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, 2011

New realistic British policy on self-defence

Householders were yesterday given licence to kill burglars with knives or pokers without fear of prosecution. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke suggested people would be judged to have acted within the law as long as they did not shoot intruders in the back as they were running away down the road. And he pledged that an act of Parliament would be used to ‘clarify’ the existing legal right to use reasonable force against intruders.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week promised that the Government would ‘put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted’.

The move follows public outrage at cases like that of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot dead a burglar, and Munir Hussain, who chased and beat a man who had held his family at knifepoint in their home.

‘If an old lady finds she has got an 18-year-old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him, she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear,’ Mr Clarke said. ‘There is no doubt that you or I or anybody else is entitled to use reasonable force to defend ourselves and to protect ourselves or our homes or both. ‘We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he is in the house and you have a perfect defence if you do so.’

Mr Clarke accepted that the defence of reasonable force already exists, but said: ‘Given that doubts are expressed, we are going to clarify that.

‘It is quite obvious that people are entitled to use whatever force is necessary to protect themselves and their homes. What they are not entitled to do is go running down the road chasing them or shooting them in the back when they are running away or to get their friends together and go and beat them up. ‘Nobody should prosecute and nobody should ever convict anybody who takes these steps.’

Labour's justice spokesman Sadiq Khan accused the Government of using 'spin and smokescreens of new laws in an attempt to distract from what is a Justice Bill in total shambles'

An official spokesman for David Cameron said that the Prime Minister was 'very pleased' with Mr Clarke's remarks, but Labour's justice spokesman Sadiq Khan, right, said the Justice Bill is in 'total shambles'

It is not clear whether a clause will be added to the Government’s Justice Bill later in the year, or guidelines to police, prosecutors and courts will be strengthened.


One in four accused of 'street grooming' in Britain is a Pakistani or Bangladeshi Muslim

One in four men accused of ‘street grooming’ underage girls for sex is Asian, a shocking report reveals. In total, 2,379 offenders are suspected of attempting to lure vulnerable victims, often using drugs and alcohol, over the past three years.

And a ‘disproportionate’ 28 per cent of them were found to be Asian, in those cases where ethnicity was recorded. The ethnic group makes up just six per cent of the UK population.

But although the figures are likely to provoke controversy, officials warn that they are incomplete and potentially misleading.

The report was ordered after the ringleaders of a Derby gang, which subjected a string of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults, were jailed earlier this year. Following the case, former home secretary Jack Straw accused some Pakistani men in Britain of seeing white girls as ‘easy meat’ for sexual abuse.

Several police forces have investigations currently going on into gangs suspected of systematically abusing young girls.

The latest figures were revealed in the most detailed assessment yet of a crime that takes place ‘under the radar’.

Civil servants have spent weeks arguing over how best to present the potentially incendiary findings of the six-month study, which examined figures dating back to 2008. It found that of 1,217 offenders whose ethnicity had been recorded, 346 were Asian, 367 white, 38 black, 464 unknown and two Chinese.

Analysis revealed that 28 per cent of offenders are Asian. The majority of offenders were men aged between 18 and 24, with many using flattery and gifts to make victims believe they had an ‘older boyfriend’. Of the 2,083 victims, 61 per cent were white, and most aged 14 or 15. Many were in care, or had a history of running away from home.

And many victims were reluctant to speak to police and feared appearing in court because ‘they did not expect to be believed’.

However, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said its research is incomplete because authorities across the UK are failing to record basic information.

Peter Davies, who leads the agency, said local authorities charged with protecting children are failing to take ‘elementary steps’, including recording statistics. He said: ‘This is a horrific crime, it involves the systematic, premeditated rape of young children. ‘There should be no hiding place anywhere for people who plan and take part in this type of crime.

‘Victims need a level of help and support that in most parts of the country they do not receive and is not on offer to them.’ Mr Davies admitted the figures did reveal a ‘disproportionate’ number of male, Asian offenders. But he warned: ‘Focusing on this problem simply through the lens of ethnicity does not do it service.’

In the Derby case, Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat, part of a gang of nine, cruised the streets of the town, picking victims who they plied with vodka and cocaine before attacking them. In January, they were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

The Government will publish an action plan in the autumn, detailing how it will respond to concerns about the sexual exploitation of children. Last week, Children’s Minister Tim Loughton provoked a row by suggesting that ‘closed’ Asian communities have turned a blind eye to child sex grooming by gangs of men. He said criminals had escaped detection because of attitudes within their communities as well as ‘political correctness and racial sensitivities’ of the authorities.

Anne Marie Carrie, of Barnado’s said the report confirms not all victims come forward. ‘Still more children remain trapped under the control of their abusers because we are failing to spot the signs,’ she warned.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire said: ‘This assessment is an important step in our understanding an extremely complex issue.’


Obama admin. tried to save America from dumb, unskilled Southerners

Hate speech from the Left

I had to check my paper copy of the Wall Street Journal today to make sure this wasn’t some elaborate prank. Then I double-checked what year it is, to make sure I hadn’t been slingshotted around the sun and found myself back in 1975.

That’s about when I remember it last being routine for Rust Belt lawyers to publicly disparage the skills and education of people from the South. The only thing missing from the op-ed by Chicago-based lawyer Thomas Geoghegan is the word “hick” or “hillbilly.” WSJ is to be applauded for its determination to feature different viewpoints, but Geoghegan’s piece certainly pushes the envelope.

The topic is the NLRB ruling against Boeing moving its assembly plant for the Dreamliner to South Carolina. And it really is as bad as my intro suggests. Go read it, if you think I may be cherry-picking or making a mountain out of a molehill. I’ll wait. OK, here’s that last paragraph again:

Most depressing of all, Boeing’s move would send a market signal to those considering a career in engineering or high-skilled manufacturing …: Don’t go to engineering school, don’t bother with fancy apprenticeships, don’t invest in skills.

In case you miss the point of the piece, here’s another go at it: “We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force.”

And this:

… because of [our] trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs … It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.

And Boeing wants to turn the manufacture of airplanes – airplanes! – over to these poorly educated, low-skilled workers in South Carolina.

Here’s a weird fact, though. There is already a plant manufacturing rear-fuselage elements for Boeing in South Carolina. (The Dreamliner final-assembly plant that opened 10 June is located next to it.) South Carolina also has a BMW plant, a Honda plant, a Bosch plant, a Caterpillar plant, an American LaFrance plant (fire engines and ambulances), and a Daimler plant, all employing highly-skilled labor to manufacture big, intricate stuff that has to work. That’s in addition to the Milliken, BASF, GE, Core, Bose, BP, DAK, DuPont, Eastman, Mitsubishi, Albemarle, MeadWestvaco, PhilChem, Roche, Mount Vernon Mills, Invista, Metromont, Johns Manville, Alcoa, Kimberly-Clark, Shaw, Jarrett, Mohawk, Anderson, AccuTrex, Sonoco, and Cox Industries plants – and those are just the ones I recognized by industry as I looked through the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance website. I left out a bunch of other ones.

Should I go on? If Southern manufacturing workers are a national liability, we’re in big trouble. All those aircraft engines being mishandled at the Pratt & Whitney plant in Georgia. Shoddy VWs and Nissans coming out of Tennessee, Hyundai clunkers being puked out of Alabama, lousy Kias flooding the market from Georgia, Toyota risking its customers on the gap-toothed th’owbacks who show up with employment applications in Mississippi.

Texas is going to get us all killed: there are 248 separate listings for aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers just in the Dallas area alone. And let’s not even get started on all the scary, substandard manufacturing going on in North Carolina, where Honda headquarters its global aircraft-components manufacturing, and thousands of non-agricultural manufacturers are heaving chemicals, plastics, textiles, engine parts, computer parts, airplane and vehicle parts, and who know what else at an unsuspecting market every day of the year.

It’s a meltdown. So many things are now manufactured in the poorly educated, low-skilled South, it’s a wonder you’re not dead yet.

Just a couple of sober points. One, the South Carolina average manufacturing wage of $14 an hour isn’t what the most experienced workers, with the most difficult skill-sets and the longest time on the job, make. Calculating the state’s average wage (for all “production” workers) takes into account lower-wage workers like food processors ($8-12 per hour), sewing-machine operators ($10 an hour), and furniture finishers ($11 an hour).

But first-line supervisors in equipment manufacturing plants make over $25 an hour. Computerized-machine operators in manufacturing make over $20 an hour; operators of grinding, lapping, buffing, and polishing machines make over $19 an hour, and welders, solderers, and brazers make $16-17 an hour. The average skilled manufacturing worker in an industry like Boeing’s is making $16-21 an hour in South Carolina – and that’s an average. Some workers make more, depending on skills, seniority, and position.

The average in Washington State, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $16.75 per hour, for all “production” workers in the same period (figures are for 2010). Mr. Geoghegan pulls the demagogue’s trick of comparing the South Carolina state average with the union pay of some (not all) Boeing workers in Washington. The actual wage differential for the same types of work is $1-3 an hour – not $14.

The second point relates to Geoghegan’s discussion of the Boeing “retaliation” against past worker strikes in Washington. Geoghegan makes the supremely cynical case that if the CEO of Boeing had simply kept his mouth shut about moving to South Carolina because of the cost of strikes in Washington, he could have brought off the move without interference from the Feds.

But it is a corrupt kind of “law” that can be gotten around so easily. The purpose of properly-constituted law is not to show meaningless solidarity with unions. It is to define what government will prosecute and punish. Law that has to be ignored, gamed, and gotten around in order for human life to function – and law that can be ignored, gamed, and gotten around – loses the respect of the people, and corrupts their consciences and the consciences of government officials. If the law in question is so unlikely to be enforced, then the most important point of all is that we don’t need it in the first place.


Big Daddy and video games in California

When it comes to monitoring their children's media diets, some parents worry about sex, while others worry about violence. I worry more about inane sitcoms featuring smart-alecky kids and dumb adults, which is why I have blocked the Disney channel.

Different parents have different standards, and the same parents are likely to have different standards for different children, depending on their age, maturity and personality. Because of this diversity, policies that aim to bolster parental authority by restricting minors' access to material the government deems inappropriate, such as the California video game law that the Supreme Court overturned this week, would be doomed to fail even if they did not violate the First Amendment.

California's law made selling or renting a "violent video game" to a minor a civil offense punishable by a $1,000 fine. It covered games "in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being," depicted in a way that "a reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors," that is "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors" and that "causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

The thing about reasonable people, of course, is that they may disagree, especially on such abstruse issues as whether a video game appeals to a minor's "deviant or morbid interest," whatever that might be. "Prevailing standards in the community," which determine what is "patently offensive," are likewise a matter of dispute. Pretending that everyone in California agrees about "what is suitable for minors," or sees eye to eye on the redeeming value of violent entertainment, does not make it so.

The one thing all parents probably do agree on is that teenagers should not be treated like toddlers. Yet that is what California's legislators decided to do, decreeing one (indeterminate) standard for everyone under 18. The industry's game ratings, by contrast, draw six distinctions based on age and use 30 "content descriptors" to indicate the nature of potentially objectionable material.

Since parents can use these ratings to regulate what their children play (and can even use system settings to block games with certain ratings), what was the motivation for California's law? "California cannot show that the Act's restrictions meet a substantial need of parents who wish to restrict their children's access to violent video games but cannot do so," the Supreme Court concluded.

"Not all of the children who are forbidden to purchase violent video games on their own have parents who care whether they purchase violent video games," Justice Antonin Scalia noted in the majority opinion, questioning the premise that "punishing third parties for conveying protected speech to children just in case their parents disapprove of that speech is a proper governmental means of aiding parental authority." He suggested that the main effect of the law was to enforce "what the State thinks parents ought to want" -- the opposite of respecting parental authority.

On the same day the Court overturned California's video game law, it agreed to consider a First Amendment challenge to the federal ban on broadcast indecency, another policy that imposes government-determined standards of propriety in the name of helping parents protect their children. It features the same sort of constitutionally problematic vagueness and subjectivity, yet applies to adults as well as minors, banning "patently offensive" material related to sex or excretion between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Like California's law, which arbitrarily distinguished between video games and other forms of violent entertainment, the indecency ban is "wildly underinclusive," applying to broadcast TV and radio but not to programming carried by cable, satellite or the Internet. In both cases the solution is not to expand the government's cultural regulations but to privatize them by letting people raise their own children.



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

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

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


29 June, 2011

How an Australian Leftist government looks after blacks

A Leftist State government is abandoning poor children who have vision and hearing problems

There has been only passing mention of this in the media so I thought I might flesh it out a little.

Ever since 1911 Queensland has had specially trained nurses going around all the schools testing children's vision and hearing and keeping an eye out for any other health problems that they might detect.

This has been especially important in lower socio-economic areas where parents are often not alert to such problems in their children or do not have the confidence to do anything about problems that they are aware of. In such communities the nurse can often galvanize action on a child's vision or hearing loss at an early age and thus remove very large roadblocks to the child's educational progress.

This has been particularly so where Aboriginals (native blacks) are concerned as hearing loss is something of an epidemic among Aboriginal children and the parents are usually far too timid to do anything about it.

So what is the latest from Queensland Health on the centenary of this invaluable service? They are cancelling it. As a substitute they have agreed to pay local GPs a small sum to carry out such testing on anyone who comes in for it

So for a start they have just lost the Aborigines. Many Aborigines won't be alert to the problems concerned and in any case will rarely have the confidence to approach local GPs about such problems. The people who need the assistance of school nurses the most are now having it taken away from them.

And few GPs have the experience and equipment to do a job as good as the job that the specialized nurses do.

And it will just lengthen the already long waits to see a doctor in lower socio-economic areas. In such areas it can take a couple of weeks to get an appointment with a GP. So Queensland Health is just putting a new burden onto already overstretched GPs and stretching out waiting times for appointments even further.

So why is Queensland Health doing this dastardly deed to the poor families of Queensland? Budget cuts. They have spent hundreds of millions on getting their botched payroll system working and the money has got to come from somewhere.

But why take it away from frontline services? 20 years ago the school nurses had only a couple of employees in addition to the nurses themselves. Now there is a great bureaucracy that is more numerous than the nurses. If there have to be cuts, why not cut back the bureaucracy to what it was 20 years ago? The sevice ran perfectly well for many decades without a huge bureaucracy on top of it and could easily do so again.

But Leftist goverments regard their bureaucracies as sacred for some inscrutable reason so that is the last thing they will consider. I guess it gives them a feeling of power to have so many people dependant on them. Pity about the poor, though.

The Minister for Health in the Queensland State government is Hon. Geoff Wilson MP

You can email him here

America’s new racists

by Walter Williams

The late South African economist William Hutt, in his 1964 book, "The Economics of the Colour Bar," said that one of the supreme tragedies of the human condition is that those who have been the victims of injustices and oppression "can often be observed to be inflicting not dissimilar injustices upon other races."

Born in 1936, I've lived through some of our openly racist history, which has included racist insults, beatings and lynchings. Tuskegee Institute records show that between the years 1880 and 1951, 3,437 blacks and 1,293 whites were lynched. I recall my cousin's and my being chased out of Fishtown and Grays Ferry, two predominantly Irish Philadelphia neighborhoods, in the 1940s, not stopping until we reached a predominantly black North or South Philly neighborhood.

Today all that has changed. Most racist assaults are committed by blacks. What's worse is there're blacks, still alive, who lived through the times of lynching, Jim Crow laws and open racism who remain silent in the face of it.

Last year, four black Skidmore College students yelled racial slurs while they beat up a white man because he was dining with a black man. Skidmore College's first response was to offer counseling to one of the black students charged with the crime.

In 2009, a black Columbia University professor assaulted a white woman during a heated argument about race relations. According to interviews and court records obtained and reported by Denver's ABC affiliate (Dec. 4, 2009), black gangs roamed downtown Denver verbally venting their hatred for white victims before assaulting and robbing them during a four-month crime wave.

Earlier this year, two black girls beat a white girl at a McDonald's, and the victim suffered a seizure.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered an emergency shutdown of the beaches in Chicago because mobs of blacks were terrorizing families. According to the NBC affiliate there (June 8, 2011), a gang of black teens stormed a city bus, attacked white victims and ran off with their belongings.

Racist black attacks are not only against whites but also against Asians. In San Francisco, five blacks beat an 83-year-old Chinese man to death. They threw a 57-year-old woman off a train platform. Two black Oakland teenagers assaulted a 59-year-old Chinese man; the punching knocked him to the ground, killing him.

At Philly's South Philadelphia High School, Asian students report that black students routinely pelt them with food and beat, punch and kick them in school hallways and bathrooms as they hurl racial epithets such as "Hey, Chinese!" and "Yo, Dragon Ball!" The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund charged the School District of Philadelphia with "deliberate indifference" toward black victimization of Asian students.

In many of these brutal attacks, the news media make no mention of the race of the perpetrators. If it were white racist gangs randomly attacking blacks, the mainstream media would have no hesitation reporting the race of the perps. Editors for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune admitted to deliberately censoring information about black crime for political reasons. Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern recently said that the paper's reason for censorship was to "guard against subjecting an entire group of people to suspicion."

These racist attacks can, at least in part, be attributed to the black elite, who have a vested interest in racial paranoia. And that includes a president who has spent years aligned with people who have promoted racial grievance and polarization and appointed an attorney general who's accused us of being "a nation of cowards" on matters of race and has refused to prosecute black thugs who gathered at a Philadelphia voting site in blatant violation of federal voter intimidation laws.

Tragically, black youngsters – who are seething with resentments, refusing to accept educational and other opportunities unknown to blacks yesteryear – will turn out to be the larger victims in the long run.

Black silence in the face of black racism has to be one of the biggest betrayals of the civil rights struggle that included black and white Americans.


British abortion charities could be banned from advising women on whether to have a termination

Britain's abortion laws could be tightened to ban providers from also serving as counsellors for women considering whether to have a termination. It would be the first significant change to the law for more than 20 years, following concerns that women are not getting independent advice at a time when they are vulnerable.

Under plans being considered by the Government, charities which provide abortions could be stripped of their automatic right to provide counselling. Instead women would be referred to an ‘independent’ therapist or organisation before they could have a termination.

Dozens of MPs are backing the move led by former Labour minister Frank Field and Conservative Nadine Dorries, a former nurse. Mrs Dorries, Mid Bedfordshire MP, believes it is vital to remove the conflict of financial ‘vested interest’ that exists for abortion providers in the procedure going ahead.

But abortion charities argue the move would delay women getting the help they need and there is no evidence the system is not working. Just a fifth of women seeking advice choose not to have an abortion. At present, charities including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes, offer women counselling before they make a decision on termination. All women must have a consultation.

Under amendments already tabled to the Health and Social Care Bill, counselling would have to be provided by a statutory body or a private organisation that does not itself provide abortions and has no financial interest in the outcome.

However, new legislation may not be necessary as the Department of Health suggested yesterday that existing ‘legal mechanisms’ may be able to achieve the same objective.

Mrs Dorries said she was concerned minor changes would not protect women and there was ‘huge public support’ for a tightening of the law. ‘Legislation is required to prevent abortion providers establishing subsidiary counselling organisation to circumnavigate the new requirement,’ she added.

‘My intention is for vulnerable women to have access to the best possible care as quickly as possible, for counselling to be optional, independent and to present no delay whatsoever to the abortion process.

Official figures show there were 189,100 abortions in 2009, slightly down on the previous year. In 1990, the Abortion Act was amended to lower the time limit from 28 to 24 weeks. Attempts last year by MPs to shorten the 24-week limit failed.

Ann Furedi, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: ‘We are extremely concerned to learn that the Department of Health is reviewing care pathways for women considering abortion and looking into a ban on counselling by abortion providers.

'In recent years, delays for women in need of abortion care have been reduced significantly, and last year nearly 80 per cent of procedures took place within the first ten weeks of pregnancy.

‘Pregnancy Advisory Bureaux run by charities like BPAS that offer abortion are already licensed and regulated by the Secretary of State, and must conform to a core set of principles regarding the information and counselling.’

In May, the Government appointed pro-life charity Life to a new sexual health advisory forum, but prevented BPAS from taking part. BPAS said it had been ‘disinvited’.

The Department of Health said it ‘wants women who are thinking about having an abortion to be able to have independent counselling’. ‘We do not believe it is necessary to set out this requirement in primary legislation as the necessary legal mechanisms already exist.’


Tax break call for married couples: Tory MPs urge £1,500 reform on British PM

Conservative backbenchers yesterday tried to push David Cameron into giving tax breaks to married couples. At least ten MPs backed a Commons amendment which would allow husbands and wives to share income tax allowances – a reform that would benefit the couples by up to nearly £1,500.

Their aim was to lever the Prime Minister into making good his longstanding pledge to shore up marriage. Mr Cameron repeated his promise in his speech on feckless fathers earlier this month when he declared: 'I want us to recognise marriage in the tax system so, as a country, we show we value commitment.'

Among the Conservatives backing the amendment were senior backbenchers Edward Leigh and David Amess, Congleton MP Fiona Bruce, and Witham MP Priti Patel.

A supporter said: 'David Cameron and other senior Conservatives repeatedly expressed their commitment to recognising marriage in the tax system during the last Parliament. 'This was a key policy response to the challenge of social breakdown – the Broken Britain phenomenon – and became an important manifesto pledge. 'The commitment got into the Coalition agreement, but no action has yet been taken.'

Critics say the decline of marriage is a central factor behind rising social disruption and family break-up. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has warned that this costs the country £100billion a year.

The rebel backbenchers yesterday put down an amendment to the Finance Bill which is setting Chancellor George Osborne's March Budget into law.

A transferable income tax allowance would mean that a working husband could take over the tax-free allowance of a wife who stayed at home to bring up children, or vice versa. It would be worth up to £1,495 to a one-earner couple.

The backbench initiative, which is unlikely to become law, was attacked by Labour. During Labour's years in power the last tax break for husbands and wives, married couples allowance, was removed, and the importance of marriage eroded to the point where officials were told to remove the word from public documents.

Labour Treasury spokesman David Hanson said: 'It is astonishing that at a time when millions of families and pensioners are being hit hard by deep spending cuts and tax rises, the first priority of David Cameron's restless Tory backbenchers is unfair tax cuts only for a few.

'And the proposed multi-billion pound marriage tax break would penalise those who are separated, widowed or divorced – many of whom are already being hit hard by cuts to tax credits and childcare support.'

Mr Cameron is thought to be holding back on a firm promise of tax breaks for married couples on the grounds that the country cannot afford it. Calculations by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank suggest it would cost £600million to give a transferable tax allowance to married parents of young children, and £3.2billion to extend it to all married couples.

In the run-up to last year's election, Mr Cameron said: 'I just think as a society, saying that marriage is a good thing and celebrating it and encouraging it, including through the tax system, is something that most societies do in Europe. It's very sensible for us to do as well.'

The idea also appeared in the the Coalition agreement which says that a transferable allowance for married couples will be introduced. But it gives no details or timetables, and it allows the Lib Dems to abstain on any vote to bring it in.

The Lib Dems have threatened to oppose the measure, and have successfully insisted that their own policy of raising the personal allowance to £10,000 must take priority.


Senior Australian police police are demanding prosecutors appeal the aquittal of Muslim liar

SENIOR police are demanding prosecutors relaunch legal action against the veiled Muslim woman cleared of lying about being attacked by an officer.

Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas told The Sunday Telegraph new material had emerged about the case over the past few days and a fresh appeal had to be mounted against the acquittal of Carnita Matthews.

"The NSW Police Force is obviously disappointed with the outcome of the appeal," Mr Kaldas said. "The force will examine the judge's reasons for his decision and has requested the Director of Public Prosecutions consider another appeal. "NSW Police will examine further information that has come to light in the media since the appeal judgment."

Ms Matthews was sentenced to six months' jail in November for falsely accusing a policeman of attempting to rip off her niqab during a random breath test conducted in June.

An appeal court last week quashed the conviction on the grounds there was no proof she was really the veiled woman who walked into a police station to make the complaint, a few days after the alleged incident.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, who has been at a conference in Europe, will meet Police Minister Mike Gallacher this week to discuss possible law changes that could give police the power to fingerprint veiled women, or insist upon removal of headgear including helmets or veils.



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, 2011

Left-run City of Sydney officially declares white settlement of Australia an invasion

SYDNEY is rewriting the history books, declaring the arrival of white settlers an "invasion". After City of Sydney's Aboriginal advisory panel threatened to quit, councillors capitulated, wiping the words "European arrival" from official documents and declared the arrival of white settlers to be an "invasion".

During a long debate, Deputy Mayor Marcelle Hoff argued that the term "invasion or illegal colonisation" should be used in the council's official documents and statements. She read out dictionary definitions of invasion as "to take possession, to penetrate, to intrude upon, to overrun". "They came in and they did not leave," she said.

When other councillors described the term as offensive, Ms Hoff said: "It's intellectually dishonest to not use words that offend some people."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she had tried to remove the word "invasion" but said she had underestimated the depth of feeling on the issue. She said Aborigines were the original custodians of the land and the term was important to them. "In respect to the Aboriginal community, it's something that is very important and needs to be used," she said. After a 7-to-2 vote in favour, the term "this invasion" will be used in the council's Aboriginal policy, which appears in many of its official documents.

Ms Moore read out the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statement which says: "In 1788 the British established a convict outpost on the shores of Sydney Harbour. "This had far reaching and devastating impact on the Eora Nation, including the occupation and appropriation of traditional lands. Despite the destructive impact of this invasion Aboriginal culture endured and is now globally recognised as one of the world's oldest cultures."

Ms Moore also deleted a paragraph she proposed last week which said: "British settlement of Sydney and its surrounds is interpreted by some people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, as invasion. For others it is colonisation. History is interpreted by people differently according to their experience of its consequences." Ms Moore asked a packed public gallery if they agreed with the new wording - and nearly all put up their hand.

However, councillor Phillip Black, who is on Ms Moore's team of independents along with Ms Hoff, said the council should moderate using emotive language. "Healing the past will not be achieved by alienating others. The word invasion has served its useful life. I do not believe it should be used in our documents," he said. He was lambasted for suggesting in emails that Aborigines were also migrants. [They were. They all but wiped out their pygmy predecessors]


Australia: Christians not vilified by Islamic billboard

I see the billboard as a rare positive recognition of Christianity from Muslims

PROCLAIMING Jesus to be ''a prophet of Islam'' on billboards is a statement of belief and does not discriminate against or vilify Christians, the Advertising Standards Bureau has found.

The billboard, one of several in an awareness campaign by Islamic group MyPeace, was the subject of a series of complaints to the bureau on the grounds that the statement was insulting to those who believed Jesus to be the son of God.

Other complaints included the charge that Jesus ''must not be associated with such [an] aggressive religion'' and another claiming the advertisement was upsetting to children. ''What [my child] knows of Islam she has learnt from watching mainstream news broadcasts and to have her saviour identified as being part of this malicious cult was very traumatic!'' one complaint stated.

But the bureau found that while some members of the community would be offended by the statement, which would be inconsistent with Christian beliefs, ''such a statement does not, of itself, discriminate against or vilify people who hold different beliefs'' and was not a breach of the Advertiser Code of Ethics. ''The board acknowledged that the Islam faith does consider that Jesus is a prophet of Mohammed,'' it read.

It found the billboards did not suggest violence or contain frightening material ''and that it is not unreasonable for children to be exposed to a variety of information in their daily lives, some of which may conflict with the views with which they are raised''.

MyPeace founder Diaa Mohamed confirmed earlier this month that two billboards - one at Rozelle and another at Rosehill - had been vandalised.

Another reading ''Mary and prophet Jesus: read about their lives in the [Koran]'' was erected on Fairfield Road, near the M5 at Padstow at the weekend, he told the Herald.

In a written response to the Advertising Standards Bureau, he said misunderstandings about Muslims and Islam prompted the campaign, which aimed to reduce discrimination and vilification of certain sections of the community - and in particular Muslims.

''[The advertisement] conveys the message that, like Christians, we the Muslims also regard Jesus with extreme reverence,'' it read. ''The idea being that the people will see beyond the words in the advertisements and recognise that Islam and Muslims are not much different from any other ordinary Australian.''


ACLU Attacks God and Children, Again

It must require an Ivy League degree in relevant truth to buy into the ACLU’s separation clause arguments. The relevant portion of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Pretty straightforward.

This shrewdly crafted sentence should keep government in its place while citizens work out their own salvation. In order to unclarify this succinct instruction, the ACLU has pulled a bait-and-switch maneuver that tricks ‘em every time.

In 1789, the wording of the First Amendment was proposed in Congress by Representative Fisher Ames, debated at great length, voted on by both houses, and ratified by three-fourths of the states.

In 1947, Justice Hugo Black embraced a newly proposed interpretation of the First Amendment, citing a phrase from a letter written by a President of the United States.

Last Tuesday, June 21, 2011, the ACLU filed its latest lawsuit against an American school district for violating their “separation between church and state” mantra. The specific offense is allowing parents to spend vouchers for their children at schools that have a religious foundation.

The Supreme Court was created by the nation’s founders to interpret components of the Constitution in light of their original meaning. Purportedly, that was the action taken in 1947 with Everson v. Board of Education when the separation clause mandated that children attending religious-based schools could not ride a publicly funded school bus.

No, I am not kidding.

The decision has been the basis for challenges against prayer, nativity scenes, mentioning God in the Pledge of Allegiance, and every other recognition of the Creator where the ACLU can gleefully find an application.

The famous words, “wall of separation between church and state” came from a letter of assurance from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Church. That same letter from Jefferson also includes the sentiments, “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man.”

And yet, there is no insistence by the courts nor the ACLU that public schools recognize the Father and Creator of man.

Thomas Jefferson was not a fan of having a Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

Yet his unofficial words that were never debated, voted on, nor ratified have become the phrase used to hammer school districts who would dare allow voluntary attendance to schools that acknowledge an intelligent design behind the science that they teach.

If the 1947 Supreme Court were sincere in their desire to discover the original intent of the writers of the First Amendment, they would more appropriately have cited the following statement from Congressman Fisher Ames himself; “Why then, if these books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?“

I see no one asking for vouchers to fund the education of religion.

Rather, it is anticipated, reasonable, and very normal to explore the possibility of an intelligent designer behind the consistency in math, matter, and natural laws.

It is an insidious agenda that denies parents the choice of spending public dollars on educating their students at a school that also teaches about faith.

Rather than ensuring that the First Amendment is respected, the ACLU and their fellow plaintiffs are misappropriating a precious legal process to destroy a civilization.

New York artist Makoto Fujimura recently said, “We today have a language to celebrate waywardness. But we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

To the ACLU and their plaintiffs, I would say, “Stop dragging the public into your personal struggle with God.”


U.S. soccer team booed in their own country as Mexican fans turn LA into an 'away' game

If the U.S. soccer team were hoping for the home advantage during Saturday's Gold Cup final then they were in for a nasty surprise. Despite being the 'home' side in California's Rose Bowl stadium, the majority of fans - most of them American born of naturalized Mexicans - booed and jeered the U.S. team.

The surprising scenes were followed by angry outbursts from U.S. team goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was visibly shaken after the entire post match ceremony was conducted in Spanish. Speaking after the game, Howard said: '[tournament organisers] CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves. You can bet your ass that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn't be all in English'. 'It never ceases to amaze me all that stuff.'

Tempering his comments, the ex-Manchester United keeper added: 'It was a good crowd today. 'They were up for it, doing the wave, it was what we expected. We know it's going to be like this.'

Speaking to the LA Times, Mexican supporter Victor Sanchez said: 'I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I'm proud to be part of it.' The 37-year-old Monrovia resident reflected the sentiment of most of the 93,000 strong crowd when he added: 'But yet, I didn't have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.'

Despite the remarkable support for the Mexican side, head coach of the U.S. team Bob Bradley told reporters after the game his team were expecting the hostile crowd. 'Obviously … the support that Mexico has on the night like tonight makes it a home game for them. 'It's part of something we have to deal with on the night.'

Speaking to the Times, American fan Roy Martinez was one of the few supporters present actually supporting the U.S. He said: 'I know, it's strange, and when we got here, we were a little worried. Wrapped in an American flag he led USA cheers outside the stadium, trying to gee up the home side.

The game came after it emerged this week ethnic minorities now make up the majority of babies in the United States.

Long after the game finished Mexico supporters remained, bouncing up and down as they chanted and cheered for their team. The American's were not even spared in the trophy ceremony after Mexico's 4-2 win - booed for one final time as they were announced as runners up.

Speaking after the game, another fan summed up the mood for many American-Mexican fans. He said: 'We're not booing the country, we're booing the team. 'There is a big difference.'



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, 2011

Black teenage gang charged under lynching law after savage attack on 18-year-old white student

Four members of a teenage gang have been charged under a state's lynching law after allegedly beating an 18-year-old student so badly he required facial reconstruction surgery.

South Carolina prosecutors have charged the boys with second-degree assault and battery by mob, a crime which until last year was known as lynching.

The eight members of the gang, the youngest of whom is just 13, allegedly set upon Carter Strange in a parking lot as he jogged back to his home in Columbia.

They allegedly turned themselves in after surveillance footage of the gang roaming the streets in the area was released on local television.

The savage attack left Carter so badly injured his mother, Vicki, almost didn't recognise him when she saw him lying on his hospital bed. She said: 'I literally bent over him; I recognised his hand and his hair, and I said "that's my son".' He was left with a broken nose and a broken eye socket, and doctors had to operate to remove a blood clot.

Mrs Strange arrived in court on Friday with her husband, John, to watch as the eldest of the gang, 19-year-old Thyeem Henrey, was charged with second-degree assault and battery by mob, common law robbery, and criminal conspiracy.

A 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and 16-year-old appeared in juvenile court to be charged with strong arm robbery, second-degree assault and battery by a mob, and criminal conspiracy. A 13-year-old and three other 16-year-olds were charged with criminal conspiracy. They are all too young to be named.

The brutal beating happened last Sunday, when Carter, described as a 'sweet and quiet' boy, was jogging back home from a friend's house. Mrs Strange said she called him just after midnight, his curfew time. She told Channel 10: 'At 12:07 he wasn't home, I called him and said "Carter where are you?" 'He said "Momma, I'm almost home. I'll be there in just a minute." At 12:15 I called, but the phone was dead.'

The gang had allegedly been roaming around the area for most of the evening, and police said they had already tried - and failed - to rob four other people.

When they saw Carter, they allegedly ran towards him, savagely assaulted him and stole his cell phone.

Police Chief Randy Scott said: 'This teenager was minding his own business, trying to make his curfew when he was brutally attacked and robbed.'

Henrey broke down in court as Carter's parents vented their anger. Mrs Strange said: 'Since Carter didn't fight against them eight Sunday, I'm going to fight for him now. I'm going to fight for him until my last breath.'

Her husband said: 'I pray that you get your life right. Find God. If you pray for forgiveness, he will forgive you. I don't have that in my heart right now. Maybe one day, but not today.'

Mrs Strange told Channel 10: 'We got lucky he didn't die. Next person won't be lucky. If they did this now, what's to stop them from doing it again?'

Henrey remains in custody. His bond was set at $750,000.


British binmen tell old lady they won't empty her wheelie bin because her rubbish is the wrong shape

Margaret Tasker, from Coventry, West Midlands, was told refuse collectors couldn't empty her recycling bin because an ice-cream tub she'd put in it was the wrong shape.

The 66-year-old phoned Coventry City Council after her blue wheelie bin was the only one on her street not to be emptied. But she was stunned when a council worker told her that her empty ice-cream tub meant that binmen would refuse to take away any of her recycling.

Mrs Tasker, a retired accountant, said: 'I was absolutely flabbergasted. I'm always very careful with my recycling, and only ever put items in that say they can be recycled. 'I was a bit surprised when I came home and realised my bin was the only one on the street not to have been emptied.

'I had washed out the tub and put it in with my other plastic bottles. When I phoned the council, they said if it had been bottle shaped, it would have been taken.

'I only get one bin collection every two weeks as it is, and now I don't have room to recycle any of my other rubbish. 'I've always put ice cream tubs in my recycling, and no-one's ever complained before. 'I don't see why they couldn't have taken the tub out and put it in my other bin if there was a huge problem with it. 'The whole situation is a huge farce.'

But after the grandmother-of-two complained, the council backtracked - and claimed that they had made a mistake and square ice-cream tubs were now accepted for recycling. The council told Mrs Tasker they would retrain all of their staff to teach them which objects can be recycled.

She added: 'I couldn't believe my ears when they said they were going to retrain all of their staff. 'Surely all that's required is a bit of common sense?'

A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said: 'We are in the process of expanding the range of things people can put in their blue-lidded bins for recycling.

'Previously, a plastic ice cream tub would not have been suitable for recycling, however, it is now, and the bin should have been emptied. 'We apologise to Mrs Tasker for the mistake and we will empty her bin at the earliest opportunity.


Genderless Swedish preschool bans 'him' and 'her'

AT the Egalia preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys. From the colour and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged one to six is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behaviour that risk reinforcing stereotypes.

Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.

"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden.

Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"

At Egalia - the title connotes "equality" - boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.

Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless - until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.

Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no Snow White, Cinderella or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.

Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play. "A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."

Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls. But she says that there's a long waiting list for admission to Egalia, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school.

Jukka Korpi, 44, says he and his wife chose Egalia "to give our children all the possibilities based on who they are and not on their gender."

Sweden has promoted women's rights for decades, and more recently was a pioneer among European countries in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legalise their partnerships and adopt children.

Gender studies permeate academic life in Sweden. Bergkvist noted on her blog that the state-funded Swedish Science Council had granted $US80,000 for a postdoctoral fellowship aimed at analysing "the trumpet as a symbol of gender."

Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go. "The kind of things that boys like to do - run around and turn sticks into swords - will soon be disapproved of," he said. "So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness."

Egalia is unusual even for Sweden. Staff try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her - "han" or "hon" in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless "hen," a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles.

"We use the word "hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten," Rajalin says. "We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say 'Hen is coming around 2pm' Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view."

Egalia doesn't deny the biological differences between boys and girls - the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct.

What matters is that children understand that their biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities," Rajalin says. "This is about democracy. About human equality."


Another day, another ban

By Alexander Philipatos, writing from Australia

Banning is supposed to be an extreme policy, used in severe circumstances with great caution. Today, however, it seems to be the first tool politicians reach for amid public protest. Our representatives are banning everything – from live cattle exports to cigarette advertising, from mortgage exit fees to swearing in public. In the time of focus group politics and governance by poll, the ‘ban’ is the new ‘in thing.’

While some may think this is harmless, the real economic and social ramifications of knee-jerk policies are repeatedly underestimated.

The recent ban on Spanish cucumbers thought to be contaminated with E. coli cost Spanish farmers $306 million per week. The suspension of live cattle export to Indonesia has already cost $10 million to the Australian Agriculture Company and threatens to shut down many smaller Aussie farmers. Melbourne’s 2am lockout trial in 2008 cost many bars and clubs thousands in lost revenue with no reduction in violence.

Of significant concern is the estimated $3 billion in lost revenue to be borne by pokies if Independent MP Andrew Wilkie gets to put limits on gambling, not counting the flow-on effects.

Apart from the retrospective economic costs of wrongheaded restrictions, there are social costs to individual liberty. Discussions of whether Ban A will reduce smoking or whether Ban B will reduce gambling ignore the fundamental issue of individual rights.

The real question is whether Australia is committed to a free society or whether we are prepared to have the government decide for us what we can advertise, how we may do business, how we manage risk and health, what mistakes we may make, and how we speak to each other.

The more the public offloads individual decisions and responsibilities to the state, the less say we have in governing ourselves.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 24 June. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


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, 2011

Liberals' Frankenstein Monster Runs Amok in Chicago

Civilization is coming unraveled in the city that gave us Barack Hussein Obama and much of his crew. But don't be racist by noticing:
Pardon the unintentional rhyme, but Chicago is under attack by packs of wild Blacks. (Paul Kersey is all over this.) They're storming buses 15 at a time, beating White people with bottles and robbing them (NBC Chicago, June 8). Gangs of 15 or 20 are ambushing White pedestrians and bicyclists (CBS Chicago, June 5 and June 6; Chicago Tribune, June 6). Smaller packs are using pepper spray to disable their White victims (CBS Chicago, June 3 and June 5). …

Until recently, the hopelessly biased mainstream media were content merely to ignore, to suppress, to censor the race of these savages — that's race, not races. But censorship wasn't enough. It couldn't stop readers from seeing the photos. It couldn't stop them from watching the videos. It couldn't stop them from looking out their windows at the dark-skinned mobs rampaging outside. And it couldn't stop the White victims from telling everyone they knew.

So the readers noticed, and pretty soon they cracked the secret code: if a story omits the race of the perpetrators, it's not because the reporter doesn't know what race they were. It's because they were all Black.

That's when readers started to complain.

The Chicago Tribune responded to the complaints by denouncing its own readers and by shoveling out the usual politically correct pabulum about how awful it is to acknowledge facts liberals deem to be racist (see here and here and here and here).

Meanwhile, Chicago's government is blaming the mayhem on Sarah Palin, the Constitution, and of course racism. Chief of Police Garry McCarthy serves up the moonbattery:
The pervasion of illegal guns in America's black and Latino communities is a result of "government-sponsored racism," akin to "slavery, segregation, black codes [and] Jim Crow," Rahm Emanuel's new police chief, Garry McCarthy, told parishioners at St. Sabina's Church earlier this month.

St. Sabina's Church is where unhinged Obama crony Michael Phleger, the Emimem of Black Liberation Theology, spews maniacal diatribes denouncing Caucasians. Back to McCarthy:
"Let's see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black codes. Jim Crow. What, what did they all have in common? Anybody getting scared? Government sponsored racism."

"Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country, and tell me if I'm crazy: Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms, into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children," he said.

McCarthy blasted the NRA, telling parishioners that their communities have paid the price while the gun manufacturers are getting "rich and living in gated communities."

And he told an anecdote of just one night with the New York Police Department. After returning home from investigating a pair of shootings, he said he flipped on the television to relax, only to find "Sarah Palin's Alaska" being broadcast.

"She was caribou hunting, and talking about the right to bear arms," he said. "Why wasn't she at the crime scene with me?"

Whether out of idiocy or out of sheer evil, liberals have created a monster in the form of millions of perpetually aggrieved blacks whose culture was reduced to savagery when welfare destroyed the two-parent family. As their monster runs amok, the Dr Frankensteins of the governmedia blame its victims.


Must not criticize feminism in the British Labour Party

Ed Miliband's new policy guru has been accused of sexism by a key ally of deputy leader Harriet Harman. Maurice Glasman, an eccentric academic tasked with coming up with new vote-winning policies for Labour, is accused of betraying women by ‘harking back to a Janet and John era’ and being part of an ‘entirely male clique’.

Justice spokeswoman Helen Goodman, a former Commons aide to arch-feminist Ms Harman, distributed a diatribe to Labour MPs last week after reading Lord Glasman’s explanation of ‘Blue Labour’, the political philosophy which Mr Miliband hopes will win him the next Election.

According to Lord Glasman’s creed, policies promoting local activism and a ‘small-c conservative version of socialism’ will have voters flocking back to the party. He describes it as ‘Labour standing with the fans and not the bosses of football clubs’.

But, provocatively, it also argues that the growing economic independence of women has harmed society.

Ms Goodman’s outburst coincides with a new demand by Ms Harman for women to be given a greater role in Labour. Ms Goodman was incensed when she read The Labour Tradition And The Politics Of Paradox, Lord Glasman’s recent book which explains his idea.

It includes a glowing passage about the benefits of a ‘patriarchal social order’, including ‘the reproduction of family and social relations, status hierarchies and moral values’. The piece concludes provocatively: ‘This patrimony has now been fragmented and disrupted by ...... the growing independence of women.’

Livid Ms Goodman, 53, who won her Bishop Auckland seat on an all-women shortlist, complains that Lord Glasman ‘characterises as female all the aspects of New Labour he dislikes, whereas all the characteristics he applauds he draws as male. It looks more like something suitable for the psychotherapists’ couch than a political tract.

‘If Glasman thinks we will all greet this with an ironic post-feminist smile, he is wrong. How can we in a country where 1,000 women are raped each week? He seems to be harking back to a Janet and John Fifties era.’

And she adds: ‘It is noticeable that Blue Labour seems to be an entirely male clique.’

The attack comes amid growing disquiet in the Shadow Cabinet over the influence wielded by Lord Glasman within Mr Miliband’s inner circle. The 49-year-old lecturer was astounded when offered a peerage by Mr Miliband in the New Year’s Honours list.

Labour commentator Dan Hodges said: ‘Some of these advisers are clever and have something to offer. But their input has to be managed and filtered, and walls need to be built between them and Ed Miliband. At the moment it looks as if every political crank, conjuror and snake-oil salesman in Westminster has a direct line to the leader of the Labour Party.’


Is Delta Airlines Showing Signs Of ‘Creeping Sharia’ Law & Should Jewish Passengers Be Concerned?‏

Copies of letters at link. I tend towards seeing the airline's POV here. The laws of the countries they fly into are not their business

Imagine the protests in the streets if Delta Airlines were to tell Muslims that they could not fly somewhere because the local customs would not permit them to enter that country? And just how quickly would Rev. Al Sharpton be able to gather thousands to march against Delta Airlines if they would not allow black people onto their planes because the country where they were flying would not permit people of color to enter?

Those situations are impossible to conceive because they could never happen, right?

But Delta Airlines is facing a similar moral dilemma as they get are about to complete an alliance with Saudi Arabia. The Delta-Saudi deal means adding Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA) to Delta’s SkyTeam Alliance. For the first time, this would allow Delta passengers to fly direct into Saudi Arabia, as long as passengers are not Jewish, do not have a passport from Israel or a passport that is stamped from Israel.

This issue was addressed back in April when attorney Jeffrey Lovitky sent the following letter to Delta

Two weeks later, Mr. Lovitky received a response from Delta, and not from CEO Richard Anderson. Lovitky‘s letter was referred to ’Customer Care.’

The answer was quite clear. Delta did not see Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against Jews to be their problem. And yet, Mr. Lovitky presisted with his questions until he received this letter.

As far as Delta was concerned this was a dead issue. Dead until it was brought to the attention of former Congressman, Fred Grandy. Mr. Grandy was visiting some old friends on Capitol Hill earlier this week when these letters were handed to him. Fred and his wife are regular guests on the Jeff Katz morning show on Talk 1200 in Boston, and this past Wednesday they discussed the potential problems that might stem from Delta’s business alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines.

You can hear the entire segment with Fred and his wife (known to radio listeners as ‘Mrs. Fred) here.

In a telephone interview with The Blaze today, Mr. Grandy explained his concerns for what he and his wife called ‘Creeping Sharia Law.’ He also explained that he saw no difference between the restrictions imposed by the Saudi government on Jews and women and those limitations imposed by the apartheid rules of the South African government. During Grandy’s time in the House of Representatives, America would not permit airlines from South Africa to land in our country as long as that country had laws discriminating against people of color.

The story seemed to be gaining traction in the blogosphere today and not long ago, Delta Airlines Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Trebor Banstetter posted the following on a company blog site:
"We’ve gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member).

After listening to many of your thoughts today, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.

First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it‘s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.

We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board."

As it was stated in the very first letter sent from attorney Lovitky to the airline, Delta entered into this relationship with Saudi Arabia and SAA of its own free will. Nobody has forced the company to do business with a country that would restrict entry or movement within that country based on religion or gender. This is all Delta’s choice.

Lovitky has taken his case higher up the food chain and is petitioning Delta’s Board of Directors.


Black racism in Zimbabwe

Driving through land his family have tended for half a century, Colin Cloete stops to inspect a harvested tobacco field, rows of green stumps sprouting from a terracotta soil.

As a seasoned professional farmer, he knows the field needs to be reploughed before pests infest the weedy growths left behind. As a tired political campaigner, however, he knows it is no longer worth his while.

"We should be replanting these fields now, but I don't know who is going to benefit from the next harvest," he says, shaking his head. "I will probably do it anyway, but I do wonder whether it's worth it."

After an 11-year struggle in which their ranks have been murdered, beaten, jailed and bankrupted, the last of Zimbabwe's white farmers are finally facing defeat in their efforts to resist President Robert Mugabe's land-grab programme.

Despite the introduction of a power-sharing government two years ago, state-backed farm seizures have continued, and earlier this month, Mr Cloete lost a final appeal at Zimbabwe's Supreme Court to keep his one remaining property.

