouts were in violation of Philadelphia's anti-discrimination laws.

"What we really want is to sit down with the city and resolve this matter once and for all" Gosselin says.

Philadelphia's response: "We are disappointed that the jury did not appreciate the City's obligation to deploy municipal resources in a manner that protects the rights of all of Philadelphia's citizens. While the good work of the Boy Scouts cannot be disputed, the City remains steadfast in its commitment to prevent its facilities from being used to disadvantage certain groups. In the meantime, we will review the trial record to determine our legal options."

Previous report:

A jury in Philadelphia is now deliberating a case that could have a dramatic impact on the future of the Boy Scouts of America in the City of Brotherly Love.

For more than 70 years, the Boy Scouts' Philadelphia Chapter has had a sweetheart deal with the city, paying virtually no rent for a prime piece of downtown property.

But the Scouts' policy banning homosexuals has been challenged by opponents (the Scouts' lawyer calls them aggressive gay rights activists), who say any group that discriminates should not be supported by taxpayers. In the Scouts' case, it would mean paying fair market value for their historic headquarters building, $200,000 a year.

The Boy Scouts of America has a policy banning homosexuals that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. Since it's a membership organization, the Court ruled the scouts have the right to exclude gay youths and troop leaders.

Philadelphia has its own anti-discrimination policy that puts it at odds with the Scouts.

Ironically, in 2003 the Philadelphia chapter of the Boy Scouts (known locally as the Cradle of Liberty Council) adopted a non-discrimination policy that could've allowed gays to sign up (a version of don't ask, don't tell) but the Texas-based national organization threated to revoke their charter if the policy wasn't dropped.

The Council then worked with city leaders to come up with new language that would be acceptable to all parties and succeeded. Or so it thought.

Three years ago, an openly gay city manager worked with others to challenge the Scouts' right to a dollar-a-year lease on city property, saying the group's new policy was too vague. It either had to allow homosexuals or pay fair market rent.

The Scouts argued this violated their right to free speech and due process and besides, the organization couldn't afford the $199,999 rent hike. Not only that, the Scouts argued many of the 15,000 city members didn't have cars and wouldn't be able to travel to the nearest suburban office, in effect ending the Boy Scouts presence in Philadelphia.


Sharia Comes to Michigan

With the help of a police chief of Lebanese origin. Court decisions authorizing the Christians to do what they did don't matter to him, apparently

Under Sharia law, it is forbidden to proselytize to Muslims, and no Muslim can leave the faith. Dearborn, Michigan, is home to a substantial Muslim population, and there is strong evidence that local authorities now enforce sharia in preference to the Constitution of the United States. Thus this Associated Press story about the arrest of four Christian missionaries that took place on Friday:
Police in the heavily Arab Detroit suburb of Dearborn say they arrested four Christian missionaries for disorderly conduct at an Arab cultural festival.

Police Chief Ron Haddad says his department made the arrests Friday. The four are free on bond.

Christian proselytizing at the festival has been a matter of dispute for several years.

Haddad tells the Detroit Free Press he isn't taking sides in any dispute and says police have to keep peace at a festival that draws 300,000 over three days.

On Thursday, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court ruled in favor of Anaheim, Calif., evangelist George Saieg (SAYGH). It overturned a lower court and said Saieg could distribute information on the festival's perimeter.

Here is video of the arrest. The "disorderly conduct" consisted of handing out copies of the Gospel of John outside the festival. Note the police demand that one of the group stop filming the arrest:

Many people seem to believe that concerns about creeping sharia are exaggerated or misplaced. This incident demonstrates, I think, the contrary.


A ‘toffee-nosed twit’ with wacky views welcomed by the new British government

Why has an anti-logic ‘stir-fry psychobabbler’ off the TV been invited into the upper echelons of Whitehall?

With every new government, it seems, a new generation of celebrity mumbo-jumbo psychobabblers also passes through the doors of 10 Downing Street.

The Blairs’ highest profile adviser was Carole Caplin, the crystal healer and advocate of exotic oils and celery-leaf teabags who once convinced Tony and Cherie to partake in a Mayan rebirthing ceremony. Gordon Brown had comedian Ruby Wax, who – after taking a course in psychotherapy and neuroscience – was invited to train Home Office officials to be ‘more aware of their colleagues, clients and partners and how to present a more human face using humour, empathy and honesty’.

Now, the appointment of C-list TV presenter Kris Murrin, dubbed the ‘stir-fry psychobabbler’ by delighted tabloids, shows that the Lib-Con coalition wants to continue the trend of inviting eccentric advisers into the corridors of power. In fact, Murrin is more than an adviser – she has been appointed to the higher echelons of the Civil Service as head of prime minister David Cameron’s ‘implementation unit’, on a salary rumoured to be close to £150,000. Her appointment has reportedly left some at Whitehall ‘bewildered’. That is hardly surprising: an overview of her career so far suggests she is a rather bewildering individual.

Murrin, who studied social and political sciences at Cambridge University, has become an apparent expert in a wide range of things from behaviour and psychology to sustainable transport, parenting and children’s issues. This remarkable 42-year-old has clearly obtained immense expertise in a wide variety of areas – even if what expertise actually means for some of these areas is unclear.

One thing that is clear, however, is Murrin’s low view of ordinary people, which was evident in her various preachy TV documentary series. In these programmes, Murrin’s expert status provides her with a licence to sneer, point at and preach to a wide range of the populace about their laziness and general ignorance.

In Honey We’re Killing the Kids, Murrin used the latest computer-modelling techniques to artificially age children; it was intended as shock treatment to ram home to the parents the fact that if they don’t rear their kids the Murrin way then they will end up as baggy-eyed, bloated, balding slobs by the age of 40. Having turned the parents into tearful, guilt-ridden wrecks, Murrin could then be sure that they would acquiesce to her child-rearing techniques. Check out her quite creepy technique on YouTube. It’s no surprise that Murrin also played a leading role in working with the New Labour government to implement the equally patronising Jamie Oliver’s school dinner proposals, for which she was appointed to the board of the UK Schools Food Trust.

When she’s not wagging her finger and whining at working-class parents, Murrin can be found standing on the sides of motorways lecturing drivers. ‘We have a fantastic transport system’, she said to a driver in her 2008 Channel 4 series The Woman Who Stops Traffic. And what is that fantastic transport system? ‘A pair of legs.’ That four-part series showed Murrin stomp across the country on a one-woman crusade to wean Britons off their apparently mindless addiction to cars by pointing out the damage that their four-wheel dependency is doing to the environment and to children. Inevitably, ‘it’s about kids not dying of asthma and obesity’, she declared.

The negative reaction of the public was a welcome riposte to Murrin’s hectoring. In one episode, a man from Boston, Lincolnshire shouted at her angrily: ‘I’ve worked all my bloody life for what I’ve got there. I’m not going to let some toffee-nosed twit tell me what I can do and what I can’t do.’ The only things lower than Murrin’s opinions of the British public were the ratings for her anti-car TV show.

To my mind, Murrin comes across as a patronising misanthrope. Five years ago, even moralising liberal campaigners such as Lauren Booth were left open-mouthed (with awe, it should be noted) at how effectively Murrin was lecturing the British public. As Booth put it in the New Statesman: ‘I know I should dislike Kris Murrin for being so condescending, but the real problem I have with her show [on children’s eating habits] is that I want to be her. She says what we long to say to mums shovelling burgers into toddlers in the high street: “Do you want them to die? That is disgusting!”’

Murrin is also a management guru – a trade once described by The Economist editor John Micklethwait as being akin to ‘witch doctoring’. Workplaces, she believes, are repressing creativity through being straitjacketed by excessive rational and logical thought. This is the central idea behind Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work, a book Murrin co-authored with fellow ‘innovators’ at the ?What if! Innovation Company she helped to establish. (As the FT’s Lucy Kellaway notes: ‘Anything with a title that starts with a question mark is bollocks.’)

Murrin says it was Socrates who initiated a ‘tradition of logic and argument’ which we are now indoctrinated in ‘from the moment we go to school’. And apparently this logical rigour serves to suffocate the sparks of creativity that Murrin so cherishes, where ‘there is no right or wrong answer, there are only, and always, alternatives!’.

One way to overcome the straitjacket of rational thinking in the workplace, argue Murrin et al, is to start ‘river jumping’, in order to stimulate ‘fresh thinking’ and build up our ‘freshness store-cupboard’. The brain is ‘hardwired to make creativity difficult’ and therefore various stimuli are needed to ‘trick it out of its non-creative channel’. Or to quote Murrin et al’s Star Trek analogy: ‘Work is a place where Spock behaviour is approved of and Kirk behaviour often suppressed.’ It’s the space-cadet school of management theory.

The ‘stir-fry psychobabbler’ moniker, given to Murrin by some of the tabloids, is a reference to one exercise in her book, in which Murrin & Co made a ‘wok’ out of beanbags and chairs and asked food-industry participants to act out being ‘a stir fry’ for two minutes. Not surprisingly, the food-industry workers were a bit uncomfortable at first, especially when they were given specific roles: ‘beansprouts’, ‘oil’. The book also asked hairdressers to ‘physically act out the whole haircare process from beginning to end as a piece of hair’ as part of what is labelled a ‘re-expression exercise’ aimed at getting people ‘out of their comfort/analytical zones to consider the feeling and emotions of the washing process’.

It’s no wonder that not everyone in Whitehall has welcomed the appointment of Murrin: back in 2008, reported the Daily Mail, she was already waiting in the wings with a hatful of ideas on how to identify those potential ministers with psychological flaws who would be unable to run a departmental budget. At the time, these stories were rejected as simply being the proposals of a ‘freelance consultant’. Now that she has taken up office, it remains to be seen what treats she has in store for civil servants and MPs alike.



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 June, 2010

The 'good' Communist -- not

by Jeff Jacoby

IF JOSÉ SARAMAGO, the Portuguese writer who died on Friday at 87, had been an unrepentant Nazi for the last four decades, he would never have won international acclaim or received the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. Leading publishers would never have brought out his books, his works would not have been translated into more than 20 languages, and the head of Portugal's government would never have said on his death -- as Prime Minister José Sócrates did say last week -- that he was "one of our great cultural figures and his disappearance has left our culture poorer."

But Saramago wasn't a Nazi, he was a Communist. And not just a nominal Communist, as his obituaries pointed out, but an "unabashed" (Washington Post), "unflinching" (AP), "unfaltering" (New York Times) true believer. A member since 1969 of Portugal's hardline Communist Party, Saramago called himself a "hormonal Communist" who in all the years since joining the party had "found nothing better."

Yet far from rendering him a pariah, Saramago's Communist loyalties have been treated as little more than a roguish idiosyncrasy. Without a hint of irony, AP's obituary quoted a comment Saramago made in 1998: "People used to say about me, 'He's good but he's a Communist.' Now they say, 'He's a Communist but he's good.'"

But the idea that good people can be devoted Communists is grotesque. The two categories are mutually exclusive. There was a time, perhaps, when dedication to Communism could be absolved as misplaced idealism or naiveté, but that day is long past. After Auschwitz and Babi Yar, only a moral cripple could be a committed Nazi. By the same token, there are no good and decent Communists -- not after the Gulag Archipelago and the Cambodian killing fields and Mao's "Great Leap Forward." Not after the testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Armando Valladares and Dith Pran.

In the decades since 1917, Communism has led to more slaughter and suffering than any other cause in human history. Communist regimes on four continents sent an estimated 100 million men, women, and children to their deaths -- not out of misplaced zeal in pursuit of a fundamentally beautiful theory, but out of utopian fanaticism and an unquenchable lust for power.

Mass murder and terror have always been intrinsic to Communism. "Many archives and witnesses prove conclusively," wrote Stéphane Courtois in his introduction to The Black Book of Communism, a magisterial compendium of Communist crimes first published in France in 1997, "that terror has always been one of the basic ingredients of modern Communism." The uniqueness of the Holocaust notwithstanding, the savageries of Communism and of Nazism are morally interchangeable -- except that the former began much earlier than the latter, lasted much longer, and shed far more blood.

In the decades since 1917, Communist regimes worldwide murdered an estimated 100 million people

At this late date, there is no excuse for regarding Communism and its defenders with one whit less revulsion than we regard neo-Nazis or white supremacists. Saramago's Communism should not have been indulged, it should have been despised. It should have been as great a blot on his reputation as if he had spent the last 41 years as an advocate of murderous repression and cruelty. For that, in a nutshell, is what it means to be an "unabashed" and "hormonal" Communist.

Anyone who imagines that the horrors of Communist rule is a thing of the past ought to spend a few minutes with, say, the State Department's latest human rights report on North Korea. (Sample passage: "Methods of torture . . . included severe beatings, electric shock, prolonged periods of exposure to the elements, humiliations such as public nakedness, confinement for up to several weeks in small 'punishment cells' in which prisoners were unable to stand upright or lie down . . . and forcing mothers recently repatriated from China to watch the infanticide of their newborn infants.")

Communism is not, as its champions like to claim, an appealing doctrine that has been perverted by monstrous regimes. It is a monstrous doctrine that hides behind appealing rhetoric. It is mass crime embodied in government. Nothing devised by human beings has caused more misery or proven more brutal.

José Saramago may have been a fine writer, but he was no exemplar of goodness. Good people do not embrace Communism, and Communists are not good.


Obama distancing himself from the Boy Scouts

Over the past few months, a widely circulated e-mail has reported that President Barack Obama is not signing Eagle Scout certificates, which only 4-5 percent of Boy Scouts attain.

Categorically, Internet watchdog sites, such as snopes.com, have classified the claims as "hogwash." But I have found a steady stream of White House whitewashing when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America.

A new entry on snopes.com defends that "President Obama's signature has been appearing on Eagle Scout certificates since late 2009," roughly one year into his presidency. But the Boy Scouts of America National Council confessed that Scout candidates who'd had board reviews before the spring of 2010 had received unsigned certificates.

"No Eagle recognition letters have been received this year from the president," said Richard Meyers, who attained his Eagle rank in 1957 -- during the Eisenhower presidency -- and is now assistant scoutmaster for Troop 162 in Arlington County, Va. Meyers made this clarification at a Chain Bridge District 2010 Life to Eagle seminar Jan. 30.

Why the tardiness? The Boy Scouts of America says the primary reason is an administrative delay in authorizing the president's signature. But does anyone else find it strange that the president has sent out 13,000 letters of congratulations to Eagle Scouts since the beginning of his presidency (with his signature on them, to boot) yet, a year after Obama's inauguration, Eagle Scouts can't get a presidential signature on their certificates?

But the delay is even more peculiar because Obama became the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America way back on March 3, 2009 -- an event that was done almost completely in secret in the Oval Office. Since President William Howard Taft in 1910, U.S. presidents have proudly fulfilled the position of honorary president of the BSA. But neither the honor nor the event was highlighted in any official White House communication. Nothing mentioned at the March 3 White House briefing. Nothing noted anywhere on the White House's official website. Obama simply accepted the honorary presidential position behind closed doors in the Oval Office with seven or so Boy Scouts present.

Could the secrecy of that meeting be a result of social pressure from, for example, the January 2009 letter from the American Humanist Association and 18 other nontheistic organizations, which pleaded with Obama to be the first president in 100 years not to serve as the BSA's honorary president? He's a progressive, so you can imagine the pickle Obama was in. But he is no political fool and was unwilling to deal with the collateral damage that would have happened had he denied the honorary post of one of the largest and oldest youth organizations in the U.S.

Interestingly, though the White House cloaked Obama's acceptance of the post in mystery, on that single day of March 3, 2009, the White House considered a host of other events as newsworthy enough to post on its official website, e.g., "President Obama Announces More Key Appointments," "Message to Congress from the President Regarding Export Certification," "Remarks by the President and Vice President on transportation infrastructure," "Remarks of President Obama to AFL-CIO Executive Council" and the "Remarks of the President to Commemorate the 160th Anniversary of the Department of Interior."

Yet not a peep mentioned about the president's acceptance of BSA's honorary presidency. Could it be that the 160th anniversary of the Department of the Interior ranked of higher importance than Obama's acceptance of the BSA's position in its 100th year?

I suppose it's also coincidental that Obama was unable to attend the 100th anniversary gala of the Boy Scouts of America in his own backyard (Washington, D.C.) Feb. 9, 2010. Why? Because that evening he had his first national news conference. Is it just me, or would you have delayed the news conference to any other evening in February to attend this unique centennial celebration of one of the oldest and most influential boys organizations in U.S. history? How about at least a quick shout-out at the news conference for the BSA's 100th anniversary? No such luck.

The president did, however, send a semi-congratulatory letter to the BSA on its centennial -- though at the same time, he subtly distanced himself from being a celebratory participant: "I send greetings to all those celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. ... I wish you all the best." Seems like a rather flat centennial note for the honorary president of the BSA, wouldn't you say? Actually, he never even thanked the organization or mentioned that he's its honorary president in the body of his letter. But I'm sure that's just a minimalist coincidence, too!

To be frank, I think Obama's delay in signing Eagle Scout certificates has more to do with White House political correctness and establishing an arm's-length relationship with the BSA than it has to do with any simple "administrative delay," especially when lawsuits have been levied against the BSA because of its stand against atheists, agnostics and homosexuals.

For years, I've signed and sent out hundreds of Eagle Scout recognition letters. And I know a host of Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts and Boy Scout leaders personally. These individuals epitomize the best of America. Indeed, the BSA is as integral a part of American life and culture as hot dogs, baseball and Grandma's apple pie.

I couldn't agree more with Bob Gates, former director of the CIA, when he explained: "I think that American leadership is vital to peace and prosperity and the advancement of democracy in the world, and that requires having strong leaders. And I don't think there's any organization in the world, certainly not in the United States, that better prepares young men for leadership in this country than the Boy Scouts of America -- in teaching leadership skills, in teaching values, in teaching importance of standing up for what's right."

Mr. President, do you agree?


Wishy washy Christianity

The Episcopalians are not alone. Mike Adams critiques Don Miller and "emergent" Christianity. Truth appears to be the first casualty of the phenomenon and sneers part of its stock in trade.

In the few years I’ve taught at Summit Ministries, there’s never been a problem with the more conservative Christians being intolerant of the less traditional Christians. In fact, there are a few kids who are forced to come here by their parents because, so far, they have refused to become believers. Those kids are often shocked by how welcoming Summit is and how well we listen to one another.

During our last session, for example, I really bonded with a 19 year old kid who is agnostic. He reminded me a lot of myself in years gone by. That’s one of the reasons I was shocked to hear Don Miller write about how intolerant we are here at Summit.

As I was reading Don Miller’s fictional biography Blue like Jazz, I found the following on page 79: “I was a fundamentalist Christian once. It lasted a summer. I was in that same phase of trying to discipline myself to ‘behave’ as if I loved light and not ‘behave’ as if I loved darkness.”

Some may be confused about the derisive quotes around the word “behave.” Don Miller is using them here to remind us that Christianity is about a relationship, and not about rules. He continues: “I used to get ticked about preachers who talked too much about grace, because it tempted me to not be disciplined. I figured what people needed was a kick in the butt, and if I failed at godliness it was because those around me weren’t trying hard enough. I believed if word got out about grace, the whole church was going to turn into a brothel. I was a real jerk, I think.”

So when did Don hit his all-time peak of intolerance? It was when he arrived at Summit Ministries, according to his million-selling fictional biography: “I hit my self-righteous apex while working at a fundamentalist Christian camp in Colorado. I was living in a cabin in the Rockies with about seven other guys, and the whole lot of us fell into this militant Christianity that says you should live like a Navy SEAL for Jesus. I am absolutely ashamed to admit this now.”

The only problem with this story is that it isn’t true. Oddly, Don came back to visit that Christian camp just a few years ago. When he did, he was confronted with his very public and untruthful account his time at Summit Ministries.

In response, Don just said it wasn’t a big deal. He fabricated the story just to make a point. He was confronted privately but was unrepentant, which was not too surprising. Remember that Don thinks Christianity is not about rules. It’s about a relationship with God.

So I guess Don can bear false witness, in violation of the Ninth Commandment, if he thinks it will bring himself and others closer to God.

Don continues on Pages 79-80: “We would fast all the time, pray together twice a day, memorize Scripture, pat each other on the back and that sort of thing. Summer was coming to a close, and we were getting pretty proud of ourselves because we had read a great deal of Scripture and hadn’t gotten anybody pregnant.

“We were concerned, however, about what to do after we split up, thinking that if we didn’t have each other we’d fall apart and start selling drugs to children. One of us, and it was probably me, decided to create a contract that listed things we wouldn’t do for an entire year, like watch television or smoke pipes or listen to music. It was the constitution of our self-righteous individualism.”

Since Don Miller has admitted that he fabricated the story about his Summit co-workers, I think now is a very good time to talk about self-righteous individualism.

Don is right that if such a thing had actually occurred – that is, if his biography were true – this would be an example of self-righteous individualism. I, too, am sometimes annoyed by people who define their greatness in terms of what they do not do.

But the leaders of the Emergent Church are just as annoying. They want to be defined by what they do not believe. Brian McLaren insists that he really doesn’t have confidence in the things he believes. But Don Miller is even greater because he is willing to make even bigger claims of unbelief such as “Who knows anything anyway?”

The Emergent Churchgoer does not believe in propositions. He does not subscribe to doctrine. He does not believe in rules. Therefore, he is morally superior to the fundamentalist. In fact, he would be ashamed to be one of those people who would try to shame people. Or, in the case of Don Miller, he would be ashamed to be one again.

Don’s fictional biography resumes on page 80 with the following: “The contract stated we would read the Bible every day, pray, and memorize certain long passages of Scripture. We sat around one night with pen and paper and offered sacrifices, each of us trying to outman the other with bigger and brighter lambs for the slaughter. We were the direct opposite of a frat house; instead of funneling our testosterone into binge drinking and rowdy parties, we were manning up to Jesus, bumping Him chest to chest as it were, like Bible salesmen on steroids.”

Of course, none of that ever happened. Don manufactured the story to make a point. But I can almost imagine a roomful of Emergents manning up to Jesus by making a list of sins they would tolerate and even commit in the coming year in order to demonstrate their commit to a “relationship, not rules” form of Christianity. But I won’t claim such a thing actually happened in some Emergent camp somewhere - not even to make a point. That would violate the Ninth Commandment.

It is odd to read Don’s Blue like Jazz account of how miserable he was after he spent the summer of 1993 working on staff at Summit Ministries given that he came back again in the summer of 1994 and worked on staff at Summit Ministries. The jazz that Don Miller writes is free-form expression. And maybe it does come from the soul. But it is not true.

Don Miller’s book Blue like Jazz raises some serious questions. For example, if some of Blue like Jazz is fictional could it be that most of the book is fictional? And what about Don’s other biographies? Are they fictional, too?

Later in his book, Don says this: “By being true I am allowing people to get to know the real me, and it feels better to have people love the real me than the me I invented … So one of the things I had to do after God provided a church for me was to let go of any bad attitude I had against the other churches I’d gone to … It seemed to me that Paul did not want Christians to fight with one another … This was entirely freeing because when I told my heart to do this, my heart did it, and now I think very fondly of those wacko Republican fundamentalists, and I know that they love me, too … ”

Actually, the Don Miller in Blue like Jazz is not the real Don Miller. He is a contrived character. And the real Don Miller had not shaken his bad attitude towards “wacko Republican fundamentalists” when he wrote the best-seller that made him rich and famous. And that was long before he gave the opening prayer at the Democratic National Convention and asked Jesus for nationalized health care.

Being Emergent is pretty cool. It means you can attack fundamentalists and then shield yourself from criticism by saying that Paul didn't want Christians to criticize other Christians. Now I know what they mean by all this "relationships, not rules" talk. They mean the rules only apply to people who believe in rules.

Of course, I disagree with Don whenever he tries to gloss over the importance of following rules. I think this whole episode makes us aware that there is no wall between rules and relationships when it comes to Christianity. Don has broken the rules about telling the truth and it has damaged his relationships with other believers – people who thought they were Don’s friends.

It makes you wonder: If breaking the rules hurts our relationships with people, how much more damaging is it to our relationship with God?


Israel and the Surrender of the West

Israel announces it's partially lifting its land blockade of Gaza. The move follows international criticism of the Jewish state after last month's deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship bound for Palestinian territory.

This is now—figuratively in some quarters and literally in others—the moral template through which Israel is seen. It doesn't matter that much of the world may actually know better. This template has become propriety itself, a form of good manners, a political correctness. Thus it is good manners to be outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza, and it is bad manners to be outraged at Hamas's recent attack on a school because it educated girls, or at the thousands of rockets Hamas has fired into Israeli towns—or even at the fact that Hamas is armed and funded by Iran. The world wants independent investigations of Israel, not of Hamas.

One reason for this is that the entire Western world has suffered from a deficit of moral authority for decades now. Today we in the West are reluctant to use our full military might in war lest we seem imperialistic; we hesitate to enforce our borders lest we seem racist; we are reluctant to ask for assimilation from new immigrants lest we seem xenophobic; and we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist. Today the West lives on the defensive, the very legitimacy of our modern societies requiring constant dissociation from the sins of the Western past—racism, economic exploitation, imperialism and so on.

When the Israeli commandos boarded that last boat in the flotilla and, after being attacked with metal rods, killed nine of their attackers, they were acting in a world without the moral authority to give them the benefit of the doubt. By appearances they were shock troopers from a largely white First World nation willing to slaughter even "peace activists" in order to enforce a blockade against the impoverished brown people of Gaza. Thus the irony: In the eyes of a morally compromised Western world, the Israelis looked like the Gestapo.

This, of course, is not the reality of modern Israel. Israel does not seek to oppress or occupy—and certainly not to annihilate—the Palestinians in the pursuit of some atavistic Jewish supremacy. But the merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.

The West also lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately. Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves—as an "occupied" people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this "neo-colonial" characterization.

Our problem in the West is understandable. We don't want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So we choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians—and for that matter much of the Middle East—are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even, let's say, a nuclear weapon—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority. For better or for worse, modernity is now the measure of man.

And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority, while my enemy's wealth proves his inhumanity.

In other words, my hatred is my self-esteem. This must have much to do with why Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak's famous Camp David offer of 2000 in which Israel offered more than 90% of what the Palestinians had demanded. To have accepted that offer would have been to forgo hatred as consolation and meaning. Thus it would have plunged the Palestinians—and by implication the broader Muslim world—into a confrontation with their inferiority relative to modernity. Arafat knew that without the Jews to hate an all-defining cohesion would leave the Muslim world. So he said no to peace.

And this recalcitrance in the Muslim world, this attraction to the consolations of hatred, is one of the world's great problems today—whether in the suburbs of Paris and London, or in Kabul and Karachi, or in Queens, N.Y., and Gaza. The fervor for hatred as deliverance may not define the Muslim world, but it has become a drug that consoles elements of that world in the larger competition with the West. This is the problem we in the West have no easy solution to, and we scapegoat Israel—admonish it to behave better—so as not to feel helpless. We see our own vulnerability there.



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 June, 2010

How to Father Faithful and Fearsome Kids

by Doug Giles

There is undoubtedly much truth in what Doug says below but I think the biggest favour he did his daughters was to give them his genes. He is a much-read pastor and obviously a man of exceptionally good humour and intelligence.

And his pride in his daughter Hannah is certainly amply justified. Despite his own considerable eminence, I gather that he was for a time known not as Doug Giles but as "Hannah Giles' father"!

Another factor in rearing daughters is the "Daddy's girl" syndrome. It's not a universal relationship between father and daughter but very influential where it happens. Regardless of what the father teaches his daughter in such a case, the fact that she has had in her life the experience of being unreservedly adored gives her great confidence in her own worth in later life

I never had a daughter but I had a very good relationship with one of my stepdaughters while she was a kid and she is now a very confident young woman in her own quiet way. She even got rich the way I did. And she is one of the happiest people I know

I have two daughters. One irreparably crushed ACORN’s nuts (how ya’ doing, Bertha Lewis?), and the other, at the ripe old age of eighteen, writes for the NRA. When these female charges popped out of their mommy’s womb years ago, this thing called “responsibility for their upbringing” hit me like a nunchuck.

I didn’t slough off my role in their lives onto my wife, my church, public school, daycare, relatives, TV, or “the village.” I didn’t expect any of them to fill my boots. I, along with my lovely wife, got my daughters here, and dammit, it’s our job—especially my job as alpha male of the Giles castle—to prepare them internally and externally for greatness.

Living in Miami, I knew I would have to pony up and be a major player in my little ones’ lives if I wanted them to escape being part of the local teen fart cloud. I knew I’d have to pay attention to them and spend time with them to instill solid values and principles. In other words, I was going to have to be a dad in the traditional sense of the word. Isn’t that weird?

Call me goofy, but I don’t want my nippers being inept, stressed-out, unconfident young women who hate their bodies, get easily depressed, have no self-esteem, and will likely have issues with their weight. Also, I want to diminish the chances that my girls bail out of school or bow and kiss the ring of some abusive boyfriend or husband.

In addition, I’d like to make certain that my daughters never flaunt themselves to get the attention of some Darwinian-throwback-gold-toothed-rapping-thug just so they can be the chief hoochie in his stupid booty video.

Furthermore, as my daughters’ dad, I’d like to reduce the possibility that they’ll ever become sex objects—or pregnant teens. I do not want my chicas becoming STD wagons or teens who do dope and abuse booze. I’d like to make certain that they’ve got a snowball’s chance in Miami of ever seeing that junk occur in their lives.

What about you, Papasan? Would you like to guarantee your girl doesn’t end up being Anna Nicole Smith? You would? Good for you. Then keep reading.

Padre, I’ve got some advice for you. Mind if I share it? Great, here it is: Do not disengage from your daughter. Hang around your home and let your girl know (by your actions) that you really care about her while showing her maximum affection.

That’s right, you must cherish, coach, and guard your niña. Got it?

A lack of mental, physical, and spiritual input from you, Daddy-o, will exponentially boost the odds that your youngster will grow up to be more lost than Jenna Jameson sitting in on a Knox Seminary class discussing the symbolism in Revelation 18.

If you do not want your daughter to end up like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears and would, instead, like to raise a sharp, solid, and smart señorita, then you, Dad, must get off your butt and get caught up in your girl’s life.

Your lady cannot raise your daughter alone—and even if she could, she doesn’t bring to the table what a man does. Period. I don’t care what any lesbian sociology teacher at Columbia says or what rancid Rosie propagates. Single moms, as great as some of them are, or lesbians (no matter how masculine they look and act) do not give your daughter what an involved father does.

Feminists would love for all of us to believe that the dad’s role in his daughter’s life really isn’t that important and that a dad can be easily replaced by lesbians, public school, or Hillary’s “village.” This is the Kool-Aid being served to postmodern society, and, unfortunately, many people are drinking this poison and asking for seconds.

I beg to differ with these delirious dames and the dullards who parrot their opinions. No person is more important to a girl’s well-modulated existence than a dad who’s got his act together. A father who exhibits the God-given features of the alpha male is an irreplaceable ingredient in the recipe for a truly lovely and lively lady.

*For more 411 regarding raising righteous and rowdy kids, check out my book How to Keep Jackasses Away From Daddy’s Girl.


Daddy Was Only a Donor

A new study paints a troubling portrait of children conceived by single mothers who chose insemination by an anonymous donor. There have been quite a few articles in the press in recent times by women who have done that and they come across as women with strong maternal urges who have nonetheless been too uncompromising in finding a man who suits them.

And as we see below, their fussiness has hurt not only them but their children also. A lot of blame for that has to fall on feminism and modern culture generally -- which gives women expectations ranging from the unrealistic to the absurd. A wiser message would be that all relationships require compromise and that relationships are worth that compromise

In "The Switch," coming later this summer, Jennifer Aniston plays an attractive 40-year-old professional who has given up on finding Mr. Right for marriage and decides instead to move straight on to motherhood with a donor father. The movie offers a largely celebratory treatment of donor insemination, as do two other movies out this year, "The Back-up Plan" and next month's "The Kids Are All Right." Indeed, one of the bottom-line conclusions these movies are pushing is that the children turn out "all right" with donor dads.

Hollywood is not the only industry peddling the story line that flesh-and-blood fathers are an optional accessory in today's families. Plenty of academics—from New York University sociologist Judith Stacey to Cornell psychologist Peggy Drexler—also have been arguing that mothers can do just as well raising children with donor fathers as they can with real ones.

In her book, "Raising Boys Without Men," for instance, Ms. Drexler claims that "maverick moms," including single women who rely on donor insemination, are just as successful raising boys as mothers who opt for the older model of marriage and motherhood. All that is needed for parental success, according to Ms. Drexler, is a "caring and supportive" model of mothering.

Until recently, there was one primary challenge to the intellectually fashionable view that fathers are fungible. It came from scholarship showing that children did better —e.g., were much more likely to finish school, avoid teen pregnancy and stay out of prison— in intact, married families than in homes headed by a single parent, most of whom are women.

Yet scholars such as Ms. Drexler were able to retort that much of the research relies on a comparison of middle-class married families with poor single mothers, so that differences in how children fare might be largely the result of socioeconomic differences. In their view, middle-class women who have a decent income and a good education can do just as good a job as a middle-class married mother and father.

That view ran into some major trouble this month, with the release of the report, "My Daddy's Name is Donor," by the Commission on Parenthood's Future (of which I am a member). The report is the first study to compare a large random sample of 485 young adults (18-45) conceived through donor insemination to 563 young adults conceived the old-fashioned way.

Significantly, the single women who chose to have a child by donor insemination were better-educated and slightly better off than the parents who had biological children together. So the study's results cannot be dismissed on the grounds that affluent marrieds were being compared to poor single mothers.

The study, which was co-authored by Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen Clark, paints a troubling portrait of the children conceived by single mothers who chose donor insemination. Young adults with maverick moms and donor dads report a sense of confusion, loss and distress about their origins and identity, and about their inability to relate to their biological father and to his kin.

Seventy-one percent of the adult offspring of these single mothers agree that: "My sperm donor is half of who I am," and 78% wonder "what my sperm donor's family is like." Half report that they "feel sad" when they see "friends with their biological fathers and mothers." Donor offspring with single mothers also are much less likely to report that they can rely on their family. Fifty-six percent of these offspring said they depend more on friends than on family, compared to just 29% of young adults born to two biological parents.

The study's findings echo recent commentary from young adults conceived through donor insemination. Writing in the Washington Post a few years ago, Katrina Clark reported that she envied friends who had both a mother and a father. "That was when the emptiness came over me. I realized that I am, in a sense, a freak. I really, truly would never have a dad. I finally understood what it meant to be donor-conceived, and I hated it."

In the U.K., Tom Ellis recently decided to try to find his donor dad through a registry that attempts to connect children to their biological fathers. Without him, he told a reporter, "I will never feel whole."

Such a sense of loss may help explain why the study found that adult offspring of single-mothers-by-choice were 177% more likely to report having had trouble with drugs and alcohol than children born to two biological parents. Perhaps in part because they did not enjoy the love, discipline and example of a flesh-and-blood father, young adults conceived through donor insemination to a single mother were also 146% more likely to report having been "in trouble with the law" before age 25.

So, despite the latest propaganda in favor of a father-optional future, this study suggests two stubborn truths: Children long to know and be known by their biological fathers, and they are much more likely to thrive when they have their own father in their lives.

Men who have managed to be good flesh-and-blood fathers to their children should take some satisfaction from the findings found in "My Daddy's Name is Donor." Even if the Big Screen portrays them as superfluous, in the real world, their kids are much more likely to turn out "all right" than kids who only know their daddy as Donor.


Israel is salt in the eye to Islamic imperialism

North Korea sinks a South Korean ship; hundreds of thousands of people die in the Sudan; millions die in the Congo. But 10 men die at the hands of Israeli commandos and it dominates the news day in, day out for weeks, with UN resolutions, international investigations, calls for boycotts, and every Western prime minister and foreign minister expected to rise in parliament and express the outrage of the international community.

Odd. But why?

Because Israel is supposed to be up for grabs in a way that the Congo, Sudan or even North Korea aren’t. Only the Jewish state attracts an intellectually respectable movement querying its very existence, and insisting that, after 62 years of independence, that issue is still not resolved. Let’s take a nation that came into existence at precisely the same time as the Zionist Entity, and involved far bloodier population displacements. I happen to think the creation of Pakistan was the greatest failure of postwar British imperial policy. But the fact is that Pakistan exists, and if I were to launch a movement of anti-Pakism it would get pretty short shrift, and in Canada a “human rights” complaint or three.

The “Palestinian question” is a land dispute, but not in the sense of a boundary-line argument between two Ontario farmers. Rather, it represents the coming together of two psychoses. Islam is a one-way street. Once you’re in the Dar al-Islam, that’s it; there’s no checkout desk. They take land, they hold it, forever.

That’s why, in his first post-9/11 message to the troops, Osama droned on about the fall of Andalusia: it’s been half a millennium, but he still hasn’t gotten over it, and so, a couple of years ago, when I was at the Pentagon being shown some of the maps found in al-Qaeda safe houses, “the new caliphate” had Spain and India being re-incorporated within the Muslim world. If that’s how you think, no wonder a tiny little sliver of a Jewish state smack dab in the heart of the Dar al-Islam drives you nuts: to accept Israel’s “right to exist” would be as unthinkable as accepting a re-Christianized Constantinople.

To this fierce Islamic imperialism, the new Europeans, post-Christian, post-nationalist and postmodern as they are, nevertheless bring one of their oldest prejudices—that in the modern world as much as in medieval Christendom Jews can never be accorded full property rights. On a patch of the Holy Land, they are certainly the current leaseholders, but they will never have recognized legal title. To be sure, there are a lot of them there right now. But then there were a lot of them in Tangiers and Baghdad and the Bukovina and Germany and Poland, for a while. Why shouldn’t Tel Aviv one day be just another city with some crumbling cemeteries and a few elderly Jews?

That’s the reason the “Palestinian question” is never settled. Because, as long as it’s unresolved, then Israel’s legitimacy is unsettled, too.

Still, the impatience of the new globalized Judenhass is now palpable. I used to think that, when Iran got the bomb, it wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t take that bet now. The new anti-Semitism is a Euro-Islamic fusion so universal, so irrational and so fevered that it’s foolish to assume any limits.


BOOK REVIEW of The World Turned Upside Down by Melanie Phillips. Reviewed by Prof. Richard S. Lindzen

In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. More and more people are signing up to weird and wacky cults, para-psychology, seances, paganism and witch- craft. There is widespread belief in ludicrous conspiracy theories, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack being an American plot.

The basic cause of all this unreason is the erosion of the building blocks of western civilisation. We tell ourselves that religion and reason are incompatible, but in fact the opposite is the case. It was Christianity and the Hebrew Bible that gave us our concepts of reason, progress and an orderly world-the foundations of science and modernity.

The loss of religious belief has meant the West has replaced reason and truth with ideology and prejudice, which it enforces in the manner of a secular inquisition. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. In medieval-style witch- hunts, scientists who are skeptical of global warming are hounded from their posts; Israel is ferociously demonized; and the United States is vilified over the war on terror-all on the basis of falsehoods and propaganda that are believed as truth.

