The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

The primary version of "Political Correctness Watch" is HERE The Blogroll; John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. Other mirror sites: Greenie Watch, Dissecting Leftism, Education Watch, Gun Watch, Socialized Medicine, Recipes, Australian Politics, Tongue Tied, Immigration Watch, Eye on Britain and Food & Health Skeptic. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing). See here or here for the archives of this site.

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, 2013

Why I love Easter more than Christmas... and it's got NOTHING to do with bunnies and chocolate eggs

Quentin Letts reports on a British Easter below.  An account of my limited observance  of the occasion under a blue Australian sky can be found here. -- JR

Good Friday is the most contradictory of national holidays. It is quite unlike Christmas. Far preferable, I reckon.

The banking system comes to a halt — and not just in Cyprus. Offices have closed until Tuesday.

Tradesmen kick on to double-time tariffs. Public transport switches to ‘weekend timetables’ (often a euphemism for simply giving up the ghost, to use an expression from the Bible’s account of Good Friday).

There is enough of a close-down to make the Easter weekend feel distinctive. At the same time, supermarkets will be open from dawn to midnight, their aisles crammed with beady-eyed shoppers.

Have we bought the Easter eggs? Have we got mint sauce for Sunday’s lamb? We forgot the daffodils for Granny! Instant U-turn and back to the shops we go.

There is a full list of sporting fixtures. Hotels are in high season. Garden centres and DIY stores brace themselves for a rush. Easter is not just the start of the Church year — it is also the beginning of the season for green fingers and bruised thumbs. With all that DIY going on, hospital casualty departments will be busy.

All this occurs on the most mysterious, mournful day in the Church calendar. What a satisfying paradox this Easter weekend is.

It starts with a day whose very name can perplex. ‘Good Friday’ marks Jesus’s crucifixion. Why should a day marking a painful death be ‘good’?

The origins of the name are uncertain. It may be a corruption of ‘God Friday’ or it may be that it was called good because the Crucifixion led to the Resurrection. The Germans call today ‘Karfreitag’ — the Friday of Suffering. Perhaps that is an example of Teutonic pessimism.

Good Friday has its rituals. These nowadays include queuing for a parking space at shopping centres such as Gateshead’s MetroCentre and Dartford’s Bluewater. But there are other, more elevated traditions, and without them Easter would lose something.

From Canterbury to Jerusalem, millions will fast while others will eat only fish. In Ross on Wye’s marketplace yesterday, I bought some fine-looking coley. It was only 8am but the fishmonger was doing brisk business.

Good Friday laments will be intoned across the Christian world. Empty coffins will be borne through city streets, flowers hurled at them by wailing believers. Easter may be a ‘festival’, but it is preceded by this most grief-stricken of days.

In England, altars are stripped, vicars wear black and candles are removed. Yet if you enter a church on Sunday it will be a riot of flowers — Hereford cathedral, for instance, becomes filled by the intoxicating scent of lilies. It may set off Mrs Letts’s hay fever, but this contrast, the sudden switch from winter to spring, darkness to hope, is integral to the Easter idea.

Before we can crack open those chocolate bunnies and Easter cakes — are you a simnel fanatic or a fruit and almond fan? — we have to earn it. Some churches hold long religious services called ‘The Three Hour Agony’.

The agony is officially that of Jesus on the Cross, yet as a boy in Gloucestershire I would contemplate an agony of boredom as the marathon of sermons ensued.

One Good Friday in the 1980s, I found myself in Santiago de Compostela, a historic pilgrim town in north-west Spain. The streets were packed by crowds gawping at men who processed through the narrow streets in white robes and hats that made them look like the Ku Klux Klan. They beat the cobbles with staves. Easter has this almost exotic mixture of gloom followed by frenzied exultation.

In other countries, believers whip themselves, don chains, even nail themselves to crosses. The bemused onlooker may ask: you call this a holiday? Well, yes. The apparent oddness is what makes it so special. Otherwise it would just be another bank holiday.

Last weekend, I added my honking tenor to a makeshift church choir. We met for the first time at 2pm on the Saturday and were given scores for The Crucifixon by the Victorian composer John Stainer.

There were about 30 of us, volunteer singers of varying standard. The idea was that we would rehearse for three hours, break for tea, then give our sole performance of the oratorio — to an audience of, as it happened, ten people. A cold church, wobbly harmonies, a tiny throng of onlookers: it no doubt sounds like Vicar Of Dibley stuff, about as spiritually uplifting as the telephone directory. Not so.

The rehearsals may have been painful but when it came to the actual performance, I found myself extraordinarily moved. It was not just Stainer’s tunes, stirring though they be. Nor was it the comradeship of choral singing that got me.

As the story of Holy Week unfolded, I found that Easter means more to me with every passing year. In that draughty church, I realised that I now prefer Easter to Christmas.

This is not to attack Yuletide which, only three months ago, we were celebrating with bells, holly, mince pies and the Christmas edition of Radio Times. I am as much of a sucker for that as most people.

Christmas has been mottled by commercialism, I suppose, but it remains a lovely family time. I well up like a leaky faucet when our ten-year-old comes clattering down to our bedroom on Christmas morning, hoping to find her stocking. I even, at weak moments, fall for Charles Dickens’s crippled Tiny Tim piping goodwill to one and all. Christmas offers a manipulative sugar rush of emotion.

Easter’s story is more layered than the happy little saga of the manger at Bethlehem. This is a story more epic, more intellectually satisfying — more showbizzy!

Medieval impresarios understood this. They staged mystery plays which covered Old Testament ground (The Garden of Eden — phwoarr, check out Eve and her skimpy outfit — and a bickering Mr and Mrs Noah) and some of Jesus’s miracles (the raising of Lazarus and the turning of water into wine always went down well).

The climax of these entertainments was Holy Week: the drama of Christ entering Jerusalem, being tried and crucified, then rising from the dead.

Christmas nativities end with the three wise men trotting off on camels and Joseph and Mary gawping at their presents. Touching? Yes, even if, as happened to us, your daughter is playing Mary and drops the baby — it was only a doll, thank goodness.

But compare that to the dazzling events of Easter and there is only one winner.

Easter has everything a West End producer could demand: a dusty Jesus riding into the city on an appropriated colt; the last supper; betrayal by Judas and arrest by soldiers from an occupying force.

There is a crowd scene when Pilate allows the mob to grant clemency to crook Barabbas; there is the bloodshed on the cross (some gore always goes down well with an audience); Jesus’s generosity to the thieves being executed alongside him; and then the dawn scene outside the sepulchre.

Imagine the first stirrings of birdsong and the ethereal light. Mary Magdalene arrives and finds the tomb empty. A second later: there is Jesus before her, alive. Showstopper.

Why does this mean more to me now than it did a few years ago? As we age, we lose loved ones. We accrue sorrows just as trees grow rings.

Perhaps this is why Easter is so powerful, so much more affecting than Christmas. Easter is a festival to sadness as much as to joy.

My late father, at the church service before Easter, always read that passage from chapter 20 of St John’s Gospel which describes Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the resurrected Christ. I only have to read the words — ‘woman, why weepest thou?’ — to hear his dry, very English voice speaking the words.

It is as though he is there beside me, just as Jesus was next to Mary. I may not be able to touch my dead father’s body, but it is nearly as good and it provokes feelings in me stronger than the easier, safer story of Christmas. So I hope that, as well as a happy Easter, you have a thoughtful Easter, even an Easter brushed by sadness. For that is how it should be.


The painful price we pay for love and the REAL meaning of Easter

By Bel Mooney

A few weeks ago, on one of the very few tall walls in our old farmhouse, we put up a dramatic, nearly life-size woodcut — actually five separate blocks — of Jesus Christ on the cross.

I’ve had it in store for ten years, with no suitable space, but at last we’ve been able to hang the work of art.

I do realise that a massive crucifixion wouldn’t be everybody’s idea of interior design. It’s more demanding and far less fashionable than the gentle head of Buddha, which crops up everywhere, from budget home stores to garden centres.

But I love this work for multi-layered reasons — and not just because the artist, Paul Riley, is an old friend.

It’s a big statement, and one which teaches me as much as it taught people in centuries past.

Why on earth would a gentle soul like me choose to live with an image of extreme suffering, torture and death? Because it is a help.

Because Easter is the most important chapter in the Christian story, and because the iconic image has important truths to tell us all — believer and non-believer alike — about the human condition.

The image of the cross towers over Western civilisation. With the joyful Nativity (complete with riotous angels in the sky) and the sombre sweetness of the Madonna and Child, it is an essential part of our consciousness.

Even a questioning intellectual like the great writer Rebecca West understood this. She wrote: ‘Jesus of Nazareth sits in a chamber in every man’s brain, immovable, immutable, however credited or discredited.’

To be honest, a part of my determination to display this great crucifixion was sheer, bolshie rebelliousness. Suddenly it seemed as if Christianity was on the run. When someone is forbidden to wear a cross around her neck in the workplace, a call to protest sounds in my ears like a trumpet.

Fascinated by other religions since my schooldays, I’ve read widely in the sacred texts of the world and made radio programmes discussing a variety of beliefs.
Why on earth would a gentle soul like me choose to live with an image of extreme suffering, torture and death? Because it is a help

Why on earth would a gentle soul like me choose to live with an image of extreme suffering, torture and death? Because it is a help. (Above, Jim Caviezel portrays Jesus in the film The Passion Of The Christ)

But the fact that Britain has always been part of the Western Christian culture matters more than I can say. Our national flag is a pattern of crosses for good reason, and so let it remain.

Notice that word ‘culture’. You can be an agnostic (as I am), yet revere the centuries of tradition which once influenced every man, woman and child who learned the stories of the Bible with their first words; knowing that ‘the greatest story ever told’ has inspired some of the greatest art — painting, sculpture, music, architecture and literature — in the world.

I feel that if the day comes when the young are no longer taught any of those references (let alone the faith itself), I shall be ready to meet my maker, because everything I value will have gone. That time seems to be on the way.

As we hung the masterly woodcut, I thought (with grim merriment) that if an unholy alliance of Secularism and Sharia ever holds sway in this land, and Christian images are actively discouraged if not forbidden, then this mutinous old lady will put up barricades and retreat to her sanctuary.

I’ll be a rebel, reading real books (including works on atheism!) and listening to Bach’s St Matthew Passion as I contemplate the cross, in the knowledge that once again it has become subversive, even an emblem of revolution.

Convinced Dawkinsites can jeer, but who cares? And keep your lectures on all the wrongs committed in the name of Christianity. I know all that stuff.

But my imagination is shaped by the pictures in the little Bible my father bought me in 1953: gentle Jesus meek and mild curing the sick, listening to the children, standing up for sinners, driving the greedy men out of the temple, riding on a humble donkey. How I liked him.

So I am content to embrace teachings like ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ as my bedrock, for how can we live unless by seeking better lives?

When my instinctive humanism quails before human wickedness, I still find meaning, consolation and emotional sense in Christianity. And when I myself wish I could write to an advice columnist, this helps keep me sane. Contemplating the Crucifixion, I see beyond the unspeakably cruel punishment.
Central to Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ accepted his terrible death for the sake of flawed humanity.

He was the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself to take away the sins of the world. So the wider significance of the Easter story is that love and suffering are indivisible.

The history of a familiar word can lead you to a deeper meaning. We’ve high-jacked ‘passion’ to mean strong, enthusiastic feeling (passion for sport) or rage (in a real passion) or, most commonly, tumultuous sexual desire.
Pictured, the Wintershall Players perform the Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square yesterday

The traditional Passion play was about the Easter story, with its root in the Latin word for to suffer, to endure. This connects to the word 'patience'. And patient is what you must be when you shoulder the commitments of real love. Pictured, the Wintershall Players perform the Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square yesterday

But the traditional Passion play was about the Easter story, with its root in the Latin word for to suffer, to endure. In turn, this connects to the word ‘patience.’ And patient is what you must be when you shoulder the commitments of real love.

When you love another human being, you begin to make sacrifices on many levels. Perhaps above all, you sacrifice freedom.

But to take the frightening step from ‘me-first’ to ‘you-first’ isn’t easy — which is why some people never do it. They won’t take the risk, but find a reason to step back from the brink and retreat into the safety of the self.

The terror of commitment which seems to afflict so many young people is rooted in selfishness. The idea of giving so much that you actually value the happiness of somebody else more than your own doesn’t fit with the requirements of those who’ve never been refused anything, and regard the freedom to have endless multiple choices as a right.

Scratch the surface of so many problem page letters I receive and you realise that for many people the issue is not loving, but how to be loved. ‘Why can’t I find love?’ they ask. Of course I am sympathetic, but feel more uplifted by those letters which express the problem as, ‘I have so much love to give’.

Let me be clear: by invoking human love I’m not referring to the serial sexual antics of much-married stars which get splashed over Hello! magazine, but something far more mature.

The pain rooted in real love is of a very different order to the romantic agony felt when sexual desire goes wrong. It may make you stand by the sinner in spite of your better judgment, or strengthen you in an endless vigil at the bedside of your loved one. ‘I can’t bear the thought of you dying,’ whispers the young wife to her husband, knowing he feels the same.

You don’t want pain? Then you cannot allow yourself to love.

Then what of children? When you have a baby, the love you feel is so different from the old affection for parents, or adoration of a beloved partner. This protective devotion would confront a horde of wolves threatening your child.

You yearn to protect it from all the danger and grief of the world. This love makes you accept financial burdens, and tells you that from the first sight of the tiny squirming creature in a nappy, your own  desires MUST take second place to the needs of this child.

So you shrink from responsibility and sacrifice? Then don’t have a child. Love the child and you are immediately nailed to your own small cross.

In one beautiful medieval poem, Mary, the mother of Jesus, begs: ‘Take down from the tree my dear, worthy son?/?Or stick me on the cross with my darling.’ All over the world, devoted parents identify with that cry in their very souls.

At the stroke of a painterly brush, we move from mother and child, to adult child and mother; from the Nativity to the Pieta — the child Jesus as a man, taken down from the cross to lie in his mother’s arms. So the premonition of pain in the Madonna’s eyes was correct.

How I understand that image. Since family love in all its complexity shaped the adult that I am, the passion (yes, that word) I feel for my family puts me on the rack every day of my life.

Parents are forever tortured by the jabbing spears of their own imaginings. What’s more, your own life seems more precious than ever — not because of its selfish pleasures (fun though they are), but because you want to stay alive for the sake of the people you love.

For me, the arrival of two grandchildren has intensified this feeling. Believe me, it’s no tight-lipped sense of martyrdom, just a merry shouldering of the weight of love, just as Jesus willingly bore his cross along the alleyways of Jerusalem. 

The phrase ‘a cross I have to bear,’ comes easily to the lips, even if the speaker isn’t thinking about the emblem of Christianity. It might refer to a difficult boss, thinning hair, an inherited blemish, even a disability. It says there are some things you just have to put up with.

But endurance is hard to accept. Used to choice in all things, people stamp their feet like spoilt children when the hand of Fate wags a finger and says  ‘This is how it’s going to be’.
Since family love in all its complexity shaped the adult that I am, the passion (yes, that word) I feel for my family puts me on the rack every day of my life

That’s why Pastor Niebuhr’s famous Prayer is so wise: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’

Naturally, we should all work to right wrongs (the disgraceful state of a local hospital for example); yet you can wear yourself out railing against destiny and death.

The suggestion that we must endure — accepting hardship as the pathway to peace — may seem tough. Yet learning how to deal with not being happy is the most important first aid for the soul.

On the Cross, Jesus cried out for help but it didn’t come. It couldn’t come. I’m afraid that truth sometimes has to be borne.

But that is not the end. It doesn’t stop at the Cross. There is the light at the end of the tunnel, the ultimate pipe dream, hope against hope.

Please don’t ask if I believe in the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. ‘No’ is the only sensible answer.

But on the other hand, I’ve always wanted to have faith in the possibility of miracles. Jesus died on the cross and on the third day he rose again? My reason rejects it, at the same time as my heart whispers, ‘What do I know?’

What I have no doubt of is this. The message of endurance, of self-sacrificial love and of forgiveness expressed by the great Crucifixion is entirely glorious.

Whatever your beliefs (or lack of them), it can give you strength to bear all problems, no matter what you believe.

Because all of us need to hope that the metaphorical stone will be rolled away — and that we will each be allowed to walk out of our private darkness into a garden of spring flowers.

This is redemption: the possibility of a changed life.


Christians are the butt of bad jokes in Britain

Gentle mockery or sharp satire aimed at Christians and their leaders has been replaced by abuse of Christianity itself

By Ann Widdecombe

Our Man at St Marks, All Gas and Gaiters, The Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted, Rev. Some of the finest comedies have chosen the Church as its subject and would indeed make most Christians laugh, give or take the occasional wince as a barb goes home. I have very fond memories of Our Man at St Marks and long for the day when it is released on DVD but I won’t hold my breath.

For although Christianity and comedy have long been natural bedfellows, something has changed in recent years. Gentle mockery or sharp satire aimed at Christians and their leaders have been replaced by abuse of Christianity itself.

The BBC asked me to look at why this might be and to try to explain, to a secular world, why it matters so much to Christians. After all, comedy producers respect Islam sufficiently to avoid laughing at the Prophet so why are even the most sacred aspects of this country’s major faith seemingly the stuff of so much comedy? Is it because the Church here is seen as part of the Establishment? Or is it due to the rise of militant atheism? Or is it simply that comics would be afraid to do to Islam that which they regularly do in their routines to Christianity?

We began making the film with one obvious drawback: it had not been a priority throughout my life to watch mockery of the Church. I had not, for example, seen Life of Brian. It was widely banned at the time of its release and I have never since felt that I was missing anything. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, assured me that it was “very funny”, so I watched excerpts chosen for me by the producer.

Most of it, being slapstick and Pythonesque, made me yawn. A man claims he can suddenly see and promptly falls down a hole. I got over laughing at that sort of predictable Carry–On stuff about 50 years ago. Then, however, came the crucifixion scene and my soul revolted. How could anybody not find that offensive, Christian or not?