Next Monday, he will appear before a local magistrate to answer a charge of trespass, for which the only way to avoid jail will be to pack up and start looking for a new house in Harare, an hour's drive away.

With his departure will also go the hopes of some 300 other white farmers - all that remains of a community that was once 4,000 strong - for whom similar legal challenges had offered some last chance of protection, or at least a stay of execution.

"They will probably give me about 24 hours to get off my land, as they will say I have dragged things out through the appeal process already," sighed Mr Cloete, whose fields supply British American Tobacco, makers of Dunhill's and Benson and Hedges.

"To be honest, I don't really fancy the idea of moving to Harare, and the idea of giving up farming is heart-rending. If I was going to serve a couple of years in jail and then get the farm back, it might be worth it, but that's not how it is."

A former head of the Commercial Farmers' Union, Mr Cloete has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills fighting the land reform programme, which put Zimbabwe on the path to economic ruin a decade ago when black squatters were first encouraged to "invade" white-owned farms.

Purportedly to redress the injustices of white colonial rule, its effect has been largely to create a new landlord class: the pick of white-owned land has gone to Zanu-PF cronies, leaving an agricultural sector that was once the pride of Africa in the hands of people with no experience of farming.

Hopes that Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC might use their presence in government to halt the programme have proved premature, with the party fearing that vocal support for farmers could allow Mr Mugabe to portray them as the stooges of British rule.

However, the prospect that the MDC might still curb the programme should they win the next elections has encouraged Zanu-PF supporters to continue to grab the remaining white-owned farms while there is still a chance.

"Morgan knows that the land issue is too sensitive to broach because everything is tied in with the liberation struggle," said Mr Cloete, who lives on the farm with his wife Charmian, 57. "But do hope that at some point, we will get a new government and there will be a change of stance."

Mr Cloete's central claim to the Supreme Court was simple: he argued that as had bought the farm after independence in 1980, it could hardly have been considered the booty of a white colonial overlord, and therefore should be exempt from land-grab laws.

That the judges rejected it, though, came as no great surprise to him or his Harare-based lawyer, David Drury.

Zimbabwe's courts are dominated by Zanu-PF judges who are often beneficiaries of land-grabs themselves, says Mr Drury, while the few judges who find in favour of white claimants often end up losing their jobs.

Mr Drury, though, says the intention was not to triumph against odds that were always stacked against them, but to stage what he calls a "show trial" - a record of events that some post-Mugabe government may use to help rectify matters.

"It is a chance to provide a record of the injustice, in the hope that some sort of sanity will eventually be restored to cloud cuckoo land," he said.

"I am the first to support genuine land reform, and to support people who have been marginalised to become productive. But handing land to people on the basis of party connections is completely illogical."

In similar fashion, the Zimbabwean government has also chosen to ignore what should have been a legally binding 2008 ruling by a tribunal of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, made in response to a petition by 77 white farmers, that the land reform programme was inherently racist as it operated purely on the grounds of colour.

Legal challenges by a few other white farmers are due to be heard by the Supreme Court in July – with some claiming, for example, that they hold their land as a company rather than an individual - but the way every other case has so far been struck down means lawyers are already advising them to prepare to leave.

Even farmers who thought they were on solid legal ground have had no protection.

South African Dirk Visagie, another Chegutu farmer, has suffered constant harassment from farm invaders intent on grabbing his land, despite it supposedly being protected under a bilateral investment agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Mr Cloete, whose parents first came to Chegutu in 1955 and still live nearby, is in many ways typical of the white farmer's dwindling breed.

He wears the standard attire of khaki shorts and bush shirt, follows cricket keenly, and contrary to Mr Mugabe's narrative of white farmers as uncaring feudalists, shows a country squire's concern for the welfare of his black farm workers.

His mother, he says, built the 700-pupil local school, his father sat on the local council, and whenever his black neighbours need helping out - be it a fellow farmer borrowing a tractor, or the local police borrowing fuel for their cars - it is his door on which they knock.

"There is a perception that we had an elitist, privileged lifestyle, and just took advantage of our workers," he admits.

"And yes, I agree that there are some difficult farmers about - I learned that while dealing with them as head of the CFU. But there is never any talk about the schools we built, the clinics we built. We have never tried to live in isolation from the community."

He has already handed over another farm he owns to a group of black settlers who turned up in 2006, since when, he says, he has done his best to be neighbourly.

He helps prepare the land for cultivation and offers advice when they need it, although driving through his estate, it is clear that some of what is now in black hands is being used for little more than subsistence agriculture.

Such goodwill, however, counts for little when groups of club-wielding "war veterans" - ostensibly men who fought in Zimbabwe's war for independence, but in practice often just hired thugs - turn up to demand a farmer's departure, as they last did with Mr Cloete in late 2009.

The men, who he suspects were sent by Colonel Norman Kapanga, the retired policeman who has claimed his second, 450-acre farm, wielded clubs and lit a fire in his front garden, although they eventually left without further confrontation.

What stung more, though, were the "Go back to Britain" slogans they shouted - meaningless to a man who is in fact of French Huguenot stock, has only ever held a Zimbabwean passport, and has nowhere else to go even if he wanted to.

Infuriatingly, the view that he has no longer a citizen of his own country is shared by the black prosecutor who will oversee his trespass case next week, who has described him in previous court appearances as merely a "visitor".

"I have never viewed myself as anything other than Zimbabwean, and that is what hurts me most," he said. "We are not being looked at as citizens of this country, yet my father was born here before Robert Mugabe. What future do we have when you are fighting people of that mentality?"



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, 2011

Murdered girl's family's in 'appalling' British court ordeal

The treatment of Milly Dowler’s family in court has been branded “appalling” by the Government’s victims’commissioner, Louise Casey. Bob and Sally Dowler were made to feel as if they and not Levi Bellfield, their daughter’s killer, were on trial, she said.

Their ordeal in the witness box, enduring intense cross-examination about intimate aspects of their lives, is just the latest “shocking” example of grieving families being treated as an “inconvenience” in the system, she added.

Miss Casey questioned why the rich and famous are able to obtain court injunctions to hide their adulterous affairs while ordinary families such as the Dowlers had to endure their private lives being raked over.

She called for the case to be a spur for lasting change to a judicial system which, she said, affords defendants a “long list” of rights while victims and their families get only “vague promises”.

During Bellfield’s trial at the Old Bailey Bob Dowler had to admit that he had kept pornographic magazines at the family home in Walton-on-Thames and that bondage equipment had been found in the attic.

His wife was cross-examined on her daughter’s teenage insecurities including distressing poems suggesting she thought she was a “disappointment” to her parents. Relatives said that the way their family life had been portrayed during the trial process had “damaged” them.

Miss Casey, the commissioner for victims and witnesses, said the family’s ordeal since the abduction in 2002 been “heartbreaking” but that they had shown dignity and courage in the face of “unimaginable” horror. “It is appalling that they have also had to go through a court process where it must have seemed that they were themselves on trial,” she wrote in The Sun.

While accepting that defendants were entitled to a strong defence, she went on: “At the same time as the rich and famous obtain court orders to prevent reporting of their extramarital affairs, surely it is not too much to ask that a family who have had their lives torn apart by a murder be afforded a little privacy too?”

Miss Casey listed a series of example of victims being effectively ignored. She cited the case of a family who had to sit close to relatives of their loved-one’s killer as they laughed and joked through the trial.

One mother unable to bury her dead baby for almost a year because of constant requests for fresh post mortem examinations from the defence, she said. Another woman was not told that her father’s killer was being released until she bumped into him in the street.


British singer says ginger jibes are akin to racism

He's right. In politically correct England, some bigotries are still OK: Dislike of people from a different social class; contempt for people from the North of the country; amusement at anything Scottish; dislike of Jews and mockery of redheads

He may have found fame with Simply Red, but you mustn’t mention the colour of Mick Hucknall’s hair. The ginger singer claims making fun of his roots is akin to racism.

After facing a series of belittling comments on social networking website Twitter, the 51-year-old told his followers: ‘Let’s play a game: whenever you read “ginger” try replacing it with “black” or “asian” and see how it reads.’ A later post added: ‘Bigots are mostly best ignored. Tho a little outing once in a while spices up ones Tea!’

The pop star questioned why a string of prominent Britons were not similarly defined by the colour of their hair. ‘Interesting also that Prince Harry almost never referred to as Ginger by the media,’ he noted. ‘Or Churchill, or Elizabeth 1 or Shakespeare (allegedly). And lest we forget, dear old Henry VIII!’

Approximately one in ten people in the UK [mostly in Scotland] has ginger hair, or titian hair as it is sometimes known, giving us one of the highest redhead rates in the world.

The colouring is caused by high levels of the pigment pheomelanin and relatively low ones of the darker eumelanin.

There are plenty of historical examples of extreme ‘gingerism’. In 15th-century Germany, redheads were seen as witches and 45,000 were tortured and murdered. Elsewhere, the Egyptians burned ginger people alive, and the Greeks claimed they turned into vampires when they died.

Nevertheless, some of the modern world’s most desirable women are redheads, including models Lily Cole and Karen Elson.

Hucknall – once known as the Ginger Lothario for his womanising ways – married former art dealer Gabriella Wilke-Wesberry, 40, the mother of his four-year-old daughter Romy True, 13 months ago.


Another war on victimless crime

In Llano, in the middle of the Southern California high desert, a bewhiskered Jacques Dupuis stands in front of what was once his home. His laid-back second wife, Marcelle, her long, silver hair blowing in the breeze, takes a drag on her Marlboro Red as they walk inside and, in thick French Canadian accents, recount the day in 2007 when the government came calling. "That's the seat I have to offer you," she tells a visitor, motioning to the exposed, dusty wooden floor planks in what was once a cozy cabin where Jacques spent much of his life, raising his daughter with his first wife.

On Oct. 17, 2007, Marcelle opened the door to a loud knock. Her heart jumped when she found a man backed by two armed county agents in bulletproof vests. She was alone in the cabin, a dot in the vast open space of the Antelope Valley, without a neighbor for more than half a mile. She feared that something had happened to her daughter, who was visiting from Montreal.

The men demanded her driver's license, telling her, "This building is not permitted — everything must go." Normally sassy, Marcelle handed over her ID — even her green card, just in case. Stepping out, she realized that her 1,000-square-foot cabin was surrounded by men with drawn guns. "You have no right to be here," one informed her. Baffled and shaking with fear, she called her daughter — please come right away.

As her ordeal wore on, she heard one agent, looking inside their comfortable cabin, say to another: "This one's a real shame — this is a real nice one."

A "shame" because the authorities eventually would enact some of the most powerful rules imaginable against rural residents: the order to bring the home up to current codes or dismantle the 26-year-old cabin, leaving only bare ground.

"They wouldn't let me grandfather in the water tank," Jacques Dupuis says. "It is so heart-wrenching because there was a way to salvage this, but they wouldn't work with me. It was, 'Tear it down. Period.' "

In order to clear the title on their land, the Dupuises are spending what would have been peaceful retirement days dismantling every board and nail of their home — by hand — because they can't afford to hire a crew.

Tough code enforcement has been ramped up in these unincorporated areas of L.A. County, leaving the iconoclasts who chose to live in distant sectors of the Antelope Valley frightened, confused and livid. They point the finger at the Board of Supervisors' Nuisance Abatement Teams, known as NAT, instituted in 2006 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in his sprawling Fifth District. The teams' mission: "to abate the more difficult code violations and public nuisance conditions on private property."

L.A. Weekly found in a six-week investigation that county inspectors and armed DA investigators also are pursuing victimless misdemeanors and code violations, with sometimes tragic results. The government can define land on which residents have lived for years as "vacant" if their cabins, homes and mobile homes are on parcels where the land use hasn't been legally established. Some have been jailed for defying the officials in downtown Los Angeles, while others have lost their savings and belongings trying to meet the county's "final zoning enforcement orders." Los Angeles County has left some residents, who appeared to be doing no harm, homeless.

Some top county officials insist that nothing new is unfolding. Michael Noyes, deputy in charge of code enforcement for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, says, "We've had a unit in the office through the '70s and '80s." But key members of the county NAT team say that "definitely, yes," a major focus on unincorporated areas was launched in 2006. Cooley declined to comment through his media spokesman.

Click here to watch our video exclusive, "L.A. County's War on Desert Rats."

Many residents insist a clearing-out is under way in these 2,200 square miles of arid land an hour north of L.A., a mountain-ringed valley at the western tip of the Mojave Desert named for elegant pronghorn herds that were all but wiped out by an 1884-94 drought. Their anxiety has prompted conspiracy theories about whether the county has its own plans for their land.

The crackdown has the strong backing of Antonovich, whose spokesman, Tony Bell, says of its critics, "I've probably ruined your story because you want to say it's a horrible thing going on. ... We have gotten a very, very positive response from the community."

Not everyone. Oscar Castaneda, pastor of Lancaster's historic adobe Sanctuary Seventh-day Adventist Church, built in 1934 and featured in Kill Bill, recalls the day he says he was ordered to "freeze" in front of his mobile home on isolated land where his only neighbors are rattlesnakes. Decades ago, Castaneda says the county gave him verbal approval to live there in a mobile home. He told the NAT team, which began photographing his spread: "Listen, I've been living over here for 22 years. And nobody has come over here to bother me."


Photography phobia at a D.C. Taxi Commission Meeting

On June 22, 2011, I attended a meeting of the D.C. Taxi Commission for a story I'm currently working on about a proposed medallion system in the district.

About 30 minutes into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker's arrest and the audience's subsequent outrage using my cell phone.

A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had arrested Tucker promise a woman, who I presumed to be an employee of the Taxi Commission, that she would confiscate my phone. Reason intern Kyle Blaine, overheard her say, "Do you want his phone? I can get his phone."

(The woman who was given assurances by the officer that she could have my phone can be seen at the end of the video telling me, "You do not have permission to record this!")

As I tried to leave, I was told by the same officer to "stay put." I told her I was leaving and attempted to exit the building. I was then surrounded by officers, and told to remain still or I would be arrested. I didn't move, but I tried to get the attention of a group of cab drivers who were standing nearby. At this point I was arrested.

I spent the remainder of the day in a cell in the basement of the building. In the late afternoon, I was released. We will be reporting more on this as it unfolds.


The subsequent official wriggling 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.


24 June, 2011

Walmart and discrimination

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court unanimously threw out a massive class-action sexual-discrimination lawsuit against Walmart. By overruling a lower court's decision, the Supreme Court raised the barrier to future legal challenges against large corporations. As might be expected, probusiness outlets defended the ruling, while advocates for women and minorities lamented it.

In the present article I won't discuss the specific legalities of the case, as I'm not a lawyer. Rather, I will argue that standard libertarian theory says that there should be no such things as laws against "discrimination," because they are illegitimate infringements on property rights. Furthermore, in practice such laws are completely arbitrary, as it's impossible to actually avoid discrimination. The free market provides the built-in penalties for practices that most people have in mind when they want the government to punish "discriminatory behavior."

Taking Property Rights Seriously

The standard libertarian objection to "antidiscrimination" legislation is that it infringes on the exercise of property rights. If you own a business, you should have the legal ability to hire whomever you want.

The principle is straightforward enough when it comes to property rights in a personal setting. For example, even people who support laws against business discrimination would probably shrink from saying that (say) a racist homeowner has to invite black people to his barbecue on the Fourth of July. Most people are content to say that the homeowner is a jerk and should be shunned by polite society, but his house is his property, and the government can't literally force him to host people against his will.

Even in a business setting, people's intuitions can change when the tables are turned. As this video demonstrates, many people don't think a black restaurant owner should be forced to serve someone in the KKK. But surely it would be discriminatory to allow approved groups to enjoy wider latitude in the use of their property.

As with most hot-button political issues, there is no conflict between pure theory and pragmatism in the context of a free market. Even if the reader isn't moved by an appeal to the rights of business owners, the remainder of this article will argue that the free market has incentives to "punish" just the sort of discrimination to which most people object.

Getting Warmed Up: Does All Discrimination Seem Bad?

I am ultimately going to argue that the free market provides a financial penalty for the business behavior that antidiscrimination-law advocates think should "obviously" be illegal. But before I can make that point, we need to zero in on the specific practices that people have in mind when they use the term "discrimination." As we'll see, there is a whole host of hiring practices that most people endorse or at least tolerate, even though they are quite clearly discriminatory.

Consider the role of Virginia Woolf in the movie The Hours. As it turned out, Nicole Kidman landed the part. But suppose that Dustin Hoffman had showed up to read for it before that decision had been made. We can imagine the casting director being baffled and embarrassed, explaining, "I'm sorry Mr. Hoffman, but you just don't seem right for this part."

Hoffman could press for details. What specifically was wrong with his performance? After all, he had consulted with several female novelists and read extensively about Virginia Woolf. He really thought he nailed the scene they'd just read. And don't tell him he can't play a woman — he did a great job in Tootsie.

Of course, the casting director would explain that this is just silly. Dustin Hoffman couldn't possibly play Virginia Woolf in The Hours, because, well, he's a man. End of story.

Now, does anybody recoil in horror at that clear-cut example of "sexual discrimination"? Maybe a few hardcore feminists and some others, but most people wouldn't. They would say, "Come on, Murphy, you're being absurd. That's not the kind of thing we're talking about."

Let's consider a different example. Female coal miners (at least in one community) represent only 2 percent of the workforce, even though they are roughly half of the population. So that constitutes rampant sexual discrimination against women, right?

Again, not really. Most people understand that there are other factors driving that huge disparity. Some of the huge overrepresentation of men in coal mining might be due to sexist bosses, but before leveling any accusations against them, we would need to carefully control for those other factors.
Mises Academy: Robert Murphy teaches Keynes, Krugman, and the Crisis

Last example: If we went to all the Outback restaurants around the country, and rounded up (a) the women who were assigned to be hostesses, greeting people at the door and (b) the women who were assigned to be dishwashers, would we notice any patterns in their physical appearance? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the first group would be a lot more attractive, as conventionally defined.

So is this yet another case of rampant and outrageous bias on the part of business owners? Why aren't Americans up in arms over this discriminatory policy? In fact, what's the story with all the beautiful movie stars?

The reason most Americans are perfectly happy with these latter examples of discrimination is that it's what they want. Most Americans don't have a particular preference for having a man versus a woman ring up their groceries at Walmart, and so they take claims of sexual discrimination seriously. But Americans on net do have a preference to be greeted at the door of a restaurant by a young, pretty woman, and that's why restaurants cater to that preference. This also explains why movie producers are willing to pay millions of dollars to gorgeous stars, even though less attractive thespians could give "the same" performance for much less money.

What People Mean by Bad Discrimination

In light of the above examples of what most people would not include when they demand that government crack down on "discrimination," we can define the objectionable practice this way: business engages in unfair discrimination when it treats employees differently even though this differential treatment has no basis in profitability.

Even though the typical American might not think of the issue according to the principle I've just stated, I think it adequately captures most of their intuitive judgments regarding acceptable versus "bad" discrimination. To repeat, most Americans object if a woman (say) is treated differently by her bosses even though her being female "has nothing to do with the job." The only clarification my principle adds is to precisely define what we mean by "having something to do with the job" — namely, contributing to the business's profitability.

For example, the principle explains the intuition most Americans have that it is acceptable for Outback to exhibit a strong preference for young, pretty women as hostesses, while it is not acceptable for a corporate manager to only hire young, pretty women as executive assistants. The first seems like standard business practice to most people, while the second seems like "unfair discrimination."

If analyzed, the reason for this different intuition would boil down to the fact that hiring pretty women as hostesses actually is a "business decision" catering to customer preferences, whereas hiring pretty women as midlevel executive assistants is a "personal decision" catering to the manager's preferences. The first practice makes the company more money, while the second squanders it.

The Free Market Automatically Punishes "Bad" Discrimination

Now that we've come this far, it's a simple step to prove that the free market automatically punishes "bad" discrimination. Unlike under government laws, here there is no chance of a guilty party escaping his or her punishment — and the punishment itself is exactly proportional to the severity of the "offense."

Let's take a concrete example. Suppose that there is an opening for a managerial position at Walmart with a salary of $75,000. The interview process has settled on two candidates: a woman who would contribute $85,000 per year in extra profit (not counting her salary) to Walmart, versus a man who would contribute only $80,000 per year.

Further suppose that because of their corporate culture, the executives at Walmart just can't see this reality. Instead, they falsely believe that the woman will end up quitting her job after a few years to raise a family — even though she wouldn't. Walmart thus promotes the man and leaves the woman at her current position stocking the shelves with cereal.

Now what would happen to Walmart in this scenario in a truly free market? It's true, no government judge would award damages to the woman if she filed a lawsuit. However, in a very real sense, Walmart has been "fined" $5,000 in potential profits. If it had promoted the (better) female applicant, its net income would have increased by $10,000. Instead, its biased decision only yields an increase in net income of $5,000.

Interventionist critics might retort that this is hardly an incentive for Walmart's owners to put in place policies to weed out such bias. But these same critics, in other contexts, accuse big business of perpetrating all sorts of evils in the blind pursuit of profit. Are companies willing to outsource jobs and sell unsafe products for money, but unwilling to stamp out discrimination by their managers for money?

The story doesn't end there. If the discrimination is severe enough, then not only does Walmart (still) automatically "lose" the potential profits, but there is a large opportunity for competitors to hire away its underpaid workers — where "underpaid" is defined in reference to the workers' actual productivity. For example, if it really were true that hundreds of thousands of women were being systematically underpaid by Walmart, then Target and other stores could reap an enormous advantage by offering slight pay raises and inducing them all to quit.

It's true that in the real world, things are more complicated than the simple stories above. For example, a woman who has worked 20 years at various departments in Walmart would be more productive as a manager at Walmart than she would be at (say) Target. Therefore, the alleged gap in her salary would need to be quite large before it made sense for her to switch stores.

"As a matter of property rights, business owners should be able to legally "discriminate" just as private homeowners can."

Nonetheless, the point remains: if employees are being systematically underpaid in a firm, there is an automatic incentive for other companies to bid them away. Moreover, in the long run new workers will flock to the firms that have a reputation for fair promotion and salary practices. If it really were the case that women at Walmart eventually hit a glass ceiling, then young women considering a career in retail would need a higher starting salary from Walmart to convince them to work there rather than for a competitor.


As a matter of property rights, business owners should be able to legally "discriminate" just as private homeowners can. In practice, there are all sorts of clearly "discriminatory" practices to which few people object. Once we precisely define what we mean by "bad" discrimination, we see that the free market contains automatic financial penalties for it. There is thus neither a right nor need for government intervention to remedy unfair discriminatory practices.


Burglar stabbed to death in Britain: Father and son arrested on suspicion of murder

A father and son were being questioned by detectives last night after a suspected burglar was stabbed to death as he broke into their family home. The death comes only days after David Cameron vowed to protect the rights of homeowners to defend their property.

Peter Flanagan, 59, and his son Neil, 27, were asleep upstairs when four masked men forced their way in through the back door of their terraced home. They awoke and confronted the gang and during a violent struggle one balaclava-wearing intruder was stabbed. His three accomplices helped him as he staggered 200 yards before collapsing.

Alerted by a 999 call from the Flanagan household shortly before midnight on Wednesday, police dashed to the scene to find the intruder lying in the street in a pool of blood. The 26-year-old suspected burglar, who has not been named, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police returned to the £120,000 two-bedroom Victorian home in Salford and arrested Mr Flanagan, a garage worker, his son, a builder, and Neil’s 21-year-old girlfriend.

They were in custody last night, being questioned by detectives on suspicion of murder. Earlier this week, Mr Cameron said: ‘My mission is to make sure families can feel safe in their homes. The first duty of government is to protect people. ‘We will put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.’

But Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: ‘This is a problem not of law but the public understanding of it. ‘Of course people facing intruders can use reasonable force to defend themselves. ‘But saying that “burglars leave their rights at the threshold” is a recipe for vigilante execution and mistaken killings of family members returning home after dark.’

Asked about Mr Cameron’s comments, Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘I would tell people to ring the police and use reasonable force, but I don’t want to enter into a legal debate.’

Mr Flanagan’s wife Valerie, who moved out of the home in 2000, was not at the property at the time. She said: ‘It’s such a terrible incident. How anything like this can happen to anyone I don’t know. My husband is a great man and a great father – it’s such a shock.’

One neighbour said: ‘They’re just a normal family and I would never have expected in a million years that they would have been caught up in anything like this. ‘I’ve known the young lad Neil since he was born and I’ve known the family for years.

‘If what people are saying is right then I think it’s perfectly understandable if Neil and his father stood up against a gang of burglars. I would have done the same thing to protect my own family.’


Planned Parenthood Funding: James Madison vs. Obama and the Progressives

How unsurprising to find Leftists on the side of killing. They've got a lot of form there -- from the French revolution on

With a critical vote in its state Senate, North Carolina has voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Republicans hold a huge majority in the Senate—meaning, as a Republican majority usually does, that the Senate is pro-life. The governor of the state, Bev Perdue, is a Democrat—meaning, as a Democrat chief executive usually does, that the governor is “pro-choice,” and favors funding Planned Parenthood. Enough Republicans exist in the legislature to over-ride Perdue’s veto.

Prior to this vote, North Carolina infused Planned Parenthood with $434,000 annually, directed at state “family-planning programs.” That money was to go to “non-abortion services;” that is, “non-abortion services” by the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Most significant, North Carolina’s action signals a potential trend among states. It is the third state to vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood, following measures by legislatures in Indiana and Kansas, where the governors are Republicans and supportive. In Kansas, the governor is the solidly pro-life Sam Brownback, a gigantic change from Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who is now President Obama’s point-person to revamp America’s healthcare system. In Indiana, the governor is Mitch Daniels.

In all three states, North Carolina, Kansas, and Indiana, we see yet again how the Republican Party has become the pro-life party and the Democratic Party—the party of my family’s roots—has continued in the opposite direction.

The next key thing to watch is how the Obama administration reacts to North Carolina. In recent weeks, the Obama administration moved to deny Indiana’s de-funding of Planned Parenthood. Indiana sought to remove the millions of dollars in subsidies Planned Parenthood received in federal funds (via the Indiana government) through Medicaid. The Obama administration told Indiana that it can’t do that, arguing that federal Medicaid law prohibits states from barring certain “health” providers “because of a provider’s scope of practice.”

That said, here’s the big picture:

It’s critical to comprehend the Obama administration’s position. It needs to be understood. It represents not merely a policy or partisan divide but an ideological chasm over the very function of government and balance of powers.

Among liberals/progressives, we see here not only an obvious embrace of the Planned Parenthood worldview, but the bitter fruits of a much longer march, pre-dating Planned Parenthood, to centralize power and control in a single government based in Washington, along with a corresponding removal of authority from states and localities. This is a debate as old as the republic itself. It dates to the 1780s: the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, Jefferson and Hamilton and Jay and Madison, the Constitution. Our Founders vigorously debated the proper balance of powers between states and the federal government, trying to avoid extremes in either direction. They did not want an imbalance where Washington slowly but surely subsumed powers that not only rightfully belonged to states but better served citizens in the hands of states.

To place this in a theological perspective, this is somewhat similar to the teaching of subsidiarity. When it comes to assisting citizens in need, whether through poverty programs or healthcare, subsidiarity encourages localism to the best extent possible. The essence of subsidiarity is that localities, whether public or private, from counties to churches, are closer to the problem; they provide a more efficient, human touch than a distant bureaucracy—and can do the job better than a one-size-fits-all source in Washington. Subsidiarity opposes collectivism and sets limits on state intervention.

I view subsidiarity as somewhat of a reflection or extension of James Madison’s so-called “Middle Ground.” Madison was mindful of a careful balance between state and federal power. Though he was at times a strong proponent of federal power, he warned against excesses in either direction. Though subsidiarity isn’t exactly the same thing, it, too, is about striking the best balance, and not over-centralizing things in Washington.

Sadly, progressives have long pushed for government powers almost solely in the federal direction. Healthcare and Planned Parenthood’s “services” are just the latest manifestation. Thus, they are apoplectic at the Obama administration—and throughout the halls of power in the Democratic Party—by any move by any state to de-fund Planned Parenthood. They are already greedy for federal power. They are already greedy for “abortion rights.” So, to have states getting in the way of their attempts to ensure federal funding of Planned Parenthood is nothing short of cultural Armageddon.

Watch these current actions closely, in North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas, with more to come. Observe the ongoing hysterical response (click here for examples) of liberals/progressives, from the Obama administration to Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. Their reaction says a lot about these folks, not only about their views on cultural issues and human life but on the very essence of government.


Australia: Victory for freedom of association

Hells Angels bikie member wins challenge to NSW gang law

BIKIES have scored a victory over the New South Wales Government, securing a High Court ruling that a tough law designed to break up their clubs is invalid.

The High Court ruled today that a Hells Angel's challenge had been successful and the NSW law had been declared invalid, a registrar at the High Court in Canberra said today. The NSW Attorney-General's office confirmed the decision.

The NSW Government introduced the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act in 2009 following the death of Hells Angel associate, Anthony Zervas, during a violent brawl at Sydney Airport.

The law allowed the police commissioner to ask a NSW Supreme Court judge to declare bikie gangs criminal organisations and then seek control orders banning individual members associating with one another.

Derek Wainohu, a prominent member of the Hells Angel Motorcycle Club, launched a bid in 2010 on behalf of Sydney chapters of the club to have the law declared invalid.



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, 2011

Fury of former British mayor dragged through courts by yob, 13, who trampled his flower beds

Hours of effort had gone into preparing the soil and planting 250 daffodil bulbs. So Keith Gilbert was horrified when, every day for two months, he returned from work to find his cherished 30ft flowerbed had been trampled on by thugs.

By the time the former mayor caught one of the vandals in the act, he was at the end of his tether – grabbing the 13-year-old’s collar and giving him a piece of his mind.

The boy immediately apologised. But after months of being the victim, it was Mr Gilbert who ended up in the dock, not his tormentor.

The 62-year-old was summoned to appear in court accused of assault by beating, an offence that carries a maximum jail term of six months. Yesterday, after a six month ordeal, Mr Gilbert was found not guilty by magistrates who insisted that his case should never have come to court.

Mr Gilbert, an independent town and district councillor, described the verdict as a ‘victory for people who have to suffer all this mindless vandalism’. He added: ‘All I was doing was protecting my property.

‘This whole matter could have been sorted out through restorative justice, by sitting round a table at the police station and talking about it.

‘My partner could have explained how stressed she was about this boy walking over our raised flowerbed. He could have said he realised that he was being silly and apologised. That apology would have been accepted and I could have apologised if he thought I went a bit over the top. ‘We could have all shaken hands and that would have been the end of it.

‘Instead, after months of being the victim of mindless vandalism, I found myself in court charged with assault by beating, just because I stood up to a vandal.’

Mr Gilbert, a postman from Watton, Norfolk, said footprints appeared on the flowerbed almost every day for eight weeks until his altercation with the boy on December 3 last year.

His partner, Rita Lake, 61, who works at a horticultural nursery, had planted 250 daffodil bulbs in September and created the raised flowerbed from scratch.

‘The entire episode had left her ‘very stressed’, he said, adding: ‘I guessed it was one of the pupils walking to the school who was doing it for a laugh.

‘When I was coming home, I saw him jump on the end of the trough and walk along. ‘I grabbed him by the coat collar when he jumped off the other end.’ Mr Gilbert, who admitted swearing twice at the boy, told him: ‘That’s my garden and you don’t walk on it.’

But six weeks later, in January this year, police arrived at his four-bedroom bungalow and asked him to provide them with a statement.

Mr Gilbert was told that the boy’s friends had reported the incident to the headmaster at Wayland High School and a complaint had been made. He insisted he had acted lawfully to stop the boy damaging his property while walking to the school, which is on the same road. 'I saw him jump on the trough and I grabbed him by the coat collar'

Police hoped to deal with the incident through restorative justice, an informal method of allowing alleged criminals to apologise to victims and avoid court.

But the boy’s father refused to accept the solution and insisted that Mr Gilbert, who was mayor of Watton four years ago, should face criminal proceedings.

Mr Gilbert was given the choice of accepting a caution, which would have involved him admitting a criminal offence and having his fingerprints and DNA taken at the police station, or going to court to clear his name.

When he refused the first option, he received a summons to appear before Norwich Magistrates Court accused of assault by beating. Philip Alcock, prosecuting, told the court: ‘He took the law into his own hands, and that’s not the way we’ve been playing the game for the last ten to 15 years. He was a boy not a man and he went a fraction too far.’

The boy claimed he had slipped on ice and steadied himself by planting his foot on Mr Gilbert’s flowerbed, despite photographs showing it to be nine inches above pavement level and behind concrete blocks.

His claim, said Mr Gilbert, defied the laws of gravity. After a five-hour trial magistrates rejected his story and found Mr Gilbert not guilty.

Presiding magistrate John Claxton questioned how the case had even reached his court, adding: ‘This bench believes that this could and should have been dealt with by restorative justice.’


The Militarization of Compassion

John Stuart Mill wrote in his Principles of Political Economy that “what has so often excited wonder” in observers is “the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation; the disappearance, in a short time, of all traces of the mischiefs done by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and the ravages of war. An enemy lays waste a country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it: all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.”

Mill explained the conditions necessary for this rapid recovery: 1) free mobility of capital and labor, and 2) the survival of some portion of the population and stock of human capital. If these conditions are met, then economic and social recovery do indeed take place very quickly.
Militarization versus Decentralization

This is perhaps a jarring statement in the wake of the tragic human suffering we are witnessing in Japan (or saw last year in Haiti). Of course in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, rescue efforts and humanitarian assistance at the basic level require extensive direction. But we must not ignore decentralized coordinating processes. In the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, for example, various decentralized efforts to provide assistance were vital to the survival of thousands. Though we focus, especially in the 9/11 case, on the government first-responders, in both instances nongovernment people often responded on the spot at critical moments. There is no doubt that police and firemen in New York City and the Coast Guard in New Orleans played significant roles during the first moments after the disastrous events. But after that initial period, government activism more often than not was counterproductive.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina I initiated a research project at the Mercatus Center to analyze the effectiveness of the voluntary response to the crisis through the market and civil society. Families and communities were strengthened and rebuilt through the cultivation of commerce. To the extent that commerce was impeded, families were weakened and communities remained in ruins. This conclusion runs counter to common intuitions that demand a command-and-control approach in the wake of a crisis.

The language of disaster and recovery efforts is one of centralization—a military effort is presumed to be required to tackle the urgent problem. But the militarization of compassion is not very effective in achieving improvement. As my colleague Chris Coyne (author of After War and a forthcoming book on humanitarian aid) suggests in his paper “Delusions of Grandeur,” imagine you asked the firemen responding to a raging fire at a corporate building to also coordinate the provision of medical supplies and treatment, oversee the reconstruction of the building, and then rebuild the company’s supply chain after the fire was extinguished and the building rebuilt. This is precisely what happens through the creeping militarization of humanitarian efforts.

The militarization of compassion does not help strengthen families, rebuild communities, or cultivate commerce. Instead, it centralizes efforts and ignores the local knowledge that resides in individuals and that is embedded in communities. Our intuition pushes toward command and control, but the science of economics pushes back against this intuition and favors the decentralized, on-the-ground information possessed by individuals—who are capable of embracing the challenges of the “cares of thinking and all the troubles of living” (as Tocqueville argued was required of a society of free and responsible individuals). The militarization of compassion may help those far away to feel they are doing their best to address the crisis, but once we get beyond the initial search-and-rescue phase and on to the second, rebuilding phase, the result is usually planned chaos.
Government Roadblocks

What emerged from our studies of the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina was the vital role that both civil society and commercial life, as opposed to government direction, played in successful efforts to bounce back from the disaster. Whenever government attempted to guide individuals in their decisions rather than allow them to base those decisions on their local knowledge and to follow their private motivations, roadblocks to recovery arose. Mill’s observation about the amazing rapidity of recovery was confirmed in those areas where the free movement of labor and capital was permitted, and frustration was produced by restrictions on the freedom to choose.

What we have learned from the study of disasters and recovery is that efforts to provide immediate humanitarian aid will always have elements of chaos. The chaos is alleviated not through the militarization of compassion, but rather through the market mechanism that takes over the allocation of resources and signals the required adjustments through relative prices and the feedback of profit and loss.


The 'Jim Crow' Lie

How could asking for ID be discriminatory only when it comes to voting?

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Baghdad Bob of the liberal left, dutifully trots out the latest propaganda line. He claims that "an attack on the right to vote is underway across the country," through, among other things, antifraud measures requiring voters to present identification before casting a ballot:
"Besides Texas, states that enacted voter ID laws this year include Kansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Tennessee. Indiana and Georgia already had such requirements. . . .

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, by 6 to 3, upheld Indiana's voter ID statute. So seeking judicial relief may be difficult. Nonetheless, the Justice Department should vigorously challenge these laws, particularly in states covered by the Voting Rights Act. And the court should be asked to review the issue again in light of new evidence that these laws have a real impact in restricting the rights of particular voter groups.

"This requirement is just a poll tax by another name," state Sen. Wendy Davis declared when Texas was debating its ID law early this year. In the bad old days, poll taxes, now outlawed by the 24th Amendment, were used to keep African Americans from voting. Even if the Supreme Court didn't see things her way, Davis is right. This is the civil rights issue of our moment.

In part because of a surge of voters who had not cast ballots before, the United States elected its first African American president in 2008. Are we now going to witness a subtle return of Jim Crow voting laws?"

Here Dionne parrots an assertion by the unwieldily named Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who said earlier this month that Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws." (Literally? She's lucky there's no literacy test for members of Congress.) Even the left-leaning site PolitiFact.com rated this false.

The claim is that laws requiring voters to show identification impose a special burden on black citizens and are therefore discriminatory. Why this should be the case is never clearly explained, but in any case it is bunk. As PolitiFact notes:
Jim Crow was about much more than just voter disenfranchisement. While laws to restrict voting were an important part of the system of Jim Crow, they were just one part. . . . Legalized discrimination in the South ran the gamut from separate hotels and buses to to [sic] unequal schools to separate water fountains.

Many landmark civil rights cases involved not voting but public accommodations--services provided to the general public by government or private companies, which were segregated in the Jim Crow South. In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana law that required railroads to "provide equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored races" in passenger trains. Decades later, the court repudiated the doctrine of "separate but equal." And in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964), the high court upheld the Civil Rights Act, passed a few months earlier. The unsuccessful plaintiff in that case was "the owner of a large motel in Atlanta, Georgia, which restricts its clientele to white persons."

Today railroads and hotels, along with almost all providers of public accommodations in almost all circumstances, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race. So what happens when you ride on Amtrak, the government-subsidized railroad? You hear an announcement over the PA system advising you to be prepared to show your identification if the conductor asks to see it.

Likewise, these days there is a good chance you will be asked for identification when you check into a hotel. You need ID to board an airplane or to drive a car. Recently we visited a doctor whose office is in a hospital. Just to enter the premises, we needed to present ID to a security guard.

If black people have trouble producing identification, how come nobody ever claims that these requirements are discriminatory?

Another important aspect of civil rights is equal employment opportunity. Under the 1986 immigration law, when you are hired for a job, you are required to provide your employer with documents proving both your identity and your citizenship or legal residency. How come nobody ever claims these requirements discriminate against blacks?

It is possible that the ID requirements for planes, trains, automobiles, hotels, hospitals and jobs have justifications so compelling as to justify discrimination. It is also possible that by contrast, as Dionne maintains, preventing election fraud is not a sufficiently compelling justification. The point here is that no one has ever had to make the former argument, because nobody claims ID requirements are discriminatory against blacks except when it comes to voting.

Why? If Dionne or Wasserman Schultz has a good answer, we'll be happy to acknowledge it in a future column. Our answer is that their claim of discrimination is a dishonest and divisive partisan appeal to blacks' fears of racism--fears that, in this instance, do not appear to have any basis in contemporary reality.


Normalizing Deviance

Cal Thomas

In the aftermath of the exposure and resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) from Congress, his colleagues, some journalists, ethicists and pundits are trying to sort out what it means. Has a new standard been created in Washington? How can Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) remain in office under an ethical cloud about money and Weiner be forced to resign because he had fantasy sex? It wasn't even "real" sex, like Bill Clinton had. Clinton also lied about sex and was impeached for lying (but not for the sex because as actress Janeane Garofalo told Bill Maher recently, "everyone lies about sex"). Some wondered then if standards had fallen for occupants of the Oval Office, or whether the behavior of Clinton and some Republicans mirror a national moral decline?

The Washington Post ran a front-page story last Friday, the sub headline of which said, "Had congressman not lied, colleague says, 'it could have ended differently.'"

So it isn't what used to be called moral turpitude that did Weiner in, but lying about it? If he had not been exposed, would he have been any less morally guilty? Who decides? Not the voters. Democratic Party leaders forced Weiner out. They were embarrassed by his behavior and they wished to discuss other things.

A University of Maryland student friend of mine tells me one of her classes last semester discussed "the normalization of deviance." In an age when what is normal is determined by culture and opinion polls and when "orthodoxy" is regarded as something to be avoided, deviance has ceased to have meaning. That's because there is now no nationally accepted standard by which it can be measured and, thus, be used to hold people, even members of Congress, accountable.

If lying is now the unpardonable political sin, we may at last have found a way to limit congressional terms. If lying is sufficient reason to expel a member, then the halls of Congress may soon be vacant of all but the janitorial crew who empty the trash and mop the floors at night.

All politicians lie at some level, even Jimmy Carter, who promised during the 1976 campaign and in the aftermath of Watergate, "I'll never lie to you." He did though. Google "Jimmy Carter lies" and read for yourself. According to the list, he's still telling lies, 30 years after leaving office.

George H.W. Bush promised, "Read my lips. No new taxes." We read his lips, but were they lying lips? He caved into Congress, which raised taxes during his single term. Bush signed the legislation.

In 1963, before cynicism replaced skepticism in the press, Pentagon spokesman Arthur Sylvester spoke about government's "inherent right to lie." Granted, it was in the context of "to save itself when facing a nuclear disaster..." but as we know from the Pentagon Papers, lies from government became commonplace during the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 Americans, whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, are victims of those lies.

President Obama's lies about many things are catalogued on various websites and increasingly in mainstream newspapers. Some who led cheers for him in 2008 are now finding his lies difficult to ignore. Glenn Kessler, who writes the Fact Checker column for the Washington Post, recently awarded the president "three Pinocchios" (out of four) for his claim that "Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency."

There are many, more examples. Sure, Republicans lie, too, but if lying about something, rather than bad ideas or bad behavior, is the new standard in Washington, D.C., someone had better tell the politicians.

Thomas Jefferson did in an Aug. 19, 1785 letter to Peter Carr: "...he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions."



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, 2011

Another false rape claim in Britain

Black law student jailed after making up rape allegation because she was ashamed of failing university. Such claims seem to be a standard "out" for embarrassed women in Britain these days

A former law student who cried rape because she was ‘too ashamed’ to tell her family she had been kicked out of university was locked up for two years yesterday. Aisha Mather, 19, ripped her tights, overturned a coffee table and pulled down curtains in an attempt to convince police she had been attacked at knifepoint and raped in her home.

She believed this would give her an excuse to leave her course and move back in with her parents, and kept up the pretence for eight days – even after police arrested a man who matched her detailed description of the tattooed black ‘rapist’.

Three other men were questioned during a major investigation involving forensic examinations and door-to-door inquiries.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Mather had been studying law at Nottingham Trent University but had mounting debts and spent ‘more time socialising than studying’. She was ordered to leave after failing her first-year exams.

Phillipa Ellis, defending, said Mather was ‘too ashamed to tell her parents what was going on, and made up a story to get out of Nottingham without having to incur further debt’.

Yesterday, Mather sobbed in the dock as Judge Tony Mitchell described her actions as ‘mind-boggling’. He added: ‘You had been playing the fool at university, got yourself into debt, and wanted your parents to dig you out without having to admit the truth. Your behaviour was utterly despicable.’

Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, said that on the night of the ‘attack’ in January Mather had been unable to pay for shopping because she had run out of money. She rang her father and claimed she had been followed home by a man, then became hysterical, prompting her mother to take the phone and ask if she had been raped.

When Mather simply continued crying, her mother assumed she had been attacked and told her to call the police. When officers arrived, Mather told them that the man had followed her home from the university library.

The court heard that Mather had ‘seemed visibly shocked’ when describing the incident to detectives and had consented to a medical examination. Her account even included the name of the book she had been reading in the library.

But when officers checked with library staff and discovered that it was in storage and not available to read, they began to doubt Mather’s version of events.

Miss Pritchard said that during a second interview with police, Mather admitted she had made up the allegations because she ‘had no money, was not at university, and needed to get out of Nottingham’.

Mather, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, admitted perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to two years in a young offenders institute.


At long last: Britons will be able to fight off burglars without fear of prosecution

Homeowners and shopkeepers are to be given the right to protect themselves against burglars and robbers. They will now be allowed to use reasonable force if they perceive a threat to their property. Previously they could act only when they feared for their lives.

The surprise proposal is a response to public outrage over cases such as that of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot a burglar dead, and Munir Hussain, who chased and beat a man who had held his family at knifepoint.

It is one of a series of reforms unveiled by David Cameron in a sharp turn to the right on law and order. As well as more life sentences there will be tougher punishments for knife crime.

Liberal Democrats were quick to condemn the package, especially the pledge for mandatory life sentences for those committing very serious offences twice.

The Prime Minister finally scrapped controversial proposals to halve jail terms for offenders who enter early guilty pleas.

Other measures include:

* A six-month mandatory sentence for adults who use a knife to threaten or intimidate;

* Prisoners made to work while inside, with earnings used to compensate victims;

* Tougher community sentences, with longer curfews, travel bans,confiscation of assets and £2,500 fines for non-compliance;

* Plans for a criminal offence of squatting.

Mr Cameron and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke attempted to deny they were making a U-turn, insisting previous Coalition policies had merely been 'proposals'.

But in reality, yesterday's package marked not only a rowing back on sentence discounts following a public outcry, but a complete shift of tone and a bid to restore the Tories' reputation on law and order.

The Prime Minister's intervention was a crushing blow for both Mr Clarke and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who chaired a Cabinet committee that signed off the reforms.

The father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor welcomed the about-turn, but called for the Justice Secretary to be sacked. Richard Taylor said: 'Ken Clarke does not know what is going on in the streets, he does not know what criminality is about.'

The Justice Secretary now has to find £130million a year in extra savings, with deeper cuts likely for the probation services and courts.

After a series of policy U-turns, the Prime Minister claimed abandoning 50 per cent sentencing discounts was a sign of confidence, showing the Government was prepared to listen. The 'weak thing to do', he claimed, was to keep 'ploughing on' even when it became clear there was a better way of doing things. 'Being strong is about being prepared to admit you didn't get everything right the first time, you are going to improve it and make it better,' Mr Cameron said.

'My mission is to make sure that families can feel safe in their homes and they can walk the streets freely and without fear. The public need to know that dangerous criminals will be locked up for a very long time.

'We want prisons to be places of punishment with a purpose, instead of prisoners sitting in their cells. We will require them to work hard and reform themselves.'

The self-defence clause is likely be added to the sentencing bill over the next few months. Guidance to police, prosecutors and the courts will be revised to give clarity about when it is sensible to prosecute. They have previously had to decide what constitutes excessive force by using legal precedent.

With 23,000 violent crimes against householders every year, campaigners say the case for a change to legislation is growing ever stronger.

The tough sentencing rules would mean predatory violent and sexual attackers who carry out a second serious offence will face a mandatory life term. The 'two strikes and you're out' policy, first proposed by Michael Howard in 1997, will mean the most dangerous criminals automatically receiving a life term after a second offence.

Senior Liberal Democrats expressed their unease. Lord Thomas of Gresford, co-chairman of their parliamentary home affairs committee, said it would be a 'very strange thing' for mandatory life sentences to be imposed in cases other than murder.

And Lib Dem justice minister Lord McNally said: 'The longer I have been in this job the more convinced I have been we should rely on the discretion of a well-informed judge rather than Parliament trying to second-guess the judiciary.'

Mr Clegg yesterday claimed he had never supported the shorter sentences policy and appeared to blame Mr Clarke for the fiasco. He called the original plans 'arbitrary' and sources close to him insisted they had been 'badly sold' to voters.


