The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


31 March, 2010

Christian nurse says NHS 'persecuted' her faith and favours Muslims employees

A Christian nurse who refused to remove her crucifix at work has told an employment tribunal she felt "persecuted" because of her faith. Shirley Chaplin, who has worn her cross every day for 30 years, said she felt that Muslim members of staff were treated with greater understanding when it came to outward symbols of their religion.

The 54 year-old was banned from working on hospital wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she failed to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain. She is now suing her hospital employers.

She said: "Muslims are treated preferably to Christians who are treated less favourably." "I feel upset and persecuted. My belief is genuine and I am here to bear witness to that." She claimed that Muslim staff were allowed to wear headscarves as a "commitment to their faith and it is just accepted as they way they are".

The grandmother stressed that she had "no particular dislike" of Muslims but said they were the only other religious diversity within the Trust and they were "not asked to give witness about their faith". "I believe it is discrimination," Mrs Chaplin claimed.

The Trust said they made a number of attempts to reach a solution including wearing clip-on crucifix earrings.

Mrs Chaplin, a nurse since 1978, said: "I felt the Trust was trying to humiliate me" adding that a badge clipped on her uniform would have been a safer option than clip on earrings. Mrs Chaplin said the crucifix which she was given as a Confirmation gift, 'stays on my body'.

When one member of the three-man tribunal panel asked Mrs Chaplin about the cost of the protracted case to her emotionally, financially and to her health, she replied: "They are persecuting my faith. I am not sure what point they are trying to make."

She told tribunal Judge John Hollow that the cross and chain were a traditional way of wearing the crucifix and a crucifix alone on a lapel would not be satisfactory.

She said: "I want my clinical role back. My desire is to carry on working on wards as a nurse which has been taken from me until you decide what my future will be." Mr Hollow said at 54 years of age she still had a lot of skills to offer.

Mrs Chaplin is backed in her battle by six bishops, who claim Christians are being persecuted in Britain. The six bishops who back the nurse - and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury – wrote to The Sunday Telegraph to offer their support.

They said: “It would seem that the NHS trust would rather lose the skills of an experienced nurse and divert scarce resources to fighting a legal case, instead of treating patients. “This dedicated nurse… has worn the cross every day since confirmation as a sign of her Christian faith, a faith which led to her vocation in nursing.”

A spokesman for Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust made its position clear at the beginning of the tribunal and it would be inappropriate to make a running commentary on some of the key issues before we have articulated our case at the hearing."


A crime to sell goldfish?

It is in Britain if you are not careful. There is no limit to the number of things that a Fascist State can and will regulate

A 66-year-old British woman was fined and ordered to wear an ankle monitor as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old.

Joan Higgins, 66, owner of Majors Pet Shop in Sale, England, was fined $1,506, ordered to wear an ankle monitor and given a seven-week curfew as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy sent into the store by police on a test buy, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

A 2006 law prohibits the sale of live fish to children under the age of 16. Higgins' son, Mark, 47, was fined $1,300 and ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

"I think it's a farce. What gets me so cross is that they put my mum on a tag -- she's nearly 70, for goodness sake," Mark Higgins said. "She's a great grandma so she won't be able to babysit a new born baby. You would think they have better things to do with their time and money."

"The council sent the 14-year-old into us. It is hard to tell how old a lad is these days. He looked much older than 14," he said.


Spreading the Big Lie

Why did the Washington Post choose Palm Sunday to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor on abuse in the Catholic Church?

If Irish singer Sinead O’Connor wishes to denounce her mother publicly as an abusive parent, that is her privilege. If Ms. O’Connor wishes to shred a photograph of Pope John Paul II on stage, as she did almost two decades ago, she is, one supposes, within the boundaries of “performance art.” If Ms. O’Connor wishes to “separate” the God she believes in from the Catholic Church in which she was raised, as she put it in a March 28 article in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post, she is free to do so.

What Sinead O’Connor is not free to do is to misrepresent the teaching and law of the Catholic Church in the Post in order to buttress her claim that the Church is an “abusive organization” and that the Church threatens with excommunication those who would blow the whistle on clerical sexual abusers. That is utterly false. If Ms. O’Connor is aware of that falsehood, she has lied. What is more likely is that she picked up this arrant nonsense from those who are attempting to portray the Catholic Church as a global criminal conspiracy of sexual predators, in order to cripple the Church morally and financially and to drive it from the public square in shame.

The current maelstrom of controversy swirling around the Church and Pope Benedict XVI is replete with Big Lies. One of those Big Lies — that Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, impeded sanctions against a diabolical Milwaukee priest who had abused 200 deaf children in his care — was exploded recently on NRO. Yet another Big Lie is that Benedict XVI is soft on abuse and, as Ms. O’Connor suggested, is more concerned with salvaging the reputations of senior clerics than in rooting out the evil of sexual abuse; the Pope’s sharp rebuke of the Irish bishops and his frank condemnation of abusing priests and nuns in a March 20 letter to the Irish Church reveals that claim for the falsehood it is.

One of the Big Lies left over from the Long Lent of 2002 in the U.S. is that clerical sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance and misgovernance were abetted by a 1962 Vatican document, Crimen sollicitationis (“The Crime of Soliciting”). That document, and a 2001 letter from then-cardinal Ratzinger to all the bishops of the world on specific abuse cases, have been cited for years as the smoking gun proving that the Vatican is engaged in an international conspiracy to protect child molesters (and its own reputation and exchequer). Ms. O’Connor, wittingly or not, bought this Big Lie in her Washington Post article. Explaining why it’s a Big Lie requires a understanding how the Catholic Church understands the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance, often called “confession.”

As the Catholic Church understands them, the sacraments are holy things: rituals and words that connect the believer of 2010 with the Risen Christ and with his teaching and action on earth, more than two millennia ago. In confession, Catholics bring their sins before Christ, who acts in the person of a priest, in order to receive God’s merciful forgiveness. Confession can involve a detailed accounting of transgressions, which is one reason that, for centuries, the Church has protected the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Penance with absolute and inviolable secrecy. Catholics have been free to confess their sins without fear that the priest would ever speak a word of what he heard, and that confidence has been buttressed by the fact that any priest who reveals what he hears in confession is automatically excommunicated.

Which brings us to Crimen sollicitationis. The document was crafted to ensure that if a Catholic were solicited to commit a sexual sin by a priest while going to confession, he or she could denounce that priest without being exposed to public scandal. Sinead O’Connor (and many, many others who have been flogging this particular Big Lie) have it precisely backwards. Crimen sollicitationis was not written to protect sexually abusive priests from punishment; it was written to enable the Church to get to the truth about predatory priests without embarrassing their victims or breaking the seal of confession.

In fact, the protections required by Crimen sollicitationis encouraged victims of abuse to come forward. By requiring secrecy of the bishop and priests who handled any complaint about a priest-confessor who was a sexual predator, the Church tried to protect the confidentiality of the confessional and the privacy of the victim, not to prevent the crime from being reported to the police by the victim, who was never under any obligation of secrecy. The appropriate analogy is not to some Mafia-like international criminal conspiracy, but to the secrecy of those newspapers that choose not to print the names of rape victims.

This 1962 instruction remained in force until 2001, when Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a new document, De delictis gravioribus (“On more serious crimes”), which continued the effort to protect the confidentiality of confession and the privacy of Catholics abused by confessors while acknowledging that the Church had to respond effectively and consistently to accusations against priests (who, like everyone else, have a right to the presumption of innocence). Anyone with even minimal knowledge of how Ratzinger handled cases of clerical sexual abuse after they fell under the jurisdiction of CDF understands that Benedict XVI is committed to an honest accounting of priestly misconduct and to the ongoing reform of the life and ministry of priests.

So, to repeat: Both the 1962 and 2001 Vatican instructions were intended to protect the privacy of victims and the integrity of the sacraments, and to enable the Church to take serious action against priests who committed the horrible crime of sexual solicitation during confession; no one has ever been threatened with excommunication for blowing the whistle on a clerical sexual predator; and the procedures put in place at CDF in the early part of this decade — like the transfer of these cases to CDF itself — were intended to strengthen the Church’s capacity to deal with clerical sexual abuse, not cover it up.

Moreover, the Vatican instructions of 1962 and 2001 were chiefly concerned with (mercifully rare) abuses of the Sacrament of Penance, not the sort of serial abuse of minors that has drawn our attention and disgust in recent years. To fault these documents for not solving a problem they were not written to address is to miss the serious effort made by the Church, largely under Ratzinger’s leadership, to purge the priesthood of sexual predators.

These are facts. They can be verified by any competent canon lawyer. Why the Washington Post chose Palm Sunday, while Benedict XVI was celebrating one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year in St. Peter’s Square, to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor, whose contempt for the Church is well known, is not for us to judge. What we can say, as yet another fact, is that by doing so without any elementary fact-checking, the Post’s editors have contributed to the further spread of a Big Lie.


On terrorism, Holder's argument doesn't add up

With all the excitement over health care, you might not have noticed that the Obama administration still doesn't know what to do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And in recent days, its case for trying the mastermind of 9/11 in civilian court has quietly fallen apart.

When Attorney General Eric Holder first decided to send KSM to federal court in Manhattan, his reasoning was simple. "We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing so for years," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee last November. "There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorists currently in Bureau of Prisons custody including those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the attacks on embassies in Africa."

It sounds convincing -- until you ask about those 300 convicted terrorists. Who are they? Are they big-time terrorists of the KSM variety -- the kind Republicans believe should be tried by military commissions -- or are they defendants guilty of less serious offenses who can reasonably be tried in civilian courts?

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl was skeptical from the start. "It's a disingenuous argument," Kyl told me in February. "There haven't been 300 high-profile, dangerous terrorism cases in the United States -- if there were, we would have heard about them."

Kyl peppered Holder with questions, and now, finally, he has some answers. Late last week, the Justice Department sent Congress a lengthy chart listing the names and offenses of 403 defendants convicted in terrorism-related cases between September 11, 2001, and this month. To the administration's defenders, it's case closed: See, there really were all those terrorism cases, just like the attorney general said. To more critically minded observers, the chart raises serious questions about the administration's argument.

The department divides terrorism cases into two groups. The first group involves "violations of federal statues that are directly related to international terrorism" -- that is, laws prohibiting terrorist acts themselves, the use of weapons of mass destruction, providing material support for terrorism, and the like. The second group involves lesser offenses, like immigration violations, that may or may not be closely related to international terrorism.

Most of the offenses on the list -- 245, or about 60 percent -- are of the second sort. That leaves 158 cases in the first, more serious group, and 92 of them involved providing material support for terrorism, like writing a check to a foundation found to have supported terrorist acts. All told, 337 out of the 403 would be perfectly appropriate cases for civilian courts.

"For the bulk of the cases that he's talking about, there's no question that [civilian] courts are the appropriate venue, because they are relatively minor offenses," Kyl told me Monday by phone from Vienna, Austria, where he's been on a terrorism fact-finding trip that included stops in Qatar and Yemen. "It's for the major kind of terrorist offenses that you want to go to military commissions."

Even in the final 66 cases, purportedly the most serious, there are examples of prosecutions of "animal-rights terrorists" and "narcoterrorism" -- not exactly comparable with KSM. And the best example of a comparable case -- the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui -- was one in which the civilian system was strained nearly to the breaking point.

It's an understatement to say Republicans are unhappy about Holder's chart. In an effort to prove that the civilian system can handle cases like KSM, the Justice Department has come up with a crazy mix of irrelevant examples. "It's as if we asked how many apples do you have, and they realized they only had a handful of apples, so they dumped in a barrel of oranges and said we have so much fruit," says one Senate GOP aide.

Republicans don't want to be misunderstood. They believe it is absolutely vital to prosecute terrorism-related cases, and they are pleased the Justice Department has done so. They just don't believe those cases are in any way comparable with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and in no way support the argument that KSM should be tried in civilian court.

Holder is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee on April 14. I asked Kyl what he hopes to learn. "I don't know," he sighed. "You really have to work at it to get anything useful from the attorney general."



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

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

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


30 March, 2010

The Bible as good history again: Egyptian plagues really happened, say scientists

Global warming in ancient Egypt?? But the Warmists tell us that it is all recent and unprecedented!

The Biblical plagues that devastated Ancient Egypt in the Old Testament were the result of global warming and a volcanic eruption, scientists have claimed.

Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based. But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.

They have compiled compelling evidence that offers new explanations for the Biblical plagues, which will be outlined in a new series to be broadcast on the National Geographical Channel on Easter Sunday.

Archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC. The city appears to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago and scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.

Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Rameses the Second's reign. By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock. They found that Rameses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period.

Professor Augusto Magini, a paleoclimatologist at Heidelberg University's institute for environmental physics, said: "Pharaoh Rameses II reigned during a very favourable climatic period. "There was plenty of rain and his country flourished. However, this wet period only lasted a few decades. After Rameses' reign, the climate curve goes sharply downwards. "There is a dry period which would certainly have had serious consequences."

The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues. The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt's lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the Nile turning to blood.

Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae. He said the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today. He said: "It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red."

The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies. Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress. The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.

But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control. This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils

Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: "We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill."

Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt. One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.

Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.

Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash. He said: "The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that's exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts."

The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness. Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in Egypt. Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first borns of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.

But Dr Robert Miller, associate professor of the Old Testament, from the Catholic University of America, said: "I'm reluctant to come up with natural causes for all of the plagues. The problem with the naturalistic explanations, is that they lose the whole point. "And the whole point was that you didn't come out of Egypt by natural causes, you came out by the hand of God."


The new priesthood of meddling experts

Whether they’re marshalling ‘science’ to stop us from smoking or from eating meat, we should all be more sceptical of the new expert class

Feeling that it lacks moral authority, the British political elite continually solicits others to speak on its behalf, whether it’s a group of scientists or medical doctors. Legitimacy, conviction, authority… what politicians want, these experts seem to have in spades. Little wonder that public policy, particularly the most authoritarian, citizen-controlling kind, always seems to be backed by ‘expertise’ these days.

And so it was this week with the release of a report by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) warning of the deleterious effect passive smoking can have on children. This report wasn’t something the RCP did simply out of the goodness of its fearmongering heart. It did it because there is a review of anti-smoking legislation imminent and, given that the UK’s chief medical officer Liam Donaldson has written an approving foreword, the British state clearly needed the debate-defying authority only a professional expert can provide. Which makes the policies proposed in the RCP’s report even more shocking.

Chief among them is the proposal to ban smoking in cars and also where young people congregate. Such proposals are not entirely new, but what sets the RCP’s demands apart is that they want smoking prohibited not just when there are children in the car but in all cars per se. In the ominous words of the report’s lead author, Professor John Britton: ‘This isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives. Adults need to think about who’s seeing them smoke.’

Donaldson clearly welcomed this expert endorsement of future government legislation: ‘One of the biggest impacts of smoking around children is that adult smokers can be seen as role models, increasing the likelihood that the child will, in due course, also become a regular smoker. Preventing this means that adults take responsibility to stop smoking in front of their children at home, or in places where children may see them smoke.’ If anything confirms smokers’ pariah status, it is this: henceforth they will neither be seen nor inhaled.

No expert endorsement, in this case from a leading professional body, is complete without facts and figures, of course. Policymakers love facts and figures and the more of them, the better – the better, that is, with which to beat those who disagree around the head. Facts and figures don’t just put policy beyond doubt - they put it beyond debate. Right on cue the RCP estimated that, amongst children, passive smoking contributes to over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle-ear disease, 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths. Got all that? And if illness and fatality aren’t persuasive enough, the RCP drops in the obligatory financial nugget: children’s inhalation of second-hand smoke costs the National Health Service about £23million a year.

None of this estimation is based on new research, however. It is based on ‘meta-analyses’ and ‘systematic reviews’ of ‘established literature’. In other, less confusing words, it’s an interpretation of data that has been around for the past 10 years. And the problem for those who want to close down a debate with an interpretation is that an interpretation is never beyond dispute: it can always be questioned. The truth of an interpretation is not something that can simply be proclaimed; it needs to be debated. Hence, as we have countered time and time again on spiked (see The anti-smoking ‘truth regime’ that cannot be questioned, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick), there is still little or no statistically significant link between passive smoking and ill health.

Not for nothing did a 2006 House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report assert that claims made for the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) were far from certain - it even went so far as to say that the statistics did not justify the smoking ban. Not that this will be admitted by those at the Department of Health determined pre-emptively to shut down debate. These are facts, they say, and facts are sacred.

Except they’re not sacred. Sometimes they’re not even that factual. On the day the RCP launched its state-backed salvo against the citizenry, pitting children against adults, complete with facts, evidence and meta-analysed literature, there was another story also gaining momentum. In 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released a report claiming that meat production was responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse emissions - more, incredibly, than transport.

This understandably caused quite a stir. A horrific alliance of greens and vegetarians had finally found the authority their essentially moral arguments lacked. Armed with this ‘fact’ much as Tomás de Torquemada carried the Bible, they proceeded to urge the world to stop stuffing their stupid, carnivorous faces. Paul McCartney even launched a campaign last year called ‘less meat = less heat’.

Unfortunately for these expert-powered, fact-fuelled campaigners, it has now become clear that something was not quite right with these facts. As Professor Frank Mitloehner from the University of California noted, while the FAO totted up all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production, from farm to table, they just took the existing UN figure for the greenhouse emissions of transport.

Unlike that for meat production, this only included the fossil fuel burnt when using the particular mode of transport. It did not mention the fossil burnt in manufacturing cars, maintaining roads, building planes or the upkeep of railways. That is, the FAO applied completely different methods of measurement to food production and transport. The resulting figures are literally incomparable. A FAO policy officer was more than a little embarrassed: ‘I must say honestly that [Professor Mitloehner] has a point.’

The bigger point here, however, is not that facts can be more than a little fictional. It is not even that experts in their fields, medical or otherwise, are fallible. It is that expertise should not be prostituted to politicians and political campaigners. In their hands it becomes something other than it is. It becomes the source of authority that their arguments or their policies lack. And in the process it transforms those arguments and policies into the commands of those who know better than normal members of the demos. For the new expert priesthood, to choose not to stop smoking, as adults are entitled to do, is to choose ignorance and darkness. The facts and figures of prostituted expertise compel assent, not debate.

Criticising this exploitation of the expertise of professional scientists, medical doctors and so on shouldn’t be taken as a denigration of rationality, of our ability to know how things are, whether it’s the increased risk of lung disease amongst smokers or the carbon emissions of different modes of transport.

Rather it is to argue that this form of rational knowledge, when used by politicians, merges with their moral reasoning. They don’t just say how things are, they use (and abuse) it to say how things ought to be. And in doing so, they deprive us of our own reason, our own ability to make moral decisions about how we want to live our lives. Under the tyranny of expertise, the only rationality that matters is theirs.


Another "human rights" fraud

By Andrew Bolt

Yes, anti-"Zionism" need not be the same as anti-Semitism, but, gee, it does sometimes seem like Jew-hatred is being mainstreamed:
Human Rights Watch is one of two global superpowers among the world’s myriad humanitarian pressure groups… So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.

By day, Marc Garlasco was HRW’s only military expert, the person that its Emergencies Division would send to conflict zones to investigate alleged war crimes. He wrote reports condemning the dropping of cluster bombs in the Russia-Georgia war, the alleged illegal use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in Gaza and coalition tactics that he said “unnecessarily” put Iraqi or Afghan civilians at risk…

But by night, Garlasco was “Flak88”, an obsessive contributor to internet forums on Third Reich memorabilia and an avid collector of badges and medals emblazoned with swastikas and eagles.

A lavishly illustrated $100 book he compiled and self-published is dedicated to his grandfather, who served in the Luftwaffe. On members-only sites such as Wehrmachtawards.com he was writing comments like “VERY nice Hitler signature selection”; “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”

An interest in Nazi memorabilia does not necessarily suggest Nazi sympathies — but it is hardly likely to play well in the salons where Garlasco’s employer might solicit donations…

His dilemma did not last long. In September a blogger noted that Marc Garlasco had long been reviewing books on Third Reich memorabilia on Amazon — and that he was the same Marc Garlasco who had written controversial HRW reports about alleged Israeli violations in Gaza and Lebanon. The blogger did not accuse him of being a Nazi, but wondered if Garlasco’s “obsession with anti-Semitic Nazi genocidal lunatics” was in any way related to his “apologism for anti-Semitic genocidal Hamas lunatics”.
So how did Garlasco not stand out from the crowd at HRW? Well, maybe because his own views about wicked Israel and the rest of the wicked West had found a good home:
Initially HRW offered Garlasco unequivocal support… Its programmes director, Iain Levine, later went so far as to directly accuse the Israeli government of being behind it…

Every year, Human Rights Watch puts out up to 100 glossy reports.. Some conflict zones get much more coverage than others. For instance, HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war.

In 20 years they have published only four reports on the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir, for example, even though the conflict has taken at least 80,000 lives in these two decades, and torture and extrajudicial murder have taken place on a vast scale. Perhaps even more tellingly, HRW has not published any report on the postelection violence and repression in Iran more than six months after the event…

Since the Garlasco affair blew up, critics of Human Rights Watch have raised questions about other appointments. An Israeli newspaper revealed that Joe Stork, the deputy head of HRW’s Middle East department, was a radical leftist who put out a magazine in the 1970s that praised the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In 1976 he attended an anti-Zionist conference in Baghdad hosted by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein… (W)hen Stork was hired by HRW in 1996 he had never worked for a human-rights group, had never held an academic position, and had a history of anti-Israel activism.

Stork’s boss, Sarah Leah Whitson, and most of his colleagues in the Middle East department of Human Rights Watch, also have activist backgrounds — it was typical that one newly hired researcher came to HRW from the extremist anti-Israel publication Electronic Intifada..

While HRW was dealing with the fallout from the Garlasco affair, it was already on the defensive as a result of criticism of a fundraising effort in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s worst human-rights violators. This involved two dinners for members of the Saudi elite in Riyadh, at which Sarah Leah Whitson curried favour with her hosts by boasting about HRW’s “battles” with pro-Israel pressure groups, such as NGO Monitor.

The death of resilience: A Britain that prided itself on self-reliance now believes pills can cure anything and happiness is a human right

The brass band from Yorkshire Main Colliery assembled outside the doctor’s surgery in Edlington, South Yorkshire, and began to play. From the window above fluttered a Union Jack; below, the doctor handed out drinks to the puffing bandsmen. It was July 5, 1948, the first day of a new era: the age of the National Health Service.

But few of those people toasting the new arrival, born and bred in a country that valued stoicism, reticence and self-reliance, could have imagined how deeply their successors would sink into hypochondria and self-indulgence.

To the first NHS patients, the latest Department of Health figures — which show that the average Briton picks up a staggering 16 prescriptions a year and the Government spends an astonishing £22 million a day on prescription drugs — would seem utterly inconceivable.

For unlike their successors, those people who queued outside doctors’ surgeries in July 1948 were not whingers or hypochondriacs.

And what they would make of another report yesterday — that in an era of cuts and sacrifices, the Government’s ‘happiness czar’ Lord Layard is offering £80,000 a year for someone to run the new ‘Movement for Happiness’ — simply defies imagination.

They were the last in a long line of ordinary Britons who did their best to live up to the ideal of the stiff upper lip and saw life’s disappointments as troubles to be endured rather than as an excuse to demand yet more help from the state.

As the war had just shown, the average Briton had a strong sense of duty, believing in an obligation to give something to the state rather than the other way round. ‘What we want from the British people is self-discipline and self-restraint,’ said the founder of the NHS, the socialist firebrand Aneurin Bevan.

Sixty years on, those virtues seem to have evaporated. Of course, today we are a much healthier people living longer — though whether we are happier is a moot point.

Many, perhaps most, prescriptions are for genuine ailments, and none of us should begrudge the genuinely sick the medication they need to lead decent and fulfilling lives.

Yet, as Professor Joan Busfield of Essex University puts it, ‘the age of stoicism is dead’. We have become addicted to the idea that there is a pill for every ill. You can even get pills for ‘cognitive tempo disorder’ — symptoms: dreaminess, sluggishness and laziness — and ‘intermittent explosive disorder’ — otherwise known as having a temper tantrum.

As Professor Busfield notes, this obsession with pill-popping is partly driven by the profiteering drug companies. But it also says something deeper and more disturbing about our cult of self-indulgence, our insistence on instant happiness as an inalienable human right, and our reckless rejection of one of the oldest traits of Britishness: our resilience in the face of adversity.

Those first NHS patients had just come through the darkest time in British history, when we stood alone against Hitler’s tyranny. Yet what seems astonishing now is how few of them felt sorry for themselves.

Most prided themselves on living up to the slogan on the wartime posters: ‘Britain Can Take It.’ And in the words of their indomitable leader, Winston Churchill, soldiers and civilians alike were determined to ‘keep buggering on’.

Like Churchill, who was obsessed with living up to the example of his great forbear, the Duke of Marlborough, the wartime generation felt themselves to be following in the footsteps of millions of Britons whose stoicism under pressure had become legendary. They had been raised on stories of heroes such as Nelson and Wellington: cool under fire, unflappable even at the point of greatest danger, magnanimous in victory, unflinching in defeat.

Even now it is impossible to read stories of the great British stoics of the past without feeling oddly moved. Sir Philip Sidney, for instance, was not only one of the finest Elizabethan poets, but also a keen soldier who led Protestant forces against Spain in the Netherlands.

Shot in the thigh and bleeding to death at the Battle of Zutphen, he famously handed his water bottle to an injured comrade with the words: ‘Thy need is greater than mine.’

But his selfless bravery was nothing exceptional. More than two centuries later, as General James Wolfe was bleeding to death at the Battle of Quebec, he refused all offers to fetch a surgeon, insisting that other soldiers were in greater need. Told that the French were fleeing the field, he said simply: ‘God be praised. I die contented.’

The crucial point about stories such as these is that they became self-reinforcing. As each generation of Britons learned about the examples of their forefathers, so they, too, determined not to let the side down.

Perhaps this explains Lord Uxbridge’s extraordinary reaction when his right leg was shattered by a French cannonball at the Battle of Waterloo. ‘By God, sir!’ he remarked to the Duke of Wellington. ‘I’ve lost my leg!’ ‘By God, sir!’ the Iron Duke replied. ‘So you have!’

Yet in the light of our modern obsession with blame and compensation, it is what happened next to the Duke that is truly impressive. Even while surgeons were hacking off the remains of Uxbridge’s leg without recourse to antiseptics or anaesthetics, he remained calm, commenting merely: ‘The knives appear somewhat blunt.’

The Army offered him an annual pension of £1,200 as compensation for his lost leg. True to form, he turned it down.

Of course, those days are long gone. The mawkish outpouring of public grief has become our national emblem. Emotions are no longer kept in check by those suffering illness or misfortune, but instead permanently displayed. Tears spring readily to the eye and the notion of suffering in silence seems as alien to us as dragoons’ sabres or Bakelite radios.

Indeed, if the stoic spirit survives at all, it is in a few isolated bastions of the old order: the corridors of Buckingham Palace, where the Queen does her best to preserve a spirit of quiet service; or the deserts of Afghanistan, where our brave soldiers serve uncomplainingly despite grossly inadequate pay and equipment.

But in general, by comparison with our forebears, we have become a deeply spoiled and self-indulgent people. We expect perfection in our daily lives, and when, inevitably, it fails to materialise, we turn to the government for handouts and to the doctor for pills.

Barely half a century after millions of Britons struggled grimly through their daily lives with hernias, rotting teeth and broken bones because they simply could not afford the doctor’s bill, we hand out 10,000 prescriptions a week for ‘anti-hyperactivity’ drugs, known as the chemical cosh, to ensure order in the classroom.

Perhaps it is not surprising that we have become so obsessed with a quick fix to every problem. Thanks to the disgraceful neglect of history in the modern curriculum, many youngsters have no idea how lucky we are and no sense of the sacrifices our ancestors routinely had to make.

But the age of self-indulgence cannot last forever. In the next few years, deep cuts will mean there is no more money for happiness czars — and less money, I hope, for spurious prescriptions to be thrown around like confetti at a wedding. In an age of austerity, we will need to rediscover the older values of stoicism and self-reliance. We will have to get used to looking after ourselves, rather than expecting the state to do it for us.

Few of us, thankfully, will have to put up with anything as dreadful as our forebears were forced to endure, whether from the great conflicts or terrible diseases that imperilled their lives. But is it too much to hope that we can still learn something from their example?



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

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

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


29 March, 2010

“Probably” isn’t enough in the argument against God

Quite so. But I reproduce the hoary old argument below because it told me something that I didn't know: Dawkins is uncertain. By contrast I am completely certain. I don't even think the word "God" is meaningful. You certainly can't point to God and just try to define "him"! Speculation isn't a definition. Because I am certain that there is no God, however, I feel no need to evangelize. I regard Christian faith as a great and good gift and support Christians and Christianity instead of trying to tear them down. Comment below from Australia

I love it when Richard Dawkins comes to town. It’s like Christmas for people who don’t believe in Christmas.

Even though he’s since departed our fair shores, Dawkins’ wake of influence still ripples like the aftermath of an intellectual tsunami, and if anything you have to give him credit for almost single-handedly putting religious debate back on the map.

The debate that follows Dawkins across the globe is largely confined to the mission of getting rid of this pesky notion of a creator once and for all, by using the atheist mantra “celebrate reason” to expose all who entertain the divine as delusional, idiotic disciples of fairies or flying spaghetti monsters or whatever convenient and patronising analogy fits best. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love in the room.

But who needs love when you have science? Love is irrational, fleeting, impossible to measure let alone stuff in a beaker. Science on the other hand is rational, quantitative, and definitive.

And in the eyes of the atheist, God deserves no free pass from enlightened scientific scrutiny. Hear bloody hear. But surely if the big guy isn’t getting handouts, neither should “religious nuts” nor “strident atheists”. The problem with the latter is, the more atheist you are, the more your own logic forces you out of a gig.

In his well-known book The God Delusion, Dawkins postulates that “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other”, and has illustrated the concept with his “spectrum of theistic probability”. It’s a seven-point sliding scale of belief, ranging from strong theist (100% probability of God), to strong atheist (100% probability of no god).

Let’s start by applying reason to the first flank of the scale, religion: “I believe God exists”. Calling for religious people to produce evidence of their belief is by very nature a logically absurd proposition. Religion doesn’t require evidence, it has faith. By definition, faith negates the need to produce tangible evidence, never claims to possess tangible evidence, and therefore stands up to reason.

The only time when reason fails religion is when believers claim to possess earthly evidence of things that are by their own admission not of this earth, not of the physical realm. It is these extremists who Dawkins so logically and effortlessly scalps, and rightly so.

In the middle of the spectrum you have the agnostics: “I don’t know if god exists”. The agnostic makes no claims in either camp. They say, “There is no evidence for or against, so it is impossible to say for sure. Either could be true”. Applying reason, the agnostic’s case holds together.

Then finally we come to the atheist position: “God does not exist”. The atheist will say it is not up to them to prove the non-existence of God, but for those who do believe to substantiate such claims. However reason dictates once you claim a statement as fact, you are then required to provide evidence to support your statement, evidence of which so far does not seem to exist. This does not hold up to the atheist’s own standards of reason.

Atheists will of course see this as an unfair comparison, comparing “moderate” theists with “extreme” atheists. Yet it seems the modus operandi of vocal atheists to place all people of faith into the extreme “God deluded” bucket, and to argue their own position with all the vigour of someone who possesses concrete contrary evidence, of which on Dawkins’ scale one can only be seen as an extreme position.

It is often difficult to figure out where on the scale any atheist sits. Even Dawkins doesn’t call himself a strong atheist, rather “a de-facto atheist” leaning towards the full monty, and has said would be surprised to meet any atheist who was a 100% non-believer. And why? Because being a strong atheist actually goes against reason and starts contradicting its own definition by becoming a belief.

Maybe that’s why those atheist billboards didn’t say, “There’s no God”, but instead, “There’s probably no God”. But surely probability that something isn’t, means that there’s a possibility that something is? I guess the billboard, “There possibly is a God” didn’t quite have the same kick to it.

If you buy a lottery ticket, the odds of winning may be completely fanciful, but they’re still odds. Winning might not be probable, but it is possible. Now only a complete fool would run around town clutching their supplementary numbers telling everyone they’re definitely about to win the big one, but only a liar would tell them that it’s impossible.

So great existential warriors, which do you want to be: the liar or the fool? Without sounding too evangelical, the good news is you don’t have to be either.

We all love facts, so here is the only fact any human being has ever come up with about the meaning of life that makes any lick of sense:

Who bloody knows.

Not one person on this planet knows what happens to us after we die. Not one. No enlightened Buddhist monk, no hyped-up televangelist, no intellectually evolved atheist convention ticket holder. The fact is we don’t know, we’ve never known, and we’re never going to know.

Sure we can have a bit of a stab in the dark, chuck a few assumptions around, use faith and reason to construct belief; but while we inhabit this mortal coil we know just as much about what goes on after the curtains close as did the primordial organisms that slurped their way out of the soup.

Yet even though it’s logically impossible to know what by definition is unknowable, it’s like atheists have embarked upon a mission to prove they can count to infinity, without ever acknowledging the lunacy and futility of the entire endeavour.

“We’re not there just yet, but were getting pretty damn close. Just a few more numbers to go I reckon. Trust me guys, you just gotta have faith”.

Heh, and I thought only creationism was funny.


Women in science: The news isn't bad

But it may lead to bias against men

by Jeff Jacoby

"THE NUMBER OF WOMEN in science and engineering is growing, yet men continue to outnumber women, especially at the upper levels of these professions."

So begins a new research report, Why So Few?, published last week by the American Association of University Women, a Washington-based advocacy group that describes itself as "the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women and girls." The report claims that "social and environmental factors" -- negative stereotypes about girls' math skills, for example, or an unconscious bias that deems science and engineering as "masculine," or the hard-driving culture of many science and technology workplaces -- contribute significantly to the "striking disparity" between the numbers of men and women in the so-called STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.

That disparity, says the new publication, is reflected in statistics like these:

* The Labor Department reports that women account for only 10 percent of the nation's civil and aerospace engineers, 8 percent of the electrical engineers, and 7 percent of the mechanical engineers.

* In 2006, women made up less than 14 percent of the tenured faculty in the physical sciences in four-year colleges and universities.

* Among PhDs who work in the field of computer and information sciences, 79 percent of the full-time positions are held by men.

If the AAUW's goal was to sound an alarm about the distressing state of women in scientific careers, it appears to have succeeded. "Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences," a story on the new report was headlined in The New York Times. The message was the same at AOL News ("Report: Stereotypes, Bias Hurt Women in Math and Science"), while The Washington Post's education blog mournfully asked, "Why aren't there more women in STEM?"

But don't break out the sackcloth and ashes just yet. For if you look beyond the report's gloomy title and its call for a jihad against "stereotypes, bias, and other cultural beliefs," you discover a determined effort to miss a forest of good news in order to rail against some atypical trees.

The AAUW report acknowledges, for instance, that "today girls are doing as well as boys in math." In high school, not only are girls earning math and science credits at the same rate as boys, but their grades tend to be slightly higher. Though boys continue to predominate among the most gifted math students, their lead has shrunk severely. Since 1980, the ratio of boys to girls among students scoring above 700 on the math SAT has dwindled from an overwhelming 13:1 to just 3:1.

The girls' strong performance continues in college, where "the overall proportion of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to women has increased dramatically during the past four decades." Women now earn 60 percent of the degrees awarded in the biological and agricultural sciences, a majority of the chemistry degrees, and just under half of the degrees in math. Many go on to earn advanced degrees -- nearly half of all biology PhDs are now awarded to women, as are more than one-third of the doctorates in earth sciences and chemistry.

In the workforce, too, women are now highly visible in many scientific fields. The new report notes that a majority of the nation's biological scientists are now women, and that even in fields that few women are attracted to, their numbers have jumped. Thus, while women accounted for a mere 1 percent of working engineers in 1960; by 2000, their share was 11 percent.

And in academia? The AAUW report concedes that "when women ... apply for STEM faculty positions at major research universities they are MORE likely than men to be hired." (emphasis added)

Not even "the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women," it turns out, can make a convincing case that sexist bias is a serious problem in science, engineering, or math. Its report doesn't refute what common sense and impartial observation already suggest: that women and men may not be equally attracted to every scientific or mathematical discipline, but where women do have an interest, they cannot be kept down.

The predominance of men in engineering is no more a cause for alarm than the fact that most veterinarians are women. The links between gender and vocation are interesting and the subject of much research and lively -- sometimes very lively -- debate. Finding disparities in the workforce is not the same as finding bias or injustice. When all is said and done, women and men are simply not the same. Vive la différence.


Absurd Canadian safety correctness insults the Queen

A row over a staircase has led to the Queen withdrawing from an appearance at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo during her forthcoming visit to Canada.

The tattoo would seem to be an ideal event to be graced by Her Majesty. It was a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who opened the original one in 1979, and gained its royal title in honour of the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006. However, the Canadians reckon that Her Majesty is too old to manage the stairs. Now the Queen has withdrawn from the military display after an extraordinary row over safety between her representatives in Canada and the organisers of the tattoo.

The Queen, 83, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 88, had been due to attend the tattoo, the world’s largest indoor gathering of its kind, in Halifax in July as part of her official visit. Then someone raised the subject of the stairs and suddenly a simple royal engagement turned into something a lot more contentious.

The offending steps lead up to the 12ft-high stage where, it was suggested, the Queen could have addressed the tattoo. There are 17 of them, rising at an angle of 60 degrees.

Too steep, said the organisers in a report, and too dangerous for the royal couple. Not at all, said the Queen’s people: the Queen and the Duke are perfectly fit.

Indeed, the Queen regularly climbs the 47 steps of the grand staircase at Buckingham Palace. Even to get to the West Terrace from her garden after a stroll with the corgis requires a ten-step ascent. What is more, the Palace said, if she cannot address the tattoo from the platform then she would not be appearing at all.

Although it is only five years since the Queen and Prince Philip visited Canada, the Canadians may have forgotten that Windsor women are made of stern stuff. The Queen Mother was still making public appearances when she turned 100, while the Queen — as a Palace source pointed out — still goes riding regularly.

Perhaps the Canadians still harbour memories of the criticism that they received during the Golden Jubilee tour in 2002 when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had to sit out in the biting cold in Winnipeg without so much as a rug to keep them warm.

Although the Canadian Government refused to comment on the issue, saying that it has yet to publish details of the Queen’s visit, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the tattoo — which this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy — is not on her itinerary of events.

“Many different events are initially considered for an overseas visit, but the tattoo is not in the Queen’s programme,” a spokesperson said.

Ian Fraser, the show’s artistic director, produced a report into the matter, which said that climbing the steps would be “very, very dangerous” for the royal couple. One member of staff said that it would be madness for them to attempt it at all.

“The ascent and descent of the stage would be undignified and the potential for disaster is very high,” the report said.

Mr Fraser said that the tattoo wrote to the office of Nova Scotia’s premier, Darrell Dexter, confirming their objections to the Queen using the stairs and suggesting alternatives, including the option of making a speech from the royal box. “We were firmly informed that, ‘No, I’m sorry. The matter is closed and the decision has been taken. She [the Queen] will not be attending the tattoo’,” Mr Fraser said. “The position of the province was that — this is the wish of Buckingham Palace — that she goes up on the stage.”

He added: “If it is a condition [to use the stairs] for her to turn up then we can’t accept it. Do people still get their heads chopped off for defying the Queen?”


Self-obsessed Western-world feminists

Don't we love gender stereotypes. The subject can fill an entire library and is the subject of the latest splash book about feminism, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, by the British journalist Natasha Walter. Her point can be summed up in this passage: "I think it is time to challenge the exaggerated femininity that is being encouraged among women in this generation . . . questioning the claustrophobic culture that teaches many young women that it is only through exploiting their sexual allure that they can become powerful."

Good point. It occupies the first half of the book. The second half is a critique of gender stereotypes. Walter argues that the world is much more complicated than the accepted stereotypes. We get that. In my house, I do most of the housework. Stereotypes are merely indicative.

You could drive a truck through what's missing from Living Dolls as Walter fixates on men's raunch magazines, like Nuts, or Zoo or FHM, and reality TV shows, ascribing to them a great deal of blame for the obsession among so many young women with glamour, modelling and highly sexualised self-packaging.

Walter largely skates over the damage done to the self-image of women by other women, the ones who dominate the vastly bigger fashion industry, via the air-brushing of bodies in fashion magazines, the selection of absurdly unreal body types as the ideal, the use of extremely young women as models, and the obsession with air-brushed female celebrities. All this is driven by women, to exploit women.

You could also drive a truck through the gaps and silences at a symposium I attended last week at the University of Sydney, "Feminism Matters". It featured a panel of five feminist scholars from Australia and overseas. I attended because feminism matters. More than ever.

By the end I wondered what I'd got for my $20. There are 3.5 billion women in the world and half of them are living in societies where their rights and freedoms are being rolled back or are at risk of going backwards. As a global force, feminism is not triumphant. We live in a time of giant questions concerning women.

Why is much of the most corrosive pressure on women coming from other women? Why is the rise of militant Islam so intent on curbing the freedoms of women? What has happened to nearly 100 million "missing" girls in Asia?

A report by the United Nations Development Program, published this month, found: "The problem of 'missing girls', in which more boys are born than girls, as girl foetuses are presumably aborted . . . is actually growing. Birth gender disparity is greatest in East Asia, where 119 boys are born for every 100 girls."

This is an epic time for feminism; attending the "Feminism Matters" session was like watching public servants discuss how to increase their budget allocation. For me the low point was provided by Dr Sue Goodwin, a senior lecturer in the faculty of education and social work at the University of Sydney, who said: "We've just come through a very conservative, repressive 15 years in Australia."

The energy only picked up after young women from the audience began asking questions. For the first time, the word "Muslim" was mentioned. One of the American participants, Professor Karen Beckwith, rushed in with praise for the way Muslim countries had elected women prime ministers in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey. No mention that one of these women was assassinated, or that the freedoms of women are under attack in many parts of the Muslim world. Not a word.

Another young woman complained that while 75 per cent of veterinary science graduates were women, male graduates average $10,000 a year more than women. "We are pissed off," she said. She then answered her own question: in large animal practices strength is required and men are stronger than women; country people respond better to male vets; women are perceived as future maternity leave candidates.

Or, as one of the panelists offered, "Children are the glass ceiling." Yes they are. It is one of the conundrums between the theory of equality and the complexity of daily reality. I found the gaps in Living Dolls, like those of "Feminism Matters", a metaphor for contemporary "feminism", which is proving largely irrelevant to the great struggle being waged by women beyond the bubble of Western progressive secularism.



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

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

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


28 March, 2010

How the Left Fakes the Hate: A Primer

by Michelle Malkin

If you can't stand the heat, manufacture a hate-crime epidemic

After years of covering racial hoaxes on college campuses and victim sob stories in the public arena, I've encountered countless opportunists who live by that demented mindset. At best, the fakers are desperately seeking 15 minutes of infamy. At worst, their aim is the criminalization of political dissent.

Upon decimating the deliberative process to hand President Obama a health care "reform" victory, unpopular Beltway Democrats and their media water-carriers now claim there's a Tea Party epidemic of racism, harassment and violence against them.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a tepid, obligatory statement against smearing all conservatives as national security threats. But her lieutenants had already emptied their tar buckets. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen accused Republican leaders of "stoking the flames." Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn accused the GOP of "aiding and abetting" what he called "terrorism."

Yet, the claims that Tea Party activists shouted "nigger" at black House Democrats remain uncorroborated. The coffin reportedly left outside Missouri Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan's home was used in a prayer vigil by pro-life activists in St. Louis protesting the phony Demcare abortion-funding ban in Obama's deal-cutting executive order. Videotape of a supposed intentional spitting incident targeting Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver at the Capitol shows no such thing. Cleaver himself backed off the claim a few days later. He described his heckler to The Washington Post in more passive terms as "the man who allowed his saliva to hit my face." Slovenliness equals terrorism!

The FBI is now investigating the most serious allegation -- that Tea Party activists in Virginia are somehow responsible for a cut gas line at the home of Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello's brother. But instead of waiting for the outcome of that probe, liberal pundits have enshrined the claim as conclusive evidence of the Tea Party reign of terror.

Need more reasons to treat the latest Democratic hysteria with a grain of salt the size of their gargantuan health care bill? Remember:

-- In November 2009, Kentucky census worker Bill Sparkman was found dead in a secluded rural cemetery with the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest and a rope around his neck. The Atlantic Monthly, Huffington Post and liberal media hosts stampeded over themselves to blame Fox News, conservative blogs, Republicans and right-wing radio. Federal, state and local authorities discovered that Sparkman had killed himself and deliberately concocted a hate-crime hoax as part of an insurance scam to benefit his surviving son.

-- In mid-October 2008, news outlets from Scranton, Pa., to ABC News to the Associated Press and MSNBC reported that someone at a Sarah Palin rally shouted "kill him" when Obama's name was mentioned. In fact, the Secret Service (which was at the event in full force) couldn't find a single person to corroborate the story -- other than the local reporter for the Scranton Times-Tribune who made an international incident out of the claim. Agent Bill Slavoski "said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers, and not one heard the comment," the paper reported in a red-faced follow-up. Maybe the shouter is hiding with Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman's real killer.

-- In late October 2008, a gaggle of liberal blogs spread the rumor that a Republican supporter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's had shouted that Obama was "a nigger" during a campaign rally in Iowa. Video and firsthand accounts showed that the protester did not shout "he's a nigger," but "he's a redistributor." A lefty activist at the "progressive" Daily Kos blog confirmed the truth -- but to this day, the crisis-manufacturing smear stands uncorrected and unretracted across the Internet.

-- In September 2009, supporters of Colorado Democratic Rep. John Salazar falsely accused a town hall protester of hurling a death threat at the congressman. Liberal blogs again disseminated the angry Tea Party mob narrative. A week later, the local press quietly reported that Grand Junction police had investigated the incident -- and determined the claim was "unfounded." A police spokeswoman revealed that "(p)eople who witnessed the interaction between the man who made the complaint and the suspect confirmed they never heard any direct threats made regarding Congressman Salazar." Witnesses included a Grand Junction cop "in close proximity when the interaction took place."

-- In late August 2009, as lawmakers faced citizen revolts at health care town halls nationwide, the Colorado Democratic Party decried a vandalism attack at its Denver headquarters. A hammer-wielding thug smashed 11 windows and caused $11,000 in property damage. The perpetrator, Maurice Schwenkler, turned out to be a far-left nutball/transgender activist/single-payer anarchist who had worked for an SEIU-tied 527 group and canvassed for a Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak continued to blame "people opposed to health care" for the attack.

Then, as now, being a Democratic Party official means never having to say you're sorry for smearing conservative dissent.


Obama's anti-Israeli hysteria dangerous and destructive

BARACK Obama's anti-Israel jihad is one of the most irresponsible policy lurches by any modern American president. It rightly earns Obama the epithet of the US president least sympathetic to Israel in Israel's history. Jimmy Carter became a great hater of Israel, but only after he left office.

Perhaps Obama's most distinctive contribution to the foreign policy debate in the lead-up to the US presidential election was his avowed determination to talk to and engage the US's enemies if he became president. He was happy in principle to talk to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but did not know for sure that the Iranian president wielded real power. But he sent all manner of felicitations and greetings to Iran and its government.

When that government stole an election on Ahmadinejad's behalf and viciously brutalised its citizens, Obama refrained from speaking too much or too forcefully, as, he said, he didn't want to be seen to be interfering in Iranian internal affairs.

When Obama met the king of Saudi Arabia, a nation in which no one votes, women are subject to severe and demeaning restrictions and it is against the law to have a Christian church, Obama bowed in deep respect.

When Obama ran into Venezuela's murderous despot, Hugo Chavez, at a summit, there was a friendly greeting observed by all.

But there is one leader whom Obama draws the line at. He will not be seen in public with Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Astonishingly, when Netanyahu saw Obama at the White House this week, all photographers and all TV cameras were banned, a level of humiliation almost completely unique in modern White House practice.

You might even conclude that Obama is trying to interfere in internal Israeli politics and bring down a government. This is something post-colonial, post-multicultural Obama would never do with Iran, but with Israel, the US's longstanding ally, it's fine.

And what was Netanyahu's crime, this act of infamy that Obama's senior staff described as an "affront" to America? It was that the relevant housing authority passed another stage of approval for 1600 Israeli housing units to be built in East Jerusalem in about three years' time. It was very foolish that the Israelis allowed this announcement to take place while US Vice-President Joe Biden was in Israel. But they apologised to Biden at the time, Biden kissed and made up with the Israelis and was back to delivering fulsome pro-Israel speeches before he left.

After that point, though, the US reaction went into overdrive. Impeccable American sources tell me this reaction was driven by Obama, and to a lesser extent the Chicago mafia around him. We must ask why this is so, but first let's get Netanyahu's infamous crime into perspective.

Last November Netanyahu announced a 10-month moratorium on all building activity in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel has already promised not to take any more land for settlements but there is the question of renovating existing buildings and constructing new ones in existing settlements.

As Hillary Clinton acknowledged in her speech this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, East Jerusalem was never part of this agreement.... It would be a radical change of policy for an Israeli government to decree that no building would ever take place in Jewish areas of Jerusalem. It would also be a change of American policy.

Moreover, no serious analyst could believe that such building is a roadblock to peace. Peace negotiations have gone on with such building taking place in the past. And all the things that truly make peace impossible - Arab and Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of any Jewish state, Palestinian insistence on certain deal breakers such as the right of return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel proper, the insistent and violent anti-Semitism of Palestinian and Arab propaganda and the regional ambitions of players such as Iran and Syria - will be completely unaffected by any decision to build apartments in a Jewish neighbourhood in East Jerusalem in three years time.

So why has Obama gone into full jihad mode against Israel? Three explanations suggest themselves. Obama has had a terrible year in foreign policy. He has achieved nothing on Iran or China or anything else of consequence. He is too smart to believe this intimidation of Israel will advance peace, but it might get peace talks going again...

This leads to the second explanation of his behaviour, and that is to make himself personally popular in the Muslim world. Beating up on Israel is the cheapest trick in the book on that score and it can earn him easy, worthless and no doubt temporary plaudits in some parts of the Muslim world.

And thirdly, Obama is the first post-multicultural president of America. In his autobiography he talks of seeking out the most radical political theorists he could at university. For these people Israel is an exercise in Western neo-imperialism. Obama makes their hearts sing with this anti-Israel jihad.

Accompanying Obama's own actions has been some of the most dangerous rhetoric ever to come out of a US administration, to the effect that Israeli intransigence endangers US troops by inflaming extremists in the Islamic world. No serious analyst anywhere believes that Israel is an important source of the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. Using this type of argument comes dangerously close to the administration licensing a mutant strain of anti-Semitism - it's all the Jews' fault....

More here

Senior bishops call for end to persecution of Christians in Britain

Christians in Britain are being persecuted and "treated with disrespect", senior bishops have said. Six prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describe the "discrimination" against churchgoers as "unacceptable in a civilised society".

In a thinly-veiled attack on Labour, they claim that traditional beliefs on issues such as marriage are no longer being upheld and call on the major parties to address the issue in the run-up to the general election.

In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, the bishops express their deep disquiet at the double standards of public sector employers, claiming that Christians are punished while followers of other faiths are treated far more sensitively.

Their intervention follows a series of cases in which Christians have been dismissed after seeking to express their faith. They highlight the plight of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck. This week she will begin a legal battle against the decision.

Christians are also increasingly concerned that the Government is ignoring their views on issues such as sex education and homosexuality when introducing new legislation.

A group of 640 head teachers, school governors and faith leaders have signed a separate letter to this newspaper warning that compulsory sex education in primary schools will erode moral standards and encourage sexual experimentation.

They call for the dropping of legislation that will see children as young as seven taught about sex and relationships.

In their letter, the bishops urge the Government to stop the persecution of Christians.

"We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development.

"In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld.

"There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country."

In addition to Lord Carey, the letter has been signed by the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester; the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester; the Rt Rev Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester; the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford; the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, the Bishop of Blackburn; and the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield.

Mrs Chaplin will take the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust to an employment tribunal this week after she was told last year that she must hide or remove a small cross on her necklace if she wanted to continue working on hospital wards.

While the trust refused to grant her an exemption, it makes concessions for other faiths, including allowing Muslim nurses to wear headscarves on duty.

Mrs Chaplin, 54, has spent all of her career at the Exeter hospital and had never been challenged before over the necklace, which she has worn since her confirmation 38 years ago.

The bishops criticised the way in which Mrs Chaplin had been treated and stated that she should not be prevented from expressing her faith by wearing her cross.

"This is yet another case in which the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect," they say.

"To be asked by an employer to remove or 'hide' the cross is asking the Christian to hide their faith.”

The bishops said that it was “deeply disturbing” that the NHS trust’s uniform policy permits exemptions for religious clothing, but appears to regard the cross as “just an item of jewellery”.

They also expressed surprise that the court has asked for evidence to be submitted to verify that Christians wear crosses visibly around their neck.

Mrs Chaplin is being represented by leading human right’s barrister Paul Diamond, who also advised Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient. She was later reinstated.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, described the treatment of Mrs Chaplin as “scandalous”.

“This is yet another case of double standards for Christians,” she said.