Next I was shown a scene from Goodness, Gracious Me in which the body and blood of Christ were mocked with two recipients putting chutney on the bread and ordering a couple of bottles of wine. It was justly banned by the BBC and has been forbidden to be aired again. We had to get special permission to view it but those who made it were unrepentant, apparently oblivious to the enormity of the offence caused. Anil Gupta, one of the creators of the series, still felt aggrieved at the ban.

Yet this repellent scene was to provide one of the programme’s most riveting moments for me, when I was interviewing comedian Marcus Brigstocke, whose initial reaction was to defend the scene. I tried to explain to him why I found it so upsetting and then asked him if he would draw the line at anything, fully expecting him to say no, that comedy should know no bounds, but instead he bravely responded that my explanation had given him pause for thought.

Stand-up comics tend to make two assumptions: that Christians have no sense of humour and that all their audiences are unbelievers. The first is so ignorant as to need no answer but the second explains the current trend towards thinking that even the most sacrilegious mockery will be seen as fun. Such comics work on the principle that only stupid people believe in God and that their audiences are too intelligent to do so and will therefore share any joke directed at any aspect of religion.

There are increasing claims that Christians in this country are being persecuted: Christians are forbidden to wear a small cross in a workplace which includes colleagues wearing turbans or hijabs, which by any definition are vastly more visible. One has been demoted for posting a perfectly moderate expression of dissent over gay marriage on his private Facebook site. Others have been disciplined for saying “God Bless” or “I will pray for you”. Others still have found the police on their doorstep because someone has taken exception to their views and invoked either hatred or equality laws.

Perhaps then the modern trend towards ridiculing what is sacred to Christians in comedy – as opposed to ridiculing its priests or congregations – is a part of this persecution? Why otherwise single out only the one religion?

To that the comics answer that people can laugh only at what they know and understand: that the average Briton knows next to nothing of Islam and even less of other minority faiths. Indeed it seems unlikely that Life of Brian would have much resonance today. To laugh at the joke “blessed are the cheesemakers” you would have to know that Christ had said “blessed are the peacemakers” and standards of Biblical literacy now make that unlikely.

So the laughs today are sought not in subtlety but in coarseness, sneering at the creed having replaced satire aimed at the believers, and mockery of the person of Christ replacing mockery of His all too fallible followers.

It is a vital distinction.

We have no blasphemy laws these days but with that freedom comes the responsibility which should always attend the exercise of free speech: truth, courtesy and an awareness of impact. It is the last of these which is so neglected by so much modern comedy.

Heard the one about the vicar, the priest and the rabbi? Or the vicar who skived off church to play golf? Or how Noah’s ark was ruled unlawful by the EU? Everybody has a favourite Church joke but I made this programme in order to ask where the joke stops and how much further it might go. Sadly I think it might go a lot further before common decency prevails.


Cameron accused of betraying Christians: Astonishing Easter attack on the PM by former Archbishop of Canterbury

Many Christians doubt David Cameron’s sincerity in pledging to protect their freedoms, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey says today.

In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Carey squarely accuses ministers of ‘aiding and abetting’ discrimination against Christians.

He says he believes there is an ‘aggressive secularist and relativist approach’ behind the Government plans to legalise gay marriage and says the Prime Minister has ‘done more than any other recent political leader’ to ‘feed’ Christian anxieties.

As a dramatic new poll released on the eve of Easter Sunday revealed that more than two-thirds of Christians feel they are now part of a ‘persecuted minority’, Lord Carey insists the Government must do more to demonstrate its commitment to pledges to stand up for faith.

The survey suggests churchgoers increasingly feel religious freedoms are under assault from aggressive secularism.

Critics say court rulings against Christians who want to wear crosses at work, and legal action preventing prayers before council meetings, have helped make people feel marginalised.

In the article, Lord Carey expresses particular alarm about apparent Government support for a campaign by Labour MP Chris Bryant to turn the 700-year-old Parliamentary chapel of St Mary Undercroft into a multi-faith prayer room so that gay couples can get married there.

But he also turns his fire on the Prime Minister, saying: ‘It was a bit rich to hear that the Prime Minister has told religious leaders that they should “stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation” when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way.

‘At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity.’

The ComRes poll suggests there is continuing resentment over the Government’s decision to legalise same-sex unions, even though there is special protection for the Church of England in the law.

More than half (58 per cent) of Christians who backed the Conservatives in 2010 suggested they will ‘definitely not’ vote for the party in 2015.

The ComRes poll of 535 regular churchgoers, commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M), reveals that more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority’.

The march of secularism means that if trends continue, Britain will no longer be a Christian country by 2030 when the number of non-believers will have overtaken the number of Christians.

In the past six years the number of Muslims has surged by 37 per cent to 2.6million, Hindus by 43 per cent and Buddhists by a massive 74 per cent.

Numbers who choose to call themselves Christians fell by more than 4million in a decade after 2001, the 2011 census showed. Fewer than six out of ten – 59.3 per cent – described themselves as Christian.

A decade ago nearly three quarters, 72 per cent, did so. Some 33.2million people said they were Christian in 2011.

Downing Street strongly rejected Lord Carey’s attack. A spokesman said: ‘This government strongly backs faith and Christianity in particular, including backing the rights of people wanting to wear crosses at work and hold prayers at council meetings. Christianity plays a vital part in the Big Society.’



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


29 March, 2013

Why so many men cut all contact with their kids

When my wife left me when my son was aged 5, I would not have contested it if she had wanted me to have no further contact with my son.  I would have felt that she would look after him well and I would not have wanted to introduce conflict into our three lives.  And sometimes you win a battle without fighting.  As it says in Ecclesiastes 9:11 "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong".  As it was however, she realized that boys needed their father and insisted that he see me every weekend -- JR

Sam De Brito

I'm in no way defending dads who refuse to support their children or disappear from their lives, because it's something I could or would never do.

But I understand the impulse. I know how lacerating a relationship measured in hours a week can be. It's a scab ripped open every time you drop them off.

I get why some men would chose not to go there. It's just easier. If you don't see them, there's nothing to miss, the memories will dull, they become an abstraction.

Interestingly, there's not been a whole lot of study done on this subject.

In his 2004 report for the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Parent-Child Contact and Post-Separation Parenting Arrangements Bruce Smyth notes: "Not a great deal is known about paternal disengagement and its correlates. Indeed only a handful of studies has directly examined why many fathers lose contact with their children after divorce. None of these has been conducted in Australia."

Smyth did however identify "nine key themes" for parents in the little or no contact groups:

(1) limited parenting skills;

(2) repartnering;

(3) relocation;

(4) fathers' perceptions of being cut out;

(5) the psychology of disengagement;

(6) "the system" as a barrier to contact;

(7) the "shallowness" of sporadic contact;

(8) other forms of contact; and

(9) children's adjustment.

Smyth quotes a 1994 study of British and Canadian "deadbeat dads" that found many men disengaged from their children for structural reasons as listed above (distance, repartnering) but also "psychological factors" including "grief, loss, role ambiguity, a sense of unfairness, concern about the potentially negative impact of divorce on children, the perception of becoming a 'visitor', and the 'pain of visits - their brevity, artificiality, and superficiality'."

"Unable to tolerate the idea of the loss of their children, but given little expectation for success and what many consider to be a highly adversarial means to try to prevent the loss (which they believe will seriously harm their children), they gradually disengage from their children's lives."

This research, notes Smyth, paints a picture of "Defeated Dads", as opposed to "Deadbeat Dads".

He goes on to quote a 1998 US study that concludes:

"Many of the fathers interviewed felt that everything about the divorce, especially anything concerning the way the children were raised, was completely out of their control ... they were on the outside looking in.

"Many were extremely embittered that society demanded that they still assume the responsibilities of parenthood. As they saw it, society, the legal system, and their ex-wives had conspired to rip asunder their connection to their children ... Overwhelmingly it was these disempowered, embittered, despairing fathers who were the ones who discontinued contact with and support of their children.

"In each case, something profound happened to them to make these formerly responsible fathers disengage. Their paternal urges were thwarted. They were somehow made to feel, either by the legal system or perhaps their ex-wives, that they had no real role to play in their children's lives.

"A better, more accurate label for them might be 'Driven Away Dads'."  Now, there's a headline you won't see on the front page of a newspaper.


Why Women Still Can't Have It All

Excerpt below from a controversial article last year by Anne-Marie Slaughter. Her assumption that "success" means having a career is common but has never made the slightest sense to me.  Bringing up healthy and happy children seems to me the highest form of success

It's time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed.

Eighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations' annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other-or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls-invariably on the day of an important meeting-that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.

As the evening wore on, I ran into a colleague who held a senior position in the White House. She has two sons exactly my sons' ages, but she had chosen to move them from California to D.C. when she got her job, which meant her husband commuted back to California regularly. I told her how difficult I was finding it to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. Then I said, "When this is over, I'm going to write an op-ed titled `Women Can't Have It All.'"

She was horrified. "You can't write that," she said. "You, of all people." What she meant was that such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman-a role model-would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet. I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could.

A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there. When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I'd come home not only because of Princeton's rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. But I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed ("It's such a pity that you had to leave Washington") to condescending ("I wouldn't generalize from your experience. I've never had to compromise, and my kids turned out great").

The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions-those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard-that triggered a blind fury. Suddenly, finally, the penny dropped. All my life, I'd been on the other side of this exchange. I'd been the woman smiling the faintly superior smile while another woman told me she had decided to take some time out or pursue a less competitive career track so that she could spend more time with her family. I'd been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I'd been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I'd been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).

Last spring, I flew to Oxford to give a public lecture. At the request of a young Rhodes Scholar I know, I'd agreed to talk to the Rhodes community about "work-family balance." I ended up speaking to a group of about 40 men and women in their mid-20s. What poured out of me was a set of very frank reflections on how unexpectedly hard it was to do the kind of job I wanted to do as a high government official and be the kind of parent I wanted to be, at a demanding time for my children (even though my husband, an academic, was willing to take on the lion's share of parenting for the two years I was in Washington). I concluded by saying that my time in office had convinced me that further government service would be very unlikely while my sons were still at home. The audience was rapt, and asked many thoughtful questions. One of the first was from a young woman who began by thanking me for "not giving just one more fatuous `You can have it all' talk." Just about all of the women in that room planned to combine careers and family in some way. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.

The striking gap between the responses I heard from those young women (and others like them) and the responses I heard from my peers and associates prompted me to write this article. Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating "you can have it all" is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.

I still strongly believe that women can "have it all" (and that men can too). I believe that we can "have it all at the same time." But not today, not with the way America's economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged-and quickly changed.

Before my service in government, I'd spent my career in academia: as a law professor and then as the dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Both were demanding jobs, but I had the ability to set my own schedule most of the time. I could be with my kids when I needed to be, and still get the work done. I had to travel frequently, but I found I could make up for that with an extended period at home or a family vacation.

I knew that I was lucky in my career choice, but I had no idea how lucky until I spent two years in Washington within a rigid bureaucracy, even with bosses as understanding as Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. My workweek started at 4:20 on Monday morning, when I got up to get the 5:30 train from Trenton to Washington. It ended late on Friday, with the train home. In between, the days were crammed with meetings, and when the meetings stopped, the writing work began-a never-ending stream of memos, reports, and comments on other people's drafts. For two years, I never left the office early enough to go to any stores other than those open 24 hours, which meant that everything from dry cleaning to hair appointments to Christmas shopping had to be done on weekends, amid children's sporting events, music lessons, family meals, and conference calls. I was entitled to four hours of vacation per pay period, which came to one day of vacation a month. And I had it better than many of my peers in D.C.; Secretary Clinton deliberately came in around 8 a.m. and left around 7 p.m., to allow her close staff to have morning and evening time with their families (although of course she worked earlier and later, from home).

In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else's schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be-at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office-at least not for very long.

I am hardly alone in this realization. MichŠle Flournoy stepped down after three years as undersecretary of defense for policy, the third-highest job in the department, to spend more time at home with her three children, two of whom are teenagers. Karen Hughes left her position as the counselor to President George W. Bush after a year and a half in Washington to go home to Texas for the sake of her family. Mary Matalin, who spent two years as an assistant to Bush and the counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney before stepping down to spend more time with her daughters, wrote: "Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work."

Yet the decision to step down from a position of power-to value family over professional advancement, even for a time-is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States. One phrase says it all about current attitudes toward work and family, particularly among elites. In Washington, "leaving to spend time with your family" is a euphemism for being fired. This understanding is so ingrained that when Flournoy announced her resignation last December, TheNew York Times covered her decision as follows:

"Ms. Flournoy's announcement surprised friends and a number of Pentagon officials, but all said they took her reason for resignation at face value and not as a standard Washington excuse for an official who has in reality been forced out. "I can absolutely and unequivocally state that her decision to step down has nothing to do with anything other than her commitment to her family," said Doug Wilson, a top Pentagon spokesman. "She has loved this job and people here love her."

Think about what this "standard Washington excuse" implies: it is so unthinkable that an official would actually step down to spend time with his or her family that this must be a cover for something else. How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood? Depending on one's vantage point, it is either ironic or maddening that this view abides in the nation's capital, despite the ritual commitments to "family values" that are part of every political campaign. Regardless, this sentiment makes true work-life balance exceptionally difficult. But it cannot change unless top women speak out.

Only recently have I begun to appreciate the extent to which many young professional women feel under assault by women my age and older. After I gave a recent speech in New York, several women in their late 60s or early 70s came up to tell me how glad and proud they were to see me speaking as a foreign-policy expert. A couple of them went on, however, to contrast my career with the path being traveled by "younger women today." One expressed dismay that many younger women "are just not willing to get out there and do it." Said another, unaware of the circumstances of my recent job change: "They think they have to choose between having a career and having a family."

A similar assumption underlies Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's widely publicized 2011 commencement speech at Barnard, and her earlier TED talk, in which she lamented the dismally small number of women at the top and advised young women not to "leave before you leave." When a woman starts thinking about having children, Sandberg said, "she doesn't raise her hand anymore . She starts leaning back." Although couched in terms of encouragement, Sandberg's exhortation contains more than a note of reproach. We who have made it to the top, or are striving to get there, are essentially saying to the women in the generation behind us: "What's the matter with you?"

They have an answer that we don't want to hear. After the speech I gave in New York, I went to dinner with a group of 30-somethings. I sat across from two vibrant women, one of whom worked at the UN and the other at a big New York law firm. As nearly always happens in these situations, they soon began asking me about work-life balance. When I told them I was writing this article, the lawyer said, "I look for role models and can't find any." She said the women in her firm who had become partners and taken on management positions had made tremendous sacrifices, "many of which they don't even seem to realize . They take two years off when their kids are young but then work like crazy to get back on track professionally, which means that they see their kids when they are toddlers but not teenagers, or really barely at all." Her friend nodded, mentioning the top professional women she knew, all of whom essentially relied on round-the-clock nannies. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family.


The Retro Wife

Feminists who say they're having it all-by choosing to stay home

When Kelly Makino was a little girl, she loved to go orienteering-to explore the wilderness near her rural Pennsylvania home, finding her way back with a compass and a map-and the future she imagined for herself was equally adventuresome. Until she was about 16, she wanted to be a CIA operative, a spy, she says, "like La Femme Nikita." She put herself through college at Georgia State working in bars and slinging burgers, planning that with her degree in social work, she would move abroad, to India or Africa, to do humanitarian work for a couple of years. Her husband would be nerdy-hip, and they'd settle down someplace like Williamsburg; when she eventually had children, she would continue working full time, like her mother did, moving up the nonprofit ladder to finally "run a United Way chapter or be the CEO." Kelly graduated from college magna cum laude and got an M.S.W. from Penn, again with honors, receiving an award for her negotiating skills.

Now Kelly is 33, and if dreams were winds, you might say that hers have shifted. She believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men, and that no amount of professional success could possibly console her if she felt her two young children--Connor, 5, and Lillie, 4-were not being looked after the right way. The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so "women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox." Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; "women," she says, "keep it together better than guys do." So last summer, when her husband, Alvin, a management consultant, took a new position requiring more travel, she made a decision. They would live off his low-six-figure income, and she would quit her job running a program for at-risk kids in a public school to stay home full time.

Kelly is not a Martha Stewart spawn in pursuit of the perfectly engineered domestic stage set. On the day I met her, she was wearing an orange hoodie, plum-colored Converse low-tops, and a tiny silver stud in her nose. In the family's modest New Jersey home, the bedroom looked like a laundry explosion, and the morning's breakfast dishes were piled in the sink. But Kelly's priorities are nothing if not retrograde. She has given herself over entirely to the care and feeding of her family. Undistracted by office politics and unfettered by meetings or a nerve-fraying commute, she spends hours upon hours doing things that would make another kind of woman scream with boredom, chanting nursery rhymes and eating pretend cake beneath a giant Transformers poster. Her sacrifice of a salary tightened the Makinos' upper-middle-class budget, but the subversion of her personal drive pays them back in ways Kelly believes are priceless; she is now able to be there for her kids no matter what, cooking healthy meals, taking them hiking and to museums, helping patiently with homework, and devoting herself to teaching the life lessons-on littering, on manners, on good habits-that she believes every child should know. She introduces me as "Miss Lisa," and that's what the kids call me all day long.

Alvin benefits no less from his wife's domestic reign. Kelly keeps a list of his clothing sizes in her iPhone and, devoted to his cuteness, surprises him regularly with new items, like the dark-washed jeans he was wearing on the day I visited. She tracks down his favorite recipes online, recently discovering one for pineapple fried rice that he remembered from his childhood in Hawaii. A couple of times a month, Kelly suggests that they go to bed early and she soothes his work-stiffened muscles with a therapeutic massage. "I love him so much, I just want to spoil him," she says.

Kelly calls herself "a flaming liberal" and a feminist, too. "I want my daughter to be able to do anything she wants," she says. "But I also want to say, `Have a career that you can walk away from at the drop of a hat.'?" And she is not alone. Far from the Bible Belt's conservative territories, in blue-state cities and suburbs, young, educated, married mothers find themselves not uninterested in the metaconversation about "having it all" but untouched by it. They are too busy mining their grandmothers' old-fashioned lives for values they can appropriate like heirlooms, then wear proudly as their own.