Cisco Sinks to Dishonorable Low

Mike Adams

Mr. John Chambers
Office of the President
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Mail Stop SJC10/5/4
300 East Tasman Drive
San Jose, California 95134

Dear Mr. Chambers:

In my last letter to you, I pointed out the one-sided nature of a same-sex marriage forum led just last week by a Cisco Vice President on the campus of Cisco Systems. This despite the fact that your “Inclusion and diversity” officer, Ms. Marilyn Nagel, assured us that:
Our culture is very welcoming of all points of view. We don’t have any particular political perspective on the issues of same-sex marriage or any of the other issues.

I noted that one of the speakers at your one-sided “forum” was a gay activist who helped Holland become the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage. In my research, I also noticed that the Honorable Evan Low was a panelist on that one-sided “forum.”

At age 26, Mr. Low was among the youngest Mayors in the United States. As a gay man (your own website says) “he brought unique perspectives to the office” of mayor. He certainly brought a pro-same-sex marriage perspective. This link from the Cisco website shows more on his political crusade in favor of same-sex marriage. Pay special attention to the “Vote NO on Proposition Eight” picture at the bottom left of your screen. Would you consider that “divisive,” Mr. Chambers? Or does it simply depend on your perspective?

By now Cisco must certainly be prepared to admit that there was no one on the forum representing the other side of the issue. Don’t you think it’s odd that a forum ostensibly talking about “collaboration” on “conflicting points of view” would not collaborate but only offer one particular point of view?

So Cisco, which claims to take no position on same-sex marriage, invites in and pays gay politicians and gay activists to speak in favor of same-sex marriage. You do this in a “forum” held on the Cisco campus and led by a Cisco Vice President – a “collaboration forum”, which does not collaborate with a speaker from the other side of a politically divisive issue. And yet those who have spoken against same-sex marriage, off campus and not in any way representing Cisco, are fired.

Of course, I am talking about Dr. Frank Turek. And I am specifically calling you out on your company’s boastful assertions that Cisco is inclusive and diverse and doesn’t take sides on divisive political issues. And I am beginning to believe that I am talking to someone who has no interest in responding to reasonable inquires about matters of fundamental fairness.

Cisco’s real position is contradictory: We don’t sponsor a particular political perspective or even permit discussion of a divisive political topic such as same-sex marriage unless we choose to sponsor a forum that presents only one particular political perspective on a divisive political topic such as same same-sex marriage. So you’re not sponsoring it but you really are. Now, let us return to our conversation with your “inclusion” expert Marilyn Nagel.
I don’t think your position is in any way reflective of a position that’s not included in our dialogue. We have leaders who have every type of belief and we encourage that kind of diversity at Cisco.

That’s great to hear from Ms. Nagel. Now, please send me the link to any Cisco-sponsored “forum,” led by any Cisco Vice President, with the link to your website displaying “Vote YES on Proposition Eight!” pictures. After thoroughly searching I have yet to see such a thing on your website. I suppose it is possible that have you have already fired all the people who supported Proposition Eight. But I think it is more likely that your “inclusive and diverse” culture has intimidated them into remaining silent. Ms. Nagel also said:
We appreciate that people bring differences as long as they don’t make others feel unwelcome or act in a manner that’s disrespectful toward others, so I appreciate your feeling about this and your concern and I can only suggest that you take a look at some of the stuff that we put on our website.

Mr. Chambers, we’ve taken a look at your website. But we’re still looking for a little inclusion and we’re still craving a little diversity. Dr. Turek’s firing certainly did not sprout from the soil of true inclusion and diversity. Your shareholders and fair-minded Americans await your response:

We are simply tired of being excluded from the dialogue by experts waving the multi-colored banner of inclusion and diversity.


Australia: Muslims can't help themselves

What they are comes out all the time: Aggressive and obnoxious

All causes need a strong narrative, and anti-Muslim and anti-burqa sentiment just got one. Carnita Matthews, 47, had a conviction for a false accusation against a cop overturned because the court could not be sure it was indeed her that walked into a police station and made the complaint.

It all started, and finished, with a burqa. Read all about it here, here and here.

So this hysterical woman started it all when she verbally abused the policeman who was just doing his job. He asked her to remove her niqab (her face veil) and she refused. "You are racist. all cops are racist," she said, and threatened to go to court.

She should probably have been a little more sanguine about the fine she received - it was far from her first, and she has a history of not paying them.

And just like that she is the woman who cried `racist', who makes it harder for genuine claims of racism and discrimination to be taken seriously, who ruins it for people who face serious obstacles.

She could have overcome religious laws in this one instance. If it was impossible for her to show her face to a male police officer, she could have argued quietly and reasonably for a female police officer to attend so she could prove her identity. She didn't.

The next culprit is the burqa-clad woman who walked into a police station with a statutory declaration saying the police officer had torn her burqa away from her face. A judge originally decided that woman was indeed Ms Matthews, at which point she was convicted of making a false allegation, of committing a "deliberate and malicious and, to a degree, a ruthless crime". This is the conviction that was overturned this week because another judge said he could not be absolutely certain it was Ms Matthews.

Whoever that woman was set out to bring down that police officer. What she did was commit a crime that gives far too much fuel to all those who hate the burqa with a visceral hate; who would ban it because it rouses the beast of their xenophobia. Who turn to arguments about security and identifying people to justify their desire to prohibit the full face veil.

She made it that much harder for every other burqa-wearer and their defenders.

Then we come to Ms Matthews' supporters, the angry and aggressive mob outside the court where the conviction was quashed. They apparently could have walked peacefully past the waiting media, but chose to swear and charge at them instead.

It's as though they decided to incarnate an angry Muslim stereotype, to deliberately shore up the negative images that haunt Islam. At the risk of sounding like a finger-waggling old nanna; they all ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The burqa should not be banned. Banning it is as bad as forcing someone to wear it.

It shouldn't be so hard to be sensitive in this debate without either side being hypersensitive. Clarify the laws. Ensure people know their obligations under Australian law, and that police can carry out their job sensitively, but unhindered by futile political correctness. Fingerprint people if you have to prove their identity. Or ensure female police officers are available. Or carry a device and take a picture.



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, 2011

Elf 'n' safety shuts hill to Wimbledon tennis spectators: Fans might slip on the grass, warn officials

Thousands of Andy Murray fans had sat patiently under their brollies, sipped hot tea from flasks, and unfurled their Union Flags in anticipation. But on a rain-hit Day One at Wimbledon, they were robbed of the chance to see him on the big screen – for ‘health and safety’ reasons.

The grassy slopes of Henman Hill - now renamed Murray Mount - were empty after the screen was blanked out and the area was closed in case anyone slipped and hurt their ankles.

After losing a set to little-known Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver, to the consternation of his mother Judy and girlfriend Kim, the Scot recovered to win by three sets to one beneath the Centre Court roof, in use for the first time.

Furious tennis lovers deprived of the chance to cheer him on from Murray Mount said they would have been happy to take their chances with the slippery conditions and accused tournament organisers of bowing to the modern culture of inflating potential risks beyond likely reality. Others showed how it was possible to slide down the hill, even head-first, without injury.

This is the first time in the tournament history the screen has been deliberately blanked out since it was installed. Countless throngs have enjoyed second-best views from this spot, which can accommodate up to 4,000. When the roof is open, you can easily hear the roar of the Centre Court crowd while watching the action on screen.

Among the disappointed fans was Katie O’Brien, the British hopeful who was knocked out yesterday after losing her first-round match and took her family to the hill to ‘drown my sorrows with a Pimm’s’, as she phrased it on Twitter.

Shortly afterwards, the screen went blank.

Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins said: ‘This is the first time we have had to shut off the big screen as this is the first time the roof has been used in these conditions. Previous to the roof, of course there would have been no play to watch on Centre anyway if it was rained off.

‘The hill has been closed because of the slippery nature of the grass while it is so wet. It is a health and safety issue. We just can’t have people slipping and sliding and falling off the thing and breaking their ankles.

‘It’s different on the courts if there is a drizzle as they can sit on seats. We could have large numbers of people slipping and sliding all over the place.’

'Even if the rain stops we won't turn the big screen back on - that's it I'm afraid. It's regrettable but wise in view of the circumstances. We always anticipated that we would have to turn off the match for those on the hill if it rained.'


Citizens Not Politicians Make America Great

What makes America great? It’s not our politicians; it’s our people. A government can only be as good as the people it governs. America has always been blessed by people who have balanced a commitment to personal responsibility with a shared commitment to the commons.
It’s all too tempting to focus on the devastation of the recent series of tornadoes that ripped apart cities from Joplin, Missouri to New England. But the true story is not the devastation of the tornadoes themselves; it’s the story after story of fellow citizens and neighbors who immediately came to help and have continued to respond with prayer, encouragement, support and contributions.

Even in a crowded metropolitan area like Los Angeles, if the local news covers a story about a family in need, the response is heart-warming, overwhelming, and immediate. In America, you are not alone. Americans care, and they put that caring into action.

The depression of our age has been termed “Learned Helplessness”—the belief that nothing we do can make any difference in what happens to us. In the past, newspapers would primarily focus on local problems and people responding. We were a powerful people because we could see evidence daily of our ability to make a difference.

Now, any disaster in the world is brought to us in two minutes, and we watch transfixed, sure that nothing that we can do from our living room will make any real difference. We send funds, but too many remain observers of things we can’t control. Instead of getting involved locally, it’s too easy to “awfulize” about disasters that we believe only “government” is big enough to fix.

In reading my father’s memoirs, the reality of the Great Depression was brought to life. He wrote of two other distressed families living in the family homestead. He talked of being hired out to a neighboring farm for room and board and $4/month that was used to help pay his dad’s mortgage. The only Christmas my father remembered was the one his dad told the kids, “There will be no presents this Christmas. A poor family that’s come to town needs the money more.”

It’s the same today. After providing a brief keynote for the Greater Conejo Valley Community Foundation’s Ninth Annual Spirit of Community Awards that honored teachers, policemen, sheriffs, firemen, military service men and women, volunteers and area non-profits, all in attendance were reminded of the impact community service can have on those who are served and those who serve. The applause and the shared tears spoke volumes about the importance of community.

As columnists, it’s far too easy to focus exclusively on the big national problems and to criticize politicians, but we should never forget to balance such efforts with attempts to honor the heroes who make us better and challenge us to do our part. So today, let me join others in honoring Dr. Frank Dawson who has helped thousands of patients since the inception of the Conejo Free Clinic in 1976, the Hospice of the Conejo who has consistently helped people face death and helped the living get beyond their grief to live again, and teachers of the year Cynthia Gyure and Catherine Prater who, with other teachers, work tirelessly to bring education to life in the hearts and minds of their students. They are all inspiring!

These challenging times may be tough on many Americans, but I am optimistic that Americans will continue to take care of those in need. For Americans believe in collaborative community problem solving. In school, that may be called cheating, but, in America, it’s called neighbor helping neighbor.

Instead of “awfulizing” this week, get involved helping in your community. Ronald Reagan said it best in one his oval office addresses: “I’m not taking your time this evening to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourself. That is what America is all about… It’s the power of millions of people like you who will determine what will make America great again.” May it always be so.


Huge bureaucratic process finally gives kids the right to work after school in Australia

EMPLOYERS have claimed victory in their long-running quest to inject more flexibility into the Gillard government's workplace laws after Fair Work Australia overturned contentious employment restrictions and ruled that students could be employed after school for as little as 90 minutes.

After a 16-month battle over an issue that business claimed was emblematic of the restrictive work practices promoted by Labor's Fair Work Act, the nation's workplace tribunal eased the three-hour minimum shift requirement imposed on students wanting to work in after-school retail jobs.

Business groups said the decision would give employers operating in the current tough retail environment more flexibility to hire young workers, while handing students increased employment opportunities and valuable work experience.

Unions warned that the decision would encourage employers to cut back the afternoon shifts of adult workers and replace them with "kids working for $7 an hour". ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said cutting the shifts of adult workers could "tip them over the edge".

After three rounds of arbitration, tribunal vice-president Graeme Watson yesterday granted an application to reduce the minimum engagement period for secondary school students working in the retail sector from three hours to 1 1/2 hours, subject to certain conditions.

The minimum shift restrictions came to attention in February last year after The Australian revealed that six youths had lost their after-school jobs at a Victorian hardware store because their new award stipulated they had to be employed for a minimum of three hours a day, compared with the previous state award that had a two-hour minimum.

Then prime minister Kevin Rudd at first promised to address the situation, but Labor subsequently expressed satisfaction with an initial FWA decision upholding the three-hour minimum.

As workplace relations minister, Julia Gillard consistently defended the previous minimum shift requirements, arguing that they were not unreasonable.

Charlie Duynhoven, who employed the six teenagers at the Terang and District Co-operative, 210km southwest of Melbourne, said the ruling was "great news". "Common sense has prevailed," he said. "It gives us a chance to employ these students again and train them up, to give them experience in customer service, in how to handle money and product knowledge. The students will be rapt to hear this."

Leticia Harrison, who, along with fellow sacked youth Matthew Spencer, campaigned for the shift requirements to be eased, said the decision was a "really good thing". She said she had fought for the changes so other people would get more opportunities to have after-school work.

Under the conditions set out in the tribunal's draft determination, the 90-minute engagement will apply only provided the employee is a full-time student; that the hours worked are between 3pm and 6.30pm on a school day; and the employee and their parent or guardian agrees on the shorter period. The shorter period is also allowed only if employment for a longer period is not possible because of the operational requirements of the employer or the unavailability of the student.

Gary Black, executive director of the National Retail Association, which brought the application, said the ruling was "a victory for flexibility and common sense in the workplace relations regime".

Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the decision would help retailers "struggling right now from a two-speed economy, subdued consumer spending and a restrictive regulatory environment".

"It's unfortunate such a sensible step took three rounds of national arbitration to achieve," he said. "That fact alone highlights restrictions imposed by Australia's workplace relations system, and award rules which are yet to become truly modern. Industrial tribunals must continue to actively review award conditions, many of which still reflect a time when the Australian economy was based around Monday to Friday, nine to five-style working arrangements. "That situation is a far cry from the current reality, with customer demands requiring a much more diverse and flexible array of business arrangements."

Mr Lawrence said unions were concerned the decision would encourage employers to replace adult workers "with kids working for $7 per hour". "Unions will work to ensure this decision does not impact on the jobs or incomes of adult workers in this industry," he said.

"These workers are already facing cost-of-living pressures and losing an hour or two off the end of their shifts could tip them over the edge. Unions are also concerned that this decision could mean children have to work for 90 minutes just to earn $11 - a wage that would barely cover the costs associated with getting to work. "In the end, market forces will probably mean that very few employers get away with offering short shifts."

A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans said the ruling reflected "careful consideration by the independent umpire, taking into account the need to promote youth employment and social inclusion".

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz applauded the decision, but said it was "cold comfort for the hundreds of after-school student workers who have lost their jobs in the 12 months it's taken to address the situation".


Misguided legislation puts the big chill into freedom of speech in Australia

By James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland

LAST night nearly 600 people in Melbourne paid to attend an evening in support of free speech. The audience and speakers were also there to support columnist Andrew Bolt who has been taken to court for an opinion he voiced in the Herald Sun. The legislation that allows that sort of speech-stifling action is terrible legislation in my view, and so I was happy to be one of five invited speakers.

The gist of my remarks were that the fight for free speech and the liberty to speak up on public issues - issues not excluding who we want to receive affirmative action or group rights-type benefits that attach only to a special few in society - is a fight that will never go away. As former US president Andrew Jackson put it, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty".

And those who attended were not just supporting Bolt but freedom of speech and of liberty more generally. Because let me blunt. In my view this Racial Discrimination Act, the part amended by the Racial Vilification Act that gives us section 18C and in some circumstances makes hurting someone else's feelings, is awful.

Think about it. Someone's subjective sense of being offended or humiliated has been made determinative of whether an unlawful act has been committed, subject to a few exemptions in section 18D.

That's a terrible statutory provision. It ought to be repealed. Now. Yes, a judge may, perhaps, find the exemptions apply. Yes, there is some wiggle room. But even forcing someone to have to litigate constitutes a massive chilling effect on free speech. Let's face it. Not everyone has Bolt's cojones (and I know that may not have been the most felicitous way of putting the point). And not everyone has the resources of a big employer to back this sort of egregious litigation. These provisions create a sort of half-baked right not to be offended, a big mistake in my view.

So the fault lies with the legislature for passing these statutory provisions, not with the judges who have to interpret them. This is politically correct, pandering, group rights-inspired legislation.

The only sort of free speech that matters is the sort that offends some people somewhere. In a situation where all is agreement and harmony and people sitting in circles, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya, the concept of liberty and free speech does nothing. You will never have to fight for it meaning a freedom only to act or speak within the bounds of agreed opinion, good taste and proper decorum just isn't valuable. It doesn't carry with it any obvious good consequences.

The threat to our freedom of speech in the West today does not come from some Soviet-style secret police. No, it comes from turf-protecting bureaucrats who find themselves all of a sudden in the human rights game; it comes from people who want to create a right not to be offended.

Or at least not to be offended about the things that matter to them, because almost all the sorts of people who like the legislation being deployed against Bolt would be horrified to think that those in the US who are offended by the burning of the American flag ought to be able to prosecute the burners for their offended sensibilities. So what they really want is a right not to be offended, as long as it's the sort of things a good chardonnay-sipping member of the progressive elite ought to be offended about, nothing else.

But plain and simple that's a mistake. The only kind of free speech worth anything is the kind that leads to speech that offends people. And I say that knowing full well that none of us can be absolutists and there will always have to be some limits on speech, against counselling murder, say, or detailing how to make biological weapons.

But we ought to want as much scope as possible for people in a democracy to speak their minds. And precluding people from having and expressing an opinion on the problems with self-identifying as an indigenous person, or on who ought to be able to benefit from positive discrimination laws, well that's ridiculously inhibiting of free speech in my view.

I think that in any well-functioning democracy it is incumbent on all citizens to grow a thick skin. If you're offended, tell us why the speaker is wrong. Tell us why he or she is misguided or has defective moral antennae. Don't go to court and seek a court-ordered apology, or orders prohibiting publication of views you find offensive, or some two-bit judicial declaration.

And as a legislator under no circumstances pass statutes that allow for the creation of this mutant, half-baked right not to be offended. The very fact that people can be dragged through the courts - whatever the ultimate outcome - has a massive chilling effect on free speech. I know it. You know it. And our legislators ought to know it too, and do something about repealing this terrible piece of legislation.

At the end of the day those of us who want a considerable amount of scope for people to speak their minds are the optimists. We're the ones who are in the tradition of John Stuart Mill.

Recall the main ground that Mill gave for preferring very few limits indeed on what people can say. It was a consequentialist ground or justification. Leave people almost always free to speak as they like and in the ensuing battle of ideas truth will out, or in less hopeful terms, it is more likely to emerge than if people are silenced and issues are resolved by self-styled human rights experts or government appointees.

So for the benefit of getting at truth and true assertions we override hurt feelings, we ignore offended sensibilities, we discount the possibility of outright lies being spread, and we choose not to have our legislation accord with the world view of grievance industry mongers. Short of obvious, concrete, unavoidable harm to others, we let speech alone.

And underlying that rationale for lots of scope to speak our minds is a clear optimism about truth emerging in the tussle of ideas and ultimately an optimism about the views of the ordinary voter in a democracy.

In my opinion too many of the people who push these speech-limiting laws have simply lost faith in the views and beliefs of their fellow citizens. They have even lost a bit of faith in democracy itself.

Theirs is not the optimistic position. Ours is. We are the citizens of one of the world's oldest and greatest democracies; we are not a collection of victims too offended to muster up the resources to reply on our own behalf when we disagree with others.

It is a badge of honour to live in a society that protects differences of opinion, including ones with which we vehemently disagree. Which was why I was so delighted to have been asked to speak last night in Melbourne.



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, 2011

Outrage as British postwoman faces being fired for jumping on her van to stop a thief getting away

A village postwoman who clung to the bonnet of her van in a ‘courageous’ bid to stop a thief driving off with the mail has been threatened with the sack.

Julie Roberts, 51, held on to the moving vehicle for a mile as it weaved through narrow country lanes in a desperate effort to thwart the crook from stealing her deliveries.

Eventually, the thief halted the vehicle and ran off with only a handful of letters.

But far from thanking Miss Roberts’ for her brave actions, her bosses at Royal Mail have launched a disciplinary inquiry and suspended her.

She fears managers will blame her for the opportunistic theft, after she left the keys in the ignition while she stepped out to retrieve a pen that had fallen a few feet away during a delivery.

Outraged MPs, led by the leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, have called for her to be reinstated immediately, rather than punished.

And hundreds of people have written to both Royal Mail and Miss Roberts demanding she returns to her round in South Staffordshire, where she has delivered the post for the past 13 years.

Speaking from her home in Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, Miss Roberts, who has worked for Royal Mail for 21 years, said: ‘Being a postie is not just a job, you’re part of the community. 'I see all the same people every day, say hello and have a chat and get to know about their lives. ‘They’re the same with me, know all about my ups and downs and they are more like friends. ‘So when I saw someone trying to steal the mail of people I care about there was no way I was going to let them.’

After spotting she had dropped her pen while making deliveries in April, she jumped out of her van to retrieve it, only to see a thief had jumped into the driving seat and locked the doors.

‘It was just instinct I jumped on the bonnet and held on for dear life. All the time he was driving I was shouting at him to stop the van,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t really frightened, just determined to hang on.’

But her determination paid off, and the driver finally abandoned the vehicle. A 30-year-old man was later arrested and bailed for aggravated vehicle taking and theft.

‘After he had gone villagers ran up to me to check I was all right. It was a few days later that the whole thing hit me. It was just a bit of delayed shock, but I’ve been struggling a bit since then,’ she said.

‘Colleagues have been brilliant and kept in touch. And I’ve had loads of support from customers. I have had 130 letters and I know people have written to Royal Mail on my behalf. I just want this to be over with so I can move on.’

Unmarried Miss Roberts has no children, risks losing her house if she is sacked by Royal Mail, as she will struggle to keep up the mortgage payments.

Friend Phillipa Day said: ‘It was a snap decision. She dropped her pen and she quickly picked it up and then someone was trying to get in her van. ‘I am quite glad she left the key in the ignition otherwise she would have got beaten up for it.

‘She stopped a robbery and she is being punished for it. Royal Mail have not mentioned her heroism. She has rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, so you would not expect her to hang on to a bonnet like that for that long.

‘All Royal Mail are asking her about is why she left her keys in the van. What they are doing to her is not fair. She deserves better.’

Her views are echoed by Sir George, who said she deserves an award for her bravery, rather than the loss of her job. ‘Julie sounds a courageous lady who was doing her best to defend Royal Mail property,’ he said, adding he would speak to the chairman of Royal Mail to ‘make sure that this lady is recognised as appropriate, rather than penalised’.

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson said: ‘People in South Staffordshire want her back in work and they want Royal Mail to show some common sense and some common decency.’

A Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘We cannot discuss individuals but Royal Mail takes very seriously the security of its customers’ mail and the wellbeing of our employees.'


Workers Punished After Disabled homosexuals Are Told to Leave Public Pool for ‘Excessive’ Affection

It seems to be rather common for homosexuals to do in public what others would normally reserve for the bedroom so I can imagine what might have offended the workers concerned. It's a sad day when upholding moral standards is punished

Officials in a small city in eastern Kentucky are disciplining a couple of workers after two disabled gay men were told to leave a public pool.

The city of Hazard said Saturday one worker had been suspended for a week without pay. The employee, Kim Haynes, told investigators the couple was engaged in an excessive display of affection while at the pool with the social service group Mending Hearts.
Haynes also acknowledged referencing the Bible in an argument with the leader of the Mending Hearts group, saying the affection wasn’t tolerated.

The manager of the Hazard Pavilion also was reprimanded for unbecoming conduct, The Courier-Journal reported.

The city manager says new anti-discrimination signs will be posted at the pool, as well as signs warning against excessive public displays of affection.


Thought crimes a bolt through the heart of modern democracy

By Paul Howes (The national secretary of the Australian Workers Union)

IN most public libraries you can read the most controversial things and no one bats an eyelid. In fact you don't even have to visit a library to access the most evil of tracts, such as Mein Kampf or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Just jump on to Google and you'll be able to download the entire texts.

You can wander into many bookshops and find weirdo ideas from groups ranging from the Moonies to the Mormons, or the early novels of L. Ron Hubbard. Or listen to preachers such as the Reverend Fred Nile, who tells us homosexuals will burn for a billion years in hell.Or take in the words of Danny Nalliah of the Catch the Fire Ministries and his ranting about Muslims and atheists.

So you can say a lot of things in our democracy and you can watch a lot of things - violence, pornography, cattle being clumsily slaughtered - and you can read.

Well almost anything. Increasingly it seems the "well almost anything" may involve two names, Andrew and Bolt.

Now as you might suspect, I actually disagree with many, if not most, things [conservative commentator] Andrew Bolt says and writes. But I am concerned that people in some of the circles in which I mix, on my side of politics, increasingly seem to think they should write, or invoke or resurrect, laws that will shut Bolt up.

A democracy is, at the very least, a free marketplace of ideas, and a free marketplace of arguments against those ideas. But it is never, ever a stifling or suffocation of ideas. Ideas will out, they cannot be contained. They are our better, or our worse, angels and they will be heard.

Now I do vehemently disagree with what Bolt says, and often says, about certain people being insufficiently black. There really is a silly idea here, of how black or white applicants should be for certain prizes and scholarships. Andrew grabs an idea and often follows his logic to wherever it may lead him; God help those who stand in his way!

Now while I really can't accept some of this stuff I will - unsurprisingly - defend to the death his right to run a hot-headed, half-cocked argument where he says he is now putting into his crosshairs all sorts of political, academic and media grandees. It is the Voltaire in me that says I don't like what you're saying - or about to say - but sure as hell I reckon you have the right, in our democracy, to run that argument.

Sometimes I hear about Bolt's latest outrageous challenge to orthodoxy and groan and wonder if he truly believes the words he has written. Or whether he merely loves the controversy and headlines it creates.

But despite all the bombs he regularly throws over the parapet at some of my mates in Canberra, I have to own up to liking Bolt. I have done media battle with him plenty of times and I know there is a real decency there, to which I would be proud to attest in any court.

So I am sorry to see him now dragged through the courts for possibly breaching - if he did - a law that, probably, should not be there, stretching out its fingers into the realm of what Orwell might have called a Thought Crime; because he impertinently asked the wrong questions, when all the right answers have been handed down from above - in tablets of stone - long ago.

This is not a cast of mind that I applaud. It smacks of the 16th century when William Tyndale was strangled to death while tied at a stake and his body then burned, all for translating the Bible into English. Or the 17th century, when Galileo was put in danger of the same fate for saying the Earth moved around the sun.

And the 20th century, when books were burned in the public square for being not quite the way a dictator preferred a book to be.

In each case a Thought Crime is said to have been committed, the accusation comes from an elite keen to assert its casting vote on what is reality, and who should decide what ideas are allowed and in what circumstances they can be promoted.

So we need to be very, very careful when we define vilification and what, by contrast, dissent is, or what can or cannot be accepted as a contrarian view.

I sometimes feel we are getting a bit too vigilant over words and ideas when many really vile deeds go unpunished.

I suspect I will always disagree with Bolt. On most things.

I will always fear his persuasive powers as an advocate of ideas that I will never agree with; but I will always be ready to meet him in vigorous debate over things that shape our country's future.

And I will always defend his democratic right, as a member of a free society, to say what he will, to exercise that privilege of dissent that has defined, since Federation, the Australia we all belong to, and all, with varying shades of caveat, believe in and remain proud of, a free Australia.

Our freedom of speech should remain unmitigated by this new quavering cowardice that some would impose.


Christian group fears Australian Federal government could back homosexual "marriage"

A CHRISTIAN lobby group fears the Federal Government could join the Queensland Labor Party and back same-sex marriage. The state conference of the ALP's Queensland branch yesterday passed a motion calling on both federal Labor and the ALP national conference to support same-sex marriage.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is worried federal Labor could follow Queensland's lead when it meets for its national conference in December. "We have appreciated Prime Minister (Julia) Gillard's resolve to honour Labor's commitment but we are worried about elements of the party who are seemingly dismissive of the party's election promise and are following the Greens' lead on redefining marriage," the lobby group's chief of staff Lyle Shelton said.

"ACL urges delegates to the federal conference in December not to break Australia's bi-partisan support for marriage being between one man and one woman."

Ms Gillard last week reaffirmed in Parliament the Labor Party's commitment not to support gay marriage.

Federal Labor MP Shayne Nuemann, who represents the Queensland electorate of Blair, today backed Ms Gillard's comments, saying he did not support same-sex marriage. "But that's a matter for national conference (and) federal caucus at some stage in the future and I'll have my say there," he said.

Mr Shelton said the changing of federal laws in 2008 to give gay couples the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples meant issues of equality had been dealt with under the law. "But equality under the law does not mean that marriage should be redefined," he said. "This debate would be understandable if there were issues of substantial inequality but there are none."

Mr Shelton said the Queensland Labor Party risked alienating mainstream voters by fixating on a small, activist component of the population instead of dealing with the issues most Australians were concerned about.



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, 2011

Homosexuals want it both ways (!)

Traditional organizations like the Boy Scouts of America have long been under siege by atheists and pro-gay lobbyists who insist they shouldn't have the freedom of association to maintain their God-fearing identity. But you think that's maddening? How about the ultimate cultural flip-flop of a gay softball league going to federal court to insist that bisexual or heterosexual players can't play ball with them?
In Seattle, Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled that a group called the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance has a First Amendment right to limit the number of bisexual or heterosexual players.

"It would be difficult for NAGAAA to effectively emphasize a vision of the gay lifestyle rooted in athleticism, competition and sportsmanship if it were prohibited from maintaining a gay identity," the judge wrote.

In other words, the gay left now can have it both ways. They can force "anti-discrimination" rules on everybody else, but they don't have to follow them.

The gay softball alliance oversees gay softball leagues in dozens of U.S. cities and runs an annual tournament called the Gay Softball World Series. Three men claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that their team's second-place finish in the 2008 tournament in Washington state was nullified because officials ruled they were bisexual, not utterly gay, and thus their team exceeded the limit of two non-gay players.

D2, the San Francisco-based team the men played on, was disqualified after others at the tournament questioned their sexuality and filed a protest. Rumors had persisted for years about whether D2 was stacking its team with "straight ringers." In addition to the three plaintiffs, the team had two designated straight players.

Isn't it strange that gay activists would cheer the inclusion of openly gay athletes in professional sports, with all the pride they can muster in their talents, but insist in federal court on throwing out "straight ringers" -- all but admitting gay athletes can't compete with them on the field?

At least the judge said one fraction of the plaintiffs' case can proceed toward a trial set for August 1 -- over the sexual interrogation these three players faced. They were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle in front of about 25 people and asked about their "private sexual attractions and desires." The gay softball alliance argued that under questioning, the men -- Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ, all African-Americans -- were somehow not forthcoming enough about their sex lives.

Minutes of this interrogation revealed that Charles claimed to be gay but acknowledged being married to a woman. (Curses!) And Apilado initially said he was both gay and straight but then acknowledged being more attracted to women. (Gross!)

The organization says it has always considered bisexuals to meet the definition of "gay" for roster purposes, but the minutes also note that one official involved in the decision to disqualify D2 insisted that "this is not a bisexual world series. This is a gay world series."

In a statement, Charles, who was also D2's manager, complained, "When you play softball, you never expect for anyone to corner you and ask you personal questions about who you are and what you do. It was emotional for me as a coach to go in there and not only get grilled, but watch my team be put in this situation."

According to Charles, people inside the hearing room were texting private information to people outside while the questioning was taking place.

"When I came out of the hearing room, people I didn't even know were making comments about my marriage and other things we said in the hearing," he said.

In court documents, the gay softball alliance insisted this kind of "protective discrimination" is not unique: the Black American Softball Association allows just four "non-black" players per team and demands birth certificates as proof of race; the Native American World Series has a cap of two non-Indian softball players per team and requires players to carry "Indian identification"; and the SMASH Softball Tournament for Asian/Pacific Islanders allows only three non-Asian players and requires "proof of ethnicity."

The three players are being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which sued a gay organization for the first time to stay consistent with their typical opposition to groups like the Boy Scouts having their own private exclusions. The gay-softball league is a "public accommodation," they argued, and cannot discriminate on sexual orientation.

OK, so let's launch the White American Irish-Catholic Heterosexual League. It will have a two-gay limit per team and any transgression will be disqualified as "too gay." Oh, and no Jews, no blacks and certainly no Methodists. (A couple of Anglicans, maybe.)

See how crazy we've all gone?


The Expanding Vengeance of Affirmative Action

Some use the more traditional term "affirmative action." Others prefer the more cheerful, unifying-sounding "diversity." Either way, one would be hard-pressed to deny that mandating equal outcomes among racial and sexual groups over time has become the official coin of the realm in this country. What is perhaps most remarkable is the absence of any real political opposition to this regime.

Prime evidence of affirmative action's capacity to expand can be found in a 36-page report issued this April by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled "Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity." The study counted 12 government-wide and 264 agency-specific statutes that require or encourage such preferences; the grand total of 276 is about 60 percent higher than the 172 examples the CRS found during a similar review in the mid-Nineties. The report underscores the tendency of all bureaucracies to become captive of the constituencies on whose behalf they regulate. It also demonstrates once more that most lawmakers are petrified of angering black and Hispanic "civil rights" leaders.

The new study is welcome and overdue. Since its beginnings in 1965 with President Johnson’s Executive Order 11246 – an order continued by every president since – affirmative action is now woven into the fabric of American everyday life and not simply the federal work force. Indeed, virtually nobody prominent in government, business, labor, philanthropy, sports, entertainment or religion now thinks of challenging it. They know well that a misperceived stray remark, not to mention a "discriminatory" policy, can end their career or, failing that, threaten their social standing. Corporate officials now regularly celebrate their respective companies' commitment to racial, ethnic and gender "diversity," often contributing generous checks to nonprofit groups controlled by civil-rights hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to avoid lawsuits or boycotts.

As unwritten rule would have it, the primary beneficiaries of the affirmative action edifice are nonwhites, especially blacks; the secondary beneficiaries are women, especially single women. Advocates of these arrangements believe, and with few inhibitions about saying as much, that whites, having been privileged for too long. Thus, the ostensibly privileged must make way for those who have been "excluded," "underrepresented" or "disadvantaged."

Affirmative action operates on a presumption of collective grievance. Even if individuals within a privileged class – e.g., whites – haven't disparaged the rights of nonwhites, the argument goes, they still owe their good fortune to past acts of discrimination imposed by their own. All white success, in this view, in some measure is a legacy of injustice. Affirmative action has succeeded over the years because members of putatively privileged groups, especially white males, have been made to feel a strong sense of guilt. Under this new regime of rights, an employer, contractor or college can't simply be race-neutral in its decisions; it also must take proactive steps to boost its percentage or numerical representation of underserved groups to a level that authorities deem appropriate.

Into this morass has stepped the Congressional Research Service. The CRS is a nonpartisan research shop on Capitol Hill, a division of the Library of Congress. Its new monograph is couched in dry language. And on the issue of affirmative action, it is neither "pro" nor "anti." But the findings are exceptionally useful all the same, documenting how far federal program design and administration have incorporated affirmative action, regardless of which party holds power. The study's authors, Jody Feder, Kate Manuel and Julia Taylor – respectively, a pair of CRS legislative attorneys and a CRS law librarian – sought to catalog race, ethnic and gender preferences according to federal agency or program category. Using LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW data searches, they developed a list of individual items, accompanied by a brief description.

What follows is a tally of the number of programs, by agency/program area, that are required or encouraged by federal law. The list is not comprehensive. The authors admitted they had to exclude most regulations and executive orders, plus general anti-discrimination statutes (e.g., Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act) that don’t mandate racial, ethnic or gender preferences per se. What did make the cut were "any statutes found during the course of our research that appear, in any manner, to prefer or consider race, gender, or ethnicity as affirmative factors in federal employment, in the award of federal contracts, or in granting any federal benefit to individuals or institutions." This included laws directed to “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals, groups and institutions, a term that even the authors admitted is a proxy for beneficiaries of affirmative action. Here is the breakdown:

Program Category/Number of Programs Government-wide - 12 Agriculture - 32 Banking - 17 Commerce - 7 Communications - 6 Defense - 18 Education - 41 Energy - 8 Environment - 3 Health and Human Services - 53 Homeland Security - 8 Housing and Urban Development - 6 Immigration and Naturalization - 1 Interior - 6 Internal Revenue - 1 Justice - 4 Labor - 5 Office of Personnel Management - 6 Science and Technology - 11 Small Business - 9 State Department and Foreign Affairs - 9 Transportation - 7 Veterans Affairs - 6 Total - 276

Here are a few examples of affirmative action mandates, as worded in the CRS report:

Banking. 12 U.S.C. Sec. 635a-4: Requires the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank to attempt to ensure that a major share of any loan guarantee ultimately serves to promote exports from small, medium-size and minority businesses or agricultural concerns.

Education. 20 U.S.C. Secs. 1051 et seq.: Provide a range of assistance to institutions of higher education that serve high percentages of minority students.

State Department and Foreign Affairs. 22 U.S.C. Sec. 3922a: Requires the head of each agency utilizing the Foreign Service personnel system to develop a plan to significantly increase the number of members of minority groups and women in the Foreign Service in that agency, with particular emphasis on mid-level positions.

One could go on, but the point should be clear: Federal law almost reflexively now operates on an assumption that mandatory racial, ethnic and sexual diversity is necessary, for government and for the nation as a whole. Democrats in Congress and the White House may lean on federal agencies harder than their Republican counterparts in order to meet standards, but neither party, save for a brief moment in time, has made any real attempt to challenge the assumption.

That brief moment in time occurred during the afterglow of the 1994 congressional elections which saw a major Republican pickup of seats in the House and Senate. On December 22, 1994, Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., sent a letter to the American Law Division of the Congressional Research Service requesting “a comprehensive list of every federal statute, regulation, program, and executive order that grants a preference to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, or ethnic background. Preferences include, but are not limited to, timetables, goals, set-asides, and quotas.” The CRS obliged him soon enough. On February 17, 1995 it sent Dole’s office a list and accompanying brief descriptions entitled, "Federal Laws and Regulations Establishing Preference Based on Race, Ethnicity or Gender (1995)."

The list, like the more recent one, was the product of several searches of LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW legal databases. The categories were somewhat different from the more recent report, but results indicated that racial, ethnic and gender favoritism already by then had become bloodlessly incorporated into the federal regulatory apparatus. Here was the breakdown:

Program Category/Number of Programs Federal Acquisitions – General - 4 Agriculture - 15 Banking - 10 Commerce - 5 Communications - 6 Defense - 7 Education - 28 Energy - 7 Environment - 5 General Services Administration - 3 Health and Human Services - 8 Housing and Urban Development - 9 Interior - 9 Labor - 7 NASA - 2 Small Business - 4 State Department and Foreign Affairs - 3 Government Procurement Agreements - 6 Transportation - 6 Veterans Affairs - 2 Other - 3 Equal Opportunity Laws - 11 Federal Regulations - 12 Total - 172

Comparing the total for this list with the new one, the number of federal mandates for racial, ethnic and gender "diversity" has risen by about 60 percent. The areas of "Agriculture," "Defense," "Education" and especially "Health and Human Services" have witnessed especially rapid growth in directives.

To stem this tide, Sen. Dole and Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., in July 1995 introduced legislation, the Equal Opportunity Act, to bar the use of affirmative action criteria in all federal laws and programs. Dole, Canady and other supporters of the bill were subjected to a torrent of criticism that they were insensitive toward racial minorities and women. With President Clinton increasingly giving signs he would veto the bill, backers quickly lost their nerve and withdrew their support.

It wasn’t as if there was all that much nerve in the first place. An anonymous Republican staffer at the time put it this way: "Republicans have been ambivalent from the beginning about Dole-Canady. So this is not a surprise." Affirmative action critic Clint Bolick, then-Vice President of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit legal group, the Institute for Justice, was more direct: "The Republican leadership has consistently been terrified of this issue for unknown reasons."

Actually, the main reason for the terror was obvious, if unspoken: Whites in power don't want to be known as "racists." The power of that word to define a public figure's legacy has become the ultimate political card, regardless of party. Even the two black House Republicans, Gary Franks (Connecticut) and J.C. Watts (Oklahoma), declined to lend support. Who within the Republican Party wanted to anger them?

Supporters of the Dole-Canady legislation reintroduced a stripped-down bill in 1996 that would have applied only to federal contracting, but that, too, went nowhere. Dole distanced himself from the measure once he left the Senate to become a full-time candidate for president. Further undercutting his credibility was his selection of former New York Republican Congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, an unabashed affirmative action enthusiast, as his vice-presidential running mate.

If opponents of affirmative action in Congress went wobbly, in California, at least, they did not. In 1996, opponents placed a statewide initiative on the November ballot to amend the state constitution known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, or simply Proposition 209. Drafted by two white academicians, Glynn Custred and Thomas Wood, and chaired by a Sacramento-based land use planning consultant, Ward Connerly (a mixed-race black), the measure sought to ban preferential treatment by race, ethnicity or sex throughout the state in public employment, education and contracting. Voters approved Proposition 209 by nearly 55 percent to 45 percent. Defenders of affirmative action promptly went to court to block the law from taking effect. They eventually failed, but not without injecting enormous uncertainly into the enforcement process. In August 2010, nearly 14 years after passage, the California Supreme Court ruled, for the second time, that Proposition 209 was constitutional. Connerly would lead similar efforts in Washington State (Initiative 200) and Michigan (Proposal 2). Here, too, voters approved measures banning affirmative action mandates in state law, only to see implementation delayed or otherwise undercut by lawsuits and political pressure by quota supporters.

Affirmative action, at bottom, represents a radical redefinition of rights. It focuses not on an individual’s desire to be free from acts of aggression or fraud, but on whole classes of persons allegedly denied opportunity to realize arbitrarily determined social and economic outcomes. The latter vision holds that inter-group inequality, by its nature, is a product of injustice and thus is in need of forcible redress. This redefinition has triggered a growing State, which in turn has created an official means of stigmatizing innocent persons and institutions. Opponents of affirmative action do have one ace in the hole: It is unpopular. More to the point, it is deeply unpopular among whites, even if they fear the consequences of fully verbalizing their thoughts. Christopher Caldwell, writing in Time magazine (June 8, 2009) on President Obama’s nomination of affirmative-action supporter Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, recognized the concept's capacity to antagonize:

Affirmative action has been a revolution in American rights and in our ideas of citizenship. To judge from almost all polls and referendums over the past few decades, it is reliably unpopular. Judges prop it up. Since the election of the first black President, it has been a shoe waiting to drop. The rationale it rests on – that minorities are cut off from fair access to positions of influence in society – has been undermined, to put it mildly. Elevating a hard-line defender of affirmative action is thus a provocation in a way that it would not have been in years past.

Yet if affirmative action is more indefensible than ever, that it doesn't mean it was ever defensible in the first place. Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer, in his 1975 book, Affirmative Discrimination: Ethnic Inequality and Public Policy, the first full-length treatment of the subject from a critical standpoint, explained the impossibility of enlisting all of society to accurately make amends for group grievances:

Compensation for the past is a dangerous principle. It can be extended indefinitely and make for endless trouble. Who is to determine what is proper compensation for the American Indian, the black, the Mexican American, the Chinese or the Japanese American? When it is established that the full status of equality is extended to every individual, regardless of race, color, or national origin, and that special opportunity is also available to any individual on the basis of individual need, again regardless of race, color, or national origin, one has done all that justice and equity call for and that is consistent with a harmonious multi-group society.

Supporters of affirmative action view harmony as something within reach only until all population groups achieve equity. That this goal is neither possible nor desirable is a possibility they refuse to fathom. Their ceaseless insistence upon enforced social outcomes has been realized in an obsessive federal bureaucracy backed by the will of Congress. The Congressional Research Service once again has performed a public service by cataloging this obsession.


Keep Jesus Out of Your Socialism

In part one of this series, I made clear, from the words of Jesus and the New Testament, that ministering to the poor and the needy among us is the work of Christian individuals and the church, not the secular government. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. . . ." Today's Religious Left wants to change that to, "He has anointed the federal government to preach good news to the poor."

The Christian gospel is a message of salvation, not a message of income redistribution and raising our neighbor's taxes. Jesus said that the way to serve the poor is by giving generously of our own resources. "But when you give a banquet," He said in Luke 14, "invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

The Religious Left is very generous—with other people's money. In fact, I believe the founder of the Religious Left was none other than Judas Iscariot. When Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointed Jesus with costly perfume just days before the crucifixion, Judas lectured her and said, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?"

Notice that Judas put on a show of caring for the poor—even though the money was Mary's, not his! The motives of Judas, John 12:6 tells us, were corrupt and self-centered—and Jesus responded with a stinging rebuke.

At least one of the Lord's disciples was a "social action Christian" in the Sojourners mold: Simon Zelotes (Simon the Zealot). Just as Sojourners president Jim Wallis was once president of the Michigan State chapter of the militant Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Simon Zelotes was a young political radical who attached himself to Jesus because he thought Jesus would lead a revolt against the Roman Empire.

Simon saw Jesus as a political Messiah who would topple the powerful while lifting up the poor and oppressed. But Jesus was not a political Messiah. He didn't attack the Roman Empire. He did battle with the Evil Empire of Satan himself.

Jesus didn't tell the Roman government what its budget priorities should be. Why? Because His agenda was much larger than the agenda of Simon Zelotes or the Religious Left. His eyes were fixed on eternity. He said, "My kingdom is not of this world."

The Religious Left has missed the meaning of that statement. Yes, there is a place for Christian social action—but that place is in a personal lifestyle of generosity and compassion to the poor. Jesus didn't tell the rich young ruler to become a political activist and affect public policy. He said, "Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

It's true, there's poverty in America, and some of the poor can't lift themselves out of poverty without help. Some are physically or socially disadvantaged. Some are down on their luck. They need and deserve Christian compassion and the good news of the gospel.

But a huge number of people receiving government assistance are substance abusers, welfare cheats, or chronically lazy. Doesn't the Bible tell us, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10)? Why must the "makers" of society support the "takers" of society? That's not compassion. That's theft. Wouldn't it be more compassionate to encourage the takers to develop self-respect by becoming productive citizens?

Would Jesus endorse government policies that encourage and enable addiction, indolence, and welfare fraud? Certainly not. The Religious Left should read His parables, especially the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Parable of the Vineyards (Matthew 20:1-16), and the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46). In those parables, Jesus blesses hard work, personal responsibility and the freedom to achieve.

Government programs can't separate the truly needy from the welfare cheats—but private Christian charities can. Private charities are far more effective than government at meeting needs, changing lives, eliminating fraud and waste, and dispensing compassion. Our stance as Christians should be pro-compassion, not pro-bureaucracy.

The place for compassionate Christian social action is in the church, and in the lives of individual believers. When the church becomes a political pressure group, telling the government, "Confiscate more wealth from those who earned it and give it to those who have not," then the church has formed an unholy union with the kingdoms of this world.

Income redistribution is not Christianity. It's Marxism—and mixing the two only pollutes the Gospel and betrays the Great Commission.


An unreliable atheist

By John Dickson

Tamas Pataki, a trained philosopher and well-known figure on the atheist circuit, recently put up four arguments against state schools offering Special Religious Education (SRE). It leads to divisiveness, strengthens group identity (a bad thing because of the first), is factually untrue and, unlike Graeco-Roman wisdom, argues from parable and dogma instead of by reasoning. Pataki is wrong on all four counts.

It was ironic to me that his first two points were grounded not in reasoning or in evidence (such as a social study of the ill-effects of SRE in school life) but in a 1000-word personal parable of a young Jewish boy made to feel alienated in a Melbourne schoolyard.

The story itself was not at all amusing; it shows the damage that can be done when passion - whether religious or political - is not coupled with compassion.

The anecdote was notable on another level. It struck a motif quite common in atheist literature: the boy wounded or disillusioned, sometimes understandably, by early religious experiences grows up to be an ardent atheist (Richard Dawkins's testimonial is the most famous example).

Such stories seem to provide a partial explanation for the puzzling superficiality of the engagement with the intellectual sources of faith that we sometimes see on display. The "religion" that atheists most often parody, quite successfully, is like an imaginary enemy from childhood, an object frozen in the mind of a twelve year old and never seriously examined since.

How the West was won

But back to the point. In a secularizing society like ours, I fear that Pataki may be right that the case for SRE today carries little force for many Australians.