“It would seem the Exeter Hospital would rather use its money to deny Christians their rights than using its scarce financial resources to treat patients.

“It is ridiculous that in our country with such a great Christian heritage the court requires evidence to prove that the cross is a Christian symbol whilst not applying the same standards to other faiths."

Lynn Lane, the human resources director for the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, said: "The trust has fully acknowledged that this has become an important issue for Mrs Chaplin which is why we offered her a number of different options in the hope that a mutually acceptable solution could be agreed.

"For the trust this has always been about compliance with our agreed uniform policy and the safety of staff and patients."

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, the human rights group, said: "Whether personal faith motivates the wearing of a cross, turban, head scarf or Star of David, it is fundamentally illiberal to require people to check such an important part of themselves at the workplace door for no justifiable reason."

" Freedom of thought, conscience and religion should protect people of all faiths and none. "We look forward to the Supreme Court demonstrating this by overturning the Court of Appeal in Nadia Eweida's case against BA."


Radical Islamic elder preaching hate in an Australian suburb

There can be little doubt that this is incitement to violence (which conventionally falls outside free speech protections) but officialdom seem to be sitting on their hands. If you laugh at the Koran, however, they will be down on you like a ton of bricks. And critics of Islam are "far-Right white supremacists" who must be silenced as engaging in breaches of "Racial and Religious Tolerance". The guy below certainly seems to be in breach of religious tolerance

A RADICAL Islamic elder who praises the Taliban and preaches violent jihad to a band of keen followers is being investigated in Perth by WA and Federal police. Sources confirmed the joint-agency investigation after The Sunday Times revealed to police that the newspaper had infiltrated a group in which the sheik described armed jihad as the "top" ideal for Muslims and likened the Taliban to "angels".

Muslim community members said they warned police weeks ago that the Middle Eastern man was recruiting disaffected young Muslim men at a Perth mosque and spreading dangerous messages - about armed jihad, or holy war, against those fighting Islam; and that he claimed to know, and have trained with, Osama bin Laden. They stressed that mainstream WA Muslims did not share the views and were concerned police had not acted on their tip-offs. They alerted The Sunday Times as a last resort "before something really bad happens . . . before this poison spreads".

In an undercover investigation, The Sunday Times obtained information from meetings at the sheik's northern suburbs home where, before a group of young men, he promoted armed jihad as the highest ideal for Muslims, praised the Taliban and said he had fought in Afghanistan against Soviet forces.

In other meetings, he praised bin Laden - and even Hitler, justified the actions of suicide bombers, claimed that US presidents were priests and said that Allah would "get" the US and Jews for their actions.

The man, an Australian citizen whom The Sunday Times has not named under police advice, also said that though Islam forbade killing, people who had tried to stop those bringing the religion to others in the past were killed so that people could receive the word of God.

Muslim community members said they feared police were waiting for the man and his followers to do something "terrible", so they could make a dramatic arrest and then point to "home-grown terrorists" as justification for repressive police measures and surveillance of all Muslims.

But sources confirmed an investigation was under way because of earlier information received. It involved both the WA Police State Security Investigation Group and the Australian Federal Police.

Last Saturday, in front of five men and youths, the man said that jihad, at its "top" end, was to fight those who fought against Islam, and that going into battle and "putting your life on the line" for Islam was the highest ideal. "I'm not afraid to say that if angels walk this earth, they are the Taliban," he said.

In the same meeting he told one youth that he had fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet conflict.

On another occasion he said that people could say Osama bin Laden "is no good . . . but he helped a lot of people when they are needing help, he built hospitals, he built schools, he give food when people was hungry".

He said Allah would punish Jews for their wrongdoings and of Hitler he said: "He enjoyed art, and he enjoyed music, that means he had some softnesses (sic) in him. He looked after his people".

The man also said that suicide bombers were the result of bombing by the US and its allies. "In Iraq, (a man) come home, he find his wife leg there, head there, his children (in) three pieces and his father (in) five pieces and the home is gone," he said. "What do you expect from this person? "I make myself pieces to at least kill (those) who killed my father, who killed my wife."

When The Sunday Times contacted the elder yesterday, he denied encouraging jihad anywhere, or any wrongdoing, and said he was a loyal Australian, but that the Koran said "jihad is top of the worshipping because this is (a believer) risking his life".

Asked about his views that Allah would punish the US and Jews, he said: "Allah (is) not punishing anyone doing the right thing."

He said he had met bin Laden when working for a relief agency in Afghanistan in 1980-81 and had "asked him for some donation for some people" as part of that relief work. He denied claiming he had trained and fought alongside him.

Yesterday he agreed he had said the Taliban were like angels. "Compared to what we are seeing from the other side when the killing coming (sic) or the bombarding happening, I said we can consider Taliban like angels for that, because they are not attempting to hurt the people, but the war is happening there," he said.

WA Police would not reveal any details of its investigation, but a spokesman said officers worked collaboratively with Federal Police and the Australian intelligence community on such issues. A Federal Police spokeswoman said the AFP did not "comment on who it may or may not be investigating".



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

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

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


27 March, 2010

Racial violence in Britain

It looks like black on Muslim violence. The attackers are described below as black and it has been mentioned elsewhere that the victim was of North African ancestry. That multiculturalism sure is great!

Several schoolgirls are to be questioned over the horrific mob stabbing of a 15-year-old boy at a major railway station in the middle of the rush hour.

The girls were spotted by witnesses as part of a gang, many in school uniform, who chased their victim into a ticket hall before cornering and killing him as terrified commuters looked on.

He was named last night as London-born Sofyen Ghailan, a pupil at the Henry Compton School in Fulham.

Twenty boys aged 14 to 17 were being held over the stabbing at Victoria Tube station in central London. They were questioned at several police stations across the capital. But the fact that schoolgirls were on the fringes of the murder gang has shocked police, who will now investigate what led up to the attack at 5.20pm on Thursday.

A major line of inquiry is that the victim was targeted during a planned fight between rival gangs of pupils from west and south London. The feuding gangs are said to have fought each other in the days leading up to the murder.

The killers are thought to be from a number of schools in South London. Sources said they arrived at Victoria by bus and initially attacked Sofyen outside the station. Then, with girls following closely, they pursued him down the steps into the station before delivering the fatal blows in the booking hall for the District and Circle lines. The boy suffered at least four serious stab wounds to his upper body.

Last night a witness described how he saw a schoolboy thug brandishing a 10in screwdriver leading at least 15 black youths into Victoria. The 25-year-old music producer said: 'They were all aged 15 to 17 and they were all male. I heard somebody shout something and they all started running towards me.

'Suddenly there was this big lad standing in front of me with a massive screwdriver in his hand. At first I thought it was a knife. 'The boy was about 16 and he was wearing a black hoodie and black school trousers. I jumped out of the way pretty quickly and they all ran past me into the station.

'Then I saw a massive scuffle with lots of kids. It looked as if they were all trying to get at something on the floor but there were too many of them for me to see properly. I now know it was this poor person who had been murdered.....


Expensive campaign against oppressive British libel law

The story of how Simon Singh came to be a champion of libel reform, a figurehead for a growing consensus of human rights groups, journalists and politicians, began two years ago, with a libel writ from the British Chiropractic Association. Mr Singh, whose books include Fermat’s Last Theorem and Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial, wrote a piece in The Guardian to mark Chiropractic Awareness Week. He wrote that chiropractic does not cure colic, asthma and persistent crying and the BCA “happily promotes bogus treatments”.

The BCA writ arrived shortly afterwards and — unexpectedly — it was against him personally, rather than The Guardian. “Normally people go for the deepest pockets,” he said. “But they went for me instead — I can’t speculate why, but others have.” Others, less coy, say it is an attempt to ruin a prominent critic of alternative medicine.

The crux of a preliminary hearing, a year ago, was not whether chiropractic works. The hearing, which he had to fight with his own money, hinged instead on whether the word “bogus” implies dishonesty or just ignorance. The BCA believed the former. Mr Singh said he meant the latter. Mr Singh lost, but is now awaiting the imminent results of an appeal.

However, Jack Straw, the Justice Minster, is not interested in the case because of chiropractic. That is not why he this week pledged a law change if Labour wins the election. Nor why Henry Bellingham, his Tory shadow, on Tuesday promised to match Labour’s measures. They are interested because of a growing belief that Britain’s libel laws are muzzling free speech, and — in an age of libel tourism — are a national embarrassment.

We met outside Mr Singh’s Richmond house. The nearby green is flanked by million-pound houses and a former royal palace, and this affluence is the only reason we are talking at all.

“I have had three worldwide bestsellers. If I lose I can take this hit — it will be painful, but I won’t be destitute,” he said.He estimates the BCA’s costs, which he would have to pay if he lost, now exceed £250,000.

“I’m lucky, it won’t destroy my life. But for two years I have done nothing else. If I’m writing a book it dominates my life, and this is the same. You lie awake at night thinking about it.”

The cost of a libel case in England and Wales is 100 times the European average — often more than £1 million. “Even if I win,” Mr Singh said, “I will not get all my costs. There are dozens of libel writs sent every year where people who are absolutely right have to back down because they can’t afford the cost of losing. Or winning.”

This is why, campaigners claim, Britain is the world’s libel capital. Here a Saudi sheikh sued the American author of a book on terrorism funding — which sold only 23 copies in the UK. Peter Wilmshurst, an eminent cardiologist, is being sued here after saying a US heart device did not work.

Mr Wilmshurst is in touch with Mr Singh and, unlike him, faces bankruptcy if he loses. The case, Mr Singh claims, highlights the absurdity of our system. “It concerns an interview he gave in America to a Canadian journalist for an American online magazine at an American conference about an American company. But he is sued in London.”

Libel compaigners want a simpler, quicker and cheaper system. They want libel tribunals — rather like employment tribunals — to speed up the process. They want costs to be capped. They wantcorporations to be unable to sue individuals. And, vitally for Mr Singh, they want a public interest defence. “If I’m writing about a matter of children’s health, or a new heart device, that's a matter of public interest. The libel law should offer you some level of protection, instead of just tripping you up.”

Even if he gets the best possible result on appeal — a verdict is expected any day — the case is not over. Has it been worth it?

“If I lost this case, but the libel laws changed – so we had the same level of fairness and cost they have in the rest of the world – I could live with being the sacrificial lamb.” Mr Singh said. “Ideally though, I win my case, we get libel reform.” He stops, considering the long summer ahead. “And England win the World Cup.”

World capital of hurt feelings

• In 2008 John Mardas, a Greek entrepreneur, won the right to sue The New York Times and International Herald Tribune in an English court for describing him as a “charlatan”. Fewer than 200 hard copies of the article were published in the UK, where the article garnered four hits online.

• Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, the Saudi billionaire, won an out-of-court settlement in 2005 after bringing a lawsuit against the American writer Rachel Ehrenfeld over her book on terrorism, Funding Evil. The book sold only 23 copies in this country.

• Also in 2005, Roman Polanski won £50,000 damages from Vanity Fair magazine for saying that the film director had tried to seduce a woman on the way to his murdered wife’s funeral. High Court judges sitting in London heard Polanski testify from Paris against the US-based publication.

• In 2003, Mohammed Jameel, a Saudi billionaire, won a libel action against The Wall Street Journal Europe for suggesting that Saudi Arabian authorities were monitoring bank accounts of prominent citizens for evidence of supporting terrorism. The Journal won a three-year battle to get the judgment overturned.


Australia: Anti-Islam rally under threat in Victoria

No free speech allowed? Let me see if anything happens when I am critical of Islam: "I think Islam is the Devil's mockery of Christianity". I would be at great risk from the authorities if I said that in Victoria

POLICE are monitoring a group linked to far-Right white supremacists who are planning an anti-Islam march on state Parliament. The march, scheduled for next month, threatens to further damage Melbourne's reputation, already battered by attacks on Indian students.

A group linked to far-Right white supremacists has set up a Facebook page promoting a mass rally against immigrants and Islam. There are fears it might descend into a Cronulla-style riot. "Listen Aussies, it's time to harden up, close the gate, look after our own and keep our country as our country," the Facebook page says.

Premier John Brumby slammed the rally, and said the matter had been referred to police. "Racism is unacceptable in Victoria and will not be tolerated," he said. "It is highly distressing when people seek to abuse their right to freedom of speech."

The president of the Islamic Friendship Association, Keysar Trad, condemned the rally. "It's their democratic right to rally against anything they like, but it gives a very bad image of Australia to our neighbours, and doesn't do much for internal cohesion," he said. "The organisers should realise the majority of Australians do not share their view and can see the benefits and contributions Muslims have made to Australia.

"My message to the community is that Australians will not buy into this type of action. "We've moved on from Cronulla, and they need to realise that."

The Facebook group has gathered about 40 members and has received support from interstate.

Some posting messages have criticised the event. "Cronulla comes to Melbourne. Another sad day for Australian history," one message says.

Police are concerned about the event and have warned organisers not to break the law. "A police response will be decided on once all of the information and intelligence is assessed," a spokeswoman said. "Police will be in touch with the organisers of the event in the near future. "Victoria Police will not tolerate any breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act."

A man listed on the Facebook page as being behind the rally said he had no connection to it. However, his own Facebook page links to several white supremacist groups.


Southern Poverty Law Center Officially Declared “Left-Wing Hate Group”

Though always left of center, the Atlanta-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) once had a reputation as a fairly objective civil rights group. Founded by direct-marketing millionaire Morris Dees and partner Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC made important and honorable contributions to many of the historic civil rights gains of the 20th Century. According to its own materials, the SPLC was “internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups.”

Alas, “power corrupts,” as it goes, and the SPLC, having amassed tremendous power and wealth over the years, has regrettably become corrupt to its core. By way of an ever-escalating wave of “us-versus-them” money-grubbing schemes, Today’s SPLC has morphed into a far-left political activist outfit, famous for promoting a panoply of extreme liberal causes.

Ken Silverstein, writing for Harper's Magazine, addressed this untoward metamorphosis in 2000: “Today’s SPLC spends most of its time – and money – on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. ‘He's the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,’ renowned anti-death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, ‘though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.’

“The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the Center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors,” continued Silverstein. “Morris Dees doesn't need your financial support. The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though [its fundraising literature] quite naturally omits that fact. … ‘Morris and I...shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,’ recalls Dees’s business partner, a lawyer named Millard Fuller (not to be confused with Millard Farmer). ‘We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich.’” (You say Fuller. I say Farmer. The two Millards say “call the whole thing off.”)

So, what happens when a dragon slayer – paid per dragon head – runs out of real dragons to slay? Well, he invents new ones, of course. Gotta keep those sprinklers-a-sprinklin.’ (According to Harper’s, “Dees bought a 200-acre estate appointed with tennis courts, a pool, and stables.” SPLC’s 2008 Form-990 shows net assets of over 219 million at the beginning of that year. Yup, there’s a spate to be made in the hate trade.)

Silverstein explains: “The Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC’s most lucrative nemesis, has shrunk from 4 million members in the 1920s to an estimated 2,000 today [year 2000], as many as 10 percent of whom are thought to be FBI informants. But news of a declining Klan does not make for inclining donations to Morris Dees and Co., which is why the SPLC honors nearly every nationally covered ‘hate crime’ with direct-mail alarums full of nightmarish invocations of ‘armed Klan paramilitary forces’ and ‘violent neo-Nazi extremists…’”

But as the real dragons dry-up, new dragons emerge: “Tea Party” conservatives; Evangelical Christians; anti-abortion zealots and anti-gay bigots (read: pro-life and pro-family traditionalists); and, of course, gun-toting, knuckle-dragging 2nd Amendment rednecks. All bundled together – courtesy of the SPLC and Janet “the system worked” Napolitano – in that neat little pejorative package know as – Dun-Dun-Dun! – THE RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST! (You know, basically Middle America.)

So, sadly – shamefully, really – today’s SPLC has become nothing more than a “non-profit” extension of the black helicopter, Huffpo-wing of the Democratic Party – a gaggle of partisan hacks bent on lining their pockets, defaming good people (along with the bad) and filling DNC coffers. (SPLC Director Mark Potok even doubles as a Huffington Post columnist. Seriously. They make it that easy.)

The real problem lies in the fact, however, that the SPLC holds itself out as an objective monitor of potentially violent or subversive hate groups. It presents to municipal, state and federal law enforcement, regular “intelligence files” and an annual “Year in Hate” report. Ostensibly, these reports contain facts – even actionable intelligence – aimed at helping law enforcement officials prevent and/or monitor potentially violent criminal activity.

In recent years the SPLC reports have been utterly tainted – weaponized and used against the leftist group’s ideological and political adversaries. This is a despicable, bad faith abuse of others’ good will, and of the SPLC’s past reputation.

Case in point: Recently, the SPLC came under fire for comparing the “Tea Party” movement and other grassroots conservatives to “terrorists.” Potok slandered “Tea Party” goers, suggesting that “they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism,” and are widely linked to “hate” and “vigilante groups.” Of course there are always a few nuts in any movement, but clearly Potok’s intent was to defame tens of millions of patriotic “Tea Partiers,” simply because he disagrees with them.

It was earlier reported that Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security relied upon similar reports by the SPLC in preparing the DHS’ own slanderous – now infamous – “Right Wing Extremist” report. You may recall: it painted pretty much all conservatives with that broad, multi-colored brush of “domestic terrorism.” (The report was later pulled, and Napolitano forced to apologize in shame.)

Even more recently, the SPLC launched another in a series of politically motivated attacks against a well-respected Christian organization. The group arbitrarily tagged as an official “hate group” Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH).

AFTAH promotes biblical morality, opposes the radical homosexual activist lobby and publicly decries both violence and hatred against homosexuals or anyone else. Although it has been in operation for a number of years, the SPLC only recently labeled AFTAH a “hate group” after being pressured by the Chicago-based “Gay Liberation Network” to do so.

GLN is a fringe group of self-described Marxists and sexual anarchists best known for disrupting peaceful Christian gatherings with raucous, bullhorn laden protests. In a twist most ironic, GLN leader Bob Schwartz once threatened AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera in front of witnesses, telling him that if the police weren’t present at a rally, he would have pushed LaBarbera into oncoming traffic. (“Hate crime, anyone?” Love that “tolerance” and “diversity.” Where’s the SPLC when you need them?)

You can only cry wolf so many times before people begin to ignore you. Today, the SPLC’s “hate group” reports have begun to resonate almost exclusively within a far-left echo chamber. Newsflash: Moveon.org wants Bush tried as a “war criminal,” Charlie Sheen thinks the U.S. government was behind 9/11 and, yes, the SPLC has once again awarded its now meaningless “hate group” distinction to yet another conservative organization with which it is admittedly – in every way – both politically and ideologically opposed. Who would’ve thunk it?

Don’t get me wrong. Again, in the past, the SPLC has actually done some good by identifying and monitoring real hate groups such as the KKK, neo-Nazis and Skin Heads.

But now, regrettably, the SPLC has traded in its limited usefulness for radical left-wing activism. It has become much like that which it previously sought to expose. Today it uses the very tactics employed by white nationalists and other bona fide hate groups to malign large groups of people whom the SPLC most decidedly “hates.”

It’s nauseatingly transparent. With empty, ad hominem attacks and pejorative “hate group” smears, the SPLC strives to politically marginalize its ideological opponents. It’s a cynical “guilt-by-false-association” scheme, through which the SPLC hopes – in the public mind’s eye – to equate Christians, “Tea Party” conservatives and other traditionalists to the KKK and neo-Nazis.

Still, in going after Americans for Truth, the GLN surprisingly betrayed its SPLC ally by publicly acknowledging SPLC’s nefarious tactics. GLN boasted that this was the strategy all along. The Gay Liberation Network’s stated goal in goading the SPLC to label AFTAH a “hate group” was to “help assist” in AFTAH’s “political marginalization.”

Of course, by kowtowing to an already deeply marginalized GLN; by so obviously abusing its once-respectable reputation; and by spending its last remaining political capital on such folly, the SPLC has only succeeded in further marginalizing itself.

But, as they say: What’s good for the goose… Let’s try it on for size. It’s a “hate group,” mudslinging good time! In exercise of the SPLC’s trademark “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” criterion for arbitrarily determining “hate group” status, I hereby declare the Southern Poverty Law Center an “anti-Christian, anti-conservative hate group.” There, it’s official. Try it. It’s fun!

But seriously, if AFTAH is a “hate group,” then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church. Any group that observes and defends traditional sexual morality would have to be labeled such.

Heck, for that matter, so would the U.S. Armed Forces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. These groups publically expose the undeniable medical and societal pitfalls associated with the homosexual lifestyle and, therefore, must be “hate groups,” right?

Of course, like any bully, the SPLC only goes after those it believes it can push around. But really, it confers a badge of honor upon every legitimate Christian and conservative organization it so disingenuously mislabels “hate group.” It’s a tacit admission by the SPLC that these groups represent a political threat; that their activities undermine the SPLC’s not-so-thinly-veiled, left-wing agenda. (Kind of like winning a conservative Grammy.)

Indeed, I can’t speak for the many conservative and Christian organizations and ministries with which I’m associated. And of course I hate absolutely no one. Nonetheless, I’d like to officially request that the SPLC add my name to its spurious “anti-gay hate list.” It’s good for one’s conservative and biblical bona fides.”



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

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

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


26 March, 2010

Scientist attacks ‘fundamentalism’ of atheist Dawkins

The “scientific fundamentalism” promoted by the atheist Richard Dawkins was criticised yesterday by the winner of a prize he had attacked.

Professor Francisco Ayala, who won the £1 million Templeton Prize for scientific thought, said that attacking religion and ridiculing believers provided ammunition for religious leaders who insisted that followers had to choose between God and Darwin. “Richard Dawkins has been a friend for more than 20 years, but it is unfortunate that he goes beyond the boundaries of science in making statements that antagonise believers,” he said.

Professor Ayala, of the University of California, Irvine, who is an authority on evolution and genetics, won the prize for his contribution to the question “Does scientific knowledge contradict religious belief?”. The prize, the largest of its kind, was founded by the late entrepreneur Sir John Templeton to honour scientists who contribute to progress in religion.

The professor, who was born in Spain and is a naturalised American, says science and religion cannot be in contradiction because they address different questions. It is only when either subject oversteps its boundary, as he believes is the case with Professor Dawkins, that a contradiction arises, he said. “The scientific fundamentalism proposed by Dawkins implies a materialistic view of the world. But once science has had its say, there remains much about reality that is of interest. Common sense tells us that science can’t tell us everything.”

This week Professor Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, attacked the US National Academy of Sciences for hosting the Templeton ceremony. He said on his blog: “The US National Academy of Sciences has brought ignominy on itself by agreeing to host the announcement of the 2010 Templeton Prize. This is exactly the kind of thing Templeton is ceaselessly angling for — recognition among real scientists — and they use their money shamelessly to satisfy their doomed craving for scientific respectability.”

Professor Ayala was ordained as a priest in 1960, but left the priesthood to study genetics. He maintains links with the Vatican, but would not reveal whether he believed in God. “My arguments are valid independent of my personal beliefs,” he said. Professor Ayala has been a fierce opponent of the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in schools alongside evolution “for the same reason that we don’t teach witchcraft in medicine or alchemy in chemistry classes”.

Man’s “flawed” design made evolutionary theory more compatible with the idea of a benevolent creator than intelligent design. “Because of the flawed design of our reproductive systems more than 20 per cent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion,” said Professor Ayala. “Do you want to blame God for that? No, science has provided an answer. It is the clumsy ways of nature and the evolutionary process.”

The Duke of Edinburgh will present the prize to Professor Ayala on May 5 in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University and previous winner of the prize, said that the rise of fundamentalism had dampened what was once a productive dialogue between scientists and the religious community. “Most people do care whether there’s a deeper meaning to life and the Universe,” he said. “Some of the founders of science were religious thinkers. This prize is part of that tradition.”


Palestinians Glorify a Terrorist

Does building homes threaten peace? Or does holding a ceremony honoring as a hero and role model a terrorist who murdered dozens of civilians? Last week, Israel announced it would be doing the former. Palestinians did the latter. The Obama Administration condemned the Israeli words; it ignored the Palestinian deeds.

What could be wrong with building 1,600 homes for Jews in eastern Jerusalem? Nothing, except for Palestinians who do not accept Israel’s existence and intend as a first step towards ending it to set up their own Jew-free state and divide Israel’s capital in the process.

What could be wrong with the Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) publicly honoring Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 coastal road terror attack that killed 37 Israeli civilians? Everything, where peace is concerned but, apparently, nothing where the Obama Administration is concerned.

Visiting Vice-President Joseph Biden condemned the Israeli building project. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “an insult to the United States.” Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod described it as “destructive” and an “affront.” But no such words – in fact, no words at all – issued from this Administration over the PA publicly glorifying Mughrabi, which also occurred during Biden’s visit.

The Obama Administration has noisily opposed Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. But last year even it accepted Israel’s unilateral concession (unreciprocated by the PA) of a ten-month building freeze in the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem. Indeed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed this concession and called it “unprecedented” – which it was.

After all, throughout the Oslo process, Israel built homes for existing Jewish communities without Palestinians breaking off talks, and little wonder: an Israeli commitment to cease building such homes does not feature in the Oslo agreements. The use of such a pretext for walking out of talks could only have gone so far.

However, last year, the Obama Administration arrived on the scene.

Since loudly demanding a Jewish construction freeze, the only result has been that the PA now refuses to negotiate until Israel accedes to it. This lands an Administration — that has made a priority about restarting peace talks without inquiring into whether Palestinians actually want peace — in a self-made mess.

Having no-where else to turn and unable to acknowledge responsibility for the results of its own posturing, the Obama Administration has scrambled for an alibi to account for its failure by turning on Israel for doing something it had previously accepted.

This fit of pique is likely to be as counter-productive for the Obama Administration as it will be inconsequential for Israel’s Netanyahu government. Israelis do not like other people telling them to divide their capital and they will not turn on the Netanyahu government for opposing steps that could lead to it.

The Obama Administration has already abandoned Obama’s original, sonorously proclaimed goal of swift, direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks due the very Palestinian refusal to participate which it has incited. Now it may come to witness the disintegration of its painstakingly-orchestrated fall-back, proximity talks – basically the U.S. acting as messenger between the two sides – before they even begin.

Worse, this high-handedness with a friend will ultimately dismay other American allies – as other Obama stunts have done with the Czech Republic, Honduras and Poland, to name a few – while emboldening rivals and enemies.

Obama promised the Czechs and Poles that he would keep faith with his predecessor’s agreement to provide a missile defense shield, before telephoning both countries on the 70th anniversary of World War Two to tell them he had changed his mind at the behest of their worst nightmare, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Honduras removed from office in accordance with its constitution a lawless president seeking to remain there and was rewarded with U.S. condemnation and the cutting off of military aid. Now Israel announces a housing project that Palestinians don’t like and the Administration reacts with rancorous hyperbole.

Meanwhile, the Administration presses ‘reset’ buttons with Russia, which sells the technology for nuclear weapons development to Iran. It restores an ambassador to Syria, having abandoned holding it accountable for the murder of Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri or dispatching jihadists to kill Americans in Iraq. And Obama personally bows before Saudi and Chinese despots who export the technology and ideology increasingly threatening America and its allies.

The Obama Administration fiddles about Israeli apartments while the Middle East burns.


A Tale of Two Cities

Washington and Hollywood, both tone-deaf to American attitudes

Washington, D.C. and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition: they’ve not only become completely alienated from the people they’re meant to serve, they’re bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation. Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way, and think, “Oh, look, they love me—love me!”

For glaring proof in Washington, we have the passage of the health-care bill. Recently the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former Carter pollster Pat Caddell and former Clinton pollster Douglas E. Schoen expressing their amazement that Obama and the Democrats would go forward with this bill in the face of overwhelming evidence that the public doesn’t want it. Caddell—a moderate Democrat who sometimes sports a T-shirt reading I’M GRUMPY BECAUSE YOU’RE DOPEY—and Schoen are baffled that the Democrats continue to grow and grow and grow the government despite polls that show Americans feel the federal apparatus is now an immediate threat to their civil rights and is no longer operating with the consent of the governed.

And yet, even after losing a Senate seat in blue-on-blue Massachusetts almost entirely because of the health care and big government issues, the Democrats plunged forward, certain that we’re going to like what they’re forcing us to eat.

To get a sense of the psychology behind this self-destructive self-deception, let’s take a look at a similar act in D.C.’s ideological sister city, some 3,000 miles away. Here, Universal studios recently released Green Zone, a $100 million anti–Iraq War movie, despite the box-office failures of over a dozen similarly themed films. Matt Damon stars as the soldier who discovers—though in reality, this is provably untrue—that the Bush administration lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in order to drag us into war. Operation Shock and Awe was nothing compared with the way this picture bombed. HBO’s World War II series, The Pacific, also did only modest business, its chances possibly poisoned by executive producer Tom Hanks’ idiotic remarks that America had “wanted to annihilate [the Japanese] because they were different,” and that this made the war in the Pacific similar to today’s wars against Islamic terror.

As a result of these two failures, showbiz trade magazine Variety ran an almost hilariously purblind article saying that Hollywood was calling a “truce” on making war films because “with U.S. troops embroiled in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, American audiences continue to suffer from war fatigue.”

Yeah, that must be it. It couldn’t be that we’re nauseated by a bunch of showbiz yahoos depicting our troops and leaders as evil while they’re in the field defending us. Or wait, maybe it is: the one film—the single film—that, while taking no political position on these wars, nonetheless treated our military with deep honor, respect, and patriotism—HBO’s brilliant Taking Chance—was one of the network’s signal successes despite the mainstream media’s blithering negative reviews.

Here’s the thing. The American people want government that acts in keeping with our principles of free markets, self-reliance, and individual liberty. The people want culture that depicts the moral order as we know it is, not as sequestered elites dream it should be. But in Hollywood and in Washington, they can’t hear the people because they’re making too much noise talking to themselves, confirming themselves, and loving themselves.

They say that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. But as long as our leaders and artists are displaying such blindness, arrogance, and narcissism, they’re all ugly.


Flight attendant reality show slammed for sexism

Attractive females are always suspect to feminists

A new TV show featuring five female flight attendants living together has been panned by critics who claim it is restoring sexist attitudes towards the profession.

Fly Girls, which debuted on US channel The CW yesterday, features five Virgin America flight attendants and follows their lives together as they try to get along in the one California household, as well as following their working lives at the airline.

The official website describes the show as following "five beautiful Virgin America flight attendants as they jet from one glamorous location to the next, including Las Vegas, South Beach and New York City, while pursuing good times, great parties, adventure and love."

Critics and unions have slammed the show for restoring the stereotype of the flirty, promiscuous flight attendant that the industry has been trying to throw off since the 1960s.

“The show implies that a flight attendant's main job requirement is to keep her legs oiled,” wrote Megan Angelo in the Wall Street Journal. “The girls flounce from their sprawling house to cocktail parties and back again; the only time we see them on a plane is when they're discussing the (planted?) handsome guy in first class who invariably ends up hitting on one of them.”

“Flight attendants will be losing any dignity that was gained if Fly Girls becomes a hit,” wrote Walt Belcher in Tampa Bay Online.

Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, told the Wall Street Journal the show was a misogynistic throwback to the “Coffee, Tea or Me?” era of the 1960s.

The Transport Workers Union has claimed that, contrary to the glamorous lifestyle Fly Girls portrays, flight attendants in the US are poorly paid and sleep in cars or crew lounges because they can't afford housing.

The TWU is hoping to use the show to kickstart a campaign to unionise Virgin America's flight attendants.

However, the biggest problem with the show, according to critics, is that it's boring. The AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff called the show “idiotic”, saying much of the conflict and incidents in the so-called 'reality' show appeared scripted. He also criticised Virgin America's apparent role in the show, pointing out much of the action was dedicated to the airline's publicity events.

The five flight attendants fall into to the regular reality TV show stereotypes, with the debut episode featuring the designated 'mean girl' of the group stealing her colleague's seat in order to get next to Virgin boss Richard Branson.



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

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

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


25 March, 2010

President Sarkozy promises to ban the Muslim veil in France

France is to ban the full Muslim veil to protect the dignity of women, President Sarkozy announced yesterday. His decision followed months of wavering by politicians of Left and Right and ended a long silence by Mr Sarkozy on what do do about the niqab, burqa and other full face-covering garments.

"The full veil is contrary to the dignity of women," the President said. "The response is to ban it. The Government will table a draft law prohibiting it."

He gave no details but his announcement means that he has come down on the side of members of Parliament in his own camp and the opposition who advocate a full ban on the full veil on French territory.

An all-party parliamentary committee recommended lesser measures last month that would require women to expose their faces on public transport and on state-owned premises such as post offices, universities and hospitals.

Until recently Mr Sarkozy had merely said that the full veil symbolised the oppression of women and that it "has no place in France".

Mr Sarkozy was speaking in an address to the nation to take stock of the results of regional elections in which his Union for a Popular Movement was beaten heavily. The triumph of the Socialist-led opposition was seen as a direct rebuke to the President over the style and substance of his leadership.

Speaking from the Elysée Palace, Mr Sarkozy said that he had heard the message of distress that voters had sent him. He accepted that the French were frustrated and worried about the failure to revive the economy faster but he insisted that he would continue to pursue his ambitious programme of reforms.

"I understand your impatience. I owe you a response. But nothing would be worse than to change tack on everything by giving in to the agitation of an electoral period," he said.

Mr Sarkozy promised not to ride roughshod over public opinion when raising the retirement age this year. He also promised to defend French industry and told farmers that he would prefer to trigger a crisis in the European Union than accept cuts in the Common Agriculture Policy.

The Opposition accused Mr Sarkozy of turning a deaf ear to discontent by ploughing on with unpopular reforms. They also charged him with pandering to right-wing voters who had deserted him for the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

"This was a speech aimed at re-establishing himself with the electorate on the Right rather than re-establishing the international competitiveness of France," Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, a senior Socialist MP, said.

The President acknowledged that his administration had failed to curb violent crime and promised a renewed effort on that issue.

His announcement on the Muslim veil will be well received since a strong majority of the French favour a ban, according to opinion polls.

Some leading politicians in Mr Sarkozy's camp and in the opposition are opposed, on the grounds that such a measure would stigmatise France's six million Muslims. France is also likely to cause anger in the Muslim world with a ban that would go far beyond the existing prohibition of headscarves in state schools.

Mr Sarkozy gave no indication as to how an outright ban would be imposed and policed.

Opinion polls this week have shown that a strong majority do not want Mr Sarkozy to be re-elected in 2012.

A poll for Paris Match showed that 60 per cent of the country wanted the Opposition to win power in the next presidential and legislative elections.


More appalling "safety" correctness in Britain

Teachers leave boy, 5, stranded in tree because of health and safety (then report passer-by who helped him down to police)

A boy of five was left stranded in a tree at school because of a bizarre health and safety policy - which banned teachers from helping him down.

The mischievous pupil climbed the 20ft tree at the end of morning break and refused to come down.

But instead of helping him, staff followed guidelines and retreated inside the school building to ‘observe from a distance’ so the child would not get ‘distracted and fall’.

The boy was only rescued after 45 minutes in the tree when passer-by Kim Barrett, 38, noticed the child and helped him down herself. But instead of being thanked for her actions by the head teacher of the Manor School in Melksham, Wiltshire, she was reported to the police for trespassing.

Miss Barrett, who lives in Melksham with her six-year-old daughter who attends a different school, said she is ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by the school's policy. She said: 'I was completely shocked when I first saw him because he was sitting on a branch hanging out over the pavement.

'He was so young. He didn't look frightened but he was completely on his own - there were no teachers or friends in the playground and the field was empty. 'I walked past at 11.15am and he told me he had been hiding since the end of playtime because he didn't want to go back into class. 'Break ends at 10.30am so that means he had been in the tree for at least 45 minutes.

‘I stopped to ask him if he was OK, and it became clear that he'd been there since the end of playtime, which had been around half an hour earlier. ‘I was immediately concerned. I walked over to the school with the boy and was met by the associate head.

‘He didn't appear at all concerned, and was actually very patronising, patting me on the arm and asking me “what do you expect me to do, exactly, dear?” ‘When I said I thought it was a serious incident, he then said his only concern was me trespassing.

‘I was initially surprised that no one appeared to have missed this boy, no one could have known where he was because they could not have seen him from the school, and I was shocked at the way I was dealt with.’

The incident occurred on the morning of March 1 as Miss Barrett was walking home past the side entrance of 213-pupil The Manor Church of England Primary School.

She claims that she walked around to the front of the school, onto the playing field and then helped the schoolboy down before taking him back to his class.

But the school alleges that she ‘approached the school in an inappropriate way’ and asked her to leave the premises after she got into a row with staff over the boy's welfare.

Later that evening a letter from head teacher Beverley Martin was posted through Miss Barrett’s door, explaining that the school had contacted police about the incident. The next morning she was visited by a PCSO who told her she had committed a trespassing offence by helping the young schoolboy down from the tree.

Miss Barrett, a part-time cleaner, said: ‘I felt really angry because I felt I had saved the school and this boy from something that could have been far worse, and that instead of thanking me I was under investigation. ‘It was ridiculous. He was all on his own, there was no one near him and you couldn't see the school buildings from where he was.

‘Not only was he at least 6ft off the ground, but someone taller than me could easily have reached in from the pavement and plucked him off the branch. "The school say he was being watched but that's impossible because there is no line of sight from the school building to the tree.

'I am a mother myself and I find it a bit ridiculous that the school's policy is to leave a child up a tree. I would be very angry if this happened to my child. 'I think this is a big cover up and that the school obviously had no idea he was there. When I took him in they had no idea he was missing.'

Mrs Martin confirmed that the school's policy prevents staff going to the aid of children who have climbed trees. She said: ‘The safety of our pupils is our priority [A strange idea of safety!] and we would like to make it clear that this child was being observed at all times during this very short incident.

‘Like other schools whose premises include wooded areas, our policy when a child climbs a tree, is for staff to observe the situation from a distance so the child does not get distracted and fall. ‘We would strongly urge members of the public not to climb over a padlocked gate to approach children as their motives are not clear to staff.

‘To protect children, we cannot assume that people who enter the school grounds without permission have innocent intentions and must act accordingly. ‘If people are concerned about a child's welfare then they should go to the reception and alert a member of staff, who will be happy to help. ‘I am sure these expectations are the same in every school and are centred on children's wellbeing.’

A letter sent to Miss Barrett by Wiltshire Council added: ‘You may well have acted initially out of concern for the safety of the child but any such concerns should have been raised with a member of staff. ‘You subsequently behaved in a verbally aggressive manner to a member of staff.’


British KFC diner told 'you can't have bacon in your burger here - we're now halal'

A diner was left fuming after a KFC restaurant took his favourite meal off the menu because it breached their new halal regulations. Alan Phillips was told he would have to travel five miles to another branch if he wanted the Big Daddy, a chicken burger, topped with bacon, cheese and salad.

The branch, in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, is one of 86 KFC restaurants which is running trials of a scheme where they sell nothing other than halal meat.

The company has taken the burger off the menu because Islamic dietary law forbids Muslims to eat anything which has been prepared on the same premises as pork, which is itself strictly forbidden. It said it was responding to 'increased demand' for a halal menu in the areas of Britain with growing Muslim populations.

Mr Phillips said he found the change 'extremely unfair' on non-Muslim customers. 'I can't believe a chain like this has taken this stance,' he said. 'Staff told me that due to the dietary laws halal meat could not be prepared in the same place as other meats, so I couldn't have my bacon. It was like they were saying I couldn't buy bacon because it might offend people.'

Mr Phillips was told he would have to travel to another KFC five miles away to buy his bacon burger. He protested that this was too far for him to travel. 'It is getting silly,' he said. 'I have many friends who are black, white and Muslim but they wouldn't be forced to eat non-halal meat. 'I have no problem with them selling halal meat, but I would like the choice.'

Traditionally, halal meat must be slaughtered by hand, although KFC, which has more than 750 restaurants in the UK, said its chickens are not killed in this way. The meat must also be blessed in the name of Allah and cannot be kept on the same premises as banned substances including pork and alcohol.

KFC spokesman Nina Arnott said the halal trial was expected to last 'a few months'. She said: 'We've responded to requests to provide halal food in some parts of the UK and the Middleway Park restaurant in Burton is one of the restaurants taking part in our trial.

'The Big Daddy is the only product we've taken off the menu at our trial stores and we're using exactly the same ingredients and exactly the same tasting chicken as before.'


The British rape debate is demeaning to women and an abandonment of the principles of justice

The Stern report on how rape cases are handled rehabilitates the Victorian view of women as helpless victims

By Nathalie Rothschild

A new report on rape and the criminal justice system in England and Wales has concluded that the debate around rape has been too much focused on conviction rates. Yet while Baroness Stern, author of the report, recommends that from now on support and care for victims be given as high a priority as the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators, her report is unlikely to change the terms of the debate.

The Stern report does not challenge the way in which women today are encouraged to see themselves as victims and how they are regarded as less accountable for their actions than men. And in suggesting that women reporting rape should be believed from the outset, Stern is insisting that, when it comes to alleged crimes of rape, the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

Feminists and rape awareness campaigners have been dismayed at Stern’s suggestion that attention be diverted away from the often-repeated claim that only six per cent of rapes lead to a conviction. This refers to the total number of reports producing convictions, but Stern says it is misleading as nearly 60 per cent of those charged with rape are, in fact, convicted.

A large number of reported rape cases, the Stern review found, are either unrecorded or retracted, while in 23 per cent of cases there is insufficient evidence to charge the suspect. So the attrition rate in rape cases is high, with only 12 per cent of cases reaching court. But the actual conviction rate for those cases that do get to court is as high as 57.7 per cent.

Stern suggests that the way to encourage women to report rape (and by extension to increase conviction rates – an ambition normally restricted to totalitarian states) is by diverting attention away from the off-putting six per cent figure and instead emphasising the more ‘positive’ conviction rates when charges have been brought. In other words, Stern is simply proposing a new spin on rape statistics rather than questioning the basic premises around the debate about rape and the criminal justice system today.

In 2007, Camilla Cavendish of The Times (London) found that rape allegations had jumped by 40 per cent between 2002 and 2005. While this can partly be put down to improved support for women, which facilitates the process of reporting rape, Cavendish argued that a widening official definition of rape also played a big role. Since the Sexual Offences Act 2003 came into force, the definition of rape has been expanded to include oral sex. But there has also been a profound attitude shift with roots in the second-wave feminist idea that heterosexual sex is an inherently violent and degrading act that women subject themselves to against their better judgement.

More than four out of five rape allegations are made against friends or acquaintances. As alcohol and/or drugs were involved in over half those cases, Cavendish puts this down to ‘the culture of binge drinking’. But this avoids the more complex picture. Today, various rape-awareness activists and state feminists are themselves helping to blur the boundaries between sex and rape, encouraging women to regard themselves as violated, abused and traumatised for having gone to bed with a man without thinking it through in minute detail.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 declared that consent must be ‘active, not passive’; in rape cases, consent is now taken to mean agreement rather than the absence of a refusal. So if a woman goes along with sex, but doesn’t make it explicitly clear that she is actively consenting to it, it can be deemed to be rape. The government has even moved towards ensuring that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given under the influence of alcohol. As Cavendish pointed out: ‘In our zeal to protect women, are we going to legislate so that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not? Why do we encourage women to see themselves as victims?’ Absolving women who engage in sexual liaisons – whether drunk or sober – of responsibility for their actions is not liberating; it’s demeaning.

There is no doubt that forcing someone to have sex is a heinous, violent and degrading act and victims of rape should indeed be treated with dignity and respect. But in the name of protecting women, the government is insisting that rape cases be treated differently from all other crimes, while interfering with the course of justice in a way that undermines defendants’ rights and undercuts the power of juries.

For those women who have baulked at Stern’s bout of stats spinning, it is only right for the legal process to be tailored to plaintiffs’ needs in rape cases. The solicitor general, Vera Baird, said she had reservations about ceasing to refer to the six per cent figure - the percentage of rape reports that produce a conviction. ‘Although we don’t count any other offence in this way’, she said, ‘it is particularly meaningful as it reflects the high number of rape victims who drop out before they get to court, and we really need to focus on that group.’ But this assumes ‘that group’ is actually made up of genuine rape cases. Without the chance to test that in court, we can never know.

Similarly, Nicole Westmarland, a lecturer in criminology and former chairwoman of Rape Crisis, insisted the process of reporting, prosecuting and convicting those accused of rape should be on different terms than other offences. She said that ‘all too often rape is just dismissed as “one person’s word against another’s” because a thorough investigation has not taken place. Evidence collection and management must be improved.’

Yet rape is difficult to prosecute precisely because it is, sometimes, a matter of his word against hers. There are often no witnesses and little circumstantial evidence, particularly in cases of acquaintance rape. It is very difficult to establish the truth in rape cases, but that does not mean that truth should have no bearing on the outcome of a rape case in court.

Yet, with the blessing of the government and various feminists, some important legal safeguards have been eroded in rape cases and the burden of proof has been reversed. Rather than the prosecutor having to prove that the woman did not consent, the defendant now must prove that the woman did consent.

Women are done no favours by these changes. They are being treated as feeble dimwits who have constantly to be asked for their consent, to be checked on every step of the way to make sure they’re okay. It is curious that self-described feminists are propounding such a paternalistic view of women as unable to make their own minds up, as too weak and silly to say ‘no’ to men, and as putting themselves at risk by drinking and flirting and potentially knocking out their critical faculties, leading them to wake up in a strange bed without having first given their ‘active consent’.



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

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

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


24 March, 2010

Israeli diplomat expelled by Britain on the basis of mere speculation

A new low was reached Tuesday in the traditionally close but often rocky British-Israeli relationship when Britain announced that it was expelling an Israeli diplomat following the use of forged British passports in the Dubai assassination of a senior Hamas official in January.

The cold war-style sanction was deployed after a British investigation determined that passports were forged when British citizens passed through airports on their way to Israel, although the probe was unable to definitively confirm the involvement of Israeli intelligence.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, was summoned to the headquarters of Britain’s Foreign Office on Monday to be told the results of Britain’s inquiry, for which investigators were sent to Israel this month to meet eight Israeli-British dual nationals whose identities were used in the Jan. 20 assassination. Britain’s Foreign Minister, David Miliband was due to address Parliament this afternoon.

While Britain has in the past reserved such action for states like Libya and Iran many see this as only a symbolic warning to its ally Israel – not a sweeping denunciation. However, precisely because of the closeness of the Israeli-British relationship, there could be more serious friction if the controversy is not laid to rest, says Yossi Mekelberg, an Israeli analyst at the London foreign policy think tank Chatham House.

“It is serious. If, as a country, your passports are misused or faked, then it is not something you can ignore and it has created practical problems. Israel has got away internationally with doing certain things in the past because it is a democracy," he says, calling the expulsion Britain's way of telling Israel, "you misbehaved."

But there is a cumulative effect, he adds – and one that may play out in less public avenues.

“Between Britain and Israel there is cooperation on so many different levels. In a globalized world Britain can decide that something like this can end with an expulsion – but behind closed doors there can be repercussions," says Mr. Mekelberg. "The closer a relationship is, then the more painful the sanctions can be.”

While action from London had been expected on the issue – the most serious cause of friction yet over a recent period of sometimes strained relations between the two countries – there was still shock value in the use of a sanction Britain has traditionally only deployed against states with which it has frosty relations.

The last time Britain expelled foreign diplomats from its soil was in June 2009, when two Iranian diplomats were told to pack their bags after Tehran ordered two British diplomats out.


British social workers think the poor can do no wrong again -- and blacks cannot be touched, of course

So baby was seen 15 times in six months by care workers. Yet still he starved to death in his mother's apartment

A baby boy has starved to death despite being under the care of at least nine doctors, social workers and health visitors. The helpless 10-month-old wasted away in his pram at his mother's flat even though he was seen at least 15 times in six months by care professionals.

Although the experts expressed 'concerns' about Saymon Michael's deteriorating health, no one did anything to save him and officials were repeatedly fobbed off by his mother.

In addition, a confidential report on the case - seen by the Daily Mail - concludes: 'Are there any lessons to be learned from this preliminary investigation? 'No. Are there any immediate actions that need to be taken? No.'

Saymon was found dead, emaciated and surrounded by rotting food on March 8 after a 999 call from his HIV positive mother's squalid council flat in North-West London.

A post-mortem examination revealed his stomach was empty and he had not eaten for days. He had suffered a 'long period of malnourishment' and his weight had plummeted since Christmas by a third to 12.5lb. His sister, four, was also malnourished. She was taken into care.

Police began a murder inquiry and Saymon's 29-year-old Eritrean-born mother Yirgalem Michael was arrested for child neglect.

She had avoided contact with care workers by complaining that her human rights would be breached if they used an Eritrean interpreter to question her - in case her close-knit community found out she had HIV.

Despite this and the fact that there were concerns about her parenting skills, she was allowed to keep Saymon and his four-year-old sister.

She had already admitted 'hearing voices' and had expressed fears for her baby's health.

Miss Michael spent only an hour in police custody before being taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, West London where she died two days after her son from a rare brain condition linked to her HIV.

The family are believed to have come to Britain from East Africa several years ago and settled in the West Midlands. They immediately came to the attention of social workers and the daughter was placed on the at-risk register. But the girl, who cannot be named, was later removed from the register and the mother moved to Birmingham where she had her son, Saymon, last year.

In September 2009, she was rehoused in London after she claimed she had been beaten up by the children's father.

A series of visits by health visitors and social workers from Westminster City Council followed. But despite a growing file of evidence that all was not well, nothing was done. The last visit to the flat in St John's Wood was made on March 1. A week later, the boy was dead in his pram.

A neighbour said: 'We used to hear her baby and an older child crying all the time. On March 8 my son heard a scream at around seven in the morning.'

Two health trusts were responsible for the family, and a source with knowledge of the case said: 'It is completely unacceptable in modern Britain that a baby can starve to death while supposedly under the care of a dozen or so professionals.'

A secret report by one of the trusts - the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust - obtained by the Mail said: 'Post mortem results on the infant showed that he had no food in his gut at all and so had not eaten for several days at least. However, there is evidence of a long period of malnourishment.'

But, after a nine-day investigation, the report concluded there are no lessons to be learnt.

Michael O'Connor, Westminster City Council's director for children and young people, said: 'Neither of the children were on the child protection register and there is no suggestion that they were at risk.'

Terry Bamford of Westminster's Local Safeguarding Children Board, said an independent serious case review would take place.

Central and North West London Trust refused to comment and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said it was carrying out its own inquiry.


Pope's critics must get their facts straight

By Cardinal George Pell (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney)

THE evil of sexual abuse has no place in the Catholic Church and no one should doubt Benedict XVI's resolve to see it eradicated. His unprecedented pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland reflects his deep compassion for the victims of sexual abuse and his strong commitment to seeing that justice is done.

The Pope has met victims of sexual abuse in Australia and elsewhere. He has heard first-hand what they have suffered.

He is a man of immense compassion and goodness, and is personally committed to doing all he can to bring justice and healing to the victims.

In his pastoral letter, the Pope warns priests and others in the church who have abused children that they will have to answer to God and the courts for what they have done.

He directly addresses those who have abused children: "You have betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals."

The Pope urges bishops and religious superiors in Ireland to "continue to co-operate with the civil authorities" in reporting allegations of abuse and ensuring that vulnerable people are protected.

He is also proposing to send official church investigators, or apostolic visitors, with wide powers to act and make recommendations to some dioceses, religious orders and seminaries in Ireland.

The Pope's call for continued co-operation with the police and the criminal courts in investigating allegations of sexual abuse is consistent with the strong approach he has taken to this issue since he was prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

In 2001, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he issued an instruction to all bishops requiring them to refer allegations of pedophilia against priests to the congregation for investigation. It is frequently claimed that this 2001 instruction required bishops to treat these allegations with total secrecy and not inform the police, under penalty of excommunication.

This claim was repeated in The Australian on March 18 by Christopher Hitchens. Referring to the 2001 instruction, Hitchens wrote: "The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated `in the most secretive way restrained by a perpetual silence and everyone is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office under the penalty of excommunication'."

However, the letter Ratzinger issued in 2001 made no reference to excommunication. The words Hitchens quotes are taken from an earlier letter from the Holy See on this matter, issued in 1962, which was superseded by the 2001 document.

I received the 2001 letter soon after I became Archbishop of Sydney. Five years earlier I had established an independent commission, headed by Peter O'Callaghan QC, to investigate complaints of abuse in the archdiocese of Melbourne.

I was not excommunicated and neither were the other bishops when they set up the Towards Healing process soon afterwards.

When complaints are made under these procedures, often dating back decades, victims are always encouraged to go to the police. That is what we would prefer. But victims often value their privacy. This issue is too sad and too serious for misinformation to be circulated, adding to victims' pain.

Speaking to an Italian newspaper earlier this month, Charles J. Scicluna, a senior official responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, condemned the "false and calumnious" claims made about how the Pope handled these allegations when he was prefect of the congregation.

Scicluna said that once allegations of pedophilia had been made, "Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases" without respect for persons or rank.

Scicluna also denied allegations that the investigation of abuse claims by the church under conditions of confidentiality or "the pontifical secret" meant that they could not be reported to civil authorities.

Often victims prefer church procedures because they do not want the publicity that accompanies police prosecutions.

In all cases the law of the land has to be followed.

Certainly this is the case in Australia, and in NSW there are strict reporting obligations.