Feminism has fizzled, its promise only half-fulfilled. This is the revelation of the moment, hashed and rehashed on blogs and talk shows, a cause of grief for some, fury for others. American women are better educated than they've ever been, better educated now than men, but they get distracted during their prime earning years by the urge to procreate. As they mature, they earn less than men and are granted fewer responsibilities at work. Fifty years after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, women represent only a tiny fraction of corporate and government leaders, and they still earn only 77 cents on the male dollar.


Lesbian British Policewoman responsible for the death of an innocent Brazilian electrician now harassing journalists

The officer in charge of Scotland Yard's inquiries in the wake of  the phone-hacking scandal  has been forced to defend her force's tactics.

Questions have been raised over the scope of Operation Elveden, the multi-million pound criminal inquiry into alleged bribes paid by journalists to public officials, after it targeted police officers who have `leaked' information with no payment involved.

Those concerns follow mounting  controversy over the dawn arrests of journalists - including an ex-editor who was seven months pregnant - and reporters left facing many months before discovering whether they will face charges.

The arrests have also prompted fears, after the Leveson inquiry, that informal contact between police officers and the Press is being outlawed.

Now Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick has written to the Society of Editors justifying the Met's investigations and methods.

In her unsolicited letter explaining the Elveden operation she insists: `The investigations being carried out do not mean that the Met wants or intends to stop officers talking to journalists.'

Defending the much-criticised `7am door knocks', Miss Dick says there are `sound operational reasons for the times of day we elect to arrest people'.

Miss Dick said there was `genuine concern' by police over the time those arrested have been on bail but said there have been `millions of emails, documentation, complex communications data and trails of financial transactions that require painstaking analysis'.

She concluded: `An unintended and, I hope, short-term consequence of this may be a negative effect on relations between police and journalists.

`This is unfortunate but in no way undermines the value the Metropolitan Police Service puts on the role of a free and investigative Press in a democratic society - indeed this investigation is the result of such journalism. We want open, professional and trusting relationships between our officers and journalists.'

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: `While I am glad she has recognised the need to give an explanation, areas of concern remain.

`We should all recognise that the police sometimes have a difficult job to do, but early-morning knocks on the doors of journalists still require some justification.'



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


28 March, 2013


Life is harder today than 40 years ago … and it’s not just the twenty-somethings saying that, their parents agree

The are too many knees under government desks now -- instead of being out doing something productive and useful

Raised on rationing and under the spectre of a nuclear war, older generations have loved to grumble about the easy ride enjoyed by youngsters today at one point or another.

But it would seem that despite the improved working conditions, freedom and vast array of ways to splash the cash, life for young people has never been tougher.

A surprising study of 4,000 people across two generations found that not only does the current younger generation think their parents had it easy, the over-50's agree.

The study, which was commissioned by health retailer Holland & Barrett, also revealed 68 per cent of those questioned believe today’s generation are forced to endure more hardship than young people 40 years ago.

Despite the consumer revolution in personal technology, comparatively bigger salaries and better working conditions, those in their twenties say they face a more significant range of threats to happiness and contentment.

Better job security, comfortable pensions and a clockon, clock off approach to the world of work made life easier 40 years ago, as did a better housing market and the absence of high interest loans and credit cards.

'The results are surprising, and reveal that young men and women in their twenties are planning for the future, investing time and effort in maintaining health and fitness, and fretting over their finances – rather than hedonists living for the day,' said the LSE sociologist, Dr Catherine Hakim.

'Perhaps this is a response to the current tough economic climate.'

Stress is a huge problem for today's twenty-somethings, with 41 per cent saying they experience regular or constant stress. Just 15 per cent said the same 40 years ago, with half saying they never got stressed at all.

Money worries, being overworked and concerns about their body image were the most prevalent concerns for those in their twenties, but didn't chime with older respondents, who, in general, were far more content with their body shape and image in their youth.

As a result, the average twenty-something is also twice as likely to want to 'make a lot of money quickly' than the older generation did when they were that age.

Hakim added: 'Young men and women are also vastly more materialistic than were their parents’ generation.

'Having money has become a life goal in itself, as a high standard of living becomes taken for granted.'

'Overall, it’s clear the route to happiness and contentment has changed over a generation to become more aspirational and more individualistic.'

There were some similarities between those in their twenties and those in their fifties however. Both generations aspired to finding a partner and having a long term relationship in their twenties.

Paired off or not, having children has been pushed back by those in their twenties, with most agreeing that the ideal time to have a baby is at 29, compared with 27 in 1970.

Marriage too has declined with less than half of today’s youth considering it important compared to the 54 per cent of over 50’s who placed faith in it when in their twenties.

People had better relationships with the neighbours also in years gone by – one in four over fifties as fond memories of visiting a neighbour’s home and being on very good terms with the people next door while just 7 per cent of today's twenty-somethings can claim the same thing.

Surprisingly, alcohol consumption remains fairly similar but naturally people were far heavier smokers in the older generation – just a fifth of the modern generation smoked compared to over half of people forty years ago. The average smoker back then smoked 15 a day, while those today get through nine.

'We commissioned the Good Life Report to better understand what the challenges and pressures really are for today’s younger generation,' said Lysa Hardy, Chief Marketing Officer for Holland and Barrett.

'In a world where we’re constantly rushing around and connected 24/4, we found people now have to make more of a concerted effort to keep fit and healthy, often fitting it around their busy lifestyle at the expense of having fun and seeing friends and family.

'The idea of what makes up a good life has also changed over a generation, and we’ve noticed a trend for many younger people to take an interest in health and looking after themselves.

'The common view is young people live for today – yet the report shows quite the opposite.

'Today’s younger generation are looking ahead, investing in their health, saving, and making smart choices about healthy eating and exercise.'


New penalties to punish British press are illegal, says peer: Lord Black warns 'exemplary damages' plan will fail

Plans to push newspapers into joining a new press regulator under threat of punitive damages are ‘almost certainly illegal’ and will ultimately collapse, a Tory peer warned last night.

Lord Black of Brentwood, a senior executive with Telegraph Media Group, delivered an outspoken attack on the proposals thrashed out by the three political parties last week.

He described them as a menace to free speech that will have ‘a chilling effect on investigative journalism’.

He spoke out as peers discussed legislation drawn up to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into press standards by Lord Justice Leveson. Under the plans, media organisations that refuse to join an approved regulator could be hit with ‘exemplary’ damages if they lose court cases for libel or invasion of privacy.

But Lord Black denounced that as ‘alien to English law’, where exemplary damages are only used in extreme circumstances.

He said the plans are ‘wrong in principle and fundamentally flawed’.

‘I’m sure they are almost certainly contrary to European law and so will collapse or be struck down,’ he added. ‘I think they are a constitutional nightmare.’

Lord Black quoted from a legal opinion drawn up by Lord Pannick, Desmond Brown QC and Anthony White QC, which warned that the proposals will fall foul of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legal experts said that punishing newspapers is ‘particularly objectionable’ under European law.

‘To punish the Press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the importance that both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attaches to the freedom of the press.’

Criticising the way the reforms have been rammed through ‘at breakneck speed’, Lord Black said it was ‘very dangerous’ that fundamental issues of freedom of speech were pushed through the Commons after just two hours of debate and intense lobbying from the Hacked Off pressure group.

Lord Black pointed out that the Government’s legislation seeks to use exemplary damages as a stick to encourage newspapers to sign up to the new body.

But loopholes mean that publishers could be hit with exemplary damages in ‘strikingly wide circumstances’ even if they do sign up.

The Government last night tabled an amendment which would prevent those who publish a ‘small scale blog’ from being among those who could be fined.

It was nodded through by peers without a vote. Lord Black’s intervention is significant since he has been a  leading player in the industry in drawing up plans for a new regulator.


The culture war is all Obama has left

When former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean began campaigning for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, he would regularly say in his stump speech, "I am tired of fighting elections on guns, God and gays. We're going to fight this election on our turf, which is going to be jobs, education and health care."

Fast-forward 10 years to the third month of President Obama's second term. Suddenly, the Democrats' turf doesn't look so friendly anymore. It's not hard to see why they're changing gears to fight a culture war of their own choosing.

The U.S. economy is still suffering through the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Unemployment is stubbornly high, especially for Americans age 25 to 54, who make up the core of the nation's workforce. And the American public does not approve of Obama's bumbling and ineffectual attempts to handle the economy.

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Meanwhile, Obama's failure to reach a grand bargain on deficit reduction has completely killed any hopes for new jobs or education programs. Instead of pushing for new stimulus spending or $10 billion a year for his proposed early education program, Obama is just trying to survive this year's $85 billion in sequester spending cuts.

Obama's signature domestic accomplishment, Obamacare, remains highly unpopular. Health care premiums are rising, as its opponents predicted, and numerous newspaper stories are now highlighting how the law is either discouraging new hiring altogether or forcing more Americans into part-time work involuntarily. The key component of the law, the state-based insurance exchanges, are supposed to be up and running in just over seven months, and no one believes they will be functioning properly. The federal bureaucrat in charge of implementing the exchanges recently told industry officials that he is no longer trying to make these exchanges provide a "world-class experience," but instead merely hoping they won't provide "a Third World experience."

Suddenly, guns, God and gays don't look so bad as key issues for the Democratic Party.

On Saturday, Obama devoted his weekly radio address to proposed new gun control laws, including background checks (which would not have prevented the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.) and the restoration of a demonstrably ineffective assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 after failing to prevent several of America's saddest and most memorable mass shootings. Given that nearly all gun violence is perpetrated with handguns -- not long guns and not so-called "assault weapons" -- it seems Obama's new focus on guns is designed not so much to prevent gun deaths as to energize Democratic voters who look down their noses at gun enthusiasts in flyover country.

And over the past week the most dangerous place to be in Washington was between a microphone and every Democratic politician looking to announce their newfound support for same-sex marriage. Democrats, detecting a sudden shift in public opinion on the issue, are just now starting to lead from behind.

Unless the economy markedly improves in the near future, or Obamacare is miraculously implemented without a hitch, expect Obama and the White House to turn the 2014 election into an all-out culture war centered around gun control and gay marriage. This is the only turf that appears remotely friendly to them these days.


Pope Francis is third of three consecutive  champions of freedom

Karol Wojtyla lived under both the Nazis and the communists, and helped bring about the shattering of the communist empire.

Joseph Ratzinger grew up under the Nazis as well, and spent most of his life locked with his friend John Paul II in the worldwide battle with the Soviets and their branch operations in various intellectual garbs around the globe.

Now comes Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has also spent much of his life in the double conflict with fascists and communists. Christopher Hitchens told me in the last interview I did with him that the Argentine dictator Gen. Jorge Videla was the most evil of the many evil people the writer had met. The new pope has thus struggled against the worst of the worst, just like his immediate predecessors.

The battles of the 20th century have thrown up one last experienced leader for the opening chapters of the new century. Francis comes to lead a church that is more than a little exhausted and wounded from those epic battles, and from those wounds have come even more poisons. A weakened body is susceptible to such things. As any American who can read knows, the Roman Catholic Church in America and elsewhere around the world was invaded by very great evils which are still being expelled and expiated by new leaders like Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishops Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Since J.R.R. Tolkien was a Catholic, let me borrow a reference or two from "The Lord of the Rings" to illustrate the challenges facing Francis.

Evil never sleeps. As soon as it was thrown down in the fantasy epic it began to search for a new home, and came to occupy Mordor. I wouldn't presume to play Tolkien Jeopardy with modern media's Tom Bombadil, Stephen Colbert, but the arc of the Englishman's epic is always in front of us.

Good battles evil, and even when good wins -- as in 1945 and 1989 -- evil calls for reinforcements and opens a new front on which to renew the battle.

Lots and lots of people are blessedly living in their various Shires, tilting at global warming and various other pretend monsters, but the real horrors are out there, and the Roman Catholic Church has, for the third time in a row, called forth a leader who knows exactly the depths of human evil.

I spent most of last week interviewing leading intellectuals from the American branch of the Roman Catholic Church: George Weigel, and priests such as Robert Barron, Joseph Fessio, C. John McCloskey, and Robert Sirico. Each of them was surprised but also thrilled by the choice of Francis, confident of his internal compass. (Transcripts of all the interviews are available at the "Transcripts" page of HughHewitt.com.)

My last interview of the week was with Archbishop Chaput, who said of the new pope that Francis was "an extraordinary man" and an "extraordinary choice," and that no one should fear that liberation theology has entered St. Peter's from South America.

"[L]eft-wing liberation theologians from Argentina didn't like him as the bishop, and actually tried to stop him from being promoted to be the archbishop of Buenos Aires," Chaput told me. "So they must be especially nervous today."

But not defenders of religious freedom. As with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they have in Francis a reliable, tough, experienced and courageous leader.



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


27 March, 2013

US Supreme Court to take up Michigan affirmative action case

At issue in the Michigan affirmative action case is whether a ballot initiative violated the rights of minority students to try to influence school officials to adopt race-conscious admissions plans.

The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine whether a 2006 ballot initiative banning affirmative action at public universities in Michigan violates the equal protection rights of minorities.

Fifty-eight percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, which amended the state constitution to prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment in college admissions based on race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

Civil rights groups and minority students sued to block the measure, arguing that the constitutional amendment erected disadvantageous barriers to those advocating for the use of racial identity and ethnic background to grant preferential consideration to minority candidates by college admissions officers.

By targeting racial classifications in college admissions, proponents of the ban on racial classifications were themselves guilty of using such classifications, they argued.

A federal judge disagreed and upheld Proposal 2. A sharply divided Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, ruling 8 to 7 that the ban on affirmative action violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The central issue in the case is what the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection actually protects.

Want your top political issues explained? Get customized DC Decoder updates.

It is well established that it protects against political obstructions that would hinder or undermine equal treatment of black students and white students.

But the question in the Michigan case is whether it also protects against political obstructions that make it more difficult for minority students to obtain preferential treatment in college admissions based on race or ethnicity.

“It is exceedingly odd to say that a statute which bars a state from discriminating on the basis of race violates the Equal Protection Clause because it discriminates on the basis of race and sex. Yet that is precisely what the [Sixth Circuit] majority held here,” Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch wrote in his brief to the high court.

“Until now, no court has ever held that, apart from remedying specific past discrimination, a government must engage in affirmative action,” Mr. Bursch said.

He said the case presented a question of "immense importance."  

At issue is whether state governments are free to replace race-conscious affirmative action admissions plans with race-neutral alternatives as a means to achieve classroom diversity.

In addition to Michigan, seven other states have undertaken such efforts: Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington.


This is all about saving the euro, not Cyprus

There is a glimmer of hope – and that is the Cypriots’ desire to reassert independence

By Nigel Farage

The brinkmanship that has been on display over the Cypriot financial crisis makes obvious to all but the wilfully blind the level of political determination in Brussels to save the euro at all costs. No amount of empirical economic evidence – or misery for ordinary people – matters when the dreams of the continent’s elite are threatened.

After the French and Dutch rejected the European Constitution in 2005, the then European Commissioner for Communications, Margot Wallström, put it perfectly. She and the other EU cheerleaders had invested “a lot of energy and political capital” in the project, she declared, and they were not going to give up on it. No matter what the people said, no matter what the economic realities were.

Five years later, this delusion in the face of brute reality has reached its apogee in Cyprus.

How can it be that the German parliament gets to vote on the wholesale theft of money from richer Cypriot depositors, while the Cypriot parliament has no such voice? Instead the theft is labelled “restructuring” – and as such there will be no Cypriot democratic oversight of the economic rape of their country. Be under no illusion: this is being done not to solve the Cypriot economy, but to save the euro. The crashing irony is that, in their February elections, the Cypriots threw out the Communists. One could ask why they bothered.

But at what cost is the euro being saved? What we can see here is an almost deliberate attempt to set the people of Cyprus against each other. By restricting the damage to those who have deposited 100,000 euros in the bank (rather than across the board, as was the previous suggestion) they will be undermining social cohesion, pitting those with against those without. It destroys any pretence that the EU has at its heart a belief in democracy, or in those warm words so often repeated about it being the guardian of essential “European” qualities. In truth it was only a fair-weather friend and its behaviour in this storm, as in others, is to drop these benevolent ideas like hot stones.

Worse still, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutchman who heads the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, has made it clear that this is now the template for all eurozone countries. Think about that for a moment. These politicians really believe that all the money in the eurozone is actually theirs – as if people have it on sufferance, and not by rights. Since Dijsselbloem spoke, bank shares in Spain, France and Italy have collapsed: citizens of these countries not unreasonably fear the worst.

All this is done for the European elite’s devious ends. One of which is the so-called “Target 2”. This is the eurozone bank clearing system, by which private transfers of money from one member to another are cleared through the national central banks. If, for instance, 100 euros is moved from a Greek bank deposit to a German bank deposit, the Greek central bank ends up owing another 100 euros to the Bundesbank (through the European Central Bank).

At present, the Bundesbank is owed 600 billion euros thanks to Target 2, mainly as a result of capital flight from Mediterranean countries. But, unlike with normal debts, the debtor countries have no contract or understanding about how this should be repaid.

Cyprus has just been granted a 10 billion euro bail-out loan from the other eurozone countries. But the irony is that Cyprus is already in receipt of a bail-out worth 7.5 billion euros – this is the Target 2 debt of the central bank of Cyprus. And they are desperately trying to prevent this growing as a result of further capital flight.

Perhaps this is the most ominous result of the Cyprus debacle. While the details of the controls to prevent money leaving Cyprus are not yet known, they will quickly lead to euros in a bank account there being worth less than euros in bank accounts elsewhere.

I have been saying this since the start of the latest chapter of the crisis: that the level of risk and the prospects of contagion are such that those who have deposits in other southern European countries should get them out as soon as possible. Don’t just take my word for it. The economist and journalist Anatole Kaletsky yesterday made his support for my comments utterly clear on Twitter: “Anyone with more than 100,000 euros in a French, Spanish or Italian bank is crazy if individual, or criminally negligent if a company director.”

There is, however, a silver lining to all of this – a small one, but possibly the most important aspect in the whole sorry debacle. Cyprus is different from Greece, different from Ireland and different from Spain and Italy. In Cyprus we have a population that would prefer to leave the eurozone than comply with the privations of Germany and Brussels. We have a parliament that has already voted down one scheme, and is thus barred from debating this one. We have a Cypriot archbishop who supports his people rather than the EU. They are not happy and they are pointing to a new reality.