The only argument I personally think has weight - and on which he was noticeably wobbly - is that Judeo-Christianity significantly influences Western culture, art, politics, ethics and history.

Children should be taught Judaism and Christianity - and, in the interests of multicultural fairness, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism too - in order to grasp something of Australia's cultural heritage and, more generally, how powerful ideas have shaped the realities of the modern world.

This could be taught by existing teachers and as a "secular subject," but it is hard to predict how successful this would be in conveying the essential content and inner strength of the different worldviews.

Pataki skirts around the issue when he says that the influence of the Judeo-Christian worldview on Western history has been "exaggerated." This is itself a flimsy assertion, which he hopes readers will believe on account of the fact that, in other respects, he is a thoughtful writer. But I do not see how any serious ancient or medieval historian could accept that.

Western culture has been shaped decisively by its Hebrew and Christian cultural sources, as many specialists qualified to speak on the subject have shown, including Oxford's Peter Harrison, Princeton's Peter Brown, Baylor's Rodney Stark, Macquarie's Edwin Judge and others.

The Judeo-Christian shape of Western civilization is hardly discussed in the media, let alone given the opportunity to be "exaggerated." Sadly, such insights are usually left to the cultural historians and political philosophers. One such expert, the atheist Jurgen Habermas of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, famously conceded:

"Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than a mere precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love ... Everything else is just idle postmodern talk."

Competency extrapolation

But I have a particular bone to pick with Pataki. He slips into a presumption very common among both religious preachers and atheist writers at the moment: competency extrapolation, where expertise in one area is taken to justify grandiose claims about things far outside your field.

It's not that people can't comment on important matters outside their area of study. We all do that. But when we do, we should proceed with some caution, citing relevant evidence and experts to support our case.

Tamas Pataki is a technical philosopher, but his knowledge of historical scholarship leaves much to be desired. He begins well. "Truth in history matters," he says as he introduces his section on the hopeless unreliability of the Bible. But then come the baseless assertions, errors of fact and serious misrepresentations of scholarship.

This is something of a trend in recent atheist literature. Leaving aside the small, pardonable mistakes of those who haven't felt it necessary to read any Bible since childhood (Dawkins's placement of the Magi story in Luke's Gospel, for instance), harder to overlook are the serious misrepresentations of scholarship found in atheist apologetics.

For example, Michel Onfray, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins all suggest that the very existence of Jesus is still in doubt among the historians. Dawkins cites an authority who has made what he describes as a "serious historical case that Jesus never lived at all," one "Prof. G.A. Wells of the University of London." But what Dawkins doesn't say is that Wells is Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of London.

How would he react if someone made an eccentric biological claim and then cited a language professor as the "serious" authority. In reality, the Jesus-never-lived hypothesis is about as marginal in historical scholarship as young-earth-creationism is in biological science.

Pataki's essay displays a comparable tendency toward competency extrapolation - though, at least he seems to take for granted the historicity of the figure of Jesus. He frequently makes bold historical assertions, which appear to carry force only because of his winsome writing style and good credentials as a philosopher. It certainly is not because they are accurate.

I won't dwell on the small errors, such as the statement that Matthew and Luke were "largely based" on the Q-source (Q accounts for less than 20% of these Gospels' material; hardly any kind of basis).

But I will point to the several historical pontifications in his piece that grossly misrepresent scholarly opinion and highlight again the rhetorical excess of the evangelizing atheists. They will cite any scholarship, even non-scholarship, so long as it furthers the cause of unbelief. They get away with this only because they assume their readership, like the authors themselves, haven't read any serious writings on the subject.

The origins of Israel

First was Pataki's obvious kicking-against-the-goads of his Jewish heritage:

"There was no Egyptian bondage, covenant on real estate, exodus or conquest. Our best archaeology, history and biblical scholarship tell us that the Israelites crystallized out of local Canaanite peoples and culture, and their exclusive monotheism was a late post-Exilic development shaped by a host of political, cultural and theological influences."

This is an outrageous misrepresentation. It holds up one strand of contemporary archaeology, known as the "minimalist" perspective, as if it stood for all scholarship. Pataki thereby ignores the majority of the field, made up of "maximalists" and "centrists," which would reject the caricature of Israelite history offered in the above paragraph.

Ken Kitchen, for example, has laid out the contemporary evidence for early Israelite monotheism, an Egyptian bondage, a mass exodus and a Canaanite conquest. Kitchen is no maverick. As Professor of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool (retired) he is in an excellent position to assess of the Bible's conviction that the Israelites began their journey to nationhood from the Nile Delta.
By contrast, Pataki's sole authority in these matters is a journalist:

"As Robert Wright affirms in The Evolution of God, virtually no biblical historians today believe that the biblical accounts of these matters are reliable."

That certainly is not true, but my larger question is why Pataki would call as his witness a popular author with no relevant credentials.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

And the Robert Wright references don't end there. Pataki cites him later as an authority on "the historical Jesus" too. He tries to make the case that even sublime sayings, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke's Gospel, are "unlikely to have been teachings of the historical Jesus."

This particular parable, he says, is not found in the earliest Gospel (Mark), nor in the early Gospel-source known as Q. It is therefore a late addition, an invention.

Bizarrely, he then adds that the universalistic trend of the parable, where a Samaritan is more morally heroic than a Jewish priest, is contrary to the "historical Jesus's ethnocentric ejaculations." Here, he relies squarely on Wright, whom he quotes as follows:

"The real Jesus believes you should love your neighbours, but that isn't to be confused with loving all humankind. He believes you should love God but there's no mention of God loving you ... 'love your enemy' like 'love your neighbour' is a recipe for Israelite social cohesion, not for interethnic bonding."

Almost everything in Pataki's (and Wright's) foray into biblical commentary is wrong.

While it is true that Mark and Q do not have the parable of the Good Samaritan, most scholars in fact think this teaching comes from the early Gospel-source known as L (see the major studies of K. Paffenroth, J. Fitzmyer and C.F. Evans). That gives it a date earlier than Mark's Gospel and roughly contemporary with Q.

It certainly is not an editorial invention of Luke, as both the grammar and syntax of the parable and its clunky segue from the previous section make clear.

What of the alleged "ethnocentricity" of the historical Jesus? This argument reminds me of a section in Richard Dawkins's God Delusion under the title "Love They Neighbour." Here Dawkins, like Wright and Pataki, tries to suggest that Jesus was nowhere near as kind and loving as Christians make out. "Jesus was a devotee of the same in-group morality - coupled with out-group hostility - that was taken for granted in the Old Testament."

He freely admits his source for this historical insight, an article in the Skeptic Magazine by John Hartung, whom he enthusiastically describes as an "American physician and evolutionary anthropologist."

How do these credentials qualify someone to dogmatize about what a first-century Palestinian Jew thought, especially when the conclusion is counter to one of the most securely established consensuses of Jesus-scholarship over the last thirty years: Jesus deliberately broke down "out-group hostility."

From E.P. Sanders to M. Borg, from G. Theissen to the Jewish specialist G. Vermes, scholars are in agreement that one of Jesus's core critiques of his own people was their antagonism toward the "sinner," the tax-collector, the Samaritan and the Gentile.

According to a passage in Q (the earliest Gospel-source), the religious elite slandered Jesus as the "friend of sinners." In another Q passage, Jesus declares that the pagans of Tyre and Sidon have more chance of entering God's kingdom than his fellow Jewish communities in Capernaum and Bethsaida. And, finally, yet another Q text has Jesus praise a Roman centurion for his faith and then announce to the astonished home crowd, "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

The "universalistic trend" of the parable of the Good Samaritan coheres completely with what our earliest sources say about the teacher from Nazareth.

He was one of a number of Jewish teachers in the period who insisted, largely on the basis of the universalistic hopes of the Old Testament book of Isaiah, that the God of Israel loved all of humanity, the righteous and the wicked alike.

Pataki's attempt to argue otherwise, and his reliance on questionable sources, reveal the disturbing tendency of the new atheists to use any assertion to bolster their case. It is the mirror image of the Christian apologetics of yesteryear. It works for no one but the uninformed or already-convinced.

Casting the first stone

Pataki's next faux pas concerns the famous incident of the woman caught in adultery, about whom Jesus says in John's Gospel, "Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone." It is an "excellent story," writes Pataki, but it "was added centuries after John was written."

He has confused the fact that this narrative doesn't appear in the best manuscripts of John's Gospel, something all modern Bibles acknowledge in their text of John 8, with a conclusion that the story was concocted "centuries" later.

In fact, it is acknowledged that the story has a very ancient, if not first-century, provenance, as C.K. Barrett, J. Charlesworth and others have argued. It is an additional piece of oral testimony that was placed in Luke's Gospel in some ancient manuscripts and in John's in others (usually with a copyist's asterisks to indicate its uncertain origin).

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, the volume explaining the decisions of the committee that establishes the Greek text of the New Testament (from which modern translations are then made), states that:

"the account has all the earmarks of historical veracity. It is obviously a piece of oral tradition which circulated in certain parts of the Western Church ... in deference to the evident antiquity of the passage, a majority [of the committee] decided to print it."

What we got from the Greeks

But Pataki is at his rashest and, thus, weakest when trying to argue that the West, far from being the product of the biblical worldview, has really inherited its best ideas from the earlier, Graeco-Roman cultures:

"In fact, the fundamentals of our legal, political, civic and economic structures, as well as nearly every fruitful form of investigation, including moral exploration, we owe to Graeco-Roman civilization, itself complex and pluralistic."

Indeed, Pataki thinks that it is only to the degree that Christianity "absorbed and preserved" some of the wisdom of Greece and Rome and "failed to destroy entirely the rest" that we can say that Christendom shaped Western civilization.

His sharpest claim is his most vulnerable, namely, that the Judeo-Christian worldview argues only by parable, poetry and pronouncement, whereas the Greeks insisted that "knowledge entails rational argument."

Moreover, the Bible is a "regression to a more primitive state of affairs," but a true education, as cultivated by the Greeks, urges students to:

"search for answers in texts or experience, through equations or experiments, and they are asked to justify their answers rationally by appeal to evidence, mathematical proofs and so on."

Pataki fails to describe the real significance of the Greeks and he conflates two types of knowledge that were really quite separate in the ancient world. He is correct to say that the sixth-century BC philosophers launched a revolution in knowledge, centred on a pure rationalism.

As a result, they made huge advances in mathematics (Pythagoras, born 580 BC), offered powerful rationalizations of nature (Aristotle, 384 BC), reasonably accurately calculated celestial movements (Ptolemy, AD 100) and started to explore what we now call medicine (Galen, AD 129).

But for all the advances, there was a major intellectual roadblock at the heart of Greek thought that prevented them from making the leap into what we now think of as science.

The methodology of empirical testing fundamental to our Western intellectual tradition did not come from the Greeks. Indeed, it could not. The Greeks closed the door on verification through experience. "The whole business of testing for truth," says Professor Edwin Judge, a specialist on the reception of Graeco-Roman culture into the modern world and founder of Macquarie University's Ancient History Department, "was explicitly rejected in classical culture as being illogical."

Why? Because the Greeks believed the universe operated according to a fixed, eternal logic, which was accessible to the logical mind of human beings. What was needed in order to comprehend the world, whether the movements of the stars or the circulation of the blood, was not testing but careful reasoning from unchallenged axioms.

So long as we are amply trained, we can think our way to reality. Experimentation was therefore irrational. From Parmenides (born 515 BC) to Aristotle (384 BC), from Chrysippus (280 BC) to Plotinus (AD 205), the Greek intellectual method, for all its advances, erected a giant blockade in front of what we today recognize as the only valid path to true science.

According to Peter Harrison, Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford:

"The revolution which gave rise to a proper natural history was not the result of new facts or observations, nor of the discarding of irrelevant and extraneous material, but of a change to the mental field in which generally accepted facts were located."

This "change in mental field" involved giving up the Greek obsession with rationalism, says Harrison, and adopting the pathway to knowledge called "empiricism," testing by experience.

Rationalism imagines that we can think our way to a true account of the world; empiricism concedes our limited grasp of reality and sets out to observe nature, propose theories to explain it, tests those theories with experiments and invites others to confirm or disprove the explanation.

What we got from the Jews and Christians

This revolution in the path to knowledge was the result of the shattering of the Greek worldview by the Judeo-Christian worldview. And we can date it precisely.

In AD 529 the Christian philosopher John Philoponus published his Refutation of Proclus echoing his Refutation of Aristotle. These were a stunning dismantling of the Greek doctrine of the rational, eternal universe in favour of a philosophical defence of the biblical notion of the universe as a created object with a beginning. And this gave us science as we now think of it.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary states things plainly: Philoponus
"influenced subsequent science to Galileo by replacing many of Aristotle's theories with an account centred on the Christian idea that the universe had an absolute beginning."

The breakthrough was immense. If the world is not an eternal, logical system but a creative work of art, we cannot simply think our way to understanding reality. We must humbly inspect what the Creator, of his own free will, has produced and apply our rational powers of testing to comprehend what He has manufactured. Testing of what is, not rationalizing from first principles, will lead us to the truth about the physical world.

This is precisely the path John Philoponus opened up and it is exactly how the first modern scientists thought about their work. Isaac Newton, John Ray, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey, Robert Boyle and the others: they were all inspired by the doctrine that the universe is a work of art from an utterly free Hand, not an eternally rational system.

What was required therefore was not more confident philosophical (or theological) rationalizing about the world but more probing of what is there in front of us, proposing theories about how it might work, testing those theories against other available facts and seeking confirmation from others: in short, the modern scientific method. The monographs on the origins of science by Oxford's Peter Harrison bear this out in compelling detail.

Tamas Pataki is totally wrong to suggest that the Greeks gave us the path of testing, experience and appeal to evidence. They gave us logic, for sure. But it was the followers of the Bible who insisted that logic alone cannot establish ultimate reality by deduction.

What is needed is "experience" - criticizing hypothesis from evidence and so verifying what is, not what ought logically to be. They applied this method first to the historical discipline, giving birth to the modern practice of history through research into primary sources (another story worth telling), and then to the physical world, giving birth to the empirical sciences.

What is perfectly clear is that Pataki's dewy-eyed ode to the wonders of Greek thought and his caricature of the bumbling "soothsaying" of the Jews and Christians owe more to his own dogma than to either evidence or contemporary scholarship on any of the questions he touches upon.



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, 2011

An argument for marriage? Unwed parents are six times more likely to split by the time their child is five

Perhaps this just shows that more stable people have more stable children

Unmarried parents are six times more likely to split by their child's fifth birthday than those who are married, say researchers. Cohabiting partners face a 'disproportionate' risk of breaking up in the early years of their son or daughter's life.

The study from the think-tank the Jubilee Centre will reignite concerns that Britain is fast becoming a nation of broken homes.

The trend is particularly worrying because other research shows that children brought up by couples, especially married couples, are likely to do better than youngsters in single parent homes.

Last year Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith warned that children from broken homes are nine times more likely to commit a crime than those from stable families.

Researchers from the Cambridge-based think-tank analysed data from more than 14,000 households and 22,265 adults. Among parents who were living together when their first child was born, 37 per cent separated by the time the child reached five. For couples who were married at their child's birth, the figure was 6 per cent. By the time the child was 16, 16 per cent of married couples had separated compared to 66 per cent of cohabiting couples – a four-fold difference.

For couples who initially cohabited but subsequently got married, the corresponding risks of separation were 7 per cent and 29 per cent at the child's fifth and 16th birthdays. This is still a 20 per cent and 80 per cent greater risk compared to couples already married when their first child was born, according to the report, Cohabitation: An Alternative to Marriage? which is published on Monday.

Dr John Hayward, director of the think-tank, said: 'All the evidence suggests that families headed by married, biological parents who have not previously lived together provide the best environment for both the individuals involved and their children. 'This has huge personal, social, economic and political consequences for us all.'

Office for National Statistics figures show that nearly one child in three lives without their mother or father.


The Discriminatory Application of Non-Discrimination Policies

After months of deliberation, the University of Texas at San Antonio Career Center has agreed to post job announcements for a pro-life, Christian residential home for needy pregnant women. UTSA originally declined to post the announcements on the ground that they were "discriminatory."

In this case, Adoption Priorities, a Christian organization that provides adoption services, recently launched the Amaris Home Project. The project provides assistance to expectant mothers by providing a safe and compassionate home in which they may reside during their pregnancy. Adoption Priorities desired to hire "house parents" who would live at the facility, serve the needs of the residents, and act as Christian role models for them.

Amanda and Mitchell Way, Adoption Priorities' leaders and UTSA alumni, sought to post a job announcement at the career center.

Current students and alumni use the center to find jobs. The announcement stated that Adoption Priorities was seeking a "pro-life married Christian couple" who would provide "care, oversight and spiritual guidance" to a group of up to four women living in the home. One spouse was required to have Christian ministry experience.

UTSA rejected the announcement as written, indicating that requiring the house parents to be pro-life and Christian was impermissibly discriminatory. Under the logic of UTSA's position, Adoption Priorities could not post a job announcement at the career center unless it was willing to hire an atheist, pro-abortion, same-sex couple to serve as house parents.

The Alliance Defense Fund wrote a letter to UTSA, explaining that the school was violating legal protections of religious liberty by rejecting the announcement. The letter also explained that both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the analogous Texas state statute exempt religious employers from their bans on religious discrimination.

UTSA refused to change its mind, and ADF attorneys sent a "notice of claim" under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a necessary prerequisite to litigation. The subsequent communications between ADF attorneys and UTSA eventually caused UTSA to agree to post Adoption Priorities' job announcements in their original form. I applaud UTSA for getting it right . . . finally.

This situation illustrates a widespread and serious problem. Too many governments are inappropriately applying non-discrimination rules to religious groups that maintain their religious character through their personnel choices. They refuse to acknowledge that there is an enormous difference between, say, General Motors refusing to hire Hindus to work on its assembly lines and a synagogue wanting its rabbi to be Jewish.

In some cases, applying non-discrimination rules to religious entities is simply a means for marginalizing unpopular groups. Hostile government bureaucrats are increasingly using rules banning discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” to punish organizations that embrace traditional sexual ethics and reject same-sex “marriage.” Witness the way the Boy Scouts of America have literally been locked out of public facilities around the country, all because it requires that its members “not advocate or engage in homosexual conduct.”

This simply should not be. The freedom to speak our minds and live out our faith unencumbered by governmental intrusiveness is guaranteed by the First Amendment. But it’s a guarantee that often seems to dangle by a thin thread when confronted with political correctness inherent in the misguided application of non-discrimination policies. The Alliance Defense Fund is in the fight, and plans to stay in the fight for as long as it takes to make sure our First Liberty is well protected.


Out With Ethics, In With Therapy

Crime and punishment went out with Dostoevsky; ours is an age of neurosis and treatment. Rather than just resign from Congress and go away, please, the Hon. Anthony Weiner, M.C., is "entering professional treatment at an undisclosed location...." That's the latest word from the wire services.

Why is no one surprised? Because in this therapeutic society, quaint concepts like guilt, shame, repentance, atonement and the rest of those medieval superstitions gave way long ago to the talking cure. Especially for politicians and other upwardly mobile types who suddenly find themselves not so much famous as notorious. And much in need of some well-publicized rehab.

The triumph of the therapeutic, to use Philip Rieff's phrase, is near complete when the concepts of right and wrong are replaced by well and sick. In the Therapeutic Society, no one does wrong and needs to be disciplined.

Instead, the patient is considered disturbed and in need of treatment. Which may explain why the ethics-free zone of American politics, and American life in general, keeps expanding.

Forget those deadly sins like lust and pride; they're just symptoms of a psychological disturbance. It should not surprise when the country's best-known congressman -- at least he was last week -- takes some time out "so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well."

That was the word from his spokeswoman, who says he's requested "a short leave of absence" from Congress. This would be good news if only it weren't a short leave but permanent. And could somehow assure his absence from the news, too.

Instead, the message from his spokesflack, freely translated, is: This congressman doesn't need to resign, just see a shrink. As if he couldn't do both.

Here is Dr. Greenberg's expert analysis: This boy is in the grips of an addiction more powerful than just sending naughty pics to young women; he's addicted to political power. There's a lot of that going around.

The most striking thing about the X-rated adventures of A. Weiner isn't what he's had to say for himself, but his colleagues' purely political response to his antics. Some of them seem to resent his behavior not because it is shameful of itself, but because it's such a distraction from politics as usual.

To quote Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the congressperson who heads the Democratic Party and is almost always good for this kind of quote, "This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction." From what, next year's congressional campaign?

When politics supplants religion as the center of our lives, anything that distracts from politics is treated as a kind of profanation -- an intolerable distraction from the sacred rites of power worship.

One aim of a well-ordered political system should be to recognize and encourage values beyond politics. Such a system would encourage virtue among its citizens, not treat it as an irrelevance. When any discussion of ethics, character and responsibility is considered just a distraction from important things like politics, the science and art of power, then our priorities are badly out of order.

Martin Luther King, seeking to return us to first things, put it this way:

"Cowardice asks the question -- is it safe? Vanity asks the question -- is it popular? Expediency asks the question -- is it political? But conscience asks the question -- is it right?"

For some time now we've been asking the wrong questions.


Cattle export compromise?

(Under the influence of animal rights activists, the Australian government has banned Australia's exports of live cattle, on the grounds that the animals are "cruelly" slaughtered in Muslim Indonesia)

Cattle held in quarantine could be exported to Indonesia within days under a $9 million industry plan being considered hy the Gillard Govemment. The plan was put to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig by peak industry body Meat and Livestock Australia as an alternative to paying $5 million in compensation to cattle graziers who have been hurt by the ban on live exports.

Senator Ludwig is considering the plan but also wants MLA to pay compensation to cattle producers. Govemment sources said a compromise deal could be announced within days.

Under the industry plan, cattle would be traced and Australian animal welfare officials would be present in each abattoir to train workers and ensure cattle were humanely slaughtered.

The MLA claims there are now ll Indonesian abattoirs with equipment to stun cattle before slaughter and another three facilities could soon have stun guns. The plan includes an audit of Indonesian abattoirs to make sure they comply with intemational standards, and improvements to facilities.

MLA managing director David Palmer said the plan could be tested by a partial lifting of the trade ban. “The industry has told us clearly they don’t want contingency funds, they want an export facility," Mr Palmer said last night

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday said he had discussed the trade ban with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa during a recent trip to Europe. “We discussed this matter thoroughly,” Mr Rudd said. “We will manage this one through, although there will be some challenges on the way,”

Mr Rudd also confirmed he had discussed the trade halt with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday, after which the pair were seen walking in an awkward silence together.

The export ban caused emotional debate in Federal Parliament this week, with the Greens securing another inquiry into animal welfare and Independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie calling for urgent intervention by the Govemment to send stun guns to Indonesian abattoirs.

The above report appeared in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" on 18 June


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, 2011

Rising from the working class to the middle class

The story below by a British journalist is well worth reading for anybody who still has time to read a story. It is a classic moral tale of the sort that everybody should be told, I think. I doubt that it is the whole story about economic advancement though.

One cannot read extensively in the academic medical literature -- as I do -- without becoming aware of how central genes are to almost everything. And I think my own life-history offers a counter-narrative to the story below. Like the writer below, I was born to parents who had lived through the Great Depression, who never had much money but who treated their children well and kindly.

But my parents never had "ambitions" for me. They assumed that I would earn my living as my father did -- through hard manual work. And it was only with great difficulty that my father was persuaded to give me two years of High School education. He thought that grade-school was "plenty".

But my parents did give me "a pearl without price": Their genes. Both had siblings who had done exceptionally well at grade-school so I got good genes for IQ from both sides. And life for me has been a breeze. I made mostly good decisions and ended up in very comfortable circumstances almost without effort. I did work quite hard in some ways but I enjoyed what I did far too much to call it "work". By and large, I simply saw where the opportunities were and took those opportunities.

For the ambitious, however, mine is probably a much more discouraging tale than the one below, so I will not elaborate the tale any further

Just over a year ago, I was sitting in a fancy restaurant about to tuck into steak and chips. This wasn't any old steak and chips: this was wagyu beef — the world's most expensive steak — and thrice-cooked chips, served with an organic mushroom and Cropwell Bishop Stilton sauce.

As I picked up my knife and fork, a familiar voice inside my head began to talk: 'How much did you say this cost?' I cut into my steak and the voice spluttered: 'One hundred quid! For steak and chips! Have you gone stark-raving mad?'

The voice was my father's: a man whose idea of gourmet dining is a meat-and-potato pasty from Greggs. A voice that never fails to remind me just how far I've come since I left the council house where I grew up.

When I was a boy, Sunday lunch was boiled cow's heart (it tasted every bit as dreadful as it sounds), with boiled cabbage and Oxo gravy. Teatimes were fish fingers. With chips. Beefburgers. With chips. Findus crispy pancakes. With chips. And if we didn't clean our plates, we'd get it for breakfast the next morning.

Growing up, we didn't have a car. Holidays were a week in a Blackpool caravan. And on the rare occasions we went out as a family, it was to the front step of my dad's local pub, where my three brothers and I sat outside with a bottle of lemonade and four straws.

These days, Sunday lunch with my wife, Rebecca, 41, and our three children — my stepdaughter, Daisy, nine, and sons Tom, six, and Sam, three — invariably involves an outing to a nice restaurant. For tea, my children eat free-range chicken, pasta and broccoli. We drive a Volvo estate and my wife and I have enjoyed wonderful holidays in Corsica, Majorca and Amalfi.

I am currently working as a freelance writer and looking after our family, while my wife earns a good salary as a magazine editor. But our comfortable existence wasn't always so comfortable: it took 30 years to reach this point. Now, though, I am so grateful that I will never have to look poverty in the eye again.

My middle-class life today is utterly unrecognisable from the world of my childhood. My story is the living embodiment of how hard work, not positive discrimination, can bring anyone success.

It's about parents who want nothing but the best for their children; who lead by example, and provide a secure and loving home which instils in their children enough confidence to achieve whatever they want to achieve.

And it is a story shared by most of my now middle-class friends, who make their livings as marketing consultants, company directors, television executives, sales directors and journalists. None of us was born with a silver spoon in our mouth: we all grew up in working-class homes. None of us was given a leg up by a family friend, an internship at an uncle's firm, or a place we didn't earn through merit at a university.

But, according to the Government, people like me and my friends should not exist. Working class kids, they say, can escape their backgrounds only through social engineering.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, recently unveiled the Coalition's Social Mobility Strategy that aims to ensure everyone has a fair opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

I don't doubt Mr Clegg is well intentioned, but isn't this a bit rich coming from a man who has reached high office largely thanks to his wealthy parents? Perhaps it's the guilt of having a £7,000-a-term Westminster School education that's talking here.

Because, to my mind, social engineering isn't the best way to propel a child out of a council estate and onto better things. There is a much more effective solution — and my friends and I are living proof of it.

I didn't end up eating £100 steaks because someone put a 'Poor Kid' sign around my neck and sent me to be taught with the children of millionaires. No, I got there thanks to my mum and dad, who worked their socks off to ensure their children were well-fed, well-clothed and well educated.

I was born in 1964 in the back-to-back terraces of Bradford, Manchester. Six of us — my mother, father and four sons all under five years old — shared two bedrooms. We had an outside toilet and bathed in a bucket in front of the fire on a Sunday evening. Our 'garden' was a postage-stamp-sized flagstoned yard where the bins lived.

But my parents wanted more for us, and their opportunity came when these slums were bulldozed in the late Sixties and we were relocated to a three-bedroom council house with a garden with grass on a new estate called Hattersley, 12 miles east of Manchester.

For my parents, our council house represented a massive step up. My father was an engineering fitter at Dunlop's tyre factory. At one stage, my mother had three jobs: working as a shop assistant, packing bacon in a factory, and taking in neighbours' ironing.

Both worked long hours and came home exhausted. My father's skin was grey, ingrained with grime from the huge machines; my mother's legs ached with varicose veins.

But they slaved away uncomplainingly for the sake of their boys — myself and my brothers, Michael, Alan and David. They did all they could to ensure that their sons would go further in the world than they had. And we boys knew and respected that.

After a 50-hour week, my father would flop down on the settee and tell me: 'When you leave school, don't do a dirty job like mine. Do something you enjoy, that's clean, that's easy. I didn't have a choice, but you do. 'Be a football commentator, or a disc jockey. You can do that — you talk rubbish most of the time!'

People didn't tend to leave the comprehensive school I attended for glamorous careers. By and large, people who grew up on our estate tended to stay on the estate, or move within a stone's throw of it. Most of my classmates got jobs in the local factories — Walls or McVitie's; or, like my brothers, got a trade as painters and decorators, electricians or mechanics. Some went on to drive buses; others to work in pubs and hairdressers. They became nurses, not doctors; classroom assistants, not teachers.

A significant number ended up on benefits [welfare]. And a few found themselves in court. Some of the boys I went to school with grew up to be small-time crooks and drug dealers. Some barely made it to manhood before overdosing on heroin.

Behind our council house front door, my parents were never the type to sit us down before bedtime to check we'd done our homework, or have long discussions about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Instead, they led by example and practised what they preached.

Neither my father nor mother (child-bearing aside) had a day of unemployment in their lives. And that work ethic was instilled in us.

My mother would insist that after school we were set to work dusting and Hoovering, making the beds and doing the washing up. And one of us would always make sure there was a piping hot cup of tea on the table waiting for her when she finished her shift at the factory. Hard work was the way out of poverty, not crime or scrounging off social security, we were endlessly told.

Sometimes my mother would tell me about the tough life she'd had as a little girl, growing up in the slums during World War II. Then she'd pause, blink back tears and her face would glower as she said: 'And I'll be damned if any of my lads has to go through the same as I did.' She meant it as encouragement, of course; but it felt like a threat, too: 'Do better than I did — or else!'

When you've got a mother as proud and determined as mine was, you don't need positive discrimination, university targets and diversity tsars to spur you on. The prospect of disappointing her was all I needed.

So, from the age of 14, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. A decade later, I'd left school with seven O-levels and two A-levels, finished (nearly) top of the class at journalism college and got a job on my local newspaper. In my day, you could become a journalist without a degree — virtually unheard of these days.

My career took me via Liverpool and Birmingham and Washington DC to London, where I rose to become an executive at a magazine publishing company.

When I went home to visit my folks, I could feel pride pour from them. They weren't the kind to boast, but I knew they felt they had achieved something for themselves via myself and my brothers.

When I eventually had children of my own, I was determined they, too, would have more than I had. Like most kids today, my children have it all: boxes and boxes of Lego, train sets, Scalextric, remote-controlled cars, iPods, Nintendos, laptops, Wiis, bikes and scooters. They have more chocolate than Willy Wonka. And whereas I still speak pure Mancunian [English with a Manchester accent], to the ears of my old friends back in Hattersley, my kids sound very posh.

By metropolitan London standards, we're not posh, just ordinary. But I'm aware I'm spoiling my kids in a way my parents couldn't dream of. My parents worked unbelievably hard to improve their lives because their own beginnings were quite appalling. I wonder what incentives my children will have to improve their lot, when they already have very nice lives?

We live in a very desirable part of North London, in a catchment area for great schools, but our flat has no garden. Some of our kids' friends live in £1million houses with wrap-around lawns. We drive a ten-year-old Volvo; their friends get ferried around in huge 4x4s. We holiday in Europe; their friends go skiing in Colorado.

I'm not saying these things would make them happy, but they would be a step up from the flat we live in now, which is a step up from the council house I grew up in, which was a step up from the slum terraces where my parents were raised.

And if that means my wife and I have to work until we're 65 and beyond to put our kids through university, then so be it. If it means we have nothing left for our retirement, then fine. We will sacrifice everything to ensure that our offspring can go on and outperform us.

A year ago, just weeks after I'd tasted that divine wagyu steak, I bought the finest piece of fillet I could get my hands on and drove to Manchester to see my dad. I wanted him to taste a similar steak that was the best of the best. A token from my life for the man who made it all possible.

I cooked it for him and served it with chips and a glass of a decent red wine. Dad took a bite. He chewed it, swallowed then gave his verdict. 'Not bad,' he said. 'How much did it cost?'

When I told him, his eyes widened. 'How much!' he spluttered. 'You need your head examined! You can get a Holland's meat pie, chips and curry sauce for £3.60 at the chippy.' And then he smiled. 'Beautiful bit of steak, this,' he said, finishing every morsel. 'Thanks, son.'

I had a lump in my throat as I thought to myself that my dear dad should never thank me for anything. He and my mum — who sadly passed away last year following a battle with Alzheimer's — sacrificed everything to enable me to go out, make money and enjoy the finer things in life.

And they taught me, too, the three things a child needs to make a success of their life: Love, encouragement and an unbreakable work ethic.


BBC fakery

The BBC will make an on-air apology after its governing body said a Panorama programme about Primark probably faked a scene about the retailer’s working practices.

The findings of the BBC Trust’s investigation into the episode "Primark: On The Rack" were released yesterday, saying there had been ‘serious editorial failings’ in the programme.

It added it was ‘more likely than not’ that shots of three young boys in the Indian city of Bangalore in a workshop ‘testing the stitching’ on Primark tops were ‘not authentic’.

The scenes were said to have shown the youngsters inspecting vest-tops and making sure ‘sequins don’t end up falling off in the hands of customers back in Britain’.

But on closer inspection the BBC Trust claimed there were inconsistencies and improbabilities.

The programme, broadcast in June 2008, had sought to investigate whether Primark could make ‘cheap, fast fashion without breaking ethical guidelines’.

However the report said: ‘Having carefully scrutinised all of the relevant evidence, the committee concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, it was more likely than not that the Bangalore footage was not authentic.’

As well as apologising on BBC1, the corporation is under pressure to hand back a Royal Television Society Award it won for the programme. It will also have to display an apology on the Panorama website for a week and was told the footage can never be repeated or sold abroad.

The BBC could still be hit with a fine for breaching broadcasting as media regulator Ofcom said it would consider any complaint made to it by Primark.

The trust’s Editorial Standards Committee examined evidence such as the unedited ‘rushes’ of the programme and emails to the production team from the freelance journalist Dan McDougall, who obtained the footage.

Yesterday’s ruling noted six points that indicated the footage might not be genuine in the 45-second clip. This included the size of needles used, which it was claimed would have been ‘inappropriate’ for ‘delicate’ work they were doing.

The BBC Trust also found it odd that in the Bangalore scene there appeared to be no other garments visible in shot – which would be unusual if it was a ‘quality control process’.

It added that the way it had been filmed – with a tight focus on the boys and less on their surrounding environment – added to concerns. There were also said to be ‘inconsistencies’ in the evidence such as the email trail.

The report also found the corporation had broken its ‘accountability’ guidelines over how it handled the complaints process, which went on for three years.

Primark described the finding as ‘extraordinary’, claiming shoppers had been ‘fed a lie’. It even suggested the BBC had been in possession of enough evidence to prove the scenes were not real before it broadcast them.

However, defenders of the programme pointed out the BBC Trust agreed that overall the programme had obtained ‘clear evidence’ work was being outsourced from other factories in India which contravened Primark’s ethical trading principles. David Thomson of international aid agency World Vision stressed the ‘key concern’ should be that ‘Panorama proved Primark was breaking its own policies’.

Helen Boaden, BBC director of news, said: ‘This is a very, very serious ruling and extremely chastening, and we need to learn from it.’

Mr McDougall ‘vigorously’ rejected the ruling. He said: ‘I have rarely seen a finding so unjust in outcome, flawed in process, and deeply damaging to independent investigative journalism.’


San Francisco Wants to Ban Goldfish to Prevent Their 'Inhumane Suffering'

The San Francisco Animal Control and Welfare Commission wants to take away your goldfish, proposing a bill that would also include a renewed ban on pets like puppies, kittens and hamsters.

The proposed ban is meant to discourage “impulse buys” of pets that sometimes end up at shelters, said commission member Philip Gerrie. He said goldfish, guppies and other tropical fish were added to the proposed ban because of what he called the “inhumane suffering of fish” and the way the fish are harvested. “It causes animal suffering,” Gerrie told Fox News Radio. “Whole reefs and ecosystems are being exploited for whatever might be marketable or sellable.”

The Board of Supervisors considered a similar ban last year that would have included dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats and guinea pigs – but not fish. That proposed ban was tabled last August. The supervisor said they were going to reconsider it in January of this year – but did not.

The proposed fish ban has local pet store owners up in arms. “The city is taking more and more control,” said Ocean Aquarium owner Justin Hau in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “They are very stupid.”

Gerrie said that’s the response he expected from pet store owners. “They have a very strong interest to say it’s stupid,” he told Fox News Radio. “That’s the basic thing with human beings. We exploit everything in the world until it’s exhausted.”

Gerrie accused the “human” species of exploiting the environment – and the fish. “Humans are overfishing for food,” he said. There’s a huge market for aquarium fish. That creates a demand.”

As for people who would argue that it’s just a goldfish? “That’s how we are in this society,” Gerrie said. “Some people say, ‘It’s just a human’ – when it comes to some that kill. It’s a matter of degree. Where do you stop?”

The recommendation from the commission could be a tough sell among the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd told the San Francisco Chronicle he had doubts the new proposal would pass – calling it “another Animal Welfare idea that will end up in the dustbin of history and go absolutely nowhere.”


PETA renews "Happy Cows" complaint

The animal-rights group PETA said Wednesday it is suing state agriculture officials and the California Milk Advisory Board alleging that the famous "Happy Cows" ad campaign is false and misleading.

It's not the first time People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sued over the marketing slogan, which it says misrepresents living conditions of dairy cows. "In reality, typical California dairy cows are kept confined on hard, abrasive concrete or manure-laden dirt," the organization said in a release.

PETA said it is suing the California Department of Food and Agriculture because it has failed to prevent the milk board from making "baseless marketing claims."

The group first sued the milk board in 2002, but the action ended in 2005 when the courts found that as a quasi-state agency, the board could not be sued under the state's unfair-competition law. The organization also filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2009.

PETA also attacked the ad campaign in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission in 2002, but that agency took no action.

PETA then filed a complaint with the CDFA, which has regulatory authority over the milk board. The organization said its complaint was dismissed last year. Today's lawsuit resulted after a public-records request turned up no documents to substantiate the marketing claim, PETA 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.


16 June, 2011

Human rights victory for rapists and paedophiles in Britain

Thousands of sex offenders, including rapists and paedophiles, will be able to apply to be removed from the sex crimes register under human rights laws, the Government has announced.

A Supreme Court ruling has forced the Government reluctantly to draw up new rules allowing serious sex offenders put on the register for life to have their place on the list reconsidered.

The Home Office plans were opposed by child protection campaigners and Conservative MPs, who said some offenders could never be considered completely “safe”. The new rules were drawn up because the Supreme Court ruled that automatic lifetime inclusion on the register breached the Human Rights Act.

David Cameron said the ruling was “offensive,” but ministers say they have no choice but to comply by changing the rules on the register.

The case is the latest involving the Act to set judges against political opinion. It has increased calls for reform of the Act, which is being reviewed by a Coalition committee.

Under current rules, anyone sentenced to more than 30 months in jail for a sexual offence is put on the register for life on release. Those on the register are monitored by police and visited regularly by officers. The Home Office estimates that there are about 44,000 people on the register, about 25,000 of them for life.

Under the proposed rules, adults listed for life could apply for removal after 15 years. Their cases would be considered by police and probation officers. Those under 18 at the time of their crime would be able to seek a review after eight years.

The Home Office estimated that the change would mean more than 2,000 people a year would be eligible to seek a review. Offenders whose applications are rejected will have to wait another eight years before being able to seek another assessment. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said it opposed allowing child abusers to be removed from the register.

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: “Our view remains that adults who sexually abuse children should stay on the offenders register for life as we can never be sure their behaviour will change.”

Priti Patel, a Tory MP, said the court ruling added to the case for reform of the Human Rights Act. “Sex offenders are vile criminals,” she said. “Why are these people allowed to use human rights laws to protect themselves? What about their victims?”

This is not the first case of the Coalition being forced to introduce potentially controversial measures at the behest of judges. Ministers are drawing up plans to allow some prisoners the vote after a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr Cameron told MPs in February that the court ruling on the register “flies in the face of common sense”. He ordered an appeal, which was rejected in April, forcing ministers to draw up the new system.

Despite ministers’ reservations about the change, the Home Office’s “impact assessment” study suggested that it could bring some benefits. Removing some people from the register would mean that “police resources may focus on those offenders who pose a higher and continuing risk,” it said.

The department said investigations suggested that not all the 2,000 offenders a year eligible to apply to be removed would do so. It predicted a maximum of 1,200 offenders would apply for removal.

Some experts and campaigners believe that several offenders present a permanent danger, justifying permanent restrictions on their freedoms.

The Home Office said it was impossible to say how many, if any, applications for removal from the register would be successful. But Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers suggested that very few applications would succeed.

“No doubt there will be no shortage of sex offenders who will want to appeal against being on the register because of stigma and shame,” he said. “However it is highly unlikely that any will be successful. To be removed, the individual will have to prove that they are no longer a threat to women and children and this will be extremely difficult.”

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said some sex offenders would always pose a risk, but backed the review plan. “The reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated,” he said. “But we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum and believe that the proposed review process strikes the right balance between individual rights and public safety.”

Anticipating public unease about the new rules, the Home Office also proposed tightening the conditions applied to people on the register, forcing them to give the police their bank and passport details and notice of any foreign travel.


British Equalities office where women earn 8% more than men

Its role is self-evident in its title, but it seems the Government Equalities Office may have gone a little too far in correcting unfairness on its own doorstep. Its female employees are being paid an average of 7.7 per cent more than male colleagues. Across Britain, men on average earn ten per cent more than women.

Whitehall’s most politically correct department, set up to eradicate sexism across all the Government, also has nearly twice as many female employees as men. Of the 107 staff, 65 per cent are women. Three years ago, around the time Labour’s sexual equality supremo Harriet Harman took charge, 56 per cent of staff were women.

Tory MP Dominic Raab last night criticised the department’s apparently poor grasp of its own motto, ‘Putting equality at the heart of government’.

The Esher and Walton MP said: ‘It undermines the credibility of the equality and diversity agenda if bureaucrats at the government equalities office are preaching about unequal representation and the pay gap, whilst practising the reverse. It smacks of double standards.’ He believes men get a ‘raw deal’ because anti-discrimination legislation favours women, and he claims men are the victims of ‘obnoxious bigotry’ by women.

The Government’s own strategy on equality warns that ‘positive discrimination is not acceptable and is unlawful’. Yet the gender pay gap has almost doubled in the Government Equalities Office since 2008. It became a gulf under the leadership of feminist Miss Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader and the former equalities minister, who took over in late 2007. Six jobs out of every seven created since June 2008 went to women.

And before spending cuts were imposed on Whitehall, administration costs soared from just over £5million to £9.4million. The department spent nearly £185,000 on a conference to reverse sexism for women prisoners, holding ten events to discuss how to ‘best utilise the gender equality duty to meet the distinct needs of women offenders’. A further £3,768 was spent on venue charges for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.

The department has also splashed out on glitzy events, including a European Union Women in Power summit in Cadiz, Spain, in February 2010 and a road show for female councillors.

An examination of its annual reports also revealed that it failed to meet its own target to reduce spending on pen-pushers. In the four years to 2010, staff levels rocketed from 62 to 130, dropping to 107 this year.

A spokesman played down the widening pay gap, adding: ‘Like all civil servants, staff are employed on fair and open competition. Gender is not a factor in any decisions.’


Ignoring Inconvenient Truths on homosexual Identity

Michael Medved

The nation's increasingly visible and influential gay population generally draws eager attention from mainstream media, so why would stories about a big, new, federally-funded sex survey include scant mention of its counter-intuitive revelations about homosexual identity?
Could it be that the virtual black-out on reporting of "gay data" from this study stems from the fact that these numbers contradict politically correct notions about the prevalence and nature of real-life same sex attraction?

The research in question (from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics) earned considerable praise as the most scientific and authoritative report of American sexual behavior in at least 17 years. Most headlines, however, concentrated on one small aspect of the study, trumpeting the unexpected news that increasing numbers of young respondents remained virgins. In typical accounts, Time magazine announced “Surprise: In the Age of Sexting, Teen Virginity on the Rise” while USA Today announced “Sex study: More teens, young adults are virgins.”

No major news source focused on the survey’s single most startling disclosure: the fact that gay people comprised a vastly smaller segment of the populace than commonly assumed and frequently claimed. Even among purportedly uninhibited, liberated younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 (the study’s principal focus), a mere 1.4% identified themselves as “gay, lesbian or homosexual.” Moreover, there’s no evidence that the dramatically reduced stigma attached to homosexuality among the new generation has led to any increase in gay orientation: among men, respondents aged 20-24 were less likely to see themselves as gay than those between ages 35 and 44 (1.2% to 2.1%).

Contrary to popular notions that countless individuals who pretend to be straight actually wrestle with hidden, unfulfilled gay yearnings, while "out" homosexuals feel unshakably certain and unwavering in their gay identity, the survey showed that an overwhelming 93.5% of males report that they feel attraction “only for females” while just 1.2% say they’re attracted only to other men. Far from the commonly cited ratio suggesting that straights outnumber gays by 10-to-1, the new data reveal that those with exclusively heterosexual attraction outnumber those with solely gay inclinations by a staggering 78-to-1.

There’s also a powerful indication that the tiny minority who do profess gay identity actually feel far more confused and conflicted in their orientation than do their instinctively (and often unthinkingly) straight counterparts. Among men and women who describe themselves as homosexual or bisexual (a grand total of 3.7% of the 18-44 population) overwhelming majorities (81%) have experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender. Among those who call themselves heterosexual, on the other hand, only a tiny minority (6%) ever engaged in physical intimacy of any kind with a member of the same sex.

Adding to the evidence of more fluidity and uncertainty among those who proclaim their gay or bisexual orientation, a stunning 13.5% say they’ve never actually engaged in homosexual behavior of any sort. This means that those advocates for gay pride who realized even before puberty that they were exclusively, immutably homosexual, and then never wavered in their orientation, are, in fact, extremely rare. The new CDC/NCHS report shows that homosexual and bisexual respondents were nearly as likely to have made love to opposite gender partners (81%) as to partners of the same sex (86.5%).

Political correctness applauds those individuals who discover their “true nature” later in life, displaying the courage to come out as gay only after many years of heterosexual experience. At the same time, enlightened opinion denies a similar possibility of change in the other direction, insisting that anyone who “comes out” as straight after even the briefest interlude of homosexual behavior is, by definition, phony and self-deluding.

In fact, the numbers show that the great majority of those who “ever had same sex sexual contact” do not identify long-term as either gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Among women aged 30 to 44, for instance, 11% report some form of same-sex contact at one point in their lives but only 0.7% presently identify as gay, and 1.1% as bisexual. In other words, for the adventurous minority who may have experimented (to use an old-fashioned word) with gay relationships at some juncture earlier in their lives, well over 80% explicitly renounced homosexual (or even bisexual) self-identification by the age of 35. For the clear majority of males (as well as women) who report gay experiences, homosexual activity appears to represent a passing phase, or even a fleeting episode, rather than a life-long, unshakable, congenitally pre-determined orientation.

The once popular phrase “sexual preference” has been universally (and indignantly) replaced with the term “sexual orientation” because conventional wisdom now insists there is no element of choice in the development of our erotic identity. According to current thinking, sexual orientation represents such a profound, intrinsic, inalterable part of who we each are that it’s meaningless to discuss willfulness or volition when it comes to its formation.

This may well be the case for the 94% of males and 87% of females (aged 18-44) who have never experienced same-sex contact of any kind and may never have questioned the single-minded, exclusively straight outlook—an outlook deemed “normal” in an earlier age.

For the less than two percent of men and women who describe themselves as gay, however, the issue of sexual orientation remains vastly more complicated, regardless of societal disapproval or endorsement of their behavior. When statistics show that huge majorities of self-reporting homosexuals have experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender it powerfully suggests that gay identity only seldom counts as automatic or unequivocal.

The media reported on none of these significant and provocative aspects of the study (officially released with much fanfare through the Department of Health and Human Services) despite the fact that the national sample of 13,495 made it one of the most significant surveys of its kind. Perhaps many reporters simply disregarded conclusions that contradicted conventional wisdom, resorting to the common contention that embarrassed participants always under-report their same-sex involvements. To minimize these factors, researchers used “Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing” asking respondents to enter their “own answers into the computer without telling them to an interviewer.” They also couched questions in terms meant to stress the open, non-judgmental attitude of investigators, asking for instance: “People are different in their sexual attraction to other people. Which best describes your feelings?”