During his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008, Pope Benedict apologised to victims of abuse. "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering," he said. "Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice".

He speaks for all Catholics with these words.


Oppressive British "safety" regulations again

A wheelchair-bound woman was told to take a train for 30 miles in order to cross to an opposite platform 20 yards away.

Julie Cleary, 53, was hoping to use a new £2.8m lift at Staplehurst train station in Kent to get out of the station after a day trip to London, reports the Daily Telegraph.

But she was told she could not use it because of "health and safety" and told to instead to catch a train to Ashford International Station, 15 miles away, and back so she would end up on the right platform.

Miss Cleary said: "The lights were on but there was a metal bar over the button. We couldn't use it. We were told to wait for the next train to Ashford, cross the tracks and come back to get on the other side of the platform - which was 15 - 20 yards away. That was our only choice."

Miss Cleary, who has been forced to use a wheelchair since suffering a spinal aneurysm when she was 12-years-old, said she was told the high-tech lift could only be used when the station was manned.

She told a local website: "I have family in the village, and they came down and helped get me up and over the steps and down the other side. My friends were brilliant, but it was still embarrassing simply not being able to leave the station.

"I did feel furious about it. If I was on my own I would have had no choice but to take the train to Ashford, which is a large and busy station, then change back on the train to Staplehurst."

Miss Cleary complained to her MP Anne Widdecombe and received an apology from Southeastern trains along with £30 of rail vouchers.

Jon Hay-Campbell, a spokesman for the train company, said the lift had been opened as part of an "Access for All" scheme to help those in wheelchairs and with buggies to get across the tracks.

He added that initially the lift could only be used when the station was manned due to "health and safety" reasons but further works had now been done so it can be operated remotely 24 hours a day.



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

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

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


23 March, 2010

British police investigate after homosexuals were 'turned away from B&B' by Christian owners

Homosexuals are a protected class but Christians are not, in sick Britain. Britain once was known for religious tolerance ....

Police launched an investigation today after a Christian bed and breakfast owner turned away a gay couple because she said it was 'against her convictions' to let them share a bed. Michael Black, 62, and John Morgan, have complained of unlawful discrimination after they were not allowed to take up their booking at the B&B in Cookham, Berkshire. The couple had booked a double room at the £75-a-night guest house on Friday and were met outside by owner Susanne Wilkinson.

She later admitted she had turned the couple away because it was her policy not to let same sex couples share a room.

Mr Black and Mr Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, say they were treated like lepers.

It is illegal under the Equality Act 2006 to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and they have been interviewed after reporting the case to police. The couple had arranged the room because they were going for dinner with friends and to the theatre. Mr Black said: 'When we got out of the car she was immediately distant and unfriendly and then she said, "it's a double room", and we said "yes". 'She said, "It's a large double bed in a double room" and we said, "yes", and then she said it was against her convictions to let us stay.

'We said it was illegal to discriminate against people who stay in hotels because that's all we knew at the time and she said it was her private home and it was against her convictions. 'She said she was sorry and she was polite in a cold way and she was not abusive, so we asked our money back and she gave it to us.' He added: 'We were very shocked, and of course angry, that it happened. Neither of us has ever experienced homophobia before and I have been out since 1974. We felt we were treated like lepers and not fit to be under the same roof as her.'

Mr Black said that Mrs Wilkinson has said the men should have warned her, but the self-employed trainer said: 'It would be like saying to someone who runs a guest house, "I'm black or Muslim or blue-eyed" just in case they have a problem with it. 'There is no reason why we had to make it clear we were two men in this day and age. We have stayed in plenty of guest houses in Britain and abroad and have never had a problem.'

Mrs Wilkinson admitted to BBC News that she had turned the men away. She said: 'They gave me no prior warning and I couldn't offer them another room as I was fully booked. 'I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me,' she said. 'I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house.'

The B&B's website boasts: 'A warm and friendly welcome awaits all guests at Susanne Wilkinson's Swiss Bed & Breakfast in the idyllic village of Cookham, near Maidenhead in Berkshire. 'This Swiss-English family offers first class hospitality in their spacious and comfortable home to business, tourist or family visitors from all around the world. English, French and German spoken.'

Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group, said that turning a couple away because of their sexual orientation was illegal. Spokesman Derek Munn said: 'Stonewall was delighted when the law changed in 2007 so that lesbian and gay couples could go on their holidays like anyone else. 'In open-and-shut cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the law's quite clear - it's illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services, and this can't be overridden by personal prejudice.'

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: 'We are aware of the incident and were contacted yesterday. The call has been logged as a homophobic incident. 'As the people live outside of the force area, we have asked Cambridgeshire Constabulary to speak to the individuals concerned.'


What's the Matter With Thomas Frank?

Directed by Joe Winston and Laura Cohen, the documentary version of Thomas Frank's book What's The Matter With Kansas? has just been released. Its timing could not be better given the new level of honesty that many liberal pundits have descended to in recent months.

As the American public has become more and more opposed to President Obama's agenda, many in the intelligentsia have responded with outright condescension and contempt.

When polls showed that a majority of Americans though the stimulus had been wasted Joe Klein of Time thundered, "It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you're a nation of dodos." When Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., suggested turning Medicare into a voucher system through which seniors would purchase their own insurance policies, Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic claimed "it's not clear how many seniors really have the ability to navigate the world of health care with the sort of sophistication to really hunt down the most cost-effective care, even if, as Ryan promises, they'd have more information at their disposal." Richard Cohen recently lamented that the one of the main reasons health care reform hadn't passed was that "the country suffers from a surfeit of democracy." Frustrated that cap-and-trade legislation was going no where in the U.S. Senate, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman let off a bizarre missive in which he claimed that one-party autocracy was better than democracy "when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today."

What is intriguing about these instances is that they come from people who are usually very circumspect and subtle about their condescension and contempt and worried that they should at least show some respect for the majority of Americans.

One person who has never suffered such compunction is left-wing polemicist Thomas Frank. In 2004, Frank published What's The Matter With Kansas?, the quintessential lament about people who don't realize that their true interests are in voting for politicians who support liberal policies.

On page one of his book Frank declares that "People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about." In short, Republicans and conservatives hoodwink much of the middle class, like those good people in Kansas, into believing that what really matters are the social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. In so doing, those people overlook the GOP and conservatives' economic policies that benefit the wealthy but harm the common folk.

"American conservatism depends on its continued dominance and even for its very existence on people never making connections about the world, connections that until recent were treated as obvious or self-evident everywhere on the planet," writes Frank. Those connections include the ones "between the small towns (people) profess to love and the market forces that are slowly grinding those small towns backing into the red-state dust." This "country seems more like a panorama of madness and delusion…of devoted family men carefully seeing to it that their children will never be able to afford college or proper health care; of working-class guys in midwestern cities cheering as they deliver up a landslide for a candidate whose policies will end their way of life."

Frank's book paints a bleak picture of the Midwest. Yet, somehow, that gets lost in the documentary, to the point that viewers seem to notice. After a showing at Washington D.C.'s E Street Cinema last Friday, Frank and Winston put in an appearance to answer audience questions. One gentleman asked, "The theme of the book…was that people really wound up voting against their own interest. Do you feel that the movie really portrays that?"

Frank's response was in character: "It's there in the movie, you sometimes have to keep your eyes open. There are so many beautiful, ironic juxtapositions. You have to keep your eyes open. Look, I've seen it twenty times, okay." He referred to main streets that were boarded up and a scene that shows a crumbling building at the corner of 1st and Main Street.

Yet if phenomenon of people voting against their economic interests is rampant, as Frank claims in the book, then why is it so hard to find in the film? Why do most of the people in the movie seem to be doing rather well financially? Two of the families profiled, the Williards and the Bardens, live in rather nice middle-class homes. The Bardens are able to send their daughter to Patrick Henry College in Virginia. The Williards live in a nice house on a farm. Later in the film, it is reported that the Williard husband loses $300,000 in an investment scheme. While the result is tragic, if the Williards are voting against their economic interests, then how did they have that kind of money to invest in the first place?

Indeed, the movie undermines, albeit unintentionally, Frank's thesis. The Williard wife, Angel, started living with a man shortly after she left for college. She became pregnant by that man, dropped out of school, and gave birth to a disabled son. The boy's father was abusive to her, so much so that she contemplated suicide. She eventually asked God for guidance.

Following this, she returned to Kansas, and became involved in religion. Her new lifestyle led her to a husband who works as an emergency room physician, three beautiful daughters and a farm.

In Angel's experience, it's not hard to see how social issues are connected to economic experiences. Much research demonstrates that there are few ways that a woman is more likely to trap herself in poverty than by having a child out of wedlock-- a fate that Angel nearly suffered. By turning to religion and settling into a family life, she appears to have prospered. Perhaps the folks in Kansas know a lot better what their interests are than Frank thinks they do.

I asked Frank why his hometown of Shawnee, Kansas, didn't make an appearance in the film. Also lacking was Johnson County in which Shawnee is located and whose economic situation Frank so laments in his book. Frank replied that while Winston did film in Johnson County, he didn't use it so he could keep "geographic unity" in the movie. Winston didn't address the question.

Perhaps the concern was geographic unity. Or perhaps it's that we'd have seen a Johnson County not much like the one Frank describes in the book. As Steven Malanga pointed out, "Shawnee and the rest of Johnson County, have done especially well. For three years in the 1990s, the Shawnee area's unemployment rate actually dipped below 3%, making it one of the tightest labor markets anywhere." Furthermore, "And though Mr. Frank describes the place as practically desolate, Shawnee's population grew by a robust 27% during the 1990s. Even more astonishing, today, only 3.3% of its citizens live below the poverty level, compared with about 12.5% nationally."

Polemical works like Frank's tend to reveal more about their authors that they do about the people they are supposedly studying. For Frank it is axiomatic the leftist ideas lead to better economic results than conservative ones. If people are voting for conservative politicians, then those folks must be deluded somehow.

A genuine examination might actually ask these people about their economic situation and how that is related to social issues that they care about. If Frank were to do that, he might have to end up questioning whether liberal ideas really do lead to better results. Yet Frank suffers from what Thomas Sowell calls "The Vision of the Anointed." It is a vision held by many intellectuals in our society, a belief in their own superior knowledge and virtue that leads to a belief that they are an anointed elite who is qualified to make decisions for the rest of us in order to lead humanity to a better life. (For more on the incentive and constraints that foster this type of thinking, see Thomas Sowell's great new work, Intellectuals and Society.) To acknowledge that the people of Kansas are best suited to know their own interest and vote accordingly would mean that Frank would have to give up his belief in his superior knowledge and virtue.

At the end of the talk Friday, Frank stated that he was working on a new book about the Tea Party movement. Readers beware…If his new book is much like What's The Matter With Kansas?, you can look forward to learning more about Frank's sense of moral superiority than what motivates Tea Partiers.


The Eighteenth Brumaire of Barack Obama

First time tragedy, second time farce

After his 1851 coup d’état, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of the real Napoleon, pronounced himself Napoleon III. It was the rise to power of this great-man-wannabe that prompted the famous opening of Karl Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis-Bonaparte: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

The decade of the 1960s—the first appearance in full flower of modern American liberalism—was in many respects a tragedy. It was certainly a tragedy for American liberalism, which liberated itself from its previous (at least partial) mooring in common sense and the American tradition. It was to some degree also a tragedy for America. It took conservative politicians and policies decades to undo the damage of Great Society hubris, post-Vietnam weakness, and ’60s cultural foolishness. Much wreckage still remains.

Now we have the second appearance of ’60s liberalism in the policies and personages of the Obama administration. Marx noted that in the France of his time, “only the ghost of the old revolution circulated,” producing an “adventurer” who claimed to be heir to the great Napoleon, but who was “only a caricature of the old Napoleon.” Similarly, in the America of our time, we have a ghostly version of the liberalism of the 1960s, led by a man who is only a caricature of the vigorous if often mistaken liberals who once sought to reshape the nation.

The farcical nature of today’s liberalism was on display in last week’s three-ring Washington circus. In the central ring, we saw the dramatic unveiling of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care legislation, replete with special deals, squirrelly accounting, not-so-well-hidden payoffs, and attempts to evade the normal practices of democratic governance. In a side ring, we were able to view the embarrassing testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder before a House subcommittee, where he made clear how little serious thought he has given to what is required to keep America safe from our enemies. In the other side ring, we were able to see the near-hysterical condemnation by American officials, from Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on down, of a simple announcement of a permit for house-building in Jewish Jerusalem by the Israeli government.

What a scene! What a farce! Republican candidates running for office in 2010 should save the news clips from last week to remind themselves of their campaign platform: They need only promise to stand up against the fatal conceit of big-government liberalism, the fatal complacency of civil-libertarian legalism, and the fatal perversity of coddling our enemies and beating up our friends.

And presiding over this three-ring circus of liberal incompetence was President Barack Obama, who stands in relation to the towering and tragic figure of Lyndon Johnson as Napoleon III did to the real Napoleon. Have we had in modern times a president who was so out of his depth?

Which points to a problem. America in 2010 isn’t France in 1852. The world could survive farcical misgovernment in Paris in the mid-19th century—though in fact Napoleon III’s weakness and foolishness invited the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, which in turn could be said to have set in course the events that led to World War I. But in the America of 2010, won’t farcical misgovernment do real damage to the country and to the world? Could the circus acts end in tragedy?

They could. But, fortunately, here in America, we have an opposition party and an engaged public. Together, for the next few months, they can help push the administration towards more responsible—or at least less damaging—public policies. The Republican party will then gain seats in November, and will be able to do more to prevent further damage—and lay the groundwork not just for a return to the pre-Obama status quo in 2013 but for a vigorous conservative reform agenda.

If the nation can survive the next three years without too much damage, we have a great opportunity. As Marx wrote at the conclusion of his polemic, “when the imperial mantle finally falls on the shoulders of Louis Bonaparte, the bronze statue of Napoleon will come crashing down from the top of the Vendôme Column.” The failed experiment of Obamaism could similarly allow us to topple the statue of contemporary liberalism from our public square, and rebuild American politics and public policy on firmer foundations.

Or, we could fail to rise to the occasion. A statue of Napoleon still stands atop the Vendôme Column.


Australia: Police slam new rules on racial descriptions in seeking crime suspects

A LIMIT on racial descriptions of criminals was putting political correctness before crime busting, police say. Descriptions including Black African, Indian and Eastern European are among those dumped in media releases seeking crime suspects. They have been replaced by four categories: Aboriginal, Caucasian, Asian and other.

Police Association secretary Greg Davies said it was putting unnecessary impediments in the way of catching criminals. "It is quite silly and counter-productive and of no assistance to anybody to make everything vanilla," he said. "It is not a matter of being racist, it is a matter of solving crime." Sen-Sgt Davies said it should be about giving the public the best information possible. "It is political correctness taking precedence over solving crime," he said. "We need to have accurate descriptions of suspects if we are going to release information to the public. "We need to make it as specific as possible."

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said they tended to use broad categories of race when speaking to the public. "We have moved away from those terms because sometimes they can cause offence," he said on radio.



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

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

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


22 March, 2010

How Political Correctness Continues To Get Americans Killed

Even as America comes to the grips with the terrorist attack that took place at Fort Hood, it seem that Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s unindicted co-conspirator, “political correctness,” has yet again claimed the lives of innocent Americans.

It seems that Hasan’s superiors were well aware of his fascination with radical Islam as junior officers grew more concerned with his attitude and radical ramblings, yet rather than confront or investigate Major Hasan, his superior at Walter Reed took the politically correct way out and simply transferred this disgruntled officer to another command to be someone else’s problem.

Those superiors, who simply washed their hands of Hasan rather than investigate him, are just as guilty as Hasan himself. However this is not the first and will not be the last time that political correctness will claim the lives of Americans.

You see, according to those, who believe in political correctness, Americans no matter what our color or gender are guilty of something and any investigation into Hasan would have been dismissed as our government going after another innocent Muslim American, no matter the evidence to show otherwise or a possible real threat. In the mindset of these people our behavior has to be corrected and enlighten, so their vision of America can come true.

Hasan’s defenders claim that it is not so much his beliefs in radical Islam that are at fault here, but the stress of being an Army major and psychiatrist having to listen to the horror stories of returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan that finally made him crack, not the radical teaching of his imam or his communications with radical Muslim elements around the world. Chicago Mayor Daley, in an interview, went so far as to blame private gun ownership for the killings at Fort Hood and not the role of political correctness. Political correctness is so ingrained here that President Obama refuses to call this incident a terrorist attack.

Political correctness even played a role in the failure of law enforcement to capture Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad in the early days of his two-week rampage. A Baltimore police officer actually stumbled upon Muhammad and his co-conspirator, Lee Boyd Malvo, asleep in the very car that was used in the attacks, but rather than run a background check, the officer allowed them to proceed elsewhere because the officer was afraid the charge of “racial profiling” would be leveled against him; the public was bombarded by the so-called experts nightly, who boasted that a lone Southern white anti-government “redneck” was the likely culprit behind the shootings. To say Americans were surprised by the arrest of Muhammad and Malvo would be an understatement.

Political correctness also played a major role in the terrorist attacks of 9-11, as a wall of ignorance was used by the 19 terrorists to get around law enforcement and federal officials as several men were able to overstay their visas. The operations leader was stopped in Florida in 1998, but due to political correctness (the illusion of racial profiling,) he was let go with a warning and we all know the end result.

Then there are those like former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who boasted that Bush officials knew in advance about 9-11, yet did nothing to stop it. Had former Attorney General John Ashcroft learned of the attacks that morning and ordered federal agents to storm airliners throughout the nation detaining Arabic men at will, there would have been calls for his head and investigations into charges of “racial profiling.”

It is time for Americans to wake up and understands that our enemies are not allowing political correctness to get in the way of their mission, which is to inflict as much damage to our way of life as they can.


Obama’s Position on Israel: Why Are We Surprised?

In the past few days, there have been many sharp, biting and on target comments about the fabricated crisis Obama has manufactured between Israel and its most important ally, the United States. If you go to this link, check out the Daily Alert for March 19th, and read the links to the articles by Marty Peretz, Bret Stephens, Charles Krauthammer, Jackson Diehl, Elliot Abrams, Dan Senor, Jonathan Schanzer, Lanny Davis, Mitchell Bard and Clifford May. All of these writers, each in their own distinct way, show how the Obama administration has chosen this moment to appease the Palestinians, who have done little of content to show any real desire for a peace agreement, and to pressure our major ally in the Middle East and to push them to the wall at a time of great peril in the region.

Among all these writers, there is major agreement on the following: 1: All of Israel knows that the contemplated building is not controversial. The settlement freeze announced earlier did not apply to building in this area of Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from the Knesset. 2: While the Israelis have time and time again shown a commitment to obtaining peace with the Palestinians, both Fatah and Hamas have not produced any movement of substance to match very real Israeli moves of compromise. To the contrary, any movement by Israel has been met instead by more intransigence. 3: By singling out Israel alone for tough talk, and ignoring any similar harshness towards any of the Palestinian factions, the administration has made it harder for Mahmoud Abbas to accept any of Israel’s offers, since it would make him look weaker than the American President. 4: The President is clearly revealing that he is moving along the path announced last year in Cairo, when his words indicated an overwhelming desire to tilt in the direction favored by the Arab nations.

As the liberal Democrat Lanny Davis asked, referring to the recent announcement that the “settlement” construction had to be condemned, “How could the U.S. government use such language about a democracy that has been America’s most loyal ally in the world on virtually all issues, a nation that shares our core values — protecting civil rights, women’s rights, due process and free speech — not only for Israeli citizens, but for over 1 million Israeli Arabs as well?”

It is the question, and one answer comes from Marty Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, who both endorsed and campaigned for Obama during the campaign, and assured his readers Obama was a keen supporter of Israel and its alliance with the United States. Peretz makes the following startling statement. Rather than hope that the condemnation was a “temporary aberration,” as Davis thinks it might be, Peretz writes:

That the president and his team should now take up this old Arab formula for disguising reality demonstrates the poverty of their grasp of the problem at hand. In fact, Obama seems to think that he is the superego of the conflict and that his function is to hand out dicta on how to end it. But he has no dicta for the Palestinians and plenty for the Israelis. The Jewish state has many conditions under which it would be prepared to give more rather than less. Alas, the president can’t bring himself to publicly acknowledge this. The fact is that he does not particularly like Israel. Which is why it is so frightful to have his messenger running between Jerusalem and Ramallah making demands on the Jews.

A day earlier, Peretz wrote, in equally harsh terms, that Obama, not wanting to enrage the Palestinians, sent out Joe Biden and then Hillary Clinton to “beat up on Israel and they did.” He goes on to mention that someone compared Obama to Charles Lindbergh — a comparison he does not dissent from — and that he himself sees Obama as a man who demands something from the Israelis but virtually nothing from the Palestinians.

Citing a Tuesday dispatch that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Peretz notes that the story reported that speaking to a dozen American Jewish leaders, the President “planned to create some ‘space, between Israel and his administration. ‘We have to change the way the Arabs see us,’ Obama told the assembled Jews. And, apparently according to General Petraeus, to change how the Pakistanis and the Afghanis see us too.”

President Obama, Peretz concludes, “belongs…to the Arabisant school of history.” He adds: “He is so vain or at least vain enough not to see that his coddling of the Palestinians encourages them in their maximalist tactics and strategies. As soon as Obama’s real rage against Israel (not just his impatience with it or different view of its history) became known the Palestinians felt they could escalate and exacerbate their actions.”

His point is quite reminiscent of what Clark Clifford told Harry S. Truman in May of 1948, when he gave him a memo opposing the State Department’s hostile position against recognition of a Jewish state. Clifford told Truman that he could not take a soft position against the Arabs, because it would only encourage them in their military campaign against the Haganah. As Clifford put it, the United States had to stop “the shilly-shallying appeasement of the Arabs.” Good advice then — and still relevant now.

So the issues are clear, and all the writers I mentioned at the start of this blog are clear about the real issues. My only question is this: Why should we be so surprised at the direction President Obama has taken? After all, this is a man who listened to the anti-Semitic diatribes of Reverend Wright for years without saying one word. Moreover, when he attended the goodbye party for his friend, Prof. Rashid Khalidi, before he left Chicago for Columbia University, he told Khalidi that if he ever attained high office, he would use his power to redress US policy towards the Palestinian side. No wonder, as a press story reported, Palestinian leaders in the US firmly believed that “Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.”

That was a few years ago. The story, and others like it, were completely ignored. Most liberal American Jews poo-poohed them, and argued that they were propaganda emanating from right-wing Republican sources. Now, we have clear evidence that rather than being false impressions, President Barack Obama is honoring his commitment made to Khalidi and other Palestinians and American leftists.

Isn’t it time American Jews who understand why the United States is Israel’s most important ally, and want our country to honor its long-standing commitment to the only real democracy in the Middle East, take the President at his word, and not dream up positions for him that he obviously does not believe? I think Peretz is right. President Obama does not like Israel, and his sympathies are with its enemies. No wonder that on television yesterday, Zbig Brzezinski expressed his support for what Obama is now doing in the Middle East. With the likes of Brzezinski saying the President is pursuing a policy he has long advocated, it is no wonder Israelis are worried.


Islamic cartoon row is latest case of libel tourism to Britain

UP TO 95,000 descendants of the prophet Muhammad are planning to bring a libel action in Britain over “blasphemous” cartoons of the founder of Islam, even though they were published in the Danish press. The defamation case is being prepared by Faisal Yamani, a Saudi lawyer acting for the descendants, who live in the Middle East, north Africa and as far afield as Australia. Mark Stephens, a British lawyer who has seen a “pre-action” letter sent by Yamani to 10 Danish newspapers, said it “specifically says” he will launch proceedings in London.

Yamani is expected to justify the action by claiming that the cartoons, including one of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban, were accessible in Britain on the internet.

Critics say the case is a political stunt and yet another example of how England has become the leading destination for “libel tourism”. The English defamation laws make it easier to bring and win libel cases here than in jurisdictions such as America that place greater emphasis on freedom of speech.

Stephens said the descendants could argue that the cartoons — which first appeared in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005, sparking violent protests around the world — were a direct slur on them. “Direct descendants of the prophet have a particular place within Muslim society . . . By effectively criticising and making fun of the prophet you are, by implication, holding them up to scandal, contempt and public ridicule,” he said. “So it may be that they will suffer some kind of damage among their own community. The question is, is that defamatory in English law?”

Stephens said a diplomatic backlash could be sparked if a judge refused to hear the case being brought by the Oxford-educated Yamani. “A lot of judges would throw it out, but it is obviously a very highly charged issue and if they do throw it out it becomes political.”

In a previous case of libel tourism, a Saudi businessman sued an American author whose book on the funding of terrorism was published in the United States but sold 23 copies in Britain via the internet. The businessman was awarded more than £100,000 in damages and costs.

In another example, the Ukrainian Rinat Akhmetov successfully used the courts in London to sue a Ukrainian language website over an article mainly read in Ukraine.

Ebbe Dal, managing director of the Danish national newspaper association, voiced concern that Britain was being used to settle libel actions that would struggle to withstand scrutiny in other parts of Europe. “It is unacceptable that Yamani should go to foreign courts and come after us with threats, and it is a pity that the British system allows this to happen,” he said.


America's Shiny New Palestinian Militia

"The stupidest program the U.S. government has ever undertaken" – last year that's what I called American efforts to improve the Palestinian Authority (PA) military force. Slightly hyperbolic, yes, but the description fits because those efforts enhance the fighting power of enemies of the United States and its Israeli ally.

First, a primer about the program, drawing on a recent Center of Near East Policy Research study by David Bedein and Arlene Kushner: Shortly after Yasir Arafat died in late 2004, the U.S. government established the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator to reform, recruit, train, and equip the PA militia (called the National Security Forces or Quwwat al-Amn al-Watani) and make them politically accountable. For nearly all of its existence, the office has been headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. Since 2007, American taxpayers have funded it to the tune of US$100 million a year. Many agencies of the U.S. government have been involved in the program, including the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Secret Service, and branches of the military.

The PA militia has in total about 30,000 troops, of which four battalions comprising 2,100 troops have passed scrutiny for lack of criminal or terrorist ties and undergone 1,400 hours of training at an American facility in Jordan. There they study subjects ranging from small-unit tactics and crime-scene investigations to first aid and human rights law.

With Israeli permission, these troops have deployed in areas of Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus. So far, this experiment has gone well, prompting widespread praise. Senator John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) calls the program "extremely encouraging" and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discerns in the U.S.-trained troops a possible "Palestinian peace partner for Israel" taking shape.

Looking ahead, however, I predict that those troops will more likely be a war partner than a peace partner for Israel. Consider the troops' likely role in several scenarios:

No Palestinian state: Dayton proudly calls the U.S.-trained forces "founders of a Palestinian state," a polity he expects to come into existence by 2011. What if – as has happened often before – the Palestinian state does not emerge on schedule? Dayton himself warns of "big risks," presumably meaning that his freshly-minted troops would start directing their firepower against Israel.

Palestinian state: The PA has never wavered in its goal of eliminating Israel, as the briefest glance at documentation collected by Palestinian Media Watch makes evident. Should the PA achieve statehood, it will certainly pursue its historic goal – only now equipped with a shiny new American-trained soldiery and arsenal.

The PA defeats Hamas: For the same reason, in the unlikely event that the PA prevails over Hamas, its Gaza-based Islamist rival, it will incorporate Hamas troops into its own militia and then order the combined troops to attack Israel. The rival organizations may differ in outlook, methods, and personnel, but they share the overarching goal of eliminating Israel.

Hamas defeats the PA: Should the PA succumb to Hamas, it will absorb at least some of "Dayton's men" into its own militia and deploy them in the effort to eliminate the Jewish state.

Hamas and PA cooperate: Even as Dayton imagines he is preparing a militia to fight Hamas, the PA leadership participates in Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas about power sharing – raising the specter that the U.S. trained forces and Hamas will coordinate attacks on Israel.

The law of unintended consequences provides one temporary consolation: As Washington sponsors the PA forces and Tehran sponsors those of Hamas, Palestinian forces are more ideologically riven, perhaps weakening their overall ability to damage Israel.

Admittedly, Dayton's men are behaving themselves at present. But whatever the future brings – state, no state, Hamas defeats the PA, the PA defeats Hamas, or the two cooperate – these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel. When that happens, Dayton and the geniuses idealistically building the forces of Israel's enemy will likely shrug and say, "No one could have foreseen this outcome."

Not so: Some of us foresee it and are warning against it. More deeply, some of us understand that the 1993 Oslo process did not end the Palestinian leadership's drive to eliminate Israel. The Dayton mission needs to be stopped before it does more harm. Congress should immediately cut all funding for the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator.



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

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

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


21 March, 2010

Riot by Leftist street thugs in England

Despite their misleading name, The UAF are lineal descendants of Hitler's brownshirts. They deliberately converged on a patriotic demonstration with the aim of breaking it up. The arrests tell the story. Some of the patriots hit back, of course. Predictably, a common headline in news outlets was: "Riot police break up right wing protest". A more accurate headline would be: "Police fail to stop attack on patriotic rally"

At least 67 people have been arrested and several injured in violent clashes between right-wing and anti-fascist extremists and UK police during a town center demonstration in England. Controversial right-wing group The English Defence League (EDL) organised the rally in Victoria Square, Bolton, in England's north. A counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) was also being held, and hundreds of police officers battled to keep control of the rival groups.

About 4000 protesters descended on the town, with roughly equal numbers in both camps. "This is not a peaceful protest and we are facing a lot of hostility. We will take swift action when confronted with disorder. "The number of arrests already made is a clear indication that this is not a peaceful protest and some demonstrators are determined to cause trouble. "The actions of some demonstrators is resulting in injuries to others. This is not acceptable."

Riot police and mounted officers armed with batons tried to keep the crowds in check in front of the town hall. Police dogs were deployed in a bid to control the crowds and a police helicopter was also dispatched. At least 55 of those arrested are from the UAF and nine are from the EDL, according to Greater Manchester Police.

Weyman Bennett, the UAF joint secretary who organised the rally, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, police said.

Several protesters were taken to the hospital for treatment to minor injuries, police said. Two members of the public were also injured by protesters and taken to a nearby shop for treatment. Most of the protesters, from both groups, later left the square.

Officers frogmarched EDL demonstrators back towards the railway and bus stations, while they continued to chant: "We want our country back." UAF members left the square, chanting "Whose streets? Our streets." The EDL describes itself as a peaceful, non-political group campaigning against "militant Islam." But ugly scenes also marked one of their protests in Manchester last year, with 44 arrests and 10 injuries.

The two factions were meant to stay within two designated areas in the square, separated by steel barriers. But a large number of protesters "intent on causing disorder" broke away from the protest site, police said. Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, from Greater Manchester Police, said earlier: "There have been unwarranted attacks on police lines that have resulted in injuries.

SOURCE (More pix and commentary here)

Hate-filled British Leftists close down under-fives' art club because children are 'too middle-class'

A children's centre set up by Labour to provide care for local youngsters has been forced to close... because the families using it were judged too middle-class. Paint Pots Arts Club was established in 2000 under the Government’s flagship £7billion Sure Start scheme, with the aim of teaching under-fives to paint, draw and sing. It is one of the busiest of Britain’s 3,500 Sure Start centres and caters for 500 children of all backgrounds who live within a two-mile radius. But despite its popularity, council bosses withdrew the club’s funding after deciding its users were too affluent.

Just last week Schools Secretary Ed Balls defended Sure Start, claiming that the Conservatives planned to slash £200million from the service, and declared that the scheme meant that ‘every parent of a young child will get help and advice on parenting, childcare, health and employment’.

However the education department of Labour-controlled Hackney Council in East London – known as The Learning Trust – was concerned the Paint Pots Art Club was not being used by enough poor people and pulled the plug on it. The area covered by Paint Pots is one of the most diverse in the country, including deprived council estates and houses worth £1million.

Paint Pots director Ella Ritches said the Learning Trust, which runs 19 childcare centres on behalf of the Government, ordered her to target more deprived families in 2008. She and her co-director leafleted nearby estates and organised numerous meetings with leaders in the local Turkish and Kurdish communities to try to spark interest. But in January this year, Mrs Ritches was called to a meeting with officials from the Ann Tayler Children’s Centre, a larger Sure Start programme which the Learning Trust used to fund Paint Pots. She discovered that the Learning Trust had scanned the postcodes of all parents using the centre and decided the home addresses indicated users were not sufficiently ‘vulnerable’.

She said: ‘Sure Start services are supposed to be available to everyone. Middle-class mothers struggle with work, sleep deprivation and post-natal depression just like any other mother. 'But the Learning Trust officials concluded that 68 per cent of all users were white. I told them that just because they are white does not mean they are middle-class. But they said you could work out their properties’ value from the postcodes.’

Mrs Ritches then received a letter from the Ann Tayler Children’s Centre, dated February 3, which said: ‘I am currently reconfiguring the budget for the next financial year to ensure that we can support vulnerable families and link play services to their needs. ‘Based on our monitoring information, the Art Club is not reaching the families who have the most difficult needs. Accordingly, I have to advise you that the contract for the Art Club will end on March 31.’

Ms Ritches added: ‘For two years we tried to involve “hard-to-reach” families from the Turkish community and the council estates but most were not interested in attending. ‘This decision penalises the middle-classes for being good parents.’

Regular Paint Pots user Eva Hawkins, 32, who worked in television before giving birth to her daughter Olive 18 months ago, said: ‘I live in a one-bedroom flat with no garden, so I need to come somewhere where there is space for Olive to let off steam. It’s a disaster it is closing.’

A Learning Trust spokesman said: ‘According to data collected by the centre, 54 per cent of the children who use Paint Pots regularly live outside its catchment area. ‘In light of this information and an increase in the number of vulnerable families requiring additional support within the centre’s catchment area, a decision was made to divert funding into direct support for these families.’


The Bloomsberries: Spoilt far-Leftist brats of the 1920s and 30s

Not a good augury for the spoilt Leftist brats of today

Standing on top of a statue with an arm and a leg held aloft a naked young woman strikes a pose

The rather provocative young woman in question is artist Dora Carrington, who in the early part of the 20th century was linked with the Bloomsbury Group. Such was their impact on history that one small corner of central London - Bloomsbury - is now indelibly linked with the Bohemian circle of friends, which included Virginia Woolf, EM Forster and critic Lytton Strachey.

Today the Bohemian group of writers, artists and intellectuals are remembered as much for the complicated romantic entanglements that led to them being described as 'artistic lions' who 'lived in squares and loved in triangles'. As these images show, members of the group did not live by more traditional constraints of the time, and were at ease in each other's company - with or without clothes. But perhaps significantly, Woolf is invariable clothed.

The photographs are part of a remakable archive featuring hundreds of intimate letters photographs of the group, which helped define British culture in the inter-war period. Open to the public for the first time, the unique archive comprises of thousands of pages of previously unseen correspondence between Bloomsbury luminaries and 30 albums of photographs, many of them nude shots. The archive, on display at King's College, in Cambridge, is charted through the letters and photographs of two lesser known members of the group - the writers Frances Partridge and Rosamond Lehmann.

But through them it gives a insider's view of pivotal events such as Virginia Woolf's suicide in 1941 and that of of the artist Dora Carrington in 1932. Woolf, author of Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse filled her overcoat pockets with stones and drowned herself at the age of 59.

After her death in spring 1941 her brother-in-law, Clive Bell wrote to Partridge: 'I'm not sure whether The Times will by now have announced that Virginia is missing. 'I'm afraid there is not the slightest doubt that she drowned herself about noon last Friday ... Her stick and footprints were found by the edge of the river. 'For some days, of course, we hoped against hope that she had wandered crazily away and might be discovered in a barn or a village shop. 'But by now all hope is abandoned ... the loss is appalling; but like all unhappiness that come of 'missing', I suspect we shall realise it only bit by bit.'

The archive also offers a glimpse of history in the making. The group started as a circle of intellectuals who had studied at Trinity and King's Colleges, Cambridge, and began meeting at a salon in a house near Bloomsbury Square, central London. Their friendships were to last a lifetime despite the complicated tangle of love affairs between them.

The Bloomsbury group continues to fascinate and in 2002 Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf, right, in Stephen Daldry's film The Hours. In the 1995 film 'Carrington' Emma Thompson took the role of Dora Carrington and Jonathan Pryce as the openly homosexual Lytton Strachey with whom she was in love

'Many of them were quite free with sex as a reaction against their Victorian upbringing and seemed to have a very selective conscience,' said archivist Patricia McGuire. 'The letters are very revealing because everyone wrote to Frances Partridge and confided their secrets and intimate thoughts. 'There are also lots of pictures and almost everyone in the group is naked at some point in a least one shot, apart from Virginia Woolf.'

Lehmann and Partridge first became friends at Cambridge University after World War I. Lehmann, a famed beauty, became one of the most celebrated novelists of the 1920s and 1930s. Partridge, once described as having the 'best legs in Bloomsbury', infiltrated one of the group's infamous love triangles. She married Ralph Partridge, who was the ex-husband of artist Dora Carrington. In a bizarre and ultimately tragic triangle, Carrington was besotted with open homosexual Strachey, who in turn was in love with Ralph.

When Strachey died of stomach cancer in 1932 a heartbroken Carrington shot herself two months later. But the bullet missed its mark and she was still alive when her ex-husband and his wife arrived at the house hours later, a 'horror' also documented in one letter in the collection.

Miss McGuire added: 'In a way, these two women belonged to a generation that could only have existed between the wars. 'They had education, training and rights but they also had lots of free time and didn't necessarily have to keep a house. 'They had well-developed points of view, were articulate about their emotions and at the same time struggled with their bohemian lifestyles and the more conservative, older generation.'

SOURCE (More pix at link)

Pope Nazi and his atheist clone

By Andrew Bolt

Final thought on professional atheist Richard Dawkins, who last week called Pope Pius XII “Pope Nazi”. Please tell me the moral difference here. First, here’s the petition Richard Dawkins promotes damning the “Pope Nazi” for not being braver and speaking out more against the fascists of his time:
We ask the Prime Minister to express his disagreement with (Pope Benedict’s) ... decree paving the way for the beatification and sainthood of the war-time Pope, Pius XII, who stands accused of failing to speak out against the Holocaust.
Now here’s Dawkins explaining why he won’t be braver and speak out more against the fascists of his time:
When asked when he would be willing to criticise Islam as he did Christianity, the response was pragmatic. ”I personally believe we shouldn’t go out of our way to do things that will get our heads cut off.” To the Islamist he would make it clear that this reticence is “because I fear you. Don’t think for one moment it’s because I respect you.”
Does that make Dawkins the “Atheist al Qaeda”?


I agree with reader Geccko: "The best I can come up with is this and it doesn’t fall in Dawkins favour: Dawkin’s preocupation is for his personal self preservation. Pope Pius XII was almost certainly concerned about the potential ramifications for others."



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

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

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


20 March, 2010

The Welfare State Kills Children

On February 22 a court in suburban Washington, D.C., passed judgment in one of the most horrendous cases of child abuse in modern times. Renee Bowman, the adopting parent of three girls, had for years starved, neglected, and beaten them, while keeping them locked night and day in their bedroom. She choked two of the girls to death and put their bodies in plastic bags and stored them in the freezer. The third girl escaped the house by jumping from a window.

At first glance, these child murders may seem an inexplicable, isolated tragedy; a closer look reveals that this outrage was constructed, piece by thoughtless piece, by the modern welfare state.

The first error came with the selection of Bowman as the adoptive parent. She was obviously a negligent and seriously deranged person who should never have been approved for adoption. Well, who approved her? The adoption had been supervised from start to finish by a government agency, the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services. In theory, it was supposed to establish that Renee Bowman, the mother, was a suitable parent. In practice, it didn’t even notice—or care—that she had a criminal record, a rather glaring instance of “government failure” by this notoriously incompetent agency.

The next link in the tragedy concerns Bowman’s motivation for adopting the children. If she did not love children, if she saw them as a burden to her, such a burden that she considered them better off dead, why had she bothered with expense and effort of adopting them? The answer is money. In 1980, Congress approved a subsidy program to provide payments to parents who adopt children from foster care. I’m sure lawmakers thought it was a useful idea. If federal money can buy ethanol, they reasoned, why wouldn’t it buy adoptions?

Well, it does buy adoptions, but not high-quality ones. Worthy parents adopt out of love, conviction, enthusiasm, and dedication. They are willing to make real sacrifices for their children. Putting money on the table changes the mix of motivations. Yes, loving parents will still appear, but insensitive people who view children as an economic commodity also come forth. Renee Bowman was one of these insensitive, grasping types. She was being paid $2,400 a month by the federal government to be listed as the mother of these three girls; altogether she collected $152,000. “This woman was in it for the money,” said the prosecutor at the trial. “And by killing the children, keeping them literally on ice, the money continued to flow.”

Officials point out that without adoption subsidies to attract parents, children would languish in the state foster care systems. There’s some truth to this, but it exposes another flaw in the state system of handling orphans. Under government management, adoption from foster care has become a tortuous process, one burdensome and demeaning to prospective parents. The government agencies are so focused on trying to apply a host of bureaucratic regulations that they repel many prospective parents, especially independent-minded individuals critical of silly red tape and micromanagement. The result is that children languish in foster care, even though hundreds of thousands of prospective parents would like to adopt them. A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found there were nearly 600,000 women seeking to adopt children, a figure over four times the total of 129,000 children in foster care available for adoption. The oversupply of willing parents holds for all categories of children, including older children, black children, and children with disabilities.

Adoption Impediments

The severity of government’s impediments to adoption was documented by a study undertaken in 2005 by Listening to Parents, a nonprofit research group. It followed 1,000 prospective parents who called a public child-welfare agency seeking to adopt. Out of this initial group, only 36 adoptions occurred.

Having inadvertently contrived a deplorably low adoption rate, government sought to correct the problem by applying government’s inevitable fix-all: throwing more money at the problem, in the form of adoption subsidies. They created a situation of moral hazard where a person like Renee Bowman might adopt children primarily for the money, and, lacking love and a sense of responsibility, might neglect and abuse them.

Bowman’s was not an isolated case. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy reported in February 2009 that in the previous eight months at least seven adopted children in D.C. had been killed, their adoptive parents charged or suspected in the homicides. The number of children in Washington D.C.’s adoption subsidy program who are being neglected and abused in ways short of murder could easily number in the hundreds.

This brings us to the most shocking failure in this sorry episode. After the deadly consequences of the misguided adoption subsidy became screaming headlines, officials did nothing! They didn’t close down the program. They didn’t fire, fine, or imprison employees responsible for the miscues. They didn’t resign in shame and embarrassment. Jobs and careers depend on this program: It’s in officials’ economic self-interest to downplay its problems. The same is true of the pressure groups that represent parents taking the subsidy. Their attitude was captured by a Washington Post reporter: “Even with limited oversight, most children end up in safe and supportive families, advocates said.”

In the old days, before we got hardened to welfare-state abuses, we would have said that a system that resulted in even one murdered child was unacceptable. Today, the self-interested participants of the welfare state are content with a program where “most” of the children aren’t slain.

The solution to the travesties being committed by government child welfare agencies lies right before us: move away from the welfare state as fast as we can. Turn the problem of orphans, foster care, and adoptions back to private charitable and commercial entities, unsubsidized by tax money and largely unregulated.

Will errors occur in this voluntary system? Undoubtedly they will, but there could hardly be more blunders than government agencies now commit. And the voluntary system would have this advantage: When a private agency was implicated in a tragic malfunction, donors and customers would be free to turn away from it and the agency would disappear.

In today’s welfare state we have no way to eliminate or even significantly reform wrongheaded government agencies that monopolize human services. They continue to feast on our tax dollars no matter how deplorable the outcome.


What is a "Black Agenda"?

Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is critical of the premise of talk show host Tavis Smiley's upcoming March 20 conference that seeks to set a "black agenda" for America. "What is a black agenda?" asks Project 21's Massie. "Jobs, retirement income, education, cost of living, crime and so on are not black American issues. They are American issues. It's not predicated on race and color. So why is Tavis Smiley seeking to divide us when Americans should be coming together?"

Tavis Smiley, a PBS host, is set to hold a conference at Chicago State University on March 20 to discuss the alleged need for an exclusive political agenda for black Americans. Smiley has been critical of Barack Obama for not paying special attention to the black community and has taken black leaders to task for not pushing Obama to maintain a race-specific agenda for black citizens. Panelists at the event are reported to include noted left-wing luminaries Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Julianne Malveaux, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.

"Project 21, the group I head, exists because there are those who would deny there is a diversity of opinion within the black community," noted Massie. "With panelists representing a political range from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan, it seems sadly obvious that Smiley's gathering will perpetuate this myth."

Talking to the Associated Press about his conference and black support for Obama during the election and the need for his March 20 conference, Smiley asked: "[N]ow that he's elected, what are black people being asked to do to hold him accountable to our agenda?"

"Obama is the President of the United States of America, he is not the president of black America," Project 21's Massie countered. "He can no more be expected to show preferential treatment to blacks any more than Jimmy Carter was expected to have shown preferential treatment to white southerners. Smiley, who recently abandoned his 'State of Black America,' is apparently feeling left out. This seems to be just another way for him to promote Tavis Smiley's race-mongering agenda."

Massie added: "One need only look at the cast malevolent marplots Smiley assembled as a panel to understand exactly what is taking place. I can assure you this is about them heretofore not being able to capitalize to the extent they would like from Obama being in office."


Britons powerless to remove illegal immigrants living in their back gardens

At first sight, the piles of rubbish and debris strewn across this garden make it look just like a rubbish tip. But on closer inspection, it is revealed to be a makeshift camp for desperate Eastern European immigrants. Around a dozen are camping out in residents' gardens, sheds and even their trees as they cannot afford their own homes.

Those who live in the street in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, have been told they are powerless to remove the trespassers taking shelter on their land. Groups of immigrants have moved into the gardens of at least six properties since November last year, leaving a trail of cider bottles, bags of human waste and drugs needles behind them.

Though homeowners have appealed for help, the police and council say they cannot arrest the trespassers - who have no passports and are mostly from Eastern Europe - because they claim it is a civil, not a criminal matter. The immigrants gained access to the land through an open alleyway and sleep on dirty mattresses, using rolled-up blankets as pillows.

Ian Treasure, 41, one of the homeowners affected by the camps, said a man named Joseph from the Czech Republic was living in his garden coal shed. Despite six phone calls to Peterborough City Council pleading with them to evict the immigrants and remove the mountains of dumped rubbish, he could not get the man to leave. Mr Treasure said: 'The area has become overrun. It is disgusting and the worst thing is that nobody is doing anything about it. Every day it gets worse. 'It all started in November. I was looking out of the window and I saw a mattress in my coal shed. I went out and it turned out I had a lodger there. 'I'm not sure how many there are because I try to stay away from them but I'm fed up because they regularly drink in our gardens and take drugs.'

Mr Treasure said he had asked the man, who speaks broken English and has scabs on his face, to leave dozens of times. 'The angriest I have got was the first time I saw drug needles there in January. I freaked out,' he said. Mr Treasure added that he was incredibly frustrated that the council and police had done nothing to help him. He added: 'The police's hands are tied. All they can do is just move them on and then they would be back so it would be a waste of time.'

Ricky Smith, 23, attempted to remove the squatter in his shed after catching him defecating on his lawn on Wednesday night. He said: 'I slung all his belongings into a pile and told him to get out. I haven't seen him since so hopefully he has got the message. 'I caught him defecating on my lawn, where my dog plays. I had to build a fence to keep him out of that part of the garden so my dog doesn't get ill playing in his mess.'

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said that the makeshift camps were not a criminal matter. He said: 'Anybody is allowed to use reasonable force to stop people trespassing and get them off their property - much like a bouncer in a pub or club. 'If there is some sort of confrontation then we can step in and prevent a breach of the peace, but we cannot act directly against the trespassers.'

A spokesman for Peterborough council said: 'We are aware of a number of people who are sleeping in these gardens. 'We will be working to help them access the services which are available to them.'

Peterborough's MP Stewart Jackson today said Labour had failed to deal with immigration problems that have led to jobless migrants camping in British gardens. The Tory MP said: 'The Labour government was warned that uncontrolled immigration would cause these sorts of problems. 'They have ignored Peterborough's needs and local taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for their foolish and misguided policies.'


Hilarious! Australian students become the first "Aborigines" to attend Oxford University

I wish the young people mentioned in the news story below all the best but calling them Aborigines is a laugh. I have a blue-eyed, fair-haired sister in law who is also called an Aborigine. Such is the politically correct nomenclature used in Australia. That real Aborigines have black skin, dark eyes, flat noses and heavy features is supposed to be invisible, apparently. At least the guy on the right below has something of the distinctive heavy features.

Even Charlie Perkins was not much of an Aborigine. His skin was yellowish rather than black and his nose was as narrow as mine. Such people would once have been called "half-castes" or "quarter castes" and beyond that simply "whites", though it might occasionally be observed that such "whites" had "a touch of the tar-brush" in their ancestry.

In short, the people in this story tell you NOTHING about people of wholly Aboriginal ancestry, though the do-gooders no doubt will be pretending that it does. I think it is an imposture to keep referring to people as "Aborigines" when they are clearly nothing of the sort. It certainly does no favours to Aborigines to have people held out to them as role models who are in fact effectively whites. I know Aborigines well and they have their own great strengths and virtues -- but they are not the same as the strengths and virtues of whites. May I use "paternalism" as a descriptor of the nonsense below?

Paul Gray, left, and Christian Thompson sit with Rachel Perkins, the daughter of Charlie Perkins

When Australian indigenous leader Charlie Perkins played football against Oxford university students in Britain in the 1960s, he was inspired to forgo a contract with Manchester United and return home to pursue a university education. Mr Perkins eventually become the first indigenous person to graduate from an Australian university in 1965 and went on to become a prominent Aboriginal leader who campaigned for civil rights reform.

Now two students will study at Oxford in his honour, the first Aboriginal Australians to be accepted into the prestigious British university. Christian Thompson, 32, and Paul Gray, 26, were announced this week as the inaugural recipients of the Charlie Perkins Scholarships to attend Oxford University.

Mr Gray will develop research into the neurobiological processes in children as a result of traumatic events in early life as part of a postgraduate degree in experimental psychology.

Mr Thompson will undertake doctoral studies in fine art at the Ruskin School of Art where he will conduct research on the Indigenous Australian artefacts at the Pitt Rivers Museum’s Collection. Mr Thompson, an acclaimed artist who is currently studying at the Amsterdam School of Fine Arts in the Netherlands, described it as a “life changing opportunity”. “To be one of the first two Aboriginals to ever go to Oxford is pretty wild,” he told The Times. “It’s going to be exciting to be in an environment which is all about the pursuit of knowledge.” Mr Thompson will also hold a residency with the Blast Theory art collective in Brighton in August prior to starting his studies at Oxford.

For Mr Gray, it will be his first visit to Britain. “I’m really excited about it, it’s going to be such a great opportunity for us,” he said, adding that he is a little wary of the British weather. “Luckily I don’t feel the cold too much, so hopefully it’ll be ok.”

The pair will travel to the UK next month for an orientation visit to the university and will begin their studies in October. The scholarship is jointly funded by the British and Australian governments.

SOURCE (Andrew Bolt has a more graphic comment on the matter)


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

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

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


19 March, 2010

Srebrenica fall linked to homosexual soldiers

It's not in the nature of most Dutch to be gutless, so this fits. It will of course be officially denied but dishonest political correctness pervades the announcements of most Western governments these days -- not that official claims have EVER been very reliable

A RETIRED US general today said Dutch UN troops defending Srebrenica in the Bosnian war failed to prevent the 1995 genocide partly because their ranks included openly gay soldiers. John Sheehan, a former NATO commander and senior Marine officer, made the remarks at a senate hearing where he argued against plans by US President Barack Obama to end a ban on allowing gays to serve openly in the US military.

Gen Sheehan said that after the end of the Cold War, European militaries changed and concluded "there was no longer a need for an active combat capability". He said this "socialiSation" process "included open homosexuality" and led to "a focus on peacekeeping operations because they did not believe the Germans were going to attack again or the Soviets were coming back". "The case in point that I'm referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs," he said, referring to the UN peacekeeping force deployed to protect Bosnian Muslim civilians.

"The battalion was understrength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off and executed them."

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, pressed him to clarify his comments about Srebrenica. "Did the Dutch leaders tell you it (the fall of Srebrenica) was because there were gay soldiers there?" asked an incredulous Senator Levin. "Yes," Gen Sheehan said and added: "They included that as part of the problem." Gen Sheehan, who retired from the military in 1997, said he had been told that by the former chief of staff of the Dutch army.

Senator Levin vehemently rejected Gen Sheehan's allegation, saying that drawing a connection between the massacre at Srebrenica and gays in the Dutch military was "totally off-target". The failure of the Dutch UN troops to fend off an attack by Bosnian Serb forces had "nothing to do with sexual orientation" but was related to "their training and the rules of engagement", Senator Levin said.

Nearly 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after Serb forces captured the eastern town on July 11, 1995, in the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.


The sky really has fallen: Some incompetent British social workers have been fired

Six social workers at a Birmingham City Council, criticised over the death from starvation of a seven-year-old girl have been sacked, after they showed "no sign whatsoever" of meeting expected standards. It emerged this morning that the staff at Britain’s biggest local authority were dismissed over the past year for not doing their jobs properly at the council which is taking part in a serious case review into the death of Khyra Ishaq. The girl died in May 2008 from starvation; her mother and stepfather were both jailed last week for her manslaughter.