That David Cameron is welcoming these plans shows how far the British political class is from any ideals of democracy, accountability and liberty. Instead the future to him is a technocratic, post-democratic world, run in the most part by unelected, fanatical and deluded power-mongers in Brussels and Frankfurt.


Airlines should charge 'fat tax' on obese travellers because their extra weight burns more fuel, says Professor

A pay-what-you-weigh airline pricing scheme should be introduced because heavier people cost more in fuel to fly, a professor has claimed.

Heavier passengers would pay more for their plane tickets and lighter ones less under plans put forward by Dr Bharat P Bhatta.

Writing in this month's Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management publication, Dr Bhatta said weight and space should be taken into account when airlines price their tickets.

Dr Bhatta, of the Sogn og Fjordane University College in Norway, said: 'Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services.

'As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets.'

Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management editor Dr Ian Yeoman said: 'For airlines, every extra kilogram means more expensive jet fuel must be burned, which leads to CO2 emissions and financial cost.

'As the airline industry is fraught with financial difficulties, marginally profitable and has seen exponential growth in the last decade, maybe they should be looking to introduce scales at the check-in.'

Dr Bhatta says the fare could be generated with a fixed rate for kilograms per passenger so that a person weighing 60kg pays half the airfare of a 120kg person.

Alternatively, airlines could have a 'base' fare with an additional charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs, as well as a discount for lighter flyers.

The proposals have detractors, such as Bob Atkinson of TravelSupermarket.com. He questioned whether passengers would be entitled to a discount if they lose weight between when they booked their tickets and when they arrive at the airport.

He told the Daily Express: 'Customers are already paying extra charges for their baggage, but actually making one for a person - I think that's a bit distasteful.'


English MPs could finally hold sway on England-only laws: Scots' power must be curbed says report

Laws that affect England alone should no longer be passed in the Commons without the consent of a majority of English MPs, an inquiry has concluded.

The changes are designed to end the problem of unpopular measures affecting England, but not Scotland, being approved only with the support of Scottish MPs.

In 2004, for example, Tony Blair pushed through tuition fees for England even though most English MPs voted against the policy.

It passed only because Scottish Labour MPs packed the lobbies in favour of the move – despite the fact tuition fees would not apply north of the border because the devolved executive there had rejected the plan.

An independent commission, led by former House of Commons clerk Sir William McKay, has said more needs to be done to ensure English MPs have better control.

The report was commissioned by the Cabinet Office last year, and ministers will now consider whether to implement its conclusions.

It calls for a compromise ‘double-lock’ system, under which laws that apply in England alone are approved first by English MPs before they go to a vote before the whole Commons, which comprises MPs of all four nations of the UK.

The report suggests any England-only laws should first be considered by a committee made up of MPs representing English constituencies.

Laws would not go forward unless they achieved the support of this committee, whose make-up should reflect the balance of parties in England.

The legislation would then be voted on by all MPs in the Commons – be they English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish.

This is to ensure that MPs from other countries are not relegated to ‘second class’ status.

So, in effect, every law would have to be supported by both a representative majority of English MPs and a majority of all of Britain’s MPs.

The new regime is designed to solve the so-called ‘West Lothian’ question, which asks why it is that Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs have the same right to vote at Westminster as any English MP now that large areas of policy are devolved to national parliaments and assemblies.

Many Conservatives have called for purely ‘English votes for English laws’, with MPs from other nations barred from voting on such issues.

But Labour says to do that would undermine the Union. The party is also concerned that, because it often relies on Scottish MPs for a majority at Westminster, English votes for English laws could make governing impossible.

Now Sir William’s commission has unveiled a compromise which maintains the integrity of the UK but provides a greater English voice.

He said: ‘Surveys have shown that people in England are unhappy about the existing arrangements, and support change. There is a feeling that England is at a disadvantage, and that it’s not right that MPs representing the devolved nations should be able to vote on matters affecting England.

‘The status quo clearly cannot be sustained. Our proposals retain the right of a UK-wide majority to  make the final decisions where they believe UK interests or those of a part of the UK other than England should prevail.’

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘We will give the report very serious consideration before we respond.’



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


26 March, 2013

Obama tolerance police accused of intolerance

The government agency charged with investigating discrimination in the workplace is itself facing a discrimination lawsuit by a worker claiming he was forced to violate his religious beliefs.

Greg Somers, an investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has filed a lawsuit over an agency policy requiring employees to investigate and prosecute claims against employers based on allegations of “sexual orientation.”

However, claims of discrimination based on “sexual orientation” have no basis in federal law.

In 2011, the EEOC, under the Obama administration, issued a policy directive requiring that claims of discrimination on the basis of lesbian, “gay,” bisexual or transgender status be processed as gender discrimination.

Shortly after the memo was issued, Somers requested a religious exemption from being forced to investigate LGBT claims, arguing it violated his sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality, along with adultery and other sexual practices, is a personal choice. Towards the end of last year, after working its way through the federal administrative process, Somers was told his request had been denied.

Somers has since filed a lawsuit against the EEOC alleging his rights are being violated under the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The suit also claims that the EEOC policy violates the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government.

“I regret the EEOC’s decision to refuse to accommodate my religious beliefs,” Somers said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Tolerance of religious beliefs and freedom of religion are fundamental constitutional rights. No one should have to choose between their lifelong career and their religious beliefs.”

Tim Newton, an attorneys representing Somers, said legislators have made it plain they never intended for sexual orientation to be covered under existing anti-discrimination laws.

“In every Congress since 1994, with the exception of the 109th Congress, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced,” Newton explained. “This act, were it to be enacted, would expand the definition of discrimination in employment to include sexual orientation. This is a plain indication that Congress never intended for sexual orientation or gender identity to be covered under title VII’s existing non-discrimination provisions.”

The EEOC acknowledges on its website that federal law does not specifically cover discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In a section titled “Facts about Discrimination in Federal Government Employment Based on Marital Status, Political Affiliation, Status as a Parent, Sexual Orientation, or Transgender (Gender Identity) Status,” the agency says federal laws “prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information, as well as reprisal for protected activity.”

The EEOC then goes on to admit that it has arbitrarily decided to extend classes listed under the law to include individuals engaged in the “gay” lifestyle as well as transgenders.

“The EEOC has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the agency says. “The commission has also found that claims by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals alleging sex-stereotyping state a sex discrimination claim under Title VII.”

On the group’s “Sex-based discrimination” page, the agency also claims LGBT individuals are permitted to file claims over “adverse actions taken because of the person’s non-conformance with sex stereotypes.”

“Under the Constitution the executive branch is supposed to enforce the law, but is it is supposed to enforce the law as set forth by the legislature which has the responsibility for actually enacting the law,” Newton said. “When that begins to be short-circuited there is a real vulnerability towards arbitrary actions by the government.”

He went on to explain there are several important issues in the case.

“One of them is that the EEOC has refused to accommodate Mr. Somers’ request that he be exempted from these types of cases because they are against his sincerely held religious beliefs. That’s a federal employment law claim,” he said. “Somers is also arguing that the EEOC overstepped its bounds by implementing a policy without authorization from Congress.”

He went on to explain that even if Congress were to enact ENDA, Somers should still be entitled to a religious exemption from investigating LGBT cases.

“There are claims both on statutory and constitutional rights of religious freedom that would allow him to argue that even if ENDA was passed and authorized the EEOC’s actions, it would still violate the rights of religious conscience if people were forced to comply with it against the religious beliefs.”

Newton said if the EEOC is permitted to arbitrarily determine who is a protected class under discrimination law with no legislative oversight, it would have a chilling effect on all employers.

“What’s at issue is the EEOC’s decision to make sexual orientation a protected class so that nobody, regardless of what they believe on the matter, can make any employment determinations based on that. They are essentially forcing people to come in line with a particular ideological view through the coercion of the government.”

He went on to explain that with the push to expand discrimination status to LGBT members, the courts are beginning to find themselves forced to deal with the issue of what to do when different civil rights collide with each other. For instance, if a woman objects to a person who claims to be a woman being in the same restroom with her, what are her civil rights?

“When individual rights collide, I believe the Constitution should do is promote fairness so that on the one hand the government is not arbitrarily and wrongfully denying fundamental rights, but on the other hand that same government is not being used as a tool by one group to essentially cram their views down the throats of another group.”

Newton said rather than deny Somers’ request for an exemption he believes the EEOC should instead be grateful for his being honest about his religious beliefs.

“It seems to make sense that someone who believes that they have been discriminated against by their employer on the base of sexual orientation would want an investigator who was sympathetic with their position,” Newton said. “Rather than deny his exemption request they should attempt to try to find an accommodation. The EEOC should not force an employee to violate their conscience or force them to choose between their faith and their job.”


As Support For Gay Marriage Grows, An Opponent Looks Ahead

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on gay marriage, Maggie Gallagher, one of the nation's leading voices in opposition to same-sex marriage, is also preparing for what might come next.

Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, likes to call herself an "accidental activist." After graduating from Yale in 1982, she thought she'd become a writer and focus on what she called "important things," like money and war. She never fathomed she'd end up on TV almost daily, smack in the middle of the war zone over gay marriage.

Indeed, Gallagher only started speaking against gay marriage in 2003, when, she says, she could no longer avoid it. She'd spent the prior decade publically warning about the decline in marriage in general — how the sexual revolution, feminism and divorce were threatening the institution and children. Then gay marriage lurched out as the biggest threat of all.

Gallagher's crusade to save the institution of marriage was driven by her own experience as a young, unwed mother and the pain she saw in her own son.

"By time he was 2, he was asking where his dad was," Gallagher says. "And I think it's wrong to deliberately create a child, consciously depriving them of either their mother [or] father."

Gallagher's beef with gay marriage is actually more practical than moral or religious — although she is a practicing Catholic. If you believe that kids need a mom and dad, she argues, you simply can't endorse same-sex marriage at the same time. If you do endorse gay marriage, her argument continues, you automatically send the message that a married mom and dad are not really critical. And then, she insists, more kids will end up hurt.

A Deep Conviction

"I don't like saying this, in one way, because it's not like a contest. But in truth, the suicide rates of teenagers whose parents divorce are elevated at about same rates as teenagers who are LGBT," Gallagher says. "But we don't hear much about the one and we hear a lot about the other. You know, Lady Gaga is not making songs about it."

That's exactly why Gallagher says she's focusing now on what she calls "culture creating." She's not quitting the fight, she says, but rather making sure that even if the legal battle ends, the fight for traditional marriage will go on.

"I'm thinking more hard about — how do we sustain the ideal of marriage that I care about if this idea is treated as the moral and legal equivalent of racism in the public square?" she says.

"We need a social institution for attaching fathers to the mother-child bond," she says. "And for communicating to young people — in the midst of their sexual, romantic, erotic dramas — that they have a serious responsibility to try to get this great good for their children. And that's the heart of marriage as an idea."

These days, Gallagher spends less time making her case against gay marriage than she does trying to convince people that there's even a legitimate case to be made.

"I have always believed that gay people are human beings with human dignity who need to be treated with respect," Gallagher says. "But that's different from having a foundational norm that says there is no morally relevant difference between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships and [that] if you see one, you're like a bigot who's opposed to interracial marriage."

If being on the front line of such a heated debate takes a toll on Gallagher, she doesn't show it.

"I'm not worried about me. Maggie's fine. Everything's cool," she says. "I do worry about other people — I worry when I get an email from a woman who's a nurse in a hospital, who wrote a letter to the editor opposing gay marriage, and finds that she fears her job is in jeopardy."

What Gallagher will never understand, however, is how gay marriage could ever be considered "marriage." She's focusing now on new ways to strengthen what she calls the "culture of marriage," through the arts and churches, for example.

With several polls now showing public support for gay marriage at greater than 50 percent and growing, Gallagher says she's less optimistic about her cause than she used to be, but still holds on to hope.

"I was told when I was young that there would be no more people opposing abortion and that communism was the inevitable way of future," she laughs. "So, first of all, I just don't believe in inevitability."

But Gallagher has definitely adjusted for the possibility. A decade after declaring that gay marriage was threatening civilization, her mission has evolved from staving off the threat to making the world safe for dissent.


Three cheers for the Scottish football fans fighting back

How Scottish football fans are resisting the state's violent clampdown on their speech and behaviour

Last Saturday, around 200 supporters of one of Glasgow’s two big football clubs, Celtic, attempted to march along Glasgow’s Gallowgate to Celtic Park before the game against Aberdeen, in protest against police harassment and victimisation. Within seconds, they were met by a massive force of Strathclyde Police, more than 200 officers dressed in yellow fluorescent jackets, with batons drawn. This force was supported by 30 police vans, scores of other vehicles, mounted police on horseback, dog units, a police helicopter and a camera surveillance team.

As police waded into the crowd, making 13 arrests, they knocked several young fans, and at least one elderly fan, to the ground. In one video clip, posted on YouTube, four burly officers can be seen forcing a young fan flat on his stomach with his face pushed into a puddle. As passing fans tried to film this brutal treatment, they were threatened with arrest for daring to film police action. Unfortunately for Strathclyde Police, videos of Saturday’s protest have nonetheless been posted on social-media sites, showing various incidents of ill-treatment.

The supporters targeted at the weekend are members of the Green Brigade (GB), a noisy, radical and pro-Irish republican section of the Celtic fanbase. Their refusal to stop singing pro-IRA songs, which some people find offensive, has earned them enemies in high places. They are despised by Scotland’s SNP government. GB had announced that it intended to march against police harassment and the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012, which restricts what fans can sing, shout and do at games. But before they could set off, police moved in to stop them in a military-style operation. The latest examples of police brutality come on the back of lawyers claiming that many fans have been mistreated under the new football legislation.

Strathclyde Police regularly treat Celtic fans, and GB in particular, as scum. However, the police are not used to having to defend or account for their actions in the media. In this respect, their behaviour on Saturday backfired badly. One of Scotland’s leading legal figures, Brian McConnachie QC, publicly condemned the police, even talking of a ‘police state’. He also cast doubt on the police’s official version of events, pointing out that the huge numbers of officers who arrived on the scene armed with cameras, batons, a helicopter and dogs were clearly not, as the police had claimed, just spontaneously responding to reports of a large gathering.

McConnachie was right to challenge the police’s ludicrous version of events. This was a premeditated act of police intimidation. Responding to the police attack, a Labour member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), Neil Findlay, noted: ‘As predicted in parliament, the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill is being used to criminalise working-class young men, with Old Firm [Celtic and Rangers] fans singled out.’ Another Labour MSP, Michael McMahon, ridiculed the police. He highlighted the irony of football fans marching against police harassment and then being met by the very victimisation and heavy-handed treatment that they were complaining of. MSP Hugh Henry accused the SNP justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, of introducing legislation that was being used to harass Celtic and Rangers fans on a daily basis.

For over a year now, I have documented incidents of police harassment of Celtic fans. One year on from the introduction of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, it is clear that those in power feel increasingly emboldened in their targeting and harassment of supporters. We have seen dawn raids and arrests of teenage fans, while other fans have been stopped at airports or questioned at their place of work. Social gatherings have been broken up or threatened, as the authorities have mounted all-out assaults on any resistance to the new law.

GB has borne the brunt of this intimidation because its members refuse to be told what they can and cannot sing. They are loathed by SNP politicians and police alike, precisely because they refuse to comply with the latest diktat on how fans should behave at a football match. Ironically, the very thing that makes GB seem dangerous to the authorities is the same thing that makes them attractive to growing numbers of fans: a sense of resistance and a refusal to be treated like naughty schoolchildren.

The emboldened and intolerant authorities are now being put on the backfoot. Alongside GB’s fightback, an umbrella group called Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC) is coordinating a series of public protests, the biggest of which will be a mass rally at George Square in Glasgow in early April. FAC says ‘the horrific scenes on Saturday represent a ratcheting up of the assault on the civil liberties (and bodies) of Celtic fans…’

People who care about freedom, and the basic right to attend a football match without being hassled by the police, should support the fightback by groups like GB and FAC. They are showing fans everywhere that it is possible to organise against authoritarian policing. They are a reminder that that we do not have to accept censorship of our songs or seek approval for the banners we wave. Over-the-top policing and petty restrictions on our behaviour are not natural; they are not just everyday things that we should accept as fate. They are things that we can, and should, overthrow.


Strong evangelical influence in Brazil

A Leftist complains below

On March 7, Brazil’s House of Representatives elected Marco Feliciano, a right-wing Pentecostal pastor from the country’s Social Christian Party (PSC), as president of the lower chamber’s Human Rights and Minorities’ Commission (CDHM). 

The CDHM was created in 1995, during Brazil’s re-democratization process, to serve as a bridge between congress and social movements on reproductive rights and domestic violence campaigns; anti-racism and anti-homophobia campaigns; as well as protections for indigenous people, women, and children. The CDHM was also the home of a working group dedicated to the truth and memory of those killed or disappeared during Brazil’s military dictatorship from 1964–1985. With such an agenda to fulfill, the CDHM has long been the province of progressive politicians. Indeed, Feliciano’s election is only the second time the Commission has been headed by a right-wing party.

But this time, the situation is particularly alarming. Feliciano, an Assembly of God pastor elected in 2011 as a parliamentary representative of the state of São Paulo, has a peculiar idea of the human rights he’s been tapped to defend, with a bevy of homophobic and racist statements to his credit (including some that manage to entwine the two). He has publicly declared himself opposed to LGBT rights, tweeted derogatory statements about the continent of Africa as a bastion of “paganism, occultism, penury,” and attributed diseases there, from Ebola to AIDS to famine, to the “1st act of homosexualism in history.”

He similarly announced on Twitter that “Noah’s damnation over Canaan touches all its direct descendants, African people,” and that “the rot of homosexual feelings lead to hatred, crime and rejection.” In his two years in office, he has already proposed bills to repeal same-sex civil unions and to criminalize abortion even in cases of extreme fetal abnormality—two issues that the Supreme Court has already weighed in on. As a Pentecostal pastor, Feliciano has appeared at recent events like the “Last Time Missionary Gideons’ Congress,” where he spoke in tongues and denounced the Devil’s activities in Parliament to an audience of thousands, referring to LGBT advocacy.