If shame or reticence nonetheless led to misleadingly low numbers for those who described themselves as gay, then why didn’t the same factors similarly reduce reports of gay sexual experience (more than four times more common than homosexual identification)? If embarrassment caused under-reporting of gay activity then how could so many respondents (44% of males, 36% of females) overcome their shyness to confirm participation in the rarely discussed practice of anal intercourse?

At a time of exploding deficits and crushing public debt, skeptics may rightly question the decision to invest scarce federal money in an ambitious new sex survey, even when that report produces data that most Americans would welcome as good news—like the declining median number of life-time sex partners for both women (3.2) and men (5.1).

Informed advocates as well as ordinary citizens may argue about the deeper meaning of such perspectives, just as they dispute the cultural or political relevance of the new report’s revelations on homosexual identity; there’s no pat, obvious conclusion as to the application of this research to fiercely contested issues like same sex marriage or the drive for a gay-friendly military. But not even the most prestigious investigation can provide ammunition or enlightenment until our leading news sources overcome the prevailing cone of silence to offer full, fearless accounts of important, provocative information that the government scientists actually found.


“Western parents need to chill out about their kids”

The author of Paranoid Parenting says that far from needing a stricter ‘Asian’ approach, Western parenting is already way too intensive

Last night, in a debate in London titled ‘Western parents don’t know how to bring up their children’, regular spiked contributor Frank Furedi clashed with Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , and others. Furedi’s opening remarks are published below.

When it comes to discussing parenting, everyone thinks they are warranted to take their own personal story and recast it as a philosophy. On no other issue are you allowed to communicate such prejudices and such stereotypes as you are in relation to parenting.

So Theodore Dalrymple [one of the other speakers] happened to hear a couple of children swearing and concluded that this has never happened before in British society. Children of his generation would never have used a four-letter word, that was unthinkable. And now we apparently have this epidemic of children who go around swearing and so it is obvious that British parents are not doing their bit. Amy Chua [another speaker] concludes that in Western societies children have too much choice. Really? They have so much choice that middle-class children in London literally have their entire lives organised for them by their parents.

From the moment they get up in the morning to the evening, when they are passed around by their parents from one activity to another, literally they have no free time to be children and to relax. The idea that we live in a world where children have incredible choices, and where parents are laid back, chilled out and ‘just get on with it’, is a myth. It bears no relationship with reality. I think it’s important to realise that when we talk about Western parenting, what we are really talking about is intensive parenting. Western parenting is phenomenally intensive today. Parents now spend far more time with their children than they did in any other generation. Each day, a working mother in the twenty-first century in Britain spends two to three hours more looking after her children than a mother who stayed at home in the 1970s. That’s how intensive it has become.

What is really interesting is that all these so-called ‘Asian attributes’ discussed in Amy Chua’s book [Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother] are not Asian at all. Anybody who has been to New York or Massachusetts will recognise those characteristics straight away. To give an example of how it works: the other day a friend of mine in New York told me a story about how her four-year-old has been on a waiting list for a high-powered pre-school nursery. She had been on it for months and months. And the mum wanted to know how she could train her child to get into the nursery so that she could play with toys. At first I thought she was exaggerating, but then I went online and discovered that there is an online service called ‘How to ace a pre-school interview’. And it wasn’t a service for Chinese people or Cambodian refugees. It was for Westerners.

This is pretty much what it said: Education nowadays starts even before kindergarten. The best and most elite preschools don’t just have expensive tuition, they have long waiting lists of eager parents who would send their children there in a heartbeat. If you’re lucky enough to have a preschool call you and your child in for an interview, you should do everything in your power to give the best possible impression. That kind of competitive, high-powered parenting will be quite familiar to anyone who lives in north London. Indeed, in most middle-class neighbourhoods in London and around Britain there seem to be more tutors than rats these days.

One side of the stereotype today is that parents over here are laid back and relaxed and care a lot about a child’s self-esteem. And then the other side of the stereotype is that in China and elsewhere in Asia, parents are really hardass and they would never dream of spoiling their child. There has been a protracted debate in China about ‘little emperors’, about how much children have been spoiled by their parents. That debate has been going on for a very long time. But the awkward fact is that if you happen to go to Shanghai or Beijing, you will actually find the equivalents of Islington mummies and daddies, who are adopting exactly the same, fairly intensive parenting style that exists over here. They just say it all in Chinese rather than English.

So it seems to me that we are essentially discussing two middle-class approaches towards parenting – ‘intensive parenting’ in the West and ‘tiger parenting’ in the East – rather than two things that are really culturally different from one another. It’s very easy to get confused in this debate. My argument is simple and straightforward. Western parents are actually quite good at parenting, if they are left alone. Parenting is not rocket science; you don’t need a PhD in developmental psychology to be a good mum or dad. There is no problem with Western parents. No, the real problem is that society now does everything in its power to make it difficult for parents to have confidence in their judgement calls. We make it very hard for parents to live the life of a parent, to feel like a real parent, because all their intuition and all their approaches towards life are constantly undermined.

So what are the problems that we face in the West? The first one is that we have a tendency to devalue parental confidence. Time and time again, we continually pathologise what parents do. All the politicians in all the political parties seem to dine out on lecturing parents about their failures. I can remember the moment when – it was either Gordon Brown or David Cameron, but they were totally together on this issue – when one of the political leaders gave a typical presidential lecture. They adopted that tone of compassionate care and said ‘y’know Jim’ – it was on the Today programme or something – ‘parenting is probably the most difficult job in the world’.

And everybody thinks a politician deserves a standing ovation because he says ‘parenting is the most difficult job in the world’. But actually it isn’t. Being a nuclear physicist is a lot more difficult that being a parent. Being a Formula One driver is, on balance, a bit more complex than changing your son’s nappies.

In truth, what people really mean when they say that parenting is the most difficult job in the world is that the ordinary mums and dads over there are unlikely to be up to this very difficult task. You, mum, and you, dad, need a phenomenal amount of parenting advice. You need a posse of experts to come in and hold your hand and give you what they call ‘support’.

What we now have are constant reminders telling us how difficult parenting is, which of course makes parents very insecure. This then leads to what I think is the real problem – which is that there is now so much pressure on parents to do this very difficult job well that they start to live their lives through their children. And as you live your life through your children, you begin to lose sight of what it is that you ought to be doing. When you live your life through your children, your parenting style becomes synonymous with your identity. And that’s the really tragic thing about the world that we live in today: you forget about the real job of childrearing and become much more concerned about parenting as a cultural accomplishment of identity construction.

The reason why we have debates like this one is because the transformation of parenting into a way of forging an identity, its close relationship with who we are, means we can’t just relax about different parenting styles. You can’t simply say, ‘Well, Amy brings up her child this way, that’s cool, I don’t like it but that’s her business’, or ‘Jessica brings up her child another way, y’know, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t do that’. Instead of just saying that some parents do things differently because their children are different or their circumstances are different, we feel an urge to make a political issue out of who we are as parents. And the more we make a political issue out of it, the more we take our eyes off the real job – which is looking after our kids in the best way that we can.

I think that on a good day, Western parents do that really, really well. The problem is not that Western parents can’t bring up their kids; the problem is that, due to all the cultural and political pressures that I have described, Western parents have lost the capacity to chill out, relax and get a life.



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

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

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


15 June, 2011

France rejects homosexual marriage bill

FRENCH politicians overnight rejected a bill presented by the opposition Socialist Party seeking to legalise same-sex marriage, despite growing public support for gay rights.

The vote reflected opposition to gay marriage among President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing conservatives and the strain of traditional values that runs through many parts of France - away from the gay-friendly bars and neighbourhoods of Paris.

The National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, turned down the measure by 293 votes to 222. Opposition was led by Mr Sarkozy's UMP, while Socialists and other leftists supported the bill, which said "marriage can be contracted by two people of different sexes or of the same sex".

Supporters say France has fallen behind the curve on gay rights, as nearby countries like Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have legalised gay marriage.

Earlier this year, France's highest court ruled that laws banning gay marriage don't violate the constitution. The esteemed Constitutional Court said any change would be up to parliament to decide.

In France, same-sex couples can form civil unions, but those do not confer inheritance rights or joint custody of goods, among other things.

France's very vocal gay rights groups say their efforts are making progress, crediting improving media coverage and role models like Mayor Bertrand Delanoe of Paris, who came out publicly years ago.

A January poll published by Canal Plus TV found 58 per cent of respondents in France believe gays should be able to marry, up from 45 per cent five years ago. No margin of error was given.


The new British police 'diversity' course that uses videos of Christina Aguilera and Susan Boyle

Police officers are being sent on a bizarre training course that uses video clips of singers Christina Aguilera and Susan Boyle to explain issues surrounding equality and diversity to staff.

Those attending also have to listen to a specially made-up fairy story about witches so they can better understand how to combat prejudice and discrimination.

And in a session about minority groups and harassment, the staff see images of bullying, gay kissing and a transsexual.

The equality sessions have been devised by Tayside Police in the East of Scotland, a region which is mainly rural but includes the small cities of Dundee and Perth.

The day-long course includes a session on ‘communication, stereotyping, prejudice and assumptions’ which involves staff watching a two-minute clip of Susan Boyle making her debut on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.

Participants are reminded that judges on the ITV show initially wrote off Boyle’s chances because of her appearance. They are then advised not to make lasting judgments about people based on their first impressions.

The same session also requires staff to listen to a four-minute fairy story called The Witches Of Glum, which is about the rivalry between the elderly King of Glum and a disfigured witch called Groga.

Course material says: ‘This exercise feeds on the stereotypical images many of us are familiar with from fairytales, where the wicked witch is ugly and the hero was a young prince or knight.’

A session called minority groups, harassment and bullying kicks off with a viewing of the video that accompanied Aguilera’s 2002 UK tour No1 hit Beautiful. It features people being bullied, a gay couple kissing and an ageing transsexual.

Last night, Conservative MP Philip Davies said: ‘The courses sound drivel – a combination of the blindingly obvious with the utterly ridiculous. We have a situation where forces claim they have no money for proper policing but at the same time they spend thousands on equality and diversity projects.’

Tayside Police said the course was mainly for civilian staff and only a handful of officers had attended. A spokesman added: ‘These initiatives are not about being politically correct but about being professional.’


Another triumph of British bureaucracy

Widow, 84, forced to wash herself in sink for THREE months after boiler breaks and council can't fix it (despite sending 14 workmen round)

A widow of 84 has been forced to wash herself in her sink for three months after her boiler broke and the council were unable to fix it - despite sending 14 different workmen to her home.

Nessie Rennie of Aberdeen hasn't had enough hot water to have a shower or even wash her dishes after her heating system stopped working. She contacted her local council and since then the 14 workmen have visited her home but the problem has still not been fixed.

Charity Age Scotland said that Mrs Rennie's battle for hot water was 'completely unacceptable' and she was being left to live in 'medieval conditions'.

Mrs Rennie, who lives in a housing complex in the city, worked as a caretaker for the council for 25 years - but her long service doesn't seem to be doing her any favours.

One worker who came out to repair a shower, thought to be at the centre of the problems, suggested that Mrs Rennie should leave a tap running in the sink while the shower was on. Mrs Rennie said: 'It was a ridiculous suggestion. I'm 84 years old, what did he expect me to do - jump in and out of the shower every time the water gets cold? 'We're just going round in circles, I'm at my wits' end.'

Mrs Rennie's grandson Paul, said it was disgraceful that a woman of 84 was being forced to sponge herself clean in her living room because of the council's failures. Paul, 35, said: 'Workmen have been coming up to the flat and asking what the problem is, they aren't aware of what they are meant to be looking at. 'Fourteen people have attempted to fix the hot water and don't know what's wrong with it. 'The plumber will say it's a job for the electrician - he'll come out and say it's a job for the plumber - nothing is being done.'

The widow, who has lived in her flat for 10 years, said she had been given the chance to shower at a neighbouring flat six weeks after the water went off - but she refused on principle as she wanted the problem solving in her own home.

A spokeswoman for Age Scotland said: 'It beggars belief that in three months the council has proved unable to sort out the water supply at Mrs Rennie's home. 'It is completely unacceptable that in a country where over 20 per cent of the population are pensioners, public bodies are leaving them to fend for themselves in medieval conditions.'

A spokesman for Aberdeen council said: 'We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the resident and will send maintenance staff to the property again to investigate.'


Australian women to join men on the front-line in Afghanistan by next year

This decision is driven by politics, not military concerns. It will cause great distractions and thus harm unit morale, and morale is a major factor in military performance. And military performance is a life or death matter

MALE Diggers have been told that female soldiers will be eligible to join them on the front-line in Afghanistan by next year.

The Army has pre-empted the government's final decision on allowing women into combat roles and this week began briefing infantry soldiers that they will be joined in battle in 2012 by women who can pass the physical and team tests.

In the past, females have been given extra time to complete the tests, but the new tests will be done on equal terms with the men.

Despite the rising death toll in Afghanistan, the top brass strongly supports the government's push to open all combat roles to women, but the troops themselves have mixed views.

One serving infantry soldier, who asked not to be named, told The Courier-Mail that the decision would result in anger among some troops.

"Some guys are open to the idea if women can prove they are capable (of deploying to the front-line) but others are dead against it," the digger said. "We use some pretty colourful language so will that change? Do we have to become more PC (politically correct)?"

Troops from the Townsville-based 1st Battalion received the blunt news yesterday morning during a briefing by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). Soldiers who feel unable to adapt to the massive cultural change have been advised to find another job.

According to the troops, they were also told that physical strength and fitness requirements would be tightened for all genders, regardless of age, before the unisex door was finally opened.

The gender bar will continue to apply to the SAS and Commandos.

Brisbane-based troops have already received gender equity training in preparation for the government's announcement.

The army's most senior female officer, Reserve Major General Liz Cosson, welcomed the news and recalled that when she joined just 23 per cent of army jobs were open to women. However, she warned that Defence would need to properly prepare the force to integrate women into combat roles.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the minister would take a submission to Cabinet for a final decision within weeks. That will be a rubber stamp after he made it clear military opportunity for women, ``should be determined on the basis of physical and intellectual capacity, not gender".

Outgoing defence chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said it was imperative that women were able to apply for all ADF jobs.



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, 2011

U.S. Police have become "operators"

The sheriff's office in Pima County, Ariz., raided the home of former Marine and Iraq combat veteran Jose Guerena, shooting 71 rounds at Guerena and hitting him with 22. The department is now facing a serious controversy over Guerena's death.

But the raid isn't the real tragedy. It's a symptom of the real tragedy: the militarization of U.S. law enforcement.

Pima County released a video of the raid and supporting documents. The video isn't anything new — a squad of police officers dressed up for combat. But the statement of the SWAT supervisor is worth reading. After the SWAT team entered Guerena's home, the supervisor left one or two "operators" with the body while the rest searched the house.

What did he mean by operator? Well, a police officer. But the term connotes something entirely different. "Operator" is a term of art in the special operations community. Green Berets, SEALs and other special operations personnel often refer to themselves as operators. It's a recognition of both the elite standards of their units and the hybrid nature of their duties — part soldier, part spy, part diplomat. But importing operator terminology into domestic law enforcement is not a benign turn of the phrase.

Perceiving yourself as an operator plasters over the difference between a law enforcement officer serving a warrant and a commando in a war zone. The former Mirandizes, the latter vaporizes, as the saying goes — and as the recent Osama bin Laden raid vividly illustrated.

Targeted killing is legal in a war zone but not on the streets of Anytown, USA. The war on drugs has done incalculable damage to the character of law enforcement by encouraging police officers to forget they are civilians.

True, they are civilians charged with enforcing the law and are empowered to use force to do so — but they are civilians nonetheless. When police officers refer to their fellow citizens as civilians and mean to exclude themselves from that category, they've mentally leapt from enforcing the law to destroying the enemies of the state. That's incompatible with a free society.

I had reservations about the term "operator" during the years I served in special operations. Most of the time, the label was interchangeable with "soldier." But sometimes it became a tool for diminishing the need for planning — and relying on brawn and talent instead. "Don't worry; we're operators," was the overall attitude. "We can handle it."

Some of that is evident in the raid on Guerena's home. Unless otherwise specified, warrants are supposed to be served with a knock on the door and an announcement that a peace officer is the one knocking.

Police can request a no-knock warrant that allows entry without warning when they anticipate armed resistance. If Guerena was in fact moonlighting with a home-invasion crew, as the Pima County sheriff alleges, then this may have been a rare situation in which a no-knock warrant would be justified.

Ideally, suspects are taken into custody outside their homes, in an environment law enforcers are more easily able to predict and control. Instead, Pima County authorities produced enough noise with sirens and a battering ram to spark instant chaos and confusion in Guerena's residence, where he was sleeping after working the night shift.

Once the SWAT team breached the door, it's not clear from the available video that they again announced themselves as law enforcement officers and not the sort of home invaders who killed two of Guerena's wife's relatives last year.

Some law enforcement officers certainly qualify for operator status. The FBI team that snatched CIA headquarters shooter Mir Aimal Kansi from a hotel room in the badlands of Pakistan makes the grade.

But securing evidence in suburban America is the antithesis of operator status. It's a basic law enforcement function, not an international manhunt or the targeted killing of a terrorist leader. While a group of SWAT officers may have felt like operators on a battlefield, an honorably discharged Marine — possibly seeking only to defend his family from what he thought was a home invasion — bled out in Arizona.


Reward for incompetence? British woman inspector 'humiliated' by failing riot test wins up to £30k

For 30 years it has been used to test the fitness of officers who police riots and other outbreaks of serious public disorder. The so-called 'shield run' involves officers covering a distance of 500 metres in less than two minutes, 45 seconds while wearing full riot gear and carrying a shield.

But when Inspector Diane Bamber, 51, failed to meet the time limit, she claimed she had been left humiliated. She brought a sex and age discrimination case against her force, Greater Manchester Police, and now stands to win up to £30,000 after an employment tribunal ruled in her favour.

The landmark case has opened the door for thousands of other women officers to claim payouts and has triggered a review of specialist police training across the country.

Insp Bamber, a serving officer for more than 30 years who still works for Greater Manchester Police, attended an Initial Public Order Commanders' Course in Lancashire in November 2008.

She complained to the tribunal that prior to the course starting she had been led to believe that she would not have to take part in the shield run. But on the day of the test, Insp Bamber was informed that all officers who wanted to be considered for events where trouble was a possibility would have to pass it. She agreed to run but she did not finish in the allotted time. Her failure meant she could not complete the rest of the training course.

When Insp Bamber applied to retake the shield run, it is alleged that one of her colleagues remarked: 'She's got no f****** chance.' In fact she did pass at the second attempt several months later – after Greater Manchester Police made it easier by raising the time limit to three minutes.

The tribunal heard that on the second occasion, Insp Bamber gave herself the equivalent of an extra 20 seconds by starting at the front of the group. Previously, she had started at the back but the clock starts when the first person sets off.

In her ruling, Judge Hilary Slater said Insp Bamber's claims of indirect sex and age discrimination were 'well-founded'. Noting that the officer had 'suffered humiliation at being sent away from the course', Judge Slater added: 'The tribunal concludes that the claimant was put at the disadvantage suffered by women and persons of her age group in that she failed the test and was not able to complete the training.'

The shield run was first introduced in the Eighties when Scotland Yard used it to test the fitness of officers policing the Notting Hill Carnival. Greater Manchester Police also conducted the runs for 30 years but has now dropped them.

The Mail on Sunday understands that the Association of Chief Police Officers is now reviewing the lawfulness of the physical training formats for 13 specialist operational roles, including those for firearms officers, which could discriminate against women and older officers.

Last night Tory MP Robert Halfon said: 'At a time when forces face enormous challenges and need to do all they can to protect frontline service, it is bizarre they are being forced to use taxpayers' money to pay compensation in cases such as these.' The level of compensation will be set later this month.


Obama Official Tells Youth Summit: We're Recruiting homosexuals to Adopt Kids

David Hansell, who runs the federal government’s Administration for Children and Families, told a group of high school students at the U.S. Department of Education’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)” youth summit on Tuesday that the Obama administration is recruiting “LGBT parents” to adopt children.

“[O]f course, we’re also trying to recruit more foster and adoptive parents who are lesbian and gay,” Hansell said in a general session of the summit held at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. (As CNSNews.com previously reported, the Department of Education barred reporters from attending the summit’s breakout sessions, which were also held at the hotel.)

In the general session, Hansell, who is an acting assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), pointed to a program sponsored by his division of HHS that encourages LGBT people to adopt children.

“So LGBT individuals and families often contact us about adopting or fostering kids through a program that we run called Adopt Us Kids, which is aimed at finding adoptive homes for hard to place children,” said Hansell. “We are particularly interested in encouraging the involvement of LGBT parents. In fact, we need their involvement because right now there are 115,000 children in foster care ready and waiting to find permanent homes.”

AdoptUsKids says that its mission is “to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children.”

Hansell described the “striking stories about LGBT teens in foster care” and “their experiences with the system, both positive and negative.” The Administration of Children and Families (ACF), where Hansell works, intends “to emphasize and increase the positive ones.”

The federally sponsored organization also says it “has developed a number of valuable resources to support the efforts of States, Tribes, and Territories in recruiting and retaining lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) foster and adoptive parents.” These materials are linked to a page on the organization’s Web site entitled, “Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Foster and Adoptive Families”

At the Department of Education’s youth summit, the HHS's Hansell participated in a general session panel -- “Population Focus on LGBT Student Needs”— that was described on the summit’s agenda as a discussion of “the unique needs of specific populations among LGBT youth,” including the topics of “college-age youth, youth of color, transgender youth, and the role of ‘straight allies’ in creating safe and supportive environments for these specific populations.”

In his talk, Hansell addressed the difficulties that sometimes confront “LGBT prospective parents” and the efforts the Obama administration is making to remove those difficulties.“Now when it comes to adoption, LGBT prospective parents sometimes have had a hard time with the foster care system,” said Hansell.“In a few states, that’s due to legal barriers against gay or same-sex couples adopting. But more often than that it’s due to agency cultures and the discomfort or ignorance of child welfare workers and agencies, and as a consequence of that, potential parents who are not heterosexual often seek to adopt from private agencies rather than from the public child-welfare system."

“Given the magnitude of the need of kids for permanent homes we can’t afford to let that happen,” Hansell told the government youth summit.

“Aside from the fact that it is just plain discriminatory, it makes no sense to deny willing capable families the opportunity to create permanent homes for kids who have endured terrible difficulty and desperately need love and security," he said. "All children deserve loving, safe and stable homes. All families who are capable of providing them should be encouraged and helped to do so, regardless of whether they have two moms or two dads.”

Hansell said the administration is working on many fronts—ranging from training social workers to making publications more “gay-friendly”— to make it easier for “LGBT families” to adopt children.

“So we are taking a number of actions that will lead to much more inclusiveness,” said Hansell, “including training social workers, consulting with LGBT groups, revising all of our publications to be more gay-friendly, funding LGBT foster and adoptive parent support groups and spreading the message about how we can move forward to promote and sustain progressive adoption and foster care policies for LGBT families.”

The summit, which was held on Monday and Tuesday, was described in a Department of Education press release as an event that would “bring together students, educators, administrators, and heads of federal and nonprofit agencies to provide information and seek solutions to these issues.” Both U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the summit.

Literature focused on teenagers, such as the magazine sex, etc. and an HHS sexual identity study on students from grades 9-12, was freely distributed to all attendees.

The Education Department blocked reporters from attending breakout sessions because, as Assistant Deputy Education Secretary Kevin Jennings told CNSNews: “(S)ome youth participants do not have permission to speak to the media and allowing media into sessions would have meant excluding them from this portion of the event, which we did not want to do.”

An Education Department spokeswoman also told CNSNews.com that it could not interview certain students with red stickers on their name tags because they were minors.

When CNSNews.com asked Hansell for an interview at the government youth summit, he said he was not there to do media interviews.

Before joining HHS in 2009, Hansell worked in New York state government, and had previously worked with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.


Australia: Call for ban on teens playing football

YOUNG footballers should not be allowed to tackle each other as teenagers to avoid brain damage and serious bone injuries, according to a leading sports medicine expert.

Sports Medicine Australia Professor Caroline Finch, a sports epidemiologist at Monash University, said rugby was a challenging collision sport and as such could produce serious harm. "The body gets an injury when it sustains a force that it can't withstand," Prof Finch said.

"Force equals mass times acceleration so if players are running fast and you get hit by a bigger player you are going to get more force transmitted to you and have a greater chance of injury," she said. "And that is when it becomes a problem when we have a lot of lightweight children playing with bigger kids."

Professor Finch said young people's brains were still developing. "If an injury occurs it could stop laying down important pathways," she said. "There is a fear that the cognitive development of younger people, their ability to learn, could be impaired from too many head impacts."

Other impacts on young bodies were also musculoskeletal because they were not fully developed and "excessive forces could easily break bones", she said.

Prof Finch said it was important to gradually introduce contact in sport particularly for those 16 and under. "The responsibility is also on the coach to take in all factors when making up a team," she said. "Rather than have a win at all costs approach they need to approach the game in a balanced way and care about the health and well being of their young players."

A new study by Sports Medicine Australia found the harder NRL rugby league players train, the more injuries they will sustain. "This study shows if you don't train at all you will sustain injury but if you train to much it can also lead to injury," she said.

These findings create a challenge for coaches, who need their players to train hard to improve game performance, while also minimising the risk of injury.



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, 2011

British photo phobia still going strong

Mother handcuffed, arrested and locked in a police cell... for filming council meeting on her mobile phone

A mother of four arrested and handcuffed after filming a council meeting on her mobile phone may take action against police for their 'heavy handed' approach.

Jacqui Thompson, 49, of Llanwrda, near Carmarthen, West Wales who is campaigning to keep a day centre open, was put in a cell and claimed she was only allowed to leave the police station after giving a written undertaking not to repeat her conduct.

Mrs Thompson said yesterday that at the police station she was told to remove her shoes - and even her wedding ring. 'I can’t think why,” she said, “I had to put water on my finger to prise it off.'

Mrs Thompson, who runs the Carmarthenshire Planning Problems blog, had been attending a meeting of the county council at Carmarthen in west Wales which was discussing the day centre. The council chairman asked Mrs Thompson to leave when she began filming, and when she refused four police officers - two men and two women - arrived within minutes, in two cars.

'It was a complete over reaction, I wasn’t interfering with the meeting. Two officers grabbed me, took me outside the door of the public gallery and handcuffed me. I was searched, my mobile phone taken, then I was driven 30 miles to the police station at Llanelli.

'I remained in handcuffs then I was processed and put in a cell for two hours. I was worried about meeting my 14-year-old daughter from school but luckily someone had contacted my husband, who was able to make arrangements,” she recalled.

News has quickly spread on Twitter and internet blogs, with supporters voicing anger at her treatment.

Mrs Thompson, who is a community councillor at Llanwrda, said: “It’s not illegal to film meetings and I wasn't making any noise. “If someone displayed enough interest in our community council meetings to want to come and film, I would really welcome it. “It would open up what we talk about to the public. But the county council doesn’t seem to be interested. “They are quite happy for people not to know what goes on at all.”

She added: “I’ve consulted my solicitor who has written to Dyfed Powys police to seek an explanation. I may take action because what happened was an affront and quite unnecessary in a free country. 'I only signed the undertaking because I was under duress and I’m wondering whether this was legal. They said that otherwise I would have to be kept in overnight to await a court.'

Her husband Kerry, 47, a forestry contractor, remarked: “I’m appalled by what happened to my wife, and so is everyone locally. 'People have been saying that if you report a burglary the police come next day yet they can send four officers within minutes just because my wife is filming councillors on her mobile phone.'

A Dyfed Powys police spokesman said: 'At approximately 10.20am on June 8 officers were asked to attend at County Hall, Carmarthen, to deal with an incident involving a woman in the public gallery.

'On arrival officers spoke to a 49-year-old woman but she refused to co-operate and she was then arrested to prevent a further breach of the peace. She was later released with no further action.'

The Welsh Assembly have said it is up to individual councils in Wales to decide for themselves whether to allow live blogging, tweeting or filming at meetings.


David Mamet launches tirade against 'antisemitism' of British writers

Chicago-born Jewish playwright says books, plays and essays by contemporary British authors are full of anti-Jewish 'filth'

Leading US playwright David Mamet has launched an attack on the British literary establishment over what he claims are inherently antisemitic attitudes. Many contemporary British authors who write in the liberal tradition, Mamet said, produce plays, books and essays that are full of anti-Jewish "filth".

Speaking to the Financial Times, the Chicago-born writer expanded on the reasons behind a political conversion that was first announced in a piece for the New York journal Village Voice, headlined "Why I am no longer a Brain-Dead Liberal", in 2008.

Asked whether he felt Europe was more sceptical about Israel than the US, the writer said: "There is a profound and ineradicable taint of antisemitisim in the British."

Although Mamet admits to owing a great educational debt to English literature, he accuses classic novelists such as Anthony Trollope and George Eliot of using "stock Jew" characterisations. "And the authors of today," Mamet adds, "I'm not going to mention names because of your horrendous libel laws, but there are famous dramatists and novelists over there whose works are full of antisemitic filth."

The creator of Glengarry Glenn Ross and American Buffalo has just published a non-fiction account of his journey from the political left towards rightwing views. His new book, The Secret Knowledge, is a polemic that targets fundamental tenets of leftwing thinking, from the value of a liberal arts-based education to the importance of environmentalism.

"My revelation came upon reading Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom," Mamet says in the book. "He wrote that there are no solutions; there are only trade-offs – money spent on more crossing guards cannot be spent on books. Both are necessary, a choice must be made, and that this is the tragic view of life."

Mamet said that for him the "paradigmatic Brit as far as the Middle East goes" is TE Lawrence, author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom and remembered for his portrayal in the film Lawrence of Arabia. "Even before the oil was there, you loved the desert," Mamet told the FT. "But there is a Jewish state there ratified by the United Nations and you want to give it away to some people whose claim is rather dubious."

Mamet's new book praises Sarah Palin's political approach and calls the decision to build an Islamic centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Centre, "a cultural obscenity".


African-origin Leftist thinks she should be allowed to use racial abuse against an Indian woman in Britain

African resentment of Indians seems rather common -- perhaps because the economic success of Indians shows that black failure is not the result of skin colour

The row happened on February 24, 2009, during a Bristol City Council budget debate. Top of the agenda was the city’s Legacy Commission that had been granted £750,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund ethnic minority projects and was created in part to atone for Bristol’s historic role in the slave trade. Shirley, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, believed passionately in the initiative.

During the debate, Mrs Jethwa, who moved to Britain from India 24 years ago and whose husband Nick is of Ugandan origin, stood up to say she did not agree with spending public money ‘righting the wrongs’ of past centuries.

‘When Jay spoke against it, I was upset,’ says Shirley. ‘She said that she didn’t receive any special help when she moved here, and didn’t need it, but just got on with things. I was shocked. I thought that as an immigrant herself she would have had more empathy with other ethnic minorities and more understanding of the issues that they’re facing.

‘When I stood up after her, I said, “In our culture we have a word for you, and I am sure many in this city would understand ‘coconut’.” I hadn’t planned to say it – it just came out in the heat of the moment. Council meetings are often very heated, with insults flying around.

‘Of course I shouldn’t have used that word, but to me it meant that she was denying her cultural roots, rather than anything racial. It wasn’t about the colour of her skin, or about her behaving in a white way.’

Despite Shirley’s protestations, when used as a derogatory term, the word coconut does have racial implications and it is little surprise Mrs Jethwa was offended. However, she did not actually hear the insult at the time because of the din in the chamber – she watched the incident later on the council’s webcam footage.

Two days on, Shirley received a call informing her that a formal complaint had been made against her. She responded by sending Mrs Jethwa an email apologising unreservedly for her comment, but did not get a reply. Following an official complaint from the Conservative Party, Shirley was told there would be an internal council investigation.

‘I was very upset when I realised Jay was going ahead with the formal complaint,’ she says. ‘What saddened me most of all was that I’d been delighted when she was elected to the council four years after me, because another woman from an ethnic minority was joining me. Now the only two female ethnic minority councillors were having this very public row. It wasn’t what I’d envisaged at all.’

The findings of the internal investigation were published four months later. Senior council solicitor Shahzia Daya wrote: ‘My conclusion is that although the term “coconut” undeniably has a racial element to it, its use in this particular context does not constitute racial abuse.’

She went on to say it was ‘offensive and insulting’ and that Shirley should be suspended for a month, but no further action should be taken. That August a local government tribunal overturned her suspension.

‘I breathed a sigh of relief and thought the incident was over,’ says Shirley. ‘It had been very stressful, but I thought I could put it behind me. When I received a call that November from the police saying I was being investigated, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t understand it at all. There was no need to take it that far when I’d already apologised.’

A complaint had been made by a member of the public, Christopher Windows – a Conservative activist who is now a Bristol councillor. Shirley was interviewed under caution by the Avon and Somerset Police hate crimes unit on December 7, 2009.

Under the Public Order Act 1986 – established to prevent the incitement of racial hatred, whether by Islamic fanatics preaching hate or marches by the far Right – she was charged with racially aggravated harassment.

Last July, after being found guilty, she was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 costs. ‘I was devastated by the verdict but I wasn’t surprised,’ she says. ‘I had the feeling the judge wanted to make an example of me.

‘Appearing in court was the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me. Before that, I’d kept telling myself that surely it would be dropped, but in court it hit me that it was real – I was really being accused of being a racist. When the verdict came, it was official. The feelings of sadness and shame and humiliation overwhelmed me.

‘I’ve never been in any kind of trouble before and for someone who’s spent decades working to make a difference to ethnic minorities it’s especially hurtful. I used to spend all day every day going to people’s houses, listening to their problems and trying to help. It makes me feel like it was all for nothing.

‘The saddest thing is that I’ve met people who have experienced racial violence and verbal abuse, and I feel my punishment diminishes what they’ve been through.’

Shirley believes her experience illustrates that a dangerous emphasis has been placed on political correctness in modern Britain.

‘I understand that the law is there to protect people from prejudice but I feel we’ve reached a point where people are terrified to say anything at all if it involves another culture or race for fear it is misinterpreted. If people don’t feel they can speak out, it is dangerous.

‘I think my punishment was so extreme because the case was public, so the police and the Crown Prosecution Service felt they had to respond in a way that proved they were taking it seriously. But the wrong people are being prosecuted just to make a point. ‘I also worry that what happened to me will set a legal precedent that will pave the way for more of these sort of cases.’

The incident also led to Shirley being subjected to a barrage of racist abuse. ‘I received letters calling me a wog and the n-word and I had to remove my website from the internet as people posted vile comments on it, one of which said I was a monkey,’ she says.

‘My solicitor gave all the material to the police but nothing was done about it.’

Shirley credits her daughter, who is 27, and two sons, aged 22 and 18, with keeping her going, along with support from friends and strangers. ‘I received a lot of messages from people saying how silly the case was, which helped when I was at my lowest,’ she says.

She plans to continue with her community work as a church minister but she is despondent that her career as a councillor, her proudest achievement, is at an end, as she decided not to stand in last month’s elections.

‘I was proud to be a member of the council because I wanted to be a role model to young people from minority backgrounds,’ she says. ‘Now, my biggest fear is that, in spite of everything I’ve done, the only thing I’ll be remembered for is the coconut comment. I just hope people forgive me and allow me to move on.’

The CPS said: ‘In this case, we determined that a prosecution was in the public interest because it alleged an offence where the suspect demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on discrimination against the victim’s ethnic origin.’


Australia's Green/Left is politically correct but is losing the ordinary voter

James A. Falk comments on the recent electoral wipeout of the Labor party in the Australian State of NSW, Australia's most populous State. The polls are suggesting a similar wipeout Federally in due course. (Note that the major party of the Right in Australia is called the Liberal party)

AT the recent NSW election every pundit was surprised by the Liberal performance in the once safe left seat of Balmain. None of us working on the campaign were the least bit surprised.

On the ground it was clear the Green-Left had embraced policies that isolated them from the interests of the broader community. They tried to minimise that disconnection by hiding behind the word progressive, as if it were a magic label that could make up for incompetence and for regressive policies divorced from ordinary people. We can see exactly the same failures and propagandising at the federal level.

Except now Labor figures such as Senator John Faulkner and Rodney Cavalier claim that the ALP needs to build policy that its members support, and to engage more closely with left-wing intelligentsia. Which is the exact opposite of the lessons of the NSW election.

During the Balmain campaign Green and ALP stump speeches were long on labour history and alarmist, intelligentsia-driven claims. There were even references to Gough Whitlam and H. V. Evatt, relevant a mere 40 or 60 years ago.

But their grand rhetoric of values and history simply wasn't matched by the quality of their contemporary policy, management and delivery.

And it cannot be, because the policies both the Greens and Labor membership consider central cannot deliver what ordinary people need.

That's why long-term Labor voters thanked me for talking about how to get our unskilled workers into paid employment, and about how to maintain the possibility of social welfare in the face of fiscal limits. And why NGOs providing disability and family services were vehement in their support for getting the public sector out of the way.

All these constituents were scathing about the Green-Left's policy inertia and focus on old battles and irrelevant questions. Rather than providing answers to these long-term problems, the Greens and the ALP have delivered little in NSW except managerial incompetence and gestures pandering to the faddish views of exactly that class Faulkner wants to empower.

This has continued in the failures of the Gillard government, the political tin ear of the Greens and the ludicrous preaching of the Cate Blanchett enviro-ad. The progressive mindset is sliding further and further from the practical concerns of ordinary voters.

Incompetence hits at the heart of progressive claims. Contrary to Green-Left spin, government waste is a social equity issue. Every government dollar wasted is a dollar we can't spend on early intervention in learning disabilities, or respite care, or social housing.

Progressives consistently claim that addressing this waste somehow hurts the poor. But it is the waste itself that is most damaging to those who rely on government, because it reduces what government can do to make a real difference.

And there is nothing compassionate about failing to deliver the housing, health services or child protection that people need, and then failing to take the hard decisions to fix things.

This progressive resistance to innovation in government is regressive in the extreme. It privileges old-school means over the end of delivering opportunity for all.

Ironically, it is a blind conservatism that strangles our capacity to deliver services to the people who need them. Above all else, ordinary voters are directly hurt by grand progressive gestures designed to meet the momentary fads of upper-middle income earners. Too often the progressive gesture is paid for by the poorest of our society to the benefit of some of the richest.

That is especially true of Green subsidies and regulations, most visible in our rising electricity prices. As former Labor senator John Black found, inner-city Greens voters are by far the highest income earners of any of the major parties.

Fairfax columnist Elizabeth Farrelly writes that policy must diminish our standard of living and if it doesn't hurt, it won't work.

If it's in the Green cause, it is clear that the financially comfortable are quite happy pulling up the ladder of opportunity behind them. According to Faulkner, Bob Carr, Steve Bracks, and others, ALP troubles arise from any of poor spin, the NSW power sale, internal conflict, the influence of machine men, or inadequate internal democracy.

Conspicuous by its absence is the admission that their core agenda already responds to the ideological interests of a progressive class.

That class is contemptuous of suburban values and aspiration, embraces green conventional wisdom about the evils of industry and capitalism, and is willing to sacrifice the opportunities of the less-connected to the false certainties of 1950s class conflict. These failings are why the Liberals gained all of the swing away from Labor in one of the safest Green-Left seats in the country, and why we won the Balmain primary vote at the last state election for the first time in history, and why the Greens gained virtually nothing.

Until progressives realise that too many voters view their policy mix as pandering to old prejudices and to a wealthy minority, all the internal reform and celebrity advertisements in the world will make no difference to their long-term decline.



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, 2011

Blessed are the Spongers? That's not what St Paul said, Archbishop

Why is it so bad to draw a line between the deserving and the undeserving poor? I have searched the Sermon on the Mount for the words ‘Blessed are the Spongers’ and I cannot find them – or anything remotely like them. So why does the Archbishop of Canterbury speak as if it was obvious that we should treat people who can work, but won’t, in the same way as we treat those who are truly in need?

As Dr Williams has decided to take up political commentating, I think I shall do a little bit of Archbishoping. Here beginneth the first lesson: In St Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, Chapter 5, we read: ‘If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’

And in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, St Paul rubs it in, in that way he has: ‘This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’

This seems pretty clear to me, and a dozen generations before my own knew these words by heart and lived according to them. They gave to charity and supported the helpless and needy with all their might.

But they scorned those who sought to live off others when they had no need to. Our Welfare State took much the same line until Harold Wilson ‘reformed’ it in the Sixties.

I don’t mind bishops intervening in our national life. That’s what they are for. I like having them in the House of Lords to remind us of the foundations on which our country stands. But they are not there to act as reinforcements for the Liberal Democrats. They are there to remind us that we are at heart a Christian nation and people.

They should stand up for lifelong marriage, denounce the lax treatment of wrongdoers and the neglect of their victims, condemn public drunkenness, defend unborn babies against those who wish to kill them, stand in the way of stupid and unjust wars, and of selfish cruelty of all kinds. But they really have to get out of their heads the idea that the Welfare State must be unconditionally defended.

For it is the hard-working poor who pay for it, and who see their near neighbours living lives of shameless idleness on their money. And they also watch criminals profiting by their crimes, and getting away with it.

If the parsons, pastors, priests and bishops of this country took the side of the poor against these parasites, instead of acting as their spokesmen, they might find their churches filling up again. But as long as they talk like the TUC, they will stay at the fringe of our national life.


British police 'covered up' violent campaign to turn London area 'Islamic'

Police have been accused of “covering up” a campaign of abuse, threats and violence aimed at “Islamicising” an area of London.

Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism.

The claims come as four Tower Hamlets Muslims were jailed for at least 19 years for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls.

The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.”

One victim, Mohammed Monzur Rahman, said he was left partially blind and with a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a mob in Cannon Street Road, Shadwell, for smoking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year.

“Two guys stopped me in the street and asked me why I was smoking,” he said. “I just carried on, and before I knew another dozen guys came and jumped me. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in hospital.”

“He reported it to the police and they just said they couldn’t track anyone down and there were no witnesses,” said Ansar Ahmed Ullah, a local anti-extremism campaigner who has advised Mr Rahman. “But there is CCTV in that street and it is lined with shops and people.”

Teachers in several local schools have told The Sunday Telegraph that they feel “under pressure” from local Muslim extremists, who have mounted campaigns through both parents and pupils – and, in one case, through another teacher - to enforce the compulsory wearing of the veil for Muslim girls. “It was totally orchestrated,” said one teacher. “The atmosphere became extremely unpleasant for a while, with constant verbal aggression from both the children and some parents against the head over this issue.”

One teacher at the Bigland Green primary school, Nicholas Kafouris, last year took the council to an employment tribunal, saying he was forced out of his job for complaining that Muslim pupils were engaging in racist and anti-Semitic bullying and saying they supported terrorism. Mr Kafouris lost his case, though the school did admit that insufficient action had been taken against the behaviour of some pupils. The number of assaults on teachers in Tower Hamlets resulting in exclusions has more than doubled from 190 in 2007/8 to 383 in 2008/9, the latest available year, though not all are necessarily race-related.

Tower Hamlets’ gay community has become a particular target of extremists. Homophobic crimes in the borough have risen by 80 per cent since 2007/8, and by 21 per cent over the last year, a period when there was a slight drop in London as a whole.

Last year, a mob of 30 young Muslims stormed a local gay pub, the George and Dragon, beating and abusing patrons. Many customers of the pub told The Sunday Telegraph that they have been attacked and harassed by local Muslim youths. In 2008 a 20-year-old student, Oli Hemsley, was left permanently paralysed after an attack by a group of young Muslims outside the pub. Only one of his assailants has been caught and jailed.

Even during meetings of the local council, prominent supporters of Tower Hamlets’ controversial directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman – dropped by the Labour Party for his links to Islamic fundamentalism - have persistently targeted gay councillors with homophobic abuse and intimidation from the public gallery.

The Labour leader, Josh Peck, was attacked with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!” when he rose to speak. The Conservative leader, Peter Golds, was repeatedly heckled as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter”.

Mr Golds said: “If that happened in a football stadium, arrests would have taken place. I have complained, twice, to the police, and have heard nothing. A Labour colleague waited three hours at the police station before being told that nothing would be done. The police are afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Another Labour councillor said that the Met is now the reverse of what it must have been like in the 1970s, with a complete lack of interest when white people make complaints of harassment and hatred.”

In February this year, dozens of stickers appeared across Tower Hamlets quoting the Koran, declaring the borough a “gay-free zone” and stating that “verily Allah is severe in punishment.”

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that during a routine stop-and-search at the time police found a young Muslim man with a number of the stickers in his possession. He was released without charge on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service. Police also had CCTV images of a second unidentified Muslim youth posting the stickers at a local railway station, but refused to release the pictures for several weeks.

Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, said: “The police said no-one was allowed to talk publicly about this because they didn’t want to upset the Muslim community. We’ve made very clear the difference between the Muslim community as a whole and these particular fundamentalists, and the fact that the police wouldn’t publicly say what they knew was an absolute disgrace.”

When the CCTV footage was finally released, in early April, the culprit was quickly identified as 18-year-old Mohammed Hasnath, who last week pleaded guilty to a public order offence and was fined £100. Jack Gilbert, of the Rainbow Hamlets gay group, said a more serious charge should have been brought. “The vast majority of the community saw the material as threatening, but the police were not willing to accept it as threatening,” he said.

Hasnath’s “interests” on his Facebook page include Khalid Yasin, a hate preacher who describes Jews as “filth” and teaches that homosexuals must be killed. Yasin has spoken at least four times since 2007 at the East London Mosque, Tower Hamlets’ most prominent Muslim institution. Although the mosque claims to be against extremism, discrimination, and violence, it has hosted dozens of hate, extremist or terrorist preachers and also hosted a “Spot The Fag” contest.

In the same week that it issued a press release condemning the anti-gay stickers, the mosque was also due to host a “gala dinner” with Uthman Lateef, a homophobic hate preacher.

The mosque is controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which says that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam.”

The IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, is chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, an organisation officially recognised by the Met as its “principal [liaison] body in relation to Muslim community safety.” Mr Golds said: “This relationship may explain the police’s feebleness.” The IFE also has close links to the Tower Hamlets mayor, Mr Rahman.

There is no suggestion that any mosque official has been personally involved in any act of violence or intimidation. However, in an email obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, one IFE activist, Abu Talha, used the name of the group to threaten a local Muslim woman who ran a dating agency.

“I am asking you kindly to stop these activities as it goes against the teachings of Islam,” he wrote. “Let me remind you that I have a huge network of brothers and sisters who would be willing to help me take this further…If by tomorrow you haven’t changed your mind … then the campaign will begin.” The dating agency has now closed and the woman has left the area.

Mr Ahmed Ullah said: “There has been a gradual increase in these kinds of attacks, that’s for sure.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “When any allegation of crime is made to us, we investigate appropriately. We will always take action against hate crime in accordance with, and within the confines of, the law.”


Revealed: How thousands of Irish fine defaulters sent to prison by judges are sent straight back home after an hour or two inside

Fine dodgers sentenced to jail time are released from prison after as little as an hour or two because of a secret government policy, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal. Every day, as many as 20 prisoners are taken to jail, processed – and then swiftly sent home on 'temporary release'. One defaulter, sentenced to a week, was told by gardaí taking him to Mountjoy: 'Don't worry, you'll be home in time for dinner.'

This extraordinary 'revolving door' policy means that a fortune is being spent on transportation to jail, even though these offenders will never spend a night in the cells.

And it means that while the public believes fine defaulters are serving terms for non-payment of debt, they are in fact being let off with a quiet slap on the wrist.

This weekend, Justice Minister Alan Shatter admitted that he was aware of the policy – but claimed the practice was made official by his predecessor Dermot Ahern.

The Irish Prison Service could not say what the average sentence served was for the 8,325 people jailed for non-payment of fines since 2010. But senior prison sources said that for the 1,642 offenders jailed between January and March of this year, the average stay was 'just a couple of hours'.

On average, 18 people are sent to jail every day for non-payment of fines while 24 others go to prison for other crimes. Quizzed if the average stay was one night, an official said: 'It would be even less than that, a couple of hours in the majority of cases. Sometimes, the person might end up spending the night in jail but that would be highly unusual and the majority of them are freed immediately.'

The IPS said candidates for temporary release were identified by different means but usually on the recommendation of the prison governor. The primary factors are the nature of their offence, length of sentence, their potential threat and their previous criminal record.