Thus the West is losing both its rationality and its freedoms. It is succumbing to a "soft totalitarianism," which not only is creating an ugly mood of intolerance but is undermining its ability to defend itself against Islamic aggression. While the Islamists are intent on returning the free world to the seventh century, the West no longer seems willing or able to defend the modernity and rationalism that it brought into being.

"One is disturbed each day by verifiably untrue statements touted as incontrovertible facts about hot-button issues. With cold, perceptive, exhaustive and persistent passion, Melanie Phillips dissects the phenomenon among disparate movements, to reach disturbing but compelling conclusions about the erosion of modern liberal society by ideologies whose surprising interconnections are meticulously identified. One can only hope that her book will penetrate the information cocoon into which many of our intelligentsia have sealed 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.


21 June, 2010

When racist violence can be ignored

So profound is the hypocrisy of the mainstream media in the English-speaking world that racial violence against a significant but still small minority in a major Western city has been ignored. The big rally against persecution by Chinese in Paris and its unpleasant aftermath seems not to have attracted a single report in English. The report below is a rough translation from a French source

Thousands of Chinese marched Sunday in the Belleville district of Paris to protest against the violence which they say targets them, an event that ended with a few skirmishes.

Approximately 8,500 people, according to police, took part in the march organized by a group of Franco-Chinese associations between rue de Belleville and the Place du Colonel Fabien in a neighborhood transformed last ten years by an influx of new Asian immigrants. According to organizers, it is the largest event ever held in this community in France.

"Make Belleville a peaceful neighborhood," chanted the demonstrators, alternating whistles and slogans in French and Chinese and wearing t-shirts and stickers on which were inscribed the words "Safety for Everyone".

"We decided to take to the streets after an assault at a wedding banquet in Belleville recently" said Huong Tan, a spokesman for the group, worried that the situation will deteriorate "If the authorities do not react". For the first time, he said, "People from the community have responded to violence with violence. We do not want that to happen again."

For several months, according to the collective, assaults and violent robberies targeting Asians have been increasing in eastern Paris. "The attackers are often groups of young people who live here," says Huong Tan.

Several protesters explained that Asians are "prey" to their attackers. "At our weddings, they are attracted by the fact that we do not give material gifts but give money," said one trader who says he sees petty crime in the surrounding shops "several times a day".

A florist in the area underscores the vulnerability of certain members of the community: "Those who do not speak French or do not possess valid papers will never complain."

In the crowd, a young man shows off a photo of a woman's face swollen. "Last Sunday, she received a bowling ball in the face because she did not want to give her money to an assailant," said Shi Weiming, who works for the establishment of an association defending the victims.

The mayor of the twentieth district, Frédérique Calandra, encouraged the community to better organize: "We must have contacts," she said.

The group calls for "concerted and coordinated action" by the prefect of police and mayors in this area -- which straddles four districts -- to "strengthen the security features and prevention.

"If the problem persists, we will be even more at risk," warned Chan Sing MB, the president of the collective, whose remarks were translated by a spokesman.

The event, which was joined by the adopted daughter of Jacques and Bernadette Chirac, Anh Dao Traxel, of Vietnamese origin, broke up from 16:30.

Clashes erupted, however, "between fifty young participants at the event and a dozen young people outside the train station, after which which three individuals were arrested, police said.

According to testimony gathered by the AFP on the spot, the incidents were caused by the theft of a bag from a protester.


There is quite a lot that is "politely" ignored in the report above by Agence France Presse. That it is overwhelmingly blacks and Arabs who are the attackers, for instance. A really gross omission however is that, after the rally, Asians were attacked throughout the city on their way home -- by blacks and Arabs. There is some video of that below.

YouTube link here. The video was taken by Arabs who appear to be laughing as they watch Chinese being assaulted.


The Beijing People's Daily now has an English-language report of the matter -- but again studiously ignoring the racial dimension of the matter.

No principles among Britain's centre/Left either

Despite their sanctimonious pronouncements. After the brutalities of Communism, one doesn't expect much of far-Leftists, but the centre/Left is pretty bad too

Well, we all knew the Lib Dems were besotted with voting reform - but who would have thought they'd take the infatuation quite this far? The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, has admitted to having a long- standing affair with Carina Trimingham, the campaigns director of the Electoral Reform Society.

Huhne's passion for changing the voting system would appear to have given a whole new meaning to the word 'coalition'. But single transferable partners are most definitely not on most people's agenda.

After 26 years of marriage and three children, Huhne now says he is leaving his wife, Vicky. Which would seem to be news to Vicky, since reportedly the first she heard about her husband's affair was when a Sunday newspaper got hold of the story.

Yet despite cheating on his wife and then dumping her so peremptorily, there wasn't a hint of contrition from Huhne. Not a mumbled scintilla of regret for ending his long marriage, nor of appreciation or concern for the wife he had betrayed. Instead, merely a pompous announcement that he was 'in a serious relationship with Carina Trimingham and I am separating from my wife'. The implication was that he was separating because of the 'seriousness' of the relationship with his lover.

But it seems that he decided to separate only because, after some absurdly banal cloak-and-dagger tactics to conceal the affair, his infidelity has finally been outed.

This is a shoddy way to treat his wife - who was herself divorced with two young children when she married Huhne. He has refused to say whether he was responsible for the break-up of her first marriage shortly after she met him.

Once upon a time, a minister would have resigned his post after the revelation of such despicable behaviour. But as has been commented on by others, now it is the wife who has to resign.

Huhne is trying to take shelter behind the hoary old excuse that his private life has nothing to do with his political career. Yet this same Huhne used his family life to promote that political career. Only last spring, a leaflet sent to constituents in his marginal Eastleigh constituency featured pictures of his wife and children with inscriptions such as 'getting married does not seem like 26 years ago' and: 'Family matters to me so much. Where would we be without them?' Yet when he distributed these leaflets he had already long been cheating on his wife. What rank hypocrisy.

True, the Lib Dems have explicitly refused to support the values of marriage, extolling instead 'lifestyle choice' - otherwise known as the right to personal irresponsibility.

Yet only four days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - who once modestly confided he had slept with 'no more than 30' women - was forced to support David Cameron's pro-marriage agenda when he wrote: 'I know from my own life that a happy marriage and healthy children matter more than anything else . . . When marriages and relationships break down, a child's whole world can collapse too. Strong, stable and loving families are the cornerstone of a happy childhood.'

Oh dear. Just when Clegg had dumped yet another Lib Dem shibboleth, he was left with his trousers round his ankles. It seems the philandering Huhne had kept his leader in the dark, too.

In any event, the argument that politicians shouldn't be judged by their private lives really is a turkey. If someone cheats on their spouse, betrays a solemn pledge and causes pain to dependents, we must assume they may do the same to their constituents or their country. If Huhne's wife can't trust her husband, why should we?

And while we're about it, let's remind ourselves that he hardly emerged from the great expenses scandal smelling of roses either. Despite the fact that he owns no fewer than seven houses and is one of the richest members of Parliament, he claimed £5,066 for painting work on his garden fences and chairs and £119 for a mahogany Corby trouser press - which he later repaid 'to avoid controversy'.

For a party that came to power on the basis that it was offering a new politics of integrity, honesty and transparency, the shine is coming off the Lib Dems faster than off a guardsman's boot in a farmyard. The only reason they could pose as squeaky-clean was that until they suddenly became part of the governing Coalition they were considered so irrelevant they were never held up to scrutiny. Now they are finally being exposed to the public glare - and what an unlovely sight they are.

A mere three weeks ago, their superstar David Laws had to resign his brand-new post as Chief Secretary to the Treasury after it was revealed he had paid some £40,000 of taxpayers' money in rent to his secret gay lover. An attempt was made to shield him too behind the 'private life' defence on the spurious grounds that he was being victimised because of his sexuality. But, of course, the real issue was dishonesty.

Then there's the Lib Dems' breathtaking opportunism and cynicism. Last week, Nick Clegg used a major speech on the economy to warn that any course of action other than slashing public spending would be 'irresponsible' and would 'condemn ourselves and our children to decades of debt, higher interest rates and fewer jobs'. Yet this is the same Nick Clegg who, right up to the election, was bashing the Tories for planning to slash spending, warning that early, deep cuts would be 'economic masochism' and could even lead to 'Greek-style unrest'.

Now, he says he's changed his mind after a long conversation with the Governor of the Bank of England. Presumably, the fact that having got his feet under the Cabinet table he is deeply reluctant to leave it has nothing at all to do with his Damascene conversion.

In fact, it seems there are no lengths to which these Lib Dems won't go to gain power and keep it. At the election, Huhne told voters that the only way to keep the Tories out was to vote for him. Benefiting from the fact that 5,085 Labour voters switched because they didn't want to see a Cameron government, he won by a majority of 3,864. And yet now he is said by his leader to be the tenth most powerful member of a Conservative-led government.

With two scandals in three weeks and with policies being junked with impunity, it's as if the Lib Dems are in a speeded-up film. Having been out of power for more than a century, they appear to be determined to make up for lost time in showing they can match both Tories and Labour when it comes to sleaze and opportunism.

New politics? It's deja vu. The ironies multiply the more you think about it. Here is David Cameron obsessively driven by the need to obliterate from the public mind the image of 'Tory sleaze' derived from such serial scandals as Steven Norris's five mistresses, Tim Yeo's lovechild and David Mellor's 'toe-sucking' affair.

Turning disadvantage into an opportunity, Cameron seized upon the enforced coalition to use the Lib Dems as human shields of niceness and decency behind which he could cut public spending without attracting opprobrium. Yet now, instead of bedding down with people as woolly as their jumpers, Cameron finds he is shacked up with a party apparently determined to win the World Cup of sexual and financial sleaze.

You'd have to have a heart of knitted organic yoghurt not to laugh.


The antisemitism of Fidel Castro

Never mentioned by other Leftists or the MSM (but I repeat myself), of course

“The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians, is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis,” wrote Fidel Castro last week in his fiefdom’s press. “It would seem that the Fuhrer’s swastika is today Israel’s banner.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor was quick to respond: “With these outrageous comments, Fidel Castro shames his old-time companions and the ideals he always pretended to serve. Che Guevara must be spinning in his grave.”

How’s that again about Che Guevara, Mr Palmor?

Mr Palmor was kind enough to communicate with your loyal servant here and explain that his comment regarding Che Guevara was ironic--a jab at Fidel Castro. Great. The world needs many more such foreign ministry officials. But for anyone who got the impression that Castro’s “anti-Zionism” popped up last week, or that Che Guevara would have quibbled with his puppetmaster’s sentiments, here’s some history

Condemn me, it doesn't matter," declared Fidel Castro during the trial in 1953 for his failed Moncada putsch, "history will absolve me."

"You may pronounce me guilty," declared Adolf Hitler during the trial in 1924 for his failed Rathaus putsch, "but the eternal court of history will absolve me."

Coincidence? Perhaps. But many of Fidel Castro’s high-school and college classmates recall the well-thumbed copy of Mein Kampf Castro often carried at the time. In fact his title of “Lider Maximo” perfectly mimics the German term Fuhrer, except Castro had to one-up even Hitler, stressing the “maximum.”

A few years after his trial (and pardon by Batista!) Castro’s July 26th terrorist Movement adopted the red, black and white of the Nazi flag as its colors. Coincidence? Perhaps.

In 1966 Havana hosted the Tri-Continental Conference, a worldwide convention for guerrillas and terrorists. Here Castro vowed to aid any group anywhere who were fighting”colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism."

“The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves!” read Che Guevara’s Message to the Tricontinental Conference (Che himself was whimpering and licking his wounds in Tanzania at the time after his comical stomping in the Congo.) "We will bring the war to the imperialists enemies’ very home, to his places of work and recreation. Thus we’ll destroy him“

Continued the message from the icon of flower children. “We must keep our hatred against them alive and fan it to paroxysms! These hyenas (Americans) are fit only for extermination. Hatred is the central element of our struggle!..Hatred that is intransigent …Hatred so violent that it propels a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him violent and cold- blooded killing machine. We reject any peaceful approach. Violence is inevitable. To establish Socialism rivers of blood must flow!”

In attendance and( presumably) joining in the whooping 'hollerin ovation that greeted this message by the icon of peaceniks, was Abu Ammar (later known as Yasir Arafat) and Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (later "Carlos the Jackal.")

Among other initiatives at the Tricontinental Conference, Cuba set up massive terrorist training camps in western Cuba under the direction of KGB Col. Vadim Kotchergine. These were soon filled with guerrillas and terrorists from Al Fatah, to the Sandinistas, to El Salvador's FMLF, to the Tupamaros to the Weather Underground. With his contacts well in place, in 1968 Castro sent military instructors into Palestinian bases in Jordan to train Palestinian Fedayeen. The Egyptian newspaper Ahar Sa'ah reported in September 13, 1978 that 500 Palestinian fighters were training in Cuba.

The Yom Kippur War really got Castro’s martial juices flowing. So he sent 500 of his crack Tank commanders to man 500 Soviet T-55 tanks and buttress the crack Syrian stormtroopers poised to Blitzkrieg into Israel through the Golan heights. Within a week of its surprise Blitzkrieg into Israel, the Syrian regime was scrambling to evacuate from its own capital. An Israeli force (a tiny fraction of the Syrian/Cuban forces size) counterattacked, blasted Castro’s tanks into a smoldering scrap pile and rolled over them like a speed bump on the way to envelop Damascus.

“It’s OK, Fidel,” Assad might have moped. “It’s the thought that counts, buddy.”

The following year Castro personally decorated Yasir Arafat with Cuba's highest honor, the Bay of Pigs Medal. “Comrade Fidel said that the Palestinian Revolution can count on the full support and aid of the Cuban Revolution!" exulted Arafat. “We are not alone!”

Scholar Walter Laquer sums it up in his work, The Age of Terrorism. "Multinational terrorism reached a first climax in the early 1970s. It involved close co-operation between small terrorist groups in many countries with the Libyans, Algerians, Syrians, North Koreans and Cubans acting as the paymasters and suppliers of weapons and equipment."

And lest we forget, the famous UN resolution in 1975 branding “Zionism as Racism” was co-sponsored by Cuba. At the September 2001 United Nations “World Conference against Racism” conference in Durban, South Africa, Castro denounced, “Israel’s ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words then the cartoons that run in Castro’s media say it best.

In 1974 the PLO opened their first Latin American embassy. Can you guess where? Right, Havana. And “President Fidel Castro, added a cheeky little twist to the event. The site for this embassy was a Jewish Community center that flourished during the reign of the unspeakable “dictator”( as known throughout the MSM) Batista, who never saw fit to a lay on finger on anyone’s property. But “President” (as known throughout the MSM) Castro snatched it from its Jewish owners at Soviet gunpoint. The title transfer whisked through in typical Castroite/Stalinist manner (resist and we shoot you.)

During the mid 60’s Castro’s police and military herded tens of thousands of Cuban youths (long-hairs, rock &rollers, gays, religious) into forced labor camps at Soviet bayonet point. No pesky trials determined this, but their collective “crime” was “delinquency.” Che Guevara, “the Brains of The Cuban Revolution” (as Time magazine crowned him in a 1960 cover story) decreed this system of forced labor in 1960 for any and all who proved insufficiently reverential to his revolution’s mandates. “We send to Guanahacabibes people who have committed crimes against revolutionary norms,” explained Guevara. “It is hard labor. The working conditions are harsh.”

Alas, Che Guevara’s definition of “revolutionary norms” proved pretty sweeping. And the regime co-founded by this icon of freedom-mongers commenced to jail political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin's and murder them at a higher rate than pre-war Hitler’s. Above the barbed wire and just below the machine guns on the watchtowers, these prisoners saw a huge sign as they entered. “Work Will Make Men of You,” It read.

The greeting at Auschwitz’ entrance read, “Work Will Make You Free.” Coincidence? Perhaps.

For some reason, 90 per cent of Cuba’s Jews saw fit to flee Castro’s Cuba, at the cost of most of their earthly belongings. That’s a much, much higher percentage than fled Czarist Russia. But Castro’s Pogrom’s didn’t include racial epithets, you see. Castro’s Russian-armed “interventors” pillaged Cuban Jews’ savings and property —but quite professionally and with nary a bullwhip or racial insult. So apparently this looting disqualifies as a pogrom. Move along, folks. No “hate-crime” here!

"The eight most important hours of my life." That’s Shoah founder Steven Spielberg recalling his meeting with Fidel Castro.


Thought crime marches on in Britain

Leadership of small political party threatened with imprisonment by Equalities Commission

The “Marxist scumbags” at the Equality and Human Rights Commission EHRC have launched an attempt to imprison the leader and deputy leader of the British National Party and cause the total destruction of the party, Nick Griffin MEP has announced.

“I don’t mind going to prison, but we cannot allow the Marxist scumbags at the EHRC to destroy everything that so many people have worked for,” Mr Griffin said in a special BNPtv interview recorded for his Chairman’s Update email circular.

Mr Griffin discussed a new dossier of complaints the party has received from the EHRC which was a continuation of the case which that body had previously launched against the BNP.

He pointed out that the core of the new dossier contained some of the most outrageous allegations yet, including one that the BNP’s new constitution was “difficult to find” on the BNP website.

“This is an application to seek the ‘committal’ of the defendants, which means sending them to prison,” Mr Griffin said, adding that the BNP was going to defend the action which sought the ultimate sequestration of the party, but that it would require the assistance of every BNP supporter to do so.



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 June, 2010

Once again Glenn Beck gives Americans the education that their schools no longer teach

In Glenn Beck’s excellent continuing series of “Founders Friday’s,” yesterday he examined “Father of the Constitution” James Madison.

Discussing this great founder with him was Colleen Sheehan, author of “James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government,” and James D. Best, author of “Tempest at Dawn.” (Mr. Best graciously sent me a copy of his book a few months ago as a gift; I regret that my busy schedule and huge reading list has kept me from diving into this interesting novel to date–but I eagerly look forward to it)

Sheehan said Madison was responsible for the introduction of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, at the instigation of Thomas Jefferson. Madison did have a concern that these rights might someday be interpreted as the only rights we have; the Ninth Amendment should have taken care of this.

Beck pointed out that modern liberals view the Constitution and our freedoms exactly the reverse of how they were designed; they view the Constitution as a frustrating obstacle to all that they want to do, while our founders saw it as an obstacle to all that an over-powerful government might want to do TO us. How right they were!

Beck points out that Best’s book is a novel about the Constitution Convention; based on facts, but in novel form. He then asks Best about the priorities of the founders.

Best said they were dead-set against any form of concentrated power, having just escaped from an oppressive concentration of power. One of these “checks and balances” set up by the founders to prevent too much concentration of power and to protect freedom was the original system where senators were appointed by the state legislatures (this was prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913). The states were intended to have a high degree of sovereignty (see the Tenth Amendment) and held considerable influence in what the federal government did.

Another point brought out on the show was that the founders deliberately chose not to form a democracy as our form of government, and chose a republic. Madison’s research did reveal, however, that republics have their flaws, too. Madison called them “factions” and today we call them “special interests.” Madison went to great lengths in the design of our government to nullify the power of factions.

In order to slow things down, facilitate communication between the people and their representatives, and prevent factions or mobs from forcing hasty change on the nation, Madison worked to build in these “speed bumps” that checked impulsiveness by a single individual or groups; these also served to protect the basic rights of the minority from assault by the majority. Major changes had to go through the amendment process in Article V (not allow an activist judge to legislate from the bench as we have been doing since FDR).

Sheehan pointed out how important the original intent of the Constitution is, and that, as prescribed in Article V, it can only be changed by the amendment process. To allow unelected judges–or even elected legislators–to change it outside of the amendment process is to throw away our state and personal sovereignty and allow an oligarchy. “Interpretations” and reaching extrapolations not in line with the intent of the law/constitution when it was written are improper and undermine the rule of law, respect for the law, and freedom itself. Our founders and early statesmen clearly recognized this:
We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government. – James Jackson, First Congress

[The purpose of a written constitution is] to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights. – Thomas Jefferson

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. – Thomas Jefferson

On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. – Thomas Jefferson

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. – James Madison

The Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution. – Alexander Hamilton

The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution. – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, 1833

There was also considerable discussion of the Federalist Papers, which are a collection of writings by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay to explain the Constitution to the people. These are a fantastic resource for deeper understanding of the Constitution, what it means, why it does what it does, why it requires what it requires, etc. It goes deeper into the philosophy of the why behind the Constitution. It also helps clear up some of the mud that liberals have deliberately thrown into the waters today in an attempt to hide their unconstitutional agenda and slip things past the American people.

As the segment began to come to a close, the role of faith and religion in the lives of the founders and how they crafted our government was examined. Best pointed out that Madison’s teachers when he was young were clergymen (Rev. Thomas Martin and Rev. John Witherspoon), and he also worked closely with and sought the advice of Rev. Witherspoon (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) in formulating the Virginia Plan. Also, the original intent of “separation of church and state,” i.e. preventing government from meddling in religious freedom–rather than the total divorce of religious values from the public square as liberals want today–is examined.

More HERE (See the original for video)

Ouch! Environmental News Site Calls Democrats "Notorious Terrorist Group"

It's all in the context, baby, all in the context, as Mother Nature Network lays it out (and, if they happen to see this post, will go "oh, shat")
There’s really nothing positive about the Gulf Oil spill, which has spilled over 102 million gallons and counting into the Gulf of Mexico. But a recent story out of the Gulf shows that even the darkest tales can shine a light on a more positive one. The Biloxi Sun Herald reports that reformed Ku Klux Klan member George Malvaney has taken a key role in the Gulf cleanup. Once a convicted white supremacist mercenary, Malvaney now supervises cleanup as the chief operating officer of the BP subcontractor U.S. Environmental Services.

George Malvaney was convicted as a KKK mercenary over thirty years ago. The Ku Klux Klan was initially founded in the 1860s by disgruntled Confederate army veterans but more or less died out by the 1870s. It found a second life in the 20th Century, serving as a notorious terrorist organization against minorities. The modern Klan is thought to be composed of several independent chapters across the United States, and it was one of these chapters which recruited George Malvaney.

And who were the primary members of the KKK? That's right, Democrats! Heck, the Democrats have a former member sitting in the Senate. And, really, other than the violence, is there all that much difference between today's Democrat Party and the KKK? Both put groups in boxes based on race and religion. Neither particularly cares for people of the Jewish faith. Both make horrible remarks about people based on their ethnicity and religion. Both have tried to restrict legal immigration (mostly from Asia, in particular, China). Both had/have policies that keep minorities in segregated communities. Both were against the Civil Rights Act. Both were against anti-lynching laws.

The difference is, the Democrat Party changed itself up so that now, instead of being directly abusive to minorities and religious groups (well, I suppose they are still abusive to Christian religious groups), they pander to minority groups as somehow not being capable enough to get it done themselves, and keep their lives under the banner of the federal government. Indirectly abusive, and their policies make themselves look beneficent.


In an English Suburb, Teaching the Kids Jihad and Jew Hatred

Carol Gould attends a school seminar on terrorism, and finds they have the kids hating Jews and the West early and often these days

Recently I spoke at a British school conference on world terrorism in the suburb of Bushey. In the current climate of worldwide Israel-hatred and America-bashing, it registered as a rather frightening experience.

At the evening opening of the conference, I was in the audience. Outspoken Muslim activist Inayat Bunglawala, who once wrote to the Jewish Chronicle that the creation of Israel was one of the great mistakes of the past century, was one of the speakers. On this occasion he railed against the Jewish state and the U.S., as did pockets of audience members sitting near me. He made it appear that America had been attacking Muslim cities, hence the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack.

I was jumping out of my skin. He spoke a stream of inaccuracies in front of this large, mostly young audience; many of them were toddlers when 9/11 took place and have no historical perspective about the decades of radical Islamic terror that culminated in the attacks of September 11, 2001. I wagered that if I had said “Klinghoffer” to the crowd, they would have laughed.

There were several Israelis and Jewish students in the front row who got into a shouting match with the jihadists sitting near them, and the front rows engaged in a kind of verbal mini-pogrom. Every manner of invective was promulgated, including from one audience member the mantra that “a bunch of Ukrainian and Russian Jews converged on Palestine after the war who stole the land.” Two parents — with their progeny present — constantly chanted phrases about the “barbaric Israelis” and “American murderers.” I glared at them, but they just carried on.

At the end, three young Muslim men came over to me, one of whom I had challenged about a comment he had made from the floor about America and its “25% of oil consumption.” They shouted at me that Jews ran the U.S., were responsible for the lack of climate change legislation, manipulate the commodity market, and everything else.

The woman sitting next to me took me back to my hotel. She, a Hindu, and I agreed this was an eye-opener, as the 250 member audience — mostly children as young as 12 — was obviously filled with a near physical rage against Israel and the United States.

The next day, I gave my speech to a large audience of students from five local schools. From the platform I could see there were many youngsters wishing to express their identity with headscarves and keffiyeh-style neck scarves. I made the point that I was horrified that youngsters with sponge-like brains had been fed so many untruths the night before. As soon as the question-and-answer session got underway, a woman in a burka shouted at me from the back of the room: the world is in a perilous state because of the “stupidity, arrogance, and pigheadedness of the United States.”

The audience erupted. I thought they might storm the platform.

The atmosphere hitting me up there, looking down at this crowd of angry children, was of palpable hostility. One of the panelists, journalist Paul Eedle, interrupted the woman — evidently a teacher — to remind her of the thousands of Americans who had given their lives in WWII to defeat fascism, but the school just erupted again. One wee boy in the third row was holding up a fist. I reminded them of the plaque at Dunxford Airbase commemorating 33,000 dead U.S. pilots but it — literally — landed like a lead balloon. At this point the headmaster stood up and said: “You need to remember that there are only a handful of countries in the world that would allow a discourse like this amongst young students!” I am sure I could hear from a great distance the angry woman grinding her teeth.

My speech had concentrated on IRA terror — but a man asked me why I was blaming “only Muslims.” Yes, in the course of the panel discussion I had mentioned the small matters of the PLO hijackings, the murder of 241 American troops in Beirut, the Khobar Towers, the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan London Embassy, and of course 9/11 and 7/7 — panelist Dr. Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain even mentioned the 1972 Munich slaughter of the Israeli Olympic athletes — but this guy seemed to feel Muslims were being victimized. In my speech I had also noted that some historians feel Menachem Begin was a terrorist, but now I was accused of singling out Muslim terror.

It troubles me that children are also being made by the media to hate the U.S. because of the — admittedly poor — American management of Manchester United and Liverpool football clubs and the takeover by Kraft of Cadbury. The British trade authorities could have stopped those misguided Americans from taking over those institutions in the first place.

Panelist Dr. Abdullah decried America for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was not given a chance to reply, but wanted to remind him, and the large contingent of impressionable children, that if the U.S. had not dropped the bombs, millions of American, British, Australian, Filipino, and New Zealand troops would have perished because the Japanese leadership was fully intending to conduct a forty-year land war — with even the tiniest of its children trained to fight until every last baby was dead. Needless to say, Dr. Abdullah and the America-hating faculty member would not have been born, as people of color would have been next on Hitler’s annihilation list. Had the allies been annihilated by Germany and Japan in World War II, we would be living in the dark ages.

But they don’t seem to teach real history these days. Suffer the little children …


A Good Father's Day Gift

A good Father's Day gift would be to reform the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), make it gender-neutral, and assure men that family courts will accord them constitutional rights equivalent to those enjoyed by murderers and robbers. VAWA will be coming up for its five-year reauthorization later this year, and that will be the time to hold balanced hearings and eliminate VAWA's discrimination against men.

VAWA illustrates the hypocrisy of noisy feminist demands that we kowtow to their ideology of gender neutrality, to their claim that there is no difference between male and female, and to their opposition to stereotyping and gender profiling. VAWA is based on the proposition that there are, indeed, innate gender differences: Men are naturally batterers, and women are naturally victims.

Feminist supporters of VAWA obviously share Jessica Valenti's recent assertion in The Washington Post that American women are oppressed by the "patriarchy" and that "it needs to end." One way they hope to end it is by using the extravagantly expensive and discriminatory VAWA, which was passed in 1994 as a payoff to the feminists for helping to elect Bill Clinton president in 1992.

VAWA is not designed to eliminate or punish violence, but to punish only alleged violence against women. Most of the shelters financed by VAWA do not accept men as victims.

VAWA has been known from the get-go as "feminist pork" because it puts nearly $1 billion a year of U.S. taxpayers' money into the hands of the radical feminists without any accountability for how the money is spent. Feminists have set up shop in shelters where they promote divorce, marriage breakup, hatred of men and false accusations, while rejecting marriage counseling, reconciliation, drug-abuse treatment and evidence of mutual-partner abuse.

Feminists have changed state laws to include a loosey-goosey definition of family violence. It doesn't have to be violent -- it can simply be what a man says or how he looks at a woman.

Domestic violence can even be what a woman thinks a man might do or say. Definitions of violence include calling your partner a naughty word, raising your voice, causing "annoyance" or "emotional distress," or just not doing what your partner wants.

VAWA makes taxpayers' money available to the feminists to lobby state legislators to pass feminist laws, to train law enforcement personnel and judges in using those laws, and to fund their enforcement. VAWA provides women with free legal counsel to pursue their allegations while men are left on their own to find and pay a lawyer, or struggle without one.

Feminists have lobbied most states to adopt mandatory-arrest laws, which means that when the police arrive at a disturbance and lack good information on who is to blame, they are nevertheless legally bound to arrest somebody. Three guesses who is usually arrested.

Feminists have lobbied most states to pass no-drop prosecution laws, which require proceeding with prosecution even if the woman recants her charges or wants to drop them. Studies show that women do recant or ask to drop the charges in 60 percent of criminal allegations, but the law requires the man to be prosecuted anyway, which means he loses his constitutional right to confront his accuser.

Charging domestic violence practically guarantees that a woman will get custody of the children and sever forever the father's relationship with his children even though the alleged violence had nothing whatever to do with any abuse of the children. Judges are required to consider allegations of domestic violence in awarding child custody, even though no evidence of abuse was ever presented or proven.

It seems elementary that husbands and fathers who are accused by their wives or girlfriends should have the constitutional rights accorded to any criminal, but they are routinely denied equal treatment under law, the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to own a gun. The accusation also destroys his employability, which diminishes her income as well as his.

Based on a woman's unsubstantiated allegations of trivial offenses, family courts deprive thousands of men of their fundamental right to parent their own children. VAWA has a built-in incentive for the woman to make false charges of domestic violence because she knows she will never be prosecuted for perjury.

Domestic violence should be redefined to mean violence. We must eliminate the incentive for false accusations, which includes getting a restraining order as the "gamesmanship" for divorce, child custody, money, and ownership of and access to the family home.

Reforming VAWA is today's basic civil rights issue. All persons accused of domestic violence, men and women, are entitled to have fundamental constitutional rights in court, including due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by clear and convincing evidence.



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 June, 2010

Odious restrictions on recovery of legal costs disallowed

This was in initiative of the equally odious and now ousted British Labour Party government so it seems unlikely that the present Conservative government will be too bothered by the defeat

Miss Jeanette Miller, Founding President and CEO of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers (AMOL) has earned her nickname of “Miss Justice” after legal action launched by the Law Society against the government was successful. In September 2009, outraged by the impending implementation of motoring defence cost capping regulations, Miss Miller launched an e-petition on the no.10 website. By the time the petition closed, it had attracted almost 22,000 signatures:


Despite this strong objection, The Ministry Of Justice proceeded with the implementation of these unjust rules designed to cap the costs of a successfully acquitted defendant. The petition attracted the support from many high profile figures including 26 QC’s and the Criminal Bar Association have fully endorsed the sentiments behind the petition. The petition was also backed by many legal and motoring organizations. Following the petition, the Law Society took up the helm and launched judicial review proceedings against the government in January 2010. In his judgment given today, Lord Justice Elias made it clear that the statute does not allow the Lord Chancellor to decide what is reasonable. In setting out a scheme of rates and scales, he has to respect the statutory purpose set out in the Prosecution of Offences Act. The Act was intended to provide reasonable compensation for successful defendants. By implementing rates and scales which did not compensate defendants the Lord Chancellor had acted unlawfully

The judgment - handed down today, 15-6-2010, by Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Keith - has ruled unlawful an attempt by the previous Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, to cap the costs paid to people acquitted in criminal cases. The court said:

“The new regulations involved a decisive departure from past principles. They jettison the notion that a defendant ought not to have to pay towards the cost of defending himself against what might in some cases be wholly false accusations, provided he incurs no greater expenditure than is reasonable and proper to secure his defence. Any change in that principle is one of some constitutional moment. It means that a defendant falsely accused by the state will have to pay from his own pocket to establish his innocence. Whatever the merits of that principle, I would be surprised if Parliament had intended that it could properly be achieved by sub-delegated legislation which is not even the subject of Parliamentary scrutiny.”

Upon hearing the news, Jeanette said: “I am truly delighted that on this most important issue, justice has been done. The months of hard work and campaigning have paid off to ensure that those who are innocent will not be left with financial ruin to contend with after clearing their names.”

Commenting on the judgment, Law Society President Robert Heslett said: “This is a great victory for the Law Society on behalf of innocent people who have been prosecuted by the state. The High Court’s ruling strikes down the previous Lord Chancellor’s plans, which would have meant that many people who were ineligible for legal aid and who were acquitted could have been seriously out of pocket because of the limits on the costs that they could recover. “This was entirely at odds with the accepted principles of justice. It wasquite wrong for the previous Government to devise such a scheme and I am delighted that the court has struck it down.

“The Law Society is pleased to have been able to champion the rights of the individual in this way so that people who are wrongly accused of offences to recover the reasonable costs of clearing their name. As the High Court said, this attempted change to the law was of 'some constitutional moment' and we are delighted that this policy cannot now continue.

Miss Miller campaigned for signatures to her e-petition in 2009 which preceded the judicial review proceedings. She was also greatly involved in assisting the Law Society in compiling their case against the government and disclosed detailed information and statistics from her own specialist motor defence firm, Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, for use in the case. The Law Society’s case was a judicial review of the previous Lord Chancellor’s decision to introduce a scheme to limit the amount of costs that acquitted defendants can recover from central funds.

In his judgment given today, Lord Justice Elias made it clear that the statute does not allow the Lord Chancellor to decide what is reasonable. In setting out a scheme of rates and scales, he has to respect the statutory purpose set out in the Prosecution of Offences Act. The Act was intended to provide reasonable compensation for successful defendants. By implementing rates and scales which did not compensate defendants the Lord Chancellor had acted unlawfully.


Another Peaceful Solution

by Emmett Tyrrell

The campaign to overturn in the courts California's Proposition 8 is a perfect example of one of my most deeply held findings. Check that! Two of my most deeply held findings.

The first is that liberals always go too far. They often start out with a good value and drive it right off the cliff. For instance, they start with peace or justice or tolerance, and they go off the rails, usually getting the opposite. The second finding is that conservatives embrace greater diversity than liberals. They are not ideologues, but rather creatures of a philosophy that allows them more latitude than liberals, who really are ideologues, have.

Let us dilate on the last matter first, as it really does shine a light on an aspect of conservatism that rarely is noted. Two major legal minds of the conservative movement are on opposite sides of the case over Proposition 8. One is Charles J. Cooper. He is a star in the conservative legal firmament, and he considers marriage to be a matter between a man and a woman. The other is Ted Olson. He considers it to be a matter of man and woman, woman and woman, and man and man. As he told The Washington Post the other day, discrimination on the basis of sex is "wrong" and "hurtful," and he has "never understood it."

Both are friends of mine, and I respect both men's views, though I side with Cooper. Moreover, I wonder about the liberals who hold these values today. Where were they in, say, 1960 or 1950 or any time back when gay rights were unthinkable? But here we are in 2010, and the whole liberal movement is with Ted. OK, I am with them, to a point.

When I got to think about it, I thought it was wrong to deny a stable couple, whether woman and woman or man and man, certain rights -- for instance, the right to visit a partner at a hospital (I am told that right often is denied homosexuals), as well as the rights to enter into a health policy, to insurance and to inheritance. There are all sorts of rights and obligations that couples want to share but cannot. But with the simple expedient of a civil contract, they could have them, so why bar people from this? They can live together. Why not help them live stably?

But that is not what the organized gays want. They want to claim that a union that cannot possibly have babies can. They even can raise babies that they have adopted, but they want to claim the usufructs for marriage. It is, on the face of it, a nonsense, but it is a nonsense that is claimed by gays. Why?

Is it just another example of the left's going too far? Is it an example of the extremism of the left that we have seen so many times before, of the left's taking a perfectly good institution and destroying it? Or is there a method to this madness?

Some believe that those wanting marriage extended to homosexuals want it because it is the first step in the effort to deny tax-exempt status to churches and synagogues. First, marriage is extended to homosexuals. Then religious organizations deny homosexuals the right to marry. Then these organizations have their tax-exempt status denied them for denying a right to homosexuals, namely the right to marry.

Thus, while the organized gays are proceeding to demand the "right" to marry pursuant to a larger issue, perhaps we should short-circuit this tricky business. We should privatize marriage. The state merely enforces contracts between two people, a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. Meanwhile the churches and synagogues extend the sacrament for those who want it. Get the state out of the love and sacrament business. Everyone is happy, no?

Which, come to think of it, introduces another of my deeply held findings. Conservatives have more peaceful solutions for social problems, some of which the liberals just make up.


Why, with public spending cuts, is MORE being lavished on foreign aid which perpetuates war, tyranny and mass murder

By Melanie Phillips, in Britain

When the Conservatives announced that they intended to ring-fence the international aid budget, many eyebrows were raised. Currently, this country spends about £3 billion every year on such aid. The Coalition has pledged to increase this total to meet the UN target of 0.7per cent of national output by 2013.

Since only the health service is also to be ring-fenced against the draconian spending cuts threatened for the rest of the public sector and expected to be outlined in next Tuesday's Budget, many have asked how the Government can justify spending even more on humanitarian assistance abroad while causing increasing hardship at home. Surely a government's first duty when the country has a £155 billion deficit is to its own people?

And why is a Conservative Prime Minister adopting an attitude that is more commonly identified with the Left?

The reason is not the presence in the coalition of the Lib Dems. It is principally because of David Cameron's driving imperative to transform the image of the Conservative Party from nasty to nice. And a precondition of niceness is that hearts must bleed for the wretched of the earth. After all, who but the heartless could possibly be against the idea of feeding the hungry or providing the basics of survival such as clean water, sanitation, shelter and health care?

Burned on to all of our retinas are the harrowing pictures of dying babies, swollen stomachs and pitiful lines of homeless refugees in faraway places about which we know very little.

Cameron says he stands for 'progressive conservatism'. And international humanitarian aid is a totem of progressive thinking, even more than support for the welfare state at home. It runs through the progressive psyche like the stripe in a stick of rock.