Colin Tucker, director of children’s social care at the council who was brought in last year after Ofsted inspectors branded aspects of Birmingham City Council’s children’s department as "inadequate", told BBC news: "We are not appointing some staff, as well as that we have dismissed six staff in the last year. "There is a clear indication we are serious about our standards. "They did not adhere to standards and expectations that we laid down. "They showed no sign whatsoever that they were keen to do so, so we dismissed them."

The dismissals at the council follow a number of child deaths over recent years, although they are not believed to be directly linked to Khyra's death. More dismissals could follow once the serious case review is published.

An official report last year on child protection services in Birmingham written by the council's own councillors condemned them as “not fit for purpose" after the spate of young deaths. The criticism was made after eight children known to social services died in only four years after suspected neglect and abuse. The report found that there had been “a decade of underperformance”, with dozens of initiatives and projects being launched and then shelved, resulting in little improvement.

Lack of senior management was a “major risk” and a shortage of experienced staff “hampered progress”. One in five social workers was off work sick at any one time, undermining any continuity of care for children at risk.

Khyra Ishaq died when her body succumbed to an infection after months of starvation at her home in Handsworth, Birmingham. She had been removed from school in December 2007 and social workers made several attempts to visit her home. Her mother, Angela Gordon, was jailed last week for 15 years over her death, while her former partner Junaid Abuhamza was jailed indefinitely with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years.

During the trial, judge Mrs Justice King said "in all probability" Khyra would not have died had there been "an adequate initial assessment and proper adherence by the educational welfare services to its guidance".


British woman harassed because she was pregnant

A Mothercare worker claims she was ‘bullied’ into keeping silent about her pregnancy in case it upset colleagues who had experienced abortions or miscarriages. Traci Winchcombe, an assistant manager with the baby clothing giant, says she was told not to mention she was expecting in case it hurt the feelings of staff who had suffered birth traumas.

She told a tribunal that her former store manager's attitude towards her ‘changed’ when she broke the news that she was pregnant in March last year. An assistant at Mothercare claims she was asked not to discuss her pregnancy at work in order to avoid upsetting her colleagues. The 32-year-old said Jacque McDonald suddenly became ‘abrupt’ and ‘rude’ in her dealings with her at a high street branch of the store in Canterbury, Kent.

Ms Winchcombe, from nearby Westgate-on-Sea, said she was reduced to tears after the harassment she received daily at work got ‘worse and worse’. She told an employment tribunal in Ashford: ‘I didn't understand why I was not allowed to mention my pregnancy. ‘This really upset me - I felt I had been singled out. I was three months pregnant and felt some of my staff should know - I was beginning to show. ‘I felt Jacque and Mothercare wanted to get rid of me because I was pregnant.'

Ms Winchcombe claimed she was ordered not to discuss her pregnancy with other members of staff who had suffered abortions or miscarriages because staff were 'getting fed up with it'.

Mrs McDonald denied asking Ms Winchcombe not to mention her pregnancy but said she did request that she stop discussing abortions in front of staff, some of whom had suffered miscarriages. She added: ‘I found out from one of my staff members that she had been discussing abortion on the shop floor. ‘I felt this was inappropriate and asked her to refrain from these conversations on the shop floor. ‘I was aware of one employee in the store who had suffered two miscarriages.’

Ms Winchcombe was dismissed from her post in May after a series of administrative mistakes - unrelated to the bullying claims - over her handling of till procedures and gift cards. She was fired after admitting her performance had been at ’50 per cent'.

Whilst accepting those failures, Ms Winchcombe still alleges she was singled out and treated differently to other staff who were less harshly dealt with for similar breaches. And she insisted when she sent a text message to Mrs McDonald - informing her about her pregnancy - that the treatment towards her ‘deteriorated’ further. She added: ‘I don't know why she was like that - her attitude just changed. ‘It was fine when I first started but after I told her I was pregnant everything just got worse.’ ‘She would frequently shout at and abuse me in front of staff and colleagues.’

One colleague supported Ms Winchcombe's claims, saying she overheard ‘coarse to the point of shocking’ treatment directed against her. An internal review by an area manager found no evidence of bullying or discrimination.

Mrs McDonald said she had offered Ms Winchcombe the company's ‘maternity matters’ guidance and made sure she was not required to do any heavy lifting. ‘I deny my treatment changed in any way - I did not frequently shout at or abuse Traci in front of customers. ‘Given the nature of our business, a number of female staff become pregnant - I am well used to them taking maternity leave. ‘We talked about her pregnancy and we went through the maternity matters pack. I am abrupt and can be direct at times but only if someone does something wrong.

Chris Thompson, representing Mothercare, added: ‘Particularly in a store like Mothercare if there are conversations about abortion it's probably not a very sensible topic for the shop floor.’ He accused Ms Winchcombe of lying. A decision on the case is expected within six weeks.

If successful Ms Winchcombe - who is not claiming unfair dismissal - could be awarded a compensation sum up to £25,000 for ‘injury to feelings’.


Do Discrimination Laws Actually Help?

“A great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up,” is how Stonebridge Apartments, a complex in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, advertised its studio apartments on CraigsList. For that, they face a lawsuit from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center. For discrimination.

Still confused? The Dayton Daily News explained in its most recent issue: the Fair Housing Center took offense to the ad because, by advertising specifically to “bachelors,” Stonebridge’s ads were “suggesting families were not welcome.” Now, Stonebridge is being sued for $25,000 and a mandate that the apartment firm’s employees receive mandatory “fair housing law training.”

First off, there are a couple glaring logical fallacies at work here. The first being that just because someone speaks favorably of one thing, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re speaking unfavorably of another thing. To say that encouraging bachelors to live in your apartment complex means discouraging couples from living in your apartment complex, is like saying that to love the color red means to hate the color blue.

Furthermore, if we are to broaden the legal definition of “discrimination” to include everything, then everyone is guilty of all kinds of discrimination. You are guilty of discrimination when you consciously choose to only date other bachelors or bachelorettes–after all, you are discriminating against people who are already in relationships! Apartment complexes that forbid pets are discriminating against pet-owners. Apartment complexes that advertise their apartments as being $500/month are discriminating against people who cannot afford to pay $500/month. The list could go on and on.

This particular case is, of course, one of the more absurd and twisted examples of political correctness run amuck in this country. But the issue raised goes much deeper, and has important implications for the notion of private property rights. The real question is: are government laws against “discrimination” really even necessary?

Let’s examine what happens in a free and unhindered market when discrimination on the basis of some superficial characteristic (race, for instance) occurs. Let us say that Restaurant Owner Joe hates black people and will not serve them. If 10% of the population of his town is black, Joe has effectively alienated 10% of his potential customer base, right off the bat. The presence of a large population of blacks who want to visit a restaurant presents a profit opportunity for any of Joe’s competitors who are savvy enough to take advantage of it. As Joe’s racism continuously results in lost profit opportunities for himself, and increased profits for his non-racist competitors, Joe continuously has less and less market power, while Joe’s competitors gain more and more market power. The free market ceaselessly punishes those entrepreneurs who are too stupid or bigoted to take advantage of profit opportunities, and rewards those entrepreneurs who serve as many consumers as possible.

In fact, just the other day, I found a flier underneath my windshield wiper advertising an “Alternative Lifestyle” (i.e. gay and lesbian) Night at a local bar. The bar owner, who I speak with often, has nothing good to say about gays, and commonly refers to them with a two word pejorative (each word beginning with the letter “f”). However, there is a sizable gay and lesbian community in this area, and–without any government prodding whatsoever–he saw the profitability of not just holding his nose and serving homosexuals, but going out of his way to cater specifically to them.

But what about if an employer discriminates against hiring a particular employee, based on some superficial characteristic? Let’s say that Restaurant Owner Joe gets two applicants for a job–Greg, who has light skin, and Chris, who has dark skin. Greg, if hired, would bring in $7 of revenue per hour for Joe (i.e. Greg’s marginal revenue product is $7/hour). Chris, if hired, would bring in $8 of revenue per hour for Joe (i.e. Chris’s marginal revenue product is $8/hour). Joe, who hates blacks, decides to hire light-skinned Greg, instead of dark-skinned Chris. However, Joe’s competitor, Sally, sees Chris’s potential, and hires him. Not only does Joe miss out on $1 in opportunity costs every hour, for not hiring dark-skinned Chris, but Sally (Joe’s competitor) outproduces Joe to the tune of $1 every hour. As Joe misses out on lost profit opportunities, while his competitors reap it in, Joe loses more and more market power, while his competitors gain.

So, what good do government “discrimination” laws really do? Nada.

Not only are these regulations superfluous (since they compel businesses to do what market forces would eventually compel them to do anyway), they waste businesses’ time and money that could be spent actually serving consumers; the fines and penalties imposed on businesses divert resources from productive market activities to unproductive bureaucratic activities; the salaries of the bureaucrats necessary to enforce these regulations also represent a diversion of resources from productive to unproductive activities; and perhaps worst of all, these legal precedents dilute the concept of private property rights, which has served as the bedrock of all the past several centuries’ phenomenal increases in prosperity and living standards, which all Americans have benefited from.

The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission may feel that they are helping the downtrodden, but they are doing nothing more than wasting time and resources.



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

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

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


18 March, 2010

British High court knocks back compulsory servicing of homosexuals

High Court reverses ban on Catholic Care’s anti-gay adoption policy. Other Catholic agencies have cut their ties with the Church or given up adoption

A Roman Catholic child-adoption society has won a landmark High Court battle that could allow it and other Catholic agencies to discriminate legally against gay couples. Catholic Care, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam, South Yorkshire, launched the legal action in an attempt to continue its work finding homes for children.

Catholic Care, which provided adoption services only to married couples in keeping with current Catholic doctrine, was seeking an exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulations. The 2007 regulations made it unlawful to discriminate on the ground of sexual orientation in the provision of goods or services to the public. The Government previously rejected appeals for an exemption for Catholic agencies but ministers gave them a 20-month transition period, which ended last year. Other Catholic agencies have already given up adoption or cut their ties with the Church.

Catholic Care argued at the High Court that it had achieved particular success in finding adoptive parents for “hard to place” children. The support after adoption, funded by giving from within the Church, also meant that its adoptions had a lower failure rate.

Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, allowed the charity’s appeal and ordered the Charity Commission, which made the original decision against Catholic Care, to reconsider. The Charity Commission was ordered by the judge to pay the legal costs of Catholic Care, which is linked to the Roman Catholic diocese of Leeds, unofficially estimated at more than £100,000.

Arthur Roche, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, welcomed the ruling. He said: “We look forward to producing evidence to the Charity Commission to support the position that we have consistently taken through this process that without being able to use this exemption children without families would be seriously disadvantaged. “Catholic Care has been providing specialist adoption services for over 100 years. We have helped hundreds of children . . . as well as offering ongoing and post-adoption support to families.”

Jonathan Finney, head of external affairs at Stonewall, the gay rights charity, said: “It is clearly in the best interests of children in care to encourage as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible. All religious adoption agencies receive funding or subsidy in some form from the public purse. There should be no question of discriminatory behaviour by any organisation that benefits from the taxpayer.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “It is unfortunate that the court has enabled Catholic Care to exploit what was obviously an error in the drafting of the equality legislation. The loophole this created was never intended to be used this way.”

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement also condemned the decision. The Rev Sharon Ferguson said: “We do not doubt that Catholic Care has done good work in the past but it should only continue to do so within the current legal framework. It makes no sense and is entirely unjust to allow exemptions of this nature. Would Mr Justice Briggs have reached the same decision if Catholic Care had asked to be allowed to discriminate against couples on the grounds of their race or physical ability?”


Lazy British social workers let another kid die

If only they had been told that the offender disliked homosexuals, they would have LEAPT into action

Children's services today blamed 'human error' for failing to act on information about a man with a history of violence who then went on to kill his new-born daughter. Christopher Sellman, 24, had a conviction for assault and had been cautioned for child neglect before he was found guilty of killing 25-day-old Tiffany Sellman Burdge.

Social services in Kent were contacted by a relative before she was born informing them that Sellman's partner was pregnant with his child. But a failure to register the information meant Sellman went unchecked and he went on to kill Tiffany, who died from a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain. The baby girl died at Kings College Hospital, in London, on November 1, 2008, after Sellman called an ambulance earlier in the day telling the operator that she was losing colour and had 'gone floppy'. Tiffany was taken to the Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells, before being transferred to the London hospital where a CT scan showed the extent of her injuries.

Sellman was arrested and charged with her murder, but it was reduced to manslaughter part-way through his trial at Maidstone Crown Court. He was convicted yesterday.

Today, Kent County Council conceded that an independent review of the case had identified a 'missed opportunity' within children's social services to share information. Rosalind Turner, managing director of children, families and education at the council, said: 'This was an isolated example of human error. 'We have a comprehensive training and professional development programme in place to make sure our social workers are equipped to do the difficult and challenging task that they are required to do.'

Ms Turner said the death was 'deeply distressing' and that the council had worked with the local safeguarding children board to examine the build-up to her death and identify lessons to be learned. She added: 'Human error is always a possibility. In this case, on a single occasion, a member of the family mentioned to the social worker that Christopher Sellman's partner was pregnant. 'The social worker, who had a 30-year career with an exemplary record, was not dealing directly with the young woman who was pregnant and this information did not get registered. 'We deeply regret this.'

David Worlock, chair of the Kent Safeguarding Children Board, said: 'This is a very distressing case and I would like to express my sadness at Tiffany's death. 'The death of any child is deeply upsetting and when a child dies in these circumstances it is only right for all of the agencies involved to look at their practices and seek to learn lessons wherever possible.

'An independent expert from the NSPCC was commissioned by the Kent Safeguarding Children Board to take a thorough and impartial look at all of the agencies' actions to identify what lessons could be learned. 'The findings have been accepted and several recommendations made, all of which are being acted on. 'The Kent Safeguarding Children Board will monitor the impact of these on practice in Kent. The board has an important role to play in evaluating how effective safeguarding arrangements are in Kent. 'Along with all local safeguarding children boards, it will be strengthening this quality assurance role to help improve the safety and well-being of Kent children.'

Every year, between 17,000 and 20,000 children are referred to Kent children's social services. In the year to March 2009, the total number of referrals was 17,358 children, of which 1,233 were children with child protection plans. In the case of Sellman, the court heard that throughout their investigation, police found he failed to give an accurate account of what had happened to Tiffany before his 999 call. It was also established that he told a number of people at least five different versions of events.

During the trial, which began on February 1, he denied both the murder and the manslaughter of his daughter, claiming that he had accidentally dropped her. Sentencing of Sellman, previously of Tunbridge Wells, was adjourned until April 28.

Following yesterday's verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Chewter, of Kent Police, said: 'Tiffany was a well cared for baby, her mother Pamela looked after her with love and devotion. 'She left her daughter with Christopher, Tiffany's father, on just this one occasion whilst she visited family for the first time since the birth. 'When she left the house, Tiffany was well and had just been fed. She left her daughter in the hands of someone who should have been there to protect and keep her safe. 'Pamela's life has been turned upside down and to this day she continues to struggle with her terrible loss.'

The baby's mother, Pamela Burdge, said: 'The loss and pain I feel as a result of my beautiful daughter Tiffany's death is indescribable, I will never get over it. 'I will never be able to understand why Chris never told the truth, but I am relieved justice has been served.'


New Mexico woman arrested in false rape claim

Police say a Las Cruces woman has been arrested for falsely claiming that she had been sexually assaulted. Police say 20-year-old Michelle Holcomb is charged with one count of filing a false police report. She's jailed at the Dona Ana County Detention Center on $1,000 bond.

Police say were dispatched to Holcomb's home Sunday afternoon after the woman claimed that she had been drugged and raped during a party Saturday night. She was taken to Memorial Medical Center for an examination while detectives followed up on her allegations.

Through their investigation, detectives learned that Holcomb's story was possibly fabricated. They say Holcomb later admitted she made up the story to avoid getting in trouble with her parents for staying out late Saturday night.


British job centre not tolerant enough

A JEDI believer won an apology from a Jobcentre which threw him out for refusing to remove his hood. Star Wars fan Chris Jarvis, 31, was told he would have to leave if he did not take it down.

Chris is a member of the International Church of Jediism - based on the sci-fi films - whose doctrine states that followers should be allowed to wear hoods. But when he protested, security escorted him from his local branch in Southend, Essex.

He filled out a complaint form - and received a formal letter from the JobCentre Plus branch's boss just three days later. Wendy Flewers apologised, adding: "We are committed to provide a customer service which embraces diversity and respects customers' religion."

Chris said: "I was just standing up for my beliefs. "Muslims can walk around in whatever religious gear they like, so why can't I?"

Southend Jobcentre Plus refused to comment yesterday. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "Customers may be asked by Jobcentre staff to remove their helmets and hoods for security reasons."


Australia: That "welcome" ritual again

Some straight talk from Gary Johns, formerly a minister in the Keating Labor government. He is referring to the politically correct custom -- recently criticized by Australia's Federal conservative leader -- of acknowledging Aboriginal "traditional ownership" of the land at the outset of public meetings. I heartily agree that such tokenism is contemptible while there is negligible policing of Aboriginal violence towards their women and children -- JR

An American anthropologist studying Sydney Aborigines commented recently, "Doing culture can reinforce one's indigeneity or it can make one appear unreal." Welcome to country is a constant reminder of a people bypassed by progress. And how long should this go on? For 40,000 years until the ledger is somehow squared? Is there nothing else an Aborigine would want to be known for?

The welcome ceremony is part of a mindset that locks Aborigines out of the world in which they desperately need to engage. Government ministers offer a rote acknowledgment of traditional custodians but don't enforce truancy laws to make Aboriginal children attend school. Ministers will hold hands, walk over bridges and spend taxpayers' dollars on busybody schemes, but to do something effective such as forcing a child to attend school in the face of an ignorant parent: never.

I recall Howard government minister Philip Ruddock giving a welcome to country in Perth while the commonwealth was opposing a native title claim by the Nyungar people over Perth. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin offers an acknowledgment at most functions, even while withholding welfare cheques from Aborigines.

Whether doing the wrong thing (not enforcing truancy laws) or the right thing (opposing poorly conceived native title claims and imposing income management for poor behaviour), the acknowledgment is trotted out. There are problems with its apparently simple wish "to show respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and acknowledge the ongoing relationship traditional custodians have with their land". It is a gesture full of holes and with some weird fellow travellers.

One-quarter of Aborigines do not recognise a particular area as their homeland and one-quarter live in areas that may have some relationship to their original land, but those are the poor beggars who are worse off by a long way.

As for custodians, it perpetuates the myth of the Aborigine as the gentle gardener. Paul Albrecht, a former pastor at Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory, says the Aboriginal concept of caring for country is not related to environmental concerns: it's about guarding sites of significance and caring for sacred objects. Their primitive technology and frequent moves meant they did not evolve rules for land care as it is understood today.

On occasions when the substantive matter has to do with Aborigines and the function is taking place on Aboriginal land as recognised by Australian law, a welcome to country or acknowledgment is appropriate. But to indulge the concept on land that is owned by others is an insult to the latter's rights. Indeed, by overplaying the historic claims to all Australian land, the welcome acts as the original sin: it can never be expunged unless the whitefella leaves.

Peter Adam, principal of Victoria's Anglican theological institute Ridley College, was stupid enough to suggest this, saying last year that all non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave if the indigenous people wanted that, "making restitution for the vile sin of genocide". "The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads, our reservoirs are stolen property," he said.

What should the three-quarters of Aborigines who are of mixed descent do? Stay or go?

In last year's Massey Lectures in Canada, anthropologist Wade Davis boldly asserted that "the other cultures of the world are not failed attempts to be modern, failed attempts to be us. Each is a unique and profound answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?" He suggested that "the aboriginal people were never touched by the desire to improve the world" and that for them "the purpose of humanity [is] to sustain the Garden of Eden". What a paternalistic prig! Aborigines did their best to alter the environment by hunting macropods to death and burning much of Australia's forests, altering for all time the Garden of Eden.

Undertaken at the wrong time and place, the traditional acknowledgment serves the purposes of those determined to lock Aborigines out of the modern economy. If ministers don't agree, they should stop doing it.



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

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

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


17 March, 2010

British police being held accountable? Is the sky falling?

It's just a charade, most likely

Ten police officers are being investigated over the way they handled the case of a mother and her disabled daughter who suffered years of abuse from youths and were found dead in a burnt-out car, a watchdog said yesterday. Police were contacted 33 times in 10 years about yobs bullying Fiona Pilkington, her daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, and her severely dyslexic son Anthony, 19, in the street where they lived in Barwell, Leicestershire. But despite repeated pleas for help, Ms Pilkington, 38, received only eight visits from police officers and was not offered sufficient protection.

Ms Pilkington, a single mother, became so depressed with the repeated failure of the police to respond to her pleas that she doused her car in petrol and set it alight. She was found dead alongside her daughter in the car, which was parked in a lay-by on the A47 in nearby Earl Shilton, in October 2007.

An inquest in September last year found that the failings of the police contributed to their deaths, the inquest jury ruled. After the inquest, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would look into the way Leicestershire Constabulary dealt with the family’s complaints in the years before their deaths.

Yesterday, the IPCC said that police and council officials had co-operated fully with its investigation. The officers under investigation range in rank from constables to inspectors. The statement added: “We have now served advisory notices on a total of ten Leicestershire police officers and this situation is being kept under review. “Such notices are not judgmental in any way, but are required under police misconduct regulations, and served on officers to advise that their conduct is under investigation.”

It added: “This complex inquiry is going back over police contact with Fiona Pilkington, her daughter and neighbours over a period of several years. “We are assessing information from family members, neighbours, the authorities involved, records of police contact, and the accounts of relevant police officers themselves. “The extensive nature of the investigation means there is still substantial further work to do, and enquiries to be made by the IPCC. “We are progressing this rigorous investigation as swiftly as possible and will make our findings public in due course.”


Might we juxtapose a moment?

I sat in the midst of a gathering this weekend and the strained relationship between the U.S. and Israel became, briefly, the focus of conversation.  Someone wondered aloud what right the U.S. had to criticize Israel and someone else responded it had much to do with all the money given by America to the Jews (as if the U.S. gave nothing to the Palestinians).  I mused aloud why the U.S. would be criticizing something that only months ago was praised (and by the same people) but then decided to simply shut up.  History has shown that this topic isn't one easily discussed amongst this bunch.  And so rather quickly, the topic changed.

Today I come across two pieces.  One brought by Mike Todd, a self -described progressive Christ follower and to which I think one could easily add the moniker of anti-semite.  Here's a Huffington Post piece Mike calls "a good and direct editorial" that I believe substantiates the charge:
For me and countless other Americans, Israelis, Palestinians (and anyone anywhere who reads beyond the front page) the billboard could just as well refer to the Israeli government's persistent defiance of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, dozens of U.N. resolutions and U.N. fact-finding committees (e.g., the Goldstone Report), and some basic rules that govern common decency.

Enough already! Or as the name of Peretz Kidron's Israeli anti-occupation group states, "There is a limit!"

Israel's victory in the Six Day War of 1967 does not give it license to oppress its neighbors and continue building Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Ironically, it is the Fourth Geneva Convention Rules of War, adopted in 1949 by the international community in response to Nazi atrocities, which forbids a victorious military from occupying, building, expanding, and then moving its citizenry onto conquered land. U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden was correct last week to condemn Israel's plans to build an additional 1,600 housing units in hotly contested East Jerusalem.

But then he fumbled, bumbled, and played the lapdog. For him to later temper his criticism by saying that the United States has "no better friend than Israel" is absurd. Anyone who has traveled off the beaten path in the Arab world (and many who remained on it) knows that friends like Israel are what generate enemies for the United States.
Never mind that many of the assertions made as premises to the argument are disputed and hotly so.  It's a good and direct editorial according to Mike and according to many a progressive Christ follower.   I guess I'd like to understand what's good about it.  Especially when I compare what you've just read with what you're about to read:
Fatah just held a ceremony in Ramallah, naming a central square in honor of a terrorist. Keep in mind that Fatah are viewed as “moderates.”

Also keep in mind that Barack Hussein Obama has created a major crisis with Israel over Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood in Jewish Jerusalem in the Jewish State.

Not a word from Obama, Biden, Clinton, or Axelrod about Fatah's glorification of Jew-killing. Let's take a look at the bloodbath these savages choose to honor:
On the morning of March 11, 1978, [Dalai] Mughrabi and her Palestinian unit of eleven members, including one other woman, landed on an Israeli beach, killed an American photographer named Gail Rubin and hijacked a taxi, killing its occupants. They proceeded along the coastal highway shooting at traffic along the way. They next hijacked a bus and later a second bus, from which the passengers were transferred to the first one. The bus was finally stopped at a police roadblock. A shooting battle ensued. Eventually, Mughrabi blew up the bus which became a large deathtrap of fire. Many of the passengers were killed. In total, Mughrabi and her team killed 37 people, including at least 10 children. Some 71 people were wounded. Mughrabi and several other attackers died.
Via Wikipedia

Look, I have no illusions about the so-called Palestinians. They are a proudly Jew-hating group who have no desire to establish a state, only to destroy Israel. The so-called peace process is a fool's errand.
As is the notion that the first piece can be called good... by a self-described Christ follower.

There are no perfect nations... and I'm sure that Israel has at times acted in ways that make peace loving people cringe. But what modern day nation faced with similar circumstances hasn't?

To ignore that she is surrounded by those who desire her annihilation and who make that desire the centerpiece of their ideology is to side with her enemies.  I simply can't get around that. Seraphic Secret, the author of the juxtaposed piece, concludes:
Peace will come, as it did to Japan and Germany, when the West—meaning America—gets fed up and utterly lays waste the Arab Muslim terrorist states. Arab Muslim terrorists cannot be appeased. The beast is always hungry. Unconditional surrender is the only language barbarians comprehend.

Barack Hussein Obama spent over twenty years as a faithful member of Jeremiah Wright's openly anti-American, Jew-hating Church. Obama is a man of the hard left who has spent his entire life in the company of fashionable anti-Zionists and rabid Jew-haters. It's in his intellectual DNA. The notion that he is a reliable ally to Israel is proof that the 78% of American Jews who voted for Barack Hussein Obama exist in a willfull state of cognitive dissonance.

Here's the crux of the matter: Barack Hussein Obama cannot dictate where Jews can and cannot live. Jews have the right to live anywhere and everywhere. We have the right to live in Ramat Shlomo, Brooklyn, Paris, Cairo, London, Los Angeles, etc. Once you accept the notion that one patch of earth is legitimately made Judenrein, than the Jewish people are doomed. And then the Arab Muslims will come for you.
It's a hard and ugly truth I agree with completely.  It's a hard and ugly truth progressive Christians ignore at great peril.


Atheist immaturity on show

If the meek really do inherit the earth, it won’t be the atheists who turned out in force in Melbourne at the weekend for what organisers believe to be the world’s biggest atheist conference.

It probably does mark in some way a coming of age for the militant atheist movement: they are visible and vocal, energetic and starting to become organised. They are gaining in confidence, which is no bad thing — but, as a couple of brave speakers observed, they would be much more persuasive if a touch less strident, a touch less dogmatic, a touch humble.

We are all enriched when people think through serious issues rather than inheriting parental or cultural assumptions, and when atheists advocate a view of a better society they must be taken seriously. By implication, of course, they must extend the same courtesy.

One lesson the atheist movement is learning, as the convention shows, is that it must broaden its appeal, reaching out to secularists, rationalists and others who share similar goals.

Evaluating the convention depends on what one considers its purpose. If it was to validate hardline atheists to themselves and give them confidence, it was a triumph. If it was to take a mature look at how to advance the cause of secularism, politically and socially, the speakers should probably have spent less time ridiculing religion and more on positive and practical ideas.

It was superfluous for speaker after speaker to point out that believers are deluded fantasists who believe in a magic friend who does magic tricks, because for almost everyone at the conference that was an article of faith already.

Many there would be horrified at how similar it was to evangelical meetings I have covered, down to the bouffant-haired televangelist prototype in Atheist Alliance International president Stuart Bechman, who was master of ceremonies. Every jibe brought a burst of applause — all that was missing was the “hallelujahs”.

A convention about something you don’t believe in is an odd thing. I wondered last week on my blog whether it risked being a self-congratulatory gabfest of like-minded people united mostly by their disdain for believers. It wasn’t. Certainly there was plenty of disdain, but the general atmosphere was less smug than expectant, eager, hopeful. Although a couple of speakers were crude polemicists or intolerably shallow, the key speakers offered much more.

When he talks about science, Richard Dawkins is articulate, accessible and passionate, and I was impressed by philosophers Peter Singer, A.C.Grayling and Tamas Pataki, and by Taslima Nasrin, whose personal story of being exiled for fighting for women’s freedom in Muslim Bangladesh reduced many to tears.

In Australia, as a sociologist told me, organised atheism is a nascent movement that has yet to learn to articulate its own viewpoint without misrepresenting others. But it took Christians a long time to learn that, and some still haven’t.

Here’s my advice. If atheists can reduce their contempt for believers and work harder for their positive goal — reducing the footprint of religion in society — they may begin to exert more of the influence they feel they deserve.

But, to be effective, they need clear and focused targets. Some of these were identified, such as removing funding for religious schools, removing tax exemptions for religious agencies, and working to make separation of church and state more explicit.

When it comes to secularism, they have more support than perhaps they realise. Many Christians and agnostics support secularism, as long as it is understood as a voice for all in which none is privileged, rather than the removal of any religious voice from the public arena (which would be undemocratic).

The humour at the convention was in some ways the most revealing aspect. Some I found very clever; but some it would be charitable to categorise as inept. American comedian Jamie Kilstein bellowed a monologue at about 600 words a minute, making him hard to hear: just as well, perhaps, as two-thirds of the words began with ‘‘f’’ and ended with ‘‘k’’, and the rest were very specific about gay sexual practices. More than one present confided that it was the low point for them, especially with children there.

Also unworthy were ABC science presenter Robyn Williams offering “a devastating argument against religion in two words: Senator Fielding”; former Hillsong member Tanya Levin: “I’m finally getting to hang out with the adults”; and Rationalist Society president Ian Robinson, asking whether there were any believers in the audience. “OK, I’ll speak really slowly.” (Wild applause after each.)

What was missing was any sign of self-deprecation. Atheism will be a mature movement in Australia when atheists can laugh not just at the religious, but at themselves.


Hate-filled atheists

Comments below by Andrew Bolt. It is most unlikely that the fanatics described below are typical. I'm guessing that they are just common or garden variety Leftists. I am myself an atheist and know many other atheists -- conservative ones -- who are most respectful of Christianity

THE Global Atheists Convention in Melbourne last weekend worked a miracle on me. I’ve never felt more like believing in God. Especially the Christian one.

My near conversion occurred because the convention’s speakers managed to confirm my worst fear. No, it’s not that God may actually exist, and be cross that I doubted. It’s that if the Christian God really is dead, then there’s not much to stop people here from being barbarians.

I’d have hoped that the Atheists Convention’s speakers would have reassured me not just by fine words but finer example that a godless society will nevertheless be a good one. But what did they show me instead? First there was the world’s most famous atheist, former Oxford don and Selfish Gene author Richard Dawkins (above), who smeared Joseph Ratzinger as the “Pope Nazi” and mocked Family First Senator Steve Fielding as dumber than an “earthworm”. The insult to the Pope is truly vile. As a 14-year-old, Ratzinger was conscripted by the Nazi regime into the Hitler Youth, then compulsory for all German boys.

Yet Dawkins was far from the only speaker to unleash the hatred he claimed Christianity inspired. ABC Science Show presenter Robyn Williams boasted he could mount “a devastating argument against religion in two words: ‘Senator Fielding“‘, an insult which the hooting crowd clapped. Added Williams: “Richard Dawkins said his IQ is lower than an earthworm, but I think earthworms are useful.”

Rationalist Society president Ian Robinson joined in, asking if there were any believers in the audience, adding: “OK, I’ll speak really slowly.”

The fourth speaker, Age columnist Catherine Deveny, saved her worst for the ABC’s Q&A show on Monday, tweeting from the set that fellow panellist Peter Dutton, the Opposition health spokesman, had “a face of a rapist”.

Yes, I know godlessness need not mean good-lessness. I’m agnostic myself, yet think myself morally serious. But I’m certain both the Pope and Fielding would feel their Christian faith prevented them from vilifying Dawkins as his fellow atheists freely vilified them.

So why do leading atheists, so sure of their superior morality, feel licensed to be meaner than leading Christians? Is this what morally superior people do when God has gone? In that case, bring God back.



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

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

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


16 March, 2010

How Not to Advance Arab-Israeli Peace

Throughout his life, one of Yasser Arafat's favorite themes was that there was no historical Jewish connection to Israel. He would assert that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, that the Western Wall has no Jewish significance, and even that Abraham himself wasn't a Jew. Indeed, he went so far as to reject the Jewish link to Jerusalem in the presence of President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks, evoking outrage from the American leader and offering insight into why the negotiations were doomed to fail.

Arafat's views, unsurprisingly, were echoed relentlessly by Palestinian media outlets and textbooks, not to mention Muslim clergy. Generations of Palestinians were "educated" to believe that the Jews were interlopers, not a people indigenous to the Middle East. This had nothing to do with history, since there was abundant evidence of the intimate Jewish tie to the land dating back well over 3500 years, not to mention the spiritual and metaphysical meaning of Jerusalem as the heart and soul of the Jewish narrative.

And, needless to say, Arafat never chose to explain why Jerusalem is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible nearly 700 times, while not once in the Koran. Or why, when Jerusalem was in Jordanian hands from 1948 to 1967, not a single Arab leader besides Jordan's king chose to visit what was then considered a backwater city. Only when all of Jerusalem fell into Israel's hands in 1967 did the city suddenly seem to take on a magical, magnetic meaning for the Arab and larger Muslim world.

Instead, at the risk of stating the obvious, Arafat's revisionism had everything to do with politics and propaganda. If Palestinian leaders could cut the link between Jews and the region, then they would undermine the very legitimacy of Israel. Moreover, there was something else at work. It wasn't just that the Jews allegedly had no ties to any of these sites, but also that the Muslims did. In other words, what was at work was a usurpation of Jewish history and its replacement with Islamic history - a kind of across-the-board supersessionism by a religion that began more than 2000 years after Judaism.

Arafat died in 2004, but his beliefs most assuredly didn't. Typical of this ongoing mindset is the Palestinian Authority's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, who recently denied that Jews had ever lived in Jerusalem or that the Jewish Temple ever existed.

And now, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joins the fray, continuing his recent policy of never missing an opportunity to castigate Israel and proclaim pan-Islamic solidarity. In a Saudi newspaper, he states that the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Rachel's Tomb "were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites."

For the record, the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron, is revered as Judaism's second holiest site, after the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Rachel's Tomb, in Bethlehem, is Judaism's third holiest site. As for the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Israel has gone out of its way since 1967 to respect Muslim religious authority there, even as the land underneath the mosque, the Temple Mount, is central to Jewish religion and history.

Indeed, this troubling pattern of trying to deny or extinguish a Jewish presence extends deeper into the region.

The other evening, my wife and I met a distinguished American journalist with over three decades' experience covering major news stories around the world.

Hearing an accent, she asked my wife where she was from. On learning that my wife was originally from Libya, she inquired as to when and why she had left. My wife replied that, as a Jew, she and her family were compelled to flee their ancestral homeland in 1967, just after the Six-Day War triggered a paroxysm of violence that resulted in the murder of many Libyan Jews.

The journalist said that she hadn't realized Jews ever lived there, much less that Jews, together with native Berbers, predated the Arab conquest and occupation of Libya by centuries. She couldn't conceive that every last trace of the Jewish presence in Libya, including synagogues and cemeteries, had been wiped out, as if the Jews had never existed.

When my wife added that the story was more or less repeated across much of the Arab world, with hundreds of thousands of Jews forced to leave because of persecution, violence, and intimidation, our interlocutor voiced embarrassment that all of this was new to her. Why hadn't she known, she asked rhetorically?

Well, the answer may be threefold.

First, the Arab countries themselves have sought to avoid any discussion of the subject, much less acknowledge the presence of Jews on their soil for centuries or, in the case of nations like Libya, millennia. For their own reasons, they would rather whitewash history.

Second, the Western media barely focused on the mass exodus or its implications. It just wasn't deemed a newsworthy story. As one striking illustration, the New York Times devoted exactly two tiny news briefs in 1967 to the end of the Libyan Jewish community.

Third, the Jewish refugees, until quite recently, were too busy establishing new lives to dwell on their kidnapped histories - or, more precisely, their erased histories, as if they had never existed in lands they once called home.

And even when they tried, who was listening? The UN? No. The media? No. Arab leaders like Assad of Syria and Qadhafi of Libya? No. Even Western officials largely yawned when presented with the facts, perhaps because it only made a complicated Middle East puzzle still more so, even if it was an essential piece of that puzzle. But all is not entirely bleak. There are a few bright spots.

Morocco and Tunisia have always been exceptions to the rule. While the bulk of Jews from both countries did leave for fear of their future, those who stayed behind have been respected as an integral part of the nations' fabric and fiber.

And this week in Cairo, history is being made. A synagogue and a yeshiva, both associated with the legacy of the towering 12th-century Jewish rabbi, scholar, and physician Maimonides, have been carefully restored and will be open to the public, marking a step forward in finally acknowledging the Jewish role in Egypt's history. The quest for coexistence is achieved not by treaties alone, but by a spirit of mutual acceptance, understanding, and respect.

Those who would cavalierly deny the Jewish people their history and religious sensitivities, whether in Jerusalem, Hebron, or Tripoli, while demanding full recognition of all their own claims, are doing the cause of peace no service.


An ancient conspiracy theory spreads to China

Who’s to blame for the current global financial crisis? According to a bestselling book in China, which is leading the sales charts in the country, the answer is clear: The Jews.

In the eyes of most Chinese, Jewish people are considered “smart,” “rich” and “good at making money.” Bookstores in China offer a variety of self-help books titled, “How to make money like Jews,” and “The secret of Jews’ global success.”

Until recently, the notion that Jews and money were inseparable carried no anti-Semitic undertone in the country, but a relatively new book called “Currency Wars” threatens to change all that.

The book’s author, Song Hongbing, claims that behind world-changing events like the battle of Waterloo, Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, President Kennedy’s assassination, and the deep recession in Asia during the 1990s stood an intricate conspiracy aimed at increasing Jews’ wealth and influence.

Song, a Chinese computer engineer and history buff who resides in the United States, writes that almost every defining historical moment has been instigated by Jewish bankers, and mainly the Rothschild family, which Song says dominates the global banking system, including the US Federal Reserve System.

Song’s book was published in China about a year and-a-half ago, and initially sold an insignificant number of copies. But in recent months the global crisis has turned the book into a hit. Estimates put sales of “Currency War” well over a million, not including hundreds of thousands of illegal copies that can also be downloaded off the net.

Responses among readers vary; online discussions about the book reveal that many are convinced this is the most important publication ever written, as it “exposes the truth behind global economy.” However, others claim that this is “nonsense” and say that Song, who has never studied economics, simply pieced together a theory made up of several delusional conspiracy theories published on the internet.

Song’s publishers, a subsidiary of a state-owned publishing house, boast the fact that the book has been read by all leading financial executives in the country, as well as state leaders.

Song himself has become a local celebrity in China, and is often invited to lecture at financial conventions and is interviewed on TV as a famous financial analyst.


Nicolas Sarkozy identity debate 'boosted votes for far-Right'

Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial "national identity" debate has been blamed for helping the far-right to reestablish itself in French elections. Opponents said the president's decision to start a high-profile discussion about issues including immigration, the burka and social cohesion led voters to back Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front (FN). The near-bankrupt FN had been written off after a disastrous showing in the 2007 presidential elections, but on Sunday scored almost 12 per cent in the first round of regional elections.

Martine Aubry, leader of the Socialist opposition, said Mr Sarkozy was guilty of "reopening a door for the FN" by organising a "debate on national identity aimed at opposing [native] French with French from elsewhere, or foreigners". And Francois Bayrou, former presidential candidate and head of the centrist MoDem party, said: "It's a worrying moment. The National Front is back at a level not seen in years."

The regional elections were preceded by almost non-stop publicity for the national identity debate, which was meant to re-instill pride in traditional Gallic values. Instead official internet forums and public meetings turned into a sounding board for people complaining about France's growing Muslim community, which at more than six million is now the largest in western Europe.

Mr Sarkozy was accused of trying to use the debate to win over FN voters to his own governing party, the UMP. He complemented it by calling for the Islamic veil to be banned because it was against Republic secular values. But, during its own election campaign, the FN played on such fears, releasing a poster that read "No to Islamism", and depicting woman wearing a full veil. Other poster included a depiction of an Algerian flag superimposed on a map of France with minarets portrayed as missiles.

All of this enabled the veteran FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to remain in the running in 12 of France's 22 mainland regions. The firebrand enjoyed a remarkable personal triumph, winning 20.29 per cent backing in the southern French Provence-Cote d'Azur region, which has a high North-African immigrant population. This compares with the dismal 6.8 per cent the FN mustered in European elections last year, and the just 4.3 per cent Le Pen won in the 2007 presidential vote.

In comments addressed to Mr Sarkozy this time round, Mr Le Pen said: ""It's the phoenix rising from the ashes. The National Front has returned to the forefront of French politics." Mr Le Pen, who is now 81, founded the FN in 1972, and is expected to be succeeded shortly by his daughter, Marine, who is the party's vice president. The 41-year-old's own political credibility was given a huge boost after she won 18.3 per cent in the industrial depressed northern Pas-de-Calais region.

The strong French far-Right showing comes after the anti-Islamic Freedom Party (PVV) led by the Dutch firebrand Geert Wilders triumphed in municipal elections in the Netherlands earlier this month. It won in Almere, a city just east of Amsterdam with a large immigrant population. It came second in The Hague, the only two cities where it chose to participate.

PVV came second in last June's European parliamentary elections, in which anti-immigration parties gained ground in nine countries. In Hungary, the nationalist Jobbik party won three of Hungary's 22 allotted seats with nearly 15 per cent support.

Despite the FN optimism, voter turnout for the first round of regional elections was just over 46 per cent – a record low. The second round will be held on Sunday. The Socialists, who came top with 29.5 per cent, ahead of the UMP with 26.2 per cent, are on course for a possible "grand slam" – taking all 22 regions in mainland France. The Socialists, who currently run 20 regions, are expected to wipe the floor by teaming up with Europe Ecologie, now France's third political force, which won 12.5 per cent, and another left-wing group.

Mr Sarkozy's camp claimed that all was not lost and beseeched its electorate turn up to vote next Sunday. Francois Fillon, the prime minister, who has led the UMP's regional campaign said: "It's not over. Everything is open" before the run-off next Sunday.

France’s immigration minister, in charge of the national identity debate, denied it had contributed to the FN’s higher-than-expected score. "I don’t think so, I even think the reverse (is true),” he said, pointing out that the FN had scored 16 per cent in the last regional elections and was present in 17 regions in the second round. Last month Mr Besson had dismissed the FN as “a bogeyman that doesn’t exist".


Indigenous tokenism an empty gesture, says Australian conservative leader

I have always thought this custom was a sort of pious fraud but I am pretty surprised to see a mainstream political figure saying likewise -- JR

TONY Abbott has opened up a new front in the culture wars by declaring that Kevin Rudd and other Labor ministers demonstrate a misplaced sense of political correctness when acknowledging the traditional owners of land at official functions. Mr Abbott's dismissal of the modern practice of acknowledging traditional owners as "out-of-place tokenism" also won support among some Aboriginal leaders, who have described the trend as "paternalistic," The Australian reports.

The Opposition Leader said Labor politicians felt obliged to observe the practice, despite the fact it was inappropriate in many instances.

"Kevin Rudd is not an old-style lefty . . . but the Labor Party is full of people who are, and I guess this is the kind of genuflection to political correctness that these guys feel they have to make," he told the Adelaide Advertiser. "Sometimes it's appropriate to do those things, but certainly I think in many contexts, it seems like out-of-place tokenism."

But the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation's Eddie Mulholland said it was a positive move to acknowledge Aboriginal owners. "What's Tony Abbott trying to achieve, some cheap political shot?" Mr Mulholland asked. "It's an acknowledgment that we do exist with humans. "It is not that long ago we were classified as part of the flora and fauna."

Labor backbencher Steve Georganas defended the practice, saying it was the right right thing to do. "They are the traditional owners of this land," he said, adding Mr Abbott's comments were "totally disrespectful".

Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz said he did not generally acknowledge traditional owners of the land when making speeches. "I find it personally to be quite paternalistic," he said, adding he had done when it was appropriate. "Why don't we acknowledge a whole host of other people and indeed deities?"



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

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

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


15 March, 2010

British health clubs that warn women not to lift heavy weights face prosecution under equality laws

Endless meddling from Britain's Leftist government

Staff in sports clubs who warn women not to lift heavy weights could be prosecuted under new equality laws. Legislation set out under Harriet Harman's forthcoming Equality Bill says that insinuating a woman might not be able to lift the same size weights as men could be considered 'unlawful sex discrimination'.

A code of practice drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission explaining the legal implications of the Bill lists ways in which women might be unfairly stereotyped. It includes a long list of examples of 'unintentional less favourable treatment' including what might happen to a woman when she joins a gym and begins lifting weights.

It states: 'A general stereotype about men and women is that in terms of physique, most men are stronger than most women. 'Nevertheless it is likely to be unlawful sex discrimination for a gym to test every woman's strength but not every man's before allowing them access to weight-lifting facilities.' The code goes on to say that it will not be seen as an excuse if the motive of the gym staff is to help a woman or save her from injury.

The Bill could also make adverts giving preferential treatment to men or women illegal. This could signal the end of 'ladies' nights' at clubs, when women receive cut-price drinks but men pay full price.


"The Separation of Church and State"

On Thursday, March 11, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the most liberal court in the history of the United States, upheld as constitutional the phrase, “One Nation Under God,” found in the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as the phrase, “In God We Trust” on our currency. The Ninth Circuit rejected two legal challenges by the rabid atheist, Michael Newdow. Newdow is the same atheist that sued over the Pledge of Allegiance in 2002 and won his case at the 9th Circuit at that time, only to have the Supreme Court in 2004 tell him he lacked legal standing to file the suit, as he did not have custody of his daughter for whom he was filing the suit.

In this recent case, Newdow was making the claim that the phrase, “One Nation Under God,” disrespected his own religious beliefs. Yet, the 9th Circuit rejected his suit this time. The Pledge is constitutional," said Judge Carlos Bea, who wrote the majority decision. Bea said, "The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded."

When the 9th Circuit of Appeals, which is the most frequently overturned circuit court in our nation’s history, a court that has been overturned by the US Supreme Court several times in one day, actually upholds references to God as constitutional, it gives more credence to the fact that our Constitution is not a living document.

You may recall that in November and December of 2008, I submitted two articles on the topic of the Separation of Church and State to Townhall for the purposes of clarifying just what that phrase truly means, and just what the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States truly states. In spite of the 9th Circuit’s recent ruling, the errors, falsehoods and misinterpretations of the First Amendment still continue.

Take for example the recent case of Poway United School District of San Diego, California. In January of 2007, math teacher Bradley Johnson was ordered by the school district to remove two patriotic banners from the walls of his classroom as the banners mentioned God. The school district claimed that Johnson’s banner violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Some of the phrases on the banners were actually the same phrases recently upheld by the 9th Circuit, like “In God We Trust,” and “One Nation Under God.”

I like how Bradley Johnson’s attorney put it: "Mr. Johnson doesn't proselytize to his students. These banners are patriotic expressions. None of them are from any religious text. None of them are from the Bible or the Koran. They're right out of historic significance. That's the reason why he put them up."

Some students claimed that Johnson’s banner made them feel uncomfortable. Maybe so, but that does not mean that the banners violated the Establishment Clause found in the First Amendment. The Constitution does not mention a right to not feel uncomfortable. Free speech often is uncomfortable; but in the name of the First Amendment we must sometimes tolerate what is uncomfortable.

Think about common everyday occurrences where we must endure feeling uncomfortable in the name of free speech. You may feel uncomfortable when you hear your neighbor swear or use colorful language to describe a situation. You may even feel uncomfortable when reading the newspaper and viewing an ad for a racy movie. Nevertheless, as long as we are not forced to engage in behavior we do not approve of, no law has been broken.

In America, liberty requires we tolerate feeling uncomfortable in order to allow the free expression of ideas to abound. This is precisely why Bradley Johnson won his court case after suing the Poway United School District of San Diego, California. Federal District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled on February 26, 2010 that the Poway Unified School District violated Johnson's constitutional rights as found in the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as well as Article I of the California Constitution.

According to the Thomas More Law Center, which represented Johnson in court, the school district tried to remove Johnson's banners but had no problem allowing the posting of a 35 to 40 foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha. The school district also had no problem with the posting of a banner of Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi's "7 Social Sins," or a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X, along with a poster of Buddhist leader Dalai Lama. The double standard was more than obvious. Banners and posters of other religious leaders were tolerated, while the two banners posted by Bradley Johnson were censored.

Judge Benitez said in his ruling: “That God places prominently in our nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God."

Benitez went on to say: "Fostering diversity, however, does not mean bleaching out historical religious expression or mainstream morality. By squelching only Johnson’s patriotic and religious classroom banners, while permitting other diverse religious and anti-religious classroom displays, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School and the federal and state constitutions do not permit this one-sided censorship."

One-sided censorship. Judge Benitez hit the nail on the head. The school district had no right to practice selective tolerance for one brand of ideas at the expense of another. Unfortunately, this selective tolerance has become a common occurrence in America today. I know this all too well having faced similar discrimination during my undergraduate and post-graduate studies.

It seems that some of the liberal elite, whether they are in the media or the academic arena, practice a form of “intolerance in the name of tolerance,” as I like to call it. By claiming that banners like Johnson’s were somehow intolerant, the school district demonstrated intolerance towards Johnson in the name of a selective tolerance towards others. It is a completely upside-down argument. How can we truly practice tolerance if we single out those with whom we disagree? Tolerance was designed to allow people with whom we do not agree to coexist along side us. However, today’s politically correct version of tolerance is not really tolerance at all, as demonstrated by the Bradley Johnson case.

So just how is it that some on the political left get away with practicing intolerance in the name of tolerance? How does the meaning of intolerance get twisted to mean tolerance?

The practice of changing the common semantically understood meaning of words as a political tactic goes back to the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), which was formed in 1919. Not long after forming, the CPUSA soon began using a political tactic called psycho-politics, where the changing of the meaning of words, over time, can change the perception and the subsequent behavior of some people’s reactions to those words. While it has taken many decades for our nation to get to the point where tolerance for references to God are viewed as intolerance, the San Diego school district where Johnson is employed proves that psycho-politics can be very powerful over time.

Think back to my first two articles on this topic. What we see is a clear case of psycho-politics put into practice when Justice Hugo Black, an FDR appointee and member of the Ku Klux Klan, changed the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment of the Constitution. In Everson vs. Board of Education (1947), the Supreme Court took upon itself a presupposed right to redefine the meaning of the First Amendment. Justice Black and the other FDR appointees to the Supreme Court simply hijacked a phrase used by President Thomas Jefferson, “separation of church and state,” found in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association (1802). The FDR stacked court ruled that the freedom of religious expression in the public square was actually a violation of the separation of church and state, even though this phrase is not found in the US Constitution.

In true psycho-politics style the freedom of religious expression was reinterpreted as a violation of the First Amendment. This upside down interpretation of Jefferson’s phrase, which, once again, does not even appear in the Constitution of the United States, is precisely why Bradley Johnson had to go to court to win back his First Amendment liberties.

Let’s not forget, Johnson’s banners did not coerce the worship of a deity or religious figure. The banners did not in any way ask the students to pray or read a Bible scripture. The banners simply showed time-held phrases we all see everyday like, “In God We Trust.” Yet, this was somehow looked upon by the Poway United School District of San Diego as a violation of the Establishment Clause found in the First Amendment. Meanwhile, religious statements such as Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha, a banner of Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi's "7 Social Sins," a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X, and a poster of Buddhist leader Dalai Lama were not seen as a violation of the Establishment Clause. Another example of intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence that the American people are "…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...” That means our rights do not come from government; they come from God and cannot be changed. If our rights came from government, then the government could easily take them away. You know, that just might be the end game of those who practice intolerance in the name of tolerance.


Girl scouts have lurched Left

I've seen more than a few boxes of Do-Si-Dos and Samoas around lately. It's hard to look askance at the Girl Scouts when there's so much sweetness in the air. But there is reason for keeping the Girl Scouts out of the "mom and apple pie" category. For one thing, the organization has a think tank, a nongovernmental organization and a welcome mat out to Planned Parenthood.

At a meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women this month, the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides held a session for young people in which the International Planned Parenthood Federation distributed a brochure about living with HIV titled "Healthy, Happy and Hot." (Gratitude to U.N. watchdogs like C-FAM for keeping an eye out for such nefarious nonsense.)

The brochure sets itself up as a feel-good guide for dangerous behavior. "Young people living with HIV may feel that sex is just not an option, but don't worry -- many young people living with HIV live healthy, fun, happy and sexually fulfilling lives. You can, too, if you want to! Things get easier (and sex can get even better) as you become more comfortable with your status."