The increasing popularity of Feliciano’s Social Christian Party reflects the growing political power of Pentecostals and evangelicals* in Brazil, such that they’ve begun to challenge the longstanding dominance of Catholics in the central government. Pentecostal churches have taken root across the country, especially in poorer areas, preaching a version of prosperity gospel and building their empire on the tithes of families benefiting from anti-poverty programs. The result has been a massive 61% spike in Brazil’s evangelical population from 2000 to 2010—a number now amounting to more than 43 million people, or 23% of the national population. Unsurprisingly, this new constituency is enjoying success in electing leaders to city halls, and state and federal parliaments.

Brazil’s new evangelicals have also begun to cooperate with American counterparts. In a recent article at Public Eye, I described how Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) met with Brazilian politicians, with the aid of Feliciano’s PSC, seeking support for the cause of a Christian pastor convicted of apostasy in Iran. The efficiency of Brazil’s evangelical political network so impressed the U.S. conservative group that the ACLJ decided to open a Brazilian branch: the Brazilian Center for Law and Justice (BCLJ). The new organization’s director of operations, Filipe Coelho, told me of the PSC’s ambitions to elect an evangelical president to Brazil who would govern in the name of Jesus Christ.

Brazil’s human rights community has become concerned at the growing insistence of evangelical leaders that the country should be governed according to “Christian values”—values that include homophobia, Islamophobia, and “traditional values” that demand women’s obedience to husbands, children’s submission to father figures, and individuals’ surrender to the Holy Spirit. Leaders like Feliciano seem to value these perspectives over constitutional principles—principles that were hard-won after the collapse of the military dictatorship less than three decades ago, and cultivated during the slow restoration of democracy ever since. 

When Feliciano was nominated on March 6, a coalition of gays, lesbians, trans people, women, feminists, black people, and African-Brazilian religious leaders (including Christians) mounted a loud protest at the Commission, warning that Feliciano’s selection would represent a dangerous regression in human rights history. That day, the session was suspended without any decision, only to resume the next morning closed to the public (but live-streamed).

After five progressive representatives walked out in protest of the closed session, Feliciano was elected with 10 votes and one abstention. As he was inaugurated, the members who had voted him in made statements denouncing “Christophobia” and “gayzism” in Brazil, and Feliciano’s new vice president on the Commission triumphantly announced, “As evangelicals who don’t deny their evangelical identity to anyone, we’ll give here a clear demonstration on how to love your neighbor.”

Secularism in Brazil’s parliament may be an endangered concept, perhaps as the natural result of politicians courting evangelical influence in recent years. In the early 2000s, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, long condemned by evangelicals as “satanic” or “demonic,” sought and received influential pastors’ support in recasting that image, in exchange for giving them a seat at the table in steering national politics.

Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, who signed an agreement with evangelical leaders for support during her successful 2010 electoral campaign, repaid her debt in May of 2011 by vetoing educational materials that would have been used to undermine discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within public schools, declaring such a measure LGBT “propaganda.” In an unusual step, other evangelical leaders have been granted diplomatic passports to represent Brazil’s interests abroad. 

With the election of Feliciano, however, these trends will go from an indirect to a direct influence: pastors with a clear track record of homophobia, hostility to reproductive rights, and racial insensitivity are no longer applying pressure behind the scenes, but have assumed control of the very body meant to safeguard these very rights.



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


25 March, 2013

'Being White in Philly': America agonises over race and free speech after article sparks furore

Candid reflections by Robert Huber, a white author, on life in Philadelphia, the city where the US founding fathers first met, have triggered outrage amid a racial debate across America.

When Robert Huber visits his son at the apartment he rents with friends near his college campus in north Philadelphia, he admits that he is filled with a sense of foreboding.

Temple University has a strong academic reputation, but it is also located in an area of Philadelphia that has long been plagued by urban decay. The students are prime targets for crime, a policeman noted to Mr Huber, a long-time resident of the city.

The number of burglaries and robberies is high, drug dealing is rampant, and gangs of young men mill around, day and night, on the steps of town houses with broken windows and padlocked front doors.

The neighbourhoods of north Philadelphia are also predominantly African-American.

During those visits, said Mr Huber, he realised that he and his fellow white Philadelphians do not just try to avoid those areas physically but also do their best to erase them from their minds, as they dodge that most loaded of subjects in America - race.

Mr Huber, a writer, sought to address this in a detailed exploration of race in one of American's biggest and most segregated cities for this month's edition of Philadelphia magazine. And he wrote it from the perspective of fellow whites in the city.

The unvarnished result was Being White in Philly. It has been praised by some as a thoughtful insight into this most sensitive of subjects, but denounced by many - both black and white - for perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes in a one-sided depiction based on the prejudiced views of unidentified whites.

Mr Huber concluded with a call for a debate about race to take place, not just within the white and black communities, but between them. "We need to end the conversational divide so that there are no longer two private dialogues in Philadelphia," he wrote.

He has certainly achieved that wish. In a country where the legacy of slavery, segregation and discrimination still burn deep, the article in a city magazine has sparked a bout of national soul-searching.

Half a century after Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech about race equality, and more than four years after the first African-American president took office, the uproar illustrates how sensitive the issue remains in America.

That this debate is playing out in Philadelphia only deepens the soul-searching, given the role that the city has in the country's psyche.

The City of Brotherly Love - its motto is the translation of its name from the Greek - was the location for the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the adoption of the US Constitution in 1787. The First Amendment to that document enshrines the cherished principles of freedom of speech and religion.

The fact that the editorial staff of Philadelphia magazine is entirely white has fuelled the uproar. The publication's only African-American employee, who works as an events planner, published a commentary in The Philadelphia Inquirer last weekend.

In The Only Black Person in the Room, Adrienne Simpson called the cover story a "lopsided, conflagrant editorial - that teetered on the brink of fear-mongering".

The backlash has been led by Michael Nutter, the mayor, who condemned the magazine for portraying "an ethnic group that, in its entirety, is lazy, shiftless, irresponsible, and largely criminal".

In his letter to the city human relations commission, its equal opportunities agency, he excoriated the publication for the "reckless equivalent of shouting 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre" - and labelled "its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalisations an incitement to extreme reaction".

He asked the commission to consider a "rebuke" of the magazine and writer "in light of the potentially inflammatory effect and the reckless endangerment to Philadelphia's racial relations".

But the mayor, who was travelling in Italy and unavailable for comment last week, has in turn been criticised for trying to intimidate free speech with his damning response.

Tom McGrath, the editor, is fighting back. "I applaud the mayor for asking for an inquiry into the state of racial issues in Philadelphia," he said. "The need to have a deeper discussion about race in Philadelphia is exactly why we ran our story in the first place.

"Like any reader, the mayor is entitled to think and say what he wants about the story. [But] his statements about the magazine and mischaracterisation of the piece make me wonder if he's more interested in scoring political points than having a serious conversation about the issues.

"Furthermore, his call for a 'rebuke' of the magazine by the commission is rich with irony... the mayor loves the First Amendment - as long as he and the government can control what gets said."

Mr Huber's article lards his personal observations on the state of race relations in the city with the anecdotes he collected over several weeks in Fairmount, a gentrifying mostly white neighbourhood of younger incomers and older residents. All those he quotes are identified by first name only.

Fairmount is separated by a wide highway from North Philadelphia, home to what he calls "a vast and seemingly permanent black underclass".

Among the stories he relates is that of "Dennis", a 26-year-old teacher in an inner city school, who described an episode after he called a disruptive young teen "boy" - technically correct, but a term once used disparagingly by whites to refer to black men of any age.

The child's stepfather came to the school and accused Dennis of being a racist. "Dennis apologised, knowing how loaded the term 'boy' was and regretting that he'd used it, though he was thinking, 'Why would I be teaching in an inner-city school if I'm a racist?'," Mr Huber writes.

"The stepfather calmed down, and that would have been the end of it, except for one thing: the student's behaviour got worse. Because now he knew that no one at the school could do anything, no matter how badly he behaved."

Anna, a Russian-born lawyer quoted was scathing in her comments. "I've been here for two years, I'm almost done," she said. "Blacks use skin colour as an excuse. Discrimination is an excuse, instead of moving forward... Why do you support them when they won't work, just make babies and smoking pot?"

Whites from Philadelphia, Mr Huber notes, are more wary about expressing such opinions, even if they hold them. Indeed, he argues that many whites are willing to excuse poor behaviour by African-Americans because of the country's recent past.

"Our racial history, as horrible and daunting as it is, has created a certain tolerance of how things operate in the neighbourhood, an acceptance of an edgy status quo," he writes.

John, 87, a retired office worker quoted in the article, showed little such reticence as he narrated muggings and robberies by blacks. He said that former black neighbours were "working people, nice people, lovely people" but then used a common racial epithet and "boy" to describe a stranger he said had broken into his home.

Mr Huber also describes the experiences of Jen, an architect's wife, who insisted on sending her two young children to the local school with a mostly African-American population - to the surprise and dismay of other white mothers who went to great lengths to place their children in a "less black" school further away.

In North Philadelphia, his portrayal was denounced last week as one-sided, racist, simplistic, insulting and inflammatory. "He is mixing up race with class and poverty," Monica Peters, an African-American public relations professional who lives in the area he describes, told The Sunday Telegraph. "You can go to poor white and Latino and Asian communities in this country and you will witness just the same problems.

"The article is racist and it's morally unacceptable. He has taken a small demographic and given the impression that it represents the African-American community as a whole. Even here in North Philly, one block can be very nice and the next one you can see these issues."

Yet the comments expressed by the unidentified characters in "Being White in Philly" are not so different to those expressed by a fellow Philadelphian in a fiery speech in 2011 - except on that occasion it was Mr Nutter, speaking from a church pulpit in response to a spate of attacks by so-called "flash mobs" of black youths in downtown Philadelphia.

"You've damaged yourself, you've damaged another person, you've damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you've damaged your own race," he told the congregation.

He railed against young men in hoodies and low-hanging jeans who take no part in the upbringing of their offspring, and warned parents who neglect their children that they would be "spending some quality time with your kids" in jail.

"The Immaculate Conception of our Lord Jesus Christ took place a long time ago, and it didn't happen here in Philadelphia," he said. "To fathers: if you're not providing the guidance, and you're not sending any money, you're just a sperm donor."

Mr Huber ends his piece with his yearning for "a city in which it is okay to speak openly about race". And then he concludes: "Meanwhile, when I drive through North Philly to visit my son, I continue to feel both profoundly sad and a blind desire to escape. Though I wonder: am I allowed to say even that?" His critics would answer that question "Not like this, no", it seems.


See the original article here.

America's most successful industry ignores diversity

From a CNN special report:

How diverse is Silicon Valley? Most tech companies really, really don't want you to know, and the U.S. government isn't helping shed any light on the issue.

In an investigation that began in August 2011, CNNMoney probed 20 of the most influential U.S. technology companies, the Department of Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filing two Freedom of Information Act requests for workforce diversity data.

A year and a half, a pile of paperwork, and dozens of interviews later, we have a little more insight -- but not much.

Most of the companies stonewalled us, but the data we were able to get showed what one might expect: Ethnic minorities and women are generally underrepresented, sometimes severely so -- particularly in management roles.

White and Asian males often dominate their fields.

Our investigation demonstrated how difficult -- and sometimes impossible -- gaining any insight into Silicon Valley's employee diversity can be. It shows a general lack of transparency in an industry known for its openness.

It's not clear why Silicon Valley, like Hollywood, gets special treatment. Big campaign donations? Or a genuine fear of killing the goose that lays the golden egg?

Anyway, I thought Diversity Is Our Strength ... so, how come the celebrated supermen of Silicon Valley, like the late Steve Jobs, don't agree? Do they know something we don't know?


Political correctness is becoming more - not less - of a problem in Britain

By Tim Loughton (Member of Parliament for East Worthing and Shoreham)

Are you or have you ever been a homophobe seems to have become the new McCarthyism of our age. Given the urgency and frenzy of the lobby pushing forward the Gay Marriage Bill you wouldn’t think that no one had actually been able to give it a democratic mandate at the last election. At the evidence sessions of the committee which has just finished scrutinising the legislation Labour MPs tore into the Catholic Bishops as if they were prosecutors at a war crimes trial.

If you are not in favour of gay marriage then clearly you must be against equal rights for gay people so the flawed logic goes. Being an enthusiastic supporter of civil partnerships legislation and the full equality in the eyes of the law that it brought for same sex couples back in 2004 is not good enough apparently. Gay marriage has become this season’s new black and if you have a problem with that then you are written off not just as a fashionista lightweight but a full-blown bigot. The irony of the intolerance this demonstrates on the part of those pushing for greater tolerance of those with a different sexual orientation is not lost on many.

It is the ‘if you are not actively for some specific measure then you must be positively against the cause’ mentality that has become the hallmark of the thought police that we increasingly have to look out for over our shoulders to avoid coming a cropper. It is also the fuel for one of the most insidious and destructive forces at work in society today, namely political correctness. It can affect MPs in no less a way than our constituents. Indeed there are some cases where we are more vulnerable prey as my debate in the Commons last week showed.

I recounted how recently I had been the subject of a criminal investigation by Sussex Police. I was the victim of vexatious allegations from an all too vexing constituent not on account of sexism but racism. In a nutshell the vexed constituent had been placed on the local council’s ‘Customer of Concern’ list and on the obligatory paperwork under the section ‘description’ was referred to as ‘unkempt.’ When approached I said that the Council’s description seemed eminently accurate.

Before you could shout PC49 I had been summoned to a 90 minute interview under caution in a police custody suite on account of my constituent complaining that my comment was racist because he was of ‘Romany Gypsy origin.’ Unkempt, Romany = racist? Your guess is as good as mine, but because my constituent claims to have ‘perceived it as racist’ it becomes a legitimate full blown investigation. The fact neither I nor the Council had any idea that the complainant in question was of Romany Gypsy origin and he was apparently not required to prove it didn’t enter into the equation.  Six months, six different police officers and goodness knows how much taxpayers’ money later the case was summarily dropped by the CPS as baseless.

But the damage had been done not least to me as someone who has always stood up against racist bullies. How have the police apparently become so systematically beholden to political correctness that proportionality and common sense have flown out of the window? Risk aversion and independent thinking have replaced common sense judgements as certain senior police officers are fearful of doing anything that conflicts with the manual and might jeopardise their careers with head office.

Tales of political correctness in everyday life are common place: the care home in Brighton which was threatened with having its local authority funding cut because they refused to comply with a demand to survey their octogenarian residents every three months about their sexual orientation; or the special manual for police on how to arrest witches. Throw in the everyday hum drum of councils who ban bingo callers from causing offence to the two fat ladies at 88 or primary schools which ban valentine cards to protect pupils from the emotional trauma of being dumped, and then you often have to check whether April 1st has become a weekly occurrence. My all time favourite though is the case of the 10 year old boy questioned by police on suspicion of racial harassment after he hummed the Crazy Frog tune outside a French teacher’s house!

At its most moderate it provides amusing knocking copy, but too often at its worst it is seriously undermining good race relations, trust in our public institutions and an Englishman’s (or woman’s) right to free speech. In this case it is positively dangerous when it apparently exercises so much time by our already stretched law enforcers. If MPs can fall foul of it then clearly anyone can and it’s time we fought back. I am ready to don my gender neutral, non aggressive, culturally sensitive armour for the crusade (correction- secular expedition) – who’s with me?


Australia:  Easy moralism on forced adoption ‘sorry’

The Prime Minister’s apology for forced adoption predictably heaped opprobrium on previous generations for the harsh and outdated attitudes that used to exist towards unwed mothers.

Equally predictably, the Prime Minister made no mention of contemporary failings, and took no responsibility for dealing with the consequences of the progressive policies of today.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the single mother’s pension by the Whitlam Government. This policy helped end the practice of forced adoption because the provision of taxpayer-funded income support gave women who became pregnant out of wedlock the realistic option to keep their children.

The 2012 Greens-dominated Senate inquiry into forced adoption reflexively lauded this as a social leap forward that marked the start of a more tolerant era. However, in the rush to criticise the conservative attitudes of early times and praise modern-day respect for family diversity, the negative social consequences were wholly ignored.

The politically incorrect reality that has emerged in the past 40 years is that welfare for the unwed has led to the very social problem that forced adoption was designed to prevent - the inability of (some but not all) single mothers reliant on public assistance to properly care for children outside of a traditional, financially self-supporting family.

The inconvenient truth is that the right to welfare has become a pathway to welfare dependence and welfare-related dysfunction for a significant underclass of single mothers and their children, and has contributed significantly to the scale of the child protection crisis confronting the nation today.

Australia’s growing underclass of problem families with serious child protection concerns includes disproportionate numbers of single-mother families with a raft of problems (drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness) that impede proper parenting. They account for more than one-third of all substantiated incidents of child abuse and neglect in Australia, and are over-represented at more than twice the expected rate, given the number of single-mother households.

Despite these statistics, the links between family type and child welfare are rarely discussed.

Elites in the media, politics, and academia are uncomfortable making judgments about different kinds of families. This is despite the impact that the reproductive and relationship decisions made by adults has on children, and despite the reams of social science evidence that shows that the children of never-married single mothers do worse on average on all measures of child wellbeing compared to other kinds of families.

Hence, the social disaster surrounding the rise of state-sponsored single-motherhood does not get the attention it deserves. Instead, as the national apology for forced adoption shows, we prefer to practice the easy moralism that condemns the sins of the past, while ignoring the current day sins of ‘enlightened’ social policies that are toxic for child welfare.



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


24 March, 2013

Isn't multiculturalism grand?


The event described below is pure psychopathy.  In an academic journal article ("Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality." Personality and Individual Differences, 2002, 32, 273-316) Richard Lynn shows that psychopathic personality is highest among Africans and Native Americans, next highest in Hispanics, lower in whites and lowest in Orientals

A pair of teenagers was arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll through a leafy, historic neighborhood in the US.

Sherry West had just been to the post office a few blocks from her apartment Thursday morning and was pushing her son, Antonio, in his stroller while they walked past gnarled oak trees and blooming azaleas in the coastal city of Brunswick in Georgia.