Ring-fencing the aid budget is therefore brandished as proof that the Tories are now the party of conscience, driven by the desire to ameliorate need rather than accentuate greed. It transforms them from out-of-touch Little Englanders into the trendy soul-mates of the likes of Bob Geldof and Bono.

And, according to Cameron, reducing third world poverty is also the key to tackling major global threats such as terrorism and climate change. Truly, international aid would seem to be the Tories' philosopher's stone.

But there is a problem. For sure, there is a moral duty on relatively rich countries such as Britain to help relieve humanitarian catastrophes. But the common complaint is that much of this aid doesn't go to the poor at all, but ends up instead in the pockets of tyrants and kleptocrats.

In addition, it is said that it does nothing to tackle the root causes of third world poverty, because it fosters dependency and corruption without requiring the political or economic change necessary to enable such countries to thrive.

Government is clearly highly sensitive to such concerns. Accordingly, the International-Development Secretary-Andrew Mitchell, has trumpeted a review of the way this aid is distributed, pledging that, in future, it will be a transparent system guaranteed to go to the poorest of the poor.

But this is a worthless promise. For the problem is far deeper than just transparency. The horrifying truth is that, far from such assistance going to alleviate starvation, disease and the suffering that follows conflict, much of it actually serves to perpetuate war and tyranny, persecution and mass murder.

How can this have happened? The key error is that famine, drought or disease are regarded as suffering to be alleviated regardless of its context.

But such need is often manipulated or even created by tyrants or warlords - in order to obtain the aid that then enables them to kill and enslave even more people and prop up their own corrupt and brutal regimes. This means that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which administer this aid become the unwitting tools of repression and mass murder - as do the governments and well-meaning, but naive people who have stumped up the aid in the first place.

On top of this fundamental error, there is another fiction - that aid and the agencies which deliver it are neutral players in world events.

Humanitarianism is conceived as the duty to alleviate human suffering unconditionally - which means a blind eye must be turned whenever it is abused. However gross this abuse, the aid must continue to be provided on the grounds that, wherever there is suffering, there must be humanitarian relief.

And so the aid itself becomes the key means by which war and terrorism, tyranny and genocide are actually perpetrated.

The results of this profoundly misguided approach are set out in stark and horrifying detail in War Games, a brilliant new book by the Dutch journalist Linda Polman. What she conclusively demonstrates is that David Cameron's belief that relieving global poverty will diminish the threat of terrorism or war is the precise opposite of the truth.

To warring parties in many conflicts, money and supplies provided by the aid agencies represent a business opportunity and an essential element in their military strategy. For example, in Rwanda, where the Hutu tribe massacred millions of Tutsis in the Nineties, a record $1.5 billion for immediate relief alone poured in from Western governments and NGOs to deal with what was presented as an epidemic of cholera among the refugees.

What the aid organisations failed to report was that some of the refugees who poured across the border into Goma in neighbouring Zaire were not dying of disease, but were being murdered by Hutu militias.

The Hutus stole the aid - by some accounts, as much as 60 per cent - and levied tax on food rations to pay their militias and thus continue murdering Tutsis back in Rwanda. Without international aid, the Hutus' war of extermination would have ground to a halt.

And this pattern has been repeated over and over again in pretty well every conflict zone, where aid is given in the tragically false belief that a distinction can be made between conflict and humanitarian assistance....


'Wicked' Muslim woman saw four innocent men arrested after slashing her own face and crying rape

The false rape claims never stop in Britain

A woman who sparked a £150,000 police investigation by ripping her clothes and giving herself a black eye, then lying about a violent sex attack, has been told she will be jailed.

Four students spent nearly three days behind bars as a result of the convincing injuries Leyla Ibrahim inflicted on herself, with one of the suspects attempting to kill himself.

But detectives became suspicious of the 22-year-old’s story and the men were released without charge.

It emerged Ibrahim invented the attack after a row with a male friend when he refused to lend her the money for a taxi home after a night out. Deciding she ‘wanted to teach people a lesson’, a court heard she cut and tore the blue frilly dress she was wearing as well as her black leggings and bra, leaving her breasts partially exposed. She also hacked off clumps of her own hair, gave herself a black eye and a suspected broken cheekbone, scratched her breasts and legs and finally left one of her shoes at the scene of the supposed attack.

Last night, however, the former children’s holiday rep was behind bars after being convicted of perverting the course of justice. She wept as the judge denied her bail, telling her a prison term ‘of some length’ was inevitable for ‘wickedly fabricating a grave crime’ which had caused ‘countless anguish’.

Ibrahim’s elaborate plot began following a night out in her home town of Carlisle in January last year, a court heard. After being taken for X-rays on her injuries, she told police two youths had knocked her to the ground as she walked home along a footpath, subjecting her to a violent sexual assault.

She told detectives she grabbed a pair of scissors from a sewing kit in her handbag, only for one of the pair to snatch them from her and cut off a clump of her hair.

More than 40 officers were assigned to the case, and four local students were arrested and questioned for a total of 64 hours, during which time one attempted to kill himself.

But police became suspicious when it emerged Ibrahim’s injuries were inconsistent with being attacked and they began investigating her behaviour.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court the trigger for the allegations was that Ibrahim had been ‘angry and upset’ at being forced to walk home after a male friend refused to lend her money for a taxi or let her share his.

She put her head in her hands after a jury took just two and a half hours to come to a unanimous guilty verdict, and her distraught mother Sandra and sister Samira ran from the court in tears.

Ibrahim, who came to Britain from Libya with her family when she was nine and worked at a petrol station at the time of the alleged attack, was told by Judge Paul Batty QC she would be jailed. ‘Not only did these false allegations have an effect on four young men, but also a considerable effect on your own family,’ he said. ‘You were convicted on clear and compelling evidence of wickedly fabricating a grave crime, causing countless anguish to all involved.’ He added: ‘A custodial sentence is inevitable because this crime strikes to the heart of the criminal justice system.’

Afterwards district crown prosecutor Linda Vance said such cases were rare and that Ibrahim had only been charged after ‘careful consideration’. ‘False allegations undermine genuine victims of rape and the continuing efforts of the criminal justice system to improve the confidence of those victims,’ she 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.


18 June, 2010

What kind of cop can't cope with being called Daisy?

PC Barbara Lynford has been off work with stress for five long years. five not-so-happy birthdays, five springs sprung, five winters of discontent - for Barbara they have rolled by like gutter balls in the bowling alley of life.

The world has moved on for others, but for her it stood still. Caught in the shivering aspic of her traumatic circumstances, she can't move on. With a stalled career, she now needs closure - not to mention recompense.

The sole female firearms officer at Gatwick airport has yet to come to terms with the nervous strain she has suffered, caused by... well, what exactly?

Good question. A terrorist outrage that happened on her watch? An orphanage coach raked with a madman's machine gun fire while she was powerless to help? Or - let me see - none of the above? Got it in one.

PC Lynford is the officer who has just won £575,000 in an industrial tribunal case against her employers, the Sussex Police authority. The basis of the complaint is that she was subjected to a year-long campaign of sexual discrimination by her 13 male colleagues.

What did the creeps do? Well, for a start, they called her nicknames such as 'Daisy', 'Lipstick' and 'Whoopsy'. The utter b*****ds.

During one meeting, a male firearms instructor said: 'Come and sit at the front. I promise not to look at your chest.' Frankly, hanging is too good for him. added to this, PC Lynford had to endure the topless pictures of women that the officers kept in their station.

Cue nervous collapse. The tribunal was told the male officers would radio each other while on patrol to point out attractive women. They faked anti-terrorism patrol reports, slept on duty, left their guns unattended and ran a forfeit system where they had to buy each other doughnuts as a penalty for leaving weapons lying around.

In short, they make Chief Wiggum - the useless, bun-munching cop in The Simpsons cartoons - look like Dirty Harry.

This is not the kind of vigilant policing that makes us sleep easier in our beds at night. and for the female officer none of this was pleasant or warranted. In fact, it was awful, juvenile and pathetic. after all, it is 2010. no woman today should be expected to put up with constant remarks about her breasts. Brothers and sisters, as Harriet Harman would say, it is simply not acceptable.

But may I timidly suggest, in light of Lynford's six-figure payout, that worse things happen at sea. and in Helmand province. Not to mention in most playgrounds in the country, every school day.

Many have unfavourably compared PC Lynford's pay out for her hurt feelings to the far lesser sums given to soldiers who lose limbs in conflicts or to those who were injured in the 7/7 bombings.

In contrast, the scale of her pay out is preposterous. If Barbara could not tolerate being called names - and I thought them patronising but affectionate, rather than downright spiteful - how would she cope with the bomb-throwing nutter at Gate 18?

Yet PC Lynford was no pushover. For years she had dealt with the canteen culture that comes with the territory. What she was subjected to went beyond that, but she joined the British police force, not an embroidery collective.

Our constabulary are doing their best to change, but they have been slow to fully embrace a culture of equality. PC Lynford must have been prepared for that, but she successfully claimed she was forced out of her job by sexual discrimination and the £35,000-a-year officer was given a £275,000 lump sum.

She is due to receive a further payment of £300,000 later this year if she remains signed off with stress, as looks likely. yet it is an award which seems out of all proportion to the hurt caused. The amount is an affront, particularly as it comes out of the public purse and does not punish the culprits.

Could it be more depressing? Lynford alleges that manning our borders, at the frontline of terrorism and illegal immigration, are a bunch of doughnut-munching dumbos slobbering over soft porn and sniggering about girls' chests.

Can it be true? I weigh this depiction of the Gatwick police against a wish to portray them in the worst possible light. and the fact that Sussex Police have seen no evidence or need to discipline them.

Something clearly went wrong for PC Lynford, but it did not warrant the lottery result she got. The £575,000 is not just an insult to the police, but also to the public who will foot the bill. Surely the time has come to put a cap on the limits awarded at tribunals?

If people need to be compensated for their hurt and insult, let's make it related to their income instead of plucking random figures from the ether. Perhaps, say, a year's pay, which would give them a breather - an opportunity to recover before getting back to work.

But giving offended workers the opportunity to retire on the basis of petty insults is not right. neither is a system in which those with a grievance are encouraged to keep a diary of every perceived slight, which seems to be all the documentary evidence needed to prove a case in court.

It is all becoming too ridiculous. PC Barbara Lynford said she felt ill when she went to work. Well, we're all feeling sick as parrots now.


Dozens of CCTV cameras which 'targeted Muslims' mothballed after civil liberties complaints

Must not watch Muslims? Given the attacks by Muslims on British targets, watching them seems the least that the authorities can do

Civil liberties campaigners claimed a major victory yesterday when a CCTV camera 'Ring of Steel' around a largely Muslim area was mothballed. More than 200 cameras - including dozens of secret units hidden from public view - were due to be switched on within days to allow tracking of pedestrian and traffic movement in and out of two districts of Birmingham.

But there was outrage after it emerged the £3million project was being paid for from a national counter-terrorism grant. Critics said the scheme was further evidence of the shocking extent of Britain's 'Surveillance State' and was unfairly targeting Muslims.

Yesterday council leaders and police apologised for failing to inform some councillors both of details of the plans and its funding source. But astonishingly they said wanted to go ahead with the scheme, in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath, regardless, claiming it would help to cut crime and anti-social behaviour.

Plastic bags will be placed over cameras that can be seen from the street to prove they are not in use, and 'covert' units will not be switched on while the public are asked whether they want it scrapped.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob accused officials of being deliberately 'sneaky' and demanded to know the locations of all the hidden cameras. 'In terms of reassurance it's going to take a lot more than plastic bags,' she said. 'The residents have lost faith with the authorities for their sneaky handling of the way they went about this and will not be reassured until they have been told the locations of the hidden cameras too.'

Corinna Ferguson, legal officer of human rights group Liberty said: 'Belated consultation of the communities targeted by Project Champion will give local people a much needed platform to voice their absolute rejection of this discriminatory scheme. 'Putting bags over cameras will not conceal the project’s true agenda, and Liberty will continue to pursue the protection of residents’ privacy under the Human Rights Act.'

Under the scheme, known as 'Project Champion', a network of 218 cameras was installed that ensured no vehicle could leave the areas without being photographed. Of the total 49 are standard CCTV units and 169 are Automatic Numberplate Recognition (ANPR) cameras that take a photograph of every car's registration details as it goes past. Around 70 covert cameras were hidden in trees or walls by the side of the road.

Funding came from the Home Office's Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) fund, which is administered by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Early police authority discussions about the project were held in secret and councillors said organisers barely mentioned counter-terrorism as a reason for it, despite the source of funding.

Had all the cameras been switched on, it would have made the area among the most watched in the country. By contrast, Birmingham City Centre has just 50 cameras.

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said the money would have been better spent on putting policemen on the streets. 'This fiasco is sadly representative of Britain’s surveillance state,' he said. 'The authorities in Birmingham have placed an enormous number of cameras in a very small area, failed to ask local councillors and residents if they actually wanted this surveillance, and wasted £3 million of taxpayers' money in the process. 'If this initiative was about fighting crime, that £3 million could have been better invested putting policemen on the streets.'

Ministers have pledged to properly regulate CCTV cameras to protect against abuse. A Home Office spokesman said: 'Work is already underway on CCTV regulation and the government will be bringing forward proposals as soon as possible.'


New British government bans radical Muslim preacher from entering UK

A radical preacher who claimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” has been banned from coming to Britain. In her first major test of being tough on extremism, Theresa May, the new Home Secretary, said she was banning Zakir Naik from entering the UK.

Dr Naik, a 44-year-old Indian televangelist, had been due to give a series of lectures at arenas in Wembley Arena and Sheffield.

The Home Secretary can exclude or deport an individual if she thinks that their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.

There had been speculation that Dr Zaik would be allowed into the UK. However Mrs May said she was excluding him because of the “numerous comments” he made were evidence of his “unacceptable behaviour”. This behaviour applies to anyone who writes or publishes material which can “foment justify or glorify terrorist violence” or “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts”.

Mrs May told The Daily Telegraph: “I have excluded Dr Naik from the UK. Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour. “Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right and I am not wiling to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK. “Exclusion powers are very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate on issues.”

Home Office sources said Dr Naik had been filmed on a website making inflammatory comments such as “every Muslim should be a terrorist”. He said: “When a robber sees a policeman he’s terrified. So for a robber, a policeman is a terrorist. So in this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the robber.”

He has also been filmed saying: “There are many Jews who are good to Muslims, but as a whole … The Koran tells us, as a whole, they will be our staunchest enemy.”

In a web posting from 2006 he said: “Beware of Muslims saying Osama Bin Laden is right or wrong. I reject them … we don’t know. “But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don’t know what he’s doing. I’m not in touch with him. I don’t know him personally. I read the newspaper. “If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

He is also reported to have said suggested that western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing. He reportedly said: “Western society has actually degraded [women] to the status of concubines, mistresses and social butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers”

Last night Patrick Mercer MP, the former chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism committee, said: “This is really good news. It shows that firm Government action can be taken against people. "This is exactly the sort of man who we want to exclude from this country.”

Dr Naik has been named as the third most popular spiritual guru in India and was judged in 2009 to be 82nd in a list of India’s most powerful people.


The latest threat to free speech and individual liberty in Australia

Internet freedom in 2010 looks like 1984

Long story short, the Rudd government is crafting an Orwellian scheme that may well require Australian ISPs to log and retain details of all your online communications and Web browsing activity. The Attorney-General Robert McClelland – not one of the brightest stars in the firmament of federal cabinet – denied this week that "browsing histories would be stored", saying the government was only seeking to identify "parties to a communication", such as senders and receivers of emails and VoIP calls.

Even this limited scheme would be considered by most Australians to be entirely unacceptable, but because the government has imposed secrecy provisions on all the parties with which it is negotiating in this matter, the process remains completely opaque and we are being asked to agree to the imposition of a generalised surveillance regime with nothing but the vaguest reassurances about its scope, intent and the potential hazards of abuse, misuse, maladministration and outright oppression. (Well, actually, we're not being asked at all. It's just happening).

There is an excellent article by Fairfax's tech writer Asher Moses here, which you should read.

It makes clear the very real fears of the real people in the real telecommunications sector that something quite profoundly wrong and loathsome is being planned. It is a scheme on par with any number of other Rudd government initiatives - obsessed with image management and controlling activities over which it should rightly have no control.

It is more serious by an order of magnitude than Conroy's amateur hour efforts with the net filter and arguably more aggressive in its collection activities than the huge, but little known datamatching programs which run, day in, day out, without most people's knowledge.

Indeed, today's revelation that Rudd intends to link the information gathered from monitoring your internet activities to identifiers such as your passport number open up the real possibility of mashing together all of the personal information available in your data matching matrix to (your income, your tax history, you bank account details, your medical records for starters) to your online life - your tweets, your Facebook account, your email, your Chatroueltte history, your 4square tracking data, your blog entries, the link you clicked not realising it was taking you to a snuff porn site, the link you clicked knowing it was taking you to a celebrity porn site, the comments you leave here today, all of it.

That's why today's column is written without jokes or even sarcasm.



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 June, 2010

If a black attacks a cop, the cop is not allowed to strike back?

The female in the pink top clearly went for the cop and nearly pushed him over. Note that both females already had criminal records despite still being teenagers. A few more punches earlier on might have helped them to wake up to themselves

This is the moment a white American police officer punches a teenage black girl in the face after a dispute about how she and her friend crossed the road.

Video footage of Officer Ian Walsh lashing out at the 17-year-old in Seattle has shocked the U.S. The teenager reels backwards in shock from the blow before clutching her face while a bystander can be heard asking: ‘Are you serious?’

Police arrested the girl, Angel Rosenthal, and her friend, 19-year-old Marilyn Ellen Levias, both of whom have criminal records.

Seattle Police chiefs have launched an investigation into the alleged assault after viewing the video footage.

Civil rights activists are outraged and say the punch was an action of anger not self-defence.

The incident comes weeks after another two Seattle officers seen kicking a Hispanic robbery suspect who later turned out to be innocent.

James Kelly, who heads the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle group, said of the police: ‘Shame on you. The use of violence in the form of a full-blown fist to the face was wrong. ‘What the 17-year-old did was wrong,’ he told ABC News. ‘I'm not making any excuses for her, but two wrongs don't make a right.’

And a woman with whom the 17-year-old lives echoed his statements. ‘She's not a criminal,’ [Really??] the woman, who would not give her name, said as she waited for a juvenile court hearing for the teen yesterday. ‘She ran into a situation that maybe wasn't right, but two wrongs don't make a right.’

The confrontation began after Walsh spotted a man jaywalking - the American term for not crossing a road at a pedestrian crossing or junction controlled by lights - and went to speak to him.

According to the police report a group of four girls were also spotted doing the same and the officer called them over to his patrol car. The women became verbally abusive and started to walk away ignoring the Walsh’s instructions to remain where they stood. When he tried to stop the teen two of them began grappling with him. As the 17-year-old, wearing a pink top, tried to push away Walsh, he lashed out with his fist.

Other officers who had answered a call for help arrived on the scene and handcuffed the 19-year-old. Both teens were charged with jaywalking and assaulting a police officer.

A police spokesman said they will review the video tape but said punching is a trained tactic for police officers. ‘There will be a thorough investigation into this incident,’ said a spokesman.

Both girls have now been released from custody.


Spengler's mailbox

Dear Spengler,

I won the Nobel Peace prize for reconciling Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. I'm presently on a ship in the Mediterranean trying to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, but the Israelis won't let me. What should I do?
Baffled from Belfast

Dear Baffled,

Load your cargo onto camels and head for Kyrgyzstan. They need it more there.

Dear Spengler,

I am prime minister of a Muslim country with 75 million citizens. Our empire once ruled the Muslim world and a great deal besides, and we very much would like to do so again. Recently I have asserted our leadership of Muslim causes, for example, breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza. What should I do next?
Anxious in Ankara

Dear Anxious,

Your problem is that the sort of rhetoric that plays well with the local audience makes you sound like an evil clown in the United States. Whatever Israeli commandos did on the Mavi Marvara, it's not a "war crime" or an act of "state terrorism", as your government proclaims. You need to work on your image in order to avoid the impression that your country is crawling with violence-prone barbarians with a paranoid chip on their collective shoulder. The world still remembers the murder of perhaps three million Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians between 1914 and 1925, not to mention the killing of as many as 40,000 Kurds by Turkish security forces during the 1980s and 1990s.

It doesn't help when two groups of ethnic Turks, the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, slaughter each other. When you expostulate about Gaza but say nothing about massacres in Kyrgyzstan, your credibility goes down the drain. It betrays a narrowly political motivation, rather than religious or even national concern. My advice: Announce that you will go to Kyrgyzstan to mediate between the warring ethnic groups. Stay there as long as possible.

Dear Spengler,

I'm the legitimate, internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people and the prospective president of a future Palestinian state, but I get no respect. My security people got knee-capped and pushed off rooftops in Gaza when Hamas took over in 2007. Now even the Americans are talking about lifting the embargo on Gaza - not to mention the Europeans - which would make Hamas look like a legitimate representative of the Palestinians and leave me in the cold. What should I do?
Rattled in Ramallah

Dear Rattled,

You're suffering from a martyr gap with the competition. Hamas gets respect because its supporters are happy to commit suicide. As they keep saying, "You love life; we love death." The Turks sent a boat full of prospective martyrs eager to die at the hands of the Israelis, and managed to produce nine corpses. Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are designed to draw Israeli counter-attacks which produce corpses, civilian or not. The horror evoked by suicide hurts Western morale more than the fear of terrorism. Muslims perpetrated 1,944 suicide attacks between 2001 and 2008, not counting the efforts of Hamas, Hezbollah, and others to provoke Israel into counter-attacks that claim civilian lives as collateral damage. The West is founded on the notion of redemption, that is, the hope that in every human being there exists some inclination towards the good. Suicide is a real conversation-stopper. The West cringes in horror at thought that a combatant culture can field an arbitrarily large number of suicides.

All the evidence in the world that the prospective shahids on the Mavi Marmara intended to die won't cure the queasiness of Western stomachs. The fact of nine corpses on the deck overwhelms the sensibilities of Western liberals, no matter how they got there. Your problem is that you don't have enough corpses to lay out for the news media.

If you don't like how you're being treated, ask a few of your security people to kill themselves in front of your office every morning. If they won't do that, order them to kill some Hamas people in retaliation for all the murders of your people in Gaza. The first will get you sympathy, and the second will get you respect. If you can't persuade your people to do either, even after all the American training and weapons they've received during the past few years, you're out of options. Seek political asylum in another Muslim country - Kyrgyzstan, maybe.

Dear Spengler,

I'm the prime minister of a small Jewish country in the Middle East. No matter what we do, we get blamed for brutality. We tried to handle the Gaza blockade-runners like errant hippies, and boarded the Mavi Marmara with paintball guns. We have videos proving that our soldiers acted in self-defense and nobody seems to care. We've captured whole shiploads of Iranian missiles headed for Gaza. The French blew up a Greenpeace ship and nobody treated them this way. What can I do to get a fair hearing in the world?
Jittery in Jerusalem

Dear Jittery,

There isn't a lot you can do, except in the United States, where most people still believe in fairness, and a lot of people think that the Biblical reasons for your country's founding are valid. You might want to produce a brief television commercial showing some of the 7,000 Gazan patients treated each year at Israeli hospitals; the Israeli field hospital in Haiti manned by a 200-person relief team that was first on the scene after the earthquake; and other humanitarian aid provided by your country. And you might want to contrast this with footage of the effect of terrorist bombings and rocket attacks, as well as the video footage from the boarding of the Mavi Marmara. That won't make much of a difference, because American support for Israel already is at a record high.

Your success, even your existence, is an affront to most Muslims. Polls show that only a fifth of Arabs would accept a Jewish state in the Middle East under any circumstances. That is because the return of the Jewish people to Zion, not to mention their military, commercial, scientific and cultural achievements, undermines Islamic triumphalism. Muslims ask themselves: How can the Koran be God's final revelation, if the perfidious Jews enjoy strength and riches, and their false prophets appear vindicated, while the faithful wallow in weakness and humiliation?

As for the Europeans, there isn't anything you can do to bring them around. They have abandoned the Christian faith that created Europe in the first place and have reconciled themselves to extinction. They abhor the idea of a Jewish state, because they abhor anything that calls to mind their own Judeo-Christian foundation. And they like to think of Jews as malefactors because it assuages their lingering guilt over the Holocaust. Worst of all, they wish to appease a growing Muslim population which over time will replace their own infertile people. The Europeans, in short, are a race of cowards for whom truth does not exist if it is inconvenient.

Your trading partners in Asia all have substantial Muslim minorities and have no reason to rile them up by supporting you. Most of them privately hope that you will succeed, but will not say so.

The Russians believe that America needs you as an ally in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the president of the United States seeks to reduce rather than aggrandize America's influence in the world; apart from his sentimental predilection for Islam, he is in principle against allies that strengthen America. Therefore the Russians will do everything in their power to wreck your relationship with Washington, the better to hurt America. If by chance you survive, they will be happy to buy your drones and sell you military aircraft.

My advice is to defend yourselves as you see fit. You only have to make sure to win. And remember: No good deed goes unpunished.


"Emergent" Christianity

by Mike Adams

Today, I was reading a book called Blue Like Jazz by a guy named Don Miller. About 100 pages into the book I came across this quote: “I don’t believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway?” After hearing the author admit that he didn’t know anything I tossed his book in the trash and lit a cigar. Then I sat down to write this column.

I wish I could say that Don Miller is just another author getting wealthy peddling a watered-down version of Christianity that appeals to people who want a little religion but have no desire to change their behavior. But Don Miller isn’t an isolated case. He’s part of the so-called Emergent Church movement that is making significant inroads among young Americans.

Rob Bell, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a good example of what passes for a leader in the Emergent Church movement. He assumes the position of a pastor, one I’ve always assumed is supposed to lead people to God, without any real idea of where he’s going. He says the following in one of his best-selling “Christian” books:

“Our words aren’t absolutes. Only God is absolute, and God has no intention of sharing this absoluteness with anything, especially words people have come up with to talk about him.”

Heartening, isn’t it? According to Miller, we can’t know anything. According to Bell, we can’t know anything about God because he won’t tell us with things like words. Go ahead and toss your Bible in the trash along with Blue like Jazz. It’s just a bunch of words from a bunch of people.

Brian McLaren, one of the best-selling authors and leaders of the Emergent Church movement, doesn’t seem to have many answers either. He once stated “I am no doubt wrong on many things. I am very likely wrong in my personal opinions on homosexuality.”

That’s weird. The Emergent Church guys pride themselves on being open-minded. But one of their leaders clings to one of his views even after he decides it is “very likely wrong.” That used to be called stubborn, or narrow-minded. Now it’s hip.

I’m not sure how many of these hip Emergent Church leaders have read Matthew 14:31 where Jesus asks Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” My guess is that most of these guys like to doubt because being unsure of all things at all times guarantees they will never have to stand up for anything or risk offending anyone.

Of course, most people enjoy having some kind of destination, not to mention some idea of where they are right now. But not Rob Bell’s wife Kristen who said this: “I grew up thinking we’ve figured out the Bible, that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again …”

At times, the leaders of the Emergent Church seem to want to do anything to postpone making a moral judgment. Brian McLaren once said, “Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides, but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us’ … Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements … Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection.”

Personally, I hope Brian McLaren does decide to shut up for at least five years. That way, he won’t say anything as stupid as the following commentary on God’s decision to send Jesus to die on the Cross: “That just sounds like one more injustice in the cosmic equation. It sounds like divine child abuse. You know?”

It’s edgy. It’s provocative. It sells books. And it’s blasphemy. It’s the kind of blasphemy that can land a soul in hell.

But, if you’ll pardon the rhyme, Rob Bell doesn’t really believe in hell. He says “When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, and slaughter – they are all hell on earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about hell here and now.”

The Emergent Church is cool, isn’t it? No hell, no death, and no resurrection. Just really good coffee and really good dialogue with guys who really aren’t sure they know anything or ever can.

Actually, Brian McLaren does know something. He knows how to ridicule people who aren’t convergent with the Emergent: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and if you don’t love God back and cooperate with God’s plans in exactly the prescribed way, God will torture you with unimaginable abuse, forever – that sort of thing.”

Above all, Don Miller and his friends in the Emergent Church want us to understand that Christianity is not about rules. It’s about a relationship. We don’t really know what the rules are and there’s no way God would want to share his “absoluteness” with “words” that could be used to form “propositions” which could result in “doctrine.”

This Sunday I’ve decided to take a friend to the local Emergent Church. I plan to steal from the offering plate, rape the pastor’s wife, and then kill anyone who gets in my way. Then, I’ll remind the congregation that Christianity is not about rules. It’s about a relationship with God. And one has nothing to do with the other.


The FTC, FCC and FEC are going to war on free speech in America

This week may prove to be the most important week for free speech the nation has ever seen. With a three-way assault being waged on our First Amendment rights, it is little surprise that the Obama administration would use the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Elections Commission to regulate free speech. After all, the Obama administration has made it clear that if you speak out against their agenda, you are an enemy of “progress”.

Let’s start with the FTC. This morning, the FTC will hold a public forum in Washington D.C. to discuss the findings of their commission that is tasked with discovering how to make the news reporting business profitable again. This is no short order, as dinosaur news organizations such as the New York Times have lost extreme amounts of readership. But as most outside of D.C. know all too well, bailouts don’t work and lead to companies that peddle government-influenced junk to appease their financiers.

Instead of allowing the market to work its magic, the FTC seems to believe that government intervention can remedy the decisions made by consumers who moved away from the news organizations of the past. In their opinion, they can “bail out” the nearly dead news agencies with ideas such as an Ipad tax to subsidize the nearly forgotten news agencies.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission will hold an open meeting to discuss Net Neutrality. After the FCC was dealt a set-back in the recent Comcast Corp. v. FCC decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the FCC will be considering other options to enforce regulations on Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) known as Net Neutrality.

The FCC, in its announcement of the meeting, mentions two possibilities for the regulations, while jokingly inserting what they refer to as a “third way” that would result in no regulations, leaving the Internet alone as it currently stands. The FCC is attempting to lump ISP’s under archaic regulations that were passed for the telecommunications industry decades earlier. If the FCC succeeds with this effort, they will be able to control your ISP. This will result in a regulated Internet, raising costs for consumers and regulation of the content that consumer’s access.

Include all of the above with legislation that is expected to hit the Senate floor later in the week. This next assault on free speech will be introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Schumer has proposed what he is calling the DISCLOSE Act, which would empower the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to regulate political commentary. Curiously, Labor Unions and traditional news outlets are exempted from this legislation. Which leads one to wonder what the purpose of the bill actually is? Well, according to the AFL-CIO’s Josh Goldstein, who supports the legislation “… the final bill should treat corporations different than Democratic organizations such as unions.”

Taken together, these are flagrant assaults on free speech and press.

Government officials in Washington, D.C. want the public to believe that they can fix the traditional news media organizations that are failing with the flick of a magic wand. One has to wonder if their true objective is to create a national state-run media. These same Obama officials would have the power to compete unfairly with media outlets with which they disagree.

A bailout of news organizations will prove to be far more dangerous than anyone can even comprehend. If any news media organization is bailed out, the independence that a credible news organization should have from its stories to provide honest journalism will be lost. News organizations that are the recipients of a “bailout” will be in a tough spot when covering anything that casts the government or a particularly supportive politician in an unfavorable light. The “bailout” cash will have strings attached that will further discredit and ruin news organizations that are already zombies.

By forcing bloggers to disclose their connections with political operations, the Obama administration and Congress are making a blatant move to keep an eye on and potentially coerce the very people that their newspaper/national media investments are in direct competition with.

The administration has proven where it stands on this matter. When it comes to free speech, only those that agree with their agenda should be permitted to freely exercise freedom of speech guaranteed to all under the First Amendment. The administration has shown all Americans that they will go to any length to expand their regulatory powers to ban speech that they deem as inappropriate while protecting their supporters and allied organizations.

If the DISCLOSE Act comes to pass and the FTC moves forward with rescuing the newspaper industry, while the FCC grabs the reins of the Internet, the First Amendment will have been shredded and those supposed defenders of the Fourth Estate will be wholly-owned subsidiaries of the very government they are supposed to monitor.



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 June, 2010

Government official vindictive over being upstaged by a private operator

Raft guide arrested after helping stranded rafter

Clear Creek sheriff's deputies on Thursday arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek.

Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year-old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged with "obstructing government operations," said Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger.

"He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation," said Krueger, noting that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against another guide who was at the scene just downstream of Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6.

Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately and not waiting for the county's search and rescue team to assemble ropes, rafts and rescuers.

"When you have someone in sight who has taken a long swim, you need to make contact immediately," said Bradford, a 15-year rafting guide and ski patroller from Summit County. "This is just silly. Ryan Snodgrass acted entirely appropriately. These guys came to the scene late and there was a rescue in progress. They came in and took over an existing rescue. To leave a patient on the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up a rescue system you read about in a book is simply not good policy."

Snodgrass' raft flipped on the runoff-swelled Clear Creek around noon Thursday and the girl swam from the raft. Krueger said the girl was missing for 30 to 45 minutes while Snodgrass searched for her. He said she swam a half mile from the spot where the raft capsized.

Since it had been so long, Krueger said, it was no longer the rafting company's rescue. "They should involve themselves up to a point. They lost contact. Whether they want to say they were trying to rescue their customer, when they had lost visual contact and had no idea where their customer has been for 30 to 45 minutes, then it becomes our issue."

Bradford said he would expect his guides to do the same thing again. His guides are professionals, he said, trained and certified in swiftwater rescue.

"To jump into water and navigate a river in a swiftwater rescue is common. You get into the river and swim. You have to do it," Branford said. "The fact these guys don't understand that is disturbing. Making contact immediately with your victim is essential. It's not about who is in charge. It's about the safety of a 13-year-old girl. You are going to do everything in your power to insure the safety of your guest, and if that means in Idaho Springs you get arrested, well I guess we'll just get arrested."


A commenter on the article adds:

I know a lot more about these things than you'd like to believe. I have been an avid outdoorsman since I was old enough to walk alone, and leaned to the extreme side of outdoors adventure since I was old enough to drive. I have seen rescues, I have been a part of search and rescues, and I have even assisted the rescue squad in an underwater search and recovery effort, I know how fast hypothermia can set in on even one who thinks they feel fine especially when wet. I know how important the human factor can be in a rescue effort, I know the dangers of swift water rescues (I am swift water rescue certified).

I know rescue squads. I know exactly how slow they are to act, I know exactly how poorly trained most of them are (Most are just volunteers that have taken classes but have no real world experience.). I know that in some situations I would have done the same as that particular guide did. Not because of an responsibility to a company or client, but because I know what I am capable of. He assessed the situation himself, and did the job that they obviously didn't know or couldn't figure out how how to do.

People are speaking legalities. SCREW legalities. ONE MAN BY HIMSELF was able to do something in minutes that lord knows how many tools on the other river bank hadn't even gotten figured out yet. The Sherriff was embarrassed that his crew of multiple people couldn't even accomplish that so he's punishing the hero here.

I know one thing. When rescue squads are involved, sometimes they save people, sometimes they recover bodies. Often time corpse recovery could have been avoided if they would have thrown legalities aside and let people that do these types of actions all the time get in there and get it done instead of dillying aroung trying to remember what the class they took 10 years ago said to do.

I and a couple of my friends saved a friend from a cave accident faster than the rescue squad in the nearest could even get a crew assembled, difference was the authorities in that town patted me on the back rather than putting me in handcuffs.


There is some evidence that the big-headed sheriff is backing down. He clearly abused his authority. There was no need to arrest anyone. If he thought he had a case he could have proceeded through the courts anyway. He is just a thug who loves having a badge. There are many like him -- as frequently documented on Strange Justice.

British comedian 'afraid' to joke about Islam

Rory Bremner, the political impressionist, said he fears joking about Islam could lead to his death due to the "chilling" issue of fundamentalism.

Bremner said self-censorship was the biggest obstacle today for comedians addressing topical issues, due to fears of retribution by extremists.

His comments came as he discussed the future of satire with Sir David Frost on a BBC documentary, Frost on Satire, to be broadcast on Thursday. He said: "The greatest danger now is that one of the toughest issues of our time is religion. "When [I'm] writing a sketch about Islam, I'm writing a line and I think, 'If this goes down badly, I'm writing my own death warrant there.' Because there are people who will say, 'Not only do I not think that's funny but I'm going to kill you' – and that's chilling."

Bremner used as an example the case where a cartoonist in Denmark was the subject of alleged murder plots over an image he drew of the prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb in a turban. He said: "If you're a Danish cartoonist and you work in a Western tradition, people don't take that too seriously.

"Suddenly you're confronted by a group of people who are fundamentalist and extreme and they say, 'We're going to kill you because of what you have said or drawn.' Where does satire go from there, because we like to be brave but not foolish."

Sir David professed himself "surprised" at Bremner's comments that he feared a joke could put his life in danger.


Oklahoma Lawmakers Seek Voter Backing to Ban Shariah From Courts‏

Oklahoma lawmakers are asking voters to weigh in on a proposal that would ban local courts from considering Shariah or other international law in their rulings.

The unusual measure calling for an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution was approved in late May by the state Senate, sending the issue to voters in the fall in the form of a ballot question.

Though the question's supporters have not pointed to any specific outbreak of Shariah, or Islamic law, being considered in the U.S. judicial system, they describe it as an encroaching threat. State Rep. Rex Duncan, author of the measure, has called the ballot question a "preemptive strike" against Shariah coming to his state.

Duncan said in a statement after the vote that he hopes other states will soon follow Oklahoma's lead.

"Judges in other states and on the federal bench have increasingly turned to citing international law in their court decisions, something I and others feel is grossly inappropriate in a sovereign state such as our own," he said.

In an interview with The Edmond Sun, Duncan said the courts' willingness in Britain to consider Shariah has become "a cancer upon the survivability of the U.K." He said the ballot question "will constitute a preemptive strike against Shariah Law coming to Oklahoma."

The amendment would require courts to adhere to the laws of the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as federal and state statutes. It would prohibit the courts from considering "the legal precepts of other nations or cultures," including Shariah.


Newsweak Attacks Marriage

You can't always learn what malignant objectives leftists are pursuing by listening to what they accuse the resistance of. Sometimes you have to stoop to reading their most execrable publications — like MSNBC's website, which recently proclaimed in flagrant opposition to all evidence that fathers are not needed, or Newsweek, which asks us to believe that marriage isn't either:
Once upon a time, marriage made sense. … But 40 years after the feminist movement established our rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is — from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway — no longer necessary.

Since our liberal rulers stack the deck against marriage, we may as well abandon the whole notion:
Thanks largely to the efforts of same-sex-marriage advocates, heterosexual couples have more unmarried rights to partnership now than ever. … To put the icing on the cake, it often pays to stay single: federal law favors unmarried taxpayers in almost every case — only those whose incomes are wildly unequal get a real tax break — and under President Obama's new health plan, low-earning single people get better subsidies to buy insurance. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth, writing for the Hudson Institute, put it, "Goodbye, marriage." As of 2013, "unwed Americans may find it even more advantageous — financially, anyway — to stay single."