And since there is considerable sexual advice offered, advice on "safe abortion" naturally follows in the brochure.

This presentation served as a backdrop for a joint statement from the several U.N. organizations making up the U.N. Adolescent Girls Task Force. The task force declares its support for programs "that empower ... adolescent girls, particularly those aged 10 to 14 years." No innocence preserved.

The United Nations doesn't surprise me so much, but the Girl Scouts continue to greatly disappoint. About a decade ago, I wrote a piece for National Review called "The Cookie Crumbles," about things that could surprise moms and dads helping their daughter work on her Brownie badges. While the Boy Scouts have been under attack by politically correct watchdogs, the Girl Scouts have escaped censure by embracing leftist politics, reproductive permissiveness and secularism. It's been a long slide to sex-prep work for the U.N.

The Girl Scouts aren't shy about the causes they embrace. A 2008 post-election survey of girls and boys between 13 and 17 initiated by the Girl Scouts' think tank, the Girl Scout Research Institute, found overwhelming support for then President-elect Barack Obama, and noted concern for a laundry list of international and domestic issues, including the war in Iraq, the economy and "the difficulties women face in reaching leadership positions in our country."

I don't mind an arm of the Girl Scouts gathering information. But I do mind a group we associate with Tagalongs, tying knots, and basic life skills -- with protecting the innocence of children in an otherwise hyper-sexualized and politically fraught culture -- doing exactly the opposite. I mind leftist activists at national conventions. I mind faux empowerment laced with the persistent whine of victimization.

Your local Girl Scout troop may be run by traditional God-fearing women who want nothing to do with radical Planned Parenthood seminars, but you should know what's going on at the top. And if you are looking for alternatives, they're out there. In recent years I've encountered the American Heritage Girls, established by a Cincinnati-based former Girl Scout troop leader, which seeks to "Build women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country." And in a country known for entrepreneurship, a few sensible moms can start their own skill-building groups, very far away from the United Nations and Planned Parenthood; anything that allows girls to just be girls.


America's Lindsay Lohan problem

Depict a substance-abusing floozy on television, and some people take it very personally. This week, Lindsay Lohan filed suit against E-Trade for $100 million because the company's "talking baby" Super Bowl ad included an infant character named "Lindsay" (or Lindsey) who is described as a "Milk-a-holic."

This is not just a desperate attempt by a washed-out actress to obtain a free, never-ending supply of cocaine. Rather, it's part of a widespread American problem: litigiousness and lawsuit abuse.

This winter's edition of Judicial Hellholes, a newsletter of the American Tort Reform Association, identifies states and jurisdictions where opportunistic trial lawyers can most easily bring "deep pockets" into court on an uneven playing field and put their snouts into the bloodstream of the local and national economies. If you cannot look like Lohan, at least you can sue like her.

In Florida, for example, you can drive drunk, crash your car and then sue the automaker for its insufficiently crashworthy design. The jury cannot even be told that you were responsible for the crash.

In New Jersey, Denny's has been taken to court in a fraud class action, on behalf of anyone who has ever consumed one of its high-sodium meals.

In New Mexico, an appellate court last year abandoned a long-respected tort axiom -- the "baseball rule" -- by allowing lawsuits by spectators hit by foul balls and home runs.

New York City taxpayers shell out a half-billion dollars each year in personal injury suits -- 20 times what they paid out just 30 years ago. Among the cases last year: a girl who fell into an open manhole because she was texting while walking, and a drunken subway rider who stumbled into the tracks.

There is no reason why this situation should persist, except that the nation's top trial lawyers continue to grease the skids in Washington and in state capitols, piling up money for Democratic politicians who in turn hinder the cause of lawsuit reform. A recent Examiner analysis of contributions from employees of the top 15 plaintiffs firms found that less than 2 percent of nearly $1.3 million they donated went to Republicans.

That's why President Obama and Democrats seek to prevent state-level legal reforms in their health care reform bill. It's not just that the bill lacks tort reform provisions -- it also punishes states that adopt them by withholding federal money.

But those legal reforms are necessary. Otherwise, the natural conclusion is the world portrayed in "Kings of Tort," the recent book by Alan Lange and former federal prosecutor Tom Dawson. The book describes how former tort baron and current federal prisoner Dickie Scruggs sued his way into a fortune and then began purchasing an entire state's judiciary. Years before he was caught bribing two Mississippi judges, Scruggs had described as "magic jurisdictions" those places where verdict money was used to stack benches and juries.

"[M]agic jurisdiction," Scruggs said in a brazen public speech, "[is] where the judiciary is elected with verdict money. ... It's almost impossible to get a fair trial if you're a defendant in some of these places. The plaintiff lawyer walks in there and writes the number on the blackboard, and the first juror meets the last one coming out the door with that amount of money."

With the billions he won in various courts and settlements, Scruggs gained such influence in the judiciary that he proved popular self-governance cannot survive more people like him. As Obama seeks out the last few votes he needs for the current health care bill, bear in mind that it will prevent a solution to this problem.



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

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

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


14 March, 2010

Britain's malignant social workers again

They let a child die -- But if you say you disapprove of homosexuality you could get your kids taken off you. Political correctness is all. Real abuse does not matter

An eight-year-old girl found hanged in her filthy bedroom had been "abandoned to her fate" despite years of involvement by social services, a court heard. Charlotte Avenall was found dead in a the "foul and disgusting" room with faeces smeared on the walls, floor, bedding, and soft toys. Neither her mother, Susan Moody, stepfather, Simon Moody, nor any other adult had set foot there for at least a month before her death on September 12 last year.

Susan and Simon Moody both admitted child cruelty between August 14 and September 12 last year when they appeared before Nottingham Crown Court. They admitted they "did wilfully neglect, abandon or expose Charlotte in a manner likely to cause her unnecessary suffering or injury to health".

It will be up to a later inquest to decide whether Charlotte's death at the family's terraced home in Moor Street, Mansfield, Notts, was deliberate or accidental. But it believed she died in her sleep after a length of cord with soft toys attached to it became tangled round her neck.

The case comes as the mother and stepfather of seven-year-old starvation victim Khyra Ishaq were jailed for her manslaughter. Angela Gordon was handed a 15 year sentence while Junaid Abuhamza was jailed indefinitely for the public's protection, with a minimum term of seven and a half years.

The latest cases have again raised questions about the efficacy of social services staff. It emerged during the trial of Gordon and Abuhamza that Birmingham City Council was aware of concerns about the child's welfare almost five months before her death.

Charlotte, who attended a special school, is also thought to have been in the habit of smearing faeces around her room. Her parents spoke only to answer to their names and enter guilty pleas as they stood side by side in the dock.

William Harbage, QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Nobody had been in Charlotte's bedroom for a period of four weeks or more before her death. "Her room was in a absolutely foul and disgusting state with faeces smeared all over the walls, floor, bedding and soft toys. Mr Harbage said the prosecution accepted Susan Moody had been "unwell" at the relevant time but the extent of that illness was "open to dispute". Mr Harbarge added: "Each parent had a duty of care for Charlotte and each should have checked the room. "If they did not do so themselves they had a duty to make sure that each other did so, or they should have made sure an outside agency did. "She did not ensure her husband did so and she did not ensure that social services or any other outside agency did so. "Effectively they abandoned Charlotte to her fate and left her at risk to health and unnecessary suffering."

Judge Joan Butler, QC, adjourned the case for reports until April 9 and granted the couple bail until then. An immediate investigation was launched after Charlotte's death when it became known she suffered from severe learning difficulties and was known to welfare services. It later emerged social services and other agencies had been closely involved with Charlotte her whole life as her mother was only 16 and living in foster care when she was born.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire County Council said:"A serious case review is underway which is being caried out by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board. "Until that it is complete we will not be commenting."


Krauthammer is wrong on Wilders

On Monday, Charles Krauthammer had this, in part, to say about Geert Wilders:
What he says is extreme, radical, and wrong. He basically is arguing that Islam is the same as Islamism. Islamism is an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].

The untruth of that is obvious. If you look at the United States, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. are not Islamists. So, it's simply incorrect. Now, in Europe, there is probably a slightly larger minority but, nonetheless, the overwhelming majority are not.
The words "radical" and "extreme" connote the relationship between Wilders' view and mainstream thinking (in this they differ from the word "fascist," which connotes a specific ideology). In the politically correct West of today, I believe it is fair to characterize Wilders as radical and extreme.

But is Wilders wrong? Krauthammer says he is because the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. and Europe are not Islamists. Wilders does not deny this. As he said last week in London:
The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens and want to live a peaceful life as you and I do. I know that. That is why I always make a clear distinction between the people, the Muslims, and the ideology, between Islam and Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims, but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.
Wilders is making a theological point here -- his contention is that Islam, as set forth in the teachings of the Koran, "commands Muslims to exercise jihad. . .to establish shariah law [and]. . .to impose Islam on the entire world." I'm no scholar of Islam, but I believe Wilders is correct. To show otherwise, one would have to explain away portions of the Koran. It is not enough just to call Wilders' interpretation of that book "narrow."

But the bottom line issues for me are neither the theological question in the abstract nor the precise theology embraced by most Muslims in Europe. The core issues are: (1) whether (or to what extent) the massive growth of the Islamic population in countries like the Netherlands poses a threat to democracy, free speech, and other fundamental values and institutions and (2) if so, what to do about it. Wilders makes a strong case that the demographic trend poses such a threat, and a substantial one.

Some of his proposed solutions -- such as banning Islamic immigration -- are radical and extreme (as defined above), but that doesn't mean they are wrong. Indeed, it's plausible to believe they are reasonable solutions. But without living in the Netherlands or having studied it carefully, it's impossible for me to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to some of Wilders' more controversial specific proposals.


Free Market Fights Discrimination

It's axiomatic: Discrimination accounts for racial inequality in our society, and government action is needed to fix this injustice. Not so fast, says economist Thomas Sowell. There are many causes of inequality, and discrimination often explains less than we think it does. Furthermore, discrimination is most powerful when it's state policy, because government can force someone else to pay the price of discrimination. In the free market, businesses are "out to make a buck," and there's a heavy price from discriminating against potential customers and employees based on race. In part two of a wide-ranging interview with IBD, Sowell explains intellectuals' many misconceptions about race, discrimination and inequality.

IBD: In one of your first books, "Black Education: Myths and Tragedies," you said self-sufficient, intellectually oriented, hardworking black students were a threat to the preconceptions held by white faculty members who feel guilty about discrimination. Do you think such students — or even such black people, more generally — are a threat to the preconceptions of intellectuals?

Sowell: Yes. And they are a tremendous threat to the more militant blacks on campus who make a determined effort to keep them out. I mentioned in that book a young woman who did very well on the SATs whose mother was a maid and father an alcoholic, and the university admissions committee tried to keep her out. The self-interest of the academic black establishment I think is very clear in that black people like that student make it harder for them to mobilize recruits to their causes. Also, people like that don't minister to the need of white liberals to feel like they're doing something to get rid of their guilt.

IBD: Do you think that was part of the motivation behind the attacks on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he was nominated?

Sowell: Perhaps. But I'm also reminded of another situation that occurred at Harvard (involving) a black student who had come from a poor educational background. He had made a special effort to raise his educational level and wanted to attend a special summer program at Harvard for people who were going on to medical school. He received a form letter saying that he didn't need to be in this program because he had done so well. I then wrote to the head of the program that sent that letter saying, "You need to get the best people you can into the Harvard Medical School. If this guy needs some more help, for goodness' sake give him some more."

It's as if they didn't want to cultivate the most fertile ground. They wanted to make the desert bloom because that's more of an achievement for them. I was surprised to receive a letter from David Riesman at Harvard saying that he had argued the same thing even earlier to no avail. That told me that these people were just hellbent on doing things this way. Of course, that leads to such things as the Patrick Chavis case, as you may or may not be aware of.

IBD: That doesn't ring a bell.

Sowell: Patrick Chavis was a black student admitted to the medical school at the University of California, Davis, at about the same time Allan Bakke was denied admission. (Chavis was admitted under an affirmative-action program and may have been given the spot denied to Bakke, who later challenged the policy in court.) And for years thereafter, people pointed out that Chavis went to the black community to practice medicine. He was lionized for years until one year the death of one of his patients caused his case to come before the state medical board, which suspended his license. After a year of investigation, they cancelled his license permanently.

And going back to the case at Harvard, I closed my letter to this guy by asking, "Do you want to send your children to doctors who are like the ones you are accepting or the ones you are turning away?" It shows that the ostensible beneficiaries of these ideas and programs take a back seat to the need of the anointed themselves to maximize their own sense of importance, brilliance or whatever.

IBD: Now in your writing about race, one theme is that discrimination is usually due to government policy, not free markets. Why is that?

Sowell: Because there is a price to be paid in the free market and no price to be paid in government. Economists would say that's pretty obvious. I don't know if you are aware, but the case Plessy v. Ferguson was a put-up job between Plessy and the railroads. First of all, seven-eighths of Plessy's ancestors were white, so if he'd simply gone into a railroad car and sat there, he would've simply gone to his destination, got off, and there would be no case. Nobody would have seen any reason to question why Plessy was sitting in the white car. Plessy's attorney had to inform the railroad in advance so that the railroad could have its attorney on site and there could be a case.

The railroad's problem was that if they had one railroad car that was two-thirds full, and whites and blacks sit indiscriminately, that's fine. But if you have to separate cars for whites and blacks, and each car is only one-third full, you are going to have the extra cost of the car and the cost of the extra fuel to pull that extra car. The railroads really hated this stuff and they were happy to collude with Plessy to bring this case.

Furthermore, seating blacks in the back of buses was not something that happened since time immemorial. It happened at various times between the 1890s and first decade of the 20th century. The bus companies, which were privately owned at that time, fought tooth and nail against this stuff. They fought in the state legislatures to prevent the law from being passed. They took cases into the courts to get the law declared unconstitutional. And when they failed that they simply dragged their feet in enforcing it.

So, for years after these laws passed, blacks got on buses and sat wherever they pleased. It was only when the local political authorities begin to crack down and arrest the drivers and threatened to arrest the heads of the bus companies that it was enforced.

Another example: The black economist Walter Williams lived in South Africa at the height of apartheid, lived in a neighborhood that was legally supposed to be for whites only. And he was not the only one. I talked to the guy from South Africa, a white, who helped Walter get this place. He didn't want Walter to move into a neighborhood with lots of hostility for him and his family. So, he knocks on the door of the guy Walter would be living next to and asked him if he had any problem with a black man living in the house (next door). And the man replied, "Well, since there is a black man already living on the other side, why would I have a problem?"

South Africa during apartheid is a classic example of the costs of discrimination and the incentives that creates. Hundreds of construction companies were fined for violating the apartheid laws because it would cost them money (not to hire blacks). (The people who ran these companies) may have had the same views as the people who passed these laws, but the people who passed these laws didn't pay any price for it.

IBD: In "Markets and Minorities," you said collusion by Southern white employers against blacks immediately after the Civil War wasn't very successful. Why not?

Sowell: Particularly in an agricultural society, you have a fixed window of opportunity to get your crops planted in the ground. So, the white farmers would get together (like a cartel) to determine what they'd pay black workers, which would be below the market rate. But one of the problems with all cartels is that what is in the best interest of a cartel is seldom in the interest of every member of the cartel. So members of cartels cheat on each other.

What happens is, one farmer decides he's going to get the best black workers, (so) he offers (black workers) 10% more than what the cartel agreed to. Well, then the guy down the road who realized he is having a hard time getting anyone hired, and the planting season is coming upon him, decides he is going to offer 15% more. And before you know it the whole thing falls apart.


We're true believers in individual rights

Joe Hockey, a prominent Australian conservative politician, gives a classic statement of conservative values. In Australia, "liberal" still means what it used to mean -- quite unlike the soft Fascist politics that characterize the U.S. Democrats

YEARS ago I was introduced to the political party that is called Liberal. Its founder, Robert Menzies, was very clear about its commitment to liberty: individual liberty as much as social liberty. He said: "We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary, but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise."

I was ready to join such a party because in my younger days I had given great thought to the political philosophy that I found most compelling. I would like to think there was a moment of epiphany, but in the end there was one writer who stood out to me, and that was John Stuart Mill. Mill's famous statement of liberal principles is: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant."

And just in case we have a tendency to gloss over words such as freedom, Mill defines it: "The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."

The way I see it, the choice is black and white: freedom for each and every one of us. Or freedom for an elite few who want to tell the rest of us what to do. In federal parliament I represent the only party that was established to advance the cause of liberty. I am concerned that some of the liberties we take for granted are being eroded by the actions of government. I fear that step by step and in a way that barely registers in the consciousness of most people, we are losing some of the protections against the arbitrary and interfering actions of the state.

It's true that the rise of religious extremist movements and their expressed belief that only violence can lead to justice - a proposition refuted by the examples of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King - represents a challenge to societies. Our response should be to enhance and expand liberty, not to curb or curtail it.

As a liberal, a legislator and a lawyer, it is the anti-terrorism laws, enacted by a government of which I was a member, that has given me great cause to reflect on our individual rights. Under normal circumstances, much of the powers conferred on enforcement agencies are ones that I would be horrified to see any democratic government advance. In particular, I make mention of preventive detention without charge that severely limits access to legal assistance or even outside communication; control orders that limit movement and may be in force for up to 10 years; and expanded police stop, search and interrogation powers. However, I reached the conclusion that the threat to liberty of so many justified the actions we took against so few. When effectively the whole polity is under threat from attack by people determined to bring it down, then the government's responsibility is to secure the safety of its citizens.

What is important to me is that the restrictions on individual liberty contained in our anti-terrorism legislation do not become permanent. The act includes a sunset clause for some of its more draconian elements. There is a compelling case for those sunset clauses to be something less than their present 10 years. We must objectively, dispassionately and regularly review their efficacy, preferably in a bipartisan way.

And this brings me to other threats to our freedoms that are much closer to home. Some of these come from our own political leaders. For example, there was a recent suggestion that the drinking age be raised to 21. Yes, we have a problem with binge drinking. But if you are old enough to fight for your country, if you are old enough to vote, if you are old enough to be tried in a criminal court as an adult, then you are an adult, and the concept of telling someone who is 18, 19 or 20 that they are prohibited from consuming alcohol is an infringement of individual liberty.

Similarly, we see the federal government seeking to introduce laws that will effectively censor the internet. Of course we all want to stop unlawful material being viewed on the internet. There are appropriate protections in place for that and I have personal responsibility as a parent. I don't mean to suggest that there is no room for government intervention and regulation. There is probably a legitimate debate to be had about the controls (for example, via the classification system) placed on extremely violent video games.

But in other areas such as DNA testing, data matching, credit history and mobile phone tracking, we must be ever vigilant to prevent the punishment of the few becoming the entrapment of the many.

In addition to this, we should be concerned about the rapid proliferation of closed-circuit television cameras across our cities. Even in my local area CCTV was set up to protect the welfare of revenue-raising parking meters from vandals, but they have inadvertently provided a viewing platform of the community going about its business.

In every state and territory there is an endless and rarely challenged demand for expansion in police powers, taken to extremes in Western Australia with a proposal to allow virtually unrestricted stop-and-search powers for police. I understand similar proposals also have won favour in Victoria. Surely the Australian interpretation of liberty extends to the right of an individual to go about their daily business without being subject to a random body search by police.

Finally, the government has before it the report of the [Frank] Brennan committee, which recommends a human rights act. The federal Coalition has indicated its opposition to such a bill, a position I support. My concerns about a human rights act lie in the power and authority that such an act would give to the judiciary. Such responsibilities would be undemocratic and ultimately undermine the independence of our courts.

A conflict often occurs between different human rights. Many, if not all, involve contestable propositions that fall outside the usual role of judges to interpret the law through the prism of legal principles; they are essentially political rather than legal judgments. For example, the courts could be asked to judge whether a law that bans tobacco advertising infringes on free speech. This is not a legal issue but one that should fall within the responsibility of democratically elected legislators to determine.

I am a true believer in the separation of powers. If courts are making findings on contestable and essentially political issues, politicians and those in the community who support the actions of the parliament will find themselves criticising their findings. Unwittingly, judges will find themselves players rather than arbiters and be the subject of the full weight of public opinion and sanction. There are better ways to guarantee human rights.

Ultimately it is what beats in the hearts of Australians that forms the best protection. Our desire for a fair go, our healthy scepticism and our belief in self-reliance, diversity and our multicultural society are the values that have guided Australia's development. It is the duty of us all to ensure every new generation of Australians - whether native-born or recently arrived - share those ideals.



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

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

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


13 March, 2010

Once again, the British police are on the side of the criminals

Curry house owner foils burglary... and then HE'S thrown in cell when yobs complain

When a restaurant owner found two teenage yobs raiding his beer cellar, he chased them and held them while his staff dialled 999. Sal Miah assumed police would commend him for catching the young criminals. But when officers arrived, they arrested 35-year-old Mr Miah on suspicion of assault and battery.

The married father-of-five spent five hours in a police cell and had his DNA, fingerprints and police mugshot taken. Mr Miah, who has run the Raj Poot restaurant in Crowborough, East Sussex, for 14 years, was finally released at 4am after receiving a caution for assault and battery, which will stay on his record for five years.

He said: 'The system is a joke. How can a man who tries to prevent a crime in progress end up being the criminal? 'People are living in fear of these kind of yobs but when you do take a stand and try and defend your home or your business you end up in trouble. 'It's the wrong way round. These boys told the police I had punched them and they believed them. 'This country is getting worse. You see these gangs tormenting people and they are just getting away with it. But who was looking out for my interests? 'This has been an unbelievable stress and strain on my family. The uncle of one of the boys even came to the restaurant making threats that he was going to smash it up and burn it down. 'But when I reported that the police said they couldn't find him.'

Mr Miah's ordeal began a fortnight ago when he heard the teenagers trying to smash their way into the beer cellar. They fled, but Mr Miah pursued them and managed to grab them and bring them back to the restaurant, where he sat them down by the bar. He told his diners not to worry and instructed staff to call the police.

But as he did so a large group of the teenagers' friends assembled outside and started to kick the door in. Fearing for the safety of his customers, Mr Miah locked the door to prevent the 'intimidating' youths getting in, he said. He also went outside to stop them from breaking his windows and pushed several of them away. But when the police arrived the youths accused Mr Miah of punching them and he was arrested.

As officers put him in the back of a patrol car, he said the laughing yobs hurled abuse and mocked him with shouts of 'You're nicked'. Mr Miah, who has no previous convictions, said: 'I could not believe it. 'I had stopped a crime from happening and even delivered the suspects to police on a plate.'

Sussex police said Mr Miah should have 'observed from a safe distance' before dialling 999. The spokesman said: 'On no account should any attempt at aggression be made as this could easily escalate into violence.'

A boy of 13 was later arrested and charged with burglary with intent.


Another charming British cop -- and another senior one at that too

Police inspector 'left student to die in road after knocking him down and driving away'

An off-duty police chief inspector [above] whose car struck a university student on a dual carriageway failed to stop and claimed he thought he had hit a post, despite having the victim's blood and skin on his shattered windscreen, a court heard today. Jamie Jones, from West Midlands Police, allegedly killed Warwick University student Raymond Cheung on the Coventry-bound carriageway of the A45 in the early hours of March 8 last year. Jones, 38, carried on driving after the fatal impact, leaving the victim's body in the road to be struck by a second car, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

Malcolm Morse, prosecuting, told jurors that Jones was not to blame for Mr Cheung's death as the student emerged on the road just a second or two before the collision. The inspector is charged with misconduct in a public office for failing to stop at the scene and dangerous driving. The charge of dangerous driving relates not to his driving before the collision, but to the allegation that he continued to drive with a smashed windscreen.

Mr Morse told the jury that on the morning of the collision Jones was travelling along the road, which links Birmingham and Coventry, in his BMW Series 5 at a speed just below the limit of 60mph. He said the collision with Mr Cheung was ‘entirely unavoidable’, explaining: ‘He is not criminally responsible for Raymond Cheung's death, there was nothing he could have done to avoid it.’

But the prosecutor said Jones ‘must have known’ he had hit a person and failed in his duty as a police officer when he did not pull over at the scene. Mr Morse said: ‘He did not stop. There is some evidence from a taxi driver who was on the scene at the time of the collision that he actually speeded up and he drove away.’

The court heard that a number of other motorists who spotted the body in the road pulled over and put on their hazard lights to alert other drivers to the obstruction. Despite their efforts the body of Mr Cheung was struck by a Volvo car and carried for some distance along the carriageway, Mr Morse said.

The prosecutor said Mr Cheung had driven to a service station on the Coventry-bound carriageway of the road, where he parked his car, leaving his mobile phone and wallet inside. The court heard that the 20-year-old, originally from Hong Kong, had recently had a ‘falling out’ with a female student at the university and may have walked into the oncoming traffic intentionally.

Mr Morse said: ‘He crossed the dual carriageway on the Coventry to Birmingham side and made his way in some way or another, over or under or through the central reservation. ‘Mr Cheung was a pedestrian wearing black clothes who will have emerged from a shadow on an unlit road. ‘It is most likely that, at the time when the defendant for the very first time saw him, he will have had something in the region of 1.5 to two seconds to react. In other words, no time at all.

‘He did hit the student. The consequence of that impact was that Raymond Cheung suffered multiple injuries and was killed.’ The prosecutor added: ‘Mr Cheung may have stepped into the defendant's carriageway intentionally. ‘It is one of the explanations that fits with the evidence that I have outlined to you.’

Mr Morse said a post-mortem examination found evidence that Mr Cheung had been standing upright in the road when he was struck and had subsequently hit the windscreen of the BMW. He said: ‘We know his body must have done that because, later on, hair and skin and blood from him was found in the damaged glass of the windscreen.’

The court heard that after the collision Jones, of Allesley, Coventry, drove home and called a police station in the city. He told officers he needed someone to come to his home and said he believed he had hit a post. When two police officers arrived at his home he told them he had heard a ‘loud pop’ as his windscreen smashed and he hoped he had not struck a person, Mr Morse said. He added: ‘In response to their silence he said words to the effect of, “Oh God, it was a person wasn't it?”'

Mr Morse said: ‘Albeit at a time when he could do nothing about it... at a time he must have seen that there was a pedestrian standing in the road in front of him. ‘At some point his windscreen has shattered. The most likely cause for its shattering is that Raymond hit it and one of the parts of Raymond Cheung's body that hit the windscreen are his head and face.’ He added: ‘It is the Crown's case that if one stops as dispassionately as can be and then examines these circumstances by that analysis, one is driven to the conclusion that the driver must have known that he had hit a person. ‘But as I have said, he did not stop. Other people did.

‘We say that when he drove on he was making an intentional choice to drive on.’


Nederland: White Dutch police barred from promotion

At least 10 highly-placed police officers have resigned from their corps in recent years because they were told that only women and immigrants could be promoted, one of them has said in Algemeen Dagblad newspaper yesterday.

The officer, Marc Jacobs, was a high-level officer in the Leeuwarden corps. He said in the newspaper yesterday that he was told by the corps leadership: "You can apply until you are blue in the face, but it will still be a woman or an immigrant." He resigned. "As a man, I do not have a ghost of a chance."

Jacobs says other white male officers are also unable to attain top jobs, despite their qualifications. High-level officers in Friesland, Zeeland, Noord-Holland, Gelderland, Utrecht and Amsterdam corps have already sought their path elsewhere, he says.

The Council of Corps Chiefs confirms that the 'diversity policy' of Labour's (PvdA) Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst is leading to the departure of white officers, though the body is declining to give numbers.

The discrimination against white male officers has been the official line of police and government policy since 2005.


Anti-Semitism rising worldwide, US report finds

Criticism of Israel and Zionism led to a rise of anti-Jewish sentiment around the world in 2009, the US said on Thursday in a report that denounced "new forms" of anti-Semitism. "Traditional and new forms of anti-Semitism continued to arise, and a spike in such activity followed the Gaza conflict in the winter of 2008-2009," the State Department said in an annual report. "Often despite official efforts to combat the problem, societal anti-Semitism persisted across Europe, South America, and beyond and manifested itself in classic forms," it said.

Such incidents, it said, involved attacks on Jews or places of worship as well as desecration of cemeteries and accusations of undue Jewish influence on government policy and media. "New forms of anti-Semitism took the form of criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that crossed the line into demonising all Jews, and in some cases, translated into violence against Jewish individuals in general," it said.

It accused some governments - like those in Iran and Egypt - of fuelling anti-Semitism rather than combating the scourge.



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

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

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


12 March, 2010

British Libel laws silenced critic of lie detector system

England’s libel laws will come under fresh pressure today as a researcher tells MPs that they have been used to silence his criticism of lie detection technology on which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has spent £2.4 million. An academic from Sweden claims that a paper challenging the principles behind the voice risk analysis (VRA) system was withdrawn by his publisher after legal threats from its manufacturer.

In an interview with The Times before speaking at a House of Commons seminar today, Francisco Lacerda, Professor of Phonetics at Stockholm University, said that libel law was suppressing information that should be available in the public interest. He said that English law was damaging science abroad as well as in Britain because English was the international language of research and many influential academic journals were published in Britain.

Amir Liberman, of Nemesysco, an Israeli company that devised the technology, said, however, that the withdrawn paper contained inaccuracies. In 2007 Professor Lacerda and Anders Eriksson, of Gothenburg University, published an article entitled “Charlatanry in Forensic Speech Science” in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law. It criticised the science behind VRA technologies that purport to identify stressed voices, which may indicate lying.

The VRA system is being evaluated in 24 pilot studies by the DWP, as a means of highlighting potential benefit fraud.


Slackers find a safe haven in the British public sector

Services are failing because it is so hard to fire poor staff

Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain. But there is one place where nothing much changed after May 1979; a lost world where strikes are commonplace and powerful trade unions still rule the roost. It’s a slice of 1970s Britain preserved in aspic, where productivity falls, pay surges and nobody gets the sack. All that’s missing are the Austin Allegros and Donny Osmond.

That place is the public sector. Review the facts: public sector productivity fell almost 4% in the 10 years after 1997, whereas private sector productivity grew 28%. Public sector pay has grown by 15% more than private sector pay. But despite that, people in the public sector aren’t happy: in fact, compared with the private sector, twice as many managers say morale is low in their workplace. Sickness rates are 50% higher and the number of days lost to strikes is 15 times higher.

What’s going on? There is no fundamental reason why a business or organisation should perform less well just because it is in the ownership of the state. But in practice they do. For years politicians have accepted this as inevitable and the strategy has been to “go around” the problem: to privatise, contract out, or introduce competition, in order to chip away at the public sector. But there are some public services that will never be privatised or outsourced. And we have avoided confronting the underlying problems.

There are many reasons why the public sector is underperforming. Four-fifths of public sector workers have their pay set not on the basis of individual performance but by national pay bargaining agreements. In much of the public sector, promotion is automatic each year and doesn’t reflect effort or ability. Public sector organisations are saddled with top-heavy management and expensive pension schemes.

Perhaps the most important reason is that it is very difficult to hire or fire anyone. Almost no one is ever sacked for underperforming in the civil service. And whole teams of people who are no longer really needed remain because it is difficult to make people redundant. According to the Cabinet Office: “There were fewer than 100 compulsory redundancies between 2005 and 2008.” That means just 25 people each year out of 525,000 civil servants.

You might think that making it difficult for anyone to be sacked or made redundant would be good for morale. In fact the reverse is true. Few things are worse for morale than having to “carry” people who are making little effort or are badly suited to their jobs. That’s why, in a survey of 60 public sector organisations conducted by the Cabinet Office, nine out of 10 employees agreed with the statement that their organisation “is too lenient with people who perform poorly”.

In 2008 the government and the trade unions agreed a “protocol for handling surplus staff situations” under which the government will almost never force through compulsory redundancies. So people have to be bribed to leave with generous pay-offs. For example, in 2005-8 almost 300 people agreed to take early retirement from the Foreign Office with an average payout of £162,000 — on top of their generous pensions.

This problem is compounded because public sector managers turn over so quickly. On average, a civil servant spends just 2½ years in a senior post. If reducing the number of staff will not “pay for itself” for many years, and their manager will be gone by then anyway, why should they bother with the hassle?

Worse still, hiring and firing in the public sector consumes huge amounts of time and money. Hiring someone in the prison service involves grinding through a gruelling 39 steps. The National Audit Office found that at HM Revenue & Customs it typically took 212 days to hire someone. Just imagine how long it takes to get rid of them. As a result, public sector managers have every incentive to allow slackly performing staff to drift on and unnecessary jobs to go on being done.

When Gordon Brown appointed Digby Jones to work in government, the former boss of the CBI said he was “amazed, quite frankly, at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat they never ever worked under, because it doesn’t exist”. There is indeed a clear link between the inflexible labour market in the public sector and its low morale and poor productivity.

Nobody wants to see people unemployed. But public services exist to serve the public, not their employees. So conditions in the public sector should be similar to those in the rest of the economy. Without a proper labour market, people coast, or remain in jobs they aren’t suited to. One in five people works in the public sector, so creating a more flexible labour market within it has the potential to boost the UK’s economic performance. But to get there we need to run public services on 21st-century principles, not the rules of the 1970s.


In Defense of Political Anonymity

Imagine if the George W. Bush administration, in its waning days, had introduced something called the Patriot II Act. To prevent terrorists and foreign agents from influencing American governments and political parties, the act would require political campaigns and other groups to report the names, addresses, and employers of their supporters to the federal government, which would enter the information into a database. The act would also give businesses access to this database, enabling them to make hiring decisions, credit determinations, and other choices based on political activity. Can anyone doubt that Patriot II would be widely considered a gross violation of civil ! liberties?

Fortunately, the government never passed such a bill. Unfortunately, it didn't need to: this is already the law, and it has been for over 30 years. It is, in fact, one of the most popular laws in America: the Federal Election Campaign Act, which does indeed require campaigns, political parties, and certain citizens' groups engaged in politics to report the names, addresses, and employment information of their financial supporters. This information is maintained in a government database that is available to anyone--businesses, union bosses, local officials, nosy neighbors, and whoever else might be curious about somebody's politics.

The idea of limiting financial support of politics remains deeply controversial, even seven years after the passage of the so-called McCain-Feingold bill, which extended many of the Federal Election Campaign Act's limitations on contributions to previously unregulated political activities. Yet even the most ardent opponents of McCain-Feingold seldom question the disclosure requirements of the original 1972 act. So widely accepted is the idea that campaign contributions and personal information about donors ought to be public that many people don't even consider it regulation. When the First Amendment counsel for the ACLU, the late Marv Johnson, met in 2006 with a prominent congressional reformer to argue against a proposal to regulate grassroots political activity, he was assured that no new "regulation" was contemplated--"just disclosure."

But it's far from clear that the forced disclosure of political contributions has benefited society. Disclosure has resulted in government-enabled invasions of privacy--and sometimes outright harassment--and it has added to a political climate in which candidates are judged by their funders rather than their ideas.

Despite its overwhelming acceptance today, the idea that political contributions should be widely disclosed is not deeply rooted in the nation's history. The earliest campaign-disclosure laws date to the late nineteenth century, and they were essentially meaningless until the 1970s. When pioneering researcher Louise Overacker wanted to examine federal campaign-finance reports in the 1930s, she was led to a closet in the Capitol where the reports were piled on the floor in no particular order. Candidates had to report only the contributions that they personally knew about, and there were no uniform reporting standards, requirements to correct or update reports, or prosecutions for those who didn't file them.

Things were largely the same with such state laws as existed. For example, through the 1960s, California politicians could comply with the state's disclosure law by providing an unalphabetized list of donors without amounts, addresses, or even full legal names. Moreover, in those pre-Internet days, viewing the reports was a major undertaking that required going to a central repository and working through stacks of paper--not a task undertaken lightly.

This started to change with the Federal Election Campaign Act's passage in 1972. At about the same time, states began mandating disclosure or adding teeth to laws already on the books. But there was some doubt that disclosure laws were constitutional, as the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that the First Amendment protected anonymous speech, striking down statutes that required union organizers and organizers of merchant boycotts to disclose their identities or sources of funding. In a 1958 decision, NAACP v. Alabama, the Court also protected the NAACP's right to keep its membership anonymous in the face of a state subpoena. The Court recognized that forced disclosure of members and financial contributors could have a broad chilling effect on political speech.

Nevertheless, in Buckley v. Valeo, decided in 1976, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the federal campaign-finance disclosure law. The curious result is that only in the realm of explicit political speech--perhaps the most important kind of speech protected by the First Amendment--has the Court broadly permitted government to mandate disclosure about speech that is neither fraudulent, false, nor an imminent threat to public safety.

Today, campaigns and citizens' groups in 49 states must report information on their financial supporters to the state as well as to the federal government. The feds and most states post the names and addresses of these contributors on the Internet. In federal races, information is public for all political contributions over $200. But the threshold for mandatory disclosure is $100 or less in more than 40 states, including Arizona, Iowa, Washington, and Wyoming ($25); Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin ($20); and West Virginia (just a buck). Thirty-six states and the federal government also require public disclosure of contributors' occupations and employers. And all 24 states that allow ballot initiatives extend these laws to cover contributions to ballot-issue committees.

The idea that you should be compelled to reveal your political activity to the government is often justified by "the public's right to know." But the public doesn't, of course, have a right to know about most things that you do--about your job-performance reviews, income-tax returns, credit history, birth-control purchases, school grades, employment history, book purchases, dieting habits, or voting choices, to give just a few examples. Some of this information may become available to the public, but only because you volunteer it, not because the government mandates it. Why should your donations be any different?

One oft-heard answer is that the public has a right to be informed of influences, including financial influences, that might affect the judgment and actions of its elected representatives. It happens that the degree to which campaign contributions actually influence legislative behavior is hotly disputed in the professional literature. But set that aside for now and assume, as most casual observers and the Supreme Court do, that the possibility is there. Federal and state laws would still set the threshold for disclosure far too low. People who donate $20 to a Michigan candidate, or even $200 to a federal one, will exercise zero influence on the candidate if he's elected. That their contributions--and addresses and employers--need to be publicly disclosed to prevent corruption is a proposition that can scarcely be stated with a straight face.

Even where it arguably offers public benefits--as in the case of truly large individual contributions or institutional contributions from political action committees, corporations, or unions--compulsory disclosure brings with it rarely appreciated costs. Above all, it invites government officials to abuse their power. From 1995 through 2006, when Republicans controlled Congress, they executed the "K Street Project," using compulsory-disclosure data to compile a list of the 400 largest political action committees and their giving patterns. Affiliated lobbyists were then called into the offices of Republican leaders and shown their place in either a "friendly" or an "unfriendly" column. Democrats complained endlessly about the project, but when they regained the majority in 2007, they took advantage of compulsory disclosure and employed the same tactic. As one understandably anonymous lobbyist told the Wall Street Journal in 2007, Democrats quickly put out the word t! hat "if you have an issue on trade, taxes, or regulation, you'd better be a donor and you'd better not be part of any effort to run ads against our freshmen incumbents." Disclosure is what makes the threats work.

Nor is the government the only entity likely to use disclosure information to punish people. In the summer of 2006, Gigi Brienza, an employee at the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, was notified by the company's security department that her name and home address appeared on a list of "targets" posted online by the radical animal-rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). SHAC's ultimate target was Huntingdon Life Sciences, a London-based lab that tested drugs on animals. The previous year, the FBI had identified SHAC as a leading domestic terrorist threat whose members had, among other things, assaulted a Huntingdon manager in the United Kingdom with a baseball bat and vandalized the house and car of a Huntingdon executive in the United States.

Brienza had been targeted because Bristol-Myers Squibb did business with Huntingdon, even though Brienza herself had no contact with the lab. But how had SHAC learned that Brienza worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb? And how had the terrorist group located her address, and the addresses of some 100 other Bristol-Myers employees, before posting them under the ominous heading now you know where to find them? Simple: in 2004, Brienza had contributed $500 to John Edwards's presidential campaign. The FBI eventually confirmed that SHAC culled Brienza's employer information and address from the records that the campaign had to file with the government.

Of course, most donors won't end up on a terrorist group's hit list, but less violent forms of retaliation and discrimination have become routine. After last year's passage in California of Proposition 8, which amended the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, the proposition's financial backers found themselves subjected to a wide range of retaliatory measures. Richard Raddon, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, had contributed $1,500 in support of Prop 8; he was forced to step down after opponents of the proposition threatened to boycott the Festival. El Coyote, a popular restaurant in Los Angeles, faced weeks of protests and boycotts because the owner's daughter had contributed $100 to support Prop 8; police were eventually called to control the protesters, and the daughter left town. Scott Eckhern, the longtime artistic director of Sacramento's California Musical Theatre, was forced to resign because he'd contributed $1,000 to the campaign. The Cinemar! k movie-theater chain suffered boycotts because its CEO, Alan Stock, had donated $9,999.

The question isn't whether opponents of Proposition 8 had a right to initiate peaceful, lawful boycotts and protests. It's whether the government should compel the disclosure of political activity, thus enabling such boycotts. "Years ago we would never have been able to get a blacklist that fast and quickly," pointed out Candace Nichols of the Las Vegas Gay and Lesbian Community Center. (Apparently, we have made progress since the McCarthy era.) Yet gays, of all people, should feel threatened by forced disclosure of political contributions. Many doubtless prefer that their sexual orientation remain unknown to their coworkers, employers, and customers. For such people, a contribution to the Log Cabin Republicans, the Human Rights Campaign, or other political organizations that promote gay rights amounts to an involuntary outing, courtesy of the government.

The use of campaign-contribution databases as a tool of intimidation, as opposed to mere ostracism or boycott, is increasing. A growing number of websites, such as the Huffington Post and EightMaps, display the homes of donors to various candidates, parties, and political action committees on maps. In August 2008, a liberal group called Accountable America used compulsory disclosure data to send letters to nearly 10,000 prominent conservative donors, threatening publication of their names and, in the words of the New York Times, "digging through their lives" if they continued their financial support. The group was "hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions," the Times noted.

In the Republic's early days, it's important to remember, anonymous and pseudonymous political speech was common. The most famous example is The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pseudonym "Publius." Countering their arguments for the proposed Constitution, prominent statesmen like Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams also wrote under pseudonyms, including "Federal Farmer," "Brutus," and "Candidus." Often, the newspapers in which these authors published their work were themselves supported by anonymous financiers. And in later years, many prominent Americans wrote anonymously, including Chief Justice John Marshall, who wrote as "a Friend of the Union" and "a Friend of the Constitution" to explain and elaborate his important opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Winfield Scott anonymously subsidized political tracts and newspapers.

The great historian of The Federalist Papers, Clinton Rossiter, noted that the authors wrote pseudonymously for "sound political purposes." For one thing, they didn't want their disagreements to interfere with their other activities--a reason that remains valid today. For several years, Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler blogged pseudonymously as "Juan Non-Volokh" at the popular blog Volokh Conspiracy. As an untenured professor, Adler worried that his frank writing on political issues might compromise acceptance of his academic work. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum explains why several contributors to his new website, Frum Forum, prefer to use pseudonyms: "Often, the contributor is a government employee concerned about the consequences of speaking too frankly about the work of his bureaucracy. In one case, the author was writing about wrongdoing by someone he regularly encountered socially."

This argument for anonymity applies to financial supporters of campaigns as well. In 2007, John Kerry and congressional Democrats vetoed the nomination of Republican donor Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium--not because Fox was unqualified but because he had contributed to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group Kerry felt had unfairly criticized him in his 2004 presidential race. As Senator Chris Dodd explained in support of Kerry, Fox's "unwillingness to . . . express regret for providing $50,000 to bankroll the organization convinced me that he would not be an acceptable candidate to represent the United States." The message was clear: support a group that legislators deem too vigorous in its criticism, and the legislators will retaliate.

A second reason that the Federalist authors wrote pseudonymously, Rossiter pointed out, was that they wanted to have their arguments debated on the merits, rather than through personal attacks. But disclosure fosters exactly the opposite idea: that the identity of the speaker matters more than the force of his argument. For example, in the 1990s, as term limits stormed to success after success, they suffered their only state-level ballot defeat in Washington State, after voters learned that funders of the measure included the libertarian Koch brothers. As Brian Doherty recounts in Radicals for Capitalism, "suddenly the fight was not about the wisdom of term limits, but the probity of eliminating drug laws and Social Security." In fact, the Supreme Court stated in Buckley v. Valeo that disclosure laws would "allow voters to place each candidate in the political spectrum more precisely than is often possible solely on the basis of party labels an! d campaign speeches." This amounts to an endorsement of ad hominem argument, whose ability to debase political debate the Founders understood very well.

A political culture that focuses excessively on the "who" rather than the "what"--one that fosters the view that if we know who wrote an opinion, it is not necessary to read the opinion itself--is not healthy. Look at the comments section in almost any political blog, on the left or the right, and you'll see comments almost uniformly taking a quick turn into attacks on the identity and motivation of the writers. The decline in the quality of our civic discourse can't be dumped entirely at the foot of mandatory disclosure, of course. But laws that regard the identity of speakers as fundamental to the public's ability to judge arguments may well exacerbate a thoughtless, partisan, nasty brand of political debate.

For 35 years, mandatory disclosure of political contributions has been the most popular part of the campaign-finance "reform" agenda. Yet the idea that Americans should report their political activity to the government is, in many ways, the most un-American part of that agenda. Excessive disclosure invades privacy to little benefit and provides government--and others--the information they need to retaliate against people holding unpopular or inconvenient views. Moreover, compulsory disclosure sends the message that identity, not ideas, matter. Call the result "ad hominem democracy," an atmosphere in which serious, civil debate about issues seems ever harder to find.


Australia on shame list

Because of Australia's Leftist government insisting on net censorship despite widespread opposition

A TOP media rights watchdog has listed Australia along with Iran and North Korea in a report on countries that pose a threat of internet censorship. Paris-based Reporters Without Bordersput Australia and South Korea on its list of countries "under surveillance" in its "Internet Enemies" report

Australia was listed for its government's plan to block access to websites featuring material such as rape, drug use, bestiality and child sex abuse. Critics say the plan is a misguided measure that will harm civil liberties.

In South Korea, the RSF report added, "draconian laws are creating too many specific restrictions on web users by challenging their anonymity and promoting self-censorship". "These countries are worrying us because they have measures that could have repercussions for freedom of expression on the internet," RSF secretary general Jean-Francois Julliard said.

Russia and Turkey were also added to the watchlist, which is a category below RSF's top "Enemies of the internet", the countries it considers the 12 worst web freedom violators. These include Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Iran and Vietnam.

"The world's largest netizen prison is in China, which is far out ahead of other countries with 72 detainees, followed by Vietnam and then by Iran, which have all launched waves of brutal attacks on websites in recent months," RSF's report said.

A senior manager of US internet giant Google, David Drummond, said there was an "alarming trend" of government interference in online freedom, not only in countries that are judged to have poor human rights records. He cited Australia's plans as an example, saying that there ``the wide scope of content prohibited could include socially and politically controversial material". The Australian case "is an example of where these benign intentions can result in the spectre of true censorship", he added. "Here in Europe, even in France, at this very moment, some are tempted by this slippery path of network filtering."



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

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

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


11 March, 2010

British police told to tackle crime that destroys communities

At the moment, they are too busy enforcing political correctness to tackle real crime. Photographers are at greater risk from the police than are youth gangs

Police forces are failing to protect the most vulnerable people in society from antisocial behaviour, the police inspectorate has said. Chief constables were told that they must understand the toll that harassment, criminal damage and verbal abuse is taking on communities.

Denis O’Connor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said more than half of the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could not identify repeat victims, leaving officers ignorant of the plight of vulnerable victims. This was evident in the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her severely disabled daughter in 2007. She had called Leicestershire police for help more than 30 times while being subjected to constant abuse.

Mr O’Connor said: “The police database of information about antisocial behaviour incidents is inadequate and should be improved as a matter of urgency. An awful lot of police forces have real problems. “There is a lot of antisocial (ASB) behaviour, a lot of it is under-reported and there is a problem with nailing the intelligence around it. “It is like going back to the doctor’s surgery but you see a different doctor every time. We want everybody to take this issue seriously. It undermines confidence in the police. We are a long way from a police officer on his way to a report of ASB being told that it was the eighth time police had been called.”

Mr O’Connor was talking at the launch of a new website, MyPolice.org.uk, designed to give people more information about crime and the performance of local police forces. The website, which Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary hopes will be live in the next few days, shows that only four forces recorded a mark of “excellent” across the board, with Nottinghamshire rated as the worst in the country.

Of all the ASB cases the inspectorate looked at, the police failed to attend 23 per cent of them. There were 3.6 million reports of ASB in 2008-09 but senior officials said this figure could be doubled because of under-reporting.


Useless British police again -- baby left outside in the cold for 80 minutes: Dies

All they are good for is harassing decent people

A baby abandoned on the steps of a mosque was left outside in the cold for 80 minutes by police officers who thought he was dead. The boy was eventually spotted breathing as forensic officers investigated the scene where he was left in a carrier bag at the weekend. He was taken to hospital where he died within the hour.

Witnesses told how the area was cordoned off and a white tent put up around the infant after police arrived at 10.30am on Saturday. Shouts for an ambulance were heard around midday before the child was taken away in a police car. By then, Staffordshire police had released a statement saying that a 'body' had been discovered at the Makki Masjid mosque in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Minutes after it was discovered the baby was still alive, an updated statement was issued to say a 'small baby' had been found and taken to hospital. The baby died at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire at 12.30pm. Staffordshire police have referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which was yesterday investigating how officers could have failed to spot the child breathing. It is understood a note found with the child read 'Please bury him' and contained two £10 notes.

The child was found abandoned in temperatures of 5c (41f) by a teacher at the mosque's Saturday school. Detective Chief Inspector Phil Bladen, of Staffordshire police, said the baby's death was being treated as unexplained. [Really???] The force refused to comment on its initial response to the baby's discovery.


British social workers get it badly wrong again -- despite many warnings

Their usual indifference to the deeds of the underclass allowed a British Fritzl to get his daughters pregnant 18 times

A MAN raped his two daughters and fathered nine babies with them during 35 years of physical and sexual abuse. And he escaped detection because care professionals missed numerous chances to intervene. Agencies involved with the family repeatedly failed to take action even though the father was accused of incest on seven separate occasions, with a further 12 reported incidents of violence. Today authorities issued an unreserved apology to the abused women.

The 57-year-old man, from Sheffield, England, was jailed for life in November 2008 after one of his daughters accused him of incest. The man, who cannot be named, admitted 25 rapes and four indecent assaults, with the attacks beginning in 1980. If his daughters refused his advances, they would be punched, kicked and sometimes held in the flames of a gas fire.

The case echoes of that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who imprisoned and raped his daughter.

Between 1975 and 2008 the family came into contact with 28 different agencies and more than 100 professionals. A review of the case made 128 recommendations for improving understanding, practice, procedures and training into intra-familial abuse. However, no staff were sacked or disciplined as the case was seen to be a "collective failure".

Chris Cook, the independent chairman of the Lincolnshire and Sheffield safeguarding children board, said: "We are genuinely sorry. We should have protected you. "This is a tragic and complicated case. The man responsible, who intimidated and frightened his family, was convicted of multiple counts of rape and is serving a life sentence."

The case review showed that the family moved home 67 times over a 35-year period so that the father could avoid detection.

The women's brother voiced anger that his sisters had not been protected, saying: "I blame a lot of people," he said. "I blame people that were meant to be looking after children because we were all meant to be under child protection at five, so I blame the people that should have been doing their jobs looking after us," he said.


Swedish media publish Mohammed cartoon to support threatened cartoonist

I didn't think the Swedes had it in them

Three leading Swedish newspapers and the national broadcaster carried a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a dog's body after an alleged plot to murder the artist who drew it was unveiled in Ireland.

The threat to Lars Vilks was a threat against all Swedes, the country's biggest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, proclaimed, adding that the new year axe attack on a Danish cartoonist for drawing the Prophet meant that Scandinavian values of openness were being assaulted.

The drawing by Mr Vilks was published overnight in the Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter and Expressen newspapers and the Malmo daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet, in defence of one of the cornerstones of Sweden's constitution. This states that Swedes have the right to freedom of speech and cannot be retrained from the lawful expression of their views.

The newspapers stopped short, however, of running the cartoon on their websites because of their wider accessibility around the world. Islam forbids representations being made of the Prophet.

"In September 2007, al-Qa'ida leaders set a price on Swedish artist Lars Vilks's head," said Dagens Nyheter in an editorial comment. His "alleged crime" was to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed as a "roundabout dog"; a type of street installation popular in Sweden where sculptures are often placed in the middle of roundabouts.

"The threats are attacks on one of the most fundamental rights - the freedom of speech - and should be viewed as a wider treat against an open and free society," the editorial stated.

Gunilla Herlitz, the Dagens Nyheter editor-in-chief, defended the reprinting of the cartoon as a legitimate part of the story of the day. "I believe that, in this case, the cartoon is a part of the news and therefore we would like to show the readers what this is all about. But the cartoon is published in a context and is not the leading picture on the page."


The Goddess That Failed

By Phyllis Chesler

For years now, newly arrived refugees have been contacting me. They write to tell me that they’ve lost nearly everybody they once knew. Their whole world is gone now. Some whisper over the phone. Others write long letters. They ask me how I’ve managed.