West said a tall, skinny teenager, accompanied by a smaller boy, asked her for money.

"He asked me for money and I said I didn't have it," she told The Associated Press Friday from her apartment, which was scattered with her son's toys and movies.

"When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They're expensive. And he kept asking and I just said 'I don't have it.' And he said, 'Do you want me to kill your baby?' And I said, 'No, don't kill my baby!'"

One of the teens fired four shots, grazing West's ear and striking her in the leg, before he walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.

Seventeen-year-old De'Marquis Elkins is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, along with a 14-year-old who was not identified because he is a juvenile, Police Chief Tobe Green said. It wasn't immediately clear whether the boys had attorneys.

Police announced the arrest Friday afternoon after combing school records and canvassing neighborhoods searching for the pair. The chief said the motive of the "horrendous act" was still under investigation and the weapon had not been found.

"I feel glad that justice will be served," West said. "It's not something I'm going to live with very well. I'm just glad they caught him."

West said detectives showed her mugshots of about 24 young men. She pointed to one, saying he looked like the gunman.

"After I picked him, they said they had him in custody," West said. "It looked just like him. So I think we got our man."

West said she thought the other suspect looked much younger: "That little boy did not look 14."

The slaying happened around the corner from West's apartment in the city's Old Town historic district. It's a street lined with grand Victorian homes from the late 1800s. Most have been neatly restored by their owners. Others, with faded and flaking paint, have been divided into rental units like the apartment West shared with her son. The slain boy's father, Luis Santiago, lives in a house across the street.

A neighbour dropped off a fruit basket and then a hot pot of coffee Friday as a friend from the post office dropped by to comfort West.

Santiago came and went. At one point he scooped up an armload of his son's stuffed animals, saying he wanted to take them home with him. He talked about Antonio's first birthday on February 5 and how they had tried different party hats on the boy.

"He's all right," Santiago told the boy's mother, trying to smile. "He's potty training upstairs in heaven."

West said her son was walking well on his own and eight of his teeth had come in. But she also mourned the milestones that will never come, like Antonio's first day at school.

"I'm always going to wonder what his first word would be," West said.

Beverly Anderson, whose husband owns the property where West has lived for several years, said she was stunned by the violence in what's generally known as a safe neighborhood where children walk to school and families are frequently outdoors.

Jonathan Mayes and his wife were out walking their dogs Friday, right past the crime scene, and said they've never felt nervous about being out after dark.

"What is so mind-numbing about this is we don't have this kind of stuff happen here," Mayes said. "You expect that kind of crap in Atlanta."


Christian B&B which broke equality laws by refusing to let gay couple share room can now legally turn away homosexuals after becoming non-profit organisation

A Christian couple who were sued after refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room at their seaside guesthouse will be legally allowed to turn away unmarried couples after becoming an non-profit organisation.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull found themselves at the centre of an international furore after telling civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy that they could not share a room at the Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, on account of their religious beliefs.

But now they will be able to turn away unmarried gay and straight couples from the Bed & Breakfast, which doubles up as their home, after becoming a not-for-profit organisation.

Mr and Mrs Bull were forced to pay £3,600 to the couple in a landmark case in 2011 after they were found to have discriminated against them on the grounds of sexual orientation under Equality Act regulations.

The couple insisted that their policy of not allowing unmarried couples to share a bed extended to heterosexual couples as well as homosexual pairs.

But the courts disagreed.

The hotel is now to be turned into a respite care centre for Christians and anyone staying under their roof will now have to abide by the Bull's rules as long as they are set out in the company's articles.

The Bulls have since taken their case to the Court of Appeal, where it was dismissed and have now had permission to have it heard in the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court.

Mrs Bull, 69, said the incident had changed their lives.  She said: 'We have been through the mill since 2008. It has stepped up since the trial.

'In 2010, when the trial happened it was given a lot of press attention because it was a precedent and also dealt with quite a touchy subject. Most people have quite strong feelings one way or another.

'We are not fanatics. We have often been portrayed as being bigoted.

'I am not homophobic. I have no problem with them - I have always thought of them as people and enjoy their company. It is just that we thought it would be wrong for here.  It had nothing to do with homophobia.

'All the way through we have always said no unmarried couples; it just happens that homosexuals fit into that category ... it is a terribly difficult subject.'

The Chymorvah has been struggling to attract guests since the Equalities Act was brought in 2007, meaning they are no longer able to be rated by Visit England because of their policies and therefore are unable to advertise in many of the guides that used to bring in the majority of their customers.

Mrs Bull says that the recession has added to financial difficulties and she has hope for the future.

She added: 'We have come through two and a half years now and we are coming into a new chapter in that we are revamping this place and relaunching it.'

Not only have visitor numbers declined, but Mrs Bull says that the couple have had death threats and sufferered vandalism.

But she said that messages of support have far outweighed any negative correspondence since their day in court.  She said: 'All we wanted was to be able to support marriage, to say no here.

'This (the result of the trial) is the men’s human rights and they come into a collision with our human rights.

'Nobody ever thought it through when this legislation was first brought in.  'Can’t somebody work out a formula that keeps them happy and us?'

To try to encourage more people to stay, the Bulls are trying to innovate.  The first event they have planned is an educational supper on the Jewish festival of Passover for Christians next Friday.

They will also be offering branch line breaks from June, where visitors will be offered guided tours of the five branch lines in Cornwall.

Mrs Bull said she hoped it would attract rail enthusiasts.

As for the legal battle, the Bulls won permission in August to take their case to the Supreme Court and their case is set to be heard on October 9 and 10.


David Cameron: I will oppose 'aggressive secularisation' of British society

David Cameron has promised to stand up against the "aggressive secularisation" of British society.

The Prime Minister promised Christians that the Government "cares about faith" despite clashes with religious groups over gay marriage and welfare cuts.

At an Easter reception in Downing Street, Mr Cameron pledged the Coalition is committed to Britain's links with the Church of England.

"It does care about the institutions of faith and it does want to stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation that can sometimes happen in our society," he said.

“Wherever we go, we stand up for the right of Christians to practise their faith."

He praised Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, for handing out bibles to state schools and said the right to say prayers before council meetings will be protected.

"We’ve sent out a very clear message to aggressive secularists," he said. "We changed the law so that people can go on saying prayers before council meetings. Michael Gove made the very brave decision, I thought, and right decision to give every state school a copy of the King James Bible. Some people said, ‘What a waste of money;’ I say no, I think it was a great use of money. This book is one of the things that made our country what it is today in terms of its messages and its brilliant language."

Mr Cameron said it had been “a great week for Christians" on the eve of the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

He is today attending the event at Canterbury Cathedral, despite sending two Cabinet ministers to the Pope's inauguration this week.

The Prime Minister has this year been criticised by the Church of England over plans to introduce gay marriage. The new laws were eventually accepted after the Coalition promised several safeguards to ensure the Church will not have to conduct same-sex ceremonies.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury has also joined other bishops expressing concerns about the level of cuts to welfare spending.

At the reception, Mr Cameron revealed he had been to church the previous Sunday. He also joked about the new Archbishop of Canterbury saying he was once told he would be a terrible candidate to be a minister.

“At one stage in the Conservative Party leadership contest, George Osborne told me to call it all off, it wasn’t going anywhere,” Cameron said. “So I now have an affinity with the Archbishop.”



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


22 March, 2013

So much money but not a shred of taste! As a £65million home goes on sale with a purple cinema and more marble than the Taj Mahal, A.N. Wilson laments the vulgarity of Britain's super-rich

I suppose there is an element of snobbery in the article below -- and taste is after all entirely subjective -- but I have some sympathy with the conclusions nonetheless.  One expects to see such a lovely old house filled with warm and comfortable things that have accumulated over many years.  To find an interior that looks like the most ostentatious modern hotel is a shock and a sacrilege

Those of you having difficulty selling your house — and feeling sore at the idea of dropping the price by the odd £10,000 — spare a thought for property magnate Andreas Panayiotou, who has just been persuaded by estate agent Knight Frank to swallow a drop of £35 million.

Heath Hall, his 14-bedroom mansion on The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, North London, could now be yours for an absolute snip. For you, my friend, just £65?million.

While you shake out your piggy bank to see if you can rustle up the readies, let me tell you what you would get for your money: a 25ft swimming pool, with a fully equipped gym and sauna, bathrooms thick with Italian marble, plus a private cinema as well as luxury bedrooms and kitchens.

There is a climate-controlled wine cellar where you can store all your fine vintages (it has room for 600 bottles, so do feel free to invite some friends round), an entrance hall which would seem over-the-top in a royal palace and a billiards room.

There’s just one drawback — glaringly obvious to anyone with taste, but perhaps not apparent to the owner. It is hideous. 

Heath Hall was constructed in the Edwardian era for sugar magnate William Park Lyle. He was the ‘& Lyle’ bit of Tate & Lyle.

When he built it, you can be sure that although he was ‘new money’, he would have aped old taste.

The oak-panelled hall and rooms would have had thick oriental carpets and the furniture would have put you in mind of an old English country house.

Andreas Panayiotou has chosen a different path. He has gone for sheer swanky opulence. It is what I would call gold taps syndrome.

Bathrooms at Heath Hall have more marble than your average Italian high altar. But though tons of stone have been excavated from the best quarries to make them, they have not one ounce of personality. 

The cinema, with its pale purple walls and matching lilac sofas, reminds me of the swankiest restaurants in modern St Petersburg, where the Russian oligarchs hang out with their expensive women. It is as impersonally hideous as a brothel. (In fact, those St Petersburg restaurants often turn out to be brothels!)

Heath Hall’s hallway probably looks, to the proud owner and to the designer, like Hollywood’s stateliest.

But it sure as hell does not look like an English stately.

It simply yells: ‘I’m rich — Very rich! My chandelier is bigger than your chandelier! I’m richer than you can imagine!’

Estate agent Tony Abrahmsohn, who specialises in the area, says that the world’s mega-rich believe The Bishops Avenue is one of the swankiest addresses in England, a sign to potential overseas billionaire buyers that they have really arrived.

It may be a sign that you have arrived, but it is also a sign that you have not, as it were, unpacked. In other words, you are not ready to be presented to polite society.

Bernie Ecclestone, Joan Collins, and Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian businessman said to be the richest man in England, have all owned houses in The Bishops Avenue.

Yet though their purchases make us gasp, though we might aspire to some of their wealth, they do not exactly fill most normal people with the smallest flicker of envy. In fact, when someone such as Tamara Ecclestone announces that she has spent £1?million on a crystal bath tub for her £50?million home, we feel revulsion.

In this country, with its proud tradition of Empire and industry, we are no strangers to the rich. But on the whole, when big industrial magnates made money in the past, they tried to ape the taste and manners of the aristocracy.

One of the first industrial millionaires in England was Josiah Wedgwood, patriarch of Britain’s finest pottery.

He immediately built the poshest house you could imagine — Etruria Hall in Staffordshire. (He even invented a version of the first indoor lavatories for it).

But although, like all self-made men, Wedgwood wanted to flaunt his wealth by having a big house, he also had perfect taste.

That was how he had made his money, after all. So he built a house for himself which was like the house of a duke or an earl — only with better vases.

We used to mock American vulgarity, and imagine that spectacularly ugly houses, such as Elvis Presley’s Gracelands or Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, could only happen over there.

But that is no longer true. I once had a university friend who, rather to everyone’s surprise, married a modern, super-rich member of the international jet-set.

They moved into one of these Bishops Avenue houses, and I visited them there a few times.

It was surely symptomatic that I could never guess whether they had bought the house or it was rented; whether they owned the furniture or it came with the property. All personality was absent.

My friends long ago decamped to America. I often drive down The Bishops Avenue where their palace and Mr Panayiotou’s mansion are to be found — not because I mix with the oligarchs, but because it is a good short cut to my daughter’s school. 

Mega-rich Salman Rushdie lives here, or used to, with his pointless squillions, and Andreas Panayiotou may be the richest property developer in the road, but he is not the only one.

It is a true billionaire’s row. Huge houses cower behind electrically operated high railings, and German shepherd dogs prowl to keep out nosy intruders such as myself.

This is where the super-rich trade homes like commodities.

During the first Gulf war, the Saudi royal family bought ten of the street’s mansions for use as boltholes in case they were  deposed. In recent years, the Russian and East European oligarchs have arrived as they move their billion-dollar oil and metal fortunes out of Russia.

What the houses, and specially designed yachts, car interiors and private jets of the super-rich all have in common is a lack of taste. I choose my words with care.

It is not so much that they are in crashingly ‘bad taste’. Bad taste is at least ‘taste’ of some sort, and can be expressive of personality. These owners do not actually have taste, as such, at all.

These places are not homes, they are exercises in self-promotion and self-advertisement.

Whereas you and I, when deciding how to decorate our rooms, will express certain aspects of our personalities, the super-rich compulsively want to advertise the size of their bank accounts.

Such people have seldom spent much of their lives making friends — they are too busy making money — so they will not model their newly acquired houses on those of anyone they have known.

Once they have enough, they show off by luxuriating in the most expensive hotels. Their houses reflect this: they live in homes that seem to be modelled on them and are as soulless as only a luxury hotel can be.

There is actually something terribly sad about Heath Hall, and houses like it. Not one inch of its huge square footage has been chosen because it is home-like. Not one stick of the furniture belongs to the owner’s own past.

In his scabrous diaries, the former Tory Defence minister Alan Clark quoted Chief Whip Michael Jopling on their Cabinet colleague and self-made millionaire Michael Heseltine.

‘The trouble with Michael,’ said Jopling, ‘is that he had to buy all his furniture.’

It was a comment that only a snob could have made — but there was some truth in it.

Andreas Panayiotou will never be able to look across a shabby bit of carpet or battered chair owned by his grandmother, or see his father’s old clock ticking on the mantelpiece.

Even the antiques will have been bought as if they were brand-new.

How different from the rooms at Balmoral which we glimpsed on the recent programme about the Queen, where she unpretentiously kicked straight a two-bar electric fire and where there is a homely mix of family photographs in frames, old furniture and well-trodden tartan carpets.

Of course, the mention of Balmoral will make some readers say that bad taste has always been with us.

The last Liberal Prime Minister in Queen Victoria’s reign, Lord Rosebery, used to say that he thought the drawing room at Osborne — the Queen’s house on the Isle of Wight — was the ugliest room he had ever seen until he saw the drawing room at Balmoral.

Lord Rosebery, who came from a world of ‘old money’, looked down his nose at these two newly built royal palaces.

But if a snob like Rosebery sneered at the Queen’s taste, at least it was taste he was sneering at. Whereas the soulless houses of today’s mega-rich are tasteless in every sense of the word.


British council forced to scrap unisex toilets at its new £50m offices after complaints from staff

When they moved into their purpose-built £50million offices, the council staff of Rochdale had high hopes for the lavatories.   Instead, the new facilities caused a revolt – because they are unisex.

Some workers at the new headquarters were aggrieved at the idea of men and women using the same cubicles.

Now, the gender ratio on each floor of the building will be analysed before individual toilets are allocated proportionately as either male or female.

It all adds up to the town’s biggest toilet fiasco since its shopping mall introduced squat loos in the name of cultural sensitivity three years ago.

The new offices, named Number One Riverside, were built to accommodate 2,000 council staff.

However, the first batch of workers to transfer to the new building were shocked to find it lacked  separate toilet facilities.

Helen Harrison, Unison’s Rochdale branch secretary, said council staff have raised concerns.  ‘People do have different views on it but there are a number of people who are upset about the unisex issue,’ she said.

‘I think what the council is looking at doing now is tallying up the ratio of male and female workers on each floor and will split up the toilets that way.’ Each floor of the building has around eight toilet cubicles opening off a corridor, all currently with male and female symbols on the door.

'They are fully enclosed with their own washing and drying facilities, rather than communal ones.

Nevertheless some staff have apparently baulked at the idea of using cubicles frequented by members of the opposite sex.

Last night Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s bizarre that council bosses pressed ahead with unisex loos despite a clear lack of demand for them.

‘This is a perfect example of politically correct thinking trumping common sense at the expense of everyone else.’

Unisex toilets first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s American TV series Ally McBeal where they were the setting for gossip and romantic encounters between her lawyer colleagues.

As a compromise, cubicles at Rochdale council’s building will now be allocated as male or female.

Operational services director Mark Widdup said: ‘The building was intended to have unisex toilets on the office floors, as is the norm in many modern buildings.

‘However, based on staff feedback who have been based in the building for several weeks and discussions with the unions, we’ve decided to review these facilities.’

The building also houses the town’s new library and has space for private firms. The council says it will save £1million a year by having workers in one modern location as well as giving a better service to local people.

In 2010 there was amazement when Rochdale’s Exchange mall installed two squat toilets after bosses were told some of the town’s Asian and Eastern European communities preferred them.


A hunched ball of scowling red crossness, comrade Jim wants to ban us Press parasites

First they came for the parliamentary sketchwriters. Twelve hours after the Commons voted to kill the ancient freedoms of England’s Press, Scots-socialist lovely Jim Sheridan (Lab, Paisley) suggested that journalists who show insufficient respect to MPs should be booted off the premises.

Calling such scribes ‘a parasitical element’, he growled: ‘They abuse their position, hiding behind their pens and calling people names. I don’t know why they’re allowed here.’

Mr Sheridan has long been one of the sketchwriting guild’s best clients. He is just such fun to describe, a hunched ball of scowling, scarlet crossness, steaming like a Chinaman’s laundry.

Not for Comrade Jim those cheap narcotics of optimism and New Testament pleasantry. Nae!

This one broods, crabbit and bealin’ as they say in Glasgow, a boiling walloper, kicker of cans, forever talking mince. I love him to bits but fear the fondness is not always reciprocated. He once accused us of ‘abusing the premises’. All we had done was take the rise out of his mate Michael Martin, ex-speaker. ["Gorbals Mick"]

Normally one would ignore the old booby but the context of his remark yesterday and its tone makes it instructive. It illustrates wider reasons for the leftist elite’s antipathy to Fleet Street.

He made it at a culture select committee (yes! knuckle-chewer Jim is on the culture committee – isn’t it a hoot?) and they were discussing Press regulation.