Even more astonishing arguments in favor of abandoning holy matrimony include the claims that "having children out of wedlock lost its stigma a long time ago" (maybe it has among liberals); "women who use their partner's [i.e., husband's] name are regarded as less intelligent, less competent, less ambitious, and thus less likely to be hired"; and "the permanence of marriage seems naive, almost arrogant." Anthropologist Helen Fisher is trotted out from her ivory tower to announce that humans are actually meant to have monogamous relationships that last only for three or four years. Apparently kids don't need families after that.

This pernicious garbage is belied by our moonbat overlords' motives in publishing it. American society has to be destroyed before it can be "fundamentally transformed" (i.e., replaced by something radically different and unspeakably vile). The liberal media's hostility toward the family confirms that it is what holds our civilization together.



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 June, 2010

Iranians involved in 1988 massacres remain in public life

One's sympathy for the Communist victims is considerably tempered by an awareness that they would have behaved similarly had they gained power

The anniversary at the weekend of Iran's rigged election turned the spotlight on the man who approved it - the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei - and the man who was cheated of the presidency, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

If there was justice in the world, both men would be still be serving prison sentences, along with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and a number of the nation's top judges and politicians. All were complicit in one of the gravest crimes against humanity since World War II, the mass slaughter of political prisoners at the close of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988.

Then, Mousavi was prime minister, Khamenei was president and Rafsanjani commanded the Revolutionary Guards. They implemented a secret fatwa which ordered the mass murder of left-wingers in prisons nationwide.

The victims were mainly student protesters who had been arrested and sentenced for leafleting and demonstrating against Khamenei's revolutionary republic in the early 1980s. They sympathised with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an armed Islamic group with Marxist leanings, or with communist and socialist organisations that did not believe in God and certainly not in the ayatollah's theocracy.

As the war with Iraq ended in 1988, the regime decided it was too dangerous to let these dissidents live, so its leaders plotted a "final solution". On July 28, a week after the ceasefire, the secret fatwa was issued, at first decreeing death for all who remained "steadfast" in their Mujahideen sympathies.

They were hauled from their cells and were paraded before a death committee - a religious judge, a prosecutor, and a man from the Intelligence Ministry - and hung from cranes, four at a time, or in groups of six from ropes hanging from the stage of the prison assembly hall. Their bodies were buried by night in mass graves, the locations of which are still withheld from their families. Between July 28 and August 13, several thousand Mujahideen-e-Khalq members were killed in this manner.

After a short break for a religious holiday, the death committee began to kill the left-wingers. All prisoners who were Marxists, communists and members of other political groups and had been born Muslim but who did not believe in the official version of Islam, were deemed apostate. If male, they were sent straight to the gallows after a brief trial with no notice or right of defence. Women were sentenced to torture (severe whipping five times a day) until they repented and prayed or died from the lash.

The second wave of killings also claimed several thousand victims and was accompanied by the same secrecy. Eventually, several months later, relatives were called to the prison and handed a plastic bag with their children's effects. By October many thousands of prisoners had been killed without trial, appeal or mercy.

When word of the mass murder began to leak out, Iran's diplomats and politicians began a cover-up. They pretended the victims were few and were planning to take over the prisons by violence. Mousavi played a particularly shameful part, urging "Western intellectuals" to see him as an Allende-like victim, who had acted in time against encircling enemies. His election meetings last year were interrupted by shouts to explain his role in 1988; he has never come clean about his part in this international crime.

Nor, of course, have the other perpetrators. Most notably the present Supreme Leader, Khamenei, who passed it off at the time with a brutal remark: "Do you think we should give them sweets?". Rafsanjani, still politically active, played an important part: he dispatched the Revolutionary Guards to carry out the slaughter.

The death committee members remain in senior positions in the judiciary and several are government ministers. They cannot hide behind a defence of ''superior orders'' - not even a fatwa can protect them from legal responsibility for an international crime. (I exclude the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: although he was a Revolutionary Guard and one witness claims to identify him as a torturer, this has not been corroborated.) Khamenei, as head of state, has some immunity but, as Charles Taylor discovered, this does not fully protect sitting heads of state from indictment for international crimes.

For the past year, I have conducted an inquiry into the 1988 massacres for a Washington foundation and my report sets out the evidence justifying the international law indictment of a number of Iranian leaders. Those who conducted the prison massacres in 1988 are not only guilty of directing torture and murder but of implementing a plan to exterminate a group on the basis of its religious belief (the Mujahideen prisoners who believed in a different form of Islam) or, in the case of the Marxists, its non-belief.

That amounts to genocide and there is an international obligation on all nations under the Genocide Convention to bring them to book.

The men who implemented the fatwa did so knowing they were committing an international crime. They were well versed in the Geneva Conventions because they were always complaining about Saddam Hussein's breaches. By refusing to explain the fate or identify the burial places of the victims, Iran's present leaders perpetuate the crime.

The Security Council would be entitled to use its power to set up an ad hoc international court to indict the Supreme Leader and others in his government. This may be a better way to deal with a theocracy whose inability to punish, or even admit, the barbaric behaviour of 1988 provides the greatest reason for concern over its future access to nuclear weaponry.


Fear the Intellectual

Only yesterday to be called an "intellectual' was a compliment. But intellectuals no longer carry much weight in politics, in cultural salons, book clubs or the wider world of ideas. Like professors whose faculty-lounge infighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small, intellectuals are often noisy because they have nothing to say.

George Wallace carried four Southern states in 1968, but he's mostly remembered for his memorable description of snobbish East Coast liberals as "pointy-headed intellectuals" who "can't park a bicycle straight." David Halberstam's "best and the brightest" turned out to be neither. French intellectuals who held sway over college students in the middle of the 20th century were eventually unmasked as highly intelligent but not very smart.

Jean Paul Sartre completely misread how communism exploited the workers he wanted to protect. Woody Allen once joked that if the robust debates in Commentary and Dissent magazines were merged into one intellectual journal they could call it Dissentary. Witty, if unfair.

Some intellectual debates, however, are more important than others, and there's one today that goes straight to the heart of an important matter. Few intellectuals celebrate Karl Marx as they once did, but many continue to criticize "oppressive" Western values, defend Islamism and look for every opportunity to scorn America -- and Israel. They're influential and deserve to be exposed for propounding meretricious reasoning.

Many of them give cover to the cruder forms of anti-Semitism; Helen Thomas, though certainly no intellectual, probably felt empowered to say that the Jews ought to get out of Palestine and go back to Poland and Germany because so many academics stop just short of expressing themselves that way.

When Rodger Claire sought publishers for his new book about the story behind Israel's successful bombing of Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981, every European publisher, including those in Britain, France, Italy and Spain, passed on the rights to the book. He said his agents were told that European readers shied away from anything that put Israel in a positive light.

"Furthermore, it can be easily argued that Europe's so-called intelligentsia has long been mildly anti-Semitic, drawing from a strain of mistrusting the Jews which dates back to the Middle Ages," he told Frontpage magazine. Many of these so-called intelligentsia joined the chorus to find Alfred Dreyfus guilty of treason in France in the 1890s because he was a Jew.

By the 1970s, some of the French intellectuals who were blinded by Marxism finally began to question their political prejudices. In his book "The Flight of the Intellectuals," Paul Berman praises the "New Philosophers" of France, who finally asked "why, in the face of ever-growing overwhelming mountains of evidence over the course of the 20th century, so many intelligent people in the Western countries had kept on deluding themselves about the Soviet Union, and then about communist China, Cuba and other such regimes."

After the Berlin Wall fell, no proper intellectual would defend "Third Worldism," but prominent leftist intellectuals smoothly replaced "Western imperialism with "the forces of globalization." The overriding anti-Western values remained intact with the belief that financial success is inherently made at the expense of the poor and that personal prosperity grows only from greed.

Berman's special targets are intellectuals who are highly regarded despite their blurring of the distinctions between Islam and Islamism, "between religion and the modern totalitarian ideology." Such Muslims are passed off as "moderate" and "modernizing although they indulge in 'the racism of the anti-racists'." He includes Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born Islamic "scholar" whose grandfather founded the fanatical "Muslim Brotherhood, which he has not rejected.

Ramadan, who was praised in the New York Times Sunday Magazine for providing a comfort zone for Euro-Islam accommodation, expresses his high-mindedness by suggesting a moratorium on the "honor killing" of women by stoning. A moratorium, note, not a cessation.

Berman reserves his harshest criticism for intellectuals contemptuous of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian woman whose documentary, with Theodore van Gogh, on behalf of the rights of Muslim women brought down threats and intimidation. She fled to America after van Gogh was murdered by an Islamist fanatic, and she lives here with full-time bodyguards.

Muslim intellectuals who defended Salman Rushdie when he was targeted for death show no sympathy for Hirsi Ali. If she had been "short, squat and squinting" instead of good-looking, sneered Timothy Garton Ash, she would not have developed such a devoted following in the West. He prefers Jamal al-Bana, who isn't so attractive but defends Palestinian suicide bombers and admires the Sept. 11 terrorists for their courage in opposing "barbaric capitalism."

"In a modern political world shaped by the rise of the Islamists," Berman writes, "even some of the most attractive thinkers tend, if they have come under an Islamist influence, to have a soft spot for suicide terrorism." And a soft spot for anti-Semitism." We've been forewarned.


Some rubbishy "research" about Lesbian parenting

A recent and widely reported news story, headlined "Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests," reported that "A nearly 25-year study concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers."

The conclusion does not strike me as particularly surprising. In our society and many others, mothers play a larger role in child rearing than fathers, so it would not be surprising if children with two mothers did, on average, better than children with a mother and a father. Reading the story, however, I concluded that it did not actually give me much reason to believe in its conclusion —for two related reasons.

The first was a quote from the lead researcher that appeared in some versions of the story: "Gartrell can't say with certainly whether the findings would apply to gay fathers. It's "highly likely," she says."

Gartrell's study was limited to lesbian couples. On theoretical grounds, one could take her result as evidence not that homosexuals are good at child rearing but that women are, in which case it would imply the precise opposite of what she suggests. Insofar as the quote is evidence of anything, it is evidence of bias on the part of the researcher. As anyone familiar with statistical work knows, there are a lot of ways in which a researcher can tweak the design of a study, deliberately or not, to produce the result the researcher wants.

One way might be by the choice of the set of heterosexual couples to which the lesbian couples were being compared. The two groups might differ in important ways other than their sexual preferences. Most obviously, since the lesbian parents had conceived via artificial insemination, their pregnancies were all planned and all desired. If the comparison group contained a significant number of children from unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, that might explain why more of them had behavioral problems. One could imagine a variety of other possible explanations as well—and the news stories did not provide enough information to confirm or reject them.

Fortunately, nowadays, one is not limited to news stories. A web search quickly turned up the actual text of the article. Reading it, I discovered:

1. The two groups were not closely matched, due to data limitations, a problem that the authors noted. They differed strikingly in geographic location, since the lesbian couples were all recruited in the Boston, D.C., and San Francisco meteropolitan areas, while the data on children of heterosexual couples, coming from another researcher's work, was based on a wider distribution of locations. They were not matched racially—14% of the heterosexual couples were black, 3% of the lesbian couples were. They were not matched socio-economically—on average, the heterosexual couples were of higher SES than the lesbian couples.

The statistical analysis on which the story was based contained no controls for those differences, any one of which might have affected the conclusion. The authors could have compared the outcome of child rearing by white lesbian couples to the outcome of child rearing by white heterosexual couples, by high SES lesbian couples to high SES heterosexual couples, ... . They did none of that, although it is possible that in future work they will.

2. There was a second problem that had not occurred to me, possibly because I had not read the news story carefully enough. Questionaires went, at various points in the study, to both mothers and children. But the conclusion about how well adjusted the children were was based entirely on the reports of ther mothers. A more accurate, if less punchy, headline would have read: "Lesbian Mothers Think Better of Their Kids than Heterosexual Mothers Do."

My point in this post is not to criticize the authors of the study. There may have been good reasons why they used the data they did, despite its limitations, and they may be planning a more informative analysis of their results for later work. It is easy for an outside observer to suggest things scholars ought to have done, not always as easy for the scholars to follow the advice.

My point is rather about the information available to ordinary readers through newspapers, the webbed equivalent, radio and television, and similar sources. The implication of the news stories was that the study provided strong evidence that lesbian parents did, on average, a better job of child rearing than heterosexual parents.

A reader who went to the trouble of locating and reading the published report of the study, as few would, would discover that that implication was false. The study provided some evidence for the conclusion, but not very much. It could as easily be interpreted as evidence that richer people do a worse job of child-rearing than poorer people, blacks worse than whites, parents from flyover country worse than the inhabitants of the coastal metropolises—or that lesbian parents are even more strongly biased in favor of their own children than other parents.

The only thing that the headlines provided clear evidence of was what their authors wanted their readers to believe.


Australian Federal Govt wants access to emails, browsing history

The Fed Govt is considering forcing Australian ISPs to retain data on how Australian citizens are using the internet, such as their sent and received email and browsing history

The Federal Government has confirmed it is considering a policy requiring Australian internet providers to retain precise data on how their users are using the internet, with the potential to include information on emails sent and — reportedly — their web browsing history.

“The Attorney-General’s Department has been looking at the European Directive on Data Retention, to consider whether such a regime is appropriate within Australia’s law enforcement and security context,” a spokesperson for the department confirmed via email today. “It has consulted broadly with the telecommunications industry.”

The spokesperson’s confirmation was also contained in a report by ZDNet.com.au (which broke this story), which stated that ISP industry sources had flagged the potential for the new regime to require ISPs to record each internet address (also known as URL) that an internet user visited.

APC has contacted spokespeople from major ISPs such as Telstra, Optus, iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet to ask for a response on the matter, as well as the Internet Industry Association, a group which represents the ISPs. The office Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the office of Attorney-General Robert McLelland have also been contacted for comment on the matter.

The European Directive on Data Retention (2006) requires communications providers to retain a number of categories of data relating to their users.

Broadly speaking, they must retain data necessary to trace and identify the source, destination, date, type, time and duration of communications — and even what communication equipment is being used by customers and the location of mobile transmissions.

According to the directive, where internet access is concerned, this means the ISPs must retain the user ID of users, email addresses of senders and recipients of email, the date and time that users logged on and off from a service, and their IP address — whether dynamic or static applied to their user ID.

For telephone conversations, this means the number from which calls were placed and the number that received the call, the owner of the telephone service and similar data such as the time and date of the call’s commencement and completion. For mobile phone numbers, geographic location data would also be included.

The EU directive requires that no data regarding the content of communications be included, however, and it has directives regarding privacy, including the fact that data would be retained for periods of not less than six months and not more than two years from the date of the communication.

Any data collected is to be destroyed at the end of that period.



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 June, 2010

Current mass culture is dangerously deluding women into thinking they deserve to have everything

Comment from Britain

Brought up in an age where self-help mantras have replaced old-fashioned concepts such as duty or self- sacrifice, and where, according to Oprah Winfrey, lack of self-esteem is 'the root of all the problems in the world,' it's no wonder we now believe we deserve the very best from life.

Once, the pinnacles of achievement were a good job or a happy home life. Now, we're encouraged to believe we're entitled to everything we want, the moment we crave it, 'because we're worth it.' Want a £300 designer bag you can't afford? Go on - you deserve it. Or that New york mini-break with the girls? Treat yourself - you're fabulous.

Married women even admit to indulging in affairs, simply because: 'I wasn't getting what I needed at home.' Perhaps once, they'd have stuck it out, or sought counselling - but now, a 'cougar' affair between an older woman and a hot younger man is simply their reward for staying married to the old dullard.

Surrounded by images of celebrities from ordinary backgrounds who have 'made it', we're increasingly convinced that we're no different from them. We may not be hosting the breakfast news or singing to a packed O2 arena - but we work just as hard as they do, we tell ourselves, and we're just as talented.

It's easy to assume that 'good self-esteem' is the passport to a happy, successful life. But compelling research proves quite the reverse. A major study from the London School of Economics found that excessively high self-esteem can be even more damaging than low self-worth. Social psychologist Professor Nicholas Emler found that people with high self-esteem are more likely to hold racist attitudes, reject advice from friends and take risks such as drink-driving, as they believe they won't be caught.

'It's worth remembering that high self-esteem is very far from being an unconditional benefit,' warns Professor Emler. 'Our language contains many unflattering words to describe people with high self-esteem, such as "boastful", "arrogant", "smug", "self-satisfied" and "conceited".

'Perhaps we should be more willing to accept that very high self-esteem is as much a problem in need of treatment as exceptionally low self-esteem and be more open-minded about the benefits of moderation.'

Yet culturally, we're constantly encouraged to assume that, as the song says, 'If I can dream it, I can be it'. Once, a truthful friend might have pointed out that it's called 'a dream' for a reason. But now, simply 'having a dream' is considered to be as valid as having a business plan and start-up funding.

TV shows overflow with ordinary folk who may possess a modicum of talent at cooking or singing, yet vibrate with evangelical zeal as they explain: 'I want this so badly, I know I can win.' Self-awareness has been replaced by mindless self-belief, regardless of the evidence.

'We have fallen for a filtered-down pop psychology message that says: "If you believe it, it's true," ' says psychotherapist Rachel Morris, who specialises in women's issues. 'Best-selling books such as The Secret basically say that if you want something badly enough, you can have it, and that's a very seductive promise.

It's basic, Californian-style positive thinking - but we're now in danger of believing that high self-esteem is equivalent to talent, opportunity and ambition. 'Surely we only have to watch the deluded contestants on The X Factor, or Britain's Got Talent, announcing, "Watch this space Simon Cowell, I'll be back!" to realise that the "I'm worth it" culture is out of hand?'

She adds: 'We're constantly told by advertising, movies and the media that we, too, can "live the dream" however ordinary we may be."

Being challenged, as people are on these shows, means you're forced to question everything you believe about yourself - and it's easier to stay in a state of denial than face reality.'
Sex and the City

This denial may also explain why women are still amassing mountainous debts. Recent research from the Post Office revealed that more than a fifth of us lie to partners about the amount of debt we're in. On average, we owe £9,700, (outside of mortgages) and 45 per cent of women explained their debt has been accrued by 'buying expensive fashions'. Despite the recession, we're still 'treating ourselves' simply because we feel we deserve it, regardless of whether we can afford it or need it.

'Deserving' is quite an immature notion,' observes Rachel Morris. 'Believing that because you've had a tough day, you should have a reward, is based on a childish concept of having a pay-off for eating your greens.'

Genuine, fulfilling reward could be as simple as a cuddle from your child or a walk in the sunshine - but we've been conditioned to believe that excitement, or material goods, are superior.

Having high self-esteem also means you're more prepared to take risks - you'll splash £400 on the shoes you can't afford because you assume you'll get away with it. Deep down, you believe you can not only have it all, but you deserve it all, too.

Maybe that's why more married women than ever before are having affairs - and happily justifying them. With excessively high self-esteem, concepts such as shame are no longer valid. Instead, an affair is considered an appropriate response to ' not being appreciated' in your relationship.

A recent women's magazine survey found that 70 per cent of women regularly lie to their partners. A fifth have had a long-term affair while married, while 30 per cent have had an affair with a married man. In the past, most women were too embarrassed to admit to this type of behaviour. Now, the prevailing attitude is, 'so what? I wanted to'....

Nowadays, we're not obese; we simply need to learn to 'love our curves'. And a man didn't leave because we were dull; he just 'didn't appreciate our inner beauty'.

Asking tough questions of oneself, a tenet of traditional psychotherapy - and religion - has been abandoned in favour of an all-encompassing philosophy of 'love yourself and be who you want to be'. 'The media often promotes the rise of the individual rather than the benefits of being part of a community,' explains Surrey-based women's therapist Evelyn Nathanson. 'As the world has got smaller, our role has become inward looking. 'We look less to each other for support and more to ourselves to promote
feelings of self worth.' Basically, we've learnt to take urselves at our own, skyhigh, estimation.

Perhaps high self-esteem wouldn't be so bad if it didn't impact on others. But affairs, debt and choices that put you first and your partner and children languishing somewhere down the list after a Mulberry bag and spa weekend can only harm your chances of long-term fulfilment.

And, worse still, we're now raising a new generation to believe that attention adulation are the keys to happiness. A recent survey for found that children under the age of ten believe being a celebrity is 'the best thing in the world', swiftly followed by 'good looks' and 'being rich.' ...

Surely it's time to wake up, and realise our sense of entitlement is just that - a sense, not a reality. And that true fulfilment requires hard work, self-awareness, and a realistic appraisal of our own flaws.

'High self-esteem is more akin to vanity,' says Rachel Morris. 'I don't believe someone with a realistic sense of their own worth feels the need to buy things they can't afford or put their family's happiness at risk. There's a genuine value in being loved the way you want, feeling safe in your home, being able to provide what your children need. But achieving that is far harder than buying a bottle of expensive perfume.'

The truth is, none of us is automatically entitled to anything - we can achieve it, through hard work, being loveable, making the most of what we have. But the world doesn't owe us a thing.


Rise of the Jewish Republicans?

Of all the people to whom President Obama has given hope in the past year and a half, perhaps the most surprising is the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Even though American Jews have been stalwart Democrats since the days of FDR, candidate Barack Obama was expected to win a lower majority of the Jewish vote than past Democratic nominees. He defied expectations, however,winning a commanding 78 percent of the Jewish vote, despite a lack of a strong history with the Jewish community and his own Muslim father and stepfather.

It looks as if those earlier expectations might have been right after all -- just a little later than predicted.

At the annual RJC Summer Bash in LA this weekend, attendance was more than double than last year's, from 300 to an at-capacity of almost 700. Not only was the room packed, but it was buzzing. A number of people this journalist met proudly stated that this was their first time at an RJC event -- and each person, unprovoked, said Obama was the main reason.

As one participant joked, "Thanks to Obama, being a Republican Jew is no longer like wearing a scarlet letter."

Expanding the GOP's reach in the Jewish community has never been an easy feat, yet the RJC has done an admirable job given all the hurdles it has faced over the years. But many longtime RJC members observed that this may be the first time that the terrain has been this fertile.

"The more Obama does, from his dangerous Middle East policy to his wildly unpopular health care bill, the more people in the Jewish community are looking at breaking a lifetime tradition and becoming Republican," explained RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks, who has been with the group since its inception.

Several polls in recent months have indicated trouble for Obama among Jews, including the annual American Jewish Committee survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, in which the President received only a 57 percent approval mark, a significant drop from his 78 percent share of the Jewish vote.

In the end result, of course, the GOP would be tickled to win 30 percent of the Jewish vote -- and downright thrilled to hit 35%. But with Jews accounting for just over 2 percent of the population, the real victory would be winning the support of hyper-energetic Jewish donors and activists.

In the simplest terms, Jews are disproportionately engaged in political activism and political contributions. It's a cultural phenomenon familiar to most Jews. Political discussion starts in the home -- and continues with friends and in community settings.

And it's a safe bet that the most enthusiastic Jewish donors and activists care strongly about the U.S. support for Israel, meaning that the GOP has a great issue on which to base much of its Jewish outreach.


Long overdue review of Britain's health and safety culture

David Cameron last night announced plans to tear up a decade of health and safety rules that have been blamed for crippling business and stifling the British way of life.

The Prime Minister unveiled a wide-ranging review of Labour's safety laws as well as the country's 'compensation culture', led by former Cabinet minister Lord Young.

The 78-year-old, who served under Margaret Thatcher, has described current legislation as a 'joke' and will be asked to help the Government drive through reform after completing his review.

David Cameron has unveiled a wide-ranging review of safety laws as well as the country's 'compensation culture', led by former Cabinet minister Lord Young, right

Mr Cameron said: 'The rise of the compensation culture over the last ten years is a real concern, as is the way health and safety rules are sometimes applied.

'We need a sensible new approach that makes clear these laws are intended to protect people, not overwhelm businesses with red tape.'

He held out the prospect of wide-ranging reforms saying he was determined to see Lord Young's recommendations put 'into effect'.

Lord Young was commissioned to advise Mr Cameron on health and safety laws last year and his work will become a full-scale review with civil service support.

The former trade secretary said the once serious issue of health and safety had become a 'music hall joke' under Labour, with schools banning children from playing conkers, restaurants barring tooth picks and one swimming pool declaring a pair of goggles unsafe.

And he argued the change in culture could even be counterproductive, putting people in more danger in certain circumstances.

He said: 'Teachers have to fill in so many forms if they want to take children on a field trip, there have been three instances where police have stood by and let people drown as a result of health and safety and we have offices subjected to health and safety laws that were meant for heavy industry. It has gone too far.'

Lord Young also wants to curb the compensation culture fuelled by the rapid growth in no-win, no fee agreements.

He said the NHS alone had paid out more than £8billion over the last five years in personal injury claims, of which two-thirds went to lawyers. 'That is four or five billion pounds that could and should have gone into healthcare,' he added.

Although much of Britain's health and safety legislation now comes from Brussels, Lord Young said government departments had a tendency to 'gold-plate' it and make it even more onerous than it need be.

He added: 'Health and safety regulation is essential in many industries but may well have been applied too generally and have become an unnecessary burden on firms, but also community organisations and public services.

Lord Young will deliver initial findings next month before taking up an advisory role in Whitehall.


Australia: Muslims can do no wrong?

The man carrying a legal bomb into courtroom 11A in the NSW Supreme Court building on Friday morning did not look menacing and is not menacing under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. This was cultural war. The legal bomb was brought to court by the once leonine figure of Clive Evatt, a veteran defamation lawyer who now walks with the aid of a cane, on which his severely bent frame leans heavily.

As Evatt took his place at the plaintiff's bench, the man on whose instructions he was acting, Keysar Trad - a thickset, bearded man wearing a grey suit, blue shirt and tie - sat alone in the back row of the public gallery.

Trad is no stranger to litigation. Over many years he has expended untold hours making formal complaints to the NSW Supreme Court, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Press Council, other review bodies and, above all, the media, where he has operated as a quote-machine representing the Muslim community in Australia.

He was in court on Friday because of a disaster of his own making. After delivering a hostile tirade against Sydney's top-rated radio station, 2GB, during a "peace" rally in 2005, Trad was himself criticised the next day by a 2GB presenter, Jason Morrison, though not in the same language Trad had used at the rally where he claimed to speak on behalf of Muslims in Australia.

Trad sued for defamation. He was the star witness for his own case. The senior judge, Justice Peter McClellan, the chief judge of common law in the NSW Supreme Court, found against Trad, and found him to be a witness of little credibility, a man of extreme views and, in summary, "a disgraceful individual".

Such was Trad's performance under oath that on Friday the counsel for the defence, Richard McHugh, SC, delivered this devastating portrayal of his credibility under oath: "[Trad] attempted to evade responsibility for his statements by claiming he was misquoted, by claiming he was taken out of context, by claiming he had changed his mind, or by claiming he did not even know what he had said or written at the instant he said or wrote it. He was entirely disbelieved.

"[His] evidence that he did not know who was the author of Mein Kampf - and his feigned attempts at a thought process to recollect the author's name - were a low point in this trial. The transcript in this case can supply only a colourless picture of the evidence at trial."

Even before this appeal, Trad was facing legal costs exceeding $250,000. He decided to up his risk. On Friday morning, I counted 16 lawyers in the court. At this level, justice is neither fast nor cheap.

His appeal was based on several major grounds but the most prominent and contentious, made repeatedly in oral and written submissions, was that Justice McClellan had erred fundamentally by taking Trad's provocative comments over the years out of the context of the Muslim community. To quote Evatt: "His honour did not take into account that Australia is a multicultural society and the viewpoints of ethnic groups are recognised by the Australian community even though not all members of the community agree with them."

And this: "His honour did not refer to or even consider the likelihood the average citizen would recognise that the views expressed by [Trad] were similar to beliefs shared by Muslims throughout the world including Muslims in Australia." And this: "His honour appears to have given no weight to the fact that the speech was made to Muslims in a mosque and not in an address to the general community."

And this: "His honour overlooked the fact Sheikh Hilaly's speech [defended by Trad] was not made to members of the Australian community but to Muslims and others who attended the Sidon Mosque in Lebanon."

This is an explosive argument. It means this aspect of the appeal may rest on the argument that the Muslim community operates under different standards than the rest of society and cannot be judged using the same standards. Further, these standards, even if judged to be extreme by the rest of society, should be respected.

It is fair to say the bench became restive on Friday. There were plenty of tart exchanges from the three judges, justices Murray Tobias, Ruth McColl and John Basten. But this was nothing compared with the fire and brimstone from the defence.

This appeal was an attempt, McHugh argued, to turn the case into one about "freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and that the appellant has been unfairly branded as a racist, homophobic, terrorist-supporting, woman-hating bigot when all he was doing was expressing views consistent with his Islamic faith and his role as a prominent Australian Lebanese community spokesman … The question here is whether the deliberate peddling of grossly sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic filth is not dangerous and disgraceful and an incitement to violence and racist attitudes in Australia in 2010. The most extraordinary claim is that his extreme views are [a] 'Muslim view'. This ought not to be accepted."

If Trad does prevail in his appeal, this case, Trad v Harbour Radio, will be corrosive to the idea of mainstream Muslim moderation, and to the ideal that most Muslims are naturally part of a cohesive element in the weave of Australia's culture rather than functioning under de facto Islamic law while giving mere lip service to the Australian legal system and the values it upholds.



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 June, 2010

Halt, or the PM’s guard will fire her baby gun

Feminism trumps safety

MEMBERS of Scotland Yard’s elite bodyguard unit are being armed with smaller, lighter “baby” guns as part of a drive to attract more female officers.

The move is aimed at recruiting bodyguards with smaller hands. However, critics fear that it could hamper close protection officers who guard the Queen, David Cameron and other VIPs if they have to fend off an attack from terrorists or a lone gunman. “It’s a disadvantage because the smaller guns have less firepower and are less accurate,” said a police firearms expert.

Supporters deny the Yard is putting political correctness before security. They say the change is part of a legitimate attempt by Metropolitan police bosses better to reflect the community.

Others believe the move underlines the explosion of a “diversity agenda” that began in the 1990s and was led by a new breed of chiefs who thought traditional policing was too male-orientated.

The trend to recruit more women was reinforced last week when David Cameron, the prime minister, was seen jogging with a female protection officer.

Historically, the standard-issue weapon of the Met’s specialist and royalty protection units is the Glock 17, a semiautomatic pistol fed by 17 rounds of ammunition. The self-loading gun has a magazine that is “double stacked” in a zigzag formation and so requires a wide butt. The replacement weapon for women officers and those with smaller hands is believed to be the “subcompact” version, the Glock 26.

Marketed by its Austrian manufacturer as the “Baby Glock”, the gun has a single magazine with just 10 bullets and therefore requires a smaller butt.

The Glock 26’s barrel is just under 3.5in long, more than an inch shorter than the Glock 17. This makes it a less accurate weapon, particularly at longer range. In a firefight, officers using the “Baby Glock” would have to stop shooting and reload their weapon more frequently that those with the bigger handgun.

Details of the introduction of a smaller gun were disclosed by John Bunn, a senior detective in the Yard’s counter-terrorism command, to the Metropolitan Police Authority, the force’s watchdog.

Noting “considerable improvements” in the work of SO1, the specialist protection unit, Bunn wrote in a report: “A diversity forum and work strands following best Metropolitan police service practice have been established, for example changing the type of firearm used to accommodate smaller hands, changes in recruit[ment] advertising, female-only insight days and mentoring under-represented groups expressing an interest in SO1.”

Professor Peter Waddington, an expert in police firearms tactics, said the new weapons delivered less firepower but denied it was likely to be driven by political correctness. “People with smaller hands find it difficult to grasp the butt of a regular-size self-loading pistol,” he said. “The double-stacked magazine is broader, and ... women find this more than a handful. They cannot grip the weapon properly and therefore fix their aim. So they can’t shoot ... like a big man is able to.”

Patrick Mercer, former chairman of the Commons sub-committee on counterterrorism, said: “I hope the judgment has been made on effectiveness and not on some contorted view of equality.”

Scotland Yard said it never discussed details of weapons used by its officers, but stated: “We are committed to recruiting a workforce that reflects the community we serve, and this includes specialist areas such as protection.”


Mother of twins mauled by fox is threatened by animal rights activists

People haters again

The parents of the children mauled by a fox are receiving police protection amid concern over threats from animal rights activists. Officers have been assigned to guard the family home and police liaison officers are in contact with Pauline and Nicolas Koupparis.

Their nine-month-old twins Lola and Isabella suffered ‘life-changing injuries’ when they were savaged in their cots in Hackney, East London, a week ago.

Scotland Yard said it was not aware of a specific threat against the family but admitted that there was ‘concern’ over inflammatory postings on social networking sites.

Yesterday a woman phoned the Radio 4 programme Any Answers to say she had heard from friends and relatives in Hackney that Mr and Mrs Koupparis were being ‘harangued and besieged’ by animal rights activists. The caller also said there were messages on internet sites, allegedly accusing the family of seeking publicity after their ordeal.

One anti-foxhunting group set up a Facebook page called ‘Pauline Koupparis is a lying b****’. The page has since been taken down.

Another group, calling itself ‘Urban Fox Defenders’, has attracted more than 500 members. One, who gave her name as Alison Smith, wrote: ‘I really can’t see how a fox could be SO brazen as to go into a house, up the stairs, past adults, and go for two children... 'There is something here that simply does not add up!’

Lola left hospital on Friday and Mrs Koupparis, 41, said: ‘We’ve gone through every emotion imaginable.’

Isabella, who was the more badly hurt of the pair, has been transferred from Great Ormond Street children’s hospital to the Royal London, which is nearer her home.

A police spokesman said: ‘There has been some concern about things that have been said on social networking sites. ‘There is no tangible threat but we are keeping in touch with the family.’


Yet another false rape claim in Britain

They never stop -- as women try to get back at men or cover up decisions they regret

A mother of three who falsely accused a police officer of rape after he rejected her advances following a one-night stand was today jailed for two years.

Melissa Anne-Marie Carter, 46, took revenge on Pc Matthew Tarrant when he failed to reply to her text messages begging to see him again after they met on a dating website.

Carter, a single mum, who has three sons by two different men, continued her lies for four months during police investigations. She only admitted the truth after officers confronted her with the text messages she had sent to the long-serving police constable, blaming her actions on ‘stress’.

Carter was today sentenced to two years at Oxford Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by making a false rape allegation. Judge Julian Hall blasted Carter saying she had ‘betrayed the sisterhood’ and accused her of making it easier for real rapists to be acquitted. He added: ‘The offence you committed has effects on all sorts of levels. ‘It is difficult to imagine a worse situation for a serving police officer than to be accused of rape. In his victim statement he talks about losing weight and taking time off work.

‘What you did also had a much wider impact. Government ministers and social commentators talk about the very low conviction rate [for rape]. ‘These people also talk as if false complaints of rape are frequently made but they are able to say this because people like you occasionally do. ‘Some people who commit rape are acquitted because people like you make false allegations.

‘To put this a little dramatically you have betrayed the sisterhood. You kept Mr Tarrant hanging on not knowing what his fate would be for three months.’

The court heard Carter met Pc Tarrant on a dating website and invited him to meet her at her home in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which she shares with her three sons, aged 17, 15 and seven.

On October 24 2009, Pc Tarrant went to her home where they had sex and the next day he left for his job in London. Carter sent him a text message which read: ‘Perhaps we can meet again next Wednesday.’ When he failed to reply she sent another text saying: ‘Are you ok?’

Four days later, Carter went to her local police station and claimed she had been raped by Pc Tarrant.

Paul Harrison, prosecuting, said: ‘Miss Carter met Mr Tarrant on a dating website. There had been some to-ing-and-fro-ing in messages between the two. ‘Miss Carter invited Mr Tarrant to her home on October 24 where they met for the first time face-to-face. ‘Sexual contact took place during that evening and they had full sexual intercourse. Miss Carter sent Mr Tarrant text messages which were completely inconsistent with her allegations.

‘Mr Tarrant did not reply to the text messages as it seemed he would. The prosecution maintains this led her to make a spiteful allegation against him.’

Pc Tarrant was arrested wearing full uniform at 5pm October 29 at the police station where he worked and was quizzed by officers for 6 hours before he was released at 11pm. The court heard Pc Tarrant was not suspended but was moved to desk role and banned from having contact with the public.

Carter made repeated phone calls to the police station to enquire about how the investigation was going and what had happened to PC Tarrant.

Despite repeated interviews with police, Carter maintained she had been raped and only admitted it was a lie on February 4 when officers confronted her with the text messages she had sent to PC Tarrant.

But even when confronted with the truth Carter blamed her actions on ‘stress’. She told officers: ‘There is no excuse for what I have done. It was a very stressful time with my family.’

Judge Hall said the false rape allegation had caused PC Tarrant, a long serving officer with the Met Police, ‘extraordinary distress’.

Mr Harrison added ‘He has been on sick leave, he was humiliated. It was an awful experience.’

Carter, who had no previous convictions, will serve 12 months in prison before being released on licence for the remainder of her sentence.

Lucy Tapper, mitigating, said: ‘In cases like these there are only ever losers. She will suffer the stigma for what she has done and will be vilified and perhaps deservedly so.’


Update on Belgium

Dutch Belgians close to getting rid of the socialist parasites in the French-speaking South

Belgium's 6.5 million Dutch and four million French-speakers are locked in an unhappy, quarrelsome union, and voters in a general election on Sunday might well proscribe a political divorce.

A mainstream Flemish party that is expected to do well is invoking the concept of irreconcilable differences to seek a separation and, in time, take the country's Dutch-speaking Flanders region into the European Union as a separate country.

This is a nightmare scenario for poorer Wallonia, Belgium's Francophone south, which greatly depends on Flemish funds.

Early elections were called after Premier Yves Leterme's five-party coalition fell apart April 26 in a dispute over a bilingual voting district.

That issue has pushed the New Flemish Alliance - a tiny, centrist party only a few years ago - into pole position: it is forecast to win a quarter of the vote in Flanders.

Its leader - and perhaps Belgium's next premier - Bart de Wever, 39, wants an orderly breakup of Belgium by shifting the national government's last remaining powers, notably justice, health and social security, to Flanders and Wallonia. That would complete 30 years of ever greater self-rule for the two regions.

The new Flemish alliance wants Flanders to join the EU. There are no comparable separatist sentiments in Wallonia.

Finance Minister Didier Reynders, a Francophone Liberal, says the question facing Belgians is: "Do we still want to live together?"

Others favor no breakup either. "We did a study of 10,000 people and found 84 percent want the country reformed, but not broken apart," says Marianne Thyssen, a Dutch-speaking Christian Democrat.

Yet in Belgium just about everything - from political parties to broadcasters to boy scouts and voting ballots - already comes in Dutch- and French-speaking versions. Even charities like the Red Cross and Amnesty International have separate chapters.