One Justice Department official said, however, that current arrangements were not acceptable and effectively made it open season for non-payment of fines. 'The simple fact is that the punishment for non-payment of a fine is an hour or two in prison,' he said. 'Nobody wants to tell the truth or spell this out because it will only encourage people not to pay fines if they are certain there are no repercussions.'

Chronic overcrowding is being blamed for this policy of near-automatic temporary release. A fear of continuing adverse publicity over holding ordinary citizens – who do not have serious criminal backgrounds – in packed jails such as Mountjoy has also been a factor.

A department spokesman said: 'Yes, the Minister is aware of this policy. This policy was initiated by minister Ahern during the term of the previous government and it was a consequence of that government's failure to prioritise alternative remedies to addressing the issues of non payment of fines.'

The practice has been condemned by the State solicitor for Limerick, Michael Murray, who said the automatic release of offenders 'brought the law into disrepute'. 'Making orders that are not enforced is not good for the judicial or legal system and I think it is very unsatisfactory that this should be happening,' he said. 'It brings the law into disrepute.

'The other side of the coin is that there is obvious public concern that people are going to jail in the first place for relatively trivial matters like for example non-payment of a TV licence. 'Personally, I don't have a major concern there, as in the vast majority of cases people can get the fine removed if they are very poor. More often, it is an act of defiance. 'There is a type of person out there who will defy the law and scream blue murder, when if they gave up cigarettes or drink for a week, they could comfortably pay it.'

Mr Murray said jail terms for fines were still being implemented in the case of more serious offenders, and were simply added to sentences.

Meanwhile, the cost to the justice system is incalculable, with expensive escort arrangements to transport prisoners. Non-custodial costs for the IPS were estimated at €57.9million in 2009, a considerable proportion of which relates to escorts and those jailed for non-payment of fines. In some cases, particularly outside Dublin, offenders have to be driven long distances from their local court or home to the nearest prison facility.

While prison vans are used where possible, sources have confirmed that taxis and buses are paid for when no alternatives are available.

On arrival at the jail, the prisoner is met by officers, has their details taken, is photographed and then assigned a number. But then, without being allocated a cell or coming into contact with other prisoners, the majority are granted so-called temporary release. And the fine is effectively written off.


Australia: Charter's quest for utopia imperils existing freedoms

Despite the dismal results of Britain's recently enacted Bill of Rights, there is pressure for something similar in Australia. Ted Lapkin (below) points out major problems with the proposals. The British bill seems to have succeeded mainly in liberating criminals and oppressing Christians

Human Rights are supposed to be one of those motherhood and apple pie ideas that enjoy universal support without qualm nor question. At least, that's the theory.

But in the reality of 21st century politics, the term has been hijacked by the left and invested with a distinctly partisan tinge. In contemporary policy debate, the rhetoric of human rights is routinely deployed as a polemical weapon. And all too often, the spectre of a bigotry allegation is enough to intimidate into silence those whose views deviate from politically correct orthodoxy.

Now that the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is up for its quadrennial review, we've been treated to a surfeit of such moral posturing. Former British attorney-general Lord Goldsmith blew into town on a brief visit to give us a tuppence worth of hectoring and lecturing.

His Lordship primly instructed us that we must renew the charter as "the hallmark of a civilised, democratic society". Apparently, anyone who harbours misgivings about the charter is both uncivilised and anti-democratic.

Liberty Victoria president Spencer Zifcak made claims of similar pomposity, arguing that the charter established a "floor beneath which a life of dignity can no longer be led". Presumably, before the enactment of the charter in 2006, we were all eking out an infelicitous existence of vulgar barbarism.

But I refuse to be cowed by a left-leaning human rights industry that brazenly attempts to arrogate the moral high ground in the debate over the charter. I will step up to express my reasoned concerns about the pernicious impact of the charter on Victoria's democracy and political liberties.

I want the laws that govern my life to be written by people who are answerable to me at the ballot box. Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

But the charter is all about transferring power from our elected parliamentary representatives to a coterie of unelected judges beholden only to themselves. It injects the judiciary with a dose of political steroids, tempting it to become an active player in the dance of legislation.

The charter entitles the Supreme Court to declare a law "incompatible with human rights". And while Parliament may override such a declaration of incompatibility, the intervention by unelected judges into the business of our elected legislature entirely distorts the political dynamic. It offends against the separation of powers principle that is a foundation stone of modern democracy.

The empowerment of our own judges to meddle in affairs beyond their proper brief is bad enough. But the charter also authorises the Victorian courts to predicate their incompatibility rulings on the opinions of non-Australian judges. Section 32 (2) declares the judgments of "foreign courts and tribunals relevant to a human right may be considered in interpreting a statutory provision".

Think about that for a moment.

We live under a system of Victorian laws enacted by a Victorian Parliament chosen by the Victorian people to reflect Victorian moral sensibilities and standards. But the charter invites activist judges to cherry pick foreign judicial rulings in order to foist alien legal fads and fashions upon us.

While our judiciary is not directly answerable to the people, at least the Victorian governments that appoint judges must front up to the ballot box every four years. But when it comes to the foreign judges whose rulings are authorised for use in Victoria by the charter, we are deprived even of that indirect influence.

Thus the charter is doubly anti-democratic. It rewards the pretentions to power of an unelected local judicial elite. It also encourages a reliance on rulings of foreign courts whose philsophy and values are alien to our system of common law.

The essence of representative democracy was encapsulated in a single sentence by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of "government of the people, by the people and for the people". But democracy is imperiled if an overseas court ruling can be used to negate the will of the Victorian people.

The charter is replete with many other serious shortcomings, most notably its failure to protect one of the most essential rights of all – the right to own and acquire private property. And a convicted sex offender exploited the charter to emasculate the Extended Supervision Orders that are designed to keep our children safe from sexual predators.

But the most profound flaws of the charter stem from something much more central to its philosophical core. It was H.L. Mencken who observed: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it."

In a utopian quest for the perfect society, the charter imperils our existing democratic liberties and freedoms.



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, 2011

British bigotry about red hair

To understand this story you have to know that redheads are discriminated against in England. To my knowledge that does not happen in other countries. Redheads in Australia are often addresses as "Blue" or "Bluey" but there is no animus attached to it. My late father was a redhead and I have twice married redheads so I know a bit about it.

My father had the sterotypical fiery redhead temper and was very ready with his fists if insulted. He was often addressed as "Blue". Nobody would have dared to do that if the term had been derogatory in Australia

FAST food pizza chain Domino's has apologised to schoolboy after calling him the "Ginger Kid".

Ross Wajgtknecht, 11, visited his local branch with friends and gave his full name when ordering a Texas BBQ pizza. But when he came to collect his food he was horrified to discover that staff had written "Ginger Kid" in place of his name on his receipt

Ross said: "I was really sad. I get bullied at school about my hair but you don't expect it from an adult. "After I read it I couldn't stop thinking about it, and brought the packet home because I wanted to show my mum."

Ross, who is in his final year at Peasedown St John Primary School, took the receipt home to his parents Evette, 43, and Andrew, 45, who demanded an apology from the outlet. Mr Wajgtknecht, a builder, said: "It is totally disgusting. You would not describe someone by the colour of their skin or by calling them fat so why is it OK to call Ross ginger? "Surely it would have been easier to write Ross. That only has four letters. Why write Ginger Kid instead?

"It is prejudice. They offered him a free pizza but the damage has already been done and he doesn't want to go back in case it happens again."

He said Ross had received taunts over his hair colour throughout his life and had burst into tears after being referred to as the "Ginger Kid".

Mrs Wajgtknecht added: "He is usually quite a strong and confident lad who doesn't let comments upset him but reading that has really knocked him. "At the end of the day what we want to do is raise awareness of how this can upset people."

Ross, who has three older brothers, Toby, 20, Josh, 18 and Jack, 14, bought the pizza on May 28 from the Midsomer Norton branch of Domino's after an afternoon at the skate park with his friends.

Manager Pat Bennet said: "It was for the benefit of the person who took the order, it wasn't meant to cause offence. "I have apologised to the family over the phone and the member of staff concerned has written an apology to the boy. We will ensure nothing like this happens again.

"A problem we often face is children giving us fake names to confuse orders, we often have a groups of young people come in and all give the same name, then they get abusive if we give the wrong order to the wrong person."

Ross, who plays for league-winning Peasedown St John Athletic under 11s, said he took strength from his hero, recently retired Manchester United star Paul Scholes. He said: "A lot of my friends call me Scholesy and I don't mind that."

Ross's parents are now demanding a full apology from Domino's head office.


A Royal realist

Discriminating against the old is right, says His Royal Highness, Prince Philip on the eve of his 90th birthday celebrations

Prince Philip has said that he favours discrimination against older people because 'you go downhill' later in life.

In an interview recorded ahead of his 90th birthday today, the notoriously outspoken prince says he is reducing his own workload before he reaches his 'sell-by date'.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who has been the Queen's constant public companion for more than 60 years and is involved with around 800 charities and organisations, says he is looking forward to 'winding down' and enjoying himself.

Prince Philip told interviewer Fiona Bruce that he is 'just winding down' He even claimed he was losing his memory and struggled to remember the names of people he was due to meet.

'There is an ageism in this country, as everywhere, and quite rightly so, because I think you go downhill – physically, mentally and everything,' he said.

In a wide-ranging interview to mark his birthday, broadcast on BBC1 last night, Philip discusses his life, work and interests over the past nine decades.

Last autumn it was announced how the Duke was lightening his obligations by relinquishing his attachment to a number of his more demanding organisations including his patronage of UK Athletics, City and Guilds of London Institute, the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and his involvement with a number of high-profile universities.

But Prince Edward, also interviewed for the documentary, believed his father remained just as busy. 'He keeps on saying he's trying to slow down and take on less but I haven't seen much evidence of that, he seems to fill the gaps with lots of other things, which is fantastic,' he said.

'The fact he's still got that fascination and interest and energy is superb.'

But Philip stressed that it was time for him to take a back seat. 'You don't really want nonagenarians as heads of organisations which are trying to do something useful,' he said.


Judge Rules that it is OK for homosexuals to discriminate

A federal judge ruled Thursday that a gay softball league can limit the number of heterosexuals on its teams, the Courthouse News Service reports.

The ruling was announced after three bisexual men claimed they were kicked out of the Gay Softball World Series for not being gay enough and filed a lawsuit in Washington state against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association.

The three men, playing for a San Francisco softball team, were challenged on their sexuality by a rival team, citing a rule that limits no more than two heterosexuals on a team.

The men claim they were "summoned to a hearing room to answer questions about their sexual interests or attractions," according to the Courthouse News Service.

The men said they were told that "this is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series."

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour struck down the lawsuit.

"Plaintiffs have failed to argue that there is a compelling state interest in allowing heterosexuals to play gay softball," Coughenour wrote, according to the Courthouse News Service.

"It is not the role of the courts to scrutinize the content of an organization's chosen expression."

The judge did rule the association failed to prove it should not be subjected to public-accommodation laws.


European pissants, humbug, hypocrisy

Gary Johns lets 'em have it, using some good Australian slang. He is a former Labor Party parliamentarian and minister. He clearly still has a good command of that party's characteristic language. His refusal to bow down before European and British ideas of correctness will be widely applauded by Australians across the board

So that's decided, then, is it? Australia is a pissant nation of tossers, too afraid to throw in its lot with European carbon traders and open its borders to boatpeople.

Australia's critics - among them the BBC, The Economist, Ross Garnaut, Julian Burnside QC and Michael Grubb of Cambridge - have really had a field day in the past fortnight.

Apparently, we are pissants because we are in the middle of deciding public policy responses to two particularly tough issues: climate change and boatpeople.

Our elders and betters worry we may be coming down on the "wrong side" of those issues.

By the way, pissant is an offensive term meaning regarded as being of no importance, significance or consequence. And tosser is an offensive term meaning a person (usually male) regarded as unintelligent or contemptible.

Well, let this pissant tosser explain what is happening in Australia. Many Australians question the benefit of being part of a nonexistent global carbon-trading scheme and almost all want to control their borders to deter illegal immigration.

These are perfectly intelligent positions and are of great significance to Australians.

Australians are aware of the consequences of their actions on both issues. Australia does not want to be at the negotiating table with the important European Union or UN forums when the table involves trading its freedom for few benefits. Australians prize sovereignty. In every conceivable sense of the term Australia is a successful liberal democracy.

Australians are great joiners but they do not regard themselves as being at the arse-end of the world and therefore desperate to please important forums.

Many Australians have not been impressed by Europe's heroic climate change response of far-fetched targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Australians know the only way Europe meets its target is through the displacement of manufactures to Asia.

Europeans may produce less carbon dioxide, allegedly a result of their carbon trading scheme, but Europeans consume increasing amounts of embedded carbon in their goods and services.

Indeed, it was reported in The Economist last year that emissions made on their citizens' behalf elsewhere in the world add a third or more to most European countries' emissions.

Pissant is Britain, by subsuming the greatest common law jurisdiction in the world under European human rights law.

Pissant is a Europe that cannot hold together the euro much longer because some of its countries - Greece and Portugal come to mind - cannot balance a budget.

Pissant is a European open-door immigration policy that, combined with its multicultural policy, has been so badly handled that what were once tolerant societies have become far less so.

Pissant is a Germany that has vowed to close its nuclear power stations - talk about a failure of nerve.

Pissant is Britain which, while announcing ever-more heroic targets to decarbonise its economy, cannot collectively boil a kettle after the evening episode of EastEnders because its own power stations cannot cope. It draws on French nuclear power to fill the load. Swapping power across borders is clever; pretending the source of power is part of decarbonisation is not.

Let me provide a little geography lesson to those in the metropolitan capitals where the great and the good gather.

Britain, for example, sends delegates to the European Commission at Brussels. The poor old Belgians are falling apart, unable to decide whether they are Flemish or French. Nevertheless, if ever there were an equivalent EU commission in Asia, Australian delegates would meet in Beijing. The "AU" commissioners would be heavily weighted to China.

Australia does not want to be locked into an Asian forum that resembles the straitjacket the EU has become. Australians choose carefully.

The statement by former prime minister John Howard at the 2001 election, "We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they come", has bipartisan support.

Julia Gillard is belatedly attempting to re-create the Howard doctrine on illegal arrivals. The number of people who wish to seek Australia's protection will again be determined by Australian officials, in conjunction with UN High Commissioner for Refugees officials, and not people-smugglers.

It is craven to believe that when a UN human rights official, and soon maybe a carbon cop, walks in the door Australians have to stand to attention and salute.

Australia helped write the human-rights rule book. Australia has among the cheapest and cleanest carbon sources in the world. Australia will not pretend to decarbonise its economy.

Australia perforce may outsource some of its manufactures; it cannot outsource its resources. Australia will sell these to Asia and in the process lift millions from poverty.

Australia's carbon production will drive consumption in the Third World, and in time developing countries' carbon footprint will grow and then, like ours, moderate when they have solved the needs of their people.



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, 2011

Britain's Bishops at war: Head of Catholics leads furious backlash after Archbishop of Canterbury's attack on Coalition

The Archbishop of Canterbury is embroiled in an extraordinary war with David Cameron and rival Church leaders after a bitter attack on the Government.

In the most brazen political intervention by a head of the Church of England for more than two decades, Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition. He claimed 'no one voted' for flagship policies on welfare, health and education, which he said were causing 'anxiety and anger'.

The remarks prompted a furious backlash from the Prime Minister and the leader of England's Roman Catholics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Dr Williams's attack came in a leading article for the Left-wing New Statesman magazine which he had been invited to guest-edit. Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition

He dismissed Mr Cameron's Big Society initiative as 'painfully stale' and condemned 'punitive' action against 'alleged abuses' in the benefits system. The Archbishop also accused ministers of encouraging a 'quiet resurgence of the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor'.

It is the most controversial intervention in politics by the Church of England since Robert Runcie and Margaret Thatcher clashed in 1985 over the Church's Faith In The City report on poverty.

Yesterday the leader of England's Roman Catholics rejected Dr Williams's suggestion that the Prime Minister's plans to encourage volunteering and charity work were a cover for cuts and spoke out in favour of the 'genuine moral agenda' driving the Coalition's reforms.

Archbishop Nichols praised Mr Cameron for putting marriage and family stability at the centre of policy-making, and he supported his Big Society vision.

His comments appeared to herald a holy war between the liberal-dominated Church of England, increasingly under the sway of clerics who regard state spending as sacrosanct and cuts as immoral, and a Roman Catholic church that backs Mr Cameron's belief in self-help and the traditional family.

A string of Tory and Lib Dem Cabinet ministers also defended the Government against Dr Williams's remarks.

Mr Cameron said he 'profoundly disagreed' with Dr Williams, while Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the primate had been 'unbalanced and unfair'. The Prime Minister said there was nothing 'good or moral' about leaving debts for the next generation to repay, trapping people on welfare or giving children sub-standard education.

Mr Cameron, in Belfast to address the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: 'I've never been one to say that the Church has to fight shy of making political interventions, but what I would say is that I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he's expressed, particularly on issues like debt and on welfare and education.

'I am absolutely convinced that our policies are about actually giving people greater responsibility and greater chances in their life and I will defend those very vigorously.'

Senior Church colleagues are also understood to be questioning the wisdom of their leader's remarks. Lord Carey, Dr Williams's predecessor, pointedly backed the Coalition's education policy, saying academies and free schools would 'bring more freedom to religious schools to instil their ethos and their values'.

In the New Statesman article, Dr Williams said the Government was facing 'bafflement and indignation' over its health and education plans. 'With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. 'At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context,' he claimed, adding 'The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.'

Dr Williams described Mr Cameron's Big Society initiative – which he praised earlier this year – as being viewed with 'widespread suspicion' and said the term had become 'painfully stale'. He also challenged Labour to produce a 'big idea' and warned it not simply to 'collude' in public fear.

But Mr Duncan Smith, a devout Catholic, said the Archbishop was simply wrong to suggest any minister had resurrected the Victorian concept of the 'deserving poor'.

'If a Churchman can't endorse the idea of community and the voluntary sector, doing what is necessary to help people out of their difficulties, then I wonder who will?' he said.

And Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: 'The Government has legitimacy because it has a majority in the House of Commons.'

Tory MP Roger Gale said: 'For him, as an unelected member of the upper house ... to criticise the Coalition as undemocratic is unacceptable.'

But Labour education spokesman Andy Burnham said: 'Across the country, people who are seeing this Government pursuing divisive policies without a mandate will share the Archbishop's concerns.'


A profoundly divisive Leftie rather than a man of God and a custodian of his church

COMMENTARY below by Stephen Glover

Even if Dr Rowan Williams’ remarks had been uncontroversial, his decision to be guest editor of the Leftist New Statesman would still be hard to understand. I would say the same if had he been asked to edit a Right-wing magazine.

The primate of the Church of England, and the leader of the 70million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, should not enter the hurly-burly of political journalism.

In the event he has gone much further in his two-page editorial in the New Statesman. By seemingly questioning the legitimacy of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, and by criticising its policies, he has created a storm that may harm his office and the Church of England, and will dismay many churchgoers and others.

Of course, prelates should speak up for the poor and excluded, but they run a terrible risk when they stray from general arguments about society into making party political interventions.

I doubt any archbishop in modern times has been so specific in his political point-scoring as Dr Williams. The Church of England’s 1985 report Faith In The City angered the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, because it lamented the supposed effects of Tory economic policies in the inner cities. But the report had a more general thrust than Dr Williams’ criticisms and, unlike him, did not question the Government’s right to govern.

This is the most incendiary aspect of what he said – his suggestion that ‘there is understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context’. When you bore down through the customary waffle and opacity, this would seem to mean that the Coalition may not have a democratic mandate.

Would he have insinuated the same thought if there had been a Labour-Lib Dem coalition? I very much doubt it. In fact, the Coalition has more popular support – if you add up the votes of all those who voted Tory and Lib Dem – than any government in modern times.

Of course it is true that the two governing parties have broken some of their pledges. The inevitability of compromise is a powerful argument against coalitions. But it is simply not true, as Dr Williams alleges, that ‘with remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical long-term policies for which no one voted’.

His example of the Government’s ‘free schools’ policy is a case in point. The Tories set out their ideas in enormous detail before the last election, and they were included in their manifesto.

Whether Dr Williams likes it or not, significantly more people – nearly 11 million – voted for the Tories than any other party in May 2010.

But it is probably in his attack on Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare changes that the Archbishop is widest of the mark. He bemoans the ‘quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor'.

Why he should think such language ‘seductive’ I don’t know, but it has never been used by Mr Duncan Smith or anyone else in the Government. This is a slur against a man (a devout Christian, as it happens) who has thought much more than Dr Williams about how to help the long-term poor free themselves from what are often generations of workless existence and dependence on welfare. Mr Duncan Smith contends that his ‘universal credit’ will lift a million people out of poverty.

And, of course, his proposals were very widely discussed before the election, and have not been sprung on the British people, as the Archbishop’s New Statesman maunderings imply.

Dr Williams emerges from his convoluted and sometimes near unfathomable prose as an unreconstructed 1960s ‘Leftie’ with a barely concealed dislike for Tory men and Tory measures.

If he really was hell-bent on being a guest editor of the New Statesman, a rather moth-eaten magazine that has seen better days, might he not have thought more of what the Church of England should be doing to mend our fractured and increasingly secular society?

There are so many social ills such as family breakdown about which he could have invited debate by commissioning pieces for the magazine.

And why no article about what the Church can do to turn back the tide of secularism and consumerism? Why no consideration of why fewer than a million people a week attend Church of England services?

Dr Williams has merely succeeded in being divisive by guest-editing the New Statesman. I yearn for a Primate of the Church of England who lifts his gaze above party politics, and proclaims Christian values in a society that no longer cares much about them. I’m afraid I no longer have much confidence that Rowan Williams will ever be that man.


Victory for father after autistic son's 12-month ordeal in the clutches of Fascistic British social workers

A father wept yesterday as a judge vindicated his crusade to free his autistic son from a year-long ordeal in the clutches of social workers. Mark Neary was praised for refusing to give up on 21-year-old Steven who was ‘unlawfully’ kept from his family by heavy-handed council officials.

Steven had only gone into care for three days to give his father a chance to recover from flu, but social workers flagged up the young man’s behaviour as ‘challenging’ and decided to keep him permanently.

The council said care staff had concerns about Mr Neary's 'challenging' behaviour and weight, and argued that the move was intended to be for a longer period

He was upset at being parted from his father, and had a habit of tapping people on the shoulder to attract their attention. Absurdly, Steven’s shoulder-tapping was recorded in the respite centre’s daily log as a series of ‘assaults’.

To 52-year-old Mr Neary’s horror, he was informed his son was not allowed to return to his family home in North-West London but would instead be placed in a care home 150 miles away in Wales.

Steven would have languished there indefinitely had it not been for Mr Neary’s fierce determination that the system would not be allowed to steal his son. They were finally reunited last December, a full year after social workers had tried to rip the family apart.

Yesterday a judge applauded Mr Neary’s fortitude in facing down an army of officials. Mr Justice Peter Jackson, sitting in the Court of Protection at the High Court, also criticised Hillingdon social services for ‘turning a deaf ear’ to the family’s plight, adding that had Mr Neary been a lesser parent, his son ‘would have faced a life in public care that he did not want and does not need’.

He said Mr Neary could be ‘proud of the way he has stood up for his son’s interests’. Mr Justice Jackson concluded that the council had breached Steven’s human rights by keeping him away from home.

Outside the court in London, Hillingdon social services’ director Linda Sanders apologised and accepted that father and son had been ‘let down’.

Mr Neary, who works as a counsellor, declared himself ‘relieved, tearful, satisfied,’ and said the ruling was ‘fantastic’. He added: ‘I knew Steven should be at home because I know Steven. But there was always more of them than there was of me. ‘I feel vindicated. I have heard there are a lot of other people in similar positions. Hopefully people will read this judgment and be prepared to fight for the rights of their kids.’

He praised the Press for reporting his son’s case, which would normally have been shrouded in the secrecy of the family courts system.

The judge also condemned council chiefs for trying to spin their way out of trouble by smearing the family in circulating a three-page ‘media briefing note’ that created a ‘particularly unfair and negative picture’ of Steven. He branded it a ‘sorry document’ full of inaccurate information.

The family’s ordeal began in December 2009 when Mr Neary, who earlier in the year had separated from his wife Julie, had flu and asked the council for help with his son for a few days until he recovered.

Steven went into the council’s care for three days, to a home he had stayed at before. But after the first day in respite, staff said they were ‘unable to cope’ with him.

When Mr Neary returned to collect his son, he was refused access and informed that Steven was being transferred to a Positive Behaviour Unit run by the council. It triggered a care battle that lasted a year.

Mr Neary got his son back last December after winning an interim court order. After a full hearing in May, the judge reserved judgment until yesterday. The judge said: ‘Hillingdon had no lawful basis for keeping Steven away from his family.

‘It acted as if it had the right to make decisions about Steven, and by a combination of turning a deaf ear and force majeure, it tried to wear down Mark Neary’s resistance, stretching its relationship with him to almost breaking point.’

Last night at his home, Mr Neary said: ‘Every day since Steven has come back, he asks me if he has to go back into care. Every day I’ve had to reassure him that he won’t.’



Just the suggestion of discriminating against homosexuals in the story immediately below led to opprobrium. But in the second story below, actual discrimination BY homosexuals was officially approved

No-gay Glee: Leeton High School musical leaves out Kurt Hummel accused of homophobia

A HIGH school has been accused of homophobia after leaving a key gay character out of its Glee tribute musical. Leeton High School, in Leeton, NSW, copped criticism after it emerged that its musical would not include one of the TV show's lead characters, openly gay teen Kurt Hummel.

Theories sprung up as to why the character, played by Chris Colfer in the TV show, was omitted. Some suggested it was because a student playing a gay character could be harassed by other children at the school. Others said Kurt was left out simply because none of the students who auditioned were suitable for the role, which requires a soprano voice.

NSW Education Department spokesman Grant Hatch denied it was because Kurt was openly gay. "Not all characters from the television show were written into the school's musical, but there was no conscious thought by the authors about which names or characters to exclude," he said.

"Rehearsal had progressed for a considerable time with the students before anyone involved realised that Kurt was one of the names from the show that had not been used." "We left out other minority groups"

The department said its anti-discrimination policy extended to drama productions and it "would not accept dropping a character from a script because of sexual preference".

The school's website promotes the show, Don't Stop Believing, as having a plotline "based on the typical teenage issues of popularity and peer pressure, love and the age old battle between sport and music". More than 100 students will be involved in the production, with 13 of Glee's main characters portrayed.

Mr Hatch said other minority groups represented in the original show had also been left out. "Even when the same (character) name is used, not all characteristics are transplanted," he said.

"For instance, no Asian, Afro-American, Jewish, obese, anorexic or wheelchair-bound students appear even though they are prominent in the television show."

Glee's official website describes Kurt as a "fashion-forward soprano" targeted by school bullies, who develops a crush on the high school quarterback and markets his own fragrance.


Homosexual bar allowed to discriminate against women

On palpably false grounds

A GAY venue in Collingwood has won the right to ban women to ensure its patrons are not subjected to attempts by predatory females to turn them straight. VCAT has granted Sircuit Bar in Smith St an exemption to anti-discrimination laws, allowing it to ban women because they make the men uncomfortable.

"The applicant primarily relies on the exemption to exclude women from the venue, other than on Sundays after 3pm," VCAT reasoned. "This is to ensure that gay men are not subject to attempts to change their sexuality, which reduce their comfort in the venue, which includes being fully accepted for who they are."

Despite the ruling, a spokesman for the venue said the club had never had a problem with women trying to turn gay men straight. "We haven't had that problem here. But it does happen that women try and turn gay men straight," said the general manager, who wanted to be known only as Steve.

"When I was at high school and came out, plenty of my girlfriends said come with me and I'll turn you straight. You'd have to ask VCAT why they made the ruling."

Sircuit is a two-level nightclub that includes pool tables, a maze, movie lounges, private rooms and a wash area. The venue is an active fund-raiser and is regularly used by gay men's social and community groups.

VCAT said it was important gay men had a venue where they were not subject to disparaging comments. "For gay men who wish to display affection ... those actions can readily lead to misunderstanding and disparaging comments which are not applied to heterosexual people," VCAT said. "The applicants wish to provide a venue where it is safe and acceptable to openly express homosexuality."

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission did not wish to intervene in the decision, and VCAT said it did not contravene the Charter of Human Rights.

Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said she supported the exemption. "One of the objectives of the EOA is to promote recognition and acceptance of everyone's right to equality of opportunity," Dr Szoke said. However, Dr Szoke said complaints about women trying to turn gay men straight in nightclubs "would not be covered under our legislation".

Other gay venues have had less success in banning patrons. Last year the Peel Hotel in Collingwood lost its right to ask people their sexuality before they were allowed to enter.



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, 2011

The New York Times As Holy Writ

Michael Medved

When a journalist makes a concerted attempt to edit provocative comments out of the public record, it’s usually an indication that the remarks in question count as uncomfortably revealing.

That’s certainly the case with Jill Abramson’s suggestion on Thursday that her elevation to the position of executive editor at The New York Times amounted to a transfiguration and apotheosis, as well as the sacred fulfillment of the family faith that guided her childhood. Not only did she compare her new appointment to “ascending to Valhalla,” but in the original versions of a Times report by Jeremy W. Peters, she flatly declared: “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion.”

By the end of the day, someone toned down this touching testament of faith, suggesting merely that the new position represented “the honor of my life” for “someone who read the Times as a young girl growing up in New York ‘We are held together by our passion for our work, our friendship and our deep belief in the mission and indispensability of The Times,’ she said. ‘I look forward to working with all of you to seize our future. In this thrilling and challenging transition, we will cross to safety together.’”

And what will they cross, exactly? The Red Sea? Will Jill Abramson wield a miraculous staff to part the surging waters more effectively than did her predecessors Bill Keller and Howell Raines?

Even though specific references to a “substitute religion” ultimately disappeared from the Times website, much of the faith-based rhetoric remained. Whenever people use words like “mission” and “indispensability” to describe their work it indicates they view their positions as sacred vocations, not mere jobs.

So why, in that context, would Abramson and her associates feel the need to remove the explicit revelation that she grew up in a home in which the Times had replaced the Bible? One can assume that they attempted to edit those words because they provided inadvertent support to three of the most persistent criticisms of America’s Journal of Record.

First, there’s the obvious conclusion that when the Times “substituted for religion” in the Abramson household the newspaper didn’t just supplement the faith of the family, it supplanted it. This passing observation may have been intended with a self-deprecatory wink, but it identified Jill Abramson as proudly secular and separated her from the overwhelming majority of her fellow citizens who, in the words of one currently prominent social critic, “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion.” Abramson in fact received her (pre-Harvard) high school diploma at the prestigious Fieldston School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, a project of the Ethical Culture Society which attempted to substitute rational conceptions of morality and justice for outmoded religious teaching. The New York Review of Books sympathetically described the organization and its school (founded in 1878) “as havens for secular Jews who rejected the mysticism and rituals of Judaism.”

There’s nothing surprising in the appointment of a New York Times executive editor with little connection to organized faith, but with the newspaper receiving pointed criticism in recent years for its tone-deaf reporting on religious issues, the notion of a new boss lady treating the liberal pieties of the press as the equivalent of holy writ threatened to provoke needless new controversy.

Second, the creedal references suffusing Abramson’s exultations suggested a sense of purpose—of “her deep belief in the mission”—that fits uncomfortably with the preening pose of scrupulous objectivity that the Gray Lady strikes for a wondering world. Communities of impassioned religious believers may boast many virtues, but neutrality and detachment are not among them. Abramson’s suggestion of journalists “held together” by some shared faith echoes the charges of a shared ideology—confirming the core conservative critique of the organizations so lovingly described by Sarah Palin as the “lamestream media.”

Third, Abramson’s reference to “ascending to Valhalla” in accepting her new appointment (a reference that survived even in final versions of the article) represents a monumentally odd analogy in this context. In Norse mythology, Valhalla represents the majestic palace where dead heroes consort with Valkyries and the Gods. In the Ring Cycle of Richard Wagner (a notoriously anti-Semitic composer who would display little affection for Fieldston School graduates named Abramson) The Entry of the Gods Into Valhalla provides one of his most stirring, soaring orchestral interludes.

The claim that Jill Abramson now counts herself as part the godly company, with power and significance removing her from the normal coils of mortality, only underlines the image of journalistic arrogance that already troubles many Americans, with visions of an anointed elite haughtily lording it over lesser life forms. But there’s another echo in the Valhalla story that the immortals at the Times may come to rue. The Nordic myths describe the Home of the Gods as simultaneously glorious—and doomed. The destruction of this divine refuge counts as inevitable, for all the heroism and supernatural abilities of its inhabitants. With the deities of The New York Times continuing to struggle with falling circulation, challenging finances and a perception of growing irrelevance, this invocation of a magnificent center of power that’s fated for total destruction can’t count as reassuring.

After all, the Entry of the Gods Into Valhalla may occur early in Wagner’s Ring but the concluding installment bears the chilling title Gotterdammerung—or Twilight of the Gods. The Gray Lady may be a Goddess of the American press, but her new executive editor chose a creepy analogy to mark her appointment.


Sorry, you have to be addicted to drugs! British Boy Scouts told they're too well behaved to get council funds to repair their hut

For more than 100 years, the Scout movement has been supporting the community, helping young people realise their potential. So when one group in a deprived area applied for funding to help renovate a dilapidated hut which is almost as old as Lord Baden-Powell’s initiative, they thought they were in with a strong chance.

To their dismay, they were told they were not eligible for the cash – because their work does not involve drug rehabilitation for addicts or services to help young offenders.

Now the 1st Knowsley Sea Scouts face having to find the £250,000 renovation funds on their own. Around 70 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts use the group’s hut in Knowsley, Merseyside.

Last night, group leader Paul Lewis condemned the decision by Knowsley Council, saying drug addicts and criminals were being put before decent, law-abiding children.

Mr Lewis, 37, works with a Beavers group for children aged between five and a half and eight. He said: ‘It’s infuriating that the good kids who keep their noses clean are ignored and don’t get any financial support. ‘So much cash is made available for young offenders after they have committed crimes. ‘They will throw any amount of money at them.’

Mr Lewis, of Kirkby, Merseyside, added: ‘I’ve applied to the council but they have simply no money left – the chest is closed. 'Other charity groups have really tightened their belts and are not giving out money.’

The run-down 1920s Scout hut stands in one of the most deprived areas of the country. It is rotting and has no heating, according to Mr Lewis. Volunteers had hoped that local and national funding bodies could be relied upon to help.

But father of three Mr Lewis, a taxi driver, has been told his project simply doesn‘t meet public funding criteria. He said: ‘I just don’t understand why there isn’t any money for kids to keep them out of trouble in the first place.’

No-one was available for comment at Knowsley Council last night.


Ways to Defeat Islamic Jihadism

This is an urgent call to all free people to rise and defeat the Islamic Jihadists who are marching under the banner of the Qur’an to subdue all non-Muslims.

It is imperative that the values and the way of life of civilized people be protected against the assault of Jihadists’ savagery born from a primitive culture of long ago Arabia. There is nothing to negotiate here. Nothing to compromise, for the Jihadists are on a non-negotiable campaign of Allah. The goal of this mission from Allah is the eradication of just about everything that falls under the rubric of human rights.

It takes every free human to do his or her share in defeating Jihadism. Below is a partial list of what can be done.

* You don’t have to take up arms and go around killing the Jihadists. That’s the Jihadists’ way of dealing with us and anyone they don’t approve of. Decent humans value life, even the life of a Jihadist. By contrast, the Jihadists have no compunctions at amputating limbs, stoning, beheading and hanging people even en mass. The brutal mullahs ruling the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomed the new-year by hanging thirteen people, one of them the mother of two young children. We need to dry up their sources of support and beat them in the battle of ideas. We need to show them the fallacy and danger of their pathological belief.

* Fight to end the deadly practice of political correctness. Truth, only naked truth, can set us free. And freedom is our greatest gift of life. Life without freedom is death disguised as life. Remember Patrick Henry’s cry: Give me liberty or give me death. We must fight for life, for liberty and freedom.

* Demand that politicians, Islamic apologists, and paid-for media do not abuse freedom by lying about Islam. When these people portray Islam as a religion of peace, they are lying through their teeth. Just take a quick look at Islam’s history as well as what is happening today in the Islamic lands. Islam is not a religion of peace and it has never been. Islam is violent, oppressive, racist, and irrational at its very core. It is treachery for people to present it as otherwise, either out of ignorance or because of their own personal reasons.

* Challenge your leftist professors who may be retained by Islamic front organizations to trumpet Islam’s virtues. Demand transparency from hired lobbyists and the liberal mainstream media. Sadly, a percentage of people in Western Democracies are born alienated. These people seem to a have congenital hatred of their own societies; they ally themselves with any and all people and forces that aim to destroy our cherished way of life, and they live by the motto: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They eagerly join forces with the Saddam Husseins and Hugo Chavezes of the world.

* Demand that Islamic literature, including the hate and violence manual called the Qur’an, be purged of all violent and hate spewed toward non-Muslims. Is it too much to ask that non-Muslims not be targeted for hate by the so-called sacred religious text? What kind of religion is this? Religion is supposed to bring people together, and not put them at each others’ throats. The Muslims must be made to understand that and they must reciprocate the tolerance that the non-Muslims voluntarily afford them.

* Do not allow any special privileges whatsoever to be granted to Muslims. Demand that all Muslims have their first and foremost loyalty to the United States and its Constitution and not to the Islamic Ummah, the Qur’an, and the shariah law. Europe is rapidly buckling under the pressure of Islamism. Just a couple of examples: Germany has legalized polygamy to placate Muslim men, Italy is forced to plan separate beaches for Muslim women.

* Demand that none of the barbaric provisions of Islamic sharia be practiced. Just because a woman is born into a Muslim family, that shouldn’t force her to lead a subservient life to a man, for example. All family matters and disputes, without exceptions, must be adjudicated according to the civil laws of the country.

* A Muslim is, first and foremost, an Ummahist, a citizen of international Islam. So, when a Muslim takes the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance, he is either ignorant of the implications of his pledge or is lying willfully. Sadly enough, taqqiyeh (lying, or dissimulation) is not only condoned, it is recommended to the Muslims in their scripture. Hence, a Muslim can and would lie without any compunctions, whenever it is expedient.

* Require that the large number of recent arrival Muslims be carefully vetted for their terrorism and Jihadist backgrounds and beliefs. Many recent arrivals from places such as Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan come as refugees and bring with them their pathological anti-American system of belief. It is criminal to admit these refugees without demanding that they completely renounce their allegiance to the hate dogma of Islam. Those diehard devotees of Islam should make any of the eighteen or so Islamic countries home, rather than invade the secular societies and aim to subvert them.

* Demand that Muslims, without the least reservation, adhere to the provisions of the human rights. Muslims, by belief and practice, are the most blatant violators of human rights. We hardly need to detail here Muslims’ systemic cruel treatment of the unbelievers, women of all persuasions, and any and all minorities across the board. To Muslims, human rights have a different meaning, and its protective provisions are reserved strictly, primarily for Muslim men.

* Go and talk to Muslims, particularly the young and the better educated, about the horror and the fallacy of a primitive belief that has been handed down to them through an accident of birth. Show them the magnificence of freedom, in all its forms; the indispensability of tolerance for all; and, the futility of clinging to an obsolete hodge-podge of delusional ideology. The onus is clearly on the Muslims to prove the validity, utility, and sanctity of the belief they intend to impose on all of us.

* As for democracy, our cherished way of life, Muslims have no use for it at all. Muslims believe that Allah’s rule must govern the world in the form of Caliphate: a theocracy. Making mockery of democracy, subverting its working, and ignoring its provisions is a Muslim’s way of falsifying what he already believes to be a sinful and false system of governance invented by the infidels. Reason, if you can, with the Muslims that their belief is an outright rejection of the greatest gift of life: Freedom.

* Support financially and in every other legal way those individuals and organizations that are fighting the Jihadists’ relentless encroachment. Many European countries are already on the verge of capitulation to the Islamists. The Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, confidently proclaimed recently that Europe will be Islamic in a dozen years. He has good reason to say that. Muslims are forming states within states in much of European towns and cities. In Britain, for instance, non-Muslims are in serious danger entering Muslim neighborhoods.

In conclusion: Folks, get off your duff. Stop saying, “let FBI do it.” Neither FBI the agency, nor the “NSA, DHS" can do it by themselves. This is a battle for survival that every one of us can help wage. Let’s get on with it before, if not you, then your children and grandchildren end up under the barbaric rule of the Jihadists.


Australia's Left-leaning elitists sneer at the working class

'There is still a subconscious idea that if you aren’t living in a street with a view of Centrepoint, you are disconnected from the radiant beacon of city culture.' (NOTE: Unlike most of the USA, inner city areas in Australia are regarded as desirable places and lots of wannabes live there. There are few blacks in Australian inner city areas)

I had 13 years as a Sydneysider. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I went west of Auburn.

In those days, I probably would have looked a little askance at Summer Hill. Returning from work in Darlinghurst or after classes at the University of Sydney, I might occasionally stay on the train and go to Rockdale or perhaps even some distant burg like Blacktown, just to see what was there.

I did not hate "westies", as they might have been known, but I certainly feared and shunned them in any interaction where they did not recognise Newtown as the sun to their Pluto.

I was a snob, and my only defence is that the snobbery was, and largely remains, pervasive. But I was beginning to escape my middle-class illusions about the superiority of life at the centre. There is still a subconscious idea that if you aren't living in a street with a view of Centrepoint, you are disconnected from the radiant beacon of city culture - the only culture worthy of the name in Australia.

I'll always be middle-class, but I am no longer inner-city, having relocated to a suburb 20 kilometres from central Melbourne. Now I see the snobbery from the other side, and it is not pretty. Inner-city elitists in Australia continue to project views about large groups of otherwise diverse people simply on the basis of their location.

Today it's not the westies but the bogans. The word has murky origins, possibly related to the region and the river in central NSW, then popularised by Kylie Mole on The Comedy Company to become a nationally understood synonym for what were known in Brisbane as bevens, Hobart as chiggers, and Perth as bogs. Whatever: to my mind, it's code for "working class". I am reminded of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Breakfast of Champions in which a well-to-do couple have a secret code that allowed them to discuss African-Americans in front of their "coloured" maid: they discussed the "reindeer problem".

The word is "just a joke", some will say defensively, pointing to TV comedies such as Rebel Wilson's Bogan Pride - in which, incidentally, many of the funniest characters weren't bogans but "nerds". Some argue bogans are a "culture" not a "class". But ask them what's the difference, and the derisive term is laid bare: it's a new way to sustain class resentment, to pigeonhole people and places. They've created this creature that is a lesser human being to express unmentionable class hatred.

So poorly defined is the term, it's difficult to criticise its use in everyday life: it's applied to Julian Assange and Julia Gillard, and then to violent criminals. Publicising my book on talkback radio last week, many callers were adamant that bogans existed because they'd seen them: even listening to the multitude of definitions did not seem to deter audiences from the firm belief that their prejudices affirmed their experience.

I'm just happy to see the conversation take place. I want to see Australians stop demonising "bogans" who dwell "out there" on the suburban fringe, so commonly described in anthropological terms as though there was some kind of sub-species prone to antisocial behaviour. I would also be quite happy if those who describe themselves as "bogan" recognised that to identify as such is to demonstrate too much awareness to be truly a "bogan" in most people's minds. I would also be very happy to see an end to the assumptions that comedy and film - for instance, Angry Boys and Snowtown - are truthful representations, rather than extreme amplifications of the suburbs.

Is all of this ranting against the word "bogan" a plea for political correctness? Possibly, but not the way PC language is usually discussed. It's a plea for precision: it's about calling the disenfranchised, or marginalised, what they are - rather than a reindeer. Besides, if Assange, Gillard, Shane Warne and Eric Bana (yes, the charges have been laid, not just because he once played one on TV) are all bogans, who isn't a bogan? Is it praise, blame or demonisation? Some clarity in the argument might grease the wheels of the discussion, and who knows, we might just get somewhere for a change.



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, 2011

Should the British state decide what clothes children are allowed to wear?

by Sean Gabb

In the past few days, I have made six appearances in the British media. Each one has been to argue against a proposal by the British Government to make an Act of Parliament to control the alleged sexualisation of children. This will involve trying to regulate the type of clothes worn by children, and trying to stop them from watching possibly indecent music videos. I have not been able to upload all the recordings of these media appearances. But you can – or will soon be able to – find them here.

The argument I have been putting is fairly simple, and I have not deviated from it in my various appearances. I argue as follows:

1. It is reasonable to assume that anyone who uses the "protecting the kiddies" argument is really interested in controlling adults. Indeed, one of the organisations most active in pushing for controls is Media Watch UK, which used to be called the National Viewers and Listeners Association, and which, led by Mary Whitehouse, spent most of the 1960s, 70, and 80s arguing for censorship of the media.

2. Ratings on music videos will have no effect, as many of these things are now downloaded from the Internet. As for controls on clothing, children will wear what they want to wear, and it will be hard in practice to do anything about it.

3. How children dress and behave is a matter for their parents to control, not the authorities. Doubtless, there are some rotten parents about. But any law of the kind proposed will not be used against a small minority, but against parents in general. It will be one more weapon in the armoury of social control that has already reduced parents to the status of regulated childminders.

4. Authoritarian conservatives deceive themselves when they think the authorities are fundamentally on their side. The moment you ask for a control to be imposed, you put your trust in people you have never seen, who are not accountable to you, who probably do not share your own values, and who will, sooner or later, use the control you have demanded in ways that you find surprising or shocking.

The attempted control of clothing, for example, will certainly be made an excuse for the police to drag little girls out of family picnics to photograph the clothes they are wearing, or to measure their heels to see if they are a quarter of an inch too long. Anyone who dismisses this as an absurd claim has not been reading the newspapers. That is how the authorities behave. Even when it is not an abuse in itself, any law will be abused by them.

As said, I have been six times on the radio in three days, and I expect to be called several times yet to repeat my case.

Now, rather than develop the points made above, I will try to explain what is actually happening. The idea that millions of parents, disgusted by what they see on the television or in the clothing shops, have called out spontaneously and in unison for something to be done is too absurd to discuss. The truth is that there is a continuing dialogue between authoritarian pressure groups and Home Office officials. There are jobs and there is power and status to be had from the sort of controls now proposed. There are these things, or there is simply the joy of telling everyone else how to live.

The people at large have no say in the matter. The politicians who go through the motions of arguing for the laws that emerge from these closed discussions are members of two or three parties which are themselves projections of the State. The media people who are supposed to hold the politicians to account simply read out the Home Office and pressure group news releases. They never question the false dichotomy set up in these releases.

For example, I have repeatedly been set into a spectrum of opinion that ranges between support for a new Act of Parliament and belief that it is a fine thing to dress your daughters like tarts and let them watch morally corrupt music videos. There is no room for the alternative claim that this is a matter for parents to decide, not the authorities. Short of mass-demonstrations, there is nothing that ordinary people can do except hope that the new law, as it finally emerges, will not be as demented as appears to be promised.

Ian B, who writes on the Libertarian Alliance Blog, has described this process as a secular equivalent of how things are done in most Islamic states. There is the ulema, or general body of religious scholars. These state what ought to be done, and give their reasons. There is then the mutaween, or religious police, who enforce whatever controls are imposed. Our ulema are the authoritarian pressure groups and various moral entrepreneurs. Our mutaween are the normal police and the army of social workers and other bureaucrats. We may be at “war” with radical Islam. But, allowing for differences of nomenclature and clothing, our own system of government is not so very different.

Most people who complain about what is happening have no idea of how to stop it. They usually whine about “political correctness gone mad,” or call on the authorities to learn some common sense. Neither approach touches the root of the problem. What is being done is not some accidental madness, but is part of an overall agenda of social control. The abuses we read about in the newspapers are the intended outcomes. As for common sense, this is not a debate, in which positions can be advanced and rejected in the abstract. I have said there are jobs involved in this agenda of social control. There are tens of thousands of people whose only justification for employment or funding at our expense is the part they play in controlling us. The only answer to the endless advance of moral authoritarianism is to sack every one of these people. In short, we need to demand the following:

1. That all the Home Office and other ministry officials who are now employed to do business with the authoritarian pressure groups should be sacked;

2. That none of our money should be given to any pressure group of whatever kind, and that, where they are registered, these fake charitiesshould be deregistered and made subject to the same oppressive taxation as the rest of us;

3. That all the social workers and other staff employed to control our lives should be sacked.

There is much else that could be done. But this would be the beginning of a solution to the problem of an increasingly despotic and over-extended British State.