I am talking about ideological refugees from feminism, leftism, gay liberation, socialism, and progressivism.

Yesterday, I received a letter from someone in Berkeley. She tells me that, earlier this week, she was “overjoyed to see the feisty Tikvah students on the steps of Sproul Plaza giving out Israeli flags and t-shirts and dancing in circles,” and how afterwards, some “went to confront the theatre of the absurd, enacting the checkpoints.” Referring to the feminist movement in Berkeley, she asks: “Could you ever have believed it? From anti-patriarchy to pro-Hamas in a few decades?” Her letter continues: "That you exist and are doing this work means a great deal to me. So far, I have found ONE new friend who comes from the same Jewish lesbian feminist cultural lineage of the 1970s. Neither of us has many friends from the old days we can comfortably talk to anymore, although I still try. I thought I had the smartest bunch of women assembled for a lifetime but I was wrong."

Last night a friend of forty years came to visit me. She is especially dear to me because she is among a handful of people from that era with whom I can still talk. At best, the rest are frozen in amber, as they perpetually relive their own, long-ago moment in the sun. They have not evolved in history, they are relics; or, they have kept doing the same thing over and over again, thinking the same thoughts, focusing on the same issues. At worse, they have become Stalinized and “Palestinianized.” In either case, no honest conversation between us is possible. In 2005, five years ago (!), I wrote about this in The Death of Feminism; I doubt that many feminists read it.

Please understand: I am a sentimental and sociable woman and for such reasons, I might have continued to talk to the useful idiots who routinely demonize Israel and America, romanticize jihad and the Islamic Veil, and slander freedom fighters as “fascist Islamophobes.” Luckily, they condemned me. After years of kissing up, they shunned me, attacked my work, sullied my reputation —or they simply “disappeared” that work from their collective memories. They did not invite me to speak at conferences or at memorial services for feminists whom I’d once loved and with whom I’d worked for years. These conferences and funerals were all being filmed for the archives — and my fine feminist comrades needed to create a “revisionist” history, one in which no Zionists, no American patriots, no defenders of Western civilization could appear.

It was an excellent education. I am grateful to them for it. But now, there is no going back. I understand that we were never “friends,” only “fellow travelers.” When I departed from and dared to criticize the Party Line, I no longer existed.

Am I ready to write my own personal Darkness at Noon? (By the great Arthur Koestler) Or The God That Failed? (By Ignazio Silone, Richard Wright, Andre Gide, Louis Fischer, Stephen Spender, and Koestler). Perhaps — but not quite. I have not stopped being the kind of feminist I’ve always been. Many others who call themselves feminists interpret that word far differently than I do.

But, there are major feminist exceptions and they include all those feminists who work for womens’ health and against pornography, prostitution, and trafficking, and who “staff” all the violence against women areas. Even here though, the fate of Western civilization is far from their minds. They are in the trenches, drowning in female blood, and they do not look up to see the jihadists coming, nor can they desert their posts long enough to survey the distant trenches that overflow with Muslim female blood, Muslim gay blood, infidel blood. They are also connected, for reasons of sentimentality and funding, to the less saintly, more “mean girl” kind of feminists.

A friend wants to give me a seventieth birthday party later this year. First, I said “I won’t come.” She persisted and asked me for a guest list which spanned the last fifty years. I remained poignantly silent. Said she: “If you don’t give me a guest list I’ll start inviting…” and she named twenty people, none of whom I wish to see in an intimate, social setting ever again in this lifetime.

This sobered me right up. This is not me. Indeed, I’ve changed. Hallelujah!

I now understand that when political intimates betray their own ideals in a way that endangers real people, destroys real lives — this cannot be glossed over. There is no going back. There is only a war to fight. Totalitarianism either stands or it falls. Barbarism is defeated or it overcomes civilization. Either Western values (which include human rights, women’s rights, religious tolerance, freedom of speech, etc.) prevail or they are lost.



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

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

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


10 March, 2010

Geert Wilders Speech, House of Lords, London, Friday the 5th of March 2010

Thank you. It is great to be back in London. And it is great that this time, I got to see more of this wonderful city than just the detention centre at Heathrow Airport. Today I stand before you, in this extraordinary place. Indeed, this is a sacred place. This is, as Malcolm always says, the mother of all Parliaments, I am deeply humbled to have the opportunity to speak before you. Thank you Lord Pearson and Lady Cox for your invitation and showing my film ‘Fitna’. Thank you my friends for inviting me.

I first have great news. Last Wednesday city council elections were held in the Netherlands. And for the first time my party, the Freedom Party, took part in these local elections. We participated in two cities. In Almere, one of the largest Dutch cities. And in The Hague, the third largest city; home of the government, the parliament and the queen. And, we did great! In one fell swoop my party became the largest party in Almere and the second largest party in The Hague. Great news for the Freedom Party and even better news for the people of these two beautiful cities.

And I have more good news. Two weeks ago the Dutch government collapsed. In June we will have parliamentary elections. And the future for the Freedom Party looks great. According to some polls we will become the largest party in the Netherlands. I want to be modest, but who knows, I might even be Prime Minister in a few months time!

Ladies and gentlemen, not far from here stands a statue of the greatest Prime Minister your country ever had. And I would like to quote him here today: “Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. No stronger retrograde force exists in the World. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step (…) the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” These words are from none other than Winston Churchill wrote this in his book ‘The River War’ from 1899.

Churchill was right. Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have a problem and my party does not have a problem with Muslims as such. There are many moderate Muslims. The majority of Muslims are law-abiding citizens and want to live a peaceful life as you and I do. I know that. That is why I always make a clear distinction between the people, the Muslims, and the ideology, between Islam and Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims, but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.

Islam strives for world domination. The Quran commands Muslims to exercise jihad. The Quran commands Muslims to establish shariah law. The Quran commands Muslims to impose Islam on the entire world. As former Turkish Prime Minister Erbakan said: “The whole of Europe will become Islamic. We will conquer Rome”. End of quote.

Libyan dictator Gaddafi said: “There are tens of millions of Muslims in the European continent today and their number is on the increase. This is the clear indication that the European continent will be converted into Islam. Europe will one day soon be a Muslim continent”. End of quote. Indeed, for once in his life, Gaddafi was telling the truth. Because, remember: mass immigration and demographics is destiny!

Islam is merely not a religion, it is mainly a totalitarian ideology. Islam wants to dominate all aspects of life, from the cradle to the grave. Shariah law is a law that controls every detail of life in a Islamic society. From civic- and family law to criminal law. It determines how one should eat, dress and even use the toilet. Oppression of women is good, drinking alcohol is bad.

I believe that Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life. Islam is a threat to Western values. The equality of men and women, the equality of homosexuals and heterosexuals, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, they are all under pressure because of islamization. Ladies and gentlemen: Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are not compatible. It are opposite values.

No wonder that Winston Churchill called Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ “the new Quran of faith and war, turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message”. As you know, Churchill made this comparison, between the Koran and Mein Kampf, in his book ‘The Second World War’, a masterpiece for which, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill’s comparison of the Quran and ‘Mein Kampf’ is absolutely spot on. The core of the Quran is the call to jihad. Jihad means a lot of things and is Arabic for battle. Kampf is German for battle. Jihad and kampf mean exactly the same.

Islam means submission, there cannot be any mistake about its goal. That’s a given. The question is whether we in Europe and you in Britain, with your glorious past, will submit or stand firm for your heritage.

We see Islam taking off in the West at an incredible pace. Europe is Islamizing rapidly. A lot of European cities have enormous Islamic concentrations. Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin are just a few examples. In some parts of these cities, Islamic regulations are already being enforced. Women’s rights are being destroyed. Burqa’s, headscarves, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honour-killings. Women have to go to separate swimming-classes, don’t get a handshake. In many European cities there is already apartheid. Jews, in an increasing number, are leaving Europe.

As you undoubtedly all know, better than I do, also in your country the mass immigration and islamization has rapidly increased. This has put an enormous pressure on your British society. Look what is happening in for example Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and here in London. British politicians who have forgotten about Winston Churchill have now taken the path of least resistance. They have given up. They have given in.

Last year, my party requested the Dutch government to make a cost-benefit analysis of mass immigration. But the government refused to give us an answer. Why? Because it is afraid of the truth. The signs are not good. A Dutch weekly magazine - Elsevier - calculated costs to exceed 200 billion Euros. Last year alone, they came with an amount of 13 billion Euros. More calculations have been made in Europe: According to the Danish national bank, every Danish immigrant from an Islamic country is costing the Danish state more than 300 thousand Euros. You see the same in Norway and France. The conclusion that can be drawn from this: Europe is getting more impoverished by the day. More impoverished thanks to mass immigration. More impoverished thanks to demographics. And the leftists are thrilled.

I don't know whether it is true, but in several British newspapers I read that Labour opened the door to mass immigration in a deliberate policy to change the social structures of the UK. Andrew Neather, a former government advisor and speech writer for Tony Blair and Jack Straw, said the aim of Labour’s immigration strategy was, and I quote, to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date”. If this is true, this is symptomatic of the Left.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: The left is facilitating islamization. Leftists, liberals, are cheering for every new shariah bank being created, for every new shariah mortgage, for every new Islamic school, for every new shariah court. Leftists consider Islam as being equal to our own culture. Shariah law or democracy? Islam or freedom? It doesn’t really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire leftist elite is guilty of practising cultural relativism. Universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians. They are all betraying our hard-won liberties.

Why I ask myself, why have the Leftists and liberals stopped to fight for them? Once the Leftists stood on the barricades for women’s rights. But where are they today? Where are they in 2010? They are looking the other way. Because they are addicted to cultural relativism and dependent on the Muslim vote. They are dependent on mass-immigration.

Thank heavens Jacqui Smith isn’t in office anymore. It was a victory for free speech that a UK judge brushed aside her decision to refuse me entry to your country last year. I hope that the judges in my home country are at least as wise and will acquit me of all charges, later this year in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, so far they have not done so well. For they do not want to hear the truth about Islam, nor are they interested to hear the opinion of top class legal experts in the field of freedom of expression. Last month in a preliminary session the Court refused fifteen of the eighteen expert-witnesses I had requested to be summoned.

Only three expert witnesses are allowed to be heard. Fortunately, my dear friend and heroic American psychiatrist dr. Wafa Sultan is one of them. But their testimony will be heard behind closed doors. Apparently the truth about Islam must not be told in public, the truth about Islam must remain secret.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m being prosecuted for my political beliefs. We know political prosecution to exist in countries in the Middle East, like Iran and Saudi-Arabia, but never in Europe, never in the Netherlands. I’m being prosecuted for comparing the Quran to ‘Mein Kampf’. Ridiculous. I wonder if Britain will ever put the beliefs of Winston Churchill on trial… Ladies and gentlemen, the political trial that is held against me has to stop.

But it is not all about me, not about Geert Wilders. Free speech is under attack. Let me give you a few other examples. As you perhaps know, one of my heroes, the Italian author Oriana Fallaci had to live in fear of extradition to Switzerland because of her anti-Islam book 'The Rage and the Pride'. The Dutch cartoonist Nekschot was arrested in his home in Amsterdam by 10 policemen because of his anti-Islam drawings. Here in Britain, the American author Rachel Ehrenfeld was sued by a Saudi businessman for defamation. In the Netherlands Ayaan Hirsi Ali and in Australia two Christian pastors were sued. I could go on and on. Ladies and gentlemen, all throughout the West freedom-loving people are facing this ongoing ‘legal jihad’. This is Islamic ‘lawfare’. And, ladies and gentlemen, not long ago the Danish cartoonist Westergaard was almost assassinated for his cartoons.

Ladies and gentlemen, we should defend the right to freedom of speech. With all our strength. With all our might. Free speech is the most important of our many liberties. Free speech is the cornerstone of our modern societies. Freedom of speech is the breath of our democracy, without freedom of speech our way of life our freedom will be gone.

I believe it is our obligation to preserve the inheritance of the brave young soldiers that stormed the beaches of Normandy. That liberated Europe from tyranny. These heroes cannot have died for nothing. It is our obligation to defend freedom of speech. As George Orwell said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in another policy, it is time for change. We must make haste. We can’t wait any longer. Time is running out. If I may quote one of my favourite American presidents: Ronald Reagan once said: “We need to act today, to preserve tomorrow”. That is why I propose the following measures, I only mention a few, in order to preserve our freedom:

* First, we will have to defend freedom of speech. It is the most important of our liberties. In Europe and certainly in the Netherlands, we need something like the American First Amendment.

* Second, we will have to end and get rid of cultural relativism. To the cultural relativists, the shariah socialists, I proudly say: Our Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. Don't be affraid to say it. You are not a racist when you say that our own culture is better.

* Third, we will have to stop mass immigration from Islamic countries. Because more Islam means less freedom.

Fourth, we will have to expel criminal immigrants and, following denaturalisation, we will have to expel criminals with a dual nationality. And there are many of them in my country.

* Fifth, we will have to forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in Europe. Especially since Christians in Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia are mistreated, there should be a mosque building-stop in the West.

* And last but not least, we will have to get rid of all those so-called leaders. I said it before: Fewer Chamberlains, more Churchills. Let's elect real leaders.

Ladies and gentlemen. To the previous generation, that of my parents, the word ‘London’ is synonymous with hope and freedom. When my country was occupied by the national-socialists the BBC offered a daily glimpse of hope in my country, in the darkness of Nazi tyranny. Millions of my fellow country men listened to it, underground. The words ‘This is London’ were a symbol for a better world coming soon.

What will be broadcasted forty years from now? Will it still be “This is London”? Or will it be “This is Londonistan”? Will it bring us hope? Or will it signal the values of Mecca and Medina? Will Britain offer submission or perseverance? Freedom or slavery? The choice is yours. And in the Netherlands the choice is ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, we will never apologize for being free. We will and should never give in. And, indeed, as one of your former leaders said: We will never surrender. Freedom must prevail, and freedom will prevail. Thank you very much.


Black racism

Bigotry is not dead in America, but it is a lot more diverse than it used to be. That's the best way we can think of to sum up an interesting kerfuffle reported last week by the Washington Post. It involves step dancing, a performance idiom popular among black fraternities and sororities--"a hybrid of military drills, cheerleading and synchronized dance."

A decade and a half ago, a white sorority at the University of Arkansas was introduced to the world of step dancing:
In Fayetteville, Ark., the Epsilon chapter of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority [has] been stepping for some 16 years. [Alexandra] Kosmitis, who has been stepping with her sorority since she came on campus three years ago, said the chapter had been introduced to the tradition by a black sorority during a "unity night," when white and black Greek organizations swap traditions, in the mid-1990s. Her sorority kept it up each year, competing on campus.
This year, the Zetas entered the Sprite Step Off competition in Atlanta, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Co. Trouble erupted when they won:
When the team finished--to wild applause--emcee Ryan Cameron, a local radio personality, rushed onstage: "Whoa! Wow!" Then he playfully admonished the sold-out crowd of 4,600 fans, nearly all of them black, not to be so surprised that the evening's only white contestants were that good.
"Close your mouth! Close your mouth!" he said with a laugh. "Stepping is for everybody. If you can step, you can step."
But later, when it was announced that the Zetas won, the feel-good vibe evaporated. Large sections of the crowd starting booing. Then Internet and radio-call-in warfare broke out when the videos were posted on YouTube. There were allegations of cultural theft and reverse racism, not to mention race-based taunting and name-calling.
Five days after the competition, Coca-Cola officials said they had discovered a "scoring discrepancy" and awarded the first prize, $100,000 in scholarship, to both the Zetas and the team that came in second, Indiana University's chapter of the black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. The Post implies that a little reverse affirmative action was at work, noting that the supposed discrepancy "was odd, because the show's host, rapper Ludacris, assured the crowd that the judges' scores had been 'double-checked.' "

Anthony Antoine, a "a community activist and HIV prevention coordinator in Atlanta" who posted video of the Zeta routine to YouTube, is disheartened:
"I watched a grass-roots effort of young people, black and white, play a key role in putting Barack Obama in the White House, and I thought it said so much about the best of this generation of America," Antoine, 40, said in a telephone interview this week. "And then some white girls win a step competition and it exposes the worst of this generation of America."
One might respond that if this is the worst that this generation has to offer, America is doing pretty well. Two or three generations ago, a black man needed military backup to go to school at the University of Mississippi. Even a single generation ago--around the time today's step-dancers were born--we saw race riots on the streets of Los Angeles.

Yet the episode does point to an aspect in which racial progress has been deficient. In this day and age, it is difficult to imagine the step-dancing situation in reverse--i.e., a black person or team excelling in a traditionally white activity and being met with racial hostility from educated young whites. Surely the reason for this has something to do with what young people are taught about race. Today's rules of racial etiquette are not reciprocal. Whites are taught to respect blacks, but blacks are not taught to respect whites.


Labour Party lies about crime revealed

The true scale of how violent crime has grown under Labour has been disclosed by Whitehall officials. Violent attacks are estimated to be 44 per cent higher than they were in 1998 after research on the way police record them allowed comparisons for the first time. The study, by the independent House of Commons Library, shows violence against the person increased from 618,417 to 887,942 last year. The devastating review comes despite repeated claims by the Government that violent crime has come down substantially since it took power.

It is the first time such a trend in police recorded crime can be made because a change was made in counting rules in 2002 which ministers have always insisted meant figures before that date were not, therefore, comparable. Instead, they have always used a separate the separate British Crime Survey which suggests violence has dropped by more than 40 per cent since 1998. The Tories, who requested the new research, said the findings make a mockery of such claims and reinforce the public's fear that violence is in fact rising.

Statiticians in the Commons Library have used a previous Home Office estimate on the effect of the change in counting rules to estimate the impact on previous figures, had those rules been in place then.

Just last week, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said violent crime had dropped by 1.5 million offences under Labour before attempting to blame a growing fear of crime on the Tories for "ramping up" public panic.

One criminologist accused the Government of "scheming and manipulation" who knew it was in their interests to avoid historical comparisons. The figures will also be a boost for the Conservatives who were accused by the head of the Statistics Authority of damaging public trust with their use of statistics on violent crime.

Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the authority, warned Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, that comparisons of police information on violent attacks between the late 1990s and 2008-9 were "likely to mislead the public" as it omitted Home Office warnings that the figures for periods before 2002 were not comparable. However, that comparison can now be made and shows recorded crime has continued to rise sharply in the last decade.

The row centres on the implementation of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2002 which aimed to harmonise the way police recorded offences. Prior to that date, officers had more discretion to decided whether a crime had been committed and the system left the possibility of offences not being recorded. The change put the onus on recording the basis of whether the victim believed an offence had occurred, which led to an almost immediate increase in crime figures.

The research by the Commons Library uses an estimate by the Home Office that the change is likely to have resulted in a 23 per cent increase in recorded violent crime. On that basis, it estimates the official figure in 1998/99 of 502,778 would in fact have been 618,417 had the new counting rules been in force. Recorded violence in 2008/09 was 903,993 but 15,500 offences have been subtracted as they were recorded by the British Transport Police, whose figures were not included in 1998/99, resulting in the 887,942 figure.

It is in stark contrast with the British Crime Survey, which questions more than 40,000 people, which reports violent crime has dropped from 3.5 million to 2.1 million over the same period. The BCS also does not include certain offence, including murder and other homicides and offences committed by under 16-year-olds. [Amazing!]

Mr Grayling said: "This new analysis confirms that the level of violent crime actually reported to police officers in police stations up and down the country is much higher than it was a decade ago. "This just serves to underline the scale of the challenge the country faces in fixing our broken society. "Over the past couple of weeks we have seen a series of horrendous violent crimes committed around the country. Whatever the statistical debates it is absolutely clear that we have deep rooted problems that just have to be tackled.”

David Green, criminologist and director of Civitas, said the Government had a reputation for "scheming and manipulation", adding: "I think the Government knew perfectly well in 2002/03 that it would be very helpful to say 'sorry we cannot go back beyond this date' because they did not want a consistent historical series." Mr Green, who was a member of a Home Office Crime Statistics Review Group, which in 2006 recommended improvements in the collection of the crime figures, added: "It is very revealing and fits intuitively with what many people feel and what many people have been saying, if anecdotal. "For people to feel that violent crime is going up and to be told they are suffering from moral panic has always been of some concern."

In a major speech on crime last week, Mr Brown said: "Crime is falling. Fact. Down by more than a third since 1997. Fact. That’s 6 million fewer crimes each year. Fact. Almost 1 million fewer homes burgled. Fact. Almost 1 and a half million fewer violent crimes. Fact." He went on to claim the Conservatives had "cultivated" fears by abusing official statistics and claiming society was broken. He insisted that crime had come down under Labour but his own Government's figures show some forms of offences, including violence, were still on the rise.

But figures last November showed that the number of violent attacks committed by strangers had hit its highest level for at least a decade, now standing at the equivalent of 2,896 people every day. Strangers are responsible for half of all violent crime.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said: "Chris Grayling has tried to get cover for his dodgy use of crime statistics and has failed. "As Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, states, the British Crime Survey is widely regarded as the most accurate way of recording crime levels, "This clearly shows a reduction in violent crime of 41 per cent since 1997."


Australia: NSW getting tough on Muslims who do not assimilate

The reference to Muslims is not explicit but "He said the laws of Australia would now be recognised above people's cultural backgrounds" gives the game away. No Sharia

New migrants from all ethnic backgrounds will have to "demonstrate a unified commitment to Australia" under new state laws. For the first time multiculturalism legislation will also talk about "shared values" after changes were approved at a State Cabinet meeting yesterday. Until now the Community Relations and Principles of Multiculturalism Act stated all institutions and people had to "respect and make provision for the culture, language and religion of others".

Community Relations Commission chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian said the law change would create a new definition of multiculturalism. "We're not telling people to change their religion - we're not telling people to all look the same," he said. "There are some things where we have to be all the same. Those things are the way we obey the law and the way we demonstrate our commitment to Australia. "What this [change] does, it says that while we accept that Australians have different languages, backgrounds, they may speak different languages at home, they may have different religions, different ethnic groups, the bottom line is we have some common values.

"As Australians we all have a commitment to this country." He said the laws of Australia would now be recognised above people's cultural backgrounds.


Germaine Greer is an intellectual Paris Hilton

"A woman who sought attention more than revolution"

By Janet Albrechtsen

FEMINIST Germaine Greer is being lauded this week for living her beliefs. She is financially independent, alone, beholden to no one. Forty years after publishing The Female Eunuch, Greer is blissfully free. But there is a more pertinent question. Is Greer happy? If she is, she does a good job hiding it.

One of my girlfriends was very excited when, last year, she heard I was going to share the panel on ABC1's Q&A with Australia's most famous feminist. Alas, my friend pines for Gough Whitlam, so she and I were always going to have a different perspective.

That said, Greer is the author of what is regarded as a seminal feminist work, so credit where it's due, I thought. But to meet her is to encounter a grouchy old woman wedded to a bitter philosophy about men, women, love and life. Forty years on, there is simply no reason to celebrate Greer's sour feminism. Instead let us celebrate that Greer's revolution has not come to pass.

Of course, when the lights are turned on, the cameras focused and the audience awaits, Greer turns on the charm. With a voice made for the stage and a sharp wit, television producers and arts organisers love her.

Behind the scenes, Greer is a series of grunts and grumbles. Entering the ABC's make-up studio last October, I cheerily walked over to Greer and introduced myself. She replied with an inaudible grunt. A moment later, she grumbled to the make-up lady about a young relative staying with her who enjoyed watching the 1953 romantic comedy Roman Holiday. "Why would a girl watch such rubbish" she boomed. Why not? It beats the over-sexed shows my teenagers sneak in.

Then Greer grumbled around the green room where we assembled before going on air, muttering about her agent this, her agent that. More grumbling when she spotted a copy of The Australian on the coffee table in front of her. What a terrible newspaper, she said to no one in particular. Perhaps, not unreasonably, she expected the ABC to provide a copy of Green Left Weekly.

Of course, Greer is a committed Marxist whose revolution never came. So go easy on the word influential. It's true that women are far more sexually liberated now than in 1970. No doubt Greer helped remove the shackles. But Greer's thesis was much broader than her attention-seeking advice that women taste their menstrual blood to be at ease with their bodies. In the final chapter of The Female Eunuch, Revolution, she wrote that independent women should not marry, the family unit was a rotten environment to rear children, the trappings of consumerism were evil, and wearing make-up and nice clothes was wrong. Instead, women should live together in communes, sharing work and appliances, cooking to no timetable and using just a bit of kohl eyeliner for fun. "Revolution," she wrote, "is the festival of the oppressed."

Had my mother read The Female Eunuch, she -- roughly the same age as Greer -- would have laughed at this as the self-indulgent musings of a woman who sought attention more than revolution. And time would prove my mother right. Witness Greer's eager participation in those crass capitalist by-products, Big Brother UK, Big Brother's Little Brother and Big Brother's Big Mouth. Now famous for being famous, her thirst for celebrity far outstrips her influence as feminist. In a way, Greer has become the intellectual version of Paris Hilton.

Alas, like most working-class women, my mother did not read Greer's feminist bible or join the festival. Too busy working and racing home in the afternoons to care for children, women such as my mother and grandmother practised their own, quieter, form of feminism. They had no time for such ivory tower dreaming.

Even today among Greer's biggest fan base, the well-educated middle class, her vision never got off the ground. Most women still marry, have babies and believe -- with plenty of evidence to support them -- that the family unit is best for children. Most enjoy the trappings of capitalist society and recognise that capitalism has improved their lives, not to mention millions of other lives. With a make-up collection that extends beyond a kohl pencil, many are happy with those choices.

Is it possible that women revere Greer precisely because they haven't read her book? In fact, I'm guessing Greer's book is one of those books people lie about having read to sound, you know, intellectual.

If so, they haven't missed much. Reading The Female Eunuch last week was like watching a "look at moi, look at moi" scene from Kath & Kim. And that is the thing about Greer's positions through the years. They have been all about her. When she was young and sexy, she proclaimed the virtues of sex, anywhere, with anyone, anytime. There were no limits when it came to sexual love or sex without love. She was the "Saucy Feminist That Even Men Like" on the 1971 cover of Life magazine and openly admitted that during her three-week marriage in 1969 she slept with many others.

By her late 40s, Greer appeared to decide (or was it the market talking?) that her sex life was over. In an interview with Steve Chapple and David Talbot in Burning Desires: Sex in America published in 1989, Greer said she found love and sex boring. "I spent most of the best years of my life trying to get it right and I'm just delighted not to be worried by it any more. I really couldn't care less." Masturbation? "Basically dull. I think we can all agree on that . . . Doctors now prescribe it, certain proof that it's deeply dull," she said. Oral sex? "It's like being attacked by a giant snail. I prefer conversation."

By this stage of her life, Greer was looking fondly at Islamic societies and the segregation of men and women. Then, she started looking at teenage boys and the "the sperm that flows like tap water". Imagine the outcry if another woman had said that.

Greer says a lot of tosh. A sexy, sassy young woman can get away with it when people look more than they listen. Now older, not even a sharp, articulate tongue can save her from the fact she speaks no more for Australian women -- or any women -- than Barry McKenzie speaks for Australian men.

Greer is entitled to her shifting positions and failed endeavours, but having lost her interest in sex and love, she is now the killjoy spoiling everyone else's fun. If Greer is the pin-up girl for her beliefs, it's not surprising that millions of women have chosen, and will continue to choose, a very different path.

SOURCE *************************

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

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

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


9 March, 2010

The British Labour Party's cult of secrecy is an insult to all Britons

Just weeks before a general election, the prime minister provides a photo-opportunity of himself, posing with our brave boys in Afghanistan. A few hours later, it is announced that no reporters will be permitted to visit the front line during that election campaign, lest what they see and hear should influence the outcome.

Justice minister Jack Straw tells parliament he will not disclose the reason why Jamie Bulger's killer Jon Venables has been returned to prison, lest this prejudice possible future criminal proceedings.

And on Sunday, the BBC's Panorama reported that more than 60 per cent of NHS hospital trusts provide the public with inaccurate information about their performance.

Here, within the space of a few days, is an extraordinary range of examples of the manner in which official secrecy routinely operates in Britain, all year round. The alleged right of the Government and institutions to withhold information - even on issues of the utmost importance to the public interest - is exercised again and again, at the convenience of ministers and civil servants.

In 21st century Britain, a chasm now exists: between the feast of information the sovereign and corporate states possess about us and the crumbs they disclose about themselves. Each of us knows that records of our phone calls, finances, household circumstances, shopping transactions and even physical movements are monitored by thousands of computers and tens of thousands of CCTV cameras.

Perhaps you, like me, have become increasingly reluctant to conduct online shopping transactions that demand, say, 20 lines of personal details. We are aware that such information is likely to be broadcast and sold to scores of other organisations, regardless of whether or not we tick the box for non-disclosure. Making such tiny gestures to protect our privacy is futile amid the floodtide of data that is already jamming networks.

The Government, in contrast, discloses information about its own workings and those of public bodies like a miser paying his bills in 10p coins on the last day of the month. It knows almost everything about us - but we are told vastly less about them than we rightfully should be. The Afghan example above is grotesque. British forces are engaged in a serious war on the far side of the world. The Government has handled it badly - recklessly, even - above all, by under-resourcing. Many soldiers are understandably bitter, as almost every day they experience the consequences of trying to do too much with too little. This is embarrassing for our Government and should be a source of personal shame to the prime minister, if he was capable of such a sentiment.

But it is extraordinary that the Ministry of Defence should deem it acceptable to deny frontline access to the media ahead of polling day, lest reporters discover things that further damage New Labour.

Such behaviour, however, is institutionalised. Take another example: in recent months, evidence has emerged that the huge increase in immigration to Britain since 1997 was endorsed by the Blair regime in pursuit of its own political ends. Some of its principals favoured immigration as a social engineering tool. Blair believed a large influx of immigrants would irreversibly alter the character of Britain towards becoming a multicultural and more left-leaning society. Not only was any hint of such motives concealed at the time, but documentation on this supremely sensitive issue remains to this day locked in Whitehall files.

It is striking to contrast the manner in which this country conducts its official business with that of the United States. Across the Atlantic, there is an overwhelming presumption in favour of disclosure. Congressional committees constantly demand - and receive - information about the inner workings of government departments that in Britain would never be revealed to their parliamentary counterparts.

In the U.S. the Freedom of Information Act really means what it claims - an ordinary individual can exercise a right to be shown material, not least about themselves, which would be denied over here.

In Britain, the demands of security are routinely cited to conceal blunders. Remember the 2008 Gulf fiasco? British sailors and Royal Marines were captured by the Iranians in an incident that became a national humiliation. Some months later, the then defence secretary, the egregious Des Browne, told the Commons that an internal inquiry had been held. But he announced that its entire report was being classified, on security grounds. The Tories limply - and quite wrongly - acquiesced in this.

There were genuine security issues in some parts of the report, which it would have been right to blank out. But concealment of the whole document was designed simply to spare the blushes of the Royal Navy's top brass. Secrecy was abused for convenience, not security. The MoD should never have been allowed to get away with hiding its dirty linen.

More recently, of course, there was last year's Commons expenses scandal. From beginning to end, MPs fought tooth and nail to prevent the disclosure of their abuse of public funds. Their rearguard action was led by the then Speaker, the appalling Michael Martin, today a peer, if you please. Day after day in the courts, at taxpayers' expense, Martin struggled to conceal first the details of his own excesses and then those of hundreds of MPs. In the end, thank goodness, he lost and we won. Every window-box and lavatory seat was exposed. But how can MPs be surprised by the public's abiding suspicion and, indeed, contempt for the system? They strove to defend the indefensible to save their skins.

Most of us find it easy to define the criteria for protecting or revealing official secrets. There is a real public interest in concealing some processes of government, especially diplomacy, for a period of time. There is, however, no public interest in protecting ministers and officials who have blundered from embarrassment.

How many people suppose the details of Jon Venables's reimprisonment are being concealed merely to serve justice? How many, instead, think the justice department's overriding concern is to shield those who released him in the first place?

No U.S. government would dare to exclude the media from the Afghan combat zone when the congressional mid-term elections loom. But our government casually imposes a ban - because it is accustomed to getting away with such abuses.

Britain in 2010 is a more open society than it was in, say, 1960, but that is not saying much. The culture of official secrecy, the belief in the Government's right not to tell us things, remains deep-rooted in every inch of Westminster and Whitehall soil. We must dig and hack at it at every turn, insisting that when ministers and officials deny us information, they are challenged.

If legal super-injunctions to protect celebrities from the exposure of their follies represent an abuse of justice, official secrecy again and again proves an abuse of democracy. Politicians will always lie. That is part of their trade, as the panel of the Iraq Inquiry can testify. But the rightful business of a democracy's media and citizens is to ensure that they cannot manipulate the machinery of government to get away with it.


An evil pro-abortionist ignored by the media

Who is Harlan Drake, you say? You may well have forgotten him since the national media uttered barely a peep about his transgressions. After all, while Scott Roeder murdered an abortion doctor, Drake merely murdered a pro-life protester. In the American psyche, the former is a national outrage; the latter offers little worth lamenting. The murder of an abortion doctor will get you expansive amounts of shrill media coverage, an immediate statement from the White House, and a swift Department of Justice promise to step up security and enforcement at abortion clinics around the country. Killing a pro-life protester will not even get you ignominy. It will merely get you, well, ...oblivion.

Not even Harlan Drake disputes that he murdered Jim Pouillon. The only point of debate at the trial is whether Drake was insane at the time. The only point of debate in this writer's mind is whether anyone notices or cares that he did it at all.

Harlan Drake was every bit as meticulous in his assassination of Pouillon in Owosso as Roeder was in his own killing of George Tiller in Wichita. Drake dropped off his nieces at school that morning. He then edged his pickup into the vicinity of pro-life protester, Jim Pouillon. Pouillon, 63, was standing in one of his regular protesting locations on the street corner in front of the high school. Harlan Drake rested his left arm on the car window to steady his right hand as he shot the elderly man. He then pulled the truck still closer to fire again. In all, Drake landed four bullets in the defenseless man's body. Jim Pouillon fell down, then forward, and died right there in the grass. Drake drove away and moved on to murder a former employer, Mike Fuoss, and to search for a third victim, whom he fortunately never located.

What does “Mama” have to do with it? A former Owosso city councilman, Michael Cline, has testified that Harlan Drake's mother, Kimberly Staples, had phoned several days in a row leading up to the murder and asked the councilman to “do something” about the town's 'problem' protester, Jim Pouillon. She told Cline she would “send her boys over to go see Jim.” After the shooting, Cline reported that Staples called him and said “I have solved the city’s problem.” In other words, the defense was very simple: Pouillon needed killing. Mama said so.

Jim Pouillon's tactics in protesting abortion were controversial to be sure. He carried signs with a picture of a healthy baby on one side and a photograph of a dismembered, aborted fetus on the other. He aimed to show passers-by the horrors of abortion. Pouillon's personal history was spotty with a series of family disputes and strained relationships. As a result, Jim Pouillon had few admirers in Owosso, Michigan.

In fact, the local paper, The Argus-Press, said in an editorial five days after the killings, "His sign, often accompanied by his shouting at passers-by, gave his cause, indeed his town of Owosso as well, a bad name." Nothing like blaming the victim for dressing too provocatively.

No evidence of such reputation editorializing emerges from Wichita after the murder of famed abortionist Dr. George Tiller. Evidently, in the public mind, vocally showing people pictures of aborted fetuses is one thing while being the one who actually, but very politely and quietly, does that dismembering is another thing altogether. The former is heinous and disgusting; the latter merely falls into the category of health care, or reproductive “rights.”

Again, Pouillon had few defenders for his pro-life protesting. Many residents found his protestations to be not only repugnant but evil. The trial is underway and should continue for two more weeks, but it will do so without the participation of Owossohites like Judy Jackson, 64, who told one reporter, "I don't agree with someone taking someone's life. But I don't miss the man on the corner or his foul mouth. He would chase you, call you names. He was evil. His pictures were so gross." In other words, to locals like Ms. Jackson, he had it coming. After all, Pouillon was “evil.” He performed the dastardly deed of displaying before human eyes the atrocities of abortion. Tiller? Well, at least he did his deeds in private.

In America, what offends is not so much what you do as it is how you do it. Suction babies out from their mothers' wombs, or stick scissors into their heads if you must, but please we just ask that you not show us the pictures. Actions are actions, but showing pictures is “evil.” Our eyes and our sensibilities are delicate. Our souls clearly are not.

Two men were murdered. One of them performed unspeakable acts of violence against the defenseless. The other showed us the pictures. America does not like pictures. And therein lies the difference between the cause celebre that is Scott Roeder and the quickly forgotten mama's boy, Harlan Drake


The feminist silence about Bill Clinton

By Carrie Sheffield

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will headline soirees for today's (March 8, the original publication date) International Women's Day, a time set aside to honor brave women from around the world. Aside from the fact that the affair has Soviet roots and migrated to the United States via the Socialist Party of America, it's laudable to acknowledge women struggling for progress in all corners of the globe. Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice celebrated the occasion as well.

As Mrs. Clinton distributes laurels to brave women from places such as Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, she may reflect on perhaps the biggest barrier that obstructed her own career: her misogynist husband.

As reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin write in their newly released book, "Game Change," party leaders worried about Bill Clinton's ongoing sexual misconduct helping sink Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign.

According to Mr. Halperin and Mr. Heilemann, party donors and senior leaders such as Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, saw the perennially aroused Mr. Clinton as a heavy albatross around his wife's neck, and so they looked elsewhere for their candidate. Their worries went far past Monicagate to a lifestyle Mr. Clinton embraced in Chappaqua and beyond.

Since leaving the presidency, Mr. Clinton has trotted the globe doing some valuable work through his Clinton Foundation, including attempts to empower impoverished women. But the sad irony is that he has an ongoing track record of abusing his powerful position to lure women into sexual submission, and his wife's career has suffered for it.

While I'm no big fan of Mrs. Clinton, anytime I see a woman held back because of her man's inability to keep his pants on, my inner feminist starts screaming. Yet there is profound silence from the largely Democratic, establishment feminist movement around Mr. Clinton's double-faced life and the extreme disrespect he shows for his wife.

Perhaps the Clintons have made some private, kinky truce under which each partner is allowed to boink whomever he or she likes. But if that's the case, why the facade of family solidarity and public wifey-boosting from Bill? Why not become like our European friends across the pond who adamantly and openly separate a public official's private life from his or her personal life? The answer is that here in the United States, we expect more from our leaders.

What bothers me most about Mr. Clinton's post-office career is that he doesn't acknowledge the damaging effect his brazen hanky-panky has on women who are trying to free themselves from chauvinistic societies plagued by Neanderthalic ideals of female subjugation. Reputation is a powerful thing. Why should men in the developing world respect their wives and quit abusing powerful positions to satisfy their bodily proclivities when a leader of the Free World continues to hamper women's progress?

It happens here, too. Mr. Halperin and Mr. Heilemann write that now-Sen. Claire McCaskill admitted that she kiboshed a run for governor of Missouri because she was worried that Mrs. Clinton might top the 2008 party ticket, testosterone-high hubbie in tow. "I had a lot of problems with some of his personal issues," Mrs. McCaskill told Tim Russert in 2006. "I said at the time, 'I think he's been a great leader, but I don't want my daughter near him.' "

Of course, Mrs. McCaskill seems to have rebounded; a Senate seat is hardly subjugation. However, she is the exception rather than the rule. Just ask would-be President Hillary Clinton, who saw her dream unraveled thanks to Mr. Clinton's imprudence. Why won't she just leave him? The answer, of course, is complicated.

Mrs. Clinton, whose policy positions I find less than appealing, is trapped in a marriage of convenience that is full of symbiotic benefits from Mr. Clinton. She likely couldn't have risen so high without him, and vice versa. But her fate is tied to his adolescent cravings, and she, like so many women around the world, has hit a glass ceiling held in place by a man's libido.

Today we'll see if Mrs. Clinton has the courage to break free from the machismo order and set an example for women around the world trapped in repressive societies. We'll see if Mr. Clinton renounces his juvenile traipsing and apologizes for turning back the clock on women's progress. That would be miraculous, indeed.


Australia: Rights bill is still a threat

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

NEXT Wednesday, Frank Brennan is due to speak to the Labor Party caucus. Brennan chaired the Attorney-General's committee that came out in favour of a statutory bill of rights.

Brennan was described, when that committee was set up, as a fence-sitter, a disinterested person. Of course that label was nonsense. Before being appointed, Brennan had been on the record more than once as being in favour of Australia enacting a statutory bill of rights. In fact Attorney-General Robert McClelland didn't appoint a single known bill-of-rights opponent or sceptic.

Still, public opposition to this statutory bill of rights proposal, including among a big chunk of the Attorney-General's Labor Party colleagues, has been such that we learned a fortnight ago that cabinet was not treating a statutory bill of rights as a high priority. That's a polite way of saying nothing will happen before the next election.

Enter Brennan and the invitation offered to him by Labor Party proponents of a bill to speak to caucus. Presumably the hope is that Brennan will stiffen the spine of the government and get it to think again. Let's hope not. I'm a long-time opponent of these anti-democratic instruments and the Rudd government was brave to stand up to the chardonnay-sipping lawyers' wing of the party over this.

But what will Brennan say to caucus this Wednesday? Here's my bet. He will tell them that unless Australia enacts a statutory bill, our jurisprudence and judges' decisions will no longer be referred to by top judges in Canada, New Zealand, Britain and Europe. (Americans rarely refer to foreign precedents.)

He'll paint the spectre of isolation and urge caucus to think again. Here's why they should ignore Brennan.

To start, the claim about being isolated jurisprudentially on rights issues if you lack a bill of rights is largely false. When you buy a bill of rights, all you're really getting is the views of unelected judges rather than of elected legislators. But there's no reason judicial views should be more morally attuned or rights-respecting than those of elected legislators.

Take free speech. People in Australia have more freedom to say what they want than do Canadians. Look at hate speech or campaign finance rules or defamation regimes. Canada, which for 28 years has had one of the strongest bills of rights, has noticeably more restrictions on speech than we do here.

In fact, last year Canada's Supreme Court referred specifically to our High Court's views in changing their defamation law. The case was called Torstar. It hardly showed Australia being isolated on issues of free speech.

But if, for the sake of argument, the cost of not having such a bill of rights is that Australian top judges feel a tad isolated when next they jet off to international conferences, that's frankly a cost that is worth bearing. After all, we're talking about transferring power to unelected judges. We're talking about inroads into democratic decision-making.

That's true no matter how often proponents prevaricate and pretend that a statutory version won't make any difference, leaving us to wonder why they would expend so much effort.

The sensible wing of the Labor Party here looks as though it has killed off any explicit enacting of a statutory bill of rights. But the Brennan committee foreshadowed a back-up strategy that the lawyers' wing of the Labor Party just might try.

The ploy here will be to insert one of the key provisions of a statutory bill of rights, known as a reading-down provision, into another statute, probably the Acts Interpretation Act. This transplanted provision will do the same work of authorising judges to interpret all other statutes in a new-age way as it would in a real bill of rights. It will allow them to read other statutes in a way they, the judges, happen to think is more rights-respecting.

A similar provision in Britain has resulted in the judges saying they can ignore the clear meaning of other statutes and the clear intentions of parliament. Put one of these in some other statute and you get a bill of rights in all but name. Watch to see if this secondary ploy is being foisted on the sensible wing of Labor.


Germaine Greer rubbished

You may also have read this week that the playwright Louis Nowra has written an essay in The Monthly magazine, published yesterday, to mark the 40th anniversary of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer's 1970 treatise. Nowra flays Greer and rubbishes her book.

She just didn't get women, Nowra reckons. Women, he says, still want romance and marriage and children and all the "fripperies" - frocks and make-up and cosmetic surgery - that Greer urged them to give up. (Many surely do.) They "love shopping more than ever". (My daughters certainly do.) Botox injections, says Nowra, have become "virtually a woman's rite of passage". (Mmmm? Maybe around Kings Cross, where he lives. He should get out more.)

Nowra says of Greer: "Her notion that women would use power differently from men was hopelessly idealistic." Perhaps, but so is this from Nowra: "One is immediately struck by how much the Western world has changed for women, who now run corporations and are heads of government bureaucracies, as well as being business leaders, film directors and soldiers. Few occupations are denied women … When Greer wrote her seminal book only 4 per cent of American wives earned more than their husbands; now this figure is verging on 20 per cent."

Wow! In Australia, we read this week, less than 2 per cent of ASX200 companies have a woman at the helm. One in 12 directors is a woman. Women earn 82.5 per cent of men's pay - worse than in 1985. Combat roles for female soldiers are severely restricted. Woman's Day, meanwhile, strikes a blow for the sisterhood by publishing a photo of a teenage Lara Bingle in the shower, taken in 2006 by her then lover, the footballer Brendan Fevola, and the mag reasons it was going to come out anyway. And Bingle was a "home-wrecker". Ding-dong, the witch is fair game. And happy International Women's Day for Monday.

All that said, Nowra's essay is a great read, a brutal but thoughtful and sometimes fair critique of The Female Eunuch and of Greer: the daughter embittered by her narcissistic mother's emotional abuse; the powerful polemicist who inspired women to leave their husbands but who wrote off gays as "faggots"; the fantasist who reckoned mothers could live in farmhouses in Italy where a revolving door of friends, relatives and local peasants would care for their children; the acid-tongued mauler of other prominent women; the woman who imagined herself as the wife of the Bard ("I'd f--- Shakespeare except that he especially asked that his bones not be disturbed"); the author of "dull and graceless" and "increasingly daft" prose; the attention seeker on Celebrity Big Brother; and, ultimately, the "irrelevant noise of a shock jock few people listen to any more".

Perhaps Nowra's cheapest shot is likening Greer, a "befuddled and exhausted old woman", to "my demented grandmother". If the dead could sue, his granny surely would.



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

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

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


8 March, 2010

Swiss voters reject giving abused animals a lawyer

Swiss voters have soundly rejected a plan to appoint special lawyers for animals that are abused by humans, dealing a blow to advocates who say Switzerland's elaborate animal rights laws aren't being enforced. Official results showed that 70.5 per cent of voters cast their ballot against the proposal to extend nationwide a system that has been in place in Zurich since 1992. About 29.5 per cent of voters backed the proposal, with officials putting the turnout at just over 45 per cent.

"The Swiss people have clearly said our animal protection laws are so good we don't need animal lawyers," Jakob Buechler, a lawmaker for the centrist Christian People's Party, told Swiss television SF1. Switzerland tightened its animal protection laws two years ago and now has among the strictest rules anywhere when it comes to caring for pets and farm animals. Pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone. Horses and cows must have regular exercise outside their stalls, and dog owners have to take a training course to learn how to look after their pets properly.

Tiana Angelina Moser, a lawmaker for the Green Liberal Party, said animal rights advocates would now be looking for other ways to make sure laws against animal abuse were properly applied and those who hurt animals receive appropriate punishment.

The country's only animal lawyer, Antoine Goetschel, said that public prosecutors were often unsure about animal rights and shy away from pursuing cases even if there is clear evidence of abuse. Goetschel said he represents about 150 to 200 animals annually in Zurich, while in other cantons (states), only a handful of cases go to court each year.

Most of his clients are dogs, cows and cats, Goetschel told AP in a recent interview. But in one high-profile case last month, Goetschel represented a dead pike after an animal protection group accused the angler who caught it of cruelty for taking 10 minutes to haul the fish in. The angler was found not guilty.

Opponents of the latest proposal, including farmers' groups and the government, had argued that existing laws are sufficient and appointing lawyers for animals would incur unnecessary costs for taxpayers.


Photography under threat: The shooting party’s over in Britain

Did you hear the one about the mother banned from taking a snapshot of her baby in the pool? Or the student prevented from photographing Tower Bridge at sunset? Be warned. The authorities now have the power to confiscate your camera — or even arrest you — for daring to take a picture in public

In the eyes of many, the camera has become an offensive weapon, as Peter Dunwell discovered when he travelled from Grimsby to London in January. Coming down by train with a work colleague, Dunwell planned to make a photo-journal of their trip. At King’s Cross he took out his Sony Handycam and started to photograph the arrivals board and station. Two police community-support officers approached and told him to stop. Sure, PCSOs are agents of the state whose job it is to stand by while others drown (as happened in the case of a 10-year-old boy) but intervene in anything none too dangerous. And yes, King’s Cross is sensitive to the threat of terrorism because the London bombers arrived there before going their separate ways on the Tube to murder 52 people in 2005. But Dunwell, a middle-aged man of middle build with middling-brown hair, doesn’t look much of a terrorist. He looks more like the manager of a Jessops camera shop, which is what he is. Though his colleague has dyed blonde hair and pierced ears, there’s no law against that, yet.

In fact, the PCSOs did not suspect him at all of plotting to blow King’s Cross to smithereens. They told him to put his camera away simply “because people don’t want you taking their photographs”. Kamera verboten.

Nobody had complained or objected. Authority had taken its own decision that the British public did not wish to appear in Dunwell’s photograph, even if only in the background. Dunwell was shocked and embarrassed. “It made me feel like I was a paedophile,” he says. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong or illegal. It says something about our attitudes, our freedoms and restrictions on life that you can’t even take a photograph.”

In the most spied-on country in the world, with an estimated 4.2m CCTV cameras tracking our moves, people are now suspicious if Joe Nikon presses his shutter button. In one way Dunwell’s incident was so bittersweet it was almost comical. He had come to London to attend a demonstration in Trafalgar Square about precisely this: the rising tide of restrictions on public photography. That day hundreds of photographers gathered in the square — where you can now only take a commercial photograph if you pay for a special permit — to protest that they are not terrorists, paedophiles or paparazzi invaders of privacy. They’re just enthusiasts pursuing life through a single-lens reflex.

The protestors came in all shapes and sizes: tall, short, fish-eyed and wide-angled. Some were as tatty as their cameras, bandaged together with tape, others were in cashmere and corduroys with the latest kit. Among them was Jane Hobson, a photography student. Shortly before Christmas, Hobson was on a student exercise taking pictures in central London. Outside City Hall, security guards ordered her to stop. “They just said it wasn’t allowed, even though I was on a public highway. Another time I was stopped while taking pictures of Tower Bridge at twilight.”

Many photographers believe more is at stake than a few lost shots of iconic buildings. Eyeing up the fading light, they see darkness falling on personal freedoms and a whole strand of social history. “Look at the Victorians and Edwardians,” says Hobson. “Photographs tell us so much of what it was like then. We’re in danger of losing that.” And Simon Moran, a photographer who hosts the UK Photographers’ Rights Guide on his website, says: “Some of the greatest pieces of photographic art we have — reportage and street photography and cityscapes — wouldn’t be possible if people didn’t have the freedom to go around and take pictures without being stopped.”

One of the most beguiling properties of photographs is their ability to expand over time. When you capture an image, often spontaneously, it is a single moment framed in stillness. A child’s innocent smile, perhaps, a lover’s glance, a silhouette etherised against a sundown sky. Look again in 5, 10 or 50 years and that image will have grown far beyond a 7x5in print into a lost world all of its own: a life that might have been; a culture vanished; a childhood of happy, crazy days. Did we really wear those fashions? And look at that hair!

From animals daubed on cave walls to Martin Parr painting modern life with a camera, man has always recorded the world around him. It’s personal memory and public history, and, say photographers, it’s under threat.

If such claims seem alarmist, consider a famous image by Jimmy Sime from 1936. It shows a group of five boys standing by the road in Eton and brilliantly portrays the social divide of the time. Three are local boys in open-neck shirts and scruffy trousers or shorts, looking agog at the other two, who are Eton pupils immaculate in top hats, ties and waistcoats, walking canes in hand. The facial expressions still speak across the years. To capture such an image now, you would need the permission of all the boys, via their parents or the school. Without it, the pixel police step in, either in person or in the form of self-censorship. When a recent BBC programme filmed Eton pupils walking along the road outside the college, it blurred the faces of every one.

Photographing adults, even our most taxpayer-funded figureheads, is also becoming off limits. In December some of Her Majesty’s loyal peasants tried to snap the Queen and members of the royal family as they were going to church near Sandringham. A heinous crime obviously — so the police moved in and confiscated their cameras. Kate Middleton, a royal-in-waiting as Prince William’s on-off girlfriend, threatened legal action after being snapped at Christmas on a tennis court close to a public footpath. Her lawyers sought damages for invasion of privacy. At the time of writing the case was unresolved, but was expected to be settled in Middleton’s favour

Many photographers blame changes in the law for the antipathy that has developed towards them. One European court ruling, involving Princess Caroline of Monaco, judged that taking photographs of her was an invasion of her privacy even when she was in a public place. Yet other celebrities court such pictures. Some photographers complain they are now uncertain where the boundaries lie.

In photography journals and blogs, professionals and keen amateurs also take aim at the Terrorism Act of 2000. Section 44 of the act gave police more power to stop and search people in specified areas. That might sound reasonable — until you learn that large tracts of London, every big rail station in the UK and many other sites have been quietly designated specified areas. To make matters more confusing, details of which areas have been designated are often not disclosed in case it might help terrorists. It’s 1984 meets Catch-22. Previously the police had at least to cite reasonable grounds for suspicion in order to stop and search you; now they don’t. If you’re wearing a loud shirt, walking on the pavement cracks, or carrying a camera, you’re fair game.