Pierre Verjans, a University of Liege political scientist, says he feels "a sense of mourning going on. French-speakers now fear a Belgium without Dutch-speakers."

Breakup talk was long the realm of Flemish extremists.

De Wever's surprise high rating follows three years of utter stalemate. As governments worldwide tried to tame a financial crisis and recession, the four that led Belgium since 2007 struggled with linguistic spats while the national debt ballooned.

Nothing illustrates the impasse more than the bilingual voting district comprising Brussels and 35 Flemish towns bordering it. The high court ruled it illegal in 2003 as only Dutch is the official language in Flanders. Over the years, Francophones from Brussels have moved in large numbers to the city's leafy Flemish suburbs, where they are accused of refusing to learn Dutch and integrate.

Since the 1970s, the two camps have been given self-rule in urban development, environment, agriculture, employment, energy, culture, sports and research and other areas. Today, Dutch speakers want autonomy in justice, health, taxation and labour matters.

The divide goes beyond language.

Flanders tends to be conservative and free-trade minded. Wallonia's long-dominant Socialists have a record of corruption and poor governance. Flanders has half the unemployment of Wallonia and a 25 percent higher per-capita income, and Dutch-speakers have long complained that they are subsidising their Francophone neighbours.



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 June, 2010

Muslim lies in Britain

At least the Brits prosecuted this guy -- unlike the Australian authorities in the story following

A Muslim community leader who falsely claimed he had been kidnapped by members of the British National Party was exposed last night as a suspected benefits cheat who was in this country illegally.

Noor Ramjanally, 36, told police that racist thugs had abducted him at knifepoint and threatened him with violence. But his account was exposed as a lie by cameras fitted secretly outside his flat after earlier claims that he had received racist hate mail and that the family's home had been firebombed.

Footage revealed that on the day of the alleged kidnapping Ramjanally had left home by himself, and police established that he wandered around a branch of Homebase before dialling 999.

Yesterday he was given a two-year jail term after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.

However he was not in court - he had fled back to his native Mauritius after admitting he was in this country illegally, staying on after his tourist visa expired.

Before his trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, he sent police a taunting email from the Indian Ocean island, telling them: 'I am enjoying the sun.' The authorities will now decide whether to seek his extradition to Britain to serve his sentence.

It also emerged that both Ramjanally and his wife, Soulma Nusrally, are being investigated on suspicion of benefit fraud.

The court heard that Ramjanally ran Muslim prayer sessions at a hall in Loughton, Essex, at a time when the BNP was targeting the area with leaflets, increasing local tensions.

In July and August last year he claimed to have received racist hate mail warning him to stop hosting the group and to have suffered an arson attack at the home where he lived with his wife and son. Unknown to Ramjanally, police installed two covert CCTV cameras outside his block of flats.

On August 24 he rang 999 claiming he had been abducted, later saying two BNP supporters had seized him at knifepoint and bundled him into the back of a vehicle. He said they told him: 'We don't want Loughton Islamic Group in Loughton' before releasing him on the edge of Epping Forest.

However camera footage showed him getting into a taxi at the time of the alleged kidnap. He had also been caught on camera at the local Homebase, and he was arrested.

Ramjanally was bailed to await his trial and in February he fled to Mauritius, from where he originally came to Britain on a six-month tourist visa in 1999. When officials from the UK Border Agency raided his flat they discovered fake passports and other ID documents.

Passing sentence, Judge Karen Walden-Smith said it was impossible to say whether Ramjanally concocted his story to increase tension in the community, for his own vanity, or a bit of both.

Last night it emerged that Ramjanally is being investigated for falsely claiming benefits and allegedly stealing money from a mosque. His wife is also being investigated for allegedly stating that she was a single mother to claim benefits including income support and housing benefit.


Muslim lies in Australia

Muslim female makes demonstrably false accusations against police on a statutory declaration but that's OK -- and hushed up as well? Making a false statement on a statutory declaration is an offence that should lead to a prosecution. It seems that the NSW police force is just about as gutless about "minorities" as is the Victoria police. One would have thought that they would be very zealous to uphold their reputation where they can

As I was driving today I happened to listen to Jason Morrison’s ‘Drive’ show at around 3 pm. He mentioned the story of the Sydney policeman who happened to stop a veiled lady recently because he had a well founded suspicion that she was not driving well and that her ‘P’ plate sign was not affixed properly to the car. This policeman asked to see the lady’s license. Of course to check her license the policeman had to see the lady’s face and you know what that means for a Muslim feminista.

Instant outrage. This lady did what any oppressed victim who has been asked to show her driver’s license would do .She went straight to the media and complained that the policeman was a racist, shouted at her, grabbed her veil and wanted to pull it off. Not a shy little hyacinth, this lass went to Channel 7 and told her tearful story aided and abetted by her Muslim handlers.

Thing is, she forgot she is in a western country and that not all the media have lost their marbles. As Jason Morrison related, Channel 7 contacted the policeman in question after she gave her tearful opera buffa version of events. And guess what? The policeman had filmed the entire proceedings with the lachrimose lady. And then guess what the filming revealed? THE TRUTH. And the truth differed significantly from what the dodgy Muslim lady driver said.

First – it appears the policeman spoke very politely to the lady from beginning to end.

Second – it seems the would be abused victim had not been abused at all. The policeman did not touch or grab her veil. He simply asked her politely to show her face so he could do his job and identify her with the driver's photo on her driver's license.

Third. The lady has told untruths on a Statutory Declaration she made about the whole incident in her official complaint about this officer to the NSW Police Force. [woops]

With or without the veil it ain’t a pretty story. And in fact the lady might be wearing her veil now but the truth has been unveiled and is there for all to see.

Channel 7, having got hold of the ‘other side of the story’ from the policeman and having seen the footage, invited the lady to come back and ‘please explain’ what the footage showed. The Muslima prima donna, who thought she had it all sewn up with her first bellicose Ayatolla-like hissy fit, on realising such footage existed, suddenly declined to come in to be interviewed again. A little bit of the truth and reality mugging apparently had spoilt her day and shut her up.

Technology saved the day for this policeman. Imagine if he had NOT filmed the interview with the would be veiled victim? What would the story be out there in the media? And good on Channel 7 for getting the other side of the story. If only other media outlets did the same.

This Muslima wanted to con the world but she didn’t make it this time She should go for a holiday on a flotilla near Turkey – that’s where she belongs. However, as the Latma TV song goes ‘the truth will never find a way to your tv’ as the whole story has died in Sydney and it is hard to find any links which tell anything about it.

If not for Jason Morrison’s radio report, I would not have heard of it. Not only that, but as Jason has noted, there has been no public apology or public exoneration of the policeman in question who after all, was just doing his job. Several organisations including the Ethnic Affairs Commission and the NSW Police Force declined to comment on radio about the incident and there is hasty burying of the story going on.


The left’s strange hostility to Hirsi Ali

MARK STEYN: Nicholas Kristof is just the latest great thinker to talk himself into a rosy view of Islam

Despite being a bit of an old showbiz queen, I’m not much for the huggy-kissy photo wall of me sharing a joke with various luvvies. I make an exception on the bureau behind my desk for a shot of yours truly and a beautiful woman, Somali by birth, Dutch by citizenship, at a beachfront bar in Malibu at sunset. I like the picture because, while I look rather bleary with a few too many chins, my companion is bright-eyed with a huge smile on her face and having a grand old time—grand, that is, because of its very normality: a crappy bar, drinks with cocktail umbrellas, a roomful of blithely ignorant California hedonists who’ll all be going back home at the end of the evening to Dancing With the Stars or Conan O’Brien or some other amusement.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t lead that life. She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her.

What would you do in those circumstances? Ayaan and I had repaired to that third-rate bar after a day-long conference on Islam, jihad, free speech and whatnot. That’s usually where I run into her, whether in Malibu or at the Carlton Club in London or at a less illustrious venue. Would you be doing that with a price on your head? Or would you duck out of sight, lie low, change your name, move to New Zealand, and hope one day to get your life back?

After the threats against the Comedy Central show South Park the other week, Ms. Hirsi Ali turned up on CNN to say that the best defence against Islamic intimidation is for us all to stand together and thereby “share the risk.” But, around the world, every single translator of her books has insisted on total anonymity. When push comes to shove, very few are willing to share the risk. The British historian Andrew Roberts calls her “the bravest woman I know.” I would say she is not only the bravest but also, given her circumstances, the most optimistic. I have an unbounded admiration for her personally, but a not insignificant difference philosophically, of which more momentarily.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s great cause is women’s liberation. Unfortunately for her, the women she wants to liberate are Muslim, so she gets minimal support and indeed a ton of hostility from Western feminists who have reconciled themselves, consciously or otherwise, to the two-tier sisterhood: when it comes to clitoridectomies, forced marriages, honour killings, etc., multiculturalism trumps feminism.

Liberal men are, if anything, even more opposed. She long ago got used to the hectoring TV interviewer, from Avi Lewis on the CBC a while back to Tavis Smiley on PBS just the other day, insisting that say what you like about Islam but everyone knows that Christians are just as backward and violent, if not more so. The media left spends endless hours and most of its interminable awards ceremonies congratulating itself on its courage, on “speaking truth to power,” the bravery of dissent and all the rest, but faced with a pro-gay secular black feminist who actually lives it they frost up in nothing flat.

The latest is Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Reviewing Ayaan’s new book Nomad, he begins:

“She has managed to outrage more people—in some cases to the point that they want to assassinate her—in more languages in more countries on more continents than almost any writer in the world today. Now Hirsi Ali is working on antagonizing even more people in yet another memoir.”

That’s his opening pitch: if there are those who wish to kill her, it’s her fault because she’s a provocateuse who’s found a lucrative shtick in “working on antagonizing” people. The Times headlines Kristof’s review “The Gadfly,” as if she’s a less raddled and corpulent Gore Vidal. In fact, she wrote a screenplay for a film; Muslim belligerents threatened to kill her and her director; they made good on one half of that threat. This isn’t shtick.

But Kristof decides to up the condescension. Of the author’s estrangement from her Somali relatives, he writes: “I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps Hirsi Ali’s family is dysfunctional simply because its members never learned to bite their tongues and just say to one another: ‘I love you.’ ”
Awwwww. Group hug! Works every time.

But maybe not so much in Somalia. This isn’t a family where they bite their tongues but where they puncture their clitorises. At the age of five, Ayaan was forced to undergo “FGM” (female genital mutilation), or, in the new non-judgmental PC euphemism, “cutting.” When she had her first period, her mother beat her. When she was 22, her father arranged for her to marry a cousin in Canada. While in Germany awaiting the visa for her wedded bliss in Her Majesty’s multicultural utopia, she decided to skip out, and fled to the Netherlands.

All she wanted was a chance to do what Nicholas Kristof takes for granted—to live her own life. What difference would saying “I love you” in a Lifestyle Channel soft-focus blur accompanied by saccharine strings make? As they see it, the perpetrators of “honour killings” love their daughters: that’s why they kill ’em.

Would Kristof wish to swap his options for the set menu served up to Muslim women? How would he like it if, just as he was getting ready to head to Oxford on his Rhodes Scholarship, his dad had announced that he’d arranged for him to marry a cousin? Oh, and in Canada.

Which brings me to my big philosophical difference with Ms. Hirsi Ali: in 2006, she was one of a dozen intellectuals to publish a manifesto against radical Islam and in defence of “secular values for all.” Often in her speeches, she’ll do a heartwarming pitch to all of us—“black, white, gay, straight”—to stand firm for secular humanism.

My problem with this is that, in Europe and elsewhere, liberal secularism is not the solution to the problem but the vacuum in which a resurgent globalized Islam has incubated. The post-Christian, post-modern multicultural society is too vapid to have any purchase on large numbers of the citizenry. So they look elsewhere. The Times of London recently interviewed a few of Britain’s many female converts to Islam, such as Catherine Huntley, 21, of Bournemouth (“I’ve always been quite a spiritual person”) and Sukina Douglas, 28, of London (“Islam didn’t oppress women; people did”).

In a way, the Western left’s hostility to Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes my point for me. In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman wrote that suicide bombings “produced a philosophical crisis, among everyone around the world who wanted to believe that a rational logic governs the world.” In other words, it has to be about “poverty” or “social justice” because the alternative—that they want to kill us merely because we are the other—undermines the hyper-rationalist’s entire world view.

Thus, every pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-black Western liberal’s determination to blame Ayaan Hirsi Ali for the fact that a large number of benighted thuggish halfwits want to kill her. Deploring what he regards as her simplistic view of Islam, Nicholas Kristof rhapsodizes about its many fine qualities—“There is also the warm hospitality toward guests, including Christians and Jews.”

Oh, for crying out loud. In the Muslim world, Christians and Jews have been on the receiving end of a remorseless ethno-religious cleansing for decades. Christian churches get burned, along with their congregations, from Nigeria to Pakistan. Egypt is considering stripping men who marry Jewesses of their citizenship. Saudi Arabia won’t let ’em in the country. In the 1920s, Baghdad was 40 per cent Jewish. Gee, I wonder where they all went. Maybe that non-stop “warm hospitality” wears you down after a while....

As Paul Mirengoff of the Power Line blog observes, traditionally when useful idiots shill for illiberal ideologies it requires at least “the illusion of progressivism” to bring them on board. Islam can’t provide that, but that’s no obstacle to getting the bien pensants to sign up.

As much as anyone, secular leftists want meaning in their lives. But Communism went belly up; the postwar welfare state is bankrupt; environmentalism has taken a hit in recent months; and Christianity gives them the vapours. Nicholas Kristof will not be the first great thinker to talk himself into a view of Islam as this season’s version of Richard Gere Buddhism.

At a superficial level, the Islamo-leftist alliance makes no sense: gay feminist secular hedonists making common cause with homophobic misogynist proscriptive theocrats. From Islam’s point of view, it’s an alliance of convenience. But I would bet that more than a few lefties will wind up embracing Islam to one degree or another before we’re done.


How man risked his life to nail the drug dealer next door while the lazy British police just yawned

He should have gone onto the street and shouted, "All queers should be stoned to death". That would have brought the cops running. They are far more interested in speech crimes than in real crimes

Charlie Skinner has always been the sort of man to step in when people are behaving badly. The kind who will remonstrate with litterbugs, or who intervenes when a hapless tourist is being taken advantage of by a slick London con artist. He’s done both in recent months, each time earning himself a foul-mouthed tirade for his trouble, and a certain amount of eye-rolling from his wife, Sian.

Married to him for 15 years, she’s had time to get used to her husband’s ‘get stuck in’ attitude, even though she has, on occasions, worried that it will land him in hot water.

And in March this year, that’s exactly what happened. On this occasion, Mr Skinner decided to try to tackle a problem that was rather closer to home, in fact, right on the doorstep of his beautiful South London townhouse.

The family’s neighbour was a 26-year-old illegal immigrant from China, called Xiao-Po He. He had for weeks been openly selling Class A drugs to a stream of customers coming in and out of his front door. A call to the police from a worried Mr Skinner resulted only in the instruction to ‘keep a log’ and, when it became clear that nothing would be done anytime soon, 47-year-old Mr Skinner chose to take the law into his own hands.

‘I have three children, who are 13, 11 and eight — if the police weren’t going to do anything to protect them from this, I knew I had no choice,’ he explains. So, posing as a customer to gain access to the next- door house, he confronted his neighbour, fighting off two of his henchmen before chasing him down the street and making a citizen’s arrest.

Such was the volume of the deadly drug crystal meth in Po He’s possession that this week he was jailed for six years after a hearing in which Mr Skinner’s behaviour won praise from the trial judge.

His story is, on one level, a heroic tale. But it is also a depressing one. Many readers will wonder why it took a mild-mannered father of three to put such a man behind bars — especially when the local police station is only a stone’s throw away.

Moreover, Mr Skinner was horrified to discover after the trial that Po He was already on bail for previous drugs offences. Despite this, he was still able to set up shop next door and start dealing drugs all over again.

‘I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I just got on with it. But it seems ironic that with a police station just a few minutes’ walk away, it took me — his neighbour — to actually intervene. You have to ask yourself what their priorities are.’

Much more HERE


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 June, 2010

Dutch voters give anti-Islamic party a big boost

THE anti-Islamic MP Geert Wilders has made big gains in the Dutch general election, more than doubling his party's seats in parliament and overtaking the incumbent Christian Democrats.

Mr Wilders's Party for Freedom took third place in a close-fought election, with the right-wing liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the centre-left Labour Party neck-and-neck for the lead. With 88 per cent of Wednesday's vote counted, the VVD was one seat ahead of Labour yesterday.

Mr Wilders, who is due to appear in court later this year to face charges of inciting racism, campaigned for a halt to Muslim immigration and mosque construction, and a tax on Islamic head gear. He increased his party's seats from nine to 24.

Partial results yesterday had the VVD holding 31 seats and Labour with 30 in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.

The Prime Minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, leader of the Christian Democrats, who have dominated for decades, was the big loser. His party's claim on seat was halved, from 41 to 21.

Mr Balkenende promptly resigned the party leadership and said he would not take his seat in parliament after leading the Christian Democrats to a historic low in the lower house.

The election was called a year early, after the Balkenende coalition government collapsed in February over disputes about Dutch participation in the war in Afghanistan.

The partial results left the shape of future government unclear, but it appeared that a four-party coalition would be needed to assemble a majority.

Mr Wilders is a potential kingmaker, with both the VVD and the Christian Democrats not ruling him out as a coalition partner. But the three parties together would barely muster half the seats, not a stable majority in a parliament which is split almost equally between right and left.

Pundits predicted the core of a government would be a coalition between the two winners, the VVD, led by Mark Rutte, and Labour, under the new leadership of Job Cohen, who was the mayor of Amsterdam until earlier this year.

The government is scheduled to present next year's budget on September 21 and Mr Rutte said during the election campaign that he wanted a new cabinet in place by July 1.

That was a "hilarious expectation, considering the Dutch history of taking months for a new government to be established", the analyst Sep van de Voort, from SNS Securities NV in Amsterdam, said in a note to investors.

It has taken an average of almost three months to form any coalition since World War II. The longest period was 208 days in 1977.

Mr Wilders hailed his result as "magnificent", although his focus on immigration and the flaws of traditional Dutch multiculturalism failed to catch fire with voters preoccupied by tax and spending issues. But many more voted for his Freedom party than predicted by all recent opinion polls.

"The impossible has happened," he told a party gathering. "We are the biggest winner today. The Netherlands chose more security, less crime, less immigration and less Islam."


Leftist Australian State government sets new low for being soft on crime

A PLAN to to slash the rising costs of running NSW prisons by allowing offenders sentenced to less than two years to do their time at hom has drawn fire from victims, but advocates say it is a responsible approach.

Under the proposal every criminal sentenced in the Local Court to two years or less in jail, except for sex offenders, will be eligible to serve their sentences at home. The cost to the the Government is $46 a day for home supervision instead of $194 a day to keep them in jail.

Victims groups say they are outraged at Premier Kristina Keneally's proposed solution to the high cost of keeping prisoners in overcrowded jails reported The Daily Telegraph. "It doesn't make any sense, it takes the punishment aspect of the sentence away," victims advocate Peter Rolfe said. "It is appalling. "They are going to be able to spend their time in the comfort of their own home."

Peter and Tammy Matten's home near Newcastle was robbed earlier this year and Mrs Matten chased the robber while she was heavily pregnant with their daughter. Mr Matten said it wasn't a punishment to send people home to serve jail sentences. "It wouldn't deter them at all, they're still hanging out with their friends," he said.

"If you get someone that is a drug dealer, they can still sell drugs at home. I think if you do a crime and you're arrested you are supposed to be in jail. "The guys that robbed us had done it before, a lot of people in the area have been robbed in exactly the same circumstances."

The Government claims that it was still a "prison sentence", just administered differently. But it admitted some of the state's jails were 100 inmates over capacity and there were only 300 empty cells left.

Criminals who committed offences including drug related crimes, riot and affray, assault, fraud, vandalism and break and enter would be eligible for home detention. There would be just one corrective services officer for every 20 criminals at home and only a fraction would be electronically monitored or subject to curfews. The rest would be free to travel around NSW and their only conditions would be eight hours of community service a week and a rehabilitation or education program.

They would only be sent to jail if they committed another offence or breached their "intensive correction orders".

Ms Keneally said the legislation was "tough" while her spokesman admitted rehabilitation programs in jail or periodic detention were non-existent or had failed. "It will provide the judiciary with a new option," she said. "This is about helping offenders get themselves back on the straight and narrow but those who fail to comply with the program risk spending the duration of their order in jail."

Victims of Crimes Assistance League spokesman Howard Brown told the ABC the idea would help some offenders and was an improvement on weekend or periodic dentention. "We thought it was somewhat of a perversity that we would be supervising people for two days a week, and then for the rest of the time they could basically go and do whatever they wanted," he said. "One of the beauties of these intensive direction orders is that these people would be subject to supervision seven days a week."


Australia: Only the fatcats thriving on aid meant for blacks

An old, old story. See also here

INDIGENOUS housing in the Northern Territory is a bigger scandal than the Building the Education Revolution rorts. But because it is located in remote Aboriginal communities, almost no one (apart from readers of The Australian) is aware of what is going on.

For many months, Nicolas Rothwell and Natasha Robinson have reported on this scandal. There have been shocking cost overruns; in one case, $183 million of taxpayer money has gone missing. And despite the billions being spent, the only people with proper housing are bureaucrats. This is a truly sorry business.

In August 2006, the Northern Territory government appointed a Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. Its report had dramatic consequences. On June 25, 2007, then prime minister John Howard intervened. He said the report "documents in sickening detail the human misery and dysfunction in many remote Aboriginal communities" and noted his emergency response was "radical, comprehensive and highly interventionist".

So, three years on, let me revisit the chapter on housing, which reads in part: The shortage of indigenous housing in remote, regional and urban parts of the Territory is nothing short of disastrous and desperate. The present level of overcrowding in houses has a direct impact on family and sexual violence, substance abuse and chronic illness.

The report estimated that the Territory needed "a further 4000 dwellings to adequately house its present population. Into the future, more than 400 houses will be needed each year for 20 years."

The response included emergency housing initiatives to try to ensure that every child in the Territory would have a safe place to sleep: "The Australian government is investing $813m in remote indigenous housing and infrastructure in the NT, including $793m over the next four years as part of a joint agreement with the NT government."

How this has changed. It was rolled back to $672m by the federal Labor government and the program was outsourced to the Territory government. The latter's record has been disastrous: cost overruns, missing funds, administrative chaos, ministerial resignations, minority government.

Read carefully: 11 houses have been built and 160 repaired in two years for more than $200m. But at the government's valuation of $450,000 for a new house (no land costs) and $75,000 for a refurbishment, the sum spent should be only $16.85m. The location of the missing $183m is not known.

New announcements have since been made to fund infrastructure and tenancy management separately from the National Partnership Agreement, a kind of informal top-up of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program.

The five-year, $672m program has blown out to an estimated $1.67 billion, to be funded from the 10-year $1.7bn National Partnership Agreement. Indigenous employment should increase but most indigenous workers have switched jobs or are working for the dole with no salary, no holiday pay, no superannuation, no future.

Most of us understand the correlation between unemployment, boredom and substance abuse. It was an emergency in 2007 but now it is a normal situation for many indigenous Territorians.

The story doesn't end there. The Territory government recently admitted that it has plans between now and 2013 for only 480 dwellings, to be constructed in the Maningrida, Wadeye, Galiwin'ku, Gunbalanya, Angurugu/Umbakumba and Nguiu communities, plus 85 in Alice Springs town camps.

Note the change of language. They are not building houses any more but dwellings, including one-bedroom units and pensioners' apartments; only half will be as big as three bedrooms.

Although there are hundreds of indigenous communities, only six to 15 will get new dwellings. Many will get no housing services at all. Most communities in the Territory will not have any semblance of a housing solution for the protection of children.

One wonders how the Territory could get things so wrong. In most of the larger communities, Territory government employees account for more than 20 per cent of the homes.

No new homes will be built in Papunya, although it suffers widespread overcrowding, and the proportion of houses for government employees is 27 per cent; that doesn't include federal employees in federal accommodation.

How can it be that two tiers of Labor governments can spend billions on the intervention, yet the only people enjoying proper housing are bureaucrats?

The Territory's Indigenous Affairs Department is almost a government in terms of its health, housing, education, law and order and children's services.

Territorians have a deep-seated and passionate desire to help indigenous Territorians. There is support for spending taxpayers' dollars to protect the most vulnerable, especially children. But there is no support for corrupted or mismanaged programs that cost a lot and deliver nothing.

Ten years after the first Bridge Walk for Reconciliation, the intervention is long gone, taxpayer dollars are being wasted, structural reform is not occurring, there are no economies being built (if anything they are being extinguished) and, most worryingly, the increased protection of children through improvements of their homes is still a fantasy in all but a few communities.

Kevin Rudd said sorry when the world was watching. Who will say sorry now to those men, women and particularly children of the Territory who have seen no change and are sliding backwards; or to the old lady who lives in a humpy just off the Stuart Highway 200km north of Alice Springs?


Furious hatred of Israel hosted on the site of Australia's public broadcaster

It's written by a Leftist Jew. It takes a Leftist Jew to get really obscene about Israel. I run a few excerpts below. In his fury the writer has lost all touch with logic and reality. What, for instance, have greenhouses got to do with chlorinating water?

And it was the Palestinians who destroyed the greenhouses anyway. The Israelis Left them as a gift to the Arabs when Israel withdrew from Gaza but because they were provided by Israel, the Arabs promptly destroyed them all.

And note that the authorities he quotes for his claims are people who are as anti-Israel as he is -- from people aboard the flotilla itself to the thoroughly discredited Amnesty International. Even the Israeli newspaper "Ha Aretz" leans Left.

Why is this garbage on the ABC? That was a rhetorical question. We know how far Left the ABC is. That the stuff is part of the "ABC for kids" website makes it particularly objectionable, however

The global outrage in response to Israel's attack on the flotilla is fitting. But we should not lose sight of why it was so terrible. This was not just an attack on aid workers.

If it were just that, it would be bad enough. In itself it would be nothing new for Israel. However, putting the attack in context more fully reveals its moral obscenity.

Paul McGeough, who was on board the flotilla, wrote that the flotilla was bringing water filtration equipment to Gaza.

The reason it chose to do so was because there is virtually no clean drinking water in Gaza. Partially due to Israel's destruction of greenhouses during its attack on Gaza from 2008-2009, the Gaza water supply was reported to be on the verge of collapse in September last year. There was an urgent need to find clean drinking water, because, as Amnesty International pointed out, some 90-95 per cent of water in Gaza was not fit for drinking.

This would be bad enough, but, as Kate Allen, head of Amnesty International UK pointed out, "Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza is preventing the importation of urgently-needed materials to repair water and sewage treatments works."

As noted in the Ha'aretz report, the unclean drinking water caused respiratory and intestinal problems to babies in Gaza.

Victoria Brittain pleaded in the Guardian for "just one corner of the blockade" to be lifted "to let water works begin and to give infant lives a chance." All it would take was "Just one telephone call from the Israeli defence ministry". This phone call still hasn't come, and Palestinian babies continue to suffer, as the world continues to watch in silence, and as Western media continues to pass over this issue....

More HERE. Extra copy 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.


10 June, 2010

English patriotism now respectable again in England

So far only in connection with football matches, however

Every white van seems to have sprouted one and many houses as well. Now Downing Street has announced that it too will fly the flag of St George above No10 to show support for England's footballers during the World Cup.

David Cameron said he was sure that people the length and breadth of the United Kingdom would be cheering: 'Come on England.'

The Government has also written to councils urging them not to be health and safety 'spoilsports', and to allow council staff and local businesses to fly the flag.

As the residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Downing Street usually flies the Union Flag. But no other home nation has qualified for the tournament in South Africa, which kicks off tomorrow.

In an apparently planted question at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, new Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said: 'I ask you to do a great thing for the people of England and cut through the bureaucracy and nonsense and fly the flag of England over Downing Street for the duration of the World Cup.'

To cheers from MPs, Mr Cameron replied: 'There was some question that this was going to have a cost impact but I've managed to cut through that and I can say that at no additional cost to the taxpayer the flag of St George will fly above Downing Street during the World Cup.

'For the purposes of this I'm looking at all the benches here and I'm sure that everyone in this House, no matter what part of the United Kingdom they come from, will be cheering "come on England".' ...

Mr Cameron has previously vowed to 'reclaim' the English flag from the British National Party.

Meanwhile local government minister Grant Shapps has urged councils to take a 'common sense' approach to flying the flag. It follows cases in which councils have asked for flags to be taken down on health and safety grounds.


British bureaucratic stupidity on display yet again

You might as well talk to a post as talk to a British bureaucrat

To mow a grass verge containing one of Britain's rarest orchids once may be regarded as misfortune. To repeat the blunder the following year starts to look like carelessness. But to chop down the same patch of endangered wild flowers three years in a row takes a particular type of bureaucratic clothheadedness.

Yesterday, council bosses admitted they have once again massacred one of the last remaining habitats of the narrow-leaved helleborine - a highly distinctive white wild flower.

The mistake has left conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts astonished and angry. They believe the orchids may never recover at the site.

The orchids are officially classed as one of the world's most 'vulnerable' flowers - meaning they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. They are found at fewer than 80 sites in the UK but most locations do not have enough flowers to ensure their survival.

For more than 50 years, the orchids have grown on a road verge at Mascoombe Bottom in the Meon Valley, Hampshire. The open conditions and south-facing slope make it ideal for the plants, which flower between May and July.

But three years ago Hampshire County Council changed its roadside mowing routine and cut down the flowers before they could set seed - putting the population at risk. The charity Plantlife contacted the council and was given a guarantee the mistake would not happen again.

But the error was repeated last year and this year by the council's contractors, despite more complaints.

Dominic Price, Plantlife's species recovery officer, said: 'When I found out last week that for the third year running the few remaining orchids had been cut before they could flower I was absolutely speechless. 'This is nothing short of a massacre of one of the UK's rarest species.'

The council was unable to say how the mistake occurred. But councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment, said he 'will be ensuring the council's procedure is changed so that all the designated verges of ecological importance, among the 4,000 miles of rural verges we cut, are individually assessed to protect rare species of plantlife.'


The plain truth about Israel -- some enlightening history


In other times, Hearst Newspapers White House Correspondent Helen Thomas's demand that the Jews "get the hell out of Palestine," and go back to Poland, Germany and America would have been front page news in every newspaper in the US the day after the story broke.

In other times, had the dean of the White House Correspondents Association expressed such hatred for the Jews, the White House would have immediately removed her accreditation rather than wait three days to criticize her.

In other times, the White House Correspondents Association would have expelled her. In other times, her employer - Hearst Newspapers - would have fired her.

But in our times, it took days for anyone other than Jews and conservatives to condemn Thomas's vile statements to Rabbi David Nesenoff. And she was not fired. She was allowed to retire.

Our times are times of Jew hatred. Our times are times when hatred breeds strategic madness. Our times are times when we need to recall basic truths about Israel and the Jewish people. Specifically, we must remember that the US is privileged to count Israel as an ally – whether Americans like Jews and our state or hate us.

THIS WEEK, Anthony Cordesman from the respected Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies joined the bandwagon of Israel bashers. In an article titled, “Israel as a Strategic Liability?” Cordesman asserted that Israel “is a tertiary US strategic interest.” And given its alleged insignificance, Israel must “become far more careful about the extent to which it test[s] the limits of US patience and exploits the support of American Jews.”

Cordesman argued that Israel is only an asset to the US when it is giving its land away to its neighbors. He calls for Israel to constrain its military actions and demands that it “not conduct a high-risk attack on Iran in the face of the clear US ‘red light’ from both the Bush and Obama administrations.” The fact that Cordesman’s article reflects an increasingly popular school of thought in the US is not testimony to its accuracy. Indeed, his arguments are completely wrong.

The plain truth is that Israel is the US’s greatest strategic asset in the Middle East. Indeed, given the strategic importance of the Middle East to US national security, Israel is arguably its greatest strategic asset outside the US military.

Cordesman allows that “Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States.” But he fails to recognize the strategic implications of that statement. As a democracy, unlike every Arab state, the US does not need to worry a change in leadership in Jerusalem will cause it to abandon its alliance with the US. This of course is what happened in Iran, which until 1979 was the US’s most important ally in the Persian Gulf. As Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak ages, the US faces the prospect of a post-Mubarak Egypt led by the Muslim Brotherhood similarly abandoning its alliance with America.

The fact that the US and Israel share the same foundational values also guarantees that the alliance is stable. No government in Jerusalem will ever sway the Israeli people away from America as has happened in Turkey since the Islamist Erdogan government took office in 2002.

Cordesman grudgingly allows that Israel provides intelligence to the US. But he refuses to acknowledge how important that intelligence has been. Since September 11, 2001, US military and intelligence officials have repeatedly admitted that Israeli intelligence has been worth its weight in gold for US security operations in the region and around the world.

Cordesman also notes that Israeli technology has contributed to US defense, but again, undervalues its significance. The very fact that pilotless aircraft – first developed by Israel – are the lead force in the campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan gives lie to his tepid admission of Israel’s technological contribution to US security.

LIKE MANY on the Left, Cordesman ignores the fact that Israel’s enemies are the US’s enemies.

But his failure to note that the same people who call for Israel to be destroyed also call for the US to be destroyed does not make this fact any less true. And since the US and Israel share the same foes, when Israel is called on to fight its enemies, its successes redound to the US’s benefit.

In many ways, Israel – which has never asked the US to fight its wars – has been the catalyst for the US’s greatest triumphs. It was the Mossad that smuggled out Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech acknowledging Stalin’s crimes at the 20th Communist Party Conference in 1956. The publication of Khrushchev’s speech in the West was the first turning point in the Cold War.

So too, Israel’s June 1982 destruction of Syria’s Soviet-made anti-aircraft batteries and the Syrian air force was the first clear demonstration of the absolute superiority of US military technology over Soviet military technology. Many have argued that it was this demonstration of Soviet technological inferiority that convinced the Reagan administration it was possible to win the Cold War.

Beyond politics and ideology, beyond friendship and values, the US has three permanent national security interests in the Middle East:

• Ensuring the smooth flow of affordable petroleum products from the region

• Preventing the most radical regimes, substate and non-state actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm

• Maintaining its capacity to project its power in the region

A strong Israel is the best guarantor of all of these interests. Indeed, the stronger it is, the more secure these primary American interests are. Three permanent and unique aspects to Israel’s regional position dictate this state of affairs.

First, as the first target of the most radical regimes and radical substate actors in the region, it has a permanent, existential interest in preventing these regimes and substate actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm.

The 1981 IAF strike that destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor prevented Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite US condemnation at the time, the US later acknowledged that the strike was a necessary precondition to the success of Operation Desert Storm 10 years later. As Richard Cheney has noted, if Iraq had been a nuclear power in 1991, the US would have been hard pressed to eject Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait and so block his regime from asserting control over oil supplies in the Persian Gulf.

Second, Israel is a non-expansionist state and its neighbors know it. In its 62 year history, Israel has only controlled territory vital for its national security and territory that was legally allotted to it in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate which has never been abrogated or superseded.

Israel’s strength, which it has used only in self-defense, is inherently nonthreatening. Far from destabilizing the region, a strong Israel stabilizes it by deterring the most radical actors from attacking.

In 1970, Israel blocked Syria’s bid to use the PLO to overthrow the Hashemite regime in Jordan. Its threat to attack Syria not only saved the Hashemites then, it has deterred Syria from attempting to overthrow the Jordanian regime ever since.

Similarly, Israel’s neighbors understand that its purported nuclear arsenal is a weapon of national survival and hence they view it as nonthreatening. This is the reason the alleged nuclear arsenal has never spurred a regional nuclear arms race.

In stark contrast, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, a regional nuclear arms race will ensue immediately. Indeed, it has already begun. Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other states have all signed contracts to develop nuclear installations.

Although they will never admit it, Israel’s non-radical neighbors feel more secure when it is strong. On the other hand, the region’s most radical regimes and non-state actors will always seek to emasculate Israel.

Finally, since as the Jewish state Israel is the regional bogeyman, no Arab state will agree to form an open alliance with it. Hence, it will never be in a position to join forces with another nation against a third nation.

In contrast, the Egyptian-Syrian United Arab Republic of the 1960s was formed to attack Israel. Today, the Syrian-Iranian-Turkish alliance is an inherently aggressive alliance against Israel and the non-radical Arab states. Recognizing the stabilizing force of a strong Israel, the moderate states of the region prefer Israel to remain strong.


Obama and Hamas

Pres Obama is not letting the flotilla crisis go to waste. He is using it as a springboard to change US policy regarding Hamas. In his words, uttered in a recent interview by Larry King, ‘Time to move forward and break out of the impasse’ and “the status quo is unsustainable.” Totally aside from whether it is really unsustainable, one need not wonder how he intends to break out of the impass. He will bring Hamas in from the cold.

It was recently disclosed by Aaron Klein that:

“The group behind the Gaza flotilla that engaged in deadly clashes with Israeli commandos today counts among its top supporters the friends and associates of President Barack Obama, namely the founders of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of the radical activist organization Code Pink.”

Barack Obama should be included in this cast of characters.

Jerome Corsi went so far as to report:

“A top adviser to President Obama, (John O Brennan), is the contact person within the White House for communications with the Free Gaza Movement over plans to challenge Israel’s blockade of the terrorist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, according to a reputable source close to the Netanyahu government.

The anti blockade movement was promoted by a Turkish “charity” IHH which has been designated as a supporter of Hamas by both Israel and the US. One of the backers of this “charity” is Tariq Ramadan who had been banned from entering the US due to his financial support of Hamas. Yet Obama believes that “Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process.”

In April of this year, Obama’s administration lifted the ban on Ramadan. A week ago, the Guardian reported “Hamas leader says American envoys making contact, but not openly.” And this was before the crises. But the Obama-Hamas connection goes way back. Two years ago:

“From BizzyBlog comes evidence that Obama’s church not only has anti-white, anti-American feelings, but may also have a pro-Hamas bias. The July 22, 2007 Trinity United Church of Christ bulletin reprinted an article written by Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy of the political bureau of Hamas. Originally printed in the LA Times as “Hamas’ stand“, Pastor Wright added a new title, “A Fresh View of the Palestinian Struggle”. The Times was criticized for giving a “Platform To Genocidal Terrorist.” Where does that leave Obama’s church? Marzook is a known terrorist and created an extensive Hamas network in the United States.”

Indeed, where does that leave Obama himself? During Obama’s election campaign he was aided by Hamas-controlled Palestinians manning a phone bank from Gaza. Al Jazeera reported on the story.

Seven days later, on January 27/09, Obama allocated $20.3 million for Palestinian migration and refugee assistance. Quite a reward. Why was he bringing Hamas terrorists to the US?

But his gratitude didn’t end there. One month later, in the middle of a great economic crunch, Obama sent $900 million to Gazans or should I say Hamas.