I could boast that the Libertarian Alliance has so far been the only organisation to take a stand in the media against the proposed law. But we are a tiny organisation, with minuscule funding. It really is a sign of how bad things are that the only opposition so far made depends on whether I can find the time from all else that I do to go on against an immense and polished campaign for despotism. Where are the other allegedly conservative and libertarian policy institutes in this debate? The answer, I suppose, is that they are too busy arguing, on behalf of their sponsors, for the cracks between the paving stones to be “privatised” and made into an income stream for some corporate interest.

Oh, what a country!


Shelve your softer sentence plans, British PM tells minister after rape controversy

David Cameron has ordered Ken Clarke to rethink his plans for soft sentencing for the most serious criminals. The Prime Minister summoned the Justice Secretary to a one-on-one meeting in Downing Street yesterday and told him to go back to the drawing board.

MPs, victims groups and lawyers have all denounced Mr Clarke’s plans to slash jail terms by 50 per cent for those criminals prepared to plead guilty early. Police minister Nick Herbert revealed at the weekend that the measure would mean 10,000 felons, including murderers and rapists would see their sentences slashed.

The Justice Secretary had previously enraged rape victims by insisting he would halve the time behind bars for sex criminals. He was forced to apologise for suggesting that some forms of rape were more serious than others.

But the Prime Minister’s intervention means that the 50 per cent cuts are now set to be scrapped for serious crimes – and could be abolished for even minor offences. Instead, criminals would get a one-third reduction in their sentence for an early guilty plea – the same level as at present.

Mr Cameron is so troubled that the Tories are losing their reputation as the party of law and order that he is to make a speech later this month which will depict the Conservatives as tough on crime. A senior Government source told the Mail: ‘We wouldn’t make that speech unless we had something worth saying. It will come when we’ve concluded the sentencing review.’

A No 10 aide confirmed the talks took place: ‘It is not unusual for ministers to talk through their plans with the Prime Minister.’ Mr Clarke will now have to find more than £100million of savings from elsewhere in his budget.

His initial proposals, outlined in a Green Paper last year, would have cut 3,400 prison places and saved £130million by 2014-15 with the offer of 50 per cent discounts.

A source close to the Justice Secretary did not deny that he had been asked to re-work his plans. He said: ‘The policy has not been settled. Details of the costs and how to pay for them have yet to be decided.’

The rethink comes as it was revealed that a convicted rapist let out on licence half way through an eight-year sentence attempted to rape a woman weeks after being released. Fabian Thomas, 23, wore a balaclava and used a hunting knife to attack his victim as she walked home from a supermarket.

The 19-year-old woman managed to fight him off after a ‘considerable struggle’ in the car park of Aldi in Plymouth on February 20.

Thomas, of Plymouth, was arrested the following day and immediately recalled to prison. On Monday, he admitted one count of attempted rape at Plymouth Crown Court. He had originally been sentenced to eight years in a young offenders’ institution in 2006 after raping a woman twice during a 30-minute ordeal.


I warned about Londonistan years ago. Now ministers admit I was right

By Melanie Phillips

Now they tell us. Ministers have finally admitted what I revealed in my book, Londonistan, back in 2006 and have written many times since then – that, incredible as it may seem, hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money that was supposed to be spent on countering Islamic extremism has gone to groups or individuals actually promoting Islamic extremism.

Paralysed by political correctness, the previous Labour government, the intelligence agencies, police, universities and other institutions decided to try to promote ‘moderate’ Muslim groups to tackle the extremists.
Extremism: 7/7 was the face of terrorism on the streets of Britain. Now it has been revealed that countless Muslim terror groups have been funded by taxpayers

Extremism: 7/7 was the face of terrorism on the streets of Britain. Now it has been revealed that countless Muslim terror groups have been funded by taxpayers

As a result of refusing to listen to the many warnings that such a policy would not work because of doubts about how ‘moderate’ these groups actually were, they got it terribly wrong.

Here are just a few of the extremist Islamist groups the Government has been funding:

Muslim Council of Britain

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and related groups were handed £550,985 over a period of three years by the Department of Communities and Local Government. In March 2009 the Government suspended links with the MCB and demanded one of its leaders should be sacked for allegedly supporting violence against Israel.

The Cordoba Foundation

The Cordoba Foundation, an independent research organisation which advises leading Muslim groups and which was founded by Anas al-Tikriti, former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, has received ‘anti-extremist’ funding.
Anas al-Tikriti was the founder of the Cordoba Foundation
Radical group leader Dr. Abdul Wahid gave a speech at a Cordoba Foundation meeting

Extreme: Anas al-Tikriti, left, founded the Cordoba Group and was given 'anti-extremist funding. However he was forced to give some of it back when radical group leader Hizb-ut-Tahrir was invited to give a speech to the group

The group, which David Cameron once described as a front for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, was given £38,000 by Tower Hamlets council in East London in 2007 for two projects: A Muslim media project and a Muslim debating society which held a debate entitled ‘Has Political Participation Failed British Muslims?’.

Dr Abdul Wahid, the leader of radical group Hizb-ut-Tahrir (an extremist group which refuses to condemn suicide bombers, has called for the destruction of Israel and which Tony Blair promised to outlaw) was invited to speak. As a result, the Foundation was required to return some of the money given to it.

The Islamic Foundation

Described by the BBC’s Panorama as an ‘influential’ outpost of militant Islamist ideology, it was set up by members of Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami opposition party, which campaigns for Pakistan to become an Islamic state governed by Sharia holy law. Panorama claimed the foundation promoted fundamentalist materials.


The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia used a body called iEngage as the group’s secretariat. iEngage is an organisation of Islamist sympathisers which has repeatedly defended extremists. It called on the Government to revoke a ban on a hardline foreign preacher who has said that ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’.
Inflammatory: Preacher Abu Usamah called on gay people to executed during one rant

Inflammatory: Preacher Abu Usamah called on gay people to executed during one rant

The STREET project

Lambeth Council gave an unspecified sum to the STREET project, run by Abdul Haqq Baker, the chairman of the Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre.

The project was aimed at ‘reaching out’ to young Muslims who were susceptible to violent extremism, but Baker is an adherent of Salafism, a hard line form of Islam seen as in conflict with liberal democracy.

Green Lane and Central mosques

Government money was given to Birmingham’s Green Lane and Central mosques. They featured in an undercover Channel 4 Dispatches programme in which imams were recorded making inflammatory comments.

One preacher, Abu Usamah, called for gay people to be executed and was quoted as saying: ‘If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?’.

Global Peace and Unity

Over four years the Met Police gave £26,500 sponsorship to the annual Muslim gathering, Global Peace and Unity. But one of the event’s main speakers had suggested the Queen’s decision to award a knighthood to Salman Rushdie was enough to justify suicide bombings by Muslims.

The Met also employed as an anti-terrorism adviser Mohamed Ali Harrath, who was wanted by Interpol and authorities in his native Tunisia because of his links to an alleged terror organisation.


Leftist destruction comes to Australia's cattle industry

In the name of animal rights, the Australian government halts live cattle exports to Indonesia. Livelihoods don't matter to this government

The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) says the Gillard government's ban on live export will destroy the Australian cattle industry and won't stop the cruelty. The Federal government has suspended the export of live cattle to Indonesia, with port authorities stopping nearly 2000 cattle being loaded on to a ship in Western Australia yesterday.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is understood to have signed the order last night, with the ban expected to apply for six months until mechanisms for the improved treatment of live cattle along the whole supply chain are in place.

The NTCA held a special meeting in Katherine, about 300km south of Darwin, yesterday before meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Darwin. NTCA president Rohan Sullivan the 100 pastoralists who attended the meeting agreed improved animal welfare would not be achieved by banning live exports.

"If we stop exports to Indonesian, we are walking away from the millions of dollars that Australian producers have invested in infrastructure, training and improved animal husbandry. "There is no Plan B for this industry. "If live exports to Indonesia are closed, families will be bankrupted and for what purpose?

"This doesn't help the cattle who will continue to be processed, just opens the door to imports from other countries which may not adopt our standards or spend what we do on animal welfare."

Mr Sullivan's comments were echoed by Rick Britton, the mayor of Boulia in Queensland's central west, who says the ban will have a devastating effect on cattle producers in northern Australia.

It is believed Cabinet decided to suspend the $318 million-a-year industry on Monday night in response to community outrage and the ire of some Labor backbenchers over the inhumane treatment of the animals.

Live cattle export bodies say they understand why the Government is banning exports to Indonesia and have undertaken to ensure the trade is reformed. In a joint statement released this morning, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and LiveCorp said under proposed reforms, the industry had committed to a reduction of trade to a core group of facilities in Indonesia independently accredited to meet OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) animal welfare standards.

A stringent supply chain, the rapid introduction of stunning and an ongoing review and monitoring program would ensure Australian cattle were processed only through these facilities, they said. "The Australian livestock industry understands the reasons behind the Australian Government's decision to temporarily suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia until a controlled system that will assure the welfare of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia has been implemented," the statement said.

MLA chairman Don Heatley said the suspension of the trade would most certainly have an impact on cattle producers and communities in the north and that needed to be acknowledged. "However, industry is confident it can work with the Australian and Indonesian Governments to deliver the solution," he said in the statement.

"This decision gives industry sufficient time to implement the controlled system which will ensure the appropriate treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with livestock officials and Northern Territory cattlemen in Darwin last night. "In light of the evidence presented to us, we have resolved to put a total suspension in place," Ms Gillard said. She said the suspension will remain until cattle from Australia are treated properly at every step of the supply chain. "We will be working closely with Indonesia, and with the industry, to make sure we can bring about major change to the way cattle are handled in these slaughter houses," she said.

The Australian reports the Port Headland Port Authority had confirmed it had not been allowed to load more than 2000 cattle on to the stock carrier The Falconia, bound for Indonesia.

Mr Ludwig suspended trade to 12 Indonesian abattoirs last week after the ABC's Four Corners aired video footage of steers being abused at the facilities. Indonesia accounts for about 60 per cent of Australia's live cattle exports.

Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon plan to launch private Bills into Parliament, calling for an end to all live exports within three years.

LiveCorp chief executive Cameron Hall said MLA and Livecorp were reviewing industry programs in all markets to ensure Australian animals were being treated humanely and with respect during management and processing. "These solutions will take time but the Australian industry is committed to ensuring Australian producers have confidence their livestock are well treated and retain access to key markets," he said.



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

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

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


7 June, 2011

Britain's cotton-candy council workers

Frail pensioner paid council to remove old TV... and was ordered to drag it outside herself so workmen didn't injure themselves

When 85-year-old Charlotte Cubitt decided to get rid of her old television, she thought it would be a straightforward process.

Although the set was far too heavy for the pensioner to move on her own, her local council offered an £11 removal service which seemed the ideal solution.

But then she hit a snag. On contacting the council, she was told by an official that staff could not enter her home and pick up the set – because of health and safety regulations. Instead, she was told she would have to drag it to the kerbside for collection.

Mrs Cubitt, from Colchester in Essex, was outraged. She said yesterday: ‘They told me I would have to put the TV outside my house because health and safety concerns prevented the men from carrying it out of the house. ‘I have seen these men and they are generally quite hefty and are employed because of their ability to handle heavy sacks of rubbish.

‘Countless times I have watched a man pick up five or six black bags – sometimes even more – and then stagger across the road to the assembly point. ‘What would be the risk of taking a TV from my house to carry it a couple of yards to sit on the kerb to await collection?’

Officials from Colchester Borough Council had suggested that the pensioner ask neighbours if they were willing to help.

But Mrs Cubitt, who still has the unwanted old-style set, said: ‘Would I be responsible if the neighbour suffered an injury? ‘I don’t understand it because the council must have insurance that would cover them, although I think it unlikely someone would be hurt carrying a television out to the road.’

The council’s deputy leader Martin Hunt, who also holds the portfolio for street and waste services, said: ‘The council is unable to collect items from inside the property because of possible insurance claims. ‘The council considers it the responsibility of the resident or their family to take the item to the agreed collection location.’

In February, the council was involved in another health and safety row when workers were banned from taking rubbish out of wheelie bins in case of injuries.


British review: 'parents must not be ridiculed' for complaining

Parents must feel free from "the fear of ridicule or appearing a prude" for complaining about their children being confronted by sexual imagery or commercial pressures, a report commissioned by the Government has concluded.

Parents will be encouraged to make a stand against companies, especially retailers, advertisers and broadcasters that cross the boundaries of decency. A special website designed where they can register their concerns will be set up within the next few weeks.

However, the report, which has been warmly welcomed by David Cameron, relies entirely on regulators and companies to adopt a voluntary approach, leading to some critics to say the report does not go far enough to put the brakes on "an unthinking drift towards ever greater commercialisation and sexualisation."

The wide-ranging review has called for companies and regulators, especially Ofcom, in charge of broadcasting, to adopt a variety of measures to curb the worst of the television, music and advertising industries excesses including inappropriately raunchy performances by pop stars on family shows such as the X-Factor. It has also instigating a one-stop website which can be used by parents to register complaints and find out information.

"We need parents to be parents," said Reg Bailey, who authored the report. "We want it to be more socially acceptable for parents and others to say that they are not happy about aspects of sexualisation and commercialisation, without fearing ridicule or appearing out of touch."

The key recommendations suggest that advertising billboards within at least 100 metres of schools and nurseries do not display sexual imagery; music videos will have a cinema-style rating; retailers should not sell lacy, black or underwired bras to under-12s as well as no longer stocking thongs and T-shirts for toddlers with inappropriate slogans such as "future WAG" or "Dive In".

So-called lads magazines such as Nuts and Zoo should either be sold on the top shelf or have their front cover images covered up in a "modesty sleeve"; consumers should be given the option when buying, or first turning on, a smart phone to block any adult material; and companies should no longer be allowed to pay children to promote their products in schools.

However, questions have immediately been raised about the voluntary approach, which relies on companies agreeing to change their behaviour and regulators to adopt a more censorious attitude.

Bhs, Matalan and Primark, all major childrenswear retailers are not part of the British Retail Consortium, which has been responsible for drawing up the code for stopping the sale of inappropriate clothing.

The Mothers Union, the Christian charity of which Reg Bailey is the chief executive, was one of the bodies to question whether the report was robust enough.

Rosemary Kempsell, the charity's president, said: "We cannot agree with the review that a purely consensual approach will be the most effective and that further regulation or legislation would necessarily disempower parents.

"As the review points out several times, parents want help and support to address the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and Government intervention is one way of achieving this. We should not be afraid to challenge industry when the welfare of our children, and their future, is at stake."

Sarah Teather, the Children's Minister, who commissioned the report, defended the voluntary approach: "One solution will not fix it.

"You don't always change things by regulation. That's not to say we rule out regulation. The Prime Minister has already said we will come back to this in 18 months time." She added that she hoped the retailers that had not signed up to the pledges would follow suit.

She and Mr Bailey both admitted it would difficult for parents to "put the brakes on" when it was impossible to define "inappropriate" or "sexual" when deciding whether a advertising billboard could or could not be placed near a school.

Mr Bailey said: "It would have been very easy to get bogged down with definitions of how many metres from a school or what is a sexualised image.

"What we have tried to do is put power back in parent's hands and let them decide. There will always be a range of views. One person's view of what is acceptable is another's persons unacceptable."

He said the most important thing was for parents to feed back and complain to the regulators.

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, is to be encouraged to take into account the concerns of parents when deciding what is and is not appropriate before the watershed. Many, Mr Bailey said, had expressed concern about the 2010 X Factor final, which sparked controversy with its sexualised performances from pop stars Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.

"That really came back very strongly that a programme that was essentially family viewing, a lot of parents felt very uneasy about some of the acts on there," he said of the hit ITV talent show.


"I am not resigning"

A married Congressman admits to lying, to sending obscene pictures of himself to young girls, and yet boldly proclaims that he will not resign.

Welcome to more evidence of serious cultural decay:
A tearful Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, admitted to a history of sending inappropriate messages and images to females he met on the internet during the past three years.

While he called his conduct "deeply regrettable," the congressman said he would not leave office for his actions.

"I am not resigning," Weiner said at a press conference Monday in a Manhattan hotel. "I have made it clear I accept responsibility for this. And people who draw conclusions about me are free to."

Weiner said he was "deeply sorry" for his "terrible judgment and actions" and offered apologies across the board to those affected by the scandal, primarily his wife.

"I've not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters and the media," Weiner said....

Weiner's ugly problem, however, seems to be a continuous interpersonal battle, one the congressman said is not caused by substance abuse.

"I'm not making any excuses for my behavior. I don't do drugs. I wasn't drinking. That wasn't the cause of this," he said. "This was me doing a dumb thing, and doing it repeatedly and then lying about it."

But through it all, Weiner assured he had not broken any laws, performing the communications mostly on his home computer rather than on government-issued equipment.

And so, the disgraced congressman hopes his constituents will realize that this scandal does not change his ability to get bills passed or perform community service.

I can't imagine the man sticking around but then again, I don't have a progressive mind.

I am however someone who thinks the man is capable of genuine sorrow and regret and is within reach of God's forgiveness and mercy. But I don't think we need to lower the bar for elected office and allow this man to continue to serve.

Step down Mr. Weiner and tend to your family and to the restoration of some semblance of integrity and dignity.


Discrimination may not be wrong

Tibor R. Machan

Most folks now consider discriminating against people because of their race, color, culture, age, sex etc. wrongful, unjust or unethical. At one time, though, being discriminating was deemed a good thing but that was when the idea was used to mean something like tasteful, discerning, even aware. But then it became something objectionable when people discriminated between others based on certain features that were irrelevant for purposes of deciding someone’s merits or worth as a professional or citizen.

Yet even now most folks have no problem with one’s having a favorite color, flower, ice cream, brand of car, hairdo, or apparel, etc. That means, of course, that in practice one will be drawn to these favorites while avoiding what one doesn’t find attractive or appealing–much of shopping pertains to picking favorites and avoiding what’s not favored. There is hardly anyone to whom this doesn’t apply and there is nothing wrong with it at all. This is so even when it is acknowledged that such tastes and preferences are quite arbitrary or subjective, not based on any sort of objective standards.

In contrast, it is also well and widely understood that when it comes to professional choices, it is indeed mostly wrong or unethical to let one’s tastes or preferences make a big difference. My dentist’s hair cut might not appeal to me but what matters is how good he is at dentistry. A teacher whose wardrobe is unappealing doesn’t lose points as a teacher for that. Nor is a student to be graded down for the color of his or her shoes. And the same thing holds across the board. (Of course, it is possible that someone’s tastes will clash with one’s own so drastically that one just cannot bear it!)

Now the same might also hold for race. There may be nothing amiss with preferring the skin color black to white or the other way around, so in personal matters this will be influential while in professional matters it should not be. One isn’t a racist for liking some skin colors more than others unless one lets this be a factor in judging people’s performance, worth, or qualification for citizenship. But otherwise acting on one’s preferences is no different from selecting favorite flowers or sofas and the like.

Yes, there are many areas in human relations when it is inappropriate to invoke mere preferences as one decides for or against someone. When one judges a competition in, say, technology or sports, all that may count is what is relevant while what isn’t needs to be left out of consideration. That is what justice demands. But life isn’t all about justice. It isn’t unjust for me to prefer tulips to roses, cabbage to broccoli, stake to fish or tall women to short ones.

All of this is pretty much common sense and widely acknowledged in practice even if careless rhetoric tends to go against some of it. (I am not considering here being judgmental based on religious or political convictions. Those can be well founded and need show no prejudice at all.) In dating, nearly everyone but a fanatic egalitarian will base selection on one’s preferences, tastes, etc., at least to start with. And few will feel any qualms about it–guilt for liking tall rather than short dates–although here and there one learns of some who do feel guilty for not preferring dates who are, say, overweight or speak with a heavy foreign accent.

The reason there is much concern about making selections based on race, color or sex is that such selections often concern hiring, promoting, including or excluding people who should be judged based on skill, competence, and other objective factors. In those matters reliance of tastes and preferences can be blatantly unjust, while in choosing a date it would not be.

A problem with getting all this wrong is that condemning those who act on their preferences often leads to people feeling guilty, seeing themselves as acting unjustly, as even harming people, whereas that’s not so at all. It is just that it is clearly wrong in certain cases to invoke one’s tastes and preferences, namely where what ought to count is the qualification one has for specific tasks or roles. But basing one’s preferences for other people on one’s tastes or preferences is entirely acceptable when kept within proper bounds.



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

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

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


6 June, 2011

Sneering at the British working class (still)

Plus ca change ...

Working class people have been demonised and their culture is under attack according to a new book that looks at the cruel stereotypes that have crept into popular culture. Chav-bashing and laughing at the working classes has become a socially acceptable past time, according to author Owen James.

He says the rich love to hate them and blame them for their own misfortune with jokes such as one about the closure of Woolworths leading to the privileged wondering where 'chavs' will go to get their Christmas presents in the future.

A YouGov poll from 2006 asked professionals working in TV whether Vicky Pollard was an accurate representation of the white working class with 70 per cent saying yes. Prime Minster, David Cameron also at one time claimed that Shameless was his favourite programme.

In his book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Classes, Mr Jones says have become a society in which working class people have become invisible or despised, according to the Observer. He said: 'The 1980s saw a dramatic assault on all aspects of working-class life, on unions and council houses and communities and with it, working class pride. 'Its been replaced by middle-class pride and the working classes have come to be seen as something to escape from.'

The Only Way is Essex is the must-see show of the moment. A fortnight ago it won the You Tube audience award at the Baftas. Its mixture of reality TV and scripted show gives a stereotypical one-sided view of Britain's chavland, according to Mr Jones who describes the characters as 'grotesque caricatures of working class life.'

In the Brentwood based show, the characters are not poor. They have money and are successful with aspiring dreams of wealth.

Historian, Dominic Sandford says the show represents an image of 'working class people bettering themselves and still being tasteless.'

Essex resident, Laura, a 26-year-old insurance broker who works in Brentwood, studied geology at Manchester University. She is happy to describe herself as working class but says The Only Way is Essex is not representative of Brentwood. 'If you go into the Sugar Hut (nightclub), you'll see all the girls dolled up to the nines, but it's not what the rest of us are like. 'At university I used to say I was from East Anglia, because if you said you were from Essex, people would say, 'Where's your white stilettos?' 'Or, 'Do you dance around your handbag?' There was a really sneering attitude.'

She says no TV programme that is currently on show presents the reality of working class life. 'There's not, is there? There's nothing. There's just these ridiculous people getting fake tans and boob jobs.'


'Be Prepared' for equality... The Scouts look to recruit more gay leaders and members

Britain's best-known youth movement is going gay-friendly. The Scout Association has revealed plans to boost its number of gay members and leaders in a bid to banish the perception that homosexuals cannot sign up. The half-a-million strong movement has released a video as part of the campaign - which will also let Scouts attend gay pride parades in uniform.

The move has been praised for dragging the group into the 21st century. But some have slammed it for 'steering the organisation' away from its original Christian values.

Wayne Bulpitt, the association's UK chief commissioner, filmed a video offering support to an anti-bullying campaign led by gay rights charity Stonewall. In it he stated: 'Bullying is wrong on every level, not just for the person being bullied, but for the bully too. 'In Scouting we believe that all young people, irrespective of their sexuality, gender, race, creed or background, have an equal opportunity to develop and to be themselves.'

Scouts spokesman Simon Carter said the campaign was designed to move the group away from its reputation as being 'austere and militaristic'. He said: 'There was an assumption that being gay meant you couldn't be part of the movement. 'That was never the case and we are keen to make it clear that we accept people of any particular orientation.

'We have had youth members and adults attend Pride events and plan to do so again this year. 'It shows that we are not just taking about it but are demonstrating our support publicly.'

The association, which ended its ban on' female members in 1991, has created a series of advisory documents on gay issues for members and adult leaders. They are aimed at counselling young people about informing others about their sexuality.

It states: 'Coming out is a major decision in your life. You may decide to tell your family, a friend, your teacher or a Scout leader. 'There is nothing wrong with being gay and being a Scout and the person that you tell should be supportive and non judgemental to what you are telling them.'

Leaders are advised to treat such conversations as confidential, but to have other adults 'within hearing or sight', and to be prepared to pass on details for specialised support organisations. A second leaflet, called Gay Adults In Scouting, reassures prospective leaders and volunteers they will not be turned away on the basis of their sexuality.

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green leader, welcomed the move and urged the Scouts to go further and lift their ban on atheists and agnostics.

But it has also been slammed for 'diluting' the group's original Christian theme. John Cormack, of the Scottish Christian Party, said: 'My reaction to this is one of dismay and I suspect many other people will also be deeply concerned.

'Sexual morality is an area where the parents should be taking the lead, not the Scouts. This is a huge step-change away from the Christian founding ethos of the Scout movement.'


Prime-time smut, vile obscenities on Radio 4 and a smug British elite who sneer at the silent majority

When the BBC executives talk about Sandi Toksvig, they like to use phrases like ‘much-loved’ and ‘much-admired’. The trouble is that when presenters like her become well-established and popular at the Corporation, they think they can get away with anything — as long as they can use ‘wit’ as an excuse. Presumably that was the rationale behind the BBC describing a particularly crass ‘joke’ she used on Radio 4 as ‘a delight’.

No doubt some people will have found her controversial scripted comment on the increasingly tedious programme The News Quiz funny rather than offensive.

Certainly, her typically Left-leaning quip (and the programme is built on them) got an easy laugh. I’m afraid I have to repeat it to make the point, so here it comes: ‘It’s the Tories who have put the “n” into cuts.’ Not especially witty, I agree. But it’s what happened afterwards that I find truly offensive.

When a listener complained about this reference to what was once an unacceptable four-letter word, the BBC’s response was so feeble and complacent it might have been issued by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

To me, there’s a direct link between this row over Toksvig’s gag and the news that TV chiefs are to be ordered to crack down on what is aired on our TV screens before the 9pm watershed. A report to be published today, commissioned by the Prime Minister, will make Ofcom confront the conveyor belt of smut on our screens. At long last.

Don’t forget, it was Ofcom that disregarded public outrage over the sleazy dance routines performed by the stars Rihanna and Christina Aguilera on The X Factor last year, and ignored 4,500 complaints.

It was Ofcom that outrageously tried to shift blame to this newspaper after it published images from the TV programme to highlight the fact it was anything but family viewing. It is Ofcom that, so often, lets decent, ordinary viewers down.

Do you think the producers of The X Factor or the bosses at ITV feel any shame for what was broadcast to the young children who watch the show with their parents early on a Saturday evening? I doubt it.

But then the images we witnessed on that show — just like Sandi Toksvig’s cheap and degrading joke on the radio — reveal much about the attitudes of those with power in the world of broadcasting. You can bet they chime perfectly with the unelected members of Ofcom, who boast six-figure salaries and an anything goes attitude to standards.

The issue here is about how we judge what is acceptable. It raises the question of whether the broadcasters ever stop to consider the long-term consequences of the pervasive coarsening of image, word and thought we have witnessed over the past ten years.

When Colin Harrow, a retired newspaperman, complained about that News Quiz joke, his objection was rejected by the BBC and the BBC Trust. The reasons given are revealing. The (then) commissioning editor Paul Mayhew-Archer acknowledged that he knew the joke might cause offence, but still thought that no reason to cut it.

Referring to the once taboo c-word, he said: ‘I was also aware that as a society our tolerance of “strong” language keeps shifting. Ten years ago, the single use of the word in a film would automatically earn it an X certificate. This is no longer the case. For good or ill, the word does not seem to have quite the shock value it did.’

Doesn’t it? If someone called you that word wouldn’t you take offence? If a yobbo shouted it at your wife or girlfriend, wouldn’t you be outraged?

People have been using expletives in private for years. But such words become acceptable only because educated people such as Mr Archer decide it’s OK for them to be used in public.

What’s more, the context is all important. What a yobbish football crowd yells at Wayne Rooney cannot be compared with something that is broadcast to a nationwide audience in the middle of the evening.

It is simply not true to declare that the expletive has lost its shock value. It is a term of abuse. And — witty or not — Sandi was deliberately invoking it to abuse the Conservative Party, in that leery, sniggering, News Quiz style.

Of course, a presenter will try to get away with a ‘joke’ they are proud of. The responsibility lies with those with the power of veto who should have the courage to say: ‘Sorry, old girl, that’s too near the knuckle.’

A broadcaster making a slip of the tongue (as Jim Naughtie memorably did on the Today programme when referring to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt) is one thing, but to choose to allow the taboo to be broken (even if obliquely) in a pre-recorded programme, and then defend the decision by saying that times have changed . . . it’s disingenuous, devious and dishonest.

If, as a society, we have become more tolerant of foul language, sick jokes, tawdry TV images, uncontrolled behaviour and pervasive sexualisation of young children, that is largely because broadcasters and film-makers and others in our creative industries have been pushing back the boundaries for years.

A shift happens only because of a collective push. It’s as if the callow men and women in positions of responsibility within broadcasting are so desperate to appear cool and right on they don’t dare to say ‘No’.

Ofcom has said that its own research shows that the c-word is still highly offensive and that it would investigate any complaint made to it. I’d be happy about that if I thought the promise had any meaning. But given their track record, can we believe it?

It seems to me that the kind of people who serve on this quango have so much in common with those who run our broadcasting institutions that the two are virtually interchangeable. This is a self-satisfied liberal elite that regards any sort of censorship as the ultimate evil.

There has always been a gulf between what is acceptable to the chattering classes and what is experienced by what used to be called The Silent Majority.

I once had a fierce argument with a good friend who had enjoyed a privileged upbringing, private education, brilliant university career and richly rewarded professional life, who told me I made too much fuss about what was suitable to be seen on TV, even by children. He genuinely believed pornography was fun, and that there was no proven connection between grotesque violence on screen and real-life crime. And so on.

Over the years I’ve met so many like him — knee-jerk liberals with no knowledge of the real-life consequences of such slackness of thought. They sneer at those of us who worry that the refusal at the top of society to set any limits filters right down to those who are the most impressionable and most likely to be corrupted by crude images and words. They accuse us of that most embarrassingly uncool sin: moral panic.

As if it’s prudish to point out that when little girls watch famous singers dress and dance like hookers —as I witnessed for myself at a Rihanna concert — it has a direct influence on the way they value themselves.

As if it’s reactionary to suggest that when respected broadcasters see nothing wrong in tacitly approving the crudest of expletives, another chunk falls out of the wall of decency.

That’s why I hope today’s report — presented by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers’ Union — is really tough on the broadcasters, and kicks Ofcom where it hurts. Its proposals should force the watchdog to consult regularly with parents who are, after all, in the trenches every day fighting to keep a vestige of innocence in their children’s lives.

I want the glorious Mothers’ Union to take on the chattering classes — and win.

People like my friend and his peers within the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 form a Left- leaning media establishment as set in its ways as any squire in the shires. Labour and Lib Dem voters to a man and woman, they may see themselves as progressive, but the irony is that these privileged, blinkered people have presided over a dumbed-down, coarsened culture for so long that it’s those bold enough to challenge them who are the true radicals.

We are the ones demanding change. Revolution, if you like — with a manifesto based on respect for taste and human dignity. We should take the fight to the enemy, starting with the TV watershed, and presenters and producers who think that anything goes.


Tree pruning correctness

Every two to three years, Eddie Sales trims and prunes the crape myrtles at his church, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church. But this year, the city of Charlotte cited the church for improperly pruning its trees. "We always keep our trees trimmed back because you don't want to worry about them hanging down in the way," said Sales, a church member.

The church was fined $100 per branch cut for excessive pruning, bringing the violation to $4,000. "I just couldn't believe it when I heard about it," Sales said. "We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined."

The fine will be dropped if the church replaces each of the improperly pruned trees, said Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for city of Charlotte Land Development Division.

"When they are nonrepairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced," Johnson said. "We do that for a number of reasons but mainly because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road."

Charlotte has had a tree ordinance since 1978, and when trees are incorrectly pruned or topped, people can be subject to fines, Johnson said.

Trees planted as a result of the ordinance are subject to the fines if they are excessively trimmed or pruned. These include trees on commercial property or street trees. They do not include a private residence. "The purpose of the tree ordinance is to protect trees," Johnson said. "Charlotte has always been known as the city of trees. When we take down trees, we need to replace these trees."

Individuals who would like to trim their trees should call the city foresters to receive a free permit to conduct the landscape work. Foresters will then meet with the person receiving the permit and give instructions on how to properly trim their trees, Johnson said.

The state Division of Forestry recommends that anyone trimming trees should be certified by the National Horticulture Board, but certification is not required to receive a permit.

On private property, fine amounts are based on the size of the tree improperly pruned. For small trees such as cherry trees or crape myrtles, the fine is $75 per tree. Excessive cutting can increase that fine to $100 per branch. For large trees such as oaks or maples, the fine is $150 per tree.

Because there is a widespread lack of understanding on how to prune crape myrtles in the Charlotte area, Johnson said, residents found in violation regarding these trees are asked to simply replace them, and the fine will be lifted.

Sales said trees found in violation at the church must be cut down and replaced with new trees by October, but the church plans to appeal. Sales doesn't know how much it would cost to replace the trees. "We trimmed back these trees in the interest of the church," Sales said. "If we were in violation, we certainly did not know we were."

Typically during the course of a year, Johnson said, about six private residents are found in violation of improper topping or pruning. "We are trying to be pro-active and not trying to fine people excessively," Johnson 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.


5 June, 2011

Federal Reserve bank asked to lower gay pride flag

Government promotion of homosexuality? Will we see government promotion of Christianity too? I kinda doubt it

A gay pride flag flying below an American flag at a Federal Reserve bank has re-ignited a tense gay-rights debate in Virginia after officials were asked to remove it by a state delegate.

The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank hoisted a rainbow flag outside its building this month in a bid to support acceptance of diversity in the workplace.

However, Virginia state Delegate Robert G Marshall said the homosexual behaviour 'celebrated' by the bank 'undermines the American economy'.

In a letter to Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey M Lacker obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch Marshall wrote that homosexual conduct is a felony in Virginia according to the state's penal code. That statute remains in place despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2003 which deemed the anti-sodomy law that prohibited private, sexual acts between consenting same-sex adults unconstitutional. The state has since stopped enforcing the law.

Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, continued, calling the flag's presence 'a serious deficiency of judgment by your organization, one not limited to social issues'. He wrote: 'What does flying the homosexual flag, or any other similar display, have to do with your central banking mission under the Federal Reserve Act passed by Congress?'

According to the Times-Dispatch, Richmond Federal Reserve officials placed the flag at the request of PRISM - a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bank employees - in recognition of LGBT Pride Month in June.

Sally Green, the bank's first vice president and chief operating officer, said last week: 'We are flying the pride flag as an example of our commitment to the values of acceptance and inclusion.'

Bank spokesman Jim Strader said there were no plans to lower the flag, noting the Federal Reserve bank is operates independently from the federal government.

The bank has seen support from Richmond-based gay-rights group Equality Virginia, which has criticised Marshall and local opponents of gay-rights, dubbing them 'Virginia's self-styled morality police'.

Executive Director James Parrish said: 'The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond should receive accolades for its decision to recognize and celebrate its GLBT employees, customers and vendors during Pride month.'

Meanwhile, opponents in the battle over gay-rights expansion are backing Marshall in his stance against the bank's decision. The conservative Family Foundation, dubbing the controversy 'Flag-gate', called it 'disappointing' to see the bank participate in the 'celebration' of homosexuality.

The association, whose purpose is to 'strengthen the family in Virginia through research, education, training, and public policy,' claimed state residents made clear their stance when they voted 57 to 43 per cent in 2006 in favour of the state's marriage amendment.

A post on its website fired back at Federal Reserve officials: 'So much for this being all about "inclusivity". Treading where it doesn’t belong, the Richmond Fed has alienated a large segment of the community.'


You want louts punished? That makes you a 'nasty extremist' in today's Britain

I regret to inform you that you are an extremist, bonkers, a spittle-flecked member of the lunatic fringe. That is because you agree with me that Wayne Bishop, whose triumphantly smirking, selfish face looks out at us from amid his terrifying brood of children, ought to be breaking rocks on Dartmoor instead, and to hell with his ‘right’ to a family life.

Bishop is a burglar. He is also a menacing lout who badly needs to learn some lessons in manners, but never will.

We’ve all seen faces like that and learned to cross the street, or shift down the bus, to avoid them when we see them coming. Some people, and God help them, cannot avoid them because they live next to them.

Bishop is the sort of person the law, the police and the prisons were invented to deal with and who – in a sharp break with normal practice – was actually locked up.

As the Ministry of Injustice finally admitted last week, it is harder by far to get into prison than it is to get into university.

Here are the figures, which should be tattooed on the foreheads of every member of the Cabinet so we are constantly reminded of how useless they all are: ‘96,710 criminals sentenced last year for more serious “indictable” offences had 15 or more previous crimes against their name. They included violent muggers, burglars and drug dealers.

‘Of those, only 36 per cent – around 34,600 offenders – were given immediate custody.’ So even after 15 or more previous offences, they won’t put most of them away.

So it’s almost an irrelevance that Bishop has been let out of prison in the name of his Human Wrongs. It is amazing that he was inside in the first place.

You are (for the moment) allowed to laugh at this, or to complain about it. But if, like me, you actually want to do anything about it, then you become an extremist, bonkers, spittle-flecked, lunatic etc.

Because against you, you will find all three major parties, most especially the treacherous, slippery and dishonest Tories, the BBC, the legal profession, the police and the Church of England.

They believe the system that allows Wayne Bishop and his many friends to smirk at you while they live off you is a good system. They think you are cruel, crude, outrageous and uncivilised to want a justice system that punishes bad people swiftly in ways they won’t forget.

Well, Wayne Bishop is the result of all their compassion and kindness and, as I grow older and nastier, I can’t help wishing that the people who created him could be forced to go and live next door to him for the rest of their natural lives. But then, I’m an extremist.

And if you hate the way people such as Wayne Bishop are caressed by our society, why do you keep voting for the Tories who help to caress him, and do nothing
to rescue you from him and from people like him?


Former British magistrate cleared of rape but facing bankruptcy

An outrageous conviction after a false rape accusation cannot be remedied at law?

For seven years he had served as a magistrate, a pillar of the community handing down sentences in Southampton magistrates court. So when Tony Hunt had a brief fling with a married colleague he knew that, although it might have been wrong, it was not against the law.

Little did he know that seven years later he would be accused of rape by that same woman – and his life would be turned upside down. The "attack" was reported to police not by the alleged victim but by one of her friends, another colleague, who at the time was being investigated over disciplinary matters by Mr Hunt, then a senior traffic warden.

Hampshire police persuaded the "victim", a special constable with the force, to give evidence. Hunt was arrested, charged and found guilty of rape at Winchester crown court in 2003 for the "offence" in 1995. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Mr Hunt, from Blandford St Mary in Dorset, launched an appeal with fresh evidence to back up his claim that, after he had been on duty at the Fordingbridge country show, the woman had invited him into her home for a cup of tea and consented to sex.

New witnesses said that his accuser had been content to be in his company after the supposed "rape" and did not even change her shifts to avoid working with him. The appeal court in London also found that the trial judge had misdirected the jury. After two years behind bars, his conviction was quashed and he was a free man, innocent in the eyes of the law.

But his ordeal was far from over. When he applied to the Home Office for compensation for the two years he had spent in jail, his claim was rejected, in June 2006, because he had not proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Determined to make clear his innocence, he launched a legal case for malicious prosecution against the woman he believed had concocted the allegations against him, the "victim", named only as AB.

Mr Hunt, who was sacked from his job after his conviction and has not worked since, had to remortgage the family home, use savings and take out loans to fund his legal battle, which was based on a 1995 House of Lords ruling.

But in October 2009, to his dismay, the case was thrown out by three civil appeal judges who ruled that AB was not the "prosecutor" and therefore could not be sued for malicious prosecution. "I was devastated," Mr Hunt said.

Lord Justice Sedley, sitting with Lords Justice Wall and Moore-Bick, said the prosecution was the responsibility of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

There was more bad news to come and today, at the age of 69, Mr Hunt – and his wife Lynn, and their 35-year-old son Paul, who have stuck by him throughout – are mired in a legal nightmare that has brought the family to the brink of financial ruin.

Hogan Lovells, the international law firm that acted for AB, is seeking nearly £500,000 costs from Mr Hunt including £80,000 AB spent on lawyers from other firms before Lovells took up the civil case.

The law firm had initially acted pro bono – free of charge – but after four months, in June 2008, switched to a "conditional fee arrangement" (CFA). This meant that although no fees would be charged to Mrs AB it could claim back its fees from Mr Hunt if he lost the case. The fees claimed would exclude the work carried out before the CFA came into effect.

The firm was voted runner-up for the 2010 Wig and Pen prize, awarded by London law societies, for its pro bono work on the Hunt case.

A spokesman for the firm said any money recovered from Mr Hunt would be given to AB to cover costs she incurred with her original lawyers, and any money due to the firm would be given to charity – although he declined to say which charity ahead of the hearing.

Mr Hunt is contesting their claim for the costs which will be decided at a hearing at Cliffords Inn in London this week (June 9/10). He said: "I feel disgusted. It is scandalous that Lovells can change their mind. "I spent two years in prison as an innocent man and now they are seeking over £400,000 and trying to bankrupt me. "I have felt suicidal at times. We are all at our wit's end."

Mr Hunt's solicitor, Stephen Taylor, of Buckinghamshire-based law firm Coyle, White Devine. said: "Mr Hunt is an innocent man who has been living in a nightmare for the past nine years."

The case has also sparked a political controversy. Questions are being asked about the role of Vera Baird, the solicitor general in the then Labour government, and a supporter of AB. Mrs Baird said the ruling against Mr Hunt in the malicious prosecution case was "good news for the courageous Mrs AB, for women and for the criminal justice system" because it would encourage women to come forward without fear of being sued for damages if the alleged attacker was eventually acquitted.

The verdict also means that if a man is wrongly accused of rape by a woman, he can bring a case to a civil court only if he can prove beyond reasonable doubt that she perjured herself in a criminal case.

In a Radio 4 interview in November 2008, defending anonymity for complainants in rape cases, Mrs Baird said: "The point ... is to avoid the shame, the guilt of having to expose that she had been treated in this way and having to be challenged about whether she consented or not."

Robert Walter, the Conservative MP for North Dorset, who is backing Mr Hunt, said he would ask Dominic Grieve, the current Attorney General, to investigate Mrs Baird's role and examine whether she had in any way abused her position by allegedly asking Lovells to take up AB's case.

Mr Walter said the law firm should not pursue Mr Hunt for costs "since they were doing the work pro bono and he was acquitted in the criminal case. He also had a strong civil case, including fresh evidence that was ruled to be inadmissible by the judge."

Lord Newby, a Liberal Democrat peer, wrote to the law firm asking them to drop the action – but it refused. He wrote: "If you were successful ... you would not only effectively bankrupt Mr Hunt – an innocent man – but would be doing so on the basis of what appears to be a cynical and unethical approach to business."

Another extraordinary aspect of the case is that both parties were initially reluctant to take action against each other. AB did not come forward with her rape allegation until she was contacted by detectives seven years after the incident, following the complaint to police by her friend who was being investigated by Mr Hunt over expenses and sick pay claims.

In another twist, following a complaint from Mr Hunt, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has asked Hampshire police to investigate an allegation that a prosecution witness in the original trial committed perjury. The CPS has also been asked to investigate claims that it withheld crucial evidence from the first trial in 2003 that did not come to light until 2008.


British Christians take prejudice row to European court

The Government will be forced to say whether it backs the rights of Christians to wear the cross and opt out of diversity legislation as part of a landmark legal case.

European judges have ordered ministers to make a formal statement on whether it believes Christians' rights have been infringed by previous decisions in the British courts, which have repeatedly dismissed their right to dress and act according to their beliefs.

The move by the European Court in Strasbourg is because Christians who believe they have suffered discrimination for their beliefs are taking a landmark legal fight the court.

Four Christians leading the pivotal new challenge include Nadia Eweida, the British Airways worker who mounted a legal action after being barred from wearing a cross around her neck. Their cases have been selected by the European Court as of being of such legal significance that they be examined further.

Once ministers have responded the court will decide whether to have full hearings on them.

The four new cases, which come from a range of Christian denominations, could lead to a final legal answer on how religious beliefs must be balanced against equality laws designed to prohibit discrimination against minority religions and other groups such as homosexuals.

The other applicants to the European Court of Human Rights include Lillian Ladele, a former registrar who objected to conducting homosexual civil partnership ceremonies because of her faith. It led to disciplinary action by Islington council in north London, where she had worked for 17 years.

Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, has also applied to Strasbourg after he was sacked by a Relate, the counselling service, for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.

The final applicant is Shirley Chaplin, a former nurse from Exeter, who was barred from her job in a hospital for wearing a cross.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, the founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting two of the applicants, said: "These cases are massively significant on every front.

"There seems to be a disproportionate animosity towards the Christian faith and the workings of the courts in the UK has led to deep injustice.

"If we are successful in Strasbourg I hope the Equalities Act and other diversity legislation will be overturned or overhauled so that Christians are free to work and act in accordance with their conscience. "David Cameron now needs to put his money where his mouth is."

Mrs Minichiello Williams added: "People with orthodox views on sexual ethics are excluded from employment because they don't fit in with the equalities and diversity agenda. It is this which we want to see addressed. Such injustice cannot be allowed to continue."

In Mrs Eweida and Mrs Chaplin's cases, the court asked the British government: "In each case, did the restriction on visibly wearing a cross or crucifix at work amount to an interference with the applicant's right to manifest her religion or belief, as protected by Article 9 [the right to freedom of religion] of the Convention?"

Earlier this year the European Court ruled that schools have a right to display a crucifix on classroom walls, after an application was brought by Roman Catholics in Italy.

The decision appeared to set European human rights law at odds with British courts, where all four applicants in the new round of cases have lost on appeal.

Mrs Chaplin was banned from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she failed to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, even though she had worn the symbol every day since her confirmation and throughout her 31-year nursing career.

The 55-year-old was supported in her battle by senior Anglicans, who claimed Christians are being persecuted in Britain.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and six current and former Anglican bishops wrote to The Sunday Telegraph in support of Mrs Chaplin when her case was heard by an employment tribunal last year.

They expressed their deep disquiet at examples of Christians being "treated with disrespect" while followers of other faiths are treated far more sensitively. "We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development," they said in their letter.

The bishops said it was "deeply disturbing" that the NHS trust's uniform policy permitted exemptions for religious clothing, such as Muslim headscarves, but appeared to regard the cross as "just an item of jewellery".

Mrs Eweida's case against BA dates back to 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which she regards as a personal expression of her faith. The 60-year-old, from Twickenham, south-west London, is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols - such as the Sikh turban and the Muslim hijab - but she had been sent home without pay for insisting on displaying her cross.

BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her case at the Court of Appeal and in May last year was refused permission to take her fight to the Supreme Court.

The application to the European Court says of Mr McFarlane's case: "He holds a deep and genuine belief that the Bible states that homosexual activity is sinful and that he should do nothing which directly endorses such activity."

Mr McFarlane, 50, claimed unlawful discrimination he was sacked by Relate after refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples, but the tribunal upheld the employers' decision.

Bristol-based Mr McFarlane, who regularly attends both Pentecostal and Anglican services, said at the time: "If I were a Muslim, this would not have happened, but Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights."

Mr McFarlane and Mrs Chaplin are represented by Paul Diamond, a leading human rights barrister.

Miss Ladele, who joined the council in 1992 and became a registrar in 10 years later, told appeal judges that she could not carry out such civil partnership ceremonies "as a matter of religious conscience". She claimed she suffered bullying and ridicule as a result of her views and said she had been harassed and discriminated against by the council.

But Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls sitting with two other senior judges at the Court of Appeal, ruled in December 2009 that Labour's 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations - which make it illegal to refuse to serve someone on grounds of their sexual orientation - trump the rights of religious believers. "It is simply unlawful for Miss Ladele to refuse to perform civil partnerships," he said.