The law also allows officers to view images in your phone or camera. Officers are not allowed to delete them — but they can seize and retain any item that an officer “reasonably suspects is intended for use in connection with terrorism”.

At the same time terrorism shares a powerful characteristic with paedophilia: they both fuel a climate of fear that spreads far beyond their immediate or likely victims. In the aftermath of the child murders of Sarah Payne in 2000 and Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in 2002, local officials went to Defcon 2 on paedo-alert throughout the country. Pre-emptive bans and jobsworth enforcement have become the norm, as Kevin Yuill, a university lecturer, discovered when he picked up his daughter from a ballet class at a Durham leisure centre.

“She was 10, and for her to apply for the Royal Ballet School she had to have some pictures of certain poses,” recalled Yuill. “I’d arranged with her ballet teacher, a middle-aged woman, to help me with the poses while I took pictures. I was stopped by the manager of the centre and told I needed permission to take pictures. I said, ‘From who? Who exactly do I need permission from? I’m her father.’ She said I’d need to get central permission, from the council, to take pictures in a leisure centre of my own child.” Despite his protestations, the manager insisted Yuill took no photos. “It’s outrageous,” he says. “I’m not allowed to take pictures of my own child. And her ballet teacher, a 60-year-old woman, was there. She was outraged too. It’s not about protecting children, it’s about something else. I dislike the idea of government being the only people allowed to take pictures, which is what this appears to be.”

Age, gender and location make little difference. In Fareham, Hampshire, an older couple were stopped from taking pictures of their grandchildren in a shopping centre because photography was banned. They were ordered to leave. In a park in Oldham, a young couple were stopped from taking pictures of their 11-month-old baby when a warden told them it was “illegal”. In recent months a man was questioned by police for taking pictures of the Christmas lights in Brighton; and in Kent a man was arrested after he took pictures of Mick’s Plaice, a fish-and-chip shop. Haddock fundamentalism has yet to emerge as a major threat, but you never know.

The legal position remains badly focused. Case law on privacy is developing. Certain laws relating to private property can encompass photography — you might be pursued for trespass if you took a photograph on private property without permission. And taking photographs against a subject’s will could be held to be harassment.

The lack of any specific law banning photography in public places is little comfort. The uncertainty itself is insidious, says Hadaway. “There is this huge space for people to impose rules. The government and the police say that no, there’s no law that prevents you from taking photographs. But petty authority pushes for greater control.”


Is atheism promoting intolerance?

Comment from Australia

It wasn’t so long ago that most atheists kept their non-belief of a God or other deities largely to themselves. They lived in a world where most people believed - and continue to believe – there is a God or some other spiritual being that is at the controls of everything around us - even if some people can’t put their finger on who or what this Force is.

But now a new strand of atheist is emerging. Independent thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are prepared to speak out publicly and condemn established religious beliefs, accusing the "God followers" of having a dangerous influence on society.

Is this new atheism at risk of causing a new battlefront of conflict and division in society? Monash University Professor and Anglican priest Dr Gary Bouma seems to think so. He told the Studies of Religion in Focus conference in Sydney today that atheists or people without a specific faith are fuelling sectarian conflict and creating problems for interfaith tolerance in Australia.

According to ABC News, he aimed his criticism at groups that vilify or deny the right to build mosques and those who say that religious voices should be driven out of the public policy area or that religion shouldn’t be in schools, etc.

The battlelines between atheism and religion appear already to have been drawn in New Zealand at least. Last month, atheists who wanted to run an advertising campaign on buses across the Tasman proclaiming "There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life" were blocked from doing so by one major company.

While Christianity remains the most dominant religious faith in Australia, there are also signs that this country is becoming a more diverse society. At the same time, the 2006 Census identified 18.7 per cent of Australians claiming they had "No Religion", a percentage that has been steadily increasing.

As many of the newly-arrived and long-established faiths seek to co-operate in creating a more tolerant nation, the strand of atheism that expresses hostility towards all religious belief and seeks to convert the world to one of non-belief threatens to destabilise that process.

Contrary to what some atheists believe, the world would not be a better place without religion.


There never has been a Palestinian state

Richard Cohen’s excellent article in the Washington Post on Wednesday March 2nd, offers several compelling reasons why Israel doesn’t deserve to be compared to South Africa under Apartheid, but I believe that it will be hard for many on the left who think of the State of Israel in that manner to ever understand this, unless they know the truth, that Israel isn’t and never has occupied any Palestinian Arab owned land.

In her excellent article “Palestine – The Big Lie”, Sharon Nader Sloan lays out the true history of Israel, going all the way back to ancient Israel, all of which clearly proves that:

1: There’s never existed a “Palestinian State”

2: Jerusalem was never the capital of any nation other than Israel.

In fact there’s really no such thing as a Palestinian. They’re just Arabs, like all the rest. They hate Jews because their religion tells them to, and because in a matter of a few short years after modern day Israel was created, the Jews took that barren and desolate land and turned it into a bountiful and beautiful Garden of Eden growing oranges the size of basketballs. Of course by doing this, right under the Arabs’ noses, and for all the world to see, they showed the Arabs up for what they are, a culture of backwards, bigoted and racist barbarians, whose only contribution to human civilization was the invention of Algebra.

Then, to add further insult to injury, when shortly after her founding, all of Israel’s close neighbors got together and attacked her, all of those brave and manly warriors were made to look like “girly-men” by the Israeli military, and it’s easy to imagine how that made them feel.

As Ms. Sloan points out, Palestine is a region, not a nation, in the same way that the Sahara is a region. Most of the Arabs who owned land there SOLD it to the Israelis. The Israelis paid what to them were enormous sums for their land, and they were happy to take it. Not one square inch was stolen from anyone.

And if the need for a “Palestinian State” were so great, why didn’t we hear anyone demanding a “Palestinian State” during the 19 years that Jordan occupied Jerusalem and the entire West Bank? Why did they ever reject the UN compromise of splitting the land controlled by the British up into a Jewish state and what would have been a Palestinian State” in the first place? Instead they decided to go to war to destroy Israel, after which that land legally became Israel’s by right of conquest!

So why should there be a Palestinian State”? The Arabs are free to live there, there are even Arab members of the Knesset. Are they saying that they’re entitled to their own state because they live there? If so, how would we feel if the huge number of Hispanics in California demanded their own state as well? And while we’re at it, how would the non-Hispanic Californians feel about the Hispanics, if they were constantly throwing rocks at them, and harassing them 24/7?

The idea that the Jews in Israel are occupying Arab lands is taken for granted by almost everyone, and like Global Warming, it’s just another BIG LIE!

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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

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

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


7 March, 2010

British Mother branded as abuser for telling daughter of caesarean

Britain's vengeful Leftist bureaucrats again. British officialdom rivals crime as a threat to ordinary decent people

SOCIAL WORKERS have placed the five-year-old daughter of a professional couple on the child protection register for “emotional abuse” after the mother told the girl she was delivered by caesarean. Other allegations against the mother include cuddling her daughter for too long when dropping her off at nursery.

The intervention by Birmingham social services prompted the mother, Shahnaz Malik, to go into hiding with her daughter, Amaani, for two months, fearing the girl would be taken away.

An alert was put out to all British ports, and police conducted raids on a string of properties in the West Midlands. Two weeks ago police battered down the door of the family’s home in an apartment block in an attempt to find Amaani. She had been moved elsewhere by her mother, but her father, Vijay Bansal, 42, an IT consultant, was later arrested and held in a cell overnight for “obstructing” the search.

Officers also seized Malik’s car, took toothbrushes from the bathroom to analyse for DNA and raided the homes of relatives in the middle of the night, looking for the mother and girl. “This whole case is madness as there is no reason for the state to be involved in this little girl’s life in this way,” said John Hemming, a Birmingham MP who campaigns against abuses by the family courts. “The problem is that the system is using massive aggression to deal with the mother’s refusal to respond to a set of frankly silly concerns.”

The council’s actions follow criticism of it by a judge for showing gross lack of judgment in failing to stop seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq starving to death. Care workers did not think she warranted being placed on the at-risk register.

The problems started after Amaani began to attend a private nursery last September. Within weeks, friction developed between Malik and staff, who said the girl bit her nails and had been overheard swearing at a teacher. Malik, who has a masters degree in social policy, said last week: “We never swear at home, so she must have picked up the words at nursery. She told me she did swear at the nursery teacher because she was grabbed very hard by her.”

When Malik withdrew Amaani from the nursery, she was told by a health visitor that their case was being referred to social services. “I went to a solicitor, who said the grabbing of Amaani’s arm was an assault, so I decided to make a complaint to the police,” Malik said. However, she felt the police were uninterested in her complaint and wanted to speak to Amaani alone — which Malik refused to allow.

A few days later her husband was called in by officers. “The police asked me if my wife has mental health problems. I said, ‘Absolutely not’,” Bansal said. “They said, ‘There are allegations coming from the nursery’. They said, ‘Someone overheard your wife saying to your daughter she had her stomach cut open to deliver Amaani’.”

Bansal said the police also told him that his wife cuddled Amaani for 10-15 minutes when dropping her off at the nursery. “I said, ‘No mother wants to leave her child screaming’. “Then they said that when my wife and daughter had been in the police station, Amaani had turned to the officers and said, ‘Hello, pigs.’ But at that point Amaani liked watching Peppa Pig. She calls me ‘Daddy Pig’ and she calls her mother ‘Mummy Pig’.”

Social workers told the family they wanted to hold a child protection conference. Malik said: “We decided not to attend or engage with them since we could see they had made their minds up already.”

In January, Birmingham council notified the family that Amaani was subject to a child protection plan for “emotional abuse”. Although she would be allowed to live at home, social workers would make unannounced visits.

Malik said: “I had only told Amaani about how she was born because I believe in telling the truth and she had thought her daddy gave birth to her. I don’t see how that is evidence of emotional abuse.” She added: “I was getting worried that they would come and take Amaani so I moved out with her and stayed with friends.”

Her husband remained at home but was taken to hospital with a heart condition two weeks ago. The next morning he received a message from the concierge at their block of flats saying the police had entered their two-bedroom apartment. “I had to basically discharge myself from the hospital to come and sort it out,” he said. A few days later he was arrested and placed in a cell while officers looked for Amaani. The girl was finally presented to the authorities last Thursday. She was allowed to return home.

Birmingham council has declined to comment, citing confidentiality.


Don’t mock my lentils: vegans to get discrimination rights in Britain

VEGANS and teetotallers are to be given the same protection against discrimination as religious groups, under legislation championed by Harriet Harman, the equalities minister. Members of cults and “new religions” such as Scientology, whose supporters include the film stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta, would also be offered protection, as would atheists.

A code of practice explaining the legal implications of the equality bill states that religions need not be mainstream or well known for their adherents to gain protection. “A belief need not include faith or worship of a god or gods, but must affect how a person lives their life or perceives the world.”

The code, drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, singles out vegans, who do not eat any animal products or wear leather, as meriting protection from religious discrimination. It says: “A person who is a vegan chooses not to use or consume animal products of any kind. That person eschews the exploitation of animals for food, clothing, accessories or any other purpose and does so out of an ethical commitment to animal welfare.”

A spokesman from the commission explained: “This is about someone for whom being vegan or vegetarian is central to who they are. This is not something ‘thought up by the commission’. Parliament makes the law, the courts interpret it and the commission offers factual and proportionate guidance to organisations where necessary. We are providing guidance on the implications of the equality bill.”

The legislation also covers “any religious belief or philosophical belief” and even “a lack of belief”. Philosophical beliefs to be protected could include humanism and pacifism, but a spokesman for Harman said scientific or political beliefs such as Marxism and fascism would not be covered. The commission added that the recently founded International Church of Jediism, with 500,000 followers worldwide who base their philosophy on the Star Wars films, would not qualify. Beliefs had to be heartfelt.

The watchdog also warns that advertisements giving preferential treatment to men or women could be illegal. This could mean the end of “ladies’ nights” at clubs, when women receive cut-price drinks or free entrance but men pay full price.

People for whom abstention from alcohol was a way of life would also be protected. Conversely, the bill would make it unlawful for a shopkeeper to refuse to sell cigarettes to a woman because she was pregnant.


The Guaranteed Failure of Catering to Muslim Perception
So long as widespread suspicion exists, and it does exist, amongst the Arab population, that the economic depression … is largely due to excessive Jewish immigration, and so long as some grounds exist upon which this suspicion may be plausibly represented to be well founded, there can be little hope of any improvement in the mutual relations of the two races — 1930 statement by the British government
What does this statement, following an inquiry into the 1929 Muslim attacks upon Jews in Mandatory Palestine, have to do with a recent disinvitation to speak at Britain’s Cambridge University for Israeli historian Benny Morris?

The statement marks the emergence of the Western phenomenon of making decisions on the basis of what Arabs and Muslims perceive, or are said to perceive, at the expense of the facts or the merits of the case. Note the reasons offered by Jake Witzenfeld, president of Cambridge University’s Israel Society, for disinviting Morris:
I decided to cancel for fear of the Israel Society being portrayed as a mouthpiece of Islamophobia. … We understand that whilst Professor Benny Morris’ contribution to history is highly respectable and significant, his personal views are, regrettably, deeply offensive to many.
Morris, once the darling of anti-Israel radicals, is in recent years execrated by them for emphasizing Arab rejection of Jewish statehood as the origin of enduring conflict. Mr.Witzenfeld is clearly overawed by this. Note, in Mr. Witzenfeld’s words, the 1929 leitmotiv: the facts aren’t important — how they could be perceived or portrayed is. This intellectually and morally bankrupt approach can be seen among those who urge an alteration of U.S. policy. Three examples from recent years:

January 2008: Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland, urged America to engage Iran over its nuclear weapons program because “most Arabs don’t see Iran as a major threat.”

March 2006: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their neo-Nazi- and Islamist-approved antagonistic paper on Israel and its American supporters, say that Palestinians resorting to suicide bombing “is not surprising … because the Palestinians believe they have no other way to force Israeli concessions.”

April 2004: Egyptian president Husni Mubarak reportedly argued that “many Arabs perceive a sense of ‘injustice’ in the way the United States has offered strong backing for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel.”

Were these sorts of representations to be heeded, what would occur? We needn’t guess — Western governments have been listening for years to this sort of talk, with the following results:

Iran has replied contemptuously to Western diplomatic coaxing by turning up the uranium enrichment lever. Sunni Arab powers, far from yawning in their imagined security, are likely to engage in a nuclear arms race with Shia Iran.

Through much of the Oslo process (1993-2000), Israel was deeply attentive to the notion that Palestinian terrorists blow up Israelis because they are frustrated peace-seekers rather than jihadists — a theory still popular among policy analysts who call themselves “realists.” Yet unilateral concessions embolden rather than pacify jihadists — witness the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which produced a dramatic increase in rocket assaults upon southern Israel and turned Gaza into a Hamas emirate clattering with imported arms.

In the past year, the Obama administration made ameliorating Palestinian perceptions of injustice a priority, strong-arming Israel to impose a ban on Jews moving to the West Bank and even parts of Jerusalem. Only the policy hasn’t helped the administration’s plan to reconvene peace talks. Far from it: the U.S. having raised the demand, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority duly adopted it as a precondition and has refused to negotiate until Israel accedes to it.

The track record of policies designed to appease Arab and Muslim perceptions is provably poor, inasmuch as the irrationality, suspicion, and hatred that they seek to validate are impervious to facts.

Polls show, for example, that neither Egyptians nor Palestinians like America more despite being recipients of ever-rising levels of American largesse. Saudis have scant affection for the U.S. after decades of Washington’s fawning deference. Nor has Muslim opinion been perceptibly altered by the most striking examples of American aid and succor given to Muslims: in Bosnia in 1999, or in Indonesia after the 2005 southeast Asian tsunami.

Even Barack Obama is the partial exception that proves the rule: his popularity among Muslims after a year of strenuous outreach is limited relative to the rest of the world. His approach has not translated into Iranian mellowing or Arab gestures to Israel, two objectives he publicly sought to achieve in return for emollient diplomacy towards Muslims coupled with pressure towards Israelis.

More to the point, such popularity as Obama enjoys in the Muslim world is likely to be deeply conditional. With Obama unable to deliver an Israeli-Palestinian agreement that does not lie in his gift, or to pull out of Afghanistan, or to ignore what occurs in neighboring Pakistan, Arab and Muslim perceptions of Obama can be expected to erode over time. At present, he reportedly has the confidence of just 13% of Pakistanis — hardly a significant improvement over his predecessor’s 9%.

Lying behind the recurrent urge to adopt policies conditioned on what Arabs and Muslims perceive are many things, both general (fear of Muslim groups with a proven track record of violence; political correctness) and particular (rationalizing anti-American or anti-Jewish hatreds). But fear and rationalizing hostility offer no outlet: as in Palestine in 1930, it is a low level of statesmanship that caters to these, one that dooms its practitioners.


What a great steaming nit Malcolm Fraser is!

And that's being much more polite than I really feel inclined to be. For those who are not big on history, Fraser is a former Australian Prime Minister in the conservative cause, whose most notable post Prime-Ministerial activities have principally consisted of losing his trousers one night in Memphis Tennessee and sucking up to African dictators. He is much reviled among Australian conservatives for having done nothing for the conservative cause while he was in office.

His latest profundity is about the assassination of a HAMAS chief in Dubai:
"Mr Fraser said the Jewish state could no longer use the Holocaust as an excuse to justify state-sanctioned murder, and criticism of its policies should not be dismissed as anti-Semitism."
It has apparently escaped the notice of "Trousers" Fraser that Israel has not even acknowledged responsibility for the assassination and so has not blamed it on ANYTHING, let alone the holocaust. And the accusation that Israelis (who are of course predominantly Jews) have committed "state-sanctioned murder" is interesting. He fails to recognize that HAMAS is by its own assertions at war with Israel and that the assassination might reasonably be regarded as legitimate self-defence in that case. Fraser's one-sided slur on Israel DOES then sound like precisely that antisemitism which he denies.

But the man is a proven liar anyway so the only sadness is that his bigoted and probably senile comments were reported at all.

There is an amusing comment here which argues that Fraser's comments are probably in breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act of the State in which he resides (Victoria).

Australia: McDonald's rejects push to have more halal-serving outlets

McDONALD'S has rejected a push to have more halal-serving outlets despite pressure on the fast-food giant. A Victorian burger fan, Amin Assafiri, launched the Facebook campaign in frustration at having to drive from driving 8km north to the closest halal McDonald.

Mr Assafiri lives to the north of Melbourne, in Fawkner, with the nearest Hala McDonald's in Roxburgh Park. His "Make Fawkner McDonald's halal!" Facebook page has attracted 341 members -- not enough to sway the burger chain's management.

"We can only accommodate the market so much," McDonald's spokeswoman Kristy Chong said. "It is a considerable cost to go halal. "There are already three halal McDonald's in Melbourne."

Mr Assafiri said at least 1000 Muslims living in Fawkner made special trips to Victoria's halal McDonald's in Roxburgh Park and Brunswick East. The third Victorian halal McDonald's will open in a renovated Preston McDonald's in 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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


6 March, 2010

Geert Wilders on course to be next Dutch prime minister

The anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders is poised to become the next Dutch prime minister after making major gains in regional elections

Municipal results announced on Thursday put his party in first place in Almere, a region near Amsterdam and second in The Hague, one the country's largest cities and the seat of the Dutch government. If repeated in national elections on June 9, the Freedom Party could win 27 out of 150 seats, becoming the largest single party and putting him in line to become prime minister and form a new government.

Mr Wilders has called Islam a backward religion, wants a ban on headscarves in public life and has compared the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf. "We are going to conquer the entire country we are going to be the biggest party in the country," he said after the vote. "The leftist elite still believes in multiculturalism, coddling criminals, a European superstate and high taxes. But the rest of the Netherlands thinks differently. That silent majority now has a voice."

The Freedom Party currently has nine of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, and five of the country's 25 European parliament seats. But some polls suggest it is now the most popular party in Holland, traditionally seen as a bastion of tolerance.

The Dutch political mainstream yesterday made clear its outrage at the election results. NRC Handelsblad, the Dutch newspaper of record, observing: "The Dutch political system, based on consensus and co-operation, is coming apart at the seams."

Muslims in Almere, where one third of the 190,000 population is of immigrant origin, reacted with shock and anger to his party's success, fearing his victory would fan animosity. "It is terrible," said computer sciences student Kadriye Kacar, 35, who was born in Holland but is of Turkish descent. "People are looking at us in a new way today as if they are thinking – 'We won and you are leaving'. "I don't wear a headscarf normally but I have decided to start doing so now out of protest. Other people in my community are planning to do the same. We will protest until Wilders is gone."

Mr Wilders popularity has grown since he was banned from entering Britain last year. He was arrested and deported after being declared a threat to public safety. The bar has now been lifted and he is due in London on Friday to show his anti-Muslim film, Fitna, in the House of Lords, at the invitation of invitation of Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the Ukip leader and Baroness Cox, a cross bench peer. "I do not agree with Geert Wilders that the Koran should be banned – even in Holland where Mein Kampf is banned. I don't want it banned but discussed and specifically as to whether it may promote or justify – or has promoted or justified – violence. I am therefore promoting freedom of speech," said Lord Pearson.

Mr Wilders is facing prosecution in Holland for "inciting hatred" with the controversial film which depicts the Koran burning and focuses on the links between Islam and terrorism.


A Year of Anti-Religious Bigotry

It's quite striking to see the degree to which traditional Islam has come under ferocious attack from the anti-religious impulse in Hollywood and New York and other bohemian centers in America. It is clearly anti-Islamic religious bigotry. Take a look at just some examples over the past year alone.

January: The Source Weekly, a weekly arts publication in Bend, Ore., featured on its cover an image of Mohammad holding a child with President Obama's head crudely posted on its body. Muslim protests were greeted with this dismissive response: "What is printed is printed, and we will not apologize."

Feb. 12: The NBC sitcom "30 Rock" poked fun at Muslims when Alec Baldwin's character attempted to ingratiate himself with his beautiful Muslim girlfriend by fraudulently going through the motions at her mosque.

Feb. 16: The Fox drama series "House" concentrated a plot on an imam who had privately lost his faith in Islam, while publicly being suspected of having AIDS. In other words, he was a religious hypocrite, a heavy drinker who was accused of being a pedophile and who declared he "hate(d) his job." Ultimately, the doctors would find he was free of AIDS and he would rediscover his faith, but not until after all the negative stereotypes had gleefully marched through the episode.

April 4: On The Washington Post blog site "On Faith," atheist Susan Jacoby insisted Muslim leaders should burn in hell for adhering to their Islamic views on abortion: "Religious 'authorities' ought to burn in hell, if there were a hell, for hypocritical apologies composed of words rather than deeds. There could surely be no better place for leaders who believe in forcing a nine-year-old to bear the children of her rapist."

April 13: In the weekly gay Hotspots magazine, an ad appeared promoting a gay club in West Palm Beach, Fla. The ad was clearly, unequivocally designed to insult Muslims. The ad depicted a DJ dressed as Mohammad ascending to Heaven -- with an erection under his robe. Beneath him were several followers making crude comments about his anatomy on the order of "I've seen bigger."

Oct. 18: The annual Halloween special on "The Simpsons" inflamed the Islamic community with a zombie plot. When most of Springfield turned into zombies after eating tainted red meat, Bart Simpson spit out tainted hamburger before he could be transformed, and was hailed as "Mohammad the Prophet."

Oct. 23: The film "Eulogy for a Vampire" opened in New York. The New York Times described the movie's mix of religious imagery, whippings and animal blood surrounding a plot of an all-male Sufi Muslim order "whose members seem to spend no time in spiritual reflection but quite a lot of time groping one another."

Oct. 25: On HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," actor and show creator Larry David used a bathroom in a Muslim home to upset his friends by not only urinating while standing, which Muslims find religiously impure, but also urinating all over the walls, including a picture of Mohammad. David compounded the offense by talking incessantly while using the bathroom, which is also offensive. David seemed to take glee in offending Islamic audiences.

Nov. 12: While discussing Islam on the primetime "Jay Leno Show," Leno ridiculed Muslims for their faith. He said, "Apparently, they ran out of places to send suicide bombers, so they are looking to outer space."

Dec. 7: In a profanity-laced bit on his HBO special "Weapons of Self Destruction," Robin Williams referred to Mohammad as a "Nazi."

On and on it goes, and by now, perhaps you've already surmised: None of the foregoing was true. Hollywood would never dare ridicule Islam this way. The same holds true for every other appendage of the cultural left. In each case, scratch the Muslim reference and replace it (with a few modifications) with the Catholic Church, with its priests and monks, with Pope Benedict XVI, and with Jesus and Mary. All of these incidents were cited in the Catholic League's "2009 Report on Anti-Catholicism," but they only scratch the surface. There are 68 grisly pages of examples.

Catholicism is the single largest religious denomination in America. In our news and entertainment media today, anti-Catholicism remains "the last acceptable prejudice." It is not that the cultural left is out of touch. It is out to destroy.


A Spy Scandal About Nothing

The complaints leveled against Israel by European countries and Australia, regarding the alleged misuse of passports by the Mossad in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, ring hollow and smack of blatant hypocrisy. Whoever did kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh—whether it was the Israeli Mossad or someone else—clearly did have their agents use stolen or forged passports. Big deal.

Every good intelligence agency uses stolen and forged passports. The British have been especially adept at this means of spycraft. No country that uses fake passports in their intelligence operations has the moral authority to complain about the alleged misuse of passports in this case. The only ones that have a legitimate grievance are those individuals whose passports may have been misused without their knowledge.

I guess it’s the job of foreign ministries to complain publicly when other nations do what they themselves do secretly. Hypocrisy is, after all, the homage that vice pays to virtue. I’m reminded of the famous scene in Casablanca, when officer Renault declares, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” A croupier then approaches Renault, and hands him a roll of currency: “Your winnings, sir.”

The hypocrisy in this case seems even more blatant than usual. Is it because Israel is the alleged offender, and the world has gotten accustomed to singling out Israel for double standard condemnation?

Shortly after the terrorist attacks in Bali, which killed a large number of Australian tourists, I had the opportunity to meet with the Australian Prime Minister. I was writing a book at the time on preemption, and I asked him whether he would have authorized a preemptive attack on the terrorist who killed Australian citizens, if such an attack would have saved their lives. His response was that Australia would have done anything it could, to prevent these terrorist attacks. Anything, I guess, except misusing passports! Is there anybody who believes that Australia would not have used forged or stolen passports to prevent the Bali massacres? If Great Britain could have stopped the London subway attack by misusing passports, would M6 have allowed the terrorism to go forward in the name of preserving passport integrity? Of course not. The same is true of Spain with regard to the Madrid bombing and to every other country in the world that seeks to prevent terrorism. Well, if the Mossad did in fact kill al-Mabhouh, they too did it to prevent the killing of their innocent civilians.

The Israelis are always accused by their enemies, and sometimes even by their friends, of taking “disproportionate” action to stop terrorists. But what could be more proportionate than a carefully planned and specifically targeted attack on an admitted terrorist who boasted of being an active combatant? Whoops! I guess I forgot about those darn passports. That must be the disproportionate action complained about. Saving innocent lives, on the one hand—misusing passports on the other. I guess the right moral resolution, according to some foreign ministries, is to let innocent victims die—at least as long as its only Israeli victims.

It’s interesting, and disturbing, that more criticism is being directed against Israel for allegedly using stolen passports than for allegedly killing a terrorist. That’s because no western country wants to appear to be sympathetic to a terrorist. The “victims” of passport fraud are innocent civilians, but the injury they have suffered pales in comparison to the injuries—deaths—prevented by the well-deserved death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

If the deaths of a small number of innocent civilians is deemed “proportional” to the killing of a terrorist combatant, than surely the discomfort of a small number of innocent victims of passport fraud is proportional.

The high dudgeon expressed by foreign ministries over stolen passports is worse than hypocritical. It undercuts the war against terrorism.

There ought to be concern, among western democracies, about how easy it is to use forged or stolen passports. Dubai should be conducting an investigation, but the focus should be on how simple it was for those carrying these phony passports to get into their country. The misuse of passports is, after all, a primary tool used by terrorists to smuggle themselves into western countries, from which they can engage in worldwide terrorism. There are thousands of forged and fraudulent British passports circulating around the world today. Many are in the hands of terrorists. That should be the focus of any investigation, not the occasional and controlled misuse of passports by western intelligence agencies to combat terrorism.

Whoever snuck into Dubai using fake passports may have done that country a service in warning them to tighten up their passport procedures. Next time it may be a terrorist who tries to enter the country. Wait! Isn’t that exactly what happened when al-Mabhouh walked through security using a real passport with his real name? I guess in Dubai you don’t have to use a fake passport if you’re a terrorist, but you do if you’re trying to stop terrorists —at least if the terrorism is directed only against Israel. I guess Dubai is less concerned about letting terrorists into their country with real passports than in letting those who would stop terrorism into their country with fake passports. It’s a topsy-turvy world out there.


Sorry, but some have to suffer for their art

By Barry Cohen, who was arts minister in Australia's Hawke Labor Party government

DAVID Throsby, economics professor at Macquarie University, has brought down his latest report entitled, "Don't Give Up Your Day Job", pointing out that the lot of artists is not a very happy one, financially speaking. The report states that "census figures show artists' income fell from the median level of $30,000 in 2001 to about $26,000 in 2006 while salaries for most professional groups rose." It adds: "It has been a decade since the Australia Council released the report on the financial status of artists and found that a third lived below the poverty line. "Half earned less than $7300 for their art and only 12 per cent were working full-time."

Well there's a surprise! Most artists can't make a living out of their chosen art. Who would believe it? My mind returned to my early days as federal arts minister when I appeared on a public platform with the federal secretary of Actors Equity. He concluded his address fulminating that "of the 4000 members of my union only 400 are working". The players collective loved it but then didn't hear his sotto voce comments as he sat down. "And that's all that deserve to be working."

Periodically, we hear the nonsense parrotted by the arts community claiming that artists of Australia are treated much the same as chimney-sweeps were in Dickens' day. Comparisons are often made with salaries earned by the average worker up to and including the head honchos of our top companies. Those who struggle along on $8 million a year.

Throsby and the Australia Council are absolutely right about the low earnings for the great majority of artists but it has always been thus and will remain so. And the reason? Most occupations, be they clerks, sales assistants, miners, shearers, boilermakers, doctors, dentists or school teachers, have a limited number of positions available which, once filled, guarantees that those seeking employment in that area will look further afield. It's called the free market and it works. There aren't thousands of aspiring boilermakers lining up for jobs that don't exist. They find work that puts a roof over their heads, food on the table and financial security.

Artists, and I use the word loosely, are an entirely different kettle of fish. We must remember that there are millions of them in Australia out of a population of 22 million. Precisely how many I have no idea, but picture for a moment all those you know who fancy themselves as artists: painters, sculptors, singers, musicians, dancers, actors, composers and the millions of handicraft artists that indulge in embroidery, tatting, quilting and the like.

My First Lady, the beauteous Rae, is a dab hand at any craft she puts her mind to. Her days are full making magnificent quilts. Recently, together with a local quilting group she delivered 73 quilts to fire victims in Victoria. Does she earn anything from her art? Not a cent. Does she expect to? No and nor do her fellow quilters. They do it because they love doing it. It is an art but it is also their hobby.

I've been a little luckier over the past 20 years as a columnist with eight books, seven of which made the best-seller list. It's been a nice little earner, but thank God it wasn't my only source of income. Like Rae, I write because I love writing. Would I continue if there was no longer a market? Almost certainly, because of the pleasure it brings and not because of the financial reward.

A few artists are extremely well paid, earning in the millions, while a substantial number make a good living. However, in the arts, unlike most other trades and professions, there are 10 times more practitioners than there are opportunities for fame and fortune.

And who decides who is an artist? More importantly, who decides who is a good artist? In an occupation where there is no shortage of egos it's easy to declare oneself to be an artist and expect the world, or the government, to provide you with a living. It's nonsense and the sooner the arts community stops whining about how their talents are not being rewarded the better. The arts community should be honest with aspiring artists and warn them that their worth will be determined by the market, by who buys their records, books, paintings or pays to see them perform.

Some expect governments to provide. And they do. The federal government picks up the tab for a vast number of artistic activities. Indeed the spending on everything from the National Gallery through to the Film and Television School comes to $696 million. And then there's the ABC, SBS and extensive state and local government programs. Governments are continually expanding their arts programs, creating opportunities for artists while stimulating tourism and ensuring the arts are more widely enjoyed.

We are indebted to David Throsby for his latest report on the plight of our artists. It's the 11th in a similar vein over the past 30 years. What is needed is some solutions. Let's hope we don't go the way as some European countries where those who are declared to be artists are guaranteed a salary for life. Denmark is one such country and so is Holland. Such a system guarantees there are any number of artists beavering away filling up warehouses with paintings no one will ever see.

There is a vital role for governments to play in developing talented artists, but please spare us from the nonsense that everyone who declares themselves an artist should be guaranteed an income.



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

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

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


5 March, 2010

"The Guardian" says that Rupert Murdoch is the reason why Conservatives don't like the BBC

The fact that the BBC is for the most part a Leftist propaganda outfit is not mentioned. Conservatives don't need Rupert to make them hostile to the Beeb. The Beeb is its own worst enemy. If it had stuck to its charter it would be beyond criticism

Like a man who fears he's about to get knifed in the heart, so plunges the blade into his own leg instead, the BBC has decided. its best strategy for self-preservation is to suffer a little pain now to avoid a lot of pain later. The strategy review unveiled this week offered up a couple of radio networks and half its web pages by way of a sacrifice.

The latter sounds like a smart decision. The core business of the BBC is broadcasting - it's there in the name - and if it has to choose between radio, television and an uncountable number of web pages, then radio and TV should always come first. The review should have held firm on the principle that underpins the universal licence: that everybody in Britain should get something from the BBC.

So why has BBC director-general Mark Thompson proposed closing the Asian Network, the teen cross-media brands BBC Switch and Blast!, as well as halving the size of the BBC website? Because he feared that if he didn't jump from the second-storey window, an incoming British Conservative government would push him off the roof. He is right to be anxious.

The Tories have indeed signalled a hostility to the BBC that is rare, if not unprecedented, in an opposition. Why might that be? Two words: Rupert Murdoch. People often speak of the unique influence of the media magnate, with his combination of economic and political muscle, but ''influence'' doesn't quite capture it. Instead, Tory leader David Cameron has simply allowed News Corporation to write the Conservative Party's media policy.

Start with the BBC. Murdoch, with son James, can't stand it - regarding it, a senior figure in broadcasting tells me, as ''like the ebola virus: they can't destroy it, so they try to contain it''. They dress up their opposition in pseudo-intellectual free-market blather, but the reality is much earthier: the BBC is a rival, and therefore an obstacle to News' commercial ambitions. The smaller and weaker the BBC becomes, the more money News Corp can make.

So the Murdochs constantly demand a cut in Britain's licence fee. Last year Cameron nodded dutifully and called for an immediate freeze in the fee. That would have marked an unprecedented break in the multi-year financial settlement that is so integral to the BBC's independence - preventing it from constantly having to make nice to the politicians to keep the money coming in.

More HERE. Also here

The Intolerance and Bigotry of Openly Gay Military Service

In early February, I published a column and a blog post at the American Spectator, urging retention of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I argued that giving lesbians and homosexuals a specially protected legal status would inevitably lead to infringing upon the First Amendment rights of religious believers and cultural traditionalists. This is true, I noted, for several reasons. First, the gay lobby demands not just tolerance of lesbians and homosexuals, but explicit affirmation of the same. Consequently, the gay lobby will litigate against religious believers and cultural traditionalists who do not acquiesce to its agenda. This, in fact, already has happened — and is happening — in the civilian world.

Moreover, the litigious nature of American society almost will require that these issues be fought out in the courts, where cultural traditionalists and religious believers have very few allies. Finally, as a practical matter, the hierarchical nature of the military tends to suppress free thought and intellectual dissent.

In fact, intellectual uniformity and compliance tend to be enforced within the military and sometimes in a rather heavy-handed manner. (The Marine Corps is the notable exception to this rule. The Corps actively encourages intellectual exploration and dissent; however, the Marines are a unique and special breed.)

All of which argues, I wrote, for maintaining the current policy: because the current policy allows gay men and women to serve discreetly and without conflict, and to do so without making a legal issue of their sexual status and sexual orientation. The American Spectator’s Philip Klein then wrote a thoughtful blog post in which he took exception to my case. Philip said my concerns were exaggerated and overblown. “To me, it’s hard to see what the fuss is about,” he wrote.

Well, it should be less hard now in light of recent Air Force censorship. The censorship occurred last week and involves the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins. Mr. Perkins had been invited (last October) to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base. But two days after the State of the Union Address, in which President Obama called for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Air Force rescinded Perkins’ invitation. The reason: Perkins had spoken out in support of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; and this, he was told by the Air Force, made his views “incompatible [for] military members who serve our elected officials and our Commander-in-Chief.”

Perkins is a veteran of the Marine Corps and an ordained minister. He expressed his dismay at being censored in two separate documents, a policy update and a press release, both published last week by the Family Research Council:
As one who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms, I am disappointed that I’ve been denied the opportunity to speak to members of the military, in a non-political way, solely because I exercised my free speech rights in a different forum.

It’s ironic that this blacklisting should occur because I called for the retention and enforcement of a valid federal statute…

Unfortunately, this is just a precursor of things to come in a post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military. This legislation would more than open the armed forces to homosexuals; it would lead to a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone who disapproves of homosexuality…

Military chaplains would bear the heaviest burden. Would their sermons be censored to prevent them from preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin?
Moreover, according to CNSNews, which, together with the Washington Times, broke the story:
“The [Air Force] Chaplain’s Office retracted Mr. Perkins’ invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable,” the Andrews base public affairs office said in a statement issued late Thursday, [February 25].

Censoring military veterans, ordained ministers, religious believers, cultural traditionalists, and civic-minded leaders like Tony Perkins is dismaying; however, it is, sadly, not surprising. It is, in fact, the inevitable end result of a series of statements made by key political and military leaders to the effect that being gay is on a par with being black or Asian. Never mind that being gay is, as Colin Powell pointed out back in 1993, a behavioral characteristic, whereas being black or Asian absolutely is not a behavioral characteristic.

Nonetheless, say key political and military leaders, gays must be accorded a specially protected legal status; and all those who don’t agree better shut up, resign or retire, and get out of the way. Twenty-year Navy veteran J.E. Dyer explained why this must be so at Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog.
Gays can already serve in the U.S. military; repealing DADT [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] isn’t about allowing them to [serve]. It’s about endorsing their sexual orientation in military operations and culture.

The course of hands-off neutrality is not an option in these realms; their unique character is to require affirmative policy. Civilians should start by understanding this.

The quiescent tolerance they think of in relation to their own lives must translate, in the military, into endorsement and administration of an explicit position.
Philip Klein discounts Dyer’s concerns as far-fetched hyperbole. I wish Philip were right; but alas, he is mistaken.

Straight firefighters in San Diego, for instance, were forced (in 2007) to march in a gay pride parade. The firefighters later sued and won a lawsuit for this infringement of their First Amendment rights; but most military personnel are neither inclined nor able to sue their military supervisors.

Most military personnel, in fact, quietly suffer whatever injustices they are forced to suffer at the hands of their superiors. Indeed, as Dyer observed:
There is no “neutral zone” in the military as there is in civilian life. The military operates on affirmative policy. It will administer open gay service on the basis that homosexuality must be acceptable to everyone in the service.

There is no basis for trusting in any quiescent barriers to the full implications of that, as the current plethora of legal issues arising from gay advocacy lawsuits makes clear.
Why, then, is the military considering a policy that purports to solve a problem which doesn’t exist (because lesbians and homosexuals can and do serve now, albeit discreetly), will infringe upon the First Amendment rights of military members, and likely will drive valuable personnel out of military service altogether?

These are good but politically inconvenient questions, which is why they escape the lips of the Big Media.


History's oldest hatred

by Jeff Jacoby

ANTI-SEMITISM is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds, so it is strange that it lacks a more meaningful name. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" -- a term coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a scientific-sounding euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred -- is particularly inane, since hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with Semites or being Semitic. (That is why those who protest that Arabs cannot be anti-Semitic since "Arabs are Semites too" speak either from ignorance or disingenuousness.)

Perhaps there is no good name for a virus as mutable and unyielding as anti-Semitism. "The Jews have been objects of hatred in pagan, religious, and secular societies," write Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager in Why the Jews?, their classic study of anti-Semitism. "Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as 'racists.' Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless cosmopolitans and ethnic chauvinists. Jews who assimilate have been called a 'fifth column,' while those who stay together spark hatred for remaining separate."

So hardy is anti-Semitism, it can flourish without Jews. Shakespeare's poisonous depiction of the Jewish moneylender Shylock was written for audiences that had never seen a Jew, all Jews having been expelled from England more than 300 years earlier. Anti-Semitic bigotry infests Saudi Arabia, where Jews have not dwelt in at least five centuries; its malignance is suggested by the government daily Al-Riyadh, which published an essay claiming that Jews have a taste for "pastries mixed with human blood."

There was Jew-hatred before there was Christianity or Islam, before Nazism or Communism, before Zionism or the Middle East conflict. This week Jews celebrate the festival of Purim, gathering in synagogues to read the biblical book of Esther. Set in ancient Persia, it tells of Haman, a powerful royal adviser who is insulted when the Jewish sage Mordechai refuses to bow down to him. Haman resolves to wipe out the empire's Jews and makes the case for genocide in an appeal to the king:

"There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among ... all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different from those of other peoples, and the king's laws they do not keep, so it is of no benefit for the king to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed." After winning royal assent, Haman makes plans "to annihilate, to kill and destroy all the Jews, the young and the elderly, children and women, in one day . . . and to take their property for plunder."

What drives such bloodlust? Haman's indictment accuses the Jews of lacking national loyalty, of insinuating themselves throughout the empire, of flouting the king's law. But the Jews of Persia had done nothing to justify Haman's murderous anti-Semitism -- just as Jews in later ages did nothing that justified their persecution under the Church or Islam, or their expulsion from so many lands in Europe and the Middle East, or their repression at the hands of Russian czars and Soviet commissars, or their slaughter by Nazi Germany. When the president of Iran today calls for the extirpation of the Jewish state, when a leader of Hamas vows to kill Jewish children around the world, when firebombs are hurled at synagogues in London and Paris and Chicago, it is not because Jews deserve to be victimized.

Some Jews are no saints, but the paranoid frenzy that is anti-Semitism is not explained by what Jews do, but by what they are. The Jewish people are the object of anti-Semitism, not its cause. That is why the haters' rationales can be so wildly inconsistent and their agendas so contradictory. What, after all, do those who vilify Jews as greedy bankers have in common with those who revile them as seditious Bolsheviks? Nothing, save an irrational obsession with Jews.

At one point in the book of Esther, Haman lets the mask slip. He boasts to his friends and family of "the glory of his riches, and the great number of his sons, and everything in which the king had promoted him and elevated him." Still, he seethes with rage and frustration: "Yet all this is worthless to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." That is the unforgivable offense: "Mordechai the Jew" refuses to blend in, to abandon his values, to be just like everyone else. He goes on sitting there -- undigested, unassimilated, and for that reason unbearable.

Of course Haman had his ostensible reasons for targeting Jews. So did Hitler and Arafat; so does Ahmadinejad. Sometimes the anti-Semite focuses on the Jew's religion, sometimes on his laws and lifestyle, sometimes on his national identity or his professional achievements. Ultimately, however, it is the Jew's Jewishness, and the call to higher standards that it represents, that the anti-Semite cannot abide.

With all their flaws and failings, the Jewish people endure, their role in history not yet finished. So the world's oldest hatred endures too, as obsessive and indestructible -- and deadly -- as ever.


A jaundiced Leftist view of the world's most politically incorrect politician

Silvio is very Italian -- with the disrespect for rules that is characteristic of Italians. He just does and says what he thinks. Comment from Australia below

On and on through the centuries Italian culture, design, art, style, food and wine have uplifted our lives. Surely we can forgive them one or two excesses, such as Silvio Berlusconi, the grinning former cruise ship crooner, who amassed a media fortune and wound up as Prime Minister.

YouTube has plenty of Silvio's excesses on display. One piece of footage has him about to enter his official limousine when he sees a female parking officer bent over the bonnet of a car writing a ticket. He does the unthinkable, stepping right behind the auto della polizia femminile to make some pelvic-thrusting gestures. Hilarious stuff - well at least Silvio thought so. One shudders to think of the consequences if ever Kevin Rudd thought this might be a fun thing to try.

Most Italians seem immune to their Prime Minister's bizarre behaviour. That is not to say everyone is happy. Silvia Greco, a freelance journalist living in Sydney, visited her homeland only to find apathy and docility about Berlusconi.

She wrote about her experiences for The Australian Financial Review last November under the headline ''Via Dolorosa, Italia''. Greco was amazed so few people protested about Berlusconi's affairs with prostitutes, his system of patronage for the most eye-catching of women and the allegations of corruption which see him ducking and weaving through the courts and denouncing the judiciary. She wrote: ''Undoubtedly Berlusconi used his television channels to bewilder the country, crushing opposing voices and creating a grotesquely vulgar society full of naked girls and arrogant politicians.''

Her relatively short article was accompanied by an illustration from the artist Michael Fitzjames. It was a map of Italy, renamed Berlusconia, with the main towns and cities also renamed into places such as as ''Necappi'' and ''Ponzi''.

This was not greeted in a docile fashion by sections of the Italian community in Australia and the Italian government. The AFR has received hundreds of letters protesting at this ''national vilification''. There is now an online petition for Silvia Greco to be stripped of her Italian citizenship. Inviolable values have been transgressed.

Last month La Fiamma, one of the large Italian-language newspapers published in Australia, reported that the Italian Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Stefania Craxi, had replied to a question from the Melbourne-based Italian senator Nino Randazzo. The senator wanted to know what action has been taken by the government over the ''insulting article and cartoon''? La Fiamma said the ''offensive episode [is] unprecedented in the annals of Italo-Australian relations''.

Importantly, La Fiamma revealed a bustle of diplomatic activity over the crisis. Craxi said ''the Italian Embassy in Canberra reacted immediately''. There was a meeting in Canberra with the man at the Europe desk in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Richard Maude. Craxi added the embassy ''set in motion a campaign promoted by the Italian-language newspapers Il Globo and La Fiamma, for the collection of signatures and letters of protest''. According to this report, the Italian government precipitated the protests.

It didn't end there. In Rome, gaskets were being blown at the Farnesina, home of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The director-general for Asia and Oceania met the Australian ambassador Amanda Vanstone. Craxi reported Vanstone ''briefly recalled the excellent state of bilateral relations'', nonetheless was ''sorry for what had happened … then emphasised that the contents of the article in no way reflects the sentiments of the Australian government and people''.

The Human Rights Commission has received 145 complaints. They have asked that the newspaper publish each month an article extolling the beauty of Italy, apologise and pay compensation of $2000 each for the time, grievance and expense this trauma has caused.

Last October The Guardian reported that Berlusconi plans to establish a taskforce to fight bad international press about his sexual and corruption woes. ''An emergency taskforce is to be established within a month to monitor airwaves and newsstands the world over for coverage of Italy and bombard foreign newsrooms with good news about the country.'' The plan was announced by Italy's tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, a former TV journalist with Berlusconi's Mediaset group. Well, it seems to be up and operating at full tilt. Berlusconi seeks to extend his control of the media to the far nooks of the globe.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here 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 March, 2010

Pupils aged five on hate register: Teachers must log playground taunts for British Government database

It's the government that hates normal kids

Heads will be forced to list children as young as five on school 'hate registers' over everyday playground insults. Even minor incidents must be recorded as examples of serious bullying and details kept on a database until the pupil leaves secondary school. Teachers are to be told that even if a primary school child uses homophobic or racist words without knowing their meaning, simply teaching them such words are hurtful and inappropriate is not enough.

Instead the incident has to be recorded and his or her behaviour monitored for future signs of 'hate' bullying. The accusations will also be recorded in databases held by councils and made available to Whitehall and ministers to help them devise future anti-bullying campaigns.

The scale of the effort to stop children using homophobic or racist language was revealed after the parents of a ten-year-old primary school pupil in Somerset, Peter Drury, were told that his name would be put on a register and his behaviour monitored while he remained at school. The boy was reported after he called a friend 'gay boy'. His parents fear the record of homophobic bullying will count against him throughout his school career and even into adulthood.

In another incident last year a six-year-old girl, Sharona Gower, was reported for 'racist bullying' at her school near Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Sharona was chased by two 11-year-old girls, one of whom taunted her that she had chocolate on her face. The six-year-old responded to one of the girls, who was black: 'Well, you've got chocolate on yours.'

Many schools nationwide have already followed advice that they should record incidents of alleged racist, homophobic or anti-disability bullying. One report last year by the Manifesto Club civil liberties think-tank said that 40,000 children each year are having racist charges added to their school records.

But ministers aim to make reporting of supposed 'hate taunting' a legal requirement for every school, primary as well as secondary, and every local authority across the country from the beginning of the new school year in September. Incidents considered serious will have to be reported to local authorities. Children's Secretary Ed Balls is set to introduce rules that, officials said, 'will mean that schools will have to record and report serious or recurring incidents of bullying to their local authority. 'This will include incidents of bullying and racism between pupils and abuse or bullying of school staff. The Government is clear that schools must take seriously any complaints made of abuse or bullying by pupils.'

Head teachers were first advised to keep records of racist incidents eight years ago. Then, in 2007, heads were told to include disability-related and homophobic bullying in their tallies. Rules for heads say that using language such as 'gay' - which has had near-universal usage among British schoolchildren in recent years to denote something as inferior - counts as homophobic bullying, even if pupils do not have any homophobic intention in mind when using the word. Primary school pupils must be taught 'the nature and consequences of homophobic bullying', according to the rules.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: 'The majority of schools already record incidents of bullying. 'However, we want to make sure that all schools have measures in place to prevent and tackle bullying and show they are taking it seriously.'

But concerns have been raised that the system turns everyday banter among children into incidents of racism or homophobia when none was meant. Margaret Morrissey, founder of campaign group Parents Outloud, said: 'This is totally appalling. The use of such language is part of the learning process. Children need to learn where the boundaries lie. And I very much doubt they understand what they are saying. 'This does not mean that the behaviour shouldn't be challenged. It must be explained that it is wrong. But to keep a register that will haunt them for years to come is going far too far and is against all rights.'

Michele Elliott of the charity Kidscape said: 'Children are being criminalised and singled out here from a very early age when they don't know what they're doing.'

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'Abuse in the playground has always happened and always will. 'Children have to learn to take this as part of growing up and you can't punish children for doing something they don't understand while they are very young.'

Penny Drury was furious when her ten-year-old son Peter was put on the local education authority's 'hate list' after he called a friend a 'gay boy' outside school. Mrs Drury, 43, was called into her son's primary school to be told by the headmaster that another mother had heard Peter using homophobic language. She was told that the incident would be registered and his file monitored while he was at Ashcombe Primary School in Westonsuper-Mare, Somerset.

'He doesn't even understand about the birds and the bees, so how can he be homophobic?' said Mrs Drury, pictured with Peter. 'Peter is a very naive boy who didn't know what he was doing and is now very upset as he is now in trouble. It doesn't mean he is going to turn into a homophobic attacker when he is older. 'He must have picked up the word from somewhere and thought it to mean stupid. 'If I heard it I would have been the first to correct him and tell him not to use it, but putting him on a register seems way over the top.'

Mrs Drury and her husband Brian, a manufacturing manager, asked for Peter to be removed from the register but to no avail. Mrs Drury added: 'I'm now worried if this is going to affect him applying for universities in the future. I just think the whole thing would be better sorted out by the teacher or parent explaining to them that their language is wrong and not to do it again.'


When rhetoric rules the roost

There is something pathetic about what passes as European foreign policy these days. Quite simply, more often than not, the concerted positions of the EU member nations have nothing to do with any of their national interests.

Take the EU’s initial response to the killing of Hamas terror-master Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19. A senior terrorist engaging in the illegal purchase of illicit arms from Iran for Hamas-controlled Gaza is killed in his hotel room. The same Dubai authorities who had no problem with hosting a wanted international terrorist worked themselves into a frenzy condemning his killing. And of course, despite the fact that any number of governments, (Egypt and Jordan come to mind), and rival terrorist organizations, (Fatah, anyone?) had ample reason to wish to see Mabhouh dead, Dubai’s police chief Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim blamed Israel.

Not only did he blame Israel, to substantiate his claims, Tamim released what he said was video footage of alleged Mossad operatives who entered Dubai with European and Australian passports.

Relying only on Tamim’s allegations, EU leaders went into high dudgeon. Ignoring the nature of the operation, the basic lack of credibility of the source of information, and the interests of Europe in defeating jihadist terrorism in the Middle East and worldwide, the chanceries of Europe squawked indignantly and threatened to cut off intelligence cooperation with Israel.

In Britain for instance, Foreign Office sources told the Daily Telegraph, “If the Israelis were responsible for the assassination in Dubai, they are seriously jeopardizing the important intelligence-sharing arrangement that currently exists between Britain and Israel.”

It reportedly took the intervention of the highest echelons of Europe’s intelligence agencies to get their hysterical politicians and diplomats to stop blaming and threatening Israel. After being dressed down, on Monday, the chastened EU foreign ministers abstained from mentioning Israel by name in their joint condemnation of the alleged use of European passports by the alleged operatives who allegedly killed the terrorist Mabhouh.