So how does Obama intend to end the impass? An indication may be in Pres Carter’s written initiative, which he delivered to Hamas a year ago. In it, he proposed talks between the Islamist group and the U.S. without Hamas having to accept all conditions previously laid out for dialogue by the American government.

After the Hamas take over of Gaza three years ago, the US and Israel decided to impose a blockade on Gaza to bring Hamas down. Hamas started firing rockets at Israel over the next few years to force a change in this policy. This resulted in Cast Lead in which the IDF attacked Hamas and delivered a major blow. Israel shocked everyone by ending the operation before Hamas was annihilated. It was reported that she did so at the request of President-elect Obama who was about to be inaugurated.

For the time being, the rockets being fired by Hamas are few and far between perhaps because Hamas has a friend in the White House. Instead, Hamas has been planning, along with friends of Obama above mentioned and Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, to break the siege with a flotilla. And to make sure to create a sufficient crises to enable Obama to chart another course more favorable to them, they planned a violent confrontation.

“Ending the impass”, means lifting the blockade. Netanyahu in a recent speech gave Israel’s bottom line saying, “Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem”. The same, I am sure, goes for an airport in Gaza.

Let’s see how Obama squares the circle. No doubt he will propose some international inspection of cargo, certainly arriving from the Mediterranean and possibly from Egypt. But Israel need look no farther than UNSC Res 1701 which ended Lebanon War II. That resolution was to put a stop to the rearming of Hezbollah. It failed miserably. Why should better results be expected in Gaza.



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 June, 2010

Claudia Schiffer sparks race row after posing in afro for Karl Lagerfeld shoot

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer has been accused of being racially insensitive after she posed as a black woman, complete with afro, for the cover of a magazine. Schiffer's skin was covered in dark foundation for the shots, which were taken by celebrated fashion designer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld.

The images, which were taken in 2007 for a Dom Perignon advertising campaign, were among six shots of Miss Schiffer used by German fashion bible Stern Fotografie to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Another one of the photographs shows Schiffer, 39, made up to resemble an Asian woman.

While some fashion and photography critics have hailed the monochrome photographs as creative and clever, the image of Schiffer "blacking up" has also been branded insensitive and offensive.

Shevelle Rhule, fashion editor at black lifestyle magazine Pride, said the images were tasteless.

She told the Daily Mail: "It shows poor taste and it's offensive.

"There are not enough women of colour featured in mainstream magazines. This just suggests you can counteract the problem by using white models.

"I don't believe they deliberately set out to offend, they obviously see it as being arty and feel that they are pushing boundaries.

"But clearly no thought has been given to the history behind what they have done and the comparisons it draws with minstrel shows."

Representatives of the model claim the pictures are intended to show the model as a variety of fantasy figures and were "taken out of context".


The ‘Costs’ of Free Speech

Last year the Obama administration updated Washington’s official position on what forms of expression are legal. “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection,” Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued in U.S. v. Stevens, “depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”

In April the Supreme Court treated this cost-benefit approach to the Bill of Rights’ very first proscription on federal power with the derision it deserved. Writing for an 8-to-1 majority that overturned a 1999 law restricting depictions of animal cruelty, Chief Justice John Roberts called Kagan’s argument “startling and dangerous.” The First Amendment, he explained, “does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs.”

Kagan’s claim was a timely reminder that government, everywhere and always, seeks to balance controversial speech against various counterweights: national security, concerns about the influence of money in politics, the desire to protect society from the coarsening effects of obscenity. And if a child plays any role in the cost-benefit calculation—when school safety is supposedly at issue, or in a custody battle—the counterweight is deemed very heavy indeed.

Many, perhaps most, restrictions on speech are popular when they’re enacted. The reasons aren’t hard to understand. When your overriding goal is to prevent something most decent people find abhorrent (child pornography, corporate malfeasance, terrorism), and when distasteful speech is seen to obstruct that goal, that’s when people start to say, “Normally, I’m a First Amendment absolutist, but…”

So it was that the putative free speech champions on the New York Times editorial board praised the Supreme Court’s “respectful treatment of the First Amendment” in the Stevens case but in the very same editorial pilloried the Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which rejected federal censorship of a political documentary produced by a conservative group organized as a nonprofit corporation. Why the support for crush videos but not for corporate-sponsored political speech? Because legalizing the latter “opened the floodgates for big business and special-interest dollars to overwhelm American politics.” And catastrophic floods are no time for arcane constitutional debates.

Fortunately, the Framers understood that political passion too often trumps principle and that the natural reflex of people with power is to accumulate more. That is why the courts’ enforcement of constitutional restrictions is so important.

If you read one article about the Supreme Court this summer, make it Associate Editor Damon W. Root’s cover story, "Conservatives v. Libertarians." While the mainstream press continues to shoehorn all legal philosophies into a right-left spectrum, Root explores an underappreciated but equally important fault line: the split between conservatives who champion “judicial restraint” and libertarians willing to toss out even decades-old precedents if they flout the Constitution.

As Root’s article details, the tensions between these two tendencies can be found not only between established wings of the conservative legal movement but even within the minds of individual justices, especially Antonin Scalia. How those struggles play out on the Roberts court—including the unsettled question of Roberts’ own appetite and justification for overturning precedent—will go a long way in determining legal safeguards at a time of enormous government expansion.

This battle has repercussions far outside the courtroom, with echoes every time someone offers a consequentialist argument for limiting our freedom of expression. The patron saint of conservative judicial restraint, Robert Bork, shares an important trait with The New York Times and other censorious voices on the left: a belief that citizens are powerless to protect themselves from the consequences of unpleasant speech.

“Liberty in America can be enhanced by reinstating, legislatively, restraints upon the direction of our culture and morality,” Bork wrote in National Review in 2005. “Censorship as an enhancement of liberty may seem paradoxical. Yet it should be obvious, to all but dogmatic First Amendment absolutists, that people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture are, in a very real sense, not wholly free.”

Seeing individuals as powerless in the face of choice, or as empty vessels too easily overwhelmed by nefarious content, is a key component of paternalism. This view denies citizens their basic agency and autonomy, reinforcing the long-discredited but still popular notion that mass behavior is dictated from the top down.

“What we are facing,” President Barack Obama hyperbolized about Citizens United in early May, “is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections. What is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy.” It was a gross if common overestimation of corporate influence on our minds, and a grosser underestimation of the American people’s ability to think for themselves. Such a mindset explains how MSNBC blowhard Keith Olbermann could say something as profoundly stupid as his comment that Citizens United “might actually have more dire implications than Dred Scott v. Sandford.”

A similar note has been repeatedly sounded during the last two years of liberal anxiety over Tea Parties and allegedly resurgent right-wing violence. In April, on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, former President Bill Clinton wrote a New York Times op-ed that echoed his unforgivably cynical reaction to the bombing when it transpired. Then as now, he linked the murderous act with the words of nonviolent political commentators.

The bombers, Clinton wrote, “took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them.…As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.”

Such talk doesn’t just serve the partisan purpose of marginalizing political opponents. It reflects an unseemly condescension to the consumers of political media, and it suggests a path toward censorship. Time’s Joe Klein has accused several critics of Obama—including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Fox News in general—not just of “hate speech” but of the more legally serious “borderline sedition.” After Coburn warned that some citizens might be saying, “‘I give up on my government,’ and rightly so,” Klein charged that the senator’s statement “comes dangerously close to incitement to violence.” Needless to say, Klein wasn’t talking about criminalizing dissent back in the Bush-Cheney years.


'A Living Icon of Journalism'

The Society of Professional Journalists honors Helen Thomas. Still!


Among her many honors, Helen Thomas, who "retired" yesterday as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, in 2000 received the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists. As the SPJ's website explains:
The Award is named after longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas, a living icon of journalism for her dogged pursuit of the truth in a career that has spanned almost 60 years.

We've been calling Thomas "American journalism's crazy old aunt in the attic" for years, and the events of the past few days should have laid to rest any question of which description is more accurate, ours or the SPJ's. We wondered, then, whether SPJ planned to continue giving out the Helen Thomas Award, and last night we emailed Lauren Rochester, the society's awards coordinator, to ask.

"I'm going to refer [you] to Kevin Smith, SPJ national president," she replied first thing this morning, helpfully supplying us with an email and two phone numbers. We emailed Smith this morning and left messages on both numbers just after noon Eastern time. We have not heard from him.

Smith did, however, find time yesterday to talk with David Weigel of the Washington Post, who reported that the society "may rename" the award:
Kevin Smith, the president of the SPJ, tells me that members of the executive board have been in touch with one another over "whether we need to consider this."

"I'm not personally inclined to advocate for this," Smith said. "Helen Thomas has been a member and supporter of SPJ for a very long time, and do we throw all that away for this last transgression? On the other hand, if you were Jewish and given this award, would you go up and accept it? Without taking a knee-jerk approach, you need to consider other perspectives."

Smith told me that the SPJ's board will meet in late July to discuss other issues, and that's when the subject of renaming the award--which was first given to Thomas in 2000--could come up. "But if this thing escalates," Smith said, "we won't wait until then."

And after all, these guys are only professional journalists. It's not as if they're in a business in which they routinely have to deal with fast-breaking information.

OK, we couldn't resist, but that was a cheap shot. Kevin Smith teaches at West Virginia's Fairmont State University. He's a professor of journalism, which sounds a lot like "professional journalist," but there's a huge difference--trust us.

The really appalling thing about Smith's interview with Weigel is this line: "On the other hand, if you were Jewish and given this award, would you go up and accept it?" How about if you were a decent human being? (There are at least a few among the ranks of professional journalists--trust us.) The notion that only Jews would take exception to Thomas's call for ethnic cleansing--or to the SPJ's crediting her with "dogged pursuit of the truth"--is obtuse, to say the least.

Nine journalists other than Helen Thomas have accepted the Helen Thomas Award, perhaps because they were unfamiliar with her work. Now, though, no one has such an excuse--which means that if the SPJ decides to keep the award going, it may have trouble finding someone willing to collect it. But we can help:

The obvious choice for this year's honor is Patrick Buchanan, a syndicated columnist and commentator for MSNBC and "The McLaughlin Group," who has a long history of practicing journalism in the spirit of Helen Thomas. And he's definitely not Jewish!

But we'd like to suggest a dark-horse contender: Paul Craig Roberts, also a syndicated columnist (and late-1970s veteran of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page). In September 2002 Roberts put forward this proposal, in a column you can still find at VDare.com, a usually anti-immigration website:
Terminate the Middle Eastern conflict by inviting the 5 million Jews in Israel to settle in the U.S.

The entire population of Israel amounts to no more than two years of illegal Mexican immigration. The Jews can function here, if they wish, as an autonomous ethnic enclave just like all the other enclaves created by our shortsighted immigration policy. . . .

Trying to create a small Jewish state in a sea of Muslims was a 20th century mistake. Trying to reconstruct the Middle East would be a bigger mistake.

Why not recognize the mistake, evacuate the Jews, leave the Muslims to themselves, and focus on saving our own country?

Meanwhile, MLive.com reports that Michigan's Wayne State University, from which Thomas graduated in 1942, may remove her name from the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Awards reception. But Ben Burns of the Wayne State journalism school, went "on to say the university will continue to offer a Helen Thomas journalism scholarship." Something tells us they'll have to pay some kid to take that off their hands.


Gaza flotilla: invasion of the moral armada

Everyone talks about the siege of Gaza, but a more profound problem today is the intellectual, moral siege of Israel by the Respectable World

Many people are understandably concerned about the siege of Gaza by Israel. But the flotilla incident this week confirms that there’s a more pressing, profound and almost completely unquestioned problem today: the intellectual, moral siege of Israel by the Respectable World. There is nothing remotely progressive, far less radical, in the transformation of Israel into the whipping boy of a motley crew of Western moral entrepreneurs, radical Islamists and momentum-seeking left-wing activists. In fact it is fuelled by a quite intense hypocrisy and political opportunism, and it is warping the political dynamic in the Middle East, making life worse for Israelis and Palestinians.

Of course the invasion of the flotilla by the Israel Defense Forces, during which at least nine people were killed, was a deplorable and foolish act of violence. But few people have asked what is the real purpose of this ‘humanitarian flotilla’. The activists claim they’re only interested in delivering essentials to beleaguered Gazans. Critics describe the flotilla as an ‘armada of hate’, which is delivering materials, and possibly even weaponry, to Hamas. Both sides are wrong. These boats, which have been sailing to Gaza for the past two years, are best understood as a pompous, moralistic armada, fuelled by the self-righteousness of Western and Islamist activists keen to advertise their superiority over the new pariah state of the chattering classes: Israel.

The moralistic armada is a physical manifestation of the shallow Israel-bashing that has become utterly unexceptional and uniform in respectable Western circles in recent years. These ships combine the narcissism, self-promotion, pro-interventionism and, ultimately, the pro-imperialist bent to the anti-Zionism that is now widespread in polite society. The narcissism is captured in the fact that one of the ships is called the MV Rachel Corrie, named after the 23-year-old American activist who became a hero of the Western liberal media after she was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer during a Palestinian-pity trip to the West Bank in 2003.

The self-promotion is captured in the fact that some of the great and the good have sailed on these boats, including writers, thinkers and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Bizarrely, Swedish writer Henning Mankell, creator of the popular Wallander detective series, was on the flotilla invaded by the IDF. So was a Swedish MP. There were 28 Britons on board the ships. Earlier ships have featured such luminaries as Lauren Booth (who built a career in journalism on the back of being the sister-in-law of Tony Blair), European MPs and a former US colonel. Does Gaza really need writers and celebs to offload food at its ports? This is naked self-promotion, the cynical depiction of oneself as a superior, humane, international-law-abiding citizen by standing, Kate Winslet-style, on the deck of a ship that is Against Israel. (The respectability of contemporary anti-Israel rage is demonstrated by the fact that the flotilla violence means Mankell will now miss his appointment to discuss the ‘Palestinian humanitarian odyssey’ with Jon Snow at the Guardian Hay Festival.)

And the pro-Western, pro-militaristic thirst behind modern-day anti-Israel sentiment is clear from the fact that many of the flotilla activists and their supporters are now calling for the ‘international community’ to punish Israel. Because Israel has crossed a ‘boundary of civilisation’, says one writer, it must have sanctions imposed upon it by the United Nations. Others are calling for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be put on trial for committing a ‘war crime’. A Guardian editorial says NATO should be sent to Israel.

These demands that the powerful institutions of the West reprimand, isolate and possibly even attack Israel give the lie to the idea that anti-Israel sentiment is a form of peace activism. It is better understood as a ramshackle, informal campaign for the assertion of Western might over a disobedient state, where no weapon in the ‘international community’s’ armoury – from sanctions to military invasion – is considered beyond the pale in the need to punish the Israelis. The response to the flotilla incident shows that some are extremely keen that their fashionable disgust with Israel be backed up by brute sanction or physical force. They are effectively demanding the punishment of Israel to satisfy their own puffed-up moral outrage against what they have decreed to be the World’s No.1 Pariah State.

The fact that the flotilla to Gaza, with its weird mix of hippy, Islamist and imperialist sentiment, was powered by an underlying desire for Western punishment of Israel does not, of course, justify the IDF’s reckless actions. But it does help to explain why Israel did what it did. These are fundamentally hostile boats – no, not because they purportedly harbour weaponry for Hamas or are packed with wannabe suicide bombers (though some on the boats have expressed their desire for martyrdom), but because they represent, fundamentally, the existential anti-Israel outlook that has manifested itself in the West in recent years. There is no nation on Earth that would not be at least concerned about the arrival of an intervention-demanding force near its shores.

The flotilla incident confirms that for many bereft and confused politicians and activists over here, supporting Palestinians has become a shortcut to discovering a sense of urgent purpose and moral meaning. Palestinians are turned into the playthings of moral charlatans, some of whom even wear the keffiyeh, in a PC version of blacking up, or go to live with Palestinians and act as ‘human shields’. In Europe in particular, shallow pro-Palestinian pity / anti-Israel sentiment is widespread, for various but always self-serving reasons. It unites the far left and the far right, with the left hoping to conjure up some profound feeling of anti-imperialist rage and the right trotting out the usual old rubbish about ‘evil Jews’. It unites radical Islamists and mainstream politicians, where Islamists sustain virtually their entire off-the-peg victim identity by pointing to Israel’s ‘genocide’ of a section of the ummah and politicians can score some easy points, especially with the influential liberal classes, by denouncing Israel.

And, as demonstrated by the UN’s unusually speedy condemnation of the flotilla incident and the Lib-Con government’s expressions of outrage, anti-Israel sentiment is extremely useful for Western governments and international bodies, too. It allows them to take the moral highground on the international stage at a time when, post-Iraq, it is increasingly difficult for them to do so. It allows them to brush over their own acts of aggression, both in the past and in the present, by going along with the idea that Israel is a uniquely colonialist, belligerent nation whom they, being whiter than white, have the right to lecture and hector. When Israel is continually said to have crossed a ‘boundary of civilisation’, governments can conveniently pose as civilised by posturing against it. This opportunity to recover some Western authority, to rehabilitate the say-so of powerful governments over ‘pariah states’, has been handed to the international community by the supposed peace activists of the anti-Israel lobby.

I don’t support Israel. I think Palestinians ought to enjoy full national independence. But I want nothing to do with the orgy of moralism directed at Israel today by a mish-mash of dinner-party liberals, radical Islamists and clapped-out left-wingers. Most dangerously of all, this rise of respectable anti-Zionism is having a detrimental impact on the ground in the Middle East, causing Israel to become increasingly isolated and its relations with surrounding Palestinian territories to become increasingly tense. When you treat a state as a pariah, it is more likely to think and act like one, to become insecure, unpredictable, to lash out violently.

These flotilla activists fancy themselves as a modern-day version of the individuals who went to Spain during the Civil War to join international brigades in fighting for a Spanish republic. Yet those individuals were driven by a thirst for freedom, by positive visions of the future, by a willingness to take serious personal risks, and above all by a belief that people alone – and not powerful, self-serving institutions – could change mankind’s destiny for the better. Not a single one of those admirable traits was present on the ship of fools sailing to Gaza.



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 June, 2010

Norway: Brainwashed Science on TV Creates Storm

The heat is generated by Harald Eia, a TV-comedian turned science reporter, who is exposing social scientists and gender researchers in a not very flattering manner in a TV series called «Brainwashed». The uproar started already last summer, more than half a year before the series was ready. Some social scientists who had been interviewed by Eia, went out in the press to say they felt they had been fooled, tricked to expose themselves by «dubious» tactics.

What Eia had done, was to first interview the Norwegian social scientists on issues like sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, education and race, which are heavily politicized in the Norwegian science community. Then he translated the interviews into English and took them to well-known British and American scientists like Robert Plomin, Steven Pinker, Anne Campbell, Simon Baron-Cohen, Richard Lippa, David Buss, and others, and got their comments. To say that the American and British scientists were surprised by what they heard, is an understatement.


In Norway, the social sciences have been more dominated by ideology and fear of biology than in perhaps any other country. This has a long history starting in the 60s. Social science became very much bound up with the ideology of the Social Democrats, who put pride in the fact that Norway was the most egalitarian country in the world. And with the new wealth from the North Sea oil, it became possible to create a society with very little poverty. Which of course has been good for most Norwegians.


But science started to suffer. With so much easy money, few wanted to study the hard sciences. And the social sciences suffered in another way: The ties with the government became too tight, and created a culture where controversial issues, and tough discussions were avoided. Too critical, and you could risk getting no more money.

It was in this culture Harald Eia started his studies, in sociology, early in the nineties. He made it as far as becoming a junior researcher, but then dropped off, and started a career as a comedian instead. He has said that he suddenly, after reading some books which not were on the syllabus, discovered that he had been cheated. What he was taught in his sociology classes was not up-to-date with international research, and more based on ideology than science.

One of the problems, which has prevailed until now, is that the social sciences in Norway not at all will consider biological (evolutionary, genetical) factors in their analyses of human behavior. Even gender roles and sexual identity are explained as 100 percent determined by culture. The theory is that boys and girls are created equal – at least in their heads. All talk about possible inborn differences in interests or capabilities was taboo. Because Norwegians wanted everybody to be equal, it was considered threatening to even ask if there might be some inherited differences. Not only between the sexes, but between people generally.

... And in Norway this became a big problem because there are few scientists, and most research is sponsored by one source, the Norwegian Research Council, which has strong links with the government.


The situation was such that until recently, there has been no critical discussion of the basic dogmas about sex and gender, about criminality and about the Norwegian school system. Some questions were asked when Norway joined international school tests, and we discovered that we had fallen behind, to a level with much poorer countries. And there was some discussion why the most egalitarian country in the world had bigger differences in choice of education and careers between the sexes, than any other developed country.

This has been called the «gender equality paradox», and nobody could explain it. The common reaction was that we just had to work harder to reach our egalitarian goals. But of course, this «paradox» is easily explained if one takes evolutionary psychology into consideration: Because Norway has such a high living standard that you can live a decent life also with «female» jobs such as nursing, the women now choose careers that suit their psychological needs. But to say such things aloud, was like putting yourself in the gauntlet.

If Eia had presented the series five years ago, he also would have had to try the (media) gauntlet. But even in Norway, the outside world is creeping in, and last year he felt that the time was ripe for this project. He was maybe a bit optimistic, and some of the interviews created such storm, long before the series was aired, that there was a possibility that the project has to be abandoned. Some scientists even threatened to sue him.

But his standing as the most popular TV-comedian in Norway, made it difficult for NRK (the national broadcaster) to back off, and after some delay and bitter dicussions in the media, the series went on air on March 1. It immediately became one of the most watched series on Norwegian TV, and the most watched program on internet-TV.


For many people, it was difficult to see Eia in his new role as an investigative science reporter (a kind of science journalism’s Michael Moore), but he was well prepared. He could look naive, but he often knew more about the subjects than the scientists he interviewed, which made some of them look like arrogant ignorants. One of them fled the country, declaring that Eia had «ruined her life».

Eia's methods have been critisised as being unfair to the Norwegian scientists, but they were given a chance to defend themselves, and his ways of interviewing people are not worse than most politicians or business people are used to. One problem is maybe that the Norwegian scientists had not met any critical journalists before.

But the main problem, which Eia has exposed so brilliantly, is that much of Norwegian social science, and gender science in particular, is built on very shaky ground. Most studies have been done without even considering factors like heredity: The reason why some people turned criminals, or did badly in school, was always explained by social and cultural factors. To even mention heredity as a possible factor, was met with condescending laughter or irritation.


Before the series, most of the social science community was very skeptical, but now even established scientists have admitted that the critical light had been justified. Another effect of the series has been that scientists you almost never heard from in the public: psychologists, biologists and other natural scientists, have started to write in newspapers and participating in debates.

So even if Eia’s methods have been critisised, there is now a general agreement that the result of this project has been good for both the sciences and society as a whole. For the first time, science is really being discussed. Even if many strange things have been said and written, this has been (and still is) a unique educational process for both the general public and the scientific community.


If Israel Is Not Evil, the World Is in Big Trouble

With the exception of the United States, nearly all the world's nations; newspapers, radio and TV news stations; the United Nations; and the world's Leftist academics and organizations have condemned Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident. The characterizations of the Jewish state range from a society so evil that it should not be allowed to exist to a villainous nation that is responsible for a) the suffering of millions of innocent Palestinian men, women and children; b) the lack of Mideast peace; therefore c) the Muslim world's anger at the West; and therefore d) Islamic terrorism itself.

Let's hope the world is right.

Israel is almost totally isolated. A visitor from another planet would have every reason to report back home that the greatest problem on planet earth was this planet's Jewish state. Though Israel is the size of the American state of New Jersey and smaller than El Salvador, and though its population is smaller than that of Sweden, Burundi and Bolivia, it is the most censured country in United Nations history.

Let's hope the world is right.

Though Israel is a thriving liberal democracy for all its citizens, including the one out of five that is Arab (83 percent of whom are Muslim), with an independent judiciary and press; though it signed an agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state; though it returned to Egypt every inch of the Sinai Peninsula, a land mass larger than Israel itself with major oil reserves -- the world deems Israel a villain.

Let's hope the world is right.

Though Hamas runs a theocratic police state based on torture and terror, with no freedom of speech, no freedom for any religious expression outside of radical Islam, seeks to annihilate the Jewish state, and its state-controlled media depict Israelis and Jews as worthy of death, the world sees Israel, not Hamas, as the villain.

Let's hope the world is right.

Here is a random sampling of world reactions:

"The EU condemns the use of violence that has produced a high number of victims among the members of the flotilla ..."

"The President of (France) expresses his profound emotion in the face of the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation," Sarkozy's office said. "He condemns the disproportionate use of force ..."

"Spain unequivocally condemns the Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla and it does so as a country and as the acting president of the EU Council."

"Swedish Port Workers Union spokesman Peter Annerback says workers will refuse to handle Israeli goods and ships ..."

"The Swedish Football Association said it was to ask European football's highest body, UEFA, to rule if the qualifier scheduled for Friday in Tel Aviv should go ahead or not, citing the 'strong reactions in Sweden and around the world.'"

"Norway's military says it has cancelled a special operations seminar because the Defence Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program ... Norway calls for boycott on arms to Israel."

South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, "to show our strongest condemnation of the attack."

India announced that "There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn."

"The Argentine Government expressed on Monday its condemnation of Israel's naval attack to an (sic) humanitarian six-ship flotilla."

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry in a statement said that "Brazil strongly condemns the Israeli attack, because there was no justification ..."

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini: "I deplore in the strongest terms the killing of civilians. This is certainly a grave act."

The News, the leading Pakistani English daily: "This monstrous outrage has caught the world's attention and once again put the spotlight on the activities of a state that has been a law unto itself for most of its life."

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu: "We were shocked by the Israeli attack which led to severe casualties and condemn it."

Let's hope that the European Union, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, India, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Pakistan, China and nearly all other nations are right.

And not just nations, of course. According to Amnesty International, "It is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment ... Israel should invite the relevant UN experts to carry out an investigation ... It begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified. It appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed."

To restate AI's positions:

1) Since blockades are "collective punishment," presumably Amnesty International deems all blockades as immoral. 2) The U.N. is fair regarding Israel, so Israel should support a U.N. investigation. 3) And the Israeli soldiers should have allowed themselves to be beaten to death rather than throw away their paintball guns and use real ones.

Let's hope Amnesty International is right.

Now, some representative views in American newspaper editorials:

The Los Angeles Times, in its editorial, posed some deep questions. Here are three:

"Were the boats ferrying novelists and Nobel Peace Prize winners and elderly Holocaust survivors, as news accounts have suggested, or seething Israel haters, as defenders of the raid would have us believe?"

Apparently, the Los Angeles Times believes that novelists, Nobel Peace Prize winners and elderly Holocaust survivors cannot be "seething Israel-haters."

"Was the goal to bring 10,000 tons of aid to needy Gazans in an act of peaceful civil disobedience, or to provoke Israel into just this sort of violent response? ..."

I did not make this up in order to embarrass the LATimes. They really posed this question.

"We agree with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the blockade '... hurts forces of moderation and empowers extremists.'"

Unlike the Times, many of us thought that Palestinian extremists were more powerful than the "forces of moderation" prior to the blockade.

Let's hope the Los Angeles Times is right.

And now, The New York Times editorial:

"There can be no excuse for the way that Israel completely mishandled the incident ... It has damaged Israel's ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the Muslim world."

"No excuse?" Being beaten to death by "peace activists" while carrying paintball guns is "no excuse"? And why wasn't it Turkey's sponsorship of an Islamist organization labeled a terrorist group by the American government that damaged Turkey's relations with Israel? Why is it not Turkey's cooperation with Iran's Holocaust-denying, Holocaust-planning Ahmadinejad that has damaged Turkish-Israeli relations?

Let's hope The New York Times is right.

The reason mankind has to hope that the world, its leaders, its newspapers, its so-called human rights organizations and the United Nations are right about Israel is quite simple: If Israel is the decent party in its war with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas -- and nearly all the world's countries, nearly all the world's media and the United Nations are morally wrong -- what hope is there for humanity? If the world's moral compass is that broken, are we not sailing into a dark age?


UK prisoners convert to Islam to get jail privileges

How crazy can you get?

INMATES in the UK are converting to Islam in order to gain perks and the protection of powerful Muslim gangs, Britain's Chief Inspector of Prisons warns today. Dame Ann Owers says that some convicted criminals are taking up the religion in jail to receive benefits only available to practising Muslims.

The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s - from 2,513 in 1994, or 5 per cent of the population, to 9,795 in 2008, or 11 per cent. Staff at top-security prisons and youth jails have also raised concerns about the intimidation of non-Muslim inmates and possible forced conversions.

Dame Anne's report, Muslim Prisoners' Experiences, published today, says that, although several high-profile terrorists have been jailed recently, fewer than 1 in 100 Muslim inmates have been convicted of terrorism.

She says that prison staff are suspicious about those practising or converting to the faith and warns that treating Muslim inmates as potential or actual extremists risks radicalising them.

The report says: "Many Muslim prisoners stressed the positive and rehabilitative role that Islam played in their lives, and the calm that religious observance could induce in a stressed prison environment. "This was in marked contrast to the suspicion that religious observance, and particularly conversion or reversion, tended to produce among staff. Converts did, however, have mixed motives, which could include perceived dietary benefits, or protection within a group."

All prisons offer a halal menu for Muslim prisoners, which some inmates see as better than the usual choices. The group are also excused from work and education while attending Friday prayers. Some converts, who are known as "convenience Muslims", admitted that they had changed faith because they received better food and more time out of the cells because of the requirement to attend Friday prayers. One quoted in the report said: "Food good too, initially this is what converted me."

In some of the most secure jails, the size of the Muslim population is well above average. Two years ago, Muslim inmates accounted for a third of prisoners in Whitemoor, Cambridgeshire and a quarter of inmates in Long Lartin in Worcestershire.

The report says that inmates converted after learning about Islam from other inmates or their family, to obtain support and protection in a group with a powerful identity and for material advantages. One inmate quoted in the report said: "I've got loads of close brothers here. They share with you, we look out for each other."

Tom Robson, vice-chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, admitted that prisoners feared that guards would not be able to protect them on the wings. He said that some vulnerable and impressionable prisoners were converting because they wanted status and protection from other inmates. "What we have got at the moment is an upward trend," he said. "It is worrying."

Phil Wheatley, director-general of the National Offender Management Service, defended the way in which the service treated Muslim inmates. "Our clear policy is that all prisoners are treated with respect and decency, recognising the diverse needs of a complex prison population, and that the legitimate practice of faith in prison is supported."

Dame Anne's study is based on 85 jail inspection reports and in-depth interviews with 164 Muslim prisoners in eight jails. It follows reports of Muslim inmates seeking to assert their authority on the wings of prisons.


Sleazy Peter is another Israel-hating Jew

He looks good and has a nice voice and sounds vaguely reasonable at first -- but his words of praise for that great hater -- Karl Marx -- tell you all you need to know. And his other heroes are of a similar ilk. Systematic distortion of reality is the typical game of Leftist haters like Peter. Excerpt only below

The Mavi Marmara victims are the most visible of many unarmed international solidarity workers and Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli military forces at peaceful demonstrations. Charges that Israel's lethal commando assault violated international law are far from the most serious it faces, after wars on Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and Gaza in 2008-09. The lame official excuses for the assault invite the question: what does it take for "supporters" of Israel to protest that enough is enough?

Jewish leaders and their community follow Israeli official script: the raid on the unarmed civilians of the flotilla was in self-defence, just as pasta, coriander and children's toys entering Gaza pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The collective punishment of Gaza is merely putting them "on a diet". George Orwell would have been impressed by such Newspeak in "defence of the indefensible".

Apologists claim international outrage towards Israel is evidence of global anti-Semitism, seeking to "delegitimise" the Jewish state. The slur has caused non-Jewish commentators and individuals to avoid public criticism. The Jewish establishment has even sought to discredit human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though the same criticisms may be found in reports of Israel's own B'Tselem.

For such reasons, in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart has charged the diaspora Jewish establishment with being detached from reality, failing to recognise "Israel is becoming (has become) a right-wing, ultra-nationalist country" being abandoned by younger liberal and progressive Jews. As early as 1948, an open letter published in The New York Times signed by Hannah Arendt, Einstein and others warned against the fatal combination of "ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and a propaganda of racial superiority".

The question of Jewish identity and responsibility has been posed acutely by some Jews themselves, those who break ranks - those referred to in Isaac Deutscher's essay as ''The Non-Jewish Jew''. Among these, Baruch Spinoza (1634-77) is described by Bertrand Russell as "the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers". For his heresies, he was given the severest punishment, Cherem - permanent excommunication from the 17th century Amsterdam Jewish community.

He notes the paradox that Jewish heretics who transcend Jewry belong to a characteristically Jewish tradition, among the great revolutionaries of modern thought, including Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. To Deutscher's list we may add Hannah Arendt, the late renegade American historian Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, all reviled by their communities....

In view of the brutal occupation of the West Bank, inhumane blockade of Gaza, continuing dispossession, injustice and suffering of the Palestinians, Jews might heed Einstein's prophetic warning in 1955: ''The attitude we adopt towards the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.''

More HERE. The author above is Peter Slezak, senior lecturer at the University of NSW's school of history and philosophy of science (Australia).


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 June, 2010

Anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders courted to attract Dutch voters

GEERT Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician who wants to tax Muslim headscarves and ban mosque building, could join the next government, the leader of the country's biggest party said.

Mark Rutte, who is tipped to be the next Prime Minister after Wednesday's vote, told The Times that he was prepared to share power with the anti-Islamic MP in a new coalition.

Mr Rutte's right-wing Liberal Party (VVD) is expected to win the largest number of seats in the general election and polls suggest that it could form a majority with the Christian Democrats and Mr Wilders' Freedom Party.

Mr Wilders, 46, was prohibited from visiting Britain last year by Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, because of his inflammatory views but managed to overturn the ban. His party is in fourth place after briefly topping opinion polls this year.

Mr Rutte dismissed suggestions that his country could suffer an international backlash if he offered a Cabinet post to Mr Wilders. He said that he saw the Freedom Party as "just another party", and disagreed with its policies on headscarves and mosques. He and Mr Wilders agreed however that the Netherlands should restrict immigration and cut benefits to recent arrivals.

Speaking to The Times during a break in campaigning in The Hague, Mr Rutte, 43, said that he was open to forming a coalition with Mr Wilders, just as he was with the Labour Party led by Job Cohen, the former Mayor of Amsterdam, which is second in the polls. "For me, the Wilders party and the social democratic Labour Party - we do not rule out a coalition with any of the two," he said. "With both of them, we have many points of difference. But I am not distancing myself from Wilders on the basis of morality, like the Labour Party leader Job Cohen. He is saying Wilders' party is wrong.

"The problem with Wilders is that he is quite left-wing on the economy ... while at the same time we agree with some of the measures we could take on immigration in the Netherlands. We disagree on this issue of Islam."

Asked if he thought that the Netherlands would suffer from problems in the Islamic world if Mr Wilders were part of the government, he said: "I don't think so. For me it is just another party."

Latest polls for the 150-seat Parliament put the VVD on 36 seats, Labour on 29, the Christian Democrats on 24, the Freedom Party on 18 - double its current number of MPs - and the Socialist Party on 12.

Dutch commentators believe that Mr Rutte is keeping open the possibility of coalitions involving Mr Wilders and Mr Cohen to try to attract their voters.


Legal harassment of the middle class soon to be cut back in Britain

Bin taxes and planning laws to be ditched by Coalition.

A raft of Labour laws which have been criticised for penalising Middle England will be consigned to the scrap heap by the new Government this week. Bin taxes will be ditched, along with laws allowing developers to build on back gardens, as the Coalition embarks on a bonfire of "meddling" legislation.

Ministers will say they are scrapping controversial Labour proposals to allow local authorities to charge for household rubbish collections or fine those who fail to cut their waste.

And in a major review of planning law, back gardens will no longer be classified as "brownfield" land which can be built on.

The Government will also announce that it is getting rid of a requirement on builders to squeeze more smaller homes onto new housing developments, after complaints that the rule leads to overcrowding.

The shake-up follows years of campaigns, including one in this newspaper against proposed refuse taxes, and is clearly aimed at pacifying core Conservative voters.

In the first of the announcements tomorrow, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, will say he is scrapping Labour plans to introduce pay-as-you-throw rubbish schemes. Local authorities will be told to end pilot schemes set up by the previous administration to penalise people for the amount of rubbish they throw away.

The new Government will adopt a "carrot" rather than a "stick" approach, seeking to encourage recycling through measures such as cuts in council tax bills or giving shopping vouchers to residents who meet recycling targets.

In a further attempt to reach out to middle class families, Greg Clark, the minister for decentralisation, will on Wednesday outline plans to end cluttering of leafy residential areas by abolishing Labour's "minimum density targets" for house building.

Rules currently stipulate that at least 30 homes are built on every hectare of developed land. This makes it almost impossible for large-scale developers to win planning permission to build bigger homes and gardens. In the same space that would have been allowed for one house in the 1980s, builders are now being required to build three.

Current rules also state that at least 25 per cent of the homes in each new luxury housing development must be "affordable", and proposed developments often do not get the go ahead unless a block of budget flats is added onto the site. The abolition of the density targets will end cluttering, ill-thought-out "affordable" high rises and homes which are too small, campaigners say.

But Opposition MPs, including some Liberal Democrat coalition members, are expected to criticise the changes because they say smaller and cheaper housing is needed for key workers and the less well off.

Mr Clark will also announce that planning law is to change so that gardens are no longer classified as brownfield sites. The aim is to bring an end to "garden grabbing" which has led to the concreting-over of thousands of green spaces by developers.

That began after John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, changed planning laws to make gardens brownfield sites in a deeply controversial move in 2000.

Labour's bin tax policies, meanwhile, have faced opposition from householders who risked being hit by hefty fines. There were also fears that charging householders for producing excess waste could bring a rise in fly tipping and "bin wars" among neighbours as people struggled to avoid paying.

The Liberal Democrats backed the idea of charges, but a source said the Coalition had now agreed to abandon measures that would fine householders.

Mr Pickles will say: "Bin taxes are not a green tax. They were simply another excuse by Labour to tax by stealth. "They will spark a surge in fly-tipping, leaving a blot on the landscape; fuel a rise in backyard burning, damaging the environment; and spark a flurry of neighbourhood bin wars as angry householders dump their rubbish in a neighbour's bin in an attempt to avoid being hammered by another stealth tax."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, welcomed the move. He said: "It's good news that this rubbish idea is being consigned to the scrap-heap. "Householders already pay council tax to have their bins emptied, so charging them more for not sorting their rubbish, or discarding too much, would have been unfair.

"Not only would pay-as-you-throw have been unfair, but it would also have been almost unenforceable without local councils having to spy on their residents to see what they were putting in their bins. "The best way to encourage people to recycle is to offer them incentives to do it, not penalise them when they don't."

Documents seen by this newspaper and released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that local authorities, charities and groups representing the elderly expressed strong opposition to the schemes in an official consultation but were apparently ignored.