Before him sat three critics of the Press, among them the champion orgy-goer and bottom-spanker Max Mosley. Such, readers, are the leagues to which your legislature has sunk.

Until Mr Sheridan’s little soliloquy I had been gripped by the verbal tics and fingertips of Thrasher Mosley. He kept prefacing interventions with the words ‘If I may’, uttered in a posh-tortoise drawl straight from Downton Abbey.

Such daintiness from one so nakedly authoritarian. Do you think he says ‘If I may’ to the popsies at his ‘parties’?

The ends of Mr Mosley’s fingers bent inwards. In a better life he might have made a leg-spinner. Instead he has chosen the path of immoral rectitude.

He flared indignant, when challenged by splendid Philip Davies (Con, Shipley). Mr Davies thought any claim of the Mosley-ites, if we may call them that, to be acting on the side of the angels in this Press row was ‘quite disingenuous, quite laughable’. He reckoned they were more concerned in helping rich celebrities to gag the media.

Mr Mosley with clipped irritation said: ‘Don’t say I’m not straight!’ Straight, eh?

Alongside Mr Mosley sat Brian Cathcart, minor academic, and Hugh Tomlinson, barrister, from the Hacked Off group. They were delighted with the new anti-Press legislation, Mr Tomlinson licking his Robert Morley lips and spreading his chubby fingers flat on the desk before him. Under brisk questioning from Conor Burns (Con, Bournemouth W) about their involvement in Sunday night’s secretive talks with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, the Hacked Off men wobbled.

Mr Burns wanted to know where the pressure group’s money came from. Should we not be told? After all, they were now mixing in the highest counsels of the kingdom. It is the modern version of beer and sandwiches.

Full details of Hacked Off’s donors were not furnished.    

Ben Bradshaw (Lab, Exeter, once content to serve in the Murdoch-consorting government of Tony Blair) kept laughing theatrically, hoping to belittle the questioning. And then came Mr Sheridan’s tour de farce.

The words rose from the murky depths, down in the tripe linings of Vesuvius’s belly. Glurp! Out they shot, purple-hot projectiles of bile, their master sitting there with chin to chest, balefulness in an off-the-peg suit.

Why should journalists be allowed to watch MPs at Westminster? Why should their impertinence to parliamentarians be tolerated? Kick ’em out!

He has a point in some ways. You do not have to be there in the flesh to see what a donkey Jim Sheridan is. Via the electric television set, it is just as obvious from a distance of many a country mile.


'Jedi Knights could perform ceremonies': Free Church of Scotland hits out at government plans to create third category of marriage  

Good to hear from the Wee Frees. My own Presbyterian background tended in the Wee Free (fundamentalist) direction

Plans to redefine marriage in Scotland could mean that Jedi Knights could perform ceremonies, a church has claimed.

The Free Church of Scotland has described plans by the Scottish Government to create a third category of marriage as 'completely nonsensical' ahead of a consultation on the proposals later this week.

Reiterating its opposition to gay marriage, the Free Church said today that the proposals to establish 'belief' ceremonies alongside religious and civil ones could raise the prospect of Star Wars Jedi officiating marriage.

But the government defended its plans saying that the reputation of Scottish marriage would be protected and that the move would help groups such as humanists who are classed as a religious entity.

A spokesman for the Free Church said: 'The proposal to create a third category of belief marriage ceremony alongside the current religious and civil ones is an indication of the increasing confusion that we can expect in the coming months and years.

'Humanists are already able to perform marriages under the religious category and we see no reason why this should not continue.  'Instead we are faced with the Scottish Government seeking to create a new category for something which already happens under the current system, which is completely nonsensical.

'We would also question whether this category only includes humanists or will it allow for any belief?  'Could the Jedi Knights or members of the Flat Earth Society be registered as belief celebrants?

'We believe that once the legislation is passed, the issues and complications will not go away.'

The Scottish Government said however, that it would protect marriage by ensuring that a religious or belief body would have to meet a number of tests before a ceremony can take place.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: 'Our current consultation covers not only the introduction of same-sex marriage but also the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education.

'As part of the consultation, we have outlined the reason for suggesting a third type of ceremony.

'At the moment, marriage ceremonies by bodies such as humanists have been classed as religious, even though the beliefs are non-religious.

'It also makes clear that we are determined to ensure the continued reputation of Scottish marriage ceremonies. We are proposing the introduction of tests which a religious or belief body would have to meet before they could be authorised to solemnise marriage.'

The Free Church of Scotland is a Presbyterian and Reformed denomination. It currently has over 100 congregations in Scotland, as well as two in London, five in North America, and sister churches founded by mission work in India, Peru and South Africa.

In the 2011 Census, around 14,000 Scots named their religion as Jedi, inspired by characters from the fictional Star Wars films.

Jedi values have often found themselves adopted as modern philospohical path or religion, with movements such as the controversial Jediism spawned.

A knights school in San Francisco California also offers classes in Jedi skills.


Miser Mick is right not to help out his children

Mick Jagger's long been said to be mean with money. It’s a nasty trait — those who have it tend also to have a meanness of spirit.

For this reason, I sympathise with Jerry Hall, who’s locked in a battle with her ex over Downe House, the £10?million Richmond property that’s been her family home since 1991 but which Jagger has never signed over to her.

Now she wants to be able to sell up so that she can give some money to their three eldest children — Lizzie, 29, James, 27 and Georgia May, 21 — to buy homes of their own.

Jagger opposes the idea on the grounds that his children have already had a  privileged upbringing and should make their way into the world without any help from him. And though it pains me to admit it, I think he’s right.

For whatever our incomes, too many children have come to expect that their parents will ease their financial burdens at every opportunity, indulging them in a way our own parents would never have dreamed of doing for us.

The truth, I’m afraid, is that many of today’s pampered teens won’t contemplate getting out of their beds on a Saturday or Sunday morning to do anything that sounds like work.

But dare to suggest they might like to work to pay for the longed-for concert ticket or Topshop must-have, and they look at you as though you’re asking them to shin up chimneys.

No wonder newsagents complain that they simply can’t find youngsters to do paper rounds.

The change within just one generation is extraordinary. I had my first Saturday job at 13 — starting at 8am in a bakery (later graduating to working in a jeweller’s) — and continued to work  right through until my A-levels, school holidays included.

Apart from pocket money, I never expected my parents to give me anything extra, partly because they weren’t wealthy but mostly because it simply wasn’t the way things were done.

My friends and I all understood that we had to work for what we wanted, whether that was going on holiday on our own for the first time or buying our first cars.

By contrast, today’s school-leavers are all too frequently still dependent on their parents for everything from handouts to somewhere to live. Some of my friends whose children have moved back home after university say that not only are they letting them off paying for their keep,  but they often give them spending  money, too.

We all mean well. Why charge your adult child rent when you know he’s saving for a house deposit?

Why insist your teenager gets a Saturday job when you know the academic pressure he’s under to pass exams? Why refuse to buy your daughter that longed-for ticket to a music festival when you know all her friends’ parents will be shelling out?

It doesn’t end there, either. Many young couples today don’t even contemplate getting married until they can afford to live in homes that wouldn’t disgrace an interiors magazine. If I’d had the same attitude, I wouldn’t have been able to marry until my 40s. As it was, my daughter was born in a one-bedroom flat  furnished from junk shops, and had to sleep in the hallway.

But by constantly opening our wallets, we’re doing our children no favours in the long term. What they don’t realise — and what our well-intended cushioning is  failing to teach them — is that out of necessity comes not only invention but, even more crucially, drive and determination.

So what if you can’t get the job of your dreams? Get another one instead and work your way up from there. And if you can only afford a damp-ridden basement with fungus growing on the ceiling? You’ll survive — and it’s a powerful incentive to work all hours until you can afford something better.

As Mick Jagger so memorably sang: ‘You can’t always get what you want. But if  you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.’



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


21 March, 2013

Backlash grows over proposed British press curbs: Cracks start to show after just one day as newspapers refuse to sign up

Newspapers were on collision course with the three party leaders last night as industry backing for their royal charter for new rules governing the 300-year-old free Press crumbled.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language, would not recognise the proposed regulator, irrespective of the consequences.

He published a dramatic front page with the single word ‘No’.

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, a newspaper that had been supportive of the charter, expressed concerns it would lead to ‘vexatious complaints’ and ‘tie us in knots’.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson reveals he will be formally rejecting the regulatory scheme

The Newspaper Society warned the plans could place ‘a crippling burden on the UK’s 1,100 local newspapers, inhibiting freedom of speech and the freedom to publish’.

Its president Adrian Jeakings said: ‘A free Press cannot be free if it is dependent on and accountable to a regulatory body recognised by the state.’

The cross-party agreement struck in late night three-party talks was also attacked yesterday by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the international body that polices human rights.

And, in a particularly humiliating blow, the Kremlin-funded broadcaster Russia Today described the guidelines as a ‘threat to Press freedom’.

Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, which is not part of the existing watchdog system, suggested he had no intention of joining the new regulator: ‘You can’t really say this is a considered and thoughtful process when, in the middle of the night, bits are added to two different bills.’

Rupert Murdoch, whose companies own The Times, the Sunday Times and The Sun, suggested even the Queen would not approve the royal charter. ‘UK royal charter requires Queen’s signature. Unlikely without full all party support. Queen doesn’t do politics,’ he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Barber told the BBC the FT had not yet determined whether to join the regulatory body. But he added: ‘This has not been a  satisfactory process.  'We will be looking at the practical implications and, above all, what has  been completely lost in this process, the cost.

‘I am worried about the practical costs of, for example, allowing free access to arbitration, I am worried about claims-farming, vexatious complaints from readers and others who will tie us up in knots. This is a real problem.’

But Max Mosley, one of the leading campaigners for new controls insisted yesterday that if newspapers refused to sign up then Parliament should ‘intervene’ – raising the prospect of a full-blown Press law.

The former Formula 1 boss, who became a privacy campaigner after winning a court case against the News of the World for publishing pictures of him at an orgy with prostitutes, told MPs he believed all publishers would eventually submit to the new regulator.

He told MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, newspaper proprietors will put aside ‘emotional’ concerns about statutory regulation and be persuaded by financial incentives.

Newspapers that decline to participate in the regulator, which will have the power to dictate the nature and prominence of corrections and issue £1million fines, are being threatened with ‘exemplary’ damages in libel or privacy cases.

Mr Mosley sparked anger when he went on to suggest that websites based overseas that ignore the instructions of the new regulator could be shut down.

But Tory backbencher Mark Reckless said that he hoped that the press would not co-operate with the regulator.

He referred to the way the unions in the 1970s refused to recognise the Heath Government's industrial relations court.

Kirsty Hughes, spokesman for Campaign group Index on Censorship, said: ‘Closing down websites is the kind of behaviour expected of totalitarian regimes like Iran and China, not the UK.’

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said: ‘We welcome the fact there has been cross-party agreement. The regulatory settlement is by and large a fair one, with compromises on all sides.’

But he said he retained ‘grave reservations’ about the proposed legislation on exemplary damages.

Amid confusion about which websites would be covered by the new system, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: ‘Bloggers are covered by the self-regulatory model if they are the relevant publisher with multiple authors writing in the course of their business.’

The Association of Online Publishers issued a statement to say it had ‘major concerns’, particularly over the threat of punitive awards in the libel courts for those who do not join the regulatory system.

Camilla Wright, who founded the entertainment website Popbitch, said she would move it to America to avoid being subject to a regulator with power over websites that produce celebrity gossip.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles illustrated the low opinion of the celebrity wing of the Hacked Off pressure group among cabinet circles when he described Hugh Grant as 'the leader of the opposition Lord Grant of Rodeo Drive.' [An allusion to Grant's past involvement with a black Los Angeles street prostitute]


Why British councils ask if you're transgender when you call about the wheelie bins

No doubt the bigwigs at Birmingham City Council thought they should be seen to be doing something about its shambolic waste-collection service, which last December saw the streets disappear beneath 10ft-high piles of rubbish.

But quite how the ‘Attitudes To Recycling And Rewards’ survey it has just sent out to residents is supposed to help it empty the bins is anyone’s guess.

After a few mundane questions on wheelie bins, it suddenly demands to know: ‘Which of the following most accurately describes your sexual orientation? Bisexual? Gay man? Gay woman/lesbian? Heterosexual/straight? Other?’

For anyone who dares to keep such information to themselves in this day and age, there is at least the opportunity to tick: ‘Prefer not to say?’

If the council was asking residents about the provision of night clubs or dating agencies in the city, it is feasible to see why it might need to know. But what conceivable reason is there for officials to want to pry into our bedrooms over wheelie bins?

At best, it comes across as a bizarre waste of time and taxpayers’ money. At worst, it is downright sinister to think that somewhere on a council computer will sit a database of where all gay and lesbian people live.

It makes you wonder if, like a medieval plague village with yellow crosses on the door, Birmingham is going to issue pink wheelie bins to householders who identify themselves as gay.

It would be reassuring to think this was a lone act by a loony Left council (Birmingham is Labour-controlled). But council tax payers all over the country are being left bewildered by a torrent of questionnaires demanding bizarre, irrelevant and deeply private information.

When Richenda Legge wrote to North Norfolk District Council asking why her bin hadn’t been emptied, she too was asked for her sexuality — and her ethnicity and religion.

Residents who live near a proposed relief road at Manchester Airport were recently left scratching their heads to be asked in a consultation: ‘Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned with at birth?’

Susan Field, a 67-year-old from Harrow, was asked the same question when she contacted her council to complain about a set of traffic lights.

‘We have so little privacy left,’ she said. ‘Why should I give intimate details to a total stranger on such an unrelated matter.’

When my car was broken into one evening, I was at first relieved to be rung up by a police officer the next day. I thought he had news that they had caught the thief who had smashed the driver’s window.

It was only when he wanted to know my ethnic identity that it dawned on me why he had really rung me: he had some kind of victims’ monitoring form to fill in.

When I declined to say what ethnic group I am from, he politely hung up and I never heard any more.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked for my ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity on official forms.

But the question which, funnily enough, I don’t ever remember being asked is: do I want my taxes frittered away on these pointless monitoring exercises — or would I rather the money was spent on doing practical things, such as emptying the bins or finding the man who smashed my car?

I know what the answer would be if a council did put that question to us: it would make last week’s landslide referendum in the Falkland Islands look like an even contest.

There can’t be anyone outside those who work in the ‘equality-monitoring’ industry, as it is known — although admittedly this does employ quite a large number of people now — who would vote for the silly forms.

They certainly don’t impress a lot of the people they are supposed to please.

Actor Sir Ian McKellen, who isn’t slow to complain about homophobia wherever he senses it, roundly condemned the Arts Council for including a question about sexual orientation on a funding application form.

Nosy questions about ethnicity, sexuality and gender are part of a bureaucracy that is spinning out of control.

And the irony is that it doesn’t come from any genuine concern to stamp out inequality, but from pen-pushers building empires and creating jobs for each other.

What we, the public, see is nothing compared with the nonsense that public-sector bodies inflict upon their own staff.

Two years ago, Buckinghamshire County Council staff issued its staff with a questionnaire entitled ‘Respecting Sexuality’. Among the questions they were expected to answer were ‘What do you think caused your heterosexuality?’, and ‘Is it possible your sexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?’

The questionnaire was supposed to make heterosexual employees think about what it is like being gay, but the whole exercise stinks of a crass waste of money.

The purpose of this silly ‘equality monitoring’ exercise is to force public authorities, and in some cases private companies, to collect personal data that can then be analysed — supposedly to detect inadvertent discrimination.

A requirement to collect ethnic data was introduced by the Blair government a decade ago, and the exercise was then extended to gender and sexuality through Harriet Harman’s 2010 Equality Act.

Disgracefully, there was hardly any political opposition to the legislation, with David Cameron — frightened to ruffle the feathers of the equality lobby in the run-up to the 2010 general election — allowing the Equality Bill to be nodded through without even a Commons vote.

Needless to say, it is wasting us a fortune. According to the think-tank Civitas, fulfilling the demands of ‘equality monitoring’ is costing employers £1billion a year — £400million of which is in the private sector.

It has spawned an entire industry of diversity officers and equality officers employed to collate and publicise the data.

If you work in manufacturing or construction at the moment, you may well be struggling to find a job, but there is no shortage of employment in the equality industry.

Yesterday, one employment agency was showing more than 400 jobs available in the category ‘equality officer’, 60 of them paying more than £60,000 a year.

If equality monitoring has ever revealed any enlightening information, I can’t say I can remember it.

Does it really help anyone, for example, to know that precisely 16.1 per cent of staff at the Department for Transport identify themselves as black or another minority ethnicity?

What it has done, on the other hand, is to provide opportunities for campaigners to pick out highly selective data. And those campaigners are not always of the politically correct persuasion.

While the whole business of equality monitoring was dreamed up with the intention that it would allow statisticians to sniff out discrimination against minorities, the data is also available to the likes of the BNP.

In its usual attempt to stir up discontent, it has, for example, accused the BBC of ‘flooding’ itself with ethnic minorities by selecting a statistic which shows that  47 per cent of places on a BBC journalism trainee scheme identified themselves as being from an ethnic minority.

Given that the BBC trainee scheme covers foreign reporting and the World Service, it is hardly surprising that it has a high international intake.

But, of course, that is not what jumps out when the BNP picks out a raw statistic.

No matter how much we regard diversity monitoring as a waste of time and money, and counter-productive in its aim of promoting equality, when we are presented with an official form demanding to know personal details such as our gender, race and sexuality, it is easy to be fooled into thinking we have to fill it in. We don’t.

If we want to stop this colossal waste of money, we can undermine it by refusing to answer the questions altogether.

That is what I do. So should you.


Intellectuals and Race

 Walter E. Williams

After reading Dr. Thomas Sowell's latest book, "Intellectuals and Race," one cannot emerge with much respect for the reasoning powers of intellectuals, particularly academics, on matters of race. There's so much faulty logic and downright dishonesty.

Many intellectuals attribute the behavior patterns of blacks to "a legacy of slavery" or contemporary racial discrimination. But when one observes similar behavior patterns among Britain's lower-class whites, which can't be attributed to "a legacy of slavery" or discrimination, it calls into question the explanations for black behavior.