And lucky they held their tongues. Because on Tuesday, Tamim claimed that after the hit, at least two of the alleged members of the alleged assassination team departed Dubai for Iran. It’s hard to imagine Mossad officers feeling safer in Iran than in Dubai at any time and certainly it is hard to see why they would flee to Iran after killing an Iranian-sponsored terrorist.

What the initial European reaction to Tamim’s allegations shows is that blaming Israel has become Europe’s default foreign policy. It apparently never occurred to the Europeans that Israel might not be responsible for the hit. And it certainly never occurred to them that cutting off intelligence ties with Israel will harm them more than Israel. They didn’t think of the latter, of course, because Europe has no idea of what its interests are. All it knows is how to sound off authoritatively.

THIS HAS not always been the case. It was after all Europe that brought the world the art of rational statecraft. Once upon a time, Europe’s leaders understood that a nation’s foreign policy was supposed to be based on its national interests. To advance their nation’s interests, governments would adopt certain policies. And to facilitate the success of those policies they developed rhetorical arguments to explain and defend them.

Contemporary European statecraft stands this traditional foreign policy model on its head. Today, rhetoric rules the roost. If actions are taken at all, they are adopted in the service of rhetoric. As for national interests, well, the Lisbon Treaty that effectively bars EU member states from adopting independent foreign policies took care of those.

With national interests subordinated to the whims of bureaucrats in Brussels, Europe does little of value in the international arena. As for its rhetoric, as the EU’s rush to threaten Israel for allegedly killing a terrorist shows, it is cowardly, ineffectual and self-defeating. If the Mossad did in fact kill Mabhouh, then the operation was an instance in which Israel distinguished itself from its European detractors by acting, rather than preening.

Unfortunately, such instances are increasingly the exception rather than the rule. Over the past 16 years or so, Israel largely descended into the European statecraft abyss. Rather than use rhetoric to explain policies adopted to advance its national interests, successive Israeli governments have adopted policies geared toward strengthening their rhetoric that itself stands in opposition to Israel’s national interests.

Take Israel’s positions on Iran and the Palestinians, for instance. Regarding the Iranians, Israel’s national interest is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Today, the only way to secure this interest is to use force to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. Given Iran’s leaders’ absolute commitment to developing nuclear weapons, no sanctions – regardless of how “crippling” they are supposed to be – will convince them to curtail their efforts to build and deploy their nuclear arsenal. Beyond that, and far less important, the Russians and the Chinese will refuse to implement “crippling sanctions,” against Iran.

IN LIGHT of these facts, it is distressing that Israel’s leaders have made building an international coalition in support of “crippling” sanctions against Iran their chief aim. And this is not merely a rhetorical flourish. Over the past several weeks and months, Israel’s top leaders have devoted themselves to lobbying foreign governments to support sanctions against Iran. Last week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went to Moscow to gin up support for sanctions from the Russian government. This week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to the UN and the State Department and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon flew off to Beijing just to lobby senior officials to support sanctions.

It isn’t simply that this behavior doesn’t contribute anything to Israel’s ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. It harms Israel’s ability to do so, if only by diverting our leaders’ focus from where it should be: preparing the IDF to strike and preparing the country to withstand whatever the after-effects of such a strike would be. Moreover, by calling for sanctions, Israel contributes to the delusion that sanctions are sufficient to block Iran’s race to the nuclear finish line.....

To avoid Europe’s encroaching fate, Israel must abandon its current course. The purpose of rhetoric is to support policies adopted in the pursuit of a nation’s interests. And Israel has interests in need of urgent advancement.

More here

Geert Wilders to visit Britain

The article below from "The Times" is a bit biased but is informative nonetheless. Rather infantile to make his hair an issue. If that's the best the British establishment can do, it doesn't say much for their argument

Boyish, topped with a bouffant mane of bleached blond hair, cheerful and cherubic, Geert Wilders is the unlikely new face of the far Right in Europe. But appearances are deceptive. The leader of the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party has emerged as one of the most divisive politicians in Europe, the purveyor of a virulent brand of anti-Islamic rhetoric that calls for a tax on Islamic headscarves and a ban on the Koran, which he likens to Mein Kampf.

Mr Wilders is facing trial in a Dutch court for “inciting hatred”. Last year he was banned from Britain and turned away at Heathrow when he arrived here planning to show his short film, an incendiary anti-Islamic diatribe that the Dutch Prime Minister described as serving “no purpose other than to offend”.

On Friday, after successfully appealing against the Home Office ban, Mr Wilders will return to Britain at the invitation of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to show his controversial film to an invited audience at the House of Lords. The English Defence League is expected to demonstrate in his support and Muslim groups are all but certain to mount protests.

To his enemies, the 46-year-old Dutchman is an old-fashioned racist demagogue in a new suit; a bottle-blond bigot. To his growing ranks of supporters he is a champion of free speech, a bulwark against what he calls “the Islamic invasion of Holland”. He may be dismissed by some as a crank but he is an increasingly powerful and popular one. On February 20 the Dutch centrist coalition Government collapsed, deeply divided over keeping troops in Afghanistan, paving the way for a general election in June in which the Freedom Party is expected to do extremely well. Polls suggest that the party will triple its tally of seats, becoming at least the second-biggest parliamentary party and quite possibly the overall winner. Mr Wilders is likely to be a key player in any coalition, with a profound impact on the political agenda.

Nicknamed “Mozart” on account of a platinum hairdo that looks strikingly like an 18th-century wig, Mr Wilders has played on the dischords in Dutch society with virtuoso skill. As in Britain, many Dutch voters are alarmed by the scale of immigration, battered by the global economic crisis, culturally anxious and increasingly receptive to his grim warnings about a “tsunami of Islamification”.

The political heir to Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch populist politician who called for a halt to Muslim immigration and who was murdered in the 2002 election campaign, Mr Wilders has portrayed himself as the only politician in his country brave enough to stand up to militant Islam, a threat that he has compared to Nazism. “A century ago there were approximately 50 Muslims in the Netherlands. Today there are about one million. Where will it end? We are heading for the end of European civilisation,” he predicts. Promising strict limits on immigration, he has also called for a “head-rag tax” of €1,000 (£922) a year on Muslim women wearing headscarves.

In 2008 he released a 15-minute film entitled Fitna (the Arabic word for “strife”) which provoked outrage across the Muslim world: it opens with an image of the Koran, followed by footage of terrorist attacks and a litany of stonings, beheadings, honour killings, homophobia and child marriages. It ends, predictably, with the Danish cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked fury in 2006. Al-Qaeda is believed to have ordered the killing of Mr Wilders after the film was released. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, has described the Dutch politician as “offensively anti-Islamic”. His most incendiary remarks are aimed at the Koran, which he calls a fascist book. “The Koran incites to hatred and calls for murder and mayhem,” Mr Wilders told the Dutch Parliament. “It is an absolute necessity that the Koran be banned for the defence and reinforcement of our civilisation and our constitutional state.”

In January a Dutch court ordered the public prosecutor to try Mr Wilders on charges of fomenting hatred and discrimination. Mr Wilders indicated that he would call witnesses in order to prove Koran-inspired violence, including Mohammed Bouyeri, the man convicted of murdering the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

Although he faces 16 months in prison if convicted, the trial represents a political goldmine for Mr Wilders and helps to explain his recent rise in opinion polls. If he is convicted he will paint himself as martyr to political correctness; if he is acquitted he will claim vindication. The trial has been suspended until after the election.

Inadvertently, Britain also did much to boost his standing in February last year by banning him from entering the country as an “undesirable person”, citing EU laws enabling member states to exclude someone whose presence could threaten public security. Mr Wilders loudly condemned Gordon Brown as “the biggest coward in Europe” and some 84 per cent of Dutch voters objected to the way that Mr Wilders had been ejected by Britain.

The ban was later overturned by an asylum and immigration tribunal. On Friday, at the invitation of the UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Baroness Cox of Queensbury, he will show Fitna to MPs, peers and guests before giving a press conference at Westminster.

“The issue of militant Islam is the greatest issue facing our Judeo-Christian culture,” Lord Pearson said. “I don’t agree that the Koran should be banned but we want it discussed ... mild Muslims should stand up and debate their militant co-religionists.”

Mr Wilders has sought to distance himself and his party from the traditional standard-bearers of the extreme Right in Europe, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front in France and the late Jörg Haider of the Freedom Party in Austria. He has made no contact with the BNP. “My allies are not Le Pen and Haider,” he says. “I’m very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups.” His prime political role models are said to be Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.

The son of a printer, Mr Wilders was raised Roman Catholic but is now an atheist. He worked in a Dutch social insurance agency before becoming a speechwriter and then MP for the liberal People’s Party, which he left in 2004 to form his own party.

As a prime terrorist target he lives under 24-hour police guard, changing his location nightly. He is seldom seen in public and gives few interviews. Even contact with his wife, a Dutch-Hungarian former diplomat, is limited by security concerns, This way of life, under constant threat, is “a situation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy”, he once remarked.

“They are trying to shoot him all the time,” says Lord Pearson, noting that Mr Wilders will be coming to Britain with five state-hired Dutch bodyguards. “He has a really, really tough existence.”

Mr Wilders opposes expansion of the EU, most particularly Turkish membership, and Dutch military deployment in Afghanistan, but the core of his message lies in an appeal to defend traditional Dutch culture against perceived encroachment by Islam. “Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe,” he told the Dutch Parliament. “Stop all immigration from Muslim countries, ban all building of new mosques, close all Islamic schools, ban burkas and the Koran ... Stop Islamification. Enough is enough!”

Some polls suggest that after the June elections Mr Wilders may lead the biggest single parliamentary party, raising the prospect that a former fringe provincial politician with extreme views and peculiar hair could end up leading the country. “At some point it’s going to happen and then it will be a big honour to fulfil the post of prime minister,” he says. If that comes to pass it will mark both the triumph of a new, more subtle brand of right-wing politics in Europe, and the final demise of the stereotyped image of the Netherlands as a nation of bland liberal views and easygoing tolerance.


The penalties of being a fussy middle-class woman

"I chose to have a baby without a father and it's brought me huge joy - but also chaos, exhaustion and despair"

A couple of nights ago, I tiptoed out of my two-year-old daughter's bedroom, having tucked her up with her beloved Doggy - a revolting scrap of balding fur with a torn nose and one eye - pressed up against her cheek. Millie had warm milk in her tummy and there were endless verses of The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round spinning in the air. I was stopped short in the doorway by a chirpy call of: 'Goodnight, Mama!'

Granted, it wasn't a quotation from Hamlet, but when it's your first child wishing you goodnight for the first time in her 24-month existence, having heard you whisper it to her with your every goodnight kiss, it generates an exquisite flutter of delight and the mad desire to run and share it with someone special.

In my case, that was my mum. And then my best friend Christine. And then my other best friend Adam. They were all out, so they heard my news by voicemail several hours later. Not for the first time, as I sat on the sofa, hugging my knees to my chest, bursting with pride and dripping with tears of joy, I wished my daughter's father could be by my side, to gasp and coo with me at yet another tiny, but momentous, development in our daughter's life.

But that's never going to happen, because my daughter hasn't got a father. She's the donor- conceived child of a single mother, the result of an agonising decision I made some years ago, complete with its intricately complex and agonising repercussions.

So, when I read Zoe Lewis's poignant and admirably honest description in Saturday's Daily Mail of her fears and doubts about her decision to go it alone as a single mother, I understood her turmoil better than most people. And it made me want to give her a hug and tell her that everything is going to be fine. Tiring, but fine. Because I've been there, felt that, doubted that, feared that and lived to tell the tale with ceaseless delight and a lot of pride, however difficult I've found it at times.

For all the joy a new life brings, it's going to be a tough road ahead for Zoe, whether it's the practical hardships you think you can prepare for or those emotional bombshells that explode when you least expect them.

Two years and two months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, conceived after five gruelling cycles of IVF using donor sperm. It was, and remains, the most spectacular experience of my life, the achievement of which I am most proud, the moment when I felt I truly became who I was destined to be. But it so very nearly did not happen. Unlike my core group of friends, I had remained single throughout my 30s - my biological clock shrieking, my options diminishing, anxiety and depression clouding my days.

Getting married and having children, that most common of experiences, seemed to be slipping out of my grasp. With great reluctance, I was forced to confront a terrifyingly stark choice: live the rest of my life childless; just hope Mr Right-ish would turn up at some point; or seize control of my future and try for a baby on my own.

Like Zoe, being a single mother wasn't what I wanted, or hoped for, or dreamt of. But not being a mother was unendurable. I steeled myself for tough times ahead, and I certainly got them. Four years of fertility treatment, five cycles of IVF, three failed pregnancies and a bill for £42,000.

The cost to my emotional, psychological and physical well-being was inestimable. But so was the joy of my daughter's arrival. There aren't sufficient words in the English language to express its magnitude. Euphoria doesn't even come close. And it's a feeling that's remained with me ever since.

For while I am ecstatic, awestruck, privileged and humbled on a daily basis, I am also semi-comatose with exhaustion and permanently worried about money and my ability to earn enough of it.

I am frustrated at being stuck in a small flat without a garden and a teensy bit tired of borrowing other people's husbands to put up shelves, assemble furniture and untangle my computer malfunctions. Single motherhood, I have found, for all its walks in the park, is not a walk in the park....

I made a decision to deny my child a father, and we live with the - at times unbearable - consequences of that decision every day. One morning last week, we arrived a little late at nursery. My daughter's class was in the middle of a play session and the teacher was holding up a series of pictures of activities - a man raking leaves, a woman baking a cake - and asking the children to identify them.

As I took off my daughter's coat and started changing her shoes, the teacher held up a picture of a man shaving and asked: 'Whose daddy shaves in the morning?' The entire class shouted back 'My daddy does! My daddy does!', while my little girl looked on bewildered.

Blinking back my tears, I gave her a massive cuddle, praying she hadn't fully understood the question, and whispered into her neck 'I love you', as I picked up my coat to leave. 'I ruff oo!' she called back cheerfully, as I reached the door, beaming for all her worth.

I dissolved into tears in the car and sobbed for most of the day. I've put us into this delicate and complex situation, it's my responsibility to deal with it, but it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

No single woman I know who has followed the same path as me has done so lightly or without a considerable battle with her conscience. My feeling is that we didn't actively choose to become 'single mothers'; we actively chose not to be childless. And I believe there's a profound and easily ignored difference. I would never advocate single motherhood as a lifestyle option; it's tougher than you could ever imagine, stressful, exhausting, expensive and fraught with complications, both obvious and subtle.

More here


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

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

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


3 March, 2010

Bureaucratized British firefighters left woman in mine shaft for six hours due to 'health and safety concerns'

They were obviously not concerned with HER health and safety

An injured woman lay for six hours at the foot of a disused mine shaft because safety rules banned firefighters from rescuing her, an inquiry heard yesterday. As Alison Hume was brought to the surface by mountain rescuers she died of a heart attack.

A senior fire officer at the scene admitted that crews could only listen to her cries for help, after she fell down the 60ft shaft, because regulations said their lifting equipment could not be used on the public. A memo had been circulated in Strathclyde Fire and Rescue stations months previously stating that it was for use by firefighters only.

Christopher Rooney, the first senior fire officer at the scene in Galston, Ayrshire, in 2008, told the fatal accident inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court that it would have been possible to pull Ms Hume up had it not been for the memo. A paramedic volunteered to treat her but was prevented from being lowered. A mountain rescue team that was summoned freed Ms Hume, 44, a solicitor who had two children, but she died just as she was brought to the surface.

Mr Rooney, 51, who has retired from the fire service, was asked by Gregor Forbes, for Ms Hume’s family: “On the basis of the manpower and equipment available, is it your view it would have been possible for the firefighters to have brought the person to the surface before the mountain rescue team?” he replied: “Yes, I believe so.” Ms Hume had strayed off a path in a field and fallen into the former Goatfoot mine.

Mr Rooney said he had arrived at 2.30am but mist reduced visibility. Ms Hume’s family led him to the hole, which was partially concealed by vegetation. “We heard Alison making distressed noises,” Mr Rooney said.

A firefighter, Alexander Dunn, was lowered with oxygen and first-aid equipment. He was with Ms Hume for four hours until the mountain team arrived. He told the inquiry that the time taken to rescue her was “excessive”. Mr Dunn, 51, who is retired, was critical of the subsequent fire service debriefing, saying it failed to address key points.


Another example of how the perverted British police and prosecutors loathe self-defence

This brave guy should never have been charged

A homeowner who killed an armed intruder and seriously injured another man after they broke into his flat [apartmebt] has been cleared of murder today. Samuel Quamina, 49, was confronted by three men brandishing a pistol and a metal steering lock as he read the Bible in his home. He armed himself with two kitchen knives and slashed at the burglars as they attempted to grab his gold necklace and rings.

Perry Nelson Jr, 24, of Norbury, south London, suffered a fatal stab wound and died at King's College Hospital after running from the bungled raid. His 41-year-old alleged accomplice was also injured and a third man, aged 38, escaped unharmed.

Mr Quamina was today cleared at Croydon Crown Court of three charges including murder, manslaughter and actual bodily harm.

His police statement told how the 30-second violent ordeal took place in his flat in Peckham, south-east London, at about 8pm on September 10, last year. During the trial, Mr Quamina had contended he was a religious man who had acted in self-defence. He said on the day of the attack he had been reading the bible while smoking a ‘spliff’ when a friend came around to borrow a CD. The three men burst into the second-storey flat as the friend left.

He told investigators two music speakers fell from a wall in the brawl, smashing down on his attackers and disarming them. Mr Quamina said he was ‘terrified’ and thought the three men wanted to rob and kill him, so he took two knives from the kitchen and slashed the attackers as they attempted to steal the jewellery he was wearing.

The case is the latest to highlight to what extent self defence can legally be used when protecting against burglars. Last month Tory leader David Cameron fuelled the debate by saying intruders leave their human rights at the door when they break in to a property. He said only those who use ‘grossly disproportionate force’ should be put in the dock and that his party will review the law.

Prosecutors have insisted that householders are able to use ‘reasonable force’ to defend themselves and protect their property. [So this guy was being unreasonable???]


Free speech destroyed by political correctness

Jake Witzenfeld, president of Cambridge University’s Israel Society cancelled a talk by Benny Morris, a distinguished Israeli historian, for fear the Israel Society would be portrayed as a mouthpiece for Islamophobia.

The trial of Geert Wilders, in Holland, has received almost no attention from the media panjandrums in the West for fear the issue might lead to Muslim incitement, particularly in cities like Rotterdam where the Islamic population is near a majority.

Yale University Press refused to publish cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed in a book about the cartoons and the aftermath of the original publication, for fear of a possible violent response from Islamic adherents.

Yes, these craven responses all appear with the word “fear” since that word has trampled the meaning of freedom in nations that have fought for its defense over centuries. In one moment, intimidation has trumped free speech and cowardice has subordinated any display of courage.

I find it astonishing that a heralded center of learning, a major university press and a nation that once fought against totalitarian impulses could so easily justify their actions. Whatever happened to a belief in freedom of speech and a faith in the power of debate to reveal the truth that counters censorship?

It is instructive that the fear someone might claim you are racist or Islamophic – even if you know you aren’t and if you know the speaker isn’t – may justify a refusal to hear someone’s point of view. Following this precedent, any serious discussion of Middle East politics, or Muslim inspired terrorism of religion itself should be banned since there are invariably those who will portray opinions they don’t like as hateful and, yes, racist.

What these three illustrations demonstrate is that slander can be converted into an effective weapon to stifle expression. When Muslims are concerned about opinions that don’t fit with their worldview, they can raise the specter of retaliation and attack a speaker with epithets, such as Islamophia, and mirabile dictu speech is silenced.

It is hard to know exactly when this form of preemptive capitulation began. However, when the United Kingdom refused to admit Geert Wilders for a public presentation fearing his speech might be a source of incitement, this nation that carried the banner of free speech from the Magna Carta to the defense of liberty in World War II seems to have lost its way. Apparently the most basic right, the one generations had taken for granted, is now in jeopardy in the very venues liberty once found a congenial home.

From Voltaire to Jefferson, warnings about the way free speech can be imperiled filled the pages of various broadsides. It is remarkable that the canon on free speech can be so easily overturned by the masters of political correctness. Alas, if free speech can be denied to Geert Wilders or leading intellectuals, it can be denied to anyone. Would I be permitted to speak at Cambridge University if I did not comply with the prevailing intellectual orthodoxy? Could I publish a book that points to the imperial goals in Islam? Would it be possible to invite an Israeli scholar who defends his nation’s policies to a forum at a Middle East Studies program anywhere in the West?

After all, a few sentences twisted into an incendiary comment by a concerned listener can result in violent repercussions. Or, claims about the speaker – true or not – may result in the withdrawal of an invitation. Universities are so skittish at the moment that even the appearance of potential controversy is conspicuously avoided.

Tolstoy once noted that “The opinion of a revered writer or thinker can have a deep influence on society; it can also be a big obstacle to understanding the truth.” Indeed that is the case with many venerated thinkers. But it is also true that the biggest obstacle in pursuit of the truth, is the systematic interference of free speech, an interference that becomes particularly lamentable when it is done voluntarily, when the invocation of fear is sufficient to drown out expression.


Is That Your Hand In My Pocket?

The playwright Jonathan Holmes indulges in some special pleading for the arts, and for people much like himself.
All three parties find themselves scrambling for a coherent arts policy, with the Tories currently making the running by suggesting a combination of a revamped lottery contribution plus a peculiar beast they are calling “philanthrocapitalism.” What they seem to mean by this is that businesses and wealthy individuals will make up the shortfall left behind when Jeremy Hunt and co have finished taking the Arts Council to pieces – in other words, a spectacular piece of wishful thinking.
Now might be a good time to ask whose thinking is most wishful here. If the art world’s theoretical customers don’t regard what’s on offer as of sufficient value to hand over their cash directly, voluntarily, then isn’t that telling us something? Isn’t it a tad grandiose to expect one’s commercially unviable art to be subsidised by the taxpayer - irrespective of whether those taxpayers would choose to fork over their cash, which they most likely had to earn by doing something of more obvious market value? Sadly, Mr Holmes doesn’t quite get to grips with such basics or their moral implications. He teases us, though, with this:
Lurking underneath all this there is, of course, a much bigger issue. Why should the arts receive any subsidy at all? The first argument is that almost everyone else is subsidised too, so why not the arts?
Despite the regularity with which it’s aired, this is a not the strongest argument to advance. The fact that six people already have their hands in my back pocket isn’t the most persuasive reason for inviting in a seventh, eighth and ninth. There is, after all, only so much pocket. Mr Holmes then changes tack.
The arts in this country are a major financial success story. The income from creative industries generates revenues of around £112.5bn, and they employ more than 1.3 million people, which is 5% of the total employed workforce in the UK.
Note the sly use of the term “creative industries,” which includes advertising, commercial television, recording studios, graphic designers, computer games developers... i.e., businesses run as businesses and which generate profit because what they produce is of value to their customers, as determined by their customers and not by some imperious committee. Finally, the big guns are wheeled out to thunder.
A mature democracy should have the courage and the understanding to see the debt it owes its artists,
What? You didn’t expect modesty, did you?
and to continue to support them, because what it gets in return – economically, socially, aesthetically, philosophically – is almost immeasurably greater than that which it dispenses.
Oh, don’t look shocked. It’s hard to recall a Guardian arts funding piece that didn’t invoke both selfless heroism and cruel persecution.
The benefits of the arts are such a no-brainer, so obvious, that the sole genuine reason for cuts is censorship of some form. In the 20th century, the only governments to systematically attack the arts have been the ones that also attacked democracy.
Note how the prospect of reducing coercive taxpayer subsidy is framed rather grandly as “censorship” of artists - and by implication an attack on democracy itself. No other genuine motive could possibly exist. Those who would rather keep a little more of their own earnings and choose for themselves which art forms they indulge are clearly monsters. We’ve heard this pompous guff before of course, as when Hanif Kureishi and the Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington conjured a world in which artistic “dissent” was being “suppressed” by suggestions that artists might actually consider earning a living.
Yet the most profound argument for art runs much deeper than any of this. Art, very simply, is how we comment on our world, how we speak truth to power.
Blimey. Sceptical readers may wonder if Mr Holmes thinks a little too highly of his vocation and its political, sociological - indeed, cosmic - importance. And one has to wonder who has more power in the current funding formulation. The taxpayer, who is forced to bankroll projects regardless of personal interest or objection, or those who take the taxpayer’s money and expect to go on doing so?


Why Do Arabs Hate Google?

The “suggest” feature on Google often causes controversy, because Google suggests what Google users often search for, and Google users — like most inhabitants of the planet Earth — are notoriously politically incorrect. The most frequently searched topics can be quite offensive, and when offense is being taken, who do you think is standing at the head of the queue, ready to claim their share?

You guessed right! So it’s no surprise to find an article in Arab News with the headline “Google slammed for suggesting ‘smelly Arabs’”:

The ‘Google Suggest’ feature, a labor saving device designed to predict queries will automatically suggest completing your query with ‘why do Arabs stink?’ or ‘why do Arabs have big noses?’

This sounded like a real hoot, so I opened Google and tried it out. Here’s a screen cap of the result (which was still allowed by Google as of this morning):

Why do Arabs

After I stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes, I continued reading the article:
It is not hard to understand why Arab interest groups such as the London-based Arab Media Watch (AMW) have started to remonstrate against the suggestions.

“What’s worrying is that these (suggestions) are based on the overall popularity of searches, so if you may not have been looking for that, many other people have,” Guy Gabriel, advisor to AMW told The Media Line. “We’re in a day and age where the Internet is a tool by which we break down barriers and learn more about different communities across the world so it’s alarming to notice on Google that this isn’t the case as it stands.”

This assertion doesn’t make sense. If we “learn more about different communities across the world”, we discover that — statistically speaking — Arabs tend to do some things more than other groups do, and those things include driving taxis, wearing turbans, owning gas stations, and wearing black. Yes, they really do write from right to left. And, not to put too fine a point on it, they also tend to throw rocks, fight with Jews, and lose wars.

Smelling bad is a matter of personal opinion, and everyone can determine that one for himself. As for “big noses”: if you took a pair of calipers to the schnozzes of a thousand Arabs and compared the result with a thousand toffee-nosed Brits or Yanks, what do you think you would find?

So what’s the big deal?

Well… Anything that offends Arabs is a big deal, so Google will probably have to “fix” this feature eventually. The AMW aims to make sure of it:

The organization advocating fair and objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media says Google is “failing in its aim to avoid offending a large audience of users,” and said the feature not only perpetuates stereotypes but also highlights a worrying trend among Google users.

“I’m not suggesting that Google are aware of this and they are refusing to do anything about it,” Gabriel said. “Now that it has been flagged, they are in a position to do something about it.”

In other words: Google, you have been warned.

AMW claimed that while searches regarding other ethnic groups produced a similar range of pejorative or stereotypical suggestions, queries about Arabs yielded more offensive results than other groups, and a search using Jews produced noticeably far less.

Yes, I can well imagine that this is the case. Familiarity breeds contempt, and over the last decade or so the English-speaking world has become very familiar with Arabs, perhaps much more familiar than it would like.

However, if the Arabs have ended up the losers in an ethnic popularity contest, the only possible explanation is our inherent racism and Islamophobia. What Arabs themselves say and do has no bearing on the matter — our “prejudice” is the only possible explanation.

What if those insulting suggestions concerned — to pick another ethnic group at random — the Danes? How would those proud Vikings react if such aspersions were cast upon them?

All the Danes I know would laugh themselves silly.

So I tried “Why do Danes” in the Google search box, and… Nothing! Google users don’t even care enough about Danes to ask insulting questions, and that’s the most insulting thing of all!

So I had to make up my own suggestion list for “Why do Danes”:

Are we offended yet?

I tried a lot of other ethnic groups, religions, and nationalities, and found Google to be a treasure trove of user preoccupations concerning Eskimos, Hindus, the Irish, Africans, Italians, Greeks, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Canadians, Australians, Britons, and Americans.

But my favorite “Why do” list was for the Turks. It contained only two items: “deny the genocide” and “smell bad”. Now, that’s succinct.

Google, despite its lofty PC intentions, has inadvertently created a massive database of ethnic stereotypes. If you want to find out all the insulting things that people think about, say, the French, just google “Why do French” and wait for the suggestions to pop up. Hint: the olfactory sense is involved here, too.

As a matter of fact, most people outside the Anglosphere seem to “smell bad”. Considering that this is an Anglophone list, I suppose that’s not surprising. A French person who googles a question about “les Anglais” might well turn up something uncomplimentary about all those malodorous goddams across the Sleeve.

But back to the Arabs. For some reason the Google suggestions left out the most relevant question of all:

Why do Arabs have such thin skins?



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

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

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


2 March, 2010

Royal Marine told to cover up regimental tattoo at Heathrow because it was 'offensive' to other passengers

A former Royal Marine was told to cover-up a tattoo of his regimental badge by security staff at Heathrow Airport, because it was 'offensive' to other passengers. Paul Fairclough, a former medic with the 539 Assault Squadron, was furious after he was challenged over the famous Marine dagger insignia as he arrived for a transfer flight. The 29-year-old, who served in Kosovo and Iraq, had just arrived at Terminal 5 from Toronto and was transferring for a Manchester flight when he was stopped by a female security operator as he passed through a metal detector.

After he put his bag on to an x-ray machine he was told to take his jacket off - revealing the 12-inch tattoo on his right arm. The female operator spotted the tattoo and said: 'That tattoo is offensive. You will have to cover it up.' The father-of-one, who joined the Army at 19 and now works as a safety officer on oil rigs, refused to cover the design and walked past the guard.

Mr Fairclough said: 'I tried to explain that she was mistaken and that it was the insignia of my old regiment, the Royal Marines. 'She said she knew exactly what it was but that it made no difference. They had a policy that tattoos showing offensive weapons of any kind must not be on show. 'I was half annoyed and told her that there was no way I was covering it up and I walked on as she glared at me. 'I half expected to feel a tap on my shoulder but I just walked through the arch and went on my way.'

Mr Fairclough, who lives with wife Nicky and 1-year-old son Matthew in Tranmere, Wirral, then attempted to make a complaint after passing through security. 'I demanded to see a supervisor to ask for an explanation. 'He said they had a policy that offensive tattoos connected with gangs and weapons must be covered-up in the airport. 'But he said there was no ban on military insignia tattoos and tried to explain it away by saying that the operator concerned must have made a mistake. 'When I said that she had insisted that she knew exactly that it was a Royal Marines' badge he tried to say she must not have been trained properly. 'He didn't apologise and I was left feeling insulted, angry and incensed. I served my country and lost mates who were blown-up in Iraq. 'I am proud of my service with the Royal Marines and this left a bitter taste in my mouth.'

The Commando dagger is the formation flash of the Royal Marine Commando regiment and reflects its ability to adapt to combat situations. It does not appear on their uniform, but does appear on the Royal Marines Commando insignia.

A spokesman for British Airports Authority at Heathrow said: 'This should not have happened. We have no policy against tattoos. 'We do sometimes ask passengers to cover-up things like slogans that would be offensive to other travellers, but that is clearly not case on this occasion. 'BAA would like to offer our sincere apologies to the passenger concerned.'


Lord Carey of Clifton: ‘Christianity is victim of bullying campaign’

Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned that Christianity is being marginalised by a “strident and bullying campaign” against the faith. Lord Carey, speaking at a symposium on Christian persecution in the House of Lords, said: “Christianity, which has given so much to our country, is now being sidelined as never before as though it is a stranger to our nation.”

Warning that Britain’s Christian heritage was in danger of being abandoned, he continued: “We have reached a point where politicians are mocked for merely expressing their faith. I cannot imagine any politician expressing concern that Britain should remain a Christian country. That reticence is a scandal and a disgrace to our history.”

He urged Christians to become more assertive about their faith: “If we behave like doormats, don't be surprised if we are treated as though we are. It is time to return to the public square.”

Recently, a number of Christians have been sacked or suspended for speaking about their faith. Olive Jones, a teacher who lost her job for asking permission to pray for a sick pupil, told the meeting: “Twenty years of teaching dismissed for sharing the goodness of God in this Christian nation. I felt I had been treated as a criminal.” Caroline Petrie, a nurse, was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, said: “I was told if I continued what I was doing I would be struck off the nurses’ register.” She was reinstated after seeking legal assistance.


British police do deal with Islamic radical

Sir Ian Blair signed a formal agreement with an Islamic extremist to treat him as the Metropolitan Police’s "principal" representative of the Muslim community, it can be disclosed. The activist, Azad Ali, was accepted by the Met as a trusted interlocutor. The force also agreed to give him information on forthcoming anti-terror raids. – Mr Ali has previously justified the killing of British troops in Iraq, believes al Qaeda is a "myth," and has praised a key mentor of Osama bin Laden.

Mr Ali signed the deal, a copy of which has been seen by the Daily Telegraph, in his capacity as the then chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum – a body closely linked to the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE).

In yesterday's Sunday Telegraph a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, accused the IFE of infiltrating the Labour Party and British politics along the lines of the far-Left Militant Tendency in the 1980s. The IFE believes in jihad, sharia law and the transformation of Britain into an Islamic state. It will be the subject of a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary tonight.

The Muslim Safety Forum was set up, in its own words, to challenge the "unfair focus on the Muslim community when it came to policing activities and enforcement of anti- terror policing legislation." It was accepted by the police as a legitimate body. The agreement, dated December 2006 and personally signed by Mr Ali and Sir Ian, who was Commissioner of the Mat at the time, states: "The Commissioner will recognise the MSF as the principal body in relation to Muslim community safety and security."

Sir Ian or his deputy committed to meet Mr Ali and the MSF at least twice a year and to hold monthly meetings with the MSF at "New Scotland Yard or other suitable premises." Met chiefs, including counter-terrorist commanders, also committed to attending the MSF's own meetings "whenever possible”. Both the current head of the antiterrorist command, Commander Shaun Sawyer, and his predecessor, Commander Bob Quick, who the MSF described as a "close partner”, have had regular meetings.

The agreement says that the Met and MSF will "use the MSF as a consultation body to help formulate policy or practice." and "progress an annual plan of work through agreed priority workstreams," jointly led by Met and MSF representatives. The workstreams included counter-terrorism and "Islamophobia." Mr Ali was the MSF lead on counter-terrorism.

In the wake of the controversy about the abortive terror arrests in Forest Gate in summer 2006, the Met also agreed to set up a four-strong panel with the MSF to offer the Muslim community a chance to comment on whether the information police had on a suspect was too flimsy and the consequences of a raid for community relations. Mr Ali, one of the panel members, said at the time: "This will allow independent scrutiny of intelligence."

Mr Ali was also described by the Metropolitan Police Authority as a "key member" of the Met's ‘Communities Together Strategic Group’, chaired by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick, which met fortnightly to "oversee and review community reassurance and engagement measures." He was a member of the Kratos Review Group, to examine the Met's response to suicide bombings.

However, Mr Ali, who is also a senior official of the IFE, has a strong track record of extremism. Last year, by which time he had become the MSF's treasurer, he was suspended from his job as a civil servant after praising Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden's key mentor. Writing on his blog on the IFE website, he described Azzam as one of the "few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term jihad in its comprehensive glory" as both a doctrine of "self-purification" and of "warfare." He then quoted Azzam's son, approvingly, as saying: "If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier's uniform inside Iraq, I would kill him because that is my obligation ... I respect this as the main instruction in my religion for jihad."

In January Mr Ali lost a libel action against a newspaper which reported his comments. Ruling against him, the judge, Mr Justice Eady, said that Mr Ali "was indeed ... taking the position that the killing of American and British troops in Iraq would be justified."

Following the controversy over his remarks Mr Ali left the post of MSF treasurer, but he remained a trustee and director of the group. The group also preserves its close links with the IFE, whose headquarters it shares and several of whose trustees and activists also sit on the MSF.

A Met spokesman said the 2006 agreement between Sir Ian and Mr Ali, which was subject to annual renewal, was not renewed after it expired in December 2007, although links between the Met and the MSF continued. The spokesman said: “We are currently working with the Muslim Safety Forum to review how it can best represent London’s diverse Muslim Communities so that we can better understand and then act on their concerns about safety and security.”


Australian businesses to be compelled to employ more females

So capable women will be unable to prove themselves. People will think they owe their position to quotas, not ability

BUSINESSES will be forced to employ minimum numbers of females in the workplace under new laws being considered by the Federal Government. Bosses employing 15 or more people will be required to report on the gender balance in the workplace under proposals in a new government commissioned report. The KPMG report was commissioned last year to review the role of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.

Among the suggestions was a push for workplaces to have a voluntary 40 per cent female representation at all levels within three to five years. If this failed, mandatory quotas enforced by sanctions and penalties would be introduced.

But industry groups have rejected the quota concept. In its submission, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it supported "the attainment of equal opportunities based on merit, rather than the filling of quotas".

But Australian Institute of Management state chief executive officer Carolyn Barker said she supported quotas. "There is evidence that when governments particularly put in quotas . . . the number of women in executive positions and on boards increase," she said. "And I have to say, is that such a bad thing?"

The Brisbane Institute CEO Karyn Brinkley said quotas were not the long-term solution for women's careers. "I don't know that I see a lot of point in quotas," she said. "I think it detracts from the argument that you appoint them because they have amazing sets of skills, and attributes that are very complementary."

A further suggestion was for the publication of league tables, listing the best and worst businesses that met gender targets.

The report showed only 54 per cent of the female labour force was in a full-time occupation, compared with 84 per cent of males. At the same time, males received 17 per cent more in their paypackets than women.

A spokesman for Minister for the Status of Women Tanya Plibersek said the department was considering the report and would release its findings in coming months.


Bureaucracy is irredeemably stupid

Sara Husdon comments below on attempts by Australian governments to "help" indigenous blacks

Despite extensive consultation with communities in the Northern Territory about what type of new houses they would like as part of the government’s Indigenous housing program, it appears that the government is still following the same old tired designs for the construction of houses.

Two years ago, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, promised ‘a makeover with a difference’ as part of the government’s $672 million ‘strategic’ Indigenous housing program (SIHIP).

NT Housing Minister Rob Knight said that design teams would look at the territory’s outdoor lifestyle and climate when designing houses.

But as Nigel Scullion, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, pointed out in a recent media release, the new houses built under SIHIP look surprisingly similar to the old ones.

In the past, houses in remote NT communities were regularly criticised as being designed by white bureaucrats with no understanding of the way in which Aborigines live and no consideration for the 40 plus degree temperatures. ‘They are sweat boxes ... you wouldn’t put your dog in there during the heat of the day,’ said one government official in The Age.

Yet, it seems the two new houses built in Wadeye have not been built according to local residents’ wishes. During the extensive consultation process, residents repeatedly said that they wanted large verandas; outdoor living areas; and toilet access from outside, but these three design features have not been included.

Pictures of one of the new houses taken by Nigel Scullion as part of his press release show an ugly grey rectangular box, with a bright yellow metal awning. These houses look almost identical to the ones they were meant to replace.

Residents of existing homes have also been ignored by the government, with recent refurbishments in Ali Curang falling far short of their expectations. Houses remain filthy and incomplete. New stainless steel benches have been installed but not much else, prompting concerns that the houses would fail to meet the standards of the Residential Tenancies Act.

Macklin has come out in defence of these refurbishments, saying that they were only meant to include new kitchens and bathrooms – in contrast to her promise two years ago for a ‘makeover with a difference.’

It seems Aboriginal people have been duped again.

Rather than continuing to look to the government to meet their housing needs, residents of remote Indigenous communities would be better off copying the residents of the Ilpeye Ilpeye town camp near Alice Springs. There, traditional owners have allowed the Australian government to acquire their land and change the community lease to freehold title. This change will enable residents to become home owners and perhaps finally kiss the government and their broken promises goodbye.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated February 26. 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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


1 March, 2010

Utah Democrats Oppose Racial Equality

A joint resolution (HJR24) seeking to amend the Utah constitution to prohibit racial and ethnic preferences, modeled on California’s Proposition 209 and similar measures in Washington and Michigan, is working its way through the state legislature. Democrats, of course and as usual, oppose the measure.
While proponents say HJR24 is about fairness and upholding the intent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, opponents are asking why the measure needs to be engraved in the state’s highest law.

Minority Leader David Litvack said that House Democrats have united against the measure. And, speaking for himself, he questions the need and the rush. “They have no proof that reverse discrimination even exists,” said the Salt Lake City Democrat. “Yet we’re going to ask citizens to amend the state Constitution.”

“That’s a sacred document,” Litvack added. “It should not be amended based on myth and misperception.”
I wonder if Leader Litvack and the Democrats have any objection to the identical value being “engraved” in the nation’s highest law via the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Why do they react so strongly to a constitutional provision that would prohibit behavior they claim to oppose and assert does not even occur?

Someone should ask Leader Litvack if he and his fellow Democrats oppose all the affirmative action policies and programs supported by Democrats in the federal government and other states. If they support those policies, they should be honest enough to admit that they oppose HJR24 in Utah not because it is unnecessary but because they oppose its substance, prohibiting preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity.


Abysmal Coverage Of Race In The New York Times

I've been writing about how the mainstream media covers race issues for so long, and so much of that coverage is so bad, that I thought I was long past being shocked by the thoughtless (or worse, premeditated) dumbness that so often appears in publications widely if mistakenly thought to be reliable.

But I was wrong. This article, by Randal C. Archibold in yesterday's New York Times on race-based strife at the University of California, San Diego, proves that I can still be shocked by mindless comment in the mainstream press, at least when it contains "analysis" like this:
... more than a decade after a state ballot proposition barred the use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions, the University of California continues to struggle to diversify its campuses. Black and Latino undergraduate enrollment systemwide plummeted and, although gains have been made in the numbers of minority students since then, the proportion of white (30.5 percent) and Asian (39.8 percent) students enrolled last year far exceeded that of blacks (3.8 percent) and Latinos (20.4 percent).

Just a few years ago, the Los Angeles campus, one of the system's most prestigious, was shaken with the news that only 103 black freshmen had enrolled, 2.2 percent of the class in a county that is 9.4 percent black. (The numbers have since ticked up to about 4.5 percent of the class.)
Where to begin ... where to begin? How about with the assumption — actually, here it's more overt argument than implicit assumption — that selective universities are at fault, whether they're overtly discriminating or not, if their student bodies are not a demographic mirror of ... of ... what? UCLA presumably should mirror its "county," but UCSD, described as "set on a bluff along the Pacific Ocean," is in a county that in 2008 was only 5.5% black. Should that be the target? Moreover, if the standard is demographic mirroring of, well, of something — city, county, state, whatever — why does the article demonstrate no concern, why does it apparently not even notice, that the proportion of whites in the University of California system (30.5%) is dramatically far below the proportion of whites in the state of California (42.3% in 2008)?

I suppose it could be argued that even authors of articles that purport to be news in the New York Times are entitled to reveal their own peculiar assumptions (selective universities should be demographic mirrors of some jurisdiction), but they are not entitled to their own facts, and it is simply not true that after the passage of Prop. 209, prohibiting racial preferences, "Black and Latino undergraduate enrollment systemwide plummeted," a drastic decline that even now has been characterized only by "gains" that are implied to be small, still leaving them woefully underrepresented.

Here are some facts that go unmentioned in the NYT article:
Ending preferential treatment of minorities did decrease their proportion at Berkeley and UCLA, the most selective campuses in the university system, but that is not the same as the Times's assertion that minority enrollment plummeted "systemwide." Ending preferential treatment did not end minority representation; it redistributed it to other campuses in the university system and to the state college system.

Perhaps the (former?) "newspaper of record" can no longer expect its writers to perform research, but you'd think that there would be fact checkers or, heaven forbid, editors to catch errors like declaring that minority "undergraduate enrollment systemwide plummeted" when it did not.


As if to prove my point about the New York Times often stumbling, or worse, in its coverage of race issues, another article that appeared yesterday, "To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case," commits a doozy that makes my case better than my mere assertion.

Read this paragraph, then re-read it:
In 2008, Lila Rose, a college student at U.C.L.A. and the founder of an anti-abortion group called Live Action, released four audio recordings of a man trying to make donations to Planned Parenthood clinics to pay for black women's abortions. In one, the caller, played by James O'Keefe III, the provocateur recently arrested on charges that he tried to tamper with the telephones of Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, said, "You know, we just think, the less black kids out there, the better," to which the Planned Parenthood employee replies, "Understandable, understandable."
First, the "fact" that's here but wrong: what O'Keefe was arrested for was "entering federal property under false pretenses," but even that charge is now up in the air. As the New Orleans Times Picayune reported several days ago,
The U.S. attorney's office in New Orleans has another month to decide what, if any, charges to bring against the four men arrested at the end of January in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office, including conservative activist James O'Keefe.

Louis Moore, the magistrate judge for the federal district court in New Orleans, agreed Wednesday to motions on behalf of the four to extend the time by which the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District must seek a felony indictment, press misdemeanor charges or drop the case.

Moore said the extension, which was unopposed by prosecutors, would offer the parties "additional time to conduct informal discussions and discovery and avoid or lessen additional proceedings," suggesting the possibility of a plea deal that would likely spare the four from facing felony charges.
But mere factual error and incompleteness is not the most egregious journalistic offense here. Can you imagine discussing James O'Keefe, describing him (accurately enough, I think) as a recently arrested "provacateur," and not even mentioning his role in single-handedly destroying ACORN?

But why imagine it when you can read it (or in this case, not read it) in the New York Times?


British flag banned in Britain over health and safety

A council has banned the Union flag from its building because a health and safety assessment concluded that scaffolding would have to be erected to raise and lower it

The flagpole atop Colchester borough council's Rowan House office block has remained bare since the building was purchased from Anglian Water two years ago. A frustrated Conservative politician was so concerned that he presented a Union flag to the council's Liberal Democrat leadership and offered to climb the roof himself to make sure it was flown.

A council spokeswoman said the absence of a flag was a "logistical operational matter" and insisted the building, Rowan House, had an unusual roof which made it difficult to access the flagpole.

Will Quince, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Colchester, said: "I cannot believe that a flagpole was put on top of this building that is inaccessible. This seems to be absolute health and safety nonsense. "I'm happy to go up there and put it up myself. "I'm incredibly proud to be British and it pleases me greatly when I walk around the town to see many people who proudly display our Union flag. I think it's really sad we can't fly it for health and safety reasons."

Anne Turrell, the Liberal Democrat council leader who received Mr Quince's 6ft by 4ft flag, said: "Health and safety won't allow us to do it, unless we scaffold the building. "That costs thousands of pounds and I'm sure the taxpayers of Colchester wouldn't want us to spend that to put a flag up." A council spokeswoman said: "It is a very strange shaped building with triangular roofs, and there are no access points. "It is a logistical operational matter and advice has been taken from the health and safety adviser. We regularly have flags on the town hall, which is a very prominent building just half a mile away from Rowan House."

She was unable to confirm whether the council had looked into using alternative methods to hoist the Union flag, such as deploying a cherry picker or steeplejack.

In 2004, councillors in Trowbridge were told that a Cross of Saint George could not be flown on the town hall because scaffolding would be too expensive and leaning out of a first-floor window was too dangerous.

In May last year officials at South Kesteven district council initially claimed that similar health and safety risks meant a Union flag could not fly on the town hall at Bourne, Lincolnshire, for Armed Forces Day. They relented when a spiked fence below the flagpole, which was the cause of the safety concerns, was boxed in to avoid any danger to life or limb.


If more Muslims are truly a problem…

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

WE didn’t need the Rudd Government to tell us this week that, ahem, our own Muslim community is now a growing terrorist threat. What we needed was to hear what the Government planned to do about it.

And the answers in its new White Paper on counter-terrorism? Virtually zilch. Not even a word on whether it would be wise to cut immigration from Muslim nations, now running at about 28,000 a year. Nor was there anything about ending the mad multiculturalism that rewards most those who integrate least.

Rather the reverse. The Government promised more of the stuff that’s clearly not doing the job - more of that “multiculturalism and respect for cultural diversity to maintain a society that is resilient to the hate-based and divisive narratives that fuel terrorism”.

Hey, guys. If multiculturalism has made us so “resilient to the hate-based and divisive narratives” of jihadism, why does your White Paper admit that “numerous terrorist attacks” have had to be “thwarted” in Australia since 2001, and that we now have 20 people jailed on terrorism charges, 38 people charged after anti-terrorism operations (presumably all, or mostly, Muslims, too) and 40 more denied passports? That’s sure a lot of strife from just 340,000 Australian Muslims, as measured by the last census. We’ve actually got more Buddhists here, but when did you last hear of any plotting to blow us up?

Like I said, the threat from our own home-grown or imported jihadists was already perfectly clear. We could figure that out just from this month’s news that another five Muslims in Sydney had been jailed for plotting terrorism and gathering 12 firearms, 28,000 rounds of ammunition and four boxes of material for high explosives. But even more of a wake-up were the comments from so many leaders of our Muslim community. Uthman Badar, from the Australian arm of the extremist Hizb ut-Tahrir, cried persecution, and claimed poor Muslims were being prosecuted merely for their ideas: “The anti-terror laws were designed to silence Muslims through fear and intimidation.”

Samir Dandan, from the Lebanese Muslim Association, also fed the poor-us-against-them division, saying Muslims believed they were punished harder than the rest of us, while Keysar Trad, of them Islamic Friendship Association, blamed the “anger” of Muslims on our own alleged violence against Islamic countries. Even more worryingly, 10 imams and 20 Muslim “community leaders” met in Lakemba, at Australia’s biggest mosque, to sign a statement demanding police show them proof that the five jailed men had criminal intentions.

Never mind that the police evidence had been enough to convince an Australian jury: “Until we see the real evidence, we believe that the reason for the arrests and convictions is that these young men expressed or hold opinions that contradict Australia’s foreign policy towards majority Muslim countries." Meanwhile, outside the mosque, The Australian reported, “a group of young men pumped their fists in the air and accused ASIO of being dogs”.

This is the scenario, repeated so often over the past decade, that every Australian could see for themselves - of Muslims planning or waging jihad, only to be defended or excused by “community leaders”. And this is the reality that the Government’s White Paper now concedes in the frankest language I’ve heard in public.

“A ... shift apparent since 2004 has been the increase in the terrorist threat from people born or raised in Australia, who have become influenced by the violent jihadist message,” it warns. “A number of Australians are known to subscribe to this message, some of whom might be prepared to engage in violence. Many of these individuals were born in Australia and they come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds.” And then this warning, so pregnant with implications: “The scale of the problem will continue to depend on factors such as the size and make-up of local Muslim populations, including their ethnic and/or migrant origins, their geographical distribution and the success or otherwise of their integration into their host society.”

Let me decode that. The Government admits the size of this growing terrorism threat depends on the size of our Muslim population. Isn’t that then the debate we must have? Yes, I know most Muslims here, my friends included, are peace-loving Australians, and I do not mean to offend them or expose them to unmerited suspicion. I also admire those Muslims I know who have stood against the extremists. But I do mean to have a frank conversation.

After all, this report also points out terrorism isn’t necessarily related to poverty, and that our wanna-be terrorists are often not the Muslims we accepted as immigrants, but their born-here children. What’s more, they come from a “wide range of ethnic groups”. That means we can’t keep out tomorrow’s terrorists just by bringing in only nice, hard-working Muslims from countries we trust. What of their later children, newly radicalised in mosques, universities or prisons?

Surely one way to minimise the danger, then, is to cut Muslim immigration, or at least freeze it until the jihadist wind blows out. Should we really be bringing in more than 28,000 people a year from Muslim lands such as Pakistan, the Middle East, North Africa, Bangladesh, Somalia, Afghanistan and Indonesia?

But on this issue the Government says nothing. Nor will it discuss dismantling multiculturalism, which at one stage had taxpayers funding the pro-bin Laden Islamic Youth Movement of Australia. But why is multiculturalism sacred, when even this White Paper says one “pathway to violent extremism” is through “identity politics”? After all, multiculturalism subsidises identity politics with your money while making Australia seem too weak or even shameful to deserve the first loyalty of a confused young man.

So what did the Government, badly needing a distraction from its insulation debacle, propose instead? Only easy, uncontroversial tinkering with controls at our borders, rather than anything to deal with the people who’ve got through already. There will be better border checks, for instance, and our spy agencies will help try to stop the flood of boat people unleashed by the Government’s rash softening of our laws.

I don’t mean to single this Government out as unusually weak on the threat within. In some ways the Howard government was even worse. Example? The White Paper warns that a “small number” of Muslims here support foreign terrorist groups that might use Australia as “a suitable or convenient location for an attack on their enemies”. It adds: “This includes groups with a long history of engaging in terrorist acts and a current capability to commit them, such as Lebanese Hizballah’s External Security Organisation.”

So Hezbollah (our spelling) has an active terrorist wing and could strike here? Then why did John Howard as prime minister pick for his Muslim Community Reference Group at least five Muslim leaders who defended Hezbollah, including Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilali, then the Mufti of Australia, and Sheik Fehmi Naji el-Imam, who succeeded him?

I am not saying these men would ever support Hezbollah terrorist attacks here, but how many of their followers could be trusted to draw the line? Answer: no one knows, but our experts fear. So until we get more reassurance, we’ll need more action than this paper proposes.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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