The Association of Charity Shops said it feared the last government's plans would result in large amounts of rubbish being dumped on their doorsteps in the guise of "donations" as householders attempted to reduce their household waste.


A mosque at Ground Zero? Moderate Muslims say no

by Jeff Jacoby

IS GROUND ZERO the right place for a major new mosque and Islamic cultural center? That is the question swirling around the proposed Cordoba House, a 15-story, $100 million Muslim development to be built just 600 feet from where the World Trade Center stood. The ambitious plans for Cordoba House include not only a mosque, but also a 500-seat auditorium, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bookstore.

The prospect of an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero is, not surprisingly, controversial. Many relatives of Sept. 11 victims are strongly opposed. One group, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, calls Cordoba House "a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day." At the same time, the project has very strong political support. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer are among its backers, and Cordoba House was endorsed by lower Manhattan's Community Board No. 1 in a near-unanimous vote on May 25.

But perhaps most noteworthy are the views of leading Muslim moderates -- Muslims known for their commitment to tolerance and pluralism, and for their opposition to all forms of radical Islam.

One such individual is Zuhdi Jasser, a physician, US Navy veteran, and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

In a conversation with me last week, Jasser reminisced about his family's history of building mosques in the heartland communities where they lived. His parents, Syrian immigrants to the United States, helped create the Fox Valley Islamic Center in Neenah, Wis., in 1980. "This was during the Iranian hostage crisis," he recalled, "and some of the local residents wanted the Zoning Commission to prevent the mosque from going forward." But the commissioners gave their blessing to the project, and the modest mosque -- the construction budget was just $80,000 -- became part of the neighborhood. Later the family later moved to western Arkansas, where they joined with others to create the Islamic Center of Fort Smith. As recently as March, Jasser came out in support of Muslims in Sheboygan, Wis., whose plans for a new place of worship were meeting with vocal resistance.

But he adamantly opposes the Ground Zero mosque. "For us, a mosque was always a place to pray, to be together on holidays -- not a way to make an ostentatious architectural statement about the grandeur of Islam," Jasser says. "Ground Zero shouldn't be about promoting Islam. It's the place where war was declared on us as Americans." To appropriate that space for Muslim outreach, he argues, is "the worst form of misjudgment."

Equally opposed is Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a devout Muslim and director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, DC. Schwartz notes that the spiritual leader of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, describes himself as a Sufi -- a Muslim focused on Islamic mysticism and spiritual wisdom. But "building a 15-story Islamic center at Ground Zero isn't something a Sufi would do," says Schwartz, a practitioner of Sufism himself. "Sufism is supposed to be based on sensitivity toward others," yet Cordoba House comes across as "grossly insensitive." He rejects Rauf's insistence that a highly visible Muslim presence at Ground Zero is the way to make a statement against what happened on 9/11. Better, in his view, is the approach of many Muslims "who hate terrorism and who have gone privately to the site and recited prayers for the dead silently and unperceived by others."

Ali Al-Ahmed, a Saudi native who founded the Institute for Gulf Affairs and is an advocate for civil rights and religious freedom in the Middle East, hopes for the best from Cordoba House. "A mosque should be a good thing," he tells me. But he worries about the number of Americans who may be "hurt and upset" by the project, and wonders whether a mosque is really the best thing for Muslims to build so close to Ground Zero. Why not something less emotionally charged, he asks -- a social-service agency, perhaps, or an assisted living center for the elderly?

Muslims must take the feelings of other Americans into account Al-Ahmed contends. Even for the devout, healing and social cohesion should matter more than a new mosque. He quotes no less an Islamic authority than the Imam Ali, the influential son-in-law of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. "Reconciliation of your differences," says Imam Ali in the collection of teachings known as the Peak of Eloquence, "is more worthy than all prayers and fasting."

Will a mosque at Ground Zero make reconciliation more likely? Or will it needlessly rub salt in the unhealed wounds of 9/11?


The media war on Israel

by Pilar Rahola

This speech appears to have been originally delivered January 2009 in reference to the media coverage over the Gaza operation.

Pilar Rahola is a Spanish politician, journalist and activist aligned with the Left. She is a passionate defender of the United States and Israel and an indefatigable fighter against anti-Semitism. All these despite being ideologically from the left. Her articles are published in Spain and throughout some of the most important newspapers in Latin America. She is the recipient of major awards by Jewish organizations.

This article should be read together with another of hers "Jews with six arms".

"Why don't we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris, Barcelona ? Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs?

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan?

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?

Why don't they defend Israel 's right to exist?

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?

And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn't care.

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the people!".

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria, or Yemen, or Iran, or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never preoccupied when Hammas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they propagandize.

When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel , that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel ; the indoctrination of children and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran , Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel ."

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

Or in my native city of Barcelona , the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel , by having a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70's and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel.

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of president Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and on issues of the Middle East , he is unequivocally pro Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of foreign minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it is a symbol.

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti Israeli in the world.

And then it says it is anti Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.


I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti- Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles.

Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed 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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. 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 June, 2010

BBC racism

Disproportionate number of recruits to BBC's trainee scheme are from ethnic minorities. Disproportionate numbers are routinely held by Leftists to be proof of racism, so the BBC can hardly back away from this one. The Beeb could only be shown to be non-racist if it could show that its minority candidates were more highly qualified or more able than mainstream candidates -- and there is no evidence of that

Almost half of the places on a coveted BBC journalism trainee scheme have gone to candidates from ethnic minorities, a Freedom of Information Act request has shown. One white applicant who was turned down said he had been asked in his interview what experience he had in writing stories that would appeal to people from different racial backgrounds.

It comes despite the fact that non-white people make up about a tenth of the population, and deliberately favouring one race over another for jobs is illegal.

The official figures are disclosed just a day after it emerged that a council banned white people from applying for an £18,000-a-year traineeship in order to increase staff diversity. Bristol City Council said its policy did not break race relations laws against “positive discrimination” because the two-year placement does not guarantee a job.

In the latest case, figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that 51 places have been made available under the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme since 2007. Of these 24 have gone to candidates from ethnic minorities – 47 per cent. The latest estimate by the Office for National Statistics is that 6m of the 54m population of England and Wales is non-white – 11 per cent.

The BBC also disclosed that 33 of the successful entrants to the scheme were female – 64 per cent – and that of these, 16 were non-white.

Over the first three years of the scheme, which offers up to a year of on-the-job training as well as tuition and assessment – 5,816 people had applied for a place. Those who finish the course are not guaranteed a full-time contract but rather considered good enough to “compete for jobs”.

The BBC was memorably described as “hideously white” by Greg Dyke, the former director-general, and has a target of recruiting at least 12.5 per cent of its 23,000 staff from ethnic minorities. Its own figures show that by January 2009 it had almost reached the goal, with 12 per cent of employees at the publicly-funded broadcaster non-white.

Trevor Phillips, the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, claimed in a newspaper interview earlier this year that he believed the BBC was now deliberately trying to recruit non-white trainees. “One of my friends chaired the board for BBC trainees. Thousands apply. He went in and said, ‘I’m going to make sure this year it’s not all white boys from Oxbridge’. So they advertised in the right way, sifted the candidates in the right way and actually it worked.”

A white man who was interviewed for the BBC’s journalism traineeship scheme in 2007 said the process appeared to be geared towards selecting ethnic minority candidates. He said: “One of the questions the assessors from the BBC asked was to do with what experience I had in developing stories that would be of interest to ethnic minorities.

“I thought asking the same question to my ethnic minority would be very unfair as they will have a natural advantage, being from such a background, which then obviously would lead to a better answer, and overall interview. “I was shocked later to learn – from a friendly Muslim girl who was also at interview - that she was asked the question and freely admitted it was ‘easy to answer’ because of her community background.

“I did also think also think it strange that the BBC organisers took photos of all the candidates during the assessments. “They said it was to “remember our faces” - but now I think it was possibly to confirm what race candidates were when considering who take onto the scheme.”

Under the Race Relations Act 1976, organisations can offer training to specific groups that are under-represented in their workforce, but it remains illegal to offer a job to one person over someone equally qualified on the basis of their skin colour.

A BBC spokesman said: "Whilst the BBC Journalism Trainee scheme is not a positive action scheme, a core objective of the scheme has been to encourage a greater diversity amongst potential BBC journalists. "We work hard to actively encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and there is a very intensive short listing and selection process which assesses a whole range of competencies and the potential of each individual to become a successful BBC journalist. "The allocation of places is based solely on the candidates' performance during the assessment.”


Statue of Joseph Stalin to be Unveiled in Virginia

This Sunday, people around the world will honor the 66th anniversary of D-Day, when over 160,000 troops from the United States, Britain, France and Canada bravely stormed the beaches of Normandy, marking a turning point in World War II. In Bedford, Virginia, a memorial to the invasion will be unveiled with statues of western Allied leaders, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman. The memorial will also include a bust of dictator Joseph Stalin.

Residents of Bedford are rightfully outraged. Annie Pollard, a Bedford County supervisor, and a volunteer at the memorial told the Lynchburg News and Advance: “I just don’t think it belongs on the hill with them…To me, he (Stalin) is just a murderer. I just can’t see how he fits in with the memorial. They are people we want to remember. He’s someone I’d rather forget.”

James Morrison and fellow veterans from the Bedford Post 54 of the American Legion are equally outraged and have been fighting the effort since the plan was announced in 2007. Morrison, author of the book “Bedford Goes to War: The Heroic Story of a Small Virginia Community in World War II” said: “It’s a disgrace and a dishonor to the veterans.”

So why do it? William McIntosh, the president of the Memorial Foundation said: “He certainly was a fact of life and a major ally during the second World War … There’s nothing about the presentation that’s going to be flattering of Stalin.”

Dr. Lee Edwards, a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, disagrees. Edwards released a statement saying:

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, statues of Joseph Stalin have been torn down all over Europe and even in the former Soviet Union itself. The world is closer than ever before to a consensus on the evils of communism and Stalin’s primary role in the worst crimes of the last century. And yet a statue of Stalin is included in the National D-Day Memorial, to be dedicated in Bedford, Virginia, this Sunday, June 6.

Near the statue of Stalin, a plaque catalogues Stalin’s crimes against millions of people both in Russia and throughout Europe. But no mere plaque can justify the inclusion of the statue which dishonors the heroic individuals who sacrificed so much on D-Day and in the Cold War.

A bust of Joseph Stalin has no place in a memorial whose purpose is to salute the brave soldiers who made D-Day a vital victory in the crusade for freedom.

It’s time for Mr. McIntosh and those responsible for the memorial in Bedford to do the right thing. Follow the lead of those who were oppressed under Joseph Stalin and tear down this statue. You can learn more about the victims of communism at www.victimsofcommunism.org.


Being Catholic Means Not Feeling Sorry About Being Catholic

Publications such as Time magazine, The New York Times and the Boston Globe want to see the moral voice of the Catholic Church scaled back, if not completely silenced, on key social issues. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in the current debate over homosexuality -- an issue that has become increasingly difficult to talk about in the public square.

Just ask Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, who stands almost alone within the media in discussing even the existence of homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood as an ingredient in some of the sex-abuse cases of recent decades, and in the seminary and clerical culture where abuse of teenagers all too often went unpunished in the past.

The issue is, of course, broader than sex-abuse scandals. In both the Denver and the Boston archdioceses, schools have recently been faced with decisions about whether to accept in private Catholic schools the children of openly same-sex couples. It strikes me as quite apparent that a school run by a Catholic parish should be free to choose to not take on such a challenge.

I acknowledge that not every Catholic school lives up to its mission of evangelizing. It is also true that some parents send their children to Catholic schools for the scholastic quality or for the mere safety Catholic schools provide as compared to what public schools offer. But a Catholic school that is being truly Catholic and fulfilling the religious portion of its mission is going to have an obvious problem with an openly gay couple being partners. The same-sex couple at the Christmas show, for example, is a lot more scandalous to what the school is trying to teach about morality than the divorced couple -- simply because the scandal is much harder to avoid. There will be hurt feelings all around; the most charitable thing for the school to do may simply be to not accept the child of, say, two lesbians into the school in the first place.

You can certainly disagree with me on this -- or with the forthright shepherd Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, or with the next Catholic school principal or pastor who has to make a call on the application of a so-called alternative family. But the school should nonetheless be free to make that decision about the identity of the school and how best they can serve all of the children in it, as a matter of religious liberty.

The outcry about these decisions to say "no" underscores the broader problem strong cultural forces -- notably, the media -- have with the moral voice of the Church. It's not just Pope Benedict that they wish would pipe down; it's also the local parish school. They are encouraging an environment in which even Catholics feel awkward about letting a Catholic school be Catholic. And they are using victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests -- priests who were themselves being unfaithful to the Church in an especially shocking way -- as cover for their own moral agenda.

This is what Time magazine recently did, when it announced on its cover that "Being Pope Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry." That headline simply doesn't pass the laugh test. Christianity itself is a redemption story. Christ Himself, the faithful believe, came precisely because we sin -- and believers are implored to say "sorry," in a sacramental way, in the Catholic Church. The Pope himself -- on the matter of what he has called the "filth" of the crimes committed by abusing priests -- has been forthright in asking forgiveness, and talking about the need for redemption and renewal in ways that even Time had to begrudgingly acknowledge. When Time magazine and The New York Times and the others work to try to depict the current pope as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution, they display their agenda -- an agenda that may be fought out in a local Catholic parish school near you, sooner rather than later.


Fight bigotry without government

By John Stossel

"Backwards and hateful ideas ... oust John Stossel," said Colorofchange.org. In a newspaper, the organization went on: "It's time that FOX drop Stossel ... we'll go directly after the network with a public campaign unlike anything we've pursued to date.". Media Matters joined: "By airing Stossel's repugnant comments, Fox legitimizes his indefensible position."

What "indefensible" position did I take? I said this: "Private businesses ought to get to discriminate. I won't ever go to a place that's racist, and I will tell everybody else not to, and I'll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist."

Read that carefully: I condemned racism. I said I'd speak out against and boycott a racist's business. But to some people, I committed heresy. I failed to accept the entire catechism. I didn't say that we need government to fight racism and prohibit racist policies in private establishments. For this, they demand that I be fired.

This controversy started when Rand Paul, who had just won a senatorial primary, told TV talker Rachel Maddow that the part of the Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination by private business is improper interference with property owners' rights. He, too, condemned racism.

But the chattering class's reaction to Paul's statements must have made him uncomfortable. The next day, he issued a statement saying that he would have voted for the entire act because federal intervention was needed.

Maybe. At the time, racism was so pervasive that such an intrusive law may have been a good thing. But, as a libertarian, I say: Individuals should be surrounded by a sphere of privacy where government does not intrude. Part of the Civil Rights Act violates freedom of association. That's why I told Fox's Megyn Kelly, "It's time now to repeal that part of the law."

You can't say that in America? America's fundamental political philosophy has deteriorated quite a bit if we can't distinguish between government and private conduct. I enthusiastically support the parts of the civil rights act that struck down Jim Crow laws, which required segregation in government facilities, mass transit, and sometimes in private restaurants and hotels. Jim Crow was evil. It had no place in America.

Racist policies in private restaurants are also evil, but they do not involve force. Government is force, so it should not be used to combat nonviolent racism on private property, even property open to the public.

I just don't trust government to decide what discrimination is acceptable. Its clumsy fist cannot deter private nonviolent racism without stomping on the rights of individuals. Today, because of government antidiscrimination policy, all-women gyms are sued and forced to admit men, a gay softball team is told it may not reject bisexuals and a Christian wedding photographer is fined thousands of dollars for refusing to take photos of a homosexual wedding.

I'll say it again: Racial discrimination is bad. But we have ways besides government to end it. The free market often punishes racists. Today, a business that doesn't hire blacks loses customers and good employees. It will atrophy, while its more inclusive competitors thrive.

In the pre-1964 South, things were different. But even then, private forces worked against bigotry. White owners of railroads and streetcars objected to mandated segregation. Historian Jennifer Roback writes that in 1902 the Mobile Light and Railroad Company "flat out refused to enforce" Mobile, Alabama's segregation law.

In cities throughout the South, beginning in 1960, student-led sit-ins and boycotts peacefully shamed businesses into desegregating whites-only lunch counters. Those voluntary actions were the first steps in changing a rancid culture. If anything, Washington jumped on a bandwagon that was already rolling.

It wasn't free markets in the South that perpetuated racism. It was government colluding with private individuals (some in the KKK) to intimidate those who would have integrated. It was private action that started challenging the racists, and it was succeeding -- four years before the Civil Rights Act passed.

Government is a blunt instrument of violence that one day might do something you like but the next day will do something you abhor. Better to leave things to us -- people -- acting together privately.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 June, 2010

No adoption for 'racist' couples in Italy

This seems a very bigoted ruling. Saying that all people with racial beliefs are unfit to have children is a sweeping prejudgment -- and that is exactly what bigotry is.

Black kids have a very unattractive record of low educational achievement and high criminality so who would want to risk that in their lives? If all Italian adopters have to be ready to take blacks, that will certainly put a big crimp in the number of adopters coming forward

Some selectivity is normal in adoption cases. In most jurisdictions some attempt is made to achieve some match between parents and child so it is odd practice to insist on an obvious non-match.

Italian couples only interested in adopting white kids are not fit to become parents, the country's highest appeals court said on Tuesday. The Court of Cassation said a lower court in the Sicilian city of Catania had been wrong to approve a couple's desire to request children that weren't black or non-European.

It strongly indicated that couples making such requests should not be allowed to adopt at all. "In such cases, the judge must not only eliminate any specifications relating to the child's ethnicity, he or she must seriously consider whether such a request is compatible with someone's suitability to adopt," said Cassation Judge Maria Rosaria San Giorgio, who wrote the opinion.

The court similarly ruled out the option of requests for "certain genetic characteristics". It pointed out that all children awaiting adoption already had a "profoundly difficult" past and therefore had a greater need than other kids for parents of "particular sensitivity". The judges stressed that social services should do everything possible to assist couples in welcoming a child that "does not look like them".

It said potential parents should be helped to address their fears that "problems of xenophobia will threaten the child's integration into local society and make it difficult for the child to adapt".

The case was raised at the Court of Cassation by a children's rights group, Amici dei Bambini (Ai.Bi, Friends of Children).

The organization has been battling for ten years to open up adoptions to children of all races, ever since a court in the central city of Ancona court said it was acceptable for a couple to rule out black kids.

Ai.Bi has long argued that couples treating kids as a "commodity" should not be allowed to adopt. The ruling was welcomed by sector association and politicians. The National Association of Adoptive and Foster Parents (ANFAA) stressed that parenting was about "love and education [...] not skin colour".

But ANFAA President Donata Novi Miucci acknowledged that some parents may be worried about raising children "in a hostile environment", an apparent reference to general incidents of racism and violence involving foreigners. "Unfortunately, certain indications in Italy in recent times are very worrying and do not help with this kind of social responsibility," she said. Cabinet Undersecretary Carlo Giovanardi said the decision was "correct".

"It takes into account the fact that an order by public authorities cannot be based on racial discrimination while also recognizing the complex procedures involved," he said. However, he said a couple's inclination to adopt from one country did not necessarily entail "a negative judgment on other countries". While countries such as Britain and the United States have a long history of dealing with in-country interracial adoption, in Italy the issue usually arises only in the course of international adoptions.

Around 4,000 international adoptions take place each year in Italy, 60% of which involve kids from just five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia and Brazil. According to the last annual report of the Commission for International Adoptions, there has been a sharp drop in the number of adoptions from Vietnam, and a complete block on all adoptions from Nepal, Cambodia, Moldova and Bolivia.


Vegan bigotry

Police Officer James Crooker was asked to leave the vegan coffee shop in Portland, Ore., last month, a discriminatory move but not altogether uncommon at the java joint, a detective told FoxNews.com.

Crooker, 36, a 2-year veteran of the force, entered the
Red & Black Café on May 18 and bought a cup of coffee before a customer approached him and said she appreciated his efforts. That's when John Langley, one of the co-owners of the collectively managed shop, approached the cop and asked him to leave.

Crooker left immediately. It was the first time something like this has happened to him in his nine-year law enforcement career, he told The Oregonian newspaper. "The places that I've been kicked out of before have been places like the methadone clinic," he said. "You're there to protect them, but on the other hand they don't know what that involves. Being gracious is part of it."

Detective Mary Wheat, a spokeswoman for the Portland Police Department, characterized the incident as a "fluke" but noted the city's ongoing tension between the police and some members of the community. "This is Portland," Wheat told FoxNews.com. "We have been dealing with that for years and years and years. It's a very liberal city. We have anarchists here and we deal with them on a regular basis."

The coffee shop attracts homeless individuals and activists, the newspaper reported, and Wheat said it is known to be "not friendly" to officers who work the area. "Most officers would know that this is not a coffee shop that's friendly to police," she said. "It's obviously discrimination to police. He works that area and he can't go in for a cup of coffee -- it's not fair."

The customer who approached Crooker, Cornelia Seigneur, is a freelancer for The Oregonian who blogged about the incident on her website. "As I spoke with the café owner, I really never got a direct answer as to why he personally felt unsafe with a police officer in his establishment," Seigneur wrote. "Bottom line, I think especially of the policeman I met at the red and black, Officer James Crooker, a human being who should be treated with respect and honor, like all human beings."

Neither Crooker nor Langley could be reached for comment on Friday. An employee who answered the phone at the Red and Black café declined to discuss the incident. "I've been taking calls about this all day and I'm kind of tired of talking about it," the employee said. "I have a regular job."


The Convenient Villain

On May 29, two days before Israel's botched raid of six "humanitarian" ships bound for Gaza, Robert Naiman, the policy director of something called "Just Foreign Policy," wrote an item on the Huffington Post headlined "Gaza Freedom Flotilla Shows Awesome Power of Nonviolent Resistance."

Naiman waxed lyrical about how the moral authority of nonviolence had compelled Turkish-controlled Cyprus to help the flotilla while Greek-controlled Cyprus had allegedly caved to Israeli pressure in refusing to help the heirs of Gandhi (it couldn't have been because the Turks were up to no good).

"All this," Naiman gushed, "and the main confrontation between the Israeli occupation authorities and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has not yet begun."

Roughly 48 hours later, the "main confrontation" unfolded. In fairness, the majority of "peace activists" on the ships were nonviolent, offering passive resistance. But on the last boat Israelis boarded, the supposed disciples of peace attacked the Israeli commandos. These new Gandhians beat the Israelis with metal bars and even threw one Israeli overboard.

Funny, I'm no expert, but that's not how Gandhi behaved in the movie. Maybe there was a sequel with Chuck Norris as the Mahatma? "Gandhi's back, and this time it's personal!"

The commandos had been equipped with paintball guns out of deference to the professed pacifism of the activists. But when the goons attacked, out came the real sidearms. Nine "humanitarians" were killed.

Now, one wouldn't expect Naiman to take Israel's side. He'd lose his social justice decoder ring for that. But one might expect him to at least lament the failure of his comrades to stick to their principled nonviolence.

One might also expect kosher pigs to fly. After the incident, Naiman returned to the Huffington Post not to lament the outbreak of violence but to salute the resolve of the "humanitarians."

He opened with a question: "How do you know when someone is serious about pursuing a strategy of nonviolent resistance until victory for justice is achieved?" And then he answered it: "When they refuse to turn back in the face of state violence. Damn the commandos. Full speed ahead." He then went on to celebrate another propaganda ship heading toward Gaza.

How do you know when a proselytizer of nonviolence is full of it? When he doesn't object to the use of violence.

Among Israel's friends, there's a deep and wide consensus that the "flotilla fiasco" was a public relations disaster, proof that Israel doesn't know how to work with the global media to shape world opinion.

The first part is almost indisputable at this point. The raid was a disaster. As for the second part -- that Israel's problems are about public relations -- I'm not so sure.

The assumption is that world opinion is open to hearing Israel's side of the story. But that hasn't been the case for years. From the "Jenin massacre" that was no massacre to the idiotic charges of "genocide" that erupt across the Arab world, the moment Israel defends itself from missiles or "martyrs," the presumption is always that Israel is the villain. When it turns out the facts support Israel, it's at best a footnote or proof the Israelis have manipulated the media.

Question: If Israel is always hell-bent on murder, massacres and genocide, why is it so bad at it? If its battle plan called for a slaughter, why kill "only" nine people? Why not sink all of the boats?

Meanwhile, is it really the case that Hamas is objectively "good" at public relations? Or Hezbollah? Or Iran? Really? I just don't see it. To me, these PR operations are less "Wag the Dog" and more Baghdad Bob (the Monty Pythonesque spokesman for Saddam Hussein's regime). But instead of everyone laughing at the lies and idiocy, millions of people nod their heads in agreement.

North Korea recently sank a South Korean ship. The international reaction has been muted and sober. Turkey -- the Palestinians' new champion -- has been treating Kurdish nationalists harshly for generations; no one cares. The Russians crush Chechens, the Chinese trample Uighurs. Real genocides unfold regularly in Africa. Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Hamas is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. So is Iran.

And yet the only villain as far as much of the world is concerned is Israel. Always Israel.

But none of these facts matter. Indeed, it's tiring even to recount them in an environment where big lies matters more than obvious truths, where self-defense is "aggression," where restraint is "genocide," and where the heirs of Gandhi wield steel pipes.


The Right To Discriminate

by Walter E. Williams

Rand Paul of Kentucky, U.S. Senate hopeful, is caught up in a swirl of controversy in response to his comments on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show." He has been dishonestly accused of saying he thinks that private businesses have a right to discriminate against black people. Here's a partial transcript of the pertinent question in the interview:

Maddow: "Do you think that a private business has a right to say, 'We don't serve black people'?" To which Paul answered, "I'm not, I'm not, I'm not in ... yeah ... I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form."

The "yeah" was spun in the media as "yes" to the question whether private businesses had a right to refuse service to black people. Paul had told Maddow that while he supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act in general, he thought that provisions banning private discrimination might have gone too far.

Democrats launched an attack on Paul accusing him of being a racist. Republicans criticized and in the words of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Paul's "philosophy is misplaced in these times." He added that Paul has a libertarian perspective and "(has) a very, very strong view about the limitation of government intrusion into the private sector."

Should people have the right to discriminate by race, sex, religion and other attributes? In a free society, I say yes. Let's look at it. When I was selecting a marriage partner, I systematically discriminated against white women, Asian women and women of other ethnicities that I found less preferable. The Nation of Islam discriminates against white members. The Aryan Brotherhood discriminates against having black members. The Ku Klux Klan discriminates against having Catholic and Jewish members. The NFL discriminates against hiring female quarterbacks. The NAACP National Board of Directors, at least according to the photo on their Web page, has no white members.

You say, Williams, that's different. It's not like public transportation, restaurants and hotel service in which Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act "prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment." While there are many places that serve the public, it doesn't change the fact that they are privately owned, and who is admitted, under what conditions, should be up to the owner.

If places of public accommodation were free to racially discriminate, how much racial discrimination would there be? In answering that question, we should acknowledge that just because a person is free to do something, it doesn't follow that he will find it in his interest to do so. An interesting example is found in an article by Dr. Jennifer Roback titled "The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars," in Journal of Economic History (1986). During the late 1800s, private streetcar companies in Augusta, Houston, Jacksonville, Mobile, Montgomery and Memphis were not segregated, but by the early 1900s, they were. Why? City ordinances forced them to segregate black and white passengers. Numerous Jim Crow laws ruled the day throughout the South mandating segregation in public accommodations.

When one sees a law on the books, he should suspect that the law is there because not everyone would voluntarily comply with the law's specifications. Extra-legal measures, that included violence, backed up Jim Crow laws. When white solidarity is confronted by the specter of higher profits by serving blacks, it's likely that profits will win. Thus, Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights represented government countering government-backed Jim Crow laws.

One does not have to be a racist to recognize that the federal government has no constitutional authority to prohibit racial or any other kind of discrimination by private parties. Moreover, the true test of one's commitment to freedom of association doesn't come when he permits people to associate in ways he deems appropriate. It comes when he permits people to voluntarily associate in ways he deems offensive.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 June, 2010

Social mobility myth: How the British Labour party punished the middle-class for a problem that doesn't exist

Innate ability is the key factor in upward mobility but that is systematically ignored -- resulting in policies that are destructive

Middle-class families have been on the wrong end of deeply damaging Government policies designed to fix a social mobility problem which does not exist, academics warn today.

The study for the Civitas think-tank says Labour squandered billions on social engineering projects which had little or no impact on a child's chances of success in later life. In part, this is because the claim that the nation is a closed shop to less well-off youngsters when it comes to employment opportunities is a myth, the study says.

Having re-examined official data, comparing children born in 1958 with those born in 1970, it concludes that Britain is actually an open and meritocratic society in which more than half of the population are in a different class to the one in which they were born.

The overview of the report warns: 'Many politicians are badly informed about the facts of social mobility in modern Britain. And because they don't know the facts, they support policies which are at best unnecessary, and at worst deeply damaging.'

According to the report's author Peter Saunders, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Sussex, a prime example of this is the way 'middle-class parents are deprived of the right to choose the schools their children attend'. Such 'old-style socialist' policies - such as introducing school admissions lotteries - are dismissed as having 'little or nothing to do with increasing individual opportunities or rewarding effort and ability'.

Other policies which come under attack include A-level grade inflation, positive discrimination in favour of working-class university applicants and attempts to flatten income distribution by taxing the middle classes more to fund greater welfare spending.

Professor Saunders says a crucial factor in determining why some children from poor backgrounds perform less well than their middle-class counterparts is that they are not as bright. The overview says: 'Bright people tend to become middle class, and they often have bright kids who themselves also become middle class. Our overall social mobility rates are roughly what they should be in a meritocracy.'

But Professor Saunders says this is considered unpalatable by MPs so not properly discussed. Instead, both Labour and the Tories choose to perpetuate a myth that social mobility is falling.

The academic says: 'Politicians have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that Britain is a closed society. 'Labour radicals want to deny social fluidity exists because this allows them to attack the supposed unfairness of the British class system.

'Conservatives want to deny it, because they can attack the previous government's record in promoting opportunity.'

Movement between classes in Britain is roughly the same as elsewhere in the Western world, the report says.


Insane political correctness in Canadian sport

Excellence punished -- allegedly based on the false gospel of "self esteem" but more likely another instance of the futile Leftist "equality" dream

In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.

The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.

Kevin Cappon said he first heard about the rule on May 20 — right after he had scored his team’s last allowable goal. His team then tossed the ball around for fear of losing the game.

He said if anything, the league’s new rule will coddle sore losers. “They should be saying anything is possible. If we can get five goals really fast, well, so can the other team,” said Kevin, 17, who has played in the league for five years. “People grow in adversity, they don’t really get worse…. I think you’ll see more leadership skills being used if a losing team tries to recuperate than if they never got into that situation at all.”

Kevin’s father, Bruce Cappon, called the rule ludicrous. “I couldn’t find anywhere in the world, even in a communist country, where that rule is enforced,” he said.

Mr. Cappon said the organization is trying to “reinvent the wheel” by fostering a non-competitive environment. The league has 3,000 children enrolled ranging in age from four to 18 years old.

“Everybody wants a close game, nobody wants blowouts, but we don’t want to go by those farcical rules that they come up with,” he said. “Heaven forbid when these kids get into the real world. They won’t be prepared to deal with the competition out there.”

Paul Cholmsky, whose four- and six-year-old boys play in the league, said the intended goal of a default-lose rule might backfire in teaching life skills. “If there’s one team that’s consistenly dominant and one team that’s not, well, that’s life,” he said.

Mr. Cholmsky said he would be in favour of temporarily handicapping a team, for example reducing the number of players on the field, over ensuring a team loss for a high score differential.

According to the league’s new rules, coaches of stronger teams are encouraged to deter runaway games by rotating players out of their usual positions, ensuring players pass the ball around, asking players to kick with the weaker foot, taking players off the field and encouraging players to score from farther away.

Club director Sean Cale said he is disappointed a few parents are making the new soccer rule overshadow the community involvement and organizing the Gloucester club does. “The registration fee, regardless of the sport, does not give a parent the right to insult or belittle the organization,” he said. “It gives you a uniform, it gives you a team.”

Mr. Cale said the league’s 12-person board of directors is not trying to take the fun out of the game, they are simply trying to make it fair. {Fair? Is it fair for the least skilled team to win??] The new rule, suggested by “involved parents,” is a temporary measure that will be replaced by a pre-season skill assessment to make fair teams. “The board is completely volunteer-run and we do the best that we can to provide a good, clean, fun soccer experience for everyone,” he said.

Although parents are fuming, he said the commotion is coming from “about 1% of the parents.”


Whites not welcome among Georgia blacks

Because Liz Carter is white, she’s banned from debating Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson and the other black candidates running for his Georgia congressional seat at a candidate forum in Atlanta tonight.

The forum, moderated by Newsmakers Live, is solely for the black Republicans and Democrats running for Johnson’s 4th Congressional District seat, Carter took to the Internet to say.

Carter, a Republican, expressed her disappointment on Twitter Wednesday, asking, “What happened to diversity?” “We called them, we asked to participate,” said Carter’s campaign manager, Cheryl Prater. But she said Newsmaker Live’s event moderator, Maynard Eaton, told the campaign that because Carter is white, she’s only allowed to sit in the audience and not participate.

Newsmakers Live is a black media organization, which according to its website has a “global urbane perspective” and publishes a weekly journal and video show that “embodies a unique ‘infotainment’ concept that specializes in intense interviewing of prominent personalities and political figures.” Its website includes videos titled, “Are Black Babies An Endangered Species,” and “Moving African-American Businesses to the Next Level.”

Maynard, the editor-in-chief of Newsmakers Live, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by e-mail. But a flier advertising the event’s guests only shows the photos of the three black Democrats and one black Republican running for the seat: Hank Johnson,Vernon Jones and Connie Stokes, all Democrats, and Republican candidate Cory Ruth.

“By inviting this black Republican, they’ve made it racial,” said Prater. There are a couple other white candidates who were not invited to the program, Prater said. Carter, she said, has worked to garner black support in the heavily black district and was endorsed by the College Republicans at Atlanta’s predominantly black Morehouse College.

Tonight the candidate will at least make an attempt to get on stage. “We’re showing up,” Prater said.

This reliably Democratic district congressional district has been the subject of embarrassment over the years, as firebrand conspiracist Cynthia McKinney once held the seat. Among Johnson’s gaffes, he became an Internet sensation this year by suggesting, on camera during a congressional hearing, that the island of Guam could “tip over and capsize” due to overpopulation.


Australia: Father who bashed pedophile cleared

Since the pedophile was let off, any other verdict would have been grossly offensive

A JURY has taken 40 minutes to find a father not guilty of bashing a pedophile who molested his son after watching State of Origin at his home.

The man, who cannot be named, had pleaded not guilty in the Beenleigh District Court to a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm - which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years' jail.

He was alleged to have attacked Shayne Thomas Davidson, 43, at Eagleby on June 11, 2008 after learning about the assault on his son in his bed.

Davidson pleaded guilty last year to indecently assaulting the boy but was spared a jail sentence.

He had been invited over to watch the State of Origin game with his old childhood friend with whom he had recently become re-acquainted.

The court was told that after the game, Davidson told the father and two neighbours he was going to bed on a mattress made up on the lounge-room floor.

But he instead he went into the boy's bedroom and massaged his genitals telling him he was a "pretty boy" and they would be "best pals forever".

When the upset and teary 10-year-old told his father, he is alleged to have dragged Davidson outside and bashed him almost unconscious.

But a jury today took just 40 minutes to return a not guilty verdict after magistrate Walter Tutt told them they must "consider if what the defendant did were the actions of an ordinary resonable person given the circumstances".



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 June, 2010

Sperm-donor children greatly miss their fathers

Lesbians and some other feminists claim that fathers are unimportant -- but children see it differently.

I myself was recently in contact with a woman who never knew her father. He died some years ago. She had made huge efforts to find out more about him. As I had known him rather well, I was able to give her information for which she was very grateful -- JR

My colleagues and I decided to put together a study based on an online panel of over one million US households that had signed up to receive surveys on various things. From this large population we were able to assemble samples of three groups of people: donor conceived adults between the ages of 18 and 45, a comparison group of similar-aged people adopted as infants, and a group who were raised by their biological parents — with over 500 people in each group. So our study was unique in being large, representative and allowing for comparison with other groups.

In our survey we looked at identity, kinships, social justice and wellbeing. And, in summary, we found that donor conceived adults compared to those adopted or conceived by their own parents are hurting more, are more confused, are more isolated from their families when they grow up, and on several key measures they are doing less well than those raised by biological parents and adoptive parents.

MercatorNet: What are the issues for them?

Elizabeth Marquardt: For a start they told us, “My sperm donor is half of who I am”. They say, “I look at me in the mirror and half of me is a blank, I don’t know where half of me comes from and that loss matters to me.” It hurts, especially as others around them do not see it as a loss, and, if anything, think the donor offspring who see it as a loss are complaining. Everyone has pain, but what makes it especially painful is that others don’t recognise it or dismiss it.

They are saying, in effect: “That sperm donor is my biological father and the identity of that person and the possibility of being in a relationship with that person does matter to me. And I’m living in a society where people seem to think this loss is just fine, and doctors and lawyers are helping more and more people to be born this way. And that hurts.”

In the area of kinship or family, they are much more likely that those who are adopted to say that seeing friends with their biological mothers and fathers makes them want to know more about their ethnic background, their sperm donor’s family, their half siblings. They are very concerned about accidental incest — which is something that most people in the public debate haven’t realised at all, they haven’t faced what it might mean to have 25 or 50 or 100 or more half siblings who live near you.

MercatorNet: Does it make it better for them that they are “wanted” children?

Elizabeth Marquardt: That’s been the reassuring theme all along, of course. Those who defend the practice, the industry, will say, Well, these kids are 100 per cent wanted. There are no accidents among them. Their mothers, especially, but probably also others, wanted them to be here so why should we be concerned about them?

I was thinking about this in writing my paper and the fact that we have three groups — those raised by biological and adoptive parents — many of whom were probably the result of unplanned pregnancies — and yet we have these sperm donor offspring who were 100 per cent planned and wanted, so do we find they are doing better than the other two groups? No, we find that, on average, they are faring far worse.

And so it raises the question whether a society should orient its policy goals around having wanted children or intended children and whether that matters as much as we make out it does. Whether it matters more than what comes after the child is born: the structure in which child is raised; whether the father-child bond protected, the mother-child bond protected. Whether this thing called marriage, which helps to keep mothers and fathers together, is in place.

And the study also points to the fact that adoption is different from donor conception and adoption does appear to protect children better than reproductive technologies.

MercatorNet: And why do you think that is?

Elizabeth Marquardt: I think because adoption is an institution and donor conception is a market. In adoption we find an array or norms and laws developed over a long time In the US there has been at least a hundred years of professional adoption practice that seeks to protect the best interests of the child, although there is a debate around that concept currently.