It's lamented that blacks are "the last hired" and, during an economic downturn, "the first fired," because blacks are terminated before whites. That's seen as evidence of discrimination by white employers, but white employees are terminated before Asian-American employees. Is that employer discrimination against whites? Intellectuals accept statistical data as showing discrimination when it reinforces existing preconceptions and reject or ignore it when it doesn't.

It's the same story in the housing market. Newspapers, television commentators, civil rights leaders, academics and politicians see racial discrimination as the cause for black mortgage loan applicants being rejected more frequently than white applicants. In 2000, black applicants were turned down for prime mortgage loans twice as often as whites; however, white applicants were turned down nearly twice as often as Asian-Americans.

The racial discrimination explanation requires that we believe that white bankers racially discriminate not only against blacks but against whites, as well. It also requires that we believe that black-owned banks are in cahoots with white-owned banks, because they, too, turn down black mortgage applicants more often than white applicants. The true explanation is not rocket science. Lenders prefer to lend to people who will pay them back. Average credit scores are higher among whites than blacks and higher among Asian-Americans than whites.

During the early 20th century, there were mass migrations of blacks from the South. Both the black-owned Chicago Defender and the Urban League offered published advice to their less tutored brethren, such as: "Don't use vile language in public places." "Don't throw garbage in the backyard or alley or keep dirty front yards." "Do not carry on loud conversations in street cars and public places." Jews, Germans and Irish made similar appeals to acculturate their ill-mannered cousins. These efforts produced positive results over the years.

That has changed with today's multiculturalism vision. Efforts to get minority groups to acculturate to the linguistic, dress and other norms of the larger society are seen negatively by multiculturalists as a form of cultural imperialism. Intellectuals and academics call for celebrating diversity. That means wearing one's trousers low enough to see one's butt, men wearing a head full of pigtails, and using poor language that's sometimes vulgar are part of the liberal's vision of "celebrating diversity." Then there's the "acting white" charge, when black youngsters who conduct themselves according to the norms of the larger society are criticized and often assaulted by their presumably "acting black" peers.

Sowell concludes that our nation is painting itself into a corner when it comes to thinking about racial problems. Whole cities, of which Detroit is a classic example, have been devastated physically, socially and economically by racial problems -- which cannot be discussed honestly by elected officials, people in the media or academics, who do not want to become pariahs or, even worse, lose their jobs.

This moral paralysis is paid in blood -- mostly the blood of black people preyed upon by criminals, though in recent years, there have been violent mob attacks on white people in shopping malls, on beaches, on public transportation vehicles and in other public places. These attacks often go unreported, are minimized or are reported without detail, even though the attackers shouted their hatred for white people. The use of sufficient force to stop these attacks would be called "excessive" in the media and by politicians or "community leaders."

My own conclusion is that black people waged a successful civil rights struggle against gross discrimination. It's white and black liberals, intellectuals, academics and race hustlers who have created our greatest hurdle.


Australian Govt. reportedly drops discrimination bill

THE federal government's decision to put its proposed anti-discrimination laws on hold has been welcomed by the Institute of Public Affairs.

The conservative think tank heralded the move, reported in The Australian on Wednesday, as a victory for free speech.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus was reported as saying the government could not proceed with plans introduced by his predecessor Nicola Roxon to draw five existing statutes under a single piece of legislation.

The statutes covering age, disability, race, sex and other forms of discrimination were to be consolidated, with the most controversial change relating to the onus of proof.

The government could not proceed with the draft bill at this time and would be sending it back to the attorney-general's department for more work, Mr Dreyfus told The Australian.

The IPA said it was "outrageous" the government would make it illegal to offend someone because of their political opinion.

The think tank said reversing the onus of proof was another "fundamental problem" and the decision to withdraw the legislation entirely instead of attempting to amend it was the right move.

Under the proposed changes, after the complainant established a prima facie case of discrimination, the respondent would then have to show the action was justified or didn't amount to discrimination.

The IPA has argued the onus of proof should remain on the person making the accusation as it was often very difficult to prove innocence.



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


20 March, 2013

Press regulation proposal  leaves many newspapers furious at 'historic' deal

East Germany lives on in Britain.  All-party agreement to create powerful regulator now in place.  A sad day for British liberties

A shellshocked newspaper industry was struggling to come to terms with a sudden all-party agreement on the future of press regulation, hurriedly adopted by parliament, to create a powerful new regulator designed to prevent a repeat of the phone-hacking scandal.

The independent regulator will have powers to impose fines and demand prominent corrections, and courts will be allowed to impose exemplary damages on newspapers that fail to join the body.

All three party leaders hailed the "historic" deal, sealed in extraordinary late night talks on Sunday in the office of the Labour leader Ed Miliband after months of wrangling, but many of the country's leading newspaper publishers were ominously wary.

Some Conservative MPs accused David Cameron of running up the white flag and the former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley urged newspapers to boycott the new system – an option which is being actively considered by some media groups.

The newspapers are furious that Cameron's policy adviser, the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, sealed the deal at 2.30am on Monday morning in Miliband's office, accompanied by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and four members of the victims' group Hacked Off. No 10 was forced to say that Cameron had not been asleep in the early hours and that the critical aspects of the deal had been settled the previous afternoon in face-to-face talks between Clegg and Cameron.

Under the deal, the newspaper industry has lost its power to veto appointments to the body that will replace the Press Complaints Commission, the previous regulator discredited by its failure to investigate phone hacking by leading newspapers.

Cameron urged the newspaper industry quickly to sign up to the agreement by setting up the new regulator. "It is a neat solution. It is not a panacea," he said.

Quoting the Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, the prime minister said: "It is closing time in the last chance saloon. This replaces a failed regulatory system with one that will work because it has some real independence at its heart and is going to be properly overseen without allowing parliament to endlessly interfere."

But he stressed the new royal charter only sets up the body to recognise the regulator, and it remains a voluntary choice for the industry to decide whether to set up the system of independent regulation. If newspapers refuse to co-operate with the regulator, or set up a body that is not recognised by the new recognition panel, they will be more liable to exemplary damages if they recklessly publish inaccurate stories.

In a statement, Associated Newspapers, News International, the Telegraph Media Group and the Express publishers, Northern & Shell, said they would be taking "high level legal advice" before deciding if they could join the new watchdog. There were "several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry" in the deal.

They added: "No representative of the newspaper and magazine industry had any involvement in, or indeed any knowledge of, the cross-party talks on press regulation that took place on Sunday night.

"We have only late this afternoon seen the royal charter that the political parties have agreed between themselves and, more pertinently, the recognition criteria, early drafts of which contained several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry."

Cameron switched from a stance of defiance last Thursday to apparent capitulation on a range of points over the weekend. Major parts of the newspaper industry have issues with the statute that would be laid down to guarantee no change could be made to the royal charter, along with worries over the proposals to give the regulator the power to force apologies. They are also strongly opposed to the proposal that, for the first time, people from outside the industry would be involved in drawing up the newspaper code of practice, a code that has been widely praised and has been adapted by regulators in other countries.

"This is a political deal between the three parties and Hacked Off. It is not a deal with the newspapers," said one senior executive in one newspaper group.

Associated Newspapers, News International and the Telegraph Media Group had been exploring the possibility of boycotting the government-sanctioned regulator and setting up their own body if they believed it could threaten freedom of the press. This is still "very much a live discussion", said one source.

"Nobody is threatening it, or saying we will do it, but we won't be making a decision before we have had high level legal advice," said the insider who claimed that the existence of a "no change" statute to guarantee the royal charter could not be amended by the privy council still opened the door to political interference. A second senior executive said the industry had already been advised that the proposal that the regulatory body could force newspapers into making apologies it did not agree would be illegal as it would be contrary to article 10 of the European convention of human rights which protects freedom of speech. But the editor of the Independent, Chris Blackhurst, said the proposed regulator "isn't perfect but neither is it terrible" and said he did not think it would threaten journalism at his paper.

Clegg's office rounded on Cameron, saying: "If it looks chaotic that Letwin was meeting members of Hacked Off in Ed Miliband's office at 2am to discuss press regulation, that is because it was chaotic. It is chaotic because the prime minister walked out of the talks unilterally on Thursday rather than sitting down and having sensible discussions. We have ended up where we hoped, and expected."

Harriet Harman, the shadow culture secretary, hailed the concessions extracted from Cameron since last week. She said "What changed after Thursday is we got free arbitration, with a small narrowing of the route into arbitration, to reassure the regional press, we got the direction of apologies and corrections, we got abandonment of the veto on the appointment to the board of the regulator, and there is a role for working journalists in the writing of the code. We also got them to accept the amendment tabled by Lord Wilf Stevenson entrenching the Royal Charter for the press. We have been storming along."

No 10 said bloggers, tweeters, news aggregators and social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, as well as special interest titles, will be excluded, but there is concern that the definitions will be hard to make workable.


Rachel Johnson explores ladyhood

The sister of the inimitable Boris was not cut out to be a lady

What on earth does being a lady mean in 2013, when anyone can and does call themselves one, including Lady Gaga, and David Walliams in full drag, hooting ‘I’m a laydee’ as if the word itself contains some hilarious, hidden joke? Could even I be a lady? I had to find out.

The first step, obviously, was to obey the command snapped to  uppity misses by dowagers down the centuries – I had to ‘learn some manners, young lady’.

So I dug a frock out of my  wardrobe, and drove to a charm school in Cheshire to meet William Hanson and Diana Mather, who run The English Manner. It was clear from the start that I had a long way to go. Not even my greeting cut the mustard. ‘One of the first things we’re going to teach you is the proper handshake,’ Mather said, withdrawing her limp hand from my lusty grasp. ‘You go on pumping too long.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ I said, startled (I’ve heard many complaints in my time, but never that one.) ‘Americans go on pumping for seven seconds,’ Mather continued, ‘but here, three is ample.’

I also learnt that there is a right way and a wrong way to open and close a door, and to enter and leave a room. This is far more complicated than it sounds. Essentially, a lady never shows her posterior to the person she is taking her leave of, so she has to twirl herself gaily out of the room like the Sugar Plum Fairy.

After failing to do the catwalk with a Jeffrey Archer paperback balanced on my head (it kept slipping off, but then I have a pointy skull) it was time for ‘fine dining’. I sat with the students at a table covered with cutlery and glassware of different shapes and sizes, and learnt the important difference between a fish knife and a fruit knife. ‘Why on earth do you want to know all this?’ I asked girls studying at the school, and they all came up with good reasons.

‘It’s about feeling confident in every situation,’ said one. ‘It’s a question of acquiring some basic skills and manners and confidence, and learning easy tips and tricks to make life easier, and gaining respect from  your partner, friends and business colleagues,’ said another.

Fair enough. But being a lady, as I discovered next, is not just about knowing how to behave in every situation; in the past it was more about female suppression, and  the very word ‘lady’ has scythed through women’s lives like a  double-edged sword.

Young women may  be keen to become  independent, ‘modern ladies’ now, and learn how to arrange flowers and leave an interview, but pre-20th Century, the title was a verbal burka, designed to keep women in their place, just as the whalebone stays and strangulating corsets of a lady’s conventional dress were literally designed to hobble and constrict her movements.

As I continued on my quest I was shocked to discover how much had been withheld from my sex, on the grounds that it was ‘unladylike’.             

You can see why, as the investigation progressed, I began to feel as if ‘lady’ was a four-letter word: for, as I traced its past, what we were describing was the history of control and restraint of the upper-crust female.

I discovered that it wasn’t until Jane Austen’s day that the process of subverting these cramping conventions began.

A literary historian I met at Chawton House, where the author wrote, dated the moment to Pride And Prejudice – to when Elizabeth Bennet snags Mr Darcy from under the long twitching nose of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, an aristocrat of snobbish hauteur, who was outraged that a lower-born woman without family, connections or fortune could have such upstart pretensions.

Miss Austen rocked the boat by  suggesting that a lady is not necessarily to the manner born, but could be made, simply by virtue of her goodness, beauty and character.

In a way, that was good, because it suggested one was not a lady any more by birth or breeding, but by behaviour and attitude. In another way, it was a disaster – because it meant all women had a choice – and the evergreen Pygmalion theme was born.

However, I also learnt that ladette-to-lady transformations were not that usual.

I interviewed former debs and real ladies, and was told that, up until  the Fifties, a lady was, indeed, to the manner born, not made.

Most posh girls usually ended up not at university, but being groomed for marriage. So they would go somewhere like the Lucie Clayton Charm Academy, the alma mater of Sandra Howard, Joanna Lumley, and Jean Shrimpton, where gels were taught key life skills – such as how to walk with books on their heads and get out of sports cars with their knees clamped together.

And then, thank God, the Sixties happened. I interviewed writer Fiona MacCarthy, who was in the last batch of debs to be presented at court and loathed the whole thing.

While Twiggy was prancing up and down the Kings Road in a miniskirt, it was all over for tiaras and tea  parties with Mummy in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses at Buckingham Palace. ‘It all changed overnight, I suppose around 1960,’ Fiona said.

‘You didn’t want to be seen dead looking like your mother any more and  you didn’t want to be ladylike.’

It was at that point that the lady did a vanishing act. From the beginning of the Sixties, girls were no longer presented at court (Princess Margaret had complained ‘every tart in London’ was penetrating the Palace) and the young lady industry looked dusty and old-fashioned.

The lady became associated with male oppression and inequality. Her prim ways and prinked appearance had no place in a world where women could behave like men. Women wanted liberation, and careers.

This crested with the arrival on the scene of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and the whole new notion that a woman was the best man for the job.

In the Eighties and Nineties, the term ‘lady’ had lost traction. What mattered was powering ahead – in shoulder pads – and the languid Edwardian world of flower arranging and bridge and coffee mornings, and tea parties and ladies’ lunches seemed dull, constricting and old-fashioned. Coming-out balls and the Season slipped from view.

But, as I discovered, the industry never went away completely, and now the lady’s back and she means business. A global recession, a Royal Wedding and an increased sense that women need to trade on their social and sexual capital to maximise their value has triggered a renewed interest in that blue-chip brand, the English Lady, as Jennie Hallam-Peel, organiser of the London Season, told us.

The return of the lady is being spearheaded by the Duchess of Cambridge, who has become a poster princess for young women who hope that if they look the part, one day their prince will come, too.

We found the Season is alive and well, and met international debutantes who attended balls here and in Paris, New York and Dubai. So why has the lady returned?

Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, reckons the lady is having a resurgence as society becomes more conservative in a recession, and women, above all, have to retrench.

‘Recessions are generally bad for women because the squeeze in earnings puts a premium on the cost of childcare, forcing women back home,’ Dr Foreman argues. ‘On a macro-level, economic dislocation generally produces the equivalent of an adrenaline rush: fight or flight. If the country doesn’t erupt in violence it goes the other away and turns inward.’

Mmm. And is this a good thing? I asked Bidisha, the feminist writer. To my surprise, she said yes. ‘The return of the lady is about bringing a kind of formality and elegance back into a culture which is really quite vulgar.’

By the end of my journey, I was convinced that even I could become a lady, with effort and application. It’s about putting others first and attitude, and being at ease in every situation, rather than anything to do with white gloves or fruit knives.

There’s definitely something charming and old-fashioned about the lady and her ways, in the frenzy of helter-skelter modern life. But I’m still not sure I want to be one.

And I couldn’t resist a silent cheer when I asked the beautiful, elegant ex-model and author Sandra Howard, now Lady Howard, if she thought she was a lady. ‘Certainly not!’ she said, looking shocked


Motherhood, the career that dare not speak its name

Claire Perry, Tory MP for Devizes and childhood guru to David Cameron, says she's had three careers: she's been a banker, a mother and a politician. It is brave of her – and not because bankers and politicians are the most despised professions around. Ms Perry is brave because she makes claims for motherhood that has too many feminists and members of the Coalition sneering: it is a full-time, unpaid job.

Perry is promoting "Mothers at Home Matter", a group that wants the Coalition to recognise the contribution of stay-at-home mothers. Their message is urgent: when the state has to step in to care for children, the tax payers end up paying millions in creches and programmes like SureStart – now recognised as a hugely expensive Labour failure.

Worse, psychologists are now worrying that being raised outside their home environment by a succession of "professionals" can scar children for life. In Sweden, where this is a matter of routine, school records show the highest truancy and "worst classroom disorder" in western Europe. The star witness for MAHM was Jonas Himmlestrand, expert in Swedish family policy, who reported that his homeland, where 90 per cent of children are in subsidised child care, has seen a serious decline in adolescent mental health, between 1986 -2002 declined faster than in 10 comparable European countries.

So, forget the Swedish model. MAHM believes the key to happy families is to change the tax system that right now forces women to work. The UK is almost alone amongst developed countries in not recognising family and spousal responsibilities in its tax system. The burden on the single earner has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Many single earner families are in the poorest third of the population. MAHM want families taxed on the basis of household rather than individual income. They call "for a debate about income-splitting, transferable tax allowances and protecting child benefit for parents with dependent children."

Politicians should pay attention: the number of mothers who stay at home is down to a third — but, as I found out when I researched "What Women Really Want" for the Centre for Policy Studies, the majority of mothers would like to stay at home to look after their children. That's quite a constituency, Messrs Cameron et al. Ignore it (and your pledge to introduce family tax credits) at your peril.


Australian media giants warn Communications Minister Stephen Conroy power grab threatens us all
TELEVISION and newspaper bosses have demanded federal MPs reject proposed media changes, warning they would put at risk what Australians can watch and read.

In dramatic scenes in Canberra yesterday, Channel 7 owner Kerry Stokes blasted the plans as "draconian", News Limited boss Kim Williams said they were undemocratic and Fairfax chief Greg Hywood said the Government was seeking to impose a "nuclear option" on its critics.

Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews indicated he also was against the media changes, in a fresh blow to the Gillard Government.

As Julia Gillard's critics inside Labor claimed the legislation was a test of her authority and leadership, the Prime Minister said she was open to "sensible suggestions".

After talks between Ms Gillard and independent MP Rob Oakeshott broke down and he told the PM in writing he would not support any of the six media reform Bills, the Government was last night "actively considering" a compromise plan by Greens leader Christine Milne to "save" the legislation.

The Greens said they would vote with Labor if legislation were changed to "