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

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

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


4 June, 2011

Britain's culture war on toffs and chavs

Today’s liberal smart set hates the posh and the poor, seeing both as blasts from a best-forgotten past

So who are the most put-upon, derided people in modern British society? Screenwriter Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame, believes it is posh folk. He caused a ripple of controversy this week when he claimed that ‘poshism’, alleged discrimination against toffs, is rife in the twenty-first century. Hating posh blokes is the ‘last acceptable prejudice’, he said. Others have countered that in fact it’s the white working classes, sometimes sneeringly referred to as ‘chavs’, who bear the brunt of opinion-formers’ opprobrium. Polly Toynbee of the Guardian says ‘chav’ is ‘the vile word at the heart of fractured Britain’, an expression of ‘venomous class hatred’.

In fact, the most striking thing today is the extent to which both toffs and chavs have become objects of ridicule amongst the smart set. Mocking so-called toffs and sneering against so-called chavs are now the favoured pastimes of the political and media elites. The privately educated foxhunting brigade who cover themselves in Barbour might be a million metaphorical miles away from the young men and women who live on inner-city council estates and have a penchant for tracksuits and bling. But what both these sections of society share in common is an attachment to what we might call ‘Old England’, to traditional values, and that makes them immediately suspect in the eyes of an influential commentariat that fancies itself as pomo, uber-cosmopolitan and so over the past.

Of course it is crazy to claim, as Fellowes does, that posh people face actual discrimination. That’s as fictional as Downton Abbey. It remains pretty easy for well-educated, well-connected people to get highly prized jobs in politics and the media, as confirmed by the number of former Eton boys in the current government and the predominance of hereditary journalists in the media. But it is true that it is acceptable today, if not de rigueur, to look down (up?) one’s nose at those who were born into privilege. In a frightening flashback to the idea that people are defined by the circumstances of their birth, that who we are is determined by a mish-mash of pater’s sperm and how we were schooled, many commentators now expose a politician’s or celebrity’s privileged background as a way of calling into question their true motivations and presenting them as suspect.

So Labour Party activists and supporters who campaigned against the Tory candidate Edward Timpson in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008 vilified him as a ‘toff’, as if that were enough to rubbish his political beliefs. David Cameron’s government is frequently written off as an ‘extension of the Bullingdon Club’ – an exclusive dining club at Oxford University – as if a man’s student antics define him for the rest of his life. (God, I hope that isn’t true.) Having had a nanny, having attended Eton, having once worn a top hat and tails – all those things are now held up as instant indicators of an individual’s true and inescapable inner self. It is meant to sound radical – bash the rich! – but in truth it eerily echoes the equally fatalistic and hopefully outdated notion that being born poor makes you feckless or being born black makes you uncouth.

Fashionable toff-bashing, now widely indulged in the liberal media and by Labour Party hacks, likes to present itself as an edgy class war against unfair privilege and the alleged dominance of the Eton set over political life. In reality, it is a highly individuated campaign rather than a political battle, motivated more by the politics of envy and resentment for the rich than by anything resembling a principled position on wealth creation or distribution. Where class warriors of old not only attacked the wealthy but also put forward an alternative vision for how the world should be run, today’s farcical toff-haters simply lambast the dress sense, eating habits and old-fashioned attitudes of the pearl-wearing set. In the recent complaints about the ‘sharp-elbowed’ sons and daughters of toffs getting internships ahead of the sons and daughters of the middle classes, we can glimpse the personal bitterness that drives modern-day posh-bashing.

Yet the cultural elite can just as easily turn its intellectual guns away from toffs and on to ‘chavs’. Polly Tonybee’s column this week on the ‘class hate’ that fuels the use of that c-word was written in response to a tweet by Baronnes Hussein-Ece, a Lib Dem peer who sits on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which said: ‘Help. Trapped in a queue in chav land.’ Yet the Guardian is not in a good position to attack chav-bashing. Its writers have slated white working-class communities for being ‘paranoid, suspicious, mistrustful, misogynist and racist’, have described football fans as ‘knuckle-dragging cretins’, and have lamented the state of ‘ugly, thick white Britain’.

In the spat over whether toffs or chavs are most hated by the modern-day great and the good, some have sought to depict the demonisation of chavs as a sport played exclusively by poshos – by princes William and Harry, who have dressed up as chavs, or by newspapers like the Telegraph with their alleged ‘war on single mums’. In truth, those old-style, right-wing prejudices, particularly against single mothers, have far less cultural purchase today than they did in the past.

Now, attacks on the white working classes, on so-called chavs, are far more likely to come from liberal commentators or from the Labour left than from right-leaning snobs. From New Labour’s war on cheap booze and junk food to the Guardian’s attacks on the knuckle-dragging paranoiacs on council estates to the development of intrusive ‘early intervention’ policies aimed at preventing the children of the poor from turning into maniacs, it is clear that the idea that there are feral bits of Britain that need re-education or rescue is now propagated more enthusiastically by liberals than by conservatives.

In short, it is the same people who bash toffs who also attack chavs: what we might call the opinion-forming classes, the influential cultural elite. This section of society heaps disdain on both the man in the pub and the man in the country pile; both the chav with the dangerous dog and the toff with the hunting hounds; both the footie fan who waves the St George Cross and the posho who insists on saluting the Union flag.

They have a cultural revulsion for the values of both the privileged and the working classes, seeing both as old-fashioned, too nationalistic, and too attached to land and pride and beer and other things that are so 1910. So toffs are widely described as being ‘stuck in the past’ and the Guardian lays into the ‘social conservatism’ of white working-class communities. A cultural elite that fancies itself as being detached from tradition, which is embarrassed by the old imperial outlook, and which considers itself more European than British, snobbishly looks upon both toffs and chavs as blasts from a best-forgotten past. ‘If the past was so great, then why does all the pooled knowledge available to us from Britain’s social and economic history suggest that it was, in fact, shit?’, said the opening to a casually disdainful Guardian article on the need to ‘bury working-class conservatism’.

It is important to note that it is not a genuine progressive cosmopolitanism that drives the cultural elite’s disdain for the old workers and the old rulers of British society; it is not a real and meaningful desire to redefine what Britain stands for or what values it should embrace that motors their attack on the two great classes of old. Rather it is their own lack of conviction, their own dearth of any principled or positive vision for society, which makes them lash out against anyone who still seems to believe in something and who even waves flags (eurgh) to express that belief.

When Tony Blair declared war on ‘the forces of conservatism’ in 1999 (when, post-Kosovo but pre-Iraq, he was still the messiah of the chattering classes), he said his ‘forces of change… don’t respect tradition and don’t stop at national boundaries’. It was the Blair set’s inability to outline a new vision for Britain that led them to become increasingly intolerant of the old ones, leading to assaults both on foxhunting toffs and flag-waving football followers, all of whom were seen as ‘forces of conservatism’ by a cultural elite that is almost nihilistic in its lack of belief and its lack of attachment to a set of clear values.

In many ways, of course, the rise of toff-hatred and chav-attacks speaks to the very real, objective decline of two major classes: the old conservative ruling class and the powerful working class. As a result of some sweeping historic shifts over the past 20 years, the old-style ruling class has been robbed of its raison d’être and has seen its values derided and denigrated, while the working class has become sidelined, elbowed off the public stage by the decline of progressive left-wing politics and increasingly treated as a blob of people in need of help rather than as a class of people that can do things for itself.

And into the vacuum left by the demise of the old right and the old left, assuming political and intellectual influence almost by default, come the value-lite middle classes, the modern-day cultural elite, who are spectacularly intolerant of both the well-spoken class above them and the chippy class beneath them.


The Smurfs are 'anti-Semitic and racist'

The Smurfs, the cuddly blue comic strip creatures loved by generations of children, are anti-Semitic and racist, treating blacks like moronic primates, a new book claims.

The claims by Antoine Buéno, 33, a lecturer at Paris' prestigious Sciences Po political sciences school, have been branded a "disgrace" that "soils the legends of our childhood" by an army of Smurf lovers.

Under the guise of a "critical and political analysis of Smurf society", Mr Buéno's 'Little Blue Book' ruthlessly deconstructs the world of Smurfs (Schtroumpfs in French).

His stark conclusions are that the blue men created in 1958 by Belgian artist Peyo, real name Thierry Culliford, represent an "archetype of totalitarian society imbued with Stalinism and Nazism".

The author backs up his claims of racism by citing Peyo's first work – The Black Smurfs in French but translated as The Purple Smurfs in the English version for reasons of political correctness. In the story, a Smurf gets stung by a black fly that turns his skin jet black, drives him insane and deprives him of speech. Soon the entire village has changed colour.

Mr Buéno said the story was clearly racist, as when the Smurfs turn black, "they are reduced to the state of primitives who get around by jumping and crying: 'Gnap! Gnap!'" "They lose all trace of intelligence and become completely moronic," said Mr Buéno, also a speech writer for François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Modem party. "It's roughly the way Africans were viewed by white colonisers in the 19th century."

Mr Buéno also contends that The Smurfs' arch-enemy, the wizard Gargamel, comes across as a classic anti-Semitic caricature of a money-grabbing Jew, the book claims. "Gargamel is ugly, dirty, with a hooked nose (who) is fascinated by gold".

Papa Smurf, the village's aged white-bearded leader, meanwhile, is portrayed as a dictatorial gerontocrat wielding absolute power and whose red hat and trousers are a nod to Stalin, while Smurfette, the only blonde female created by Gargamel to wreck havoc among his enemies is a misogynistic take on Aryan woman.

The book has sparked a deluge of fury on the internet from Smurf aficionados. "What a disgrace to soil the legends of our childhood," wrote Bibouille on the "Schtroumpfmania" website.

Another, called Anastasia wrote: "It's not hard to find anti-Semitism in Shakespeare or Balzac." The author's arguments spring "from his own obsessions ... the hooked nose of a wizard is neither Jewish nor Goy, it's a traditional for wizards," she wrote.

Such has been the outrage, the author said he feared for his physical safety and insisted he meant no harm. "I love the Smurfs," he wrote on Nouvelobs website. "I just wanted to explain with this book that popular works teach us lot about the society we come from. I am not accusing Peyo of racism himself, otherwise you can well imagine (his heirs) would have attacked me.

"However, I believe his work (like many others) carries and concentrates a certain number of stereotypes particular to a given society and era."

Others before him had come to similar conclusions, he said, citing an American critic who claimed Smurf was short for "Small Men Under Red Forces".

He said his work was serious but tongue-in-cheek, adding that his critics appeared to lack "the slightest ounce of humour ".

Thierry Culliford, son of Peyo and current head of Studio Peyo, said the accusations were "between the grotesque and the not serious".

The row comes at an unfortunate time for Hollywood producers, as the big budget film Smurfs is due for release in the US in August.

The Smurfs are not the only comic strip to come under attack for racism. A Congolese resident of Belgium is seeking to ban the book Tintin in the Congo over claims it is it "racist and xenophobic". His case reaches court in September.


Amnesty’s anti-Israel pogrom

Human rights group helps create a climate that sanctions the murder of Israelis

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1977) for shining a spotlight on political prisoners, Amnesty International claims to be the “conscience of the world.” This July marks the 50th anniversary of the London-based human rights group, yet Amnesty’s emblem has been degraded and is now the symbol of an ideology estranged from the glorious history of Western human rights.

In fact, Amnesty today constitutes one of the scariest faces of the new anti-Semitism, in the form of its assault on the Jewish people's right to live as an equal member of the family of nations. Amnesty just hosted in London an event titled: “Complicity in Oppression: Do the Media Aid Israel?”

Organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, this anti-Israel conference featured Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

In 2007, Atwan declared that he would dance “in Trafalgar Square if Iran attacked Israel” and in 2008 he said that the terrorist attack on the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem, where eight Israeli students were murdered, “was justified.”

The event was cosponsored by the Middle East Monitor Online, run by Daud Abdullah, a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration which states that it is the obligation of the “Islamic Nation” to “carry on jihad and Resistance” against Israel.

Even a liberal and a non-Zionist like writer Salman Rushdie has accused Amnesty of “moral bankruptcy,” because the organization is serving as an effective weapon in the hands of human rights’ most dedicated enemies.

Amnesty has played an important role in the portrayal of Israel as the epitome of human rights violator. In 2002, the UK group falsely accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in Jenin: This was a myth and a mockery of international law, but the legend of the rubble and corpses buried with it is still used to assail Israel and the Jews.

Indeed, Amnesty’s reports have formed the political and legal infrastructure for producing the blood libel of Israel as an illegal settler “entity.” Among other things, Amnesty has asked the Obama Administration to “immediately suspend military aid to Israel."

'Zionism is apartheid'

Amnesty’s fatwa on Israel’s “apartheid wall” and “apartheid roads” has been one of the most repugnant propagandistic manipulations ever suffered by the Jewish State. Contemporary anti-Semitism finds expression not only in the “Zionism is Racism” indictment, but the further indictment of Israel as “an apartheid state," Amnesty’s euphemism for justifying Israel’s destruction.

The “Zionism is apartheid” ideology is used to justify Islamic terrorism and the efforts to deny Israelis the basic human right of self-defense against being ripped apart in bombings on buses and in restaurants. In Amnesty’s immoral doublespeak, protecting Israelis from suicide attacks and slaughter has become “apartheid.” The group has been generous in promoting the books of anti-Israeli firebrands such as Ben White’s “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide.

Amnesty’s “soft war” against the Jews has been crucial in the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, where 3,000 NGOs convinced the United Nations to condemn Israeli “racism.” Well-known NGOs such as Amnesty International and Save the Children attached their names to the conference. A few weeks later, the Second Intifada broke out.

hese NGOs will soon have another opportunity to showcase their Jew-hatred: The United Nations will hold “Durban III” in New York, just a few days after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Amnesty’s played a prominent role at the UN Human Rights Council, where Israel has become a pariah state while major human rights violators enjoy exculpatory immunity, and at the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, where Israel became the first ever state to face a country-specific indictment. Recently, the head of Finland’s branch of Amnesty International, Frank Johansson, called Israel “a scum state.”

In 2006, the year of the Second Lebanon War, Amnesty produced more documents against Israel than on the genocide in Darfur. The group also played a major role in turning Mordechai Vanunu, the Dimona plant’s technician who offered Israel’s nuclear secrets to the highest bidder all over the globe, into a hero.

Amnesty is crucial in biased reports against Israel submitted at the UN, like the discredited Goldstone Report, and in the campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish State in European courts. Amnesty also plays a role in the ongoing legal indictments against Israeli politicians and the country’s military.

In the Middle Ages, the “mystery plays” that portrayed the Jews as the killers of Jesus helped fuel the pogroms. Today, with its verdicts portraying Israelis as “war criminals,” Amnesty is staging a contemporary mystery play: the Israeli Jew, legally and humanitarianly sentenced to death.


U.S. Navy too politically correct for ‘old salts’

The U.S. Navy is sailing into politically correct waters, sometimes at a speed too fast for the Obama administration to keep up. Whether it is policies on gays and women, or naming ships after social activists, the Navy is charting a course that has some “old salts” worried. “It’s pretty dire,” said John Howland, a 1964 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who manages a web site on naval issues called USNA-At-Large.

“We’re back to ‘H.M.S. Pinafore,’ ” he added, a reference to the comic opera about English shipboard life. “The leadership of the military is pretty much politically correct kind of stuff. You like to think that we’re approaching hitting bottom, but these people are not through with us yet.”

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a Democrat and former Mississippi governor, has embraced assigning women to the cramp underwater quarters of submarines, including enlisted females on attack subs. The first female officers are due to report aboard larger ballistic missile submarines this fall.

In addition, Mr. Mabus has left open the possibility of putting women in the decidedly all-male and physically challenging world of Navy SEALs, like the ones who killed Osama bin laden.

“It’s my notion that women should have the same opportunities as men in the Navy,” Mr. Mabus told the Navy Times, an independent newspaper. “The only reason I’m being a little hesitant for the SEALs is some of the physical things you’ve got to go through to be a SEAL.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Mabus riled some conservatives by reaching out to Hispanics and naming a supply ship after union activist Cesar Chavez, who served in the Navy.

“Mabus is an unequivocal disaster,” Mr. Howland said. “He’s done nothing but the straight social engineering play book. Women on submarines is a looming disaster that is sure to come. He’s done the ship naming things.”

Mr. Mabus defended his selection. “His service was difficult, because Cesar Chavez faced a segregated Navy, but that challenge like others he faced in his life, helped forge the leader he became,” he said at the naming ceremony in San Diego May 18.

“His example blazed a path for subsequent generations. His example will live through this ship. He will continue to inspire young Americans to do what is right.”

Mr. Chavez was a champion of better working conditions for farm laborers. He enlisted in the Navy in 1946 at age 17. He later called it “the worst two years of my life,” according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, who saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, believes Mr. Mabus made a political decision. “This decision shows the direction the Navy is heading,” said Mr. Hunter. “Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navys history and tradition.”

Last week, Mr. Hunter introduced legislation directing the Navy to name the next available ship after Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Sgt. Peralta was killed when he fell on a grenade during combat in Fallujah, Iraq, and was awarded the Navy Cross.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Mabus did not return a reporter’s phone messages.

The Chavez was the second Lewis-and-Clark class cargo ship that Mr. Mabus named after a civil rights leader. In 2009, Mr. Mabus announced a ship would be named after Medgar Evers, the Mississippi civil rights activist who was shot and killed in the drive way of his home in 1963. Mr. Evers had no professional connection to the Navy. He served two years of combat in Europe in World War II and was honorably discharged an Army sergeant.

Before the Chavez and Evers namings, most of the other 12 Lewis-and-Clark ships were named after Navy pioneers. They include retired admiral and astronaut Alan Shepard and Arctic explorer Adm. Robert E. Peary. One ship is named the USS Carl Brashear, after the Navy’s first black master diver.

There are four exceptions: the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson; their guide, Sacajawea; aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart; Dr. Charles Drew, who developed a system of life-saving blood banks during World War II.

There have been other events this year that some sailors view as politically correct. In January, the Navy fired the popular commander of a U.S. aircraft carrier for producing a raunchy shipboard video. Some sailors came to Capt. Owen Honors’ defense, saying he was the victim of a “PC Navy” for an internally produced morale builder.

The Navy chaplain’s office went overboard by announcing it would allow same-sex marriages on naval facilities, a policy at odds with the Obama administration. The White House had told Congress such unions would not be allowed because federal law defines marriage as one man and one women. Under pressure from lawmakers, the Navy retracted the policy.

The Navy’s perceived “PC” tilt comes as troops are experiencing the biggest social change since blacks were integrated into the ranks in 1948.

The four branches have launched an extensive indoctrination campaign, both in the states and in war zones, to prepare troops for open gays by the end of the year. Homosexuals now serve under a policy called “don’t ask, don’t tell” that requires them to keep their sexuality private.

An outside commission set up by Democrats when they ran the House has recommended the Pentagon end its ban on women serving in direct ground combat units such as the infantry, tank corps and Special Operations Forces.

There has been dissension in the ranks. Sailors are circulating online a spoof uniform patch in protest. The patch is of a coffin holding a carrier jets landing tailhookwith the inscription: “1911-2011: It was a good ride.” The decidedly unofficial patch says, “No cursing. No call signs. No tradition.”

Adm. J.C. Harvey, the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces and the man who fired Capt. Honors, posted his actions on his own blog page and allowed sailors to comment by name or anonymously. Some supported the admiral; some did not. “What a horrendous end to so many that gave their lives to their country and to the Navy,” said one anonymous sailor.

“Why have we turned into a ‘no defect’ Navy and think it is appropriate to go back years and punish those who were doing their best to maintain morale and keep their personnel focused on serving and protecting their country?”



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

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

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


3 June, 2011

Those innocent days before 'Elf 'n' Safety took the fun out of a British childhood

Do you remember the days when a childhood was about getting into scrapes and having adventures?

It isn't so long ago that children were allowed, and often encouraged, to take risks - with teachers and parents believing it was the best way to learn.

This poignant set of pictures points back to a time before 'Elf 'n' Safety took over our schools - banning youngsters from hugging in case it spreads illness, or forcing them to hold hands in high-vis jackets in order to cross the road.


Useless "regulators" of British care homes

Box-ticking bureaucrats let abusers off the hook: Whistleblower points finger at 'deskbound' care inspectors

The social care watchdog which failed to halt the barbaric treatment of patients at a private hospital is ‘completely hampered by red tape’, a whistleblower claimed yesterday.

The Care Quality Commission has already admitted an ‘unforgivable’ lapse of judgment after shocking scenes of abuse were uncovered at the centre for adults with learning disabilities. And yesterday it emerged that the quango has drastically reduced the number of inspections it carries out.

CQC is now investigating why staff ignored the pleas of a former senior nurse at Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol, where patients were routinely subjected to violent treatment from members of staff.

But an inspector who works for the commission said regular visits to hospitals had been sidelined by demands for increased administration and ‘box-ticking’. The employee said: ‘We are so deskbound that inspectors are unable to do what they are supposedly paid to do – inspect. ‘What was uncovered at Winterbourne is a direct result of this.

‘CQC is more interested in spending millions on IT systems and admin skills at the expense of actually ensuring that social care is up to scratch.’

The source told the Daily Mail: ‘A few years ago, I was carrying out two or three inspections a week. Now I’m lucky if I do that many in a month.’

The inspector added that unannounced checks at hospitals can help to root out the kind of behaviour exposed by the BBC’s Panorama programme earlier this week.It showed employees of the hospital physically and verbally abusing vulnerable patients.

Four members of staff at Winterbourne View were arrested on suspicion of assault. Wayne Rogers, 30, Graham Doyle, 25, Jason Gardener, 42, and Allison Dove, 24, have been released on bail.

In one shocking scene, a female patient called Simone was repeatedly drenched in cold water and left to shiver on the floor. The CQC employee said yesterday: ‘If an inspector had made an unannounced visit at that moment, that kind of behaviour could be stamped out. ‘As it is, hospital staff can be pretty confident that two years will pass without an inspector dropping by. We are not being allowed to do our jobs.

‘There is an atmosphere of shame in the office and my colleagues are glad what was happening at Winterbourne View has been exposed. We hope it will shine a light on the organisation so that urgent improvements are made.’ He said CQC ‘is completely hampered by bureaucracy and red tape’.

After the CQC was formed in 2009, to replace three separate commissions, a great deal of time was spent amalgamating data bases, the inspector said. ‘For about three months last summer, we effectively had our inspecting duties removed completely. It was all about entering data and registering for a new IT system.’

He added: ‘The cutbacks have made a difference too. There aren’t enough inspectors to carry out the work we need to do. It is very frustrating that our resources are so limited, and that the resources we do have are so often misused.’

CQC executives had travelled to Scandinavia and Arab states to advise foreign organisations, the inspector said.

The Government has ordered a report into how warnings from former nurse Terry Bryan of systematic abuse were not acted upon by CQC. Mr Bryan had become concerned about the standard of care and complained to the home’s managers in a four-page e-mail in October. When managers failed to address his concerns he resigned.

As a result of his concerns, an undercover Panorama reporter shot footage of the regime at Winterbourne.

CQC issued an ‘unreserved apology’ after admitting it failed to respond to Mr Bryan’s warnings but its chairman, Dame Jo Williams, said she would not resign, blaming ‘an unforgivable error of judgment’ by staff for the failure to act.

Care services minister Paul Burstow has said that the CQC would have to stage unannounced inspections on care homes, rather than giving them advance notice.

Responding to the inspector’s concerns, a CQC spokesman said: ‘Inspection activity has dropped to lower levels while we have been engaged in registering care providers under the new regulatory system required by the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

‘It is a big job and we had to concentrate our resources accordingly. The rate of inspections is now rising again. Our aim is still to review every home at least two-yearly and for the great majority this will involve a site visit.’

She said that CQC ‘does not spend money on systems at the expense of inspections. IT systems exist to support the inspection regime. Additionally, it is extremely rare for employees to travel abroad and its impact on operations will consequently be negligible.’


How EU spends £20m a year promoting left-wing causes in the U.S.

Brussels is pouring nearly £20million a year from its human rights budget on lecturing the Americans on left-wing causes.

The EU Human Rights Fund is intended to help promote Western values in the developing world. But a shock report has found at least £17million of cash – around £2million from British taxpayers’ – has been ploughed into promoting the pet causes of Eurocrats in the U.S.

It is being spent on promoting abolition of the death penalty, discussion of climate change, green energy, and the International Criminal Court – all controversial subjects in the U.S.

The study by the Heritage Foundation, a centre-right Washington think-tank, found a further £4million has been ploughed into pro-EU propaganda in the U.S., including funds for advertising and publicity material.

More than £3million has been funnelled to American universities to promote the benefits of European integration and a further £3million to think-tanks who want to study EU affairs.

The European Commission’s own accounts show millions have also been paid to unnamed individual opinion formers in the U.S.

The report’s British author Sally McNamara said: ‘It is impossible to justify EU human rights budgets being spent in one of the world’s freest nations.’

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The U.S. was founded by North Americans fed up with Europeans interfering in its internal affairs.

'The U.S. as a country has done more to bring liberty and human rights to the world than anyone in Europe. They don’t need any lessons from Brussels.’

Stephen Booth, research director of the Open Europe think tank said: ‘The EU has absolutely no mandate to wade in to politically sensitive debates in the U.S.’


Australia: Liberal party returns fire over Leftist hypocrisy about abusive language

As ever, Leftists are the stone-throwing glasshouse inhabitants. Due to the swamp in which their major policies are stuck, the Labor party has made a big deal out of a "miaow", believe it or not -- because a conservative politician made that sound while a Leftist politician was speaking. How desperate can you get -- to make a fuss about such a triviality? The Left, themselves, of course, have said much worse

THE most senior Liberal woman, Julie Bishop, has blasted Julia Gillard for making nasty comments about men. A day after Coalition Senator David Bushby was carpeted for a catcall aimed at Finance Minister Penny Wong, federal MPs continued to take swipes at each other.

Ms Bishop turned the attack on the Prime Minister saying she was shocked by her behaviour. "The Prime Minister has the opportunity to raise the level of debate in this country, but she frequently makes nasty personal jibes, never apologises for them," Ms Bishop told ABC News 24's Capital Hill program.

"She's called people fat, misogynist, mincing poodles in the past, and never apologised for them," she said. "The worst I thought was saying Bob Brown did not have a love of family. Now what on earth was she getting at?"

In October 2006, Ms Gillard referred to Liberal frontbenchers as "the misogynist and the fat man".

Her comment in February, 2009, describing senior Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne as "mincing" and a "poodle" was raised yesterday as the Liberals fired back after Treasurer Wayne Swan claimed the "miaow' incident was evidence of the "rudeness and the sexism of Tony Abbott's goons".

Ms Gillard denied calling Mr Pyne a "mincing poodle" and challenged her accusers to check the Hansard record. It shows she used both words in reference to Mr Pyne but never joined them together. It was in a speech after Mr Pyne was given a promotion ahead of Mr Abbott to be then leader Malcolm Turnbull's chief parliamentary tactician and attack dog.

"In a choice between macho and mincing, I would have gone for macho myself, and obviously the Leader of the Opposition faced with the choice of doberman or poodle has gone for the poodle," the then deputy PM 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.


2 June, 2011

Divorce 'permanently harms learning and affects their ability to make friends'

Children struggle with maths and making friends when their parents divorce, a study has found. They often fall behind classmates whose parents stay married, suffering from anxiety, loneliness and feeling sad – and may never catch up academically.

Contrary to some previous research, children through primary school did not show any negative effects before the parents decided to split, the U.S. study found. But as soon as the divorce process started, the children suffered a range of problems that persisted, a report in the American Sociological Review said.

The five-year study compared emotional and academic development of children of divorce with those whose parents stayed together, by following 3,585 children from around the age of four.

‘Children of divorce experience setbacks in maths test scores and show problems with interpersonal skills and internalising behaviour,’ lead researcher Hyun Sik Kim, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. ‘They are more prone to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness.’ This stabilised after the divorce, he said, ‘but the children remain behind their peers from intact families’. ‘My original prediction was that children of divorce would experience negative impacts even before formal divorce processes began. But the study finds this is not the case.’

Possible causes for the setbacks include stress the children experience as result of seeing their parents blaming each other for the divorce or arguing about custody. An unstable living situation in which children are shuttled between parents can also disrupt social networks, he said.

Other problems include economic hardship due to a sudden drop in family income or a parent suffering depression as a result of the divorce.

The study adds to a wealth of data showing children suffer badly from parental break-up. British research showed children of broken families are five times more likely to suffer damaging mental troubles than those whose parents stay together.


'Handcuffed by policy': SF Fire crews watch man die

City policy changed after budget cuts cited as reason rescuers couldn't act

Fire crews and police could only watch after a man waded into San Francisco Bay, stood up to his neck and waited. They wanted to do something, but a policy tied to earlier budget cuts strictly forbade them from trying to save the 50-year-old, officials said.

A witness finally pulled the apparently suicidal man's lifeless body from the 54-degree water.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the man, later identified as Raymond Zack, spent nearly an hour in the water before he drowned.

First responders and about 75 people watched the incident on Monday from a beach in Alameda, a city of about 75,000 people across from San Francisco.Witnesses included Amy Gahran, a reporter who photographed the scene from the beach for Oakland Local.

Interim Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi said that due to 2009 budget cuts his crews did not have the training or cold-water gear to go into the water. "The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable," he said Tuesday. "But I can also see it from our firefighters' perspective. They're standing there wanting to do something, but they are handcuffed by policy at that point."

But Tuesday night, after hearing from angry residents at a City Council meeting, the city promised to spend up to $40,000 to certify 16 firefighters in land-based water rescues, KGO-TV reported.

"This just strikes me as not just a problem with funding, but a problem with the culture of what's going on in our city, that no one would take the time and help this drowning man," KGO quoted resident Adam Gillitt as saying.

A witness, Perry Smith, said Zack was visible from the shore of Crown Memorial State Beach and was looking at people. "We expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him," another witness, Gary Barlow, told KGO.

Witness Sharon Brunetti told the Mercury News that Zack's stepmother stopped her on the beach and asked her to call 911, saying he was threatening to take his own life.

Zack "gradually inched out farther and farther" from the shore but occasionally glanced back over his shoulder at the beach, Brunetti said. "The next thing he was floating face down," the Mercury News quoted her as saying.

The Coast Guard was called to the scene, but the water was too shallow for its boat. A Coast Guard helicopter arrived more than an hour later because it had been on another call and had to refuel. As for police, they didn't have the gear for the cold water and couldn't risk being pulled under.

"Certainly this was tragic, but police officers are tasked with ensuring public safety, including the safety of personnel who are sent to try to resolve these kinds of situations," Alameda police Lt. Sean Lynch said.

"He was engaged in a deliberate act of taking his own life," Lynch told the Mercury News. "We did not know whether he was violent, whether drugs were involved. It's not a situation of a typical rescue."

There are no lifeguards at the beach, said Isa Polt-Jones, a spokeswoman with the East Bay Regional Park District. Signs at the park advise swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.



And when they come for the feminists, their daughters and their sisters -- we will respond in kind. Their silence on the oppression, brutality and subjugation of women in Islam makes them as guilty as the murderers. Their silence is their sanction

A teenage Muslim girl was stoned to death under 'Sharia law' after taking part in a beauty contest in Ukraine. Katya Koren, 19, was found dead in a village in the Crimea region near her home.

Friends said she liked wearing fashionable clothes and had come seventh in a beauty contest. Her battered body was buried in a forest and was found a week after she disappeared.

Katya Koren, 19, lived in the Crimea region of the Ukraine. Her battered body was found buried in woodland

Police have opened a murder probe and are investigating claims that three Muslim youths killed her claiming her death was justified under Islam.

One of the three - named as 16-year-old Bihal Gaziev - is under arrest and told police she had 'violated the laws of Sharia'. Gaziev said he had no regrets about her death because she had violated the laws of Islam.


Australia: Sydney peace prize discredits itself even further

In A move likely to spark another annual round of healthy controversy, the veteran American linguist, social scientist and human rights campaigner Noam Chomsky was named 2011 winner of the Sydney Peace Prize last night.

Professor Chomsky said he was honoured by the award, whose previous recipients include the South African cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Palestinian activist Hanan Ashwari and the Australian journalist John Pilger.

In recent weeks the 82-year-old has been one of America's most-hated men, subjected to "obscenities, intellectual hysteria and death threats" over remarks following the shooting of Osama bin Laden.

The al-Qaeda leader's crimes, he wrote, were vastly exceeded by those of the former president George Bush. "We might ask how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at his compound, assassinated him and dumped his body in the Atlantic."

Professor Chomsky said the ill-considered American operation had pushed the world to the brink of war, possibly even nuclear war. "The commandos who violated Pakistani sovereignty were given orders to fight their way out if necessary. They risked coming into confrontation with the Pakistani army.

"In a society barely hanging together, the military is very stable, very professional. They are dedicated to the defence of Pakistan, which is probably the fastest-growing nuclear power in the world. If confronted it will fight."

Professor Chomsky restated his opposition to war in Afghanistan, where two Australian soldiers died this week. "Americans and Britons, too, are dying … in fact, to make the world more [not less] dangerous for the United States and Britain. And I'd say for the rest of the world."

The announcement of the prize-winner was made by the NSW governor, Marie Bashir. The citation praised his unfailing courage, critical analysis of power and promotion of human rights.

Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said, "Chomsky is one of the West's most influential intellectuals in the cause of peace, the most significant challenger of unjust power."

Professor Chomsky, who receives a $50,000 prize and a hand-made glass trophy, will fly to Australia in November to deliver the City of Sydney Peace Prize lecture and attend a gala dinner at Sydney University.

He has visited Australia before, 15 years ago, when he delivered lectures about East Timor refugees at the invitation of the leader, Jose Ramos Horta. This time, he says he hopes to spend more time, catching up with friends, meeting fellow activists, enjoying Sydney's enviable lifestyle.

Meanwhile, he said, peace remained a distant prospect in a world torn apart with wars unnoticed, such as that in the eastern Congo, and wars unwinnable, such as that in Afghanistan.



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

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

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


1 June, 2011

Deformed Muslim babies and a shameful conspiracy of silence in Britain

By Saira Khan

Few subjects are more universally heartbreaking than the plight of sick children. Yet in this country babies are routinely born with terrible disabilities that could easily be avoided — if only the dangerous tradition of first cousins marrying, which still prevails in many Muslim communities, could be stamped out.

A whole raft of genetic disabilities —from blindness and hearing problems to blood disorders — are being bred into our children thanks to this antediluvian practice.

As a British-born Pakistani Muslim, this is something I have seen first-hand — and yet, in this politically-correct age, it is seen as a taboo, with precious few people willing to speak out.

At the weekend, however, geneticist Professor Steve Jones from University College London made a brave speech at the Hay Literary Festival highlighting the health problems of ‘inbreeding’ within Islamic communities. He warned of the ‘hidden genetic damage’ to children born when first cousins marry, explaining this occurs because children are much more likely to inherit two copies of any damaged genes from their parents.

While everyone inherits some abnormal genes, in most cases a normal gene from one parent will overrule a defective gene from the other parent. But if the child’s parents are related, they are more likely to both carry the same defective genes.

Professor Jones’s research showed that children of first cousins were ten times more likely to have recessive genetic disorders and face deafness, blindness and infant mortality. This is a shocking statistic, which is why I’m grateful that someone has finally been prepared to stand up and say what many of us in Islamic communities have known for decades.

I can only hope that David Cameron’s Government will not shy away from confronting a problem which for too long has allowed outrageous practices to flourish unchallenged in this country.

Growing up in England as the child of Pakistani parents (who moved here in 1965, five years before I was born) I know of several children, born to first cousins, who have severe disabilities. I have little doubt that most Muslims in this country would say the same. It is a problem I have always been aware of. Thankfully, I was under no personal pressure to ‘marry within the family’ — indeed my own British husband is not even Muslim.

I am even more grateful for the fact that my two-year-old son has no health problems.

Unfortunately, others in my community cannot say the same. Many Muslims born in Britain are under intense family pressure to ‘marry within’, as a way of keeping money within the family. If they do not, they face being ostracised by their own relatives. Studies show that in Bradford, which has a large Pakistani community, 70 per cent of marriages are between relatives — and more than half of these are between first cousins.

The result of this inbreeding? Terrible disabilities like the ones I have witnessed in the children born to a woman in my own community. Her first child was born blind, the second deaf and the third mute.

As if that were not tragic enough, these disabilities are simply accepted with a casual shrug. Because everyone seems to know someone with a sick child, it is barely commented on within the community. In the Pakistani-Muslim communities I have experience of, it is not a cause for concern. The only thing that matters is ‘marrying within the family’; after that, no questions are asked.

Those who do acknowledge the issue take no responsibility for the hardships they are inflicting upon their children.

To me, it is nothing short of shocking that this is happening in third, fourth and fifth generation British Pakistani communities.

My own mother, whom I love dearly, arranged the marriage of her niece to her nephew, the children of her brothers. If they have children, will they be born healthy? I just don’t know.

But no one should be surprised that blood disorders, diabetes and obesity are commonplace among Muslim children. This is the case in Pakistan, of course, where these practices have been common for hundreds of years.

But while I can understand — without condoning it — why this might still be happening among poor, uneducated villagers halfway around the world, there is no excuse for it in a modern, advanced country like Britain in 2011.

One thing needs to be clear: these practices have no basis in religion — there is nothing in the Koran that dictates a man should marry his first cousin.

And while I’m prepared to stand up and say how appalled I am at the indifference of my own community, I am every bit as outraged by the lack of interest shown by liberal Britain to this deeply troubling problem.

Although as a nation we are quite prepared to storm into places like Libya and stand up for the human rights of their citizens, we do not have the same approach to social problems in our own country.

Terrified of being branded Islamophobic, most people simply choose to ignore these issues and are more worried about causing offence than the plight of these poor, blameless children. But in keeping quiet out of a misplaced sense of political correctness, we are failing our own citizens.

If this were a problem in any other section of the population, it would be openly debated and tackled. After all, it’s the overstretched state that is left, quite literally, holding the baby. Because the Muslim community takes no responsibility for the disabilities among its young, it is left to the NHS and local authorities to provide healthcare and learning support.

While only 3 per cent of UK babies are born to British Pakistanis, their babies account for one in three of those born with genetic illnesses.

When, for example, underage pregnancy was identified as a problem in the UK (and a drain on resources), efforts were made to educate the young, predominantly poor, white, women this was happening to.

Yet because this is happening within Muslim communities, those who speak out about it are made to feel racist, while the liberal elite step back, vowing not to ‘meddle’.

As a young woman who knows only too well how difficult it is to grow up in Britain’s prevailing culture, while another set of rules and norms dictate life within your own home, I would suggest that today’s young Muslim men and women would heartily welcome ‘interference’.

Most of them do not want to marry their first cousins, or have arranged marriages. Instead, they identify themselves as British and would like the laws and cultural traditions of this country to be observed within their own communities. Many of the women who have been coerced into marrying first cousins probably do not speak any English, and will not even know of the health problems they may be storing up for their children.

There should be a mandatory genetic screening programme and counselling for any first cousins planning to marry, to ensure they are aware of the potential health problems they could be passing on to their offspring. Similarly, anyone coming into this country to marry should have to be screened to determine their suitability for their intended spouse. Instead of taking pot luck, people would know the risks they were taking before they conceived.

After all, how can it be racist to protect the well-being of innocent children?

While it is the children who suffer most in all of this — having to negotiate life with crippling disabilities — the impact it has on their families should not be underestimated. The woman I know who has children who are blind, deaf and dumb is now struggling on her own after her husband left her, remarried and went on to sire more children with another woman.

In the twisted logic that still governs many Muslim communities, this was seen as his right — because his wife had been unable to bear him a healthy child. She, meanwhile, is a single parent with three disabled children who has no choice but to ask the state to support her.

It is a shameful state of affairs, and the more courageous people like Professor Jones draw attention to it, the sooner these families can be dragged into the 21st century.


A crime to pick up food that had been thrown out????

Apparently it is in batty Britain. Whom are they stealing it from?

A woman accused of stealing £200 worth of ham, pies and potato waffles from a bin at a Tesco store has admitted handling stolen goods.

Sasha Hall, 22, claimed dozens of people raided the bin outside the Tesco Express store in Great Baddow, Essex, following a power failure on January 29. But she denied theft at Chelmsford Crown Court, saying instead that a bag full of food had been delivered to her flat above the store by a friend.

Prosecutor Anil Patani told the court store managers had been forced to throw away about £10,000 worth of spoilt food following the power cut.

He said that when interviewed by police, Hall, who worked part-time at a rival supermarket in Chelmsford, said she was a regular customer at the store and had noticed the failure of fridges and freezers earlier in the day. That evening a friend had delivered a bag, mainly containing 100 packets of ham, to her house and asked 'Do you want some free food?'.

Mr Patani told the court: 'She told the police that she did not know what she was receiving and was disappointed there was so much ham as she would have preferred some steak. 'She said that people from all over the estate had raided the bins.'

Defence advocate Emma Davenport said Hall had not been the person who packed the bags. 'When she took delivery of the bags she discovered they mostly contained ham and not much of any other variety,' she added. 'She did not plan to distribute the goods.'

Hall currently holds down two jobs as she struggles with financial difficulties, she added. Hall also admitted possession of cannabis. A count of theft was left to lie on file.

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith adjourned sentencing until June 20. He said: 'This is a far more serious matter than I first thought.'

Hall did not comment as she left court but earlier told the Essex Chronicle: 'There was £3,000 worth of food going to waste on the street. It had been thrown out, so I thought I could put it to better use.

'When the police came round I was so upset. I felt like a terrible criminal. 'I would think the police have better things to be doing with their time than going after people who pick up potato waffles from the street. It's all been blown totally out of proportion.

'Tesco clearly did not want the food. They dumped it and rather than see it go to waste, I thought I could help feed me and my family for a week or two.'


BBC is anti-Christian and snubs the elderly, according to the Corporation's OWN survey

The BBC is anti-Christian and ageist – according to a survey it carried out itself. Viewers also felt that minority groups were over-represented by the Corporation.

They expressed concerns over ‘tokenism’ and ‘box-ticking’ and warned the broadcaster against trying to ‘manipulate’ an equal society instead of reflecting reality.

The survey was conducted as part of the BBC’s ‘Diversity Strategy’ and involved 4,500 people, including some BBC staff. Some viewers still believe the broadcaster has a Left-wing or ‘liberal bias’, the consultation found.

Others said ‘positive discrimination’ was still a ‘notable’ problem with the BBC’s recruitment process.

According to viewers, Christians are badly treated with ‘derogatory stereotypes’ which portray them as ‘weak’ or ‘bigoted’. It was suggested that there was a bias against Christianity and that other religions were better represented.

And some felt older women were being ‘marginalised’.

The consultation concluded: ‘In terms of religion, there were many who perceived the BBC to be anti-Christian and as such misrepresenting Christianity.’

It added: ‘Christians are specifically mentioned as being badly treated, with a suggestion that more minority religions are better represented despite Christianity being the most widely observed religion within Britain.’

One respondent said: ‘As a Christian I find that the BBC’s representation of Christianity is mainly inaccurate, portraying incorrect, often derogatory stereotypes.’ Another added: ‘Seldom do we find a Christian portrayed in drama, and when we do, it is usually a “weak” person or a “bigot”.’ Another said Christians were ‘represented as dogmatic and unsympathetic or as weak and washy and woolly, or as old.’

Last year the BBC was accused of bias against Christianity in EastEnders over its portrayal of murderous pastor Lucas Johnson, who was obsessed with the Bible. And the Corporation sparked outrage in 2005 when it aired the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera. It was one of the most complained about shows in television history. The report said other respondents has raised the same issue in terms of Muslims.

The research also uncovered major concerns about ageism, saying: ‘Respondents feel that older women and disabled people are marginalised. ‘Both public and staff respondents commented that ageism within the organisation is one of the BBC’s most pressing equality and diversity issues.’ It was even suggested that one member of staff only employs ‘good-looking people’.

Elsewhere, viewers said that in some cases the inclusion of a wide range of minority groups in BBC shows felt ‘forced’, ‘tokenistic’ or simply done to ‘tick boxes’.

Among the examples given was how historical dramas were made ‘unrealistic’ by the inclusion of black or Asian characters who would not have been associated with certain events. As a result the BBC was accused of failing to provide enough programming representing white, less well-off audiences.

Some also accused the Corporation of representing poverty by using a regional accent. One even said that working class people were often portrayed as ‘ignorant scumbags’.

Only 35 per cent of BBC staff agreed that incidents of bullying and harassment were taken seriously. There were reports of senior bosses ‘looking the other way’ and a ‘culture that allows bullying to flourish’. One respondent said women back from maternity leave were ‘deemed as having no ambition’.

It is not known exactly how many respondents expressed the view that the BBC was anti-Christian or ageist. But 65 per cent of the public surveyed said the Corporation was poor or very poor at its contribution to creating an equal society.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC does not have an anti-Christian bias. ‘We have strict editorial guidelines on impartiality, including religious perspectives, and Christian programming forms the majority and the cornerstone of our religion and ethical output.’


Government is the partner of organized crime

Comment from Australia by Michael Duffy and Bob Bottom

We have just finished a 21-part history of organised crime in Sydney, for a series to be published in the Herald's new iPad edition. Most organised crime took place in the 20th century, and naturally we found ourselves pondering why.

What we found is that much of it emerged following the introduction of laws banning popular pleasures. America is famous for one big Prohibition: we had a lot of smaller ones.

What happens is that illegal markets are set up to provide the banned goods and services such as drugs and alcohol or gambling and prostitution. The volume of these illegal transactions is enormous, making it profitable for organisational entrepreneurs to move in. They take two forms: the efficient businessmen, such as Abe Saffron and George Freeman, and the standover men who in effect “tax” the illegal businesses, and give permission for them to stay open. Perhaps Sydney's most famous standover man was Lennie McPherson, known in some circles as Mr Big and in others as Mr Ten Per Cent.

One example of this pattern was the 1916 Liquor Act, which made the sale of alcohol illegal after 6pm. It was to assist with wartime productivity, but was not repealed until long after World War II. It spawned dozens of illegal bars around the city catering to everyone desperate for a drink in convivial surroundings after dark. People prepared to supply them, whether Kate Leigh with her sly grog joints in Surry Hills or Joe Taylor's and Saffron's celebrity nightclubs later on, became very wealthy.

You can track the rise and fall of a great deal of organised crime against the legislative history of popular pleasures, with a decline as laws were introduced legalising prostitution and extending drinking hours, and with the creation (and later the extension) of the TAB and the setting up of NSW's first legal casino, Star City, in 1995.

The nature of the illegal pleasures shapes the nature of the organised crime that arises to provide them. Drugs are unusual, historically, because they are not sold or consumed at a relatively small number of locations. This means dealers are harder to locate and tax, making it impossible for standover men to impose a certain amount of stability on the underworld. The profits are enormous and easy, which attracts a continual stream of psychopaths into the milieu to try to rip off those already there.

For these reasons, the drug underworld is far more volatile and violent than the old underworld based on alcohol and gambling and prostitution. The days when McPherson, Freeman and Stan Smith could pretty well run the underworld for decades are long gone.

A final difference is drugs are used by a relatively small number of people. This means police and politicians are far less prepared to take bribes – an important factor in the decline of corruption in recent decades.

What does history tell us about measures that work against organised crime? The biggest success in Sydney was in 1930, in response to the violence of the razor gangs involved in cocaine and other illegal trades. Parliament passed the NSW Vagrancy (Amendment) Act, which made it illegal to be seen habitually with reputed criminals or people with no visible means of support.

Alfred McCoy, in his book Drug Traffic, calls this “one of the most authoritarian and effective measures against organised crime ever passed in a Western democracy”. Police numbers were increased and it became illegal to carry a razor. Within months the level of violence dropped. It took longer – about five years – but the cocaine trade was crushed.

The laws were draconian, but according to McCoy, “In the small-town atmosphere of Sydney in the 1930s it was generally understood who the targets were to be, and there were few abuses of these exceptional powers and fewer civil libertarian qualms.”

Would the law be acceptable today? Justice James Wood noted, during his Police Royal Commission in the 1990s, that the law gave police such extraordinary powers that it eventually became “an instrument for corruption and for the establishment of improper relationships”.

Still, harsher laws can work. One great example of this is America's RICO legislation, which allows someone to be sentenced to a long jail term if they are a member of an organisation that has committed any two of 35 designated crimes. The law has been particularly useful in locking up large numbers of criminal bosses. Writer Evan Whitton has urged NSW to consider such a law, and we think the idea deserves serious consideration.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

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

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

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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