In contrast, donor conception is a market designed to procure a child for the parents who want them. And money is traded — it can be in adoption, too, in way that reeks of baby selling and that is severely prohibited — but donor conception is baby selling; that’s what it is by nature. They sell the parts to make babies. And the impact on the children is different; they know about that — about 40 per cent of those in our survey said that it bothered them that money was exchanged

Furthermore, an adopted child knows that their biological parents actually met and knew one another — in the biblical sense and perhaps also in other senses — while those who are donor conceived grapple with the notion that their parents literally never met. About 10 per cent say they feel like a freak of nature or a lab experiment.


Six-and-a-half billion reasons to be cheerful

An antidote to the constant wails from the Left

Never has catastrophe seemed so mundane. The end, we are told, is always approaching. No sooner has one super-resilient-flesh-eating-virus been forgotten than an imminent ecological collapse or a new strain of influenza takes it place. All of which makes Matt Ridley – journalist, businessman and author of several books on genetics and biology – such a refreshing person to talk to. ‘Yes, we are too gloomy about the future’, he says, cheerily.

That’s the thing about Ridley: whatever else he is – diffident, humorous, engaging – he is also resolutely optimistic. And it is this, his optimism, which he has sought to justify, to rationalise, in his new book The Rational Optimist. Given today’s readiness to imagine the apocalypse, especially in environmental terms, being an optimist is a very unfashionable position to take.

‘The imagining of imminent catastrophe is a routine habit and it’s been going on all my life’, says Ridley. ‘And to start with, when I was younger, I believed it. I thought people had good reason to raise the possibility of these catastrophes. When I was first becoming an adult it was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and all this anxiety about DDT and other chemicals, and how they were going to cause an epidemic of cancer. Then it was the population scare. And then it was the oil running out. And then it was acid rain. And then it was the Ebola virus. And then it was global warming. And on and on it goes… I’ve heard enough cries of wolf during my lifetime to become sceptical about imminent environmental catastrophe.’

Ridley’s unwillingness to accept the doom-laden predictions of environmentalists is not just born of his own experience. Wider history, too, is testament to the unreliability of the catastrophic, morbid mindset. Just after the end of the First World War, Britain’s Liberal prime minister David Lloyd George lamented: ‘How can Britain run an A1 empire with a C3 population [medical categories for army recruits]?’ This was no isolated complaint – it was indicative of a wider sense of Britain’s national decline refracted through the prism of biology. ‘If you go back to the turn of the twentieth century’, Ridley says, ‘there was an absolute domination of the book-publishing world by “declinism” literature, particularly about the so-called “degeneration of the race”. In the view of many at the time, this was because “stupid” people were having too many babies, the lower classes were evil, nasty and full of tuberculosis, and didn’t have the requisite physical strength. All this ludicrous stuff was hugely dominant.’

The biological deterioration of the British never came to pass, but catastrophists are nothing if not persistent: they always return with a new scare, or an old one tweaked and updated. ‘You can’t keep banging the same drum, something that environmentalists seem to have learnt’, says Ridley. ‘This is why you get this succession of scares: the GM crops scare comes along in 1998 as the Ebola virus is fading from the news.’

Ridley experienced the life and death of a scare at first hand during the 1980s: ‘For me, acid rain was the most influential one, because I covered it very closely as a science correspondent at The Economist. And at the time, I was a routine alarmist, like everyone else. But gradually worries were forming at the back of my mind. Some of the things that were being said, such as all the trees were dying in Germany, just didn’t seem to be quite true.

‘And now the data’s in, both on the Eastern seaboard of America and in Western Europe, it turns out that forests did not retreat in the 1980s – they actually expanded! There were a few isolated die-offs from some local pollution incidents but none of these were due to acid rain. In fact, because acid rain contains nitrates, it actually proved to be a fertiliser and accelerated forest growth. That isn’t to say acid rain had no effect. It had some effects, particularly on the acidification of some water courses, but not as many as people said, and not as permanently. The acid rain story was a case of huge exaggeration.’

And the aftermath? Is there ever a reckoning with such ‘exaggeration’? ‘When one of these scares doesn’t pan out’, says Ridley, ‘you don’t get a great big, drains-up inquiry into what went wrong, like we’ve had with Iraq. It’s quite the opposite. The issue will simply be allowed to fade away. It will just stop being talked about. Acid rain, for instance, just drops out of the news around 1990, only partly because of the Clean Air Act just then passed, which people presumed was going to solve the problem – despite it largely being a non-problem all along.’

So what of the latest, most dominant form of catastrophism: climate-change alarmism? ‘The thing about global warming is that it’s all about things that are still to happen in the relatively distant future. Hence it is very difficult for people to grow sceptical about it because of the difficulty of falsifying it.’ This is not to suggest that climate change has been falsified by any means, Ridley stresses. ‘I’m not denying that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas – and I never have – but I do think that we are gradually seeing the public wake up to the fact that the empirical and theoretical study of climate supports a small degree of warming and not yet a catastrophic effect from that small degree of warming. A lot of people are wising up to that, particularly over the last year. And you’re seeing that in recent opinion polls.’

While climate change might not seem to be the inexorable disaster it was just a couple of years ago, Ridley has observed another, often related threat looming ever larger. And it’s not a new one. ‘The population bomb is one that still rumbles on, and as spiked’s Brendan O’Neill has pointed out, it is remarkable the number of people who are reviving it, in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger way. They’ll sidle up to you and say “you know, maybe it’s not climate change that’s the real problem, maybe it’s because there are too many people” as if they were saying something new. One fact of which the population crew are seemingly unaware is that the rate of human population growth has been falling since 1967. It is now half of what it was in the 1960s.’

When it comes to this revival of Malthusianism, Ridley’s anger is clear. ‘There’s a general misanthropy to it’, he says. ‘If you read about the origins of the population movement, particularly in books like Fred Pearce’s Peoplequake, you realise how much of it was tied up with twentieth-century eugenics and concerns about IQ and the over-reproduction of people with low IQ. This had been a worry for many in the first half of the last century and it leaked into the second half, too. But it gradually changed from “there are too many poor people and stupid people having babies” to “there are too many people having babies altogether”. There’s such a misanthropic tone to it, even to this day.’

Listening to Ridley, it is clear that one thing he is not is misanthropic. Rather he seems animated and inspired by human achievements, by our collective, historically evident ability to continue to innovate, to change and improve the conditions under which we live. This is why overpopulation fears seem to Ridley to be such rubbish. ‘If we continue to improve agricultural yields at the rate we have been doing – and we have nearly trebled cereal yields from the same acreage in the last 50 or so years – then by the middle of this century we will not only be able to feed the nine billion people expected to be on the planet with the same acreage, we will actually be able to do so with a noticeably smaller acreage. So for the total farmed area allocated for cereal crops, you’d need roughly three quarters the size of Australia instead of roughly the size of Russia.

‘So, couple the population growth rate with the improvements in things like agricultural yields, and a fall in things like the amount of copper you need to provide a telephone wire or the amount of water you need for irrigation because of efficiencies, and it becomes possible to imagine a future in which more people have less impact on the planet. That’s exactly the opposite of what the environmental movement tends to say.’

The reason for environmentalists’ pessimism, Ridley argues, is that they unthinkingly extrapolate from the present state of society – the current means of production and so on – and project it into the future. In doing so, they fail to imagine the future in any terms apart from those of the present. So, assuming population rises, while the current means of production remain the same, the environmentalist concludes that we cannot go on as we are. ‘But’, Ridley points out, ‘we ain’t going to go on as we are’.

‘For the last 100,000 years at least, we have actually changed how we live on the planet in ways that are surprising and result from innovations that we can’t forecast’, he says. ‘So if you stand in the 1950s and ask “what’s the future going to be like?”, people extrapolate the improvements in transport that they’ve seen in their lifetime and talk about personal gyrocopters and supersonic transport and interstellar travel. Nobody mentions the internet and the mobile telephone. Likewise, you and I standing here will extrapolate into the future that we’re going to have even better mobile phones and even more websites. But I suspect that in 50 years’ time both of those phrases will be laughably old-fashioned. In the twenty-first century it might all be about bio-tech, or it might all be about something else. So while one can extrapolate just to see how much change can occur quantitatively, you’ve always got to bear in mind that qualitative changes will throw off those extrapolations.’

This is not to suggest that Ridley does not himself extrapolate. Indeed, some of his optimism is grounded in extrapolation. ‘I do believe in extrapolating – I already talked about if agricultural yields improve at the same rate as they have in the last 50 years we’ll be able to feed far more with far less. This is a big increase, and a big “if”, and there are times in history when trends don’t continue, so one mustn’t be a naive extrapolator. On the other hand, extrapolation does sometimes open up one’s mind to the possibility of how different the future will be.’

This openness to the future, to the possibility that life will get better, ought not to be confused with blind faith. ‘Rational optimism is not naive, personal and hopeful’, concludes Ridley. ‘It is something one arrives at by studying the facts. Moreover, rational optimism is based on the fact that there is a reason to be optimistic – namely that there is a grand theme in human history called the exchange and spread of specialisation, which, by enabling us to work more and more for each other, does raise living standards. So there is actually a rationale for my optimism. It is not just hopeful.’


It's always somebody else's fault if you do something dumb

The idea of personal responsibility is fading fast

A California woman is suing Google after she was hit by a car while following directions provided by Google Maps on her cell phone, according to AOL News.

Lauren Rosenberg says that the Google Maps BlackBerry application told her to use Deer Valley Drive -- a highway also called Utah State Route 224 -- to walk from one Park City address to another.

However, the directions did not tell her that there were no sidewalks along Deer Valley Drive, which, Rosenberg alleges, led to her being struck by traffic.

"As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer severe permanent physical, emotional and mental injuries," according to the complaint filed in Park County district court.

Rosenberg is asking for Google to pay her medical expenses in addition to punitive damages and loss of earnings. She is also suing the driver of the vehicle, Patrick Harwood of Park City.

Google Maps warns users about walking directions on its version for computers, saying that "Walking directions are in beta. Use caution -- This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths." However, the mobile version of Google Maps does not come with the warning.


Bigoted and brainless black on PBS

The head looks good. What's in it is the problem

PBS station managers made a big push last year to drive any trace of "sectarian" Christianity out of the taxpayer-funded broadcasting system, banning any church services or religious lectures that appeared on a handful of stations. They ultimately compromised and banned any new church programming. But on at least one program, PBS sounds like it's declaring war on Christianity, including smears on Christianity that are not based on reality.

If that sounds shocking, imagine what the average Christian PBS viewer might have thought as he watched Tavis Smiley's weeknight talk show on May 25. The guest was ex-Muslim and atheist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, there to promote her latest book, "Nomad." Smiley claims to be a Christian, but he attacked Ms. Ali for "idealizing Christianity" and recklessly turning people away from Islam.

Right out of the box, Smiley was out to make a point. "You say unapologetically and rather frankly that your mission here is to inform the West about the danger of Islam," he began. "What danger do we need to be made aware of?"

What? Did Tavis Smiley somehow sleep through 9/11? Is PBS keeping him locked in a closet where he remains unaware of the ongoing terrorist attacks on Americans -- successful and unsuccessful -- made by Islamic radicals? When Ali brought up the deaths of 13 at Fort Hood and the failed Times Square bomber, Smiley unloaded a literally unbelievable statement: "But Christians do that every single day in this country."

Ali replied: "Do they blow people up?" Smiley: "Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that's what Columbine is -- I could do this all day long."

Smiley is not only wrong, he's perversely wrong. The boys who shot up Columbine High School were not Christians; they were just violent psychopaths who, among other evils, mocked students who cried out for God to save them. There aren't Christians walking into post offices or schools every single day in America and blowing people up. Anyone in charge of journalistic integrity at PBS should see this as a blazing inaccuracy, in addition to a religious smear. Men this dishonest should be kept from microphones, not hired to speak into them.

But Smiley kept going, insisting Christians were far worse than Muslim terrorists: "There are so many more examples of Christians -- and I happen to be a Christian. That's back to this notion of your idealizing Christianity in my mind, to my read. There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work."

Who would have thought that anyone would outdo Rosie O'Donnell, who insisted radical Christianity was "just as threatening" as radical Islam?

Ali calmly explained that Christians are far more tolerant. They take abuse on television programs without threatening to blow up Comedy Central offices or promise Daniel Pearl-style decapitations for executives. She acknowledged "not all Muslims are terrorists, we must emphasize that, but almost all terrorist activities that take place today in our time are done and justified in the name of Islam."

This caused another burst of illogic from Smiley, who compared the Fort Hood attack to the tea party activists protesting ObamaCare on Capitol Hill. "There are folk in the tea party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people 'n----r' as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people."

Put aside the thoroughly unproven accusations, now that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver has backed off the story of conservative spitters, and there is no audio or corroboration of the accusation of N-words being thrown. Had those events actually happened, would they in any way have been comparable to murder?

PBS has an ombudsman now to receive public complaints. Michael Getler should hear from across the country, from Christians and non-Christians alike, that Smiley must provide a retraction and an apology for his scurrilous and bigoted remarks against Christians and the billions that practice that faith. PBS stations across the country accept millions in funding from good-hearted Christian taxpayers who don't deserve to see allegedly "public" broadcasting attacking their integrity.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans call themselves Christian.

People in public broadcasting boast in their pledge drives, direct-mail fundraising letters and congressional testimony that they are an oasis of civility and intelligent discourse. But they host and help fund the unintelligent, inaccurate garbage coming out of the mouth of Tavis Smiley. This trash belongs in the Dumpster.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 June, 2010

Don't fall for Islamist hype

By Andrew Bolt, commenting from Australia

NOTHING more to be said. Israeli soldiers kill at least nine peace activists trying to ship aid to a starving people. Or as the front page of The Age screamed: "Israel kills boat protesters."

End of story. There are immediate riots and protests against this appalling brutality in London, Paris, New York, Istanbul, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and throughout the Middle East. The United Nations whacks Israel and calls for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. And from Moscow to Washington, Israel stands utterly friendless. Dangerously alone.

What a coup for those pledged to the destruction of that tiny Jewish country. How discredited and invitingly defenceless Israel now seems. Someone couldn't have scripted this any better.

Well, almost no better, because even the journalists most sympathetic to the activists on the six ships intercepted on Monday by Israel couldn't help but refer, albeit grudgingly, to a couple of untidy details too obvious to ignore. ABC radio host Jon Faine, for instance, described these poor victims of Zionist aggression as "humanitarian activists with a few knives". Er, with knives? Humanitarians?

And a strident report in The Age, Australia's most Left-wing metropolitan daily, conceded that video of the Israeli soldiers being lowered on to the ships from helicopters did show that some of the "hundreds of politicians and protesters" on board did offer "signs of resistance".

Here are some of those "signs of the resistance" that this Age reporter tactfully failed to detail. You see the Israeli commandos, at first brandishing just paint-ball guns, being grabbed by mobs as they landed, dragged to the ground, and beaten brutally with metal pipes and clubs. On another clip, apparently shot by protesters, you see a soldier stabbed in the back, and then in the front. Another soldier is shown being beaten and thrown over the side.

Photographs show two Israeli soldiers, one of them shot, being carried off with serious wounds. This isn't what you'd normally expect from "peace protesters" or "humanitarian activists", even those armed merely "with a few knives".

So these clues suggest the Western media - and many foolish politicians - have just fallen for a brilliant propaganda coup by the kind of Islamists who threaten us, too. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also fell for it, saying he was "deeply concerned" by the deaths and condemning "any use of violence under the sorts of circumstances we have seen". His Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, likewise attacked Israel for a "terrible and shocking event" and demanded it hold an inquiry.

Not once did Rudd or Smith suggest an inquiry into who organised this trap in which Israel had fallen - or into those who now stand most to gain. The despairing Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, could only congratulate the organisers: "They couldn't have had a better outcome."

So who are we talking about? Here's another vital clue. The Israeli soldiers took over six ships of an "aid" flotilla trying to pierce the blockade that both Israel and Egypt have imposed on Gaza, a territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas. Only on one of those six ships did the Israelis meet a resistance that clearly - and fatally - caught them by surprise.

This was not on one of the ships manned by the Western politicians, aid workers and other useful idiots brought along for camouflage. It broke out instead on the Mavi Marmara, a ship bought and supplied by a Turkish "humanitarian relief fund" known as IHH.

IHH may boast about its good works, but intelligence agencies warn that it is in fact tied to Islamist terrorists. The CIA as long ago as 1996 noted it was linked to "Iran operatives" and gave "support for extremist/terrorist activity", including in Bosnia.

In 2001, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the prominent French counter-terrorism magistrate, said at the trial of the "millennium bomber" that IHH had played "an important role" in the plot to blow up Los Angeles airport. He said the charity was "a type of cover up" to infiltrate mujahideen into combat, get forged documents and smuggle weapons.

In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies reported that Turkish security forces had raided the IHH's Istanbul bureau and found firearms, explosives and bomb-making instructions, as well as records of calls to an al-Qaida guest house in Milan. The Turkish investigators concluded this "charity" was sending jihadists to Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan, where Australian soldiers serve.

IHH has also been a long-time supporter of Hamas, listed in many countries as a terrorist group. But this time it planned something more effective than an explosion. It decided to destroy Israel's moral standing among its more fickle friends. Its Mavi Marmara would now head a flotilla to break through the Israeli blockade of Gaza - or, rather, to provoke Israel into stopping it by force.

IHH head Bulent Yildirim gloated that this would be seen as "a declaration of war" against all the countries that supplied the flotilla's passengers, which is why so many foreigners, and particularly sympathetic journalists such as the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough, were on board, having been recruited from Australia, Britain, the US and many other countries that IHH and its allies hoped could be turned into enemies of Israel.

It was obvious Israel would stop the convoy. It had to: to relax the blockade once would be to open a corridor to yet more ships, giving Gaza yet another conduit for the smuggling of jihadists and militarily useful supplies.

Oh, and ignore soothing claims now that Hamas, which runs Gaza, should actually be negotiated with, rather than blockaded. Hamas fires rockets at Israeli civilians, and has a charter that calls for the destruction of Israel, declaring "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad".

INDEED, jihad was also the spirit on the Mavi Marmara as it sailed for Gaza. Those on board refused offers by Israel that they dock at an Israeli port so their aid could be checked and forwarded to Gaza. They rejected warnings to turn back. They prepared instead for a deadly confrontation.

Arab television showed one woman on board exulting: "We await one of two good things - to achieve martyrdom or reach the shore of Gaza." Added another passenger, Yemeni professor Abd al-Fatah Nu'man: "These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them."

They got just what they wanted, then, as did Hamas and its chief backer, Iran. Iran, needing attention distracted from its nuclear weapons program, pumped out instant YouTube footage of this Israeli "atrocity".

Meanwhile Hamas spokesman Samil Abu Zuhri called for a global "intifada": "We call on all Arabs and Muslims to rise up in front of Zionist embassies across the whole world."

And in capital cities around Australia, we yesterday saw the new front open as angry demonstrators took the streets. So what, you may scoff. A few of the usual hotheads. But see this time how many of our politicians, journalists and "thinkers" are on the wrong side of this front. See how willingly they've surrendered to an Islamist plot more effective than any Bali bomb.


Mom, Son Reunited After 2-Year CPS Nightmare

(Child Protective Services (CPS) is the name of a governmental agency in many states of the United States that responds to reports of child abuse or neglect)

The case that's dropped jaws all across the U.S. and Canada is finally coming to an end. Judge Kip Leonard is finally allowing Noah Kirkman to return to his native Calgary after two years in foster care in Oregon. Read about it here (Yahoo, 5/29/10).

We've covered this outrageous case extensively. Noah Kirkman is now 12 years old. When he was taken into foster care by Oregon authorities two years ago, he had not been abused; he had not been neglected. No one has ever claimed that his mother Lisa Kirkman or his stepfather John Kirkman has ever been anything but a good parent to him. That's reflected in his grades which are straight A's despite Noah's severe ADHD.

No, in their zeal to substitute foster care for parental care, Oregon child welfare authorities decided that Lisa Kirkman had abandoned her son. How did they figure that? Well, he was living with his stepfather in Oregon, that's how. Make sense to you? After all, John has been the boy's steadfast and true dad for 10 of his 12 years on this earth. How Oregon child welfare workers and Judge Leonard concluded that a boy, who's never been abused or neglected in any way and who's living with his stepfather, had been abandoned is one for the record books. In all the annals of state intervention into families, has there ever been a case more arbitrary or capricious?

Recently, Lisa Kirkman asked what Oregon child welfare authorities do with kids who go to summer camp. She had a point. If a stepfather has no parental authority, does a camp counselor? Can we look forward, in the upcoming weeks, to child welfare sweeps of Oregon summer camps for kids?

In the meantime, we can also inquire as to what's changed to make the judge allow Noah to return to Canada. Is he in some way less “abandoned” now than he was two years ago? Have Lisa and John miraculously become better parents? I doubt it. I think the extreme level of public and media-based outrage at the highhandedness of the judge and the Oregon DHS forced them to do the obvious - the thing that any non-zealot would have done from the very first day - send Noah home to his dad and move on to real cases of children who suffer from parental abuse or neglect. In other words, Oregon DHS should have done its job.

Amazingly enough though, Judge Leonard didn't return Noah to John and Lisa; he returned him to his grandparents in Calgary. How that makes sense is anyone's guess, but it looks suspiciously like a judge trying to make himself look like a little less of a fool than most people probably think. He actually maintains the fiction that the Kirkman's household may not be the best thing for Noah, although he doesn't mention why it wouldn't be.

Whatever the case, I have a couple of pieces of advice for the Kirkmans. First, once your son is beyond the jurisdiction of the Oregon court, bring him home to your house. He can see his grandparents any time and he'll be beyond the reach of Judge Leonard's draconian grasp.

Second, talk to an Oregon attorney about suing the state's DHS under Oregon's tort claims act. My antennae tell me that there was a lot of negligence involved in the decision to take your son. And you can count on a sympathetic jury. Almost every one on it will sit in court listening to the evidence while the sentence “There but for the grace of God go I” runs through his/her head.


Freedom of association -- a right often denied by do-gooder laws

It seems incredible that in the last days, a fundamental right of the whole of humanity, the freedom of association, has been denounced by the New York Times and all major opinion sources, even as a national political figure was reluctant to defend his own statements in favor of the idea, and then distanced himself from the notion. Has such a fundamental principle of liberty become unsayable?

Or perhaps it is not so incredible. An overweening government, in an age of despotism such as ours, must deny such a fundamental right simply because it is one of those core issues that speaks to who is in charge: the state or individuals.

We live in anti-liberal times, when individual choice is highly suspect. The driving legislative ethos is toward making all actions required or forbidden, with less and less room for human volition. Simply put, we no longer trust the idea of freedom. We can't even imagine how it would work. What a distance we have travelled from the Age of Reason to our own times.

Referencing the great controversy about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Karen De Coster put the issue to rest by turning Rachel Maddow’s question on its head. She demanded to know whether a white businessman has the right to refuse service to a black man. Karen asked: does a black businessman have the right to refuse service to a Klan member?

I don't think anyone would dispute that right. How a person uses the right to associate (which necessarily means the right not to associate) is a matter of individual choice profoundly influenced by the cultural context. That a person has the right to make these choices on his or her own cannot be denied by anyone who believes in liberty.

The right to exclude is not something incidental. It is core to the functioning of civilization. If I use proprietary software, I can't download it without signing a contractual agreement. If I refuse to sign, the company doesn't have to sell it to me. And why? Because it is their software and they set the terms of use. Period. There is nothing more to say.

If you run a blog that accepts comments, you know how important this right is. You have to be able to exclude spam or ban IP addresses of trolls or otherwise include and exclude based on whether a person's contribution adds value. Every venue on the internet that calls forth public participation knows this. Without this right, any forum could collapse, having been taken over by bad elements.

We exercise the right to exclude every day. If you go to lunch, some people come and some people do not. When you have a dinner party, you are careful to include some people and necessarily exclude others. Some restaurants expect and demand shoes and shirts and even coats and ties. The New York Times includes some articles and excludes others, includes some people in its editorial meetings and excludes others.

When business hires, some people make the cut and others do not. It is the same with college admissions, church membership, fraternities, civic clubs, and nearly every other association. They all exercise the right to exclude. It is central to the organization of every aspect of life. If this right is denied, what do we get in its place? Coercion and compulsion. People are forced together by the state, with one group required at the point of a gun to serve another group. This is involuntary servitude, expressly prohibited by the 13th amendment. One presumes that a freedom-loving people will always be against that.

As Larry Elder says: "This is freedom 101."

What about the claim that government should regulate the grounds of exclusion? Let's say, for example, that we do not deny the general right of free association, but narrow its range to address a particular injustice. Is that plausible? Well, freedom is a bit like life, something that is or is not. Slicing and dicing it according to political priorities is exceedingly dangerous. It perpetrates social division, leads to arbitrary power, mandates a form of slavery, and turns the tables on who precisely is in charge in society.

In fact, for the government to presume to regulate the "grounds" of any decision-making is chilling. It presumes the right and ability of government bureaucrats to read minds, as if they can know the real motivation behind every action, regardless of what the decision maker claims. This is how banks in the last decades came to give out mortgage loans promiscuously: they were trying to throw off regulators looking for any sign of racial discrimination.

And, of course, this mind-reading trick is not arbitrary. It is dictated by political pressure. It is hardly surprising, then, that since the Act passed in 1964, the grounds that the regulators say they can discern and thereby forbid have proliferated and are now completely out of control. Has this strategy really increased social well-being, or has it exacerbated conflict among groups that the state has exploited to its own ends?

But do we dare let property owners make such decisions by themselves? From a historical point of view, the injustice against blacks was perpetrated mostly by governments. Private business does not go in for race-based policies, because it means excluding paying customers.

And this is precisely why racialists, nationalists, and hard-core bigots have always opposed liberal capitalism: it includes and excludes based on the cash nexus and without regard to features that collectivists of all sorts regard as important. In the imagined utopias of the national socialists, the champions of commerce are hanged from lampposts as race traitors and enemies of the nation.

That's because the market tends toward an ever-evolving, ever-changing tapestry of association, with patterns that cannot be known in advance and should not be regulated by federal masters. In contrast, government's attempts to regulate association lead to disorder and social calamities.

As Thomas Paine explained: "In those associations which men promiscuously form for the purpose of trade or of any concern, in which government is totally out of the question, and in which they act merely on the principles of society, we see how naturally the various parties unite; and this shows, by comparison, that governments, so far from always being the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it."

This is precisely why libertarians were right to oppose these provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They strike at the heart of freedom, and with an extremely high social cost. One is not surprised that thoughtless and anti-intellectual organs of opinion would seek to deny this. But what has surprised me is the speed with which supposed libertarians, especially in the ambit of DC, have been quick to distance themselves from the principle of the freedom of association. I take this not as a measure of intellectual bankruptcy, but as a sign of the fear that so many have, in an age of despotic control, of speaking truth to power.


The British council job you can't apply for if you are white

A council has been accused of discrimination after whites were barred from applying for two £18,000-a-year jobs. Bristol City has created the management training posts for graduates in an effort to recruit more minority employees. But this has prompted criticism from white graduates struggling to find work.

One jobseeker, who did not wish to be named, described the posts as 'totally racist'. He said: 'I am a tolerant white person who has lived in Bristol for 27 years. 'I am searching for a job and stumbled across a job advertisement on Bristol City Council's website that I see as totally racist. 'I feel the job would be an excellent opportunity for me to make use of the skills and qualifications that I have acquired but, being white, I am excluded. 'Equal opportunities means giving everyone an equal chance to succeed rather than discriminating against people because of the colour of their skin.'

Bristol council has 9,000 members of staff, not including teachers, of which 630, or seven per cent, are from ethnic minorities. Because 12 per cent of Bristol residents come from minority backgrounds the council has begun trying to redress this imbalance.

James Easey, a spokesman for the council said advertising ethnic minority-only posts was allowed under race relations legislation. He said: 'This traineeship was started because of the marked under-representation of ethnic minorities in our workforce.'

The Race Relations Act 1976 states that if a racial group is under-represented councils can offer training to individuals from that group.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 June, 2010

Traditional British event held in defiance of ban by "safety" regulators

One competitor nearly loses it

Hundreds of daredevils gathered on a steep hillside today for the first-ever 'unofficial' cheese rolling contest - after the historic event was axed over health and safety fears. Runners and spectators met at Cooper's Hill near Brockworth in Gloucestershire to carry on the tradition which sees competitors chase a 7lb wheel of Double Gloucester down a 200-yard incline.

The Whitsun cheese roll had been held annually for nearly two centuries until it was banned earlier this year because it was deemed too dangerous. But fans of the tradition vowed to keep it going and hundreds ignored official warnings by attending this year's event.

Police said there would be no dedicated medical help for casualties and that the unofficial contests could jeopardise the chance of an official event happening next year under a different format. But the roll still attracted around 300 people with visitors travelling from as far afield as Holland to witness the eccentric tradition.

Competitor Nima Nasseri, a 30-year-old doctor from Sheffield, ran for the first time in the contest and described the experience as 'painful'. He said: 'I really enjoyed competing. For a contest that was supposed to be banned there certainly were a lot of people there. 'I can sort of understand why it was banned, as there is an element of danger, but it was great fun.

'It was a bit painful though, I've got a few scratches and what feels like carpet burns. 'There seemed to be a few injuries this year, but nothing serious. I'm a doctor but luckily I didn't need to treat anyone.'

Six times cheese-rolling champion Chris Anderson, 22, visited the site the previous day to clear the hill and do a trial run down the slope. He said: 'It's just tradition, and for me it's hard to stay away. I still totally support the organisers in their bid to bring it back next year.'

This year's official event was axed after 18 people were injured last year - ten of whom were not even competitors but spectators. There are dozens of injuries every year among the men and women who hurl themselves down the hill in a bid to catch the cheese, but these are mainly minor.

However, the sheer number of people flooding in to watch the event - up to 10,000 people - led to increased concern from the police and councils. A police spokeswoman said: 'Gloucestershire Constabulary and all partners, including the Cheese Rolling Committee, strongly advised against participation in any unofficial event taking place on the hill. 'Unlike in previous years, there are no dedicated on-site medical facilities or rescue organisations to assist with casualty recovery.

'We understand the Cheese Rolling Committee and their partners are now committed to working hard to ensure that next year's event can take place in a safe and organised manner.'

The competition, which dates back hundreds of years, involves participants chasing a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the hill in a series of races. The winner of each race wins the cheese. In 1997 at least 33 people were injured and treated by St John's Ambulance.


On the endangered list: free-range children

Dens, dams and the call of the wild are being denied to our young. Conservation bodies and parents are to blame

The opening words of Kipling’s public school novel Stalky & Co echo sadly today. “In summer,” he begins, “all right-minded boys built huts in the furze-hill behind the College — little lairs whittled out of the heart of the prickly bushes, full of stumps, odd root-ends and spikes, but, since they were strictly forbidden, palaces of delight.” Eheu fugaces, as their Beaks [teachers] would say. Look back in sadness this Bank Holiday, and observe too many children who — adept as they are at video games and vogueing around the mall — will never make a den in heath or hedge.

OK, Stalky and his friends are dated, physically brutal, emotionally repressed embryo soldiers of the colonial Raj who mainly use their furze dens to smoke pipes, thus simultaneously risking heathland fires and lung cancer. These are not flawless role models for a cautious, neurotic, feminised, multicultural century.

Yet envy Kipling’s collegers this one thing: that amid the root-ends and prickles they could whittle and hack their own small bit of destiny, beholden to nobody and following only their own native wit. It is not a privilege extended to many children today. Sir David Attenborough spoke out last week — apropos laws against picking up fossils or even the most common wild plants — about the alienation of modern children from raw nature, which he fears will risk losing us a generation of naturalists. He himself was a wild-roaming child whose fascination with nature grew from getting close to it, mainly uninterrupted, making his own discoveries.

He is right. Farm children, or offspring of the affluent classes with big private gardens or estates, may still climb trees, dam streams, make dens, dig clay and observe creatures in their miniature jungles — provided their parents are not afraid to let them get dirty. Lucky children go crabbing at Walberswick, brush ponies and overturn dinghies in the mud: but even they tend to live under a level of supervision that would have driven Stalky crazy with frustrated rage, and often have less expected of them than is healthy.

When I used to take other families’ children sailing with mine, I always made them get their boat back upstream and tied down before they had a shower and tea, however muddy the operation and however lashing the rain. When a more modern mother and her son were in charge of the day, the lads righted their capsized dinghy all right, but then were promptly shooed off to tidy up while she and I — at her insistence — dragged the dinghy to its proper place and covered it as if we were their valets. I felt the day’s experience was incomplete, even for 12-year-olds, but at least the boys had confronted raw nature in the shape of an unexpected mudbank and a summer squall. And they had seen a water rat stick its head out of the bank and show its teeth. That was a talking point for days.

For children with fewer chances, and no gardens or outdoor hobbies, opportunities dwindle all the time. This is not only because of parental worries. Take the family out for the day and you will find that the wild countryside available to you is increasingly run by conservation bodies that do not consider human beings to be a legitimate part of “Nature”, but a regrettable intrusion. Even gathering pine cones or — in one notable case — letting the dog bring a stick home from a woodland walk can lead to accusations of damage and theft. Let your child try making a Stalky & Co den in some patch of National Trust or RSPB furze and see what happens. Outrage! Vandalism! Besides, a boy with any kind of decent knife now is not considered to have his mind on whittling, but on murder.

A Famous Five fantasist leaving the marked pathway to crawl after an imaginary smuggler will soon be reproved for potentially disturbing birds, even if none is nesting anywhere near. Contact with nature must be codified into supervised pond-dipping expeditions and guided walks. These have their place, but they are not what Sir David meant: not freewheeling, not creative, not a natural curious interaction of the human young with the living world.

It is not just naturalists we are losing, but a generation of creative engineers, architects and problem-solvers. Computer games are obviously limited, being virtual environments designed by other minds; but the same goes for educational toys and kits. Lego bricks interlock because someone in a factory designed and made them to do just that, and nothing else. Meccano, K’nex, Stickle Bricks and the rest achieve what they were made for. But make a bow and arrow in a wood and you rapidly learn about qualities of flexibility, straightness, texture and weight; if no bird has dropped a feather for your arrow, you experiment with broad flat leaves. Dig some clay and dam a streamlet, playing at being a beaver, and you learn more about “resistant materials” than in a whole term of producing desktop-published GCSE tech folders. Devise a crawl-through passage in a hedge or gorse patch, and you apprehend architectural facts about spaces and obstructions, turning circles and headroom, as well as observing the diversity of hedgerow creatures, and tasting the drama of being hissed at by a grass snake or surprised by a toad.

But the sad thing is that unless your parents or school are rich enough to own the hedge or heath, your interaction with it will be restricted to an information board with a conservation logo on it, which you are permitted to stand and read, on the marked path. Only on the beach are you free to create sandcastles. Even then, some authorities will ban you from taking shells and pebbles home.

Mucking about in natural surroundings should not be a privilege of wealth. Grass stains and bramble scratches are every child’s birthright. Wise adults have always known this, and resisted the urge to supervise and ban. That wonderful history of childcare manuals, Dream Babies, quotes Lizzie Harker from 1903: “Nowadays there are unhappy children who are studied all day long, whose plays are arranged for them always with a view to their ‘development’; who may not even make mud pies in seclusion but must perforce and in gangs shape something out of grey India rubber and sit at a table to do so. What can they know, poor things, of the joys and terrors to be found in a dwarf-infested shrubbery, just at sunset, on a chill October day?”


Parents Deny Kids Are Breaking Child Labor Laws By Working At Family's Pizzeria

The owners of a family pizzeria in Connecticut are fighting back after the state's Department of Labor began investigating them for allegedly violating child labor laws because the children help out on weekends.

The Nuzzos, the owners of a family pizzeria in Connecticut are fighting back after the state's Department of Labor began investigating them for allegedly violating child labor laws because the children help out on weekends.

Michael and his wife Migdalia Nuzzo filed a complaint in federal court on May 20 claiming that the Department of Labor was violating their civil rights.

"[The Department of Labor] is attacking my culture, my heritage and my tradition. This is the way we were raised," Nuzzo told ABCNews.com. "I've learned more working for my father than I did at a four-year college where I got a degree in financial accounting."

In his complaint, Nuzzo denied he did anything wrong by trying to teach their children the family business, a 55-year-old pizzeria named Grand Apizza in Clinton, Conn. "Michael helps me make pizza, and he's an excellent pizzaman just like I was when I was his age," said Michael Nuzzo of his 13-year-old son with the same name.

According to the Nuzzo's complaint, on May 12, a special investigator from the state's Department of Labor came to the restaurant to inform the Nuzzo family that, under child labor laws, their children "could not be seen assisting their parents" in the restaurant.

Connecticut Department of Labor spokeswoman Nancy Steffens confirmed to ABCNews.com that they went to the Nuzzo restaurant after receiving a tip. She declined to go into more detail about who may have sparked the investigation.

"The investigation is still underway and we were basically just providing outreach and education, to notify the family that children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in a commercial establishment," said Steffens. "You can fine a restaurant but nothing like that was done. We were just letting them know the law."

The case has been turned over the state's Attorney General's office, who said in a statement that they are "carefully reviewing the allegations and facts surrounding the case," but that there has been no enforcement action taken against the Nuzzos.


Hidden epidemic of women beating up men

This report is from Australia but there have been similar reports from the USA and the UK -- though according to some feminists it never happens at all

WOMEN beating up their men - physically, emotionally or financially - has become a hidden epidemic because men are too scared of being labelled wimps if they cry for help.

A new study has found for male victims of "intimate partner abuse", the cumulative effect of repeat "knees in the nuts" or being heaped with scorn is a damaging erosion of self-worth.

But a typical response to men who do complain is, "C'mon, you're a bloke - get over it".

Similar to the pattern of abuse of women by men, it often starts with verbal, financial and psychological abuse, but over time escalates to physical and sometimes even sexual abuse. The issue is even more under-reported for men than women, because men fear either being seen as wimps or not being believed, the study says.

Support services for abuse victims are skewed towards females, it adds.

Alfred Allan, Professor at Edith Cowan University and co-author of Intimate Partner Abuse of Men, said: "Physical abuse isn't as big a problem for males as females, and when a male assaults a female, it's generally more severe, but there are male victims out there who are falling through the cracks."

The study is based on interviews with male victims and service providers working in the field of domestic abuse. "She would actually hit him with the pan . . . throw reasonably large objects at him . . . punch him to the point of bruising," one service provider recalled of a client's interview. "I've lost count of how many times she's kneed me in the nuts," a male victim said.

The report notes the growth in abuse of men by their partner.

Psychologist and author in men's mental health Elizabeth Celi describes the abuse of men by their spouse as a "silent phenomenon". She says women perpetrators tend to combine verbal and emotional abuse of their partner with any physical violence.

"Given women's verbal and emotional literacy, a viper tongue can really maim a man's sense of self-worth," Dr Celi said.

"Men also face the social stigma of being a victim. Not only is he questioning his own masculinity and identity, unfortunately he is more often than not disbelieved or disregarded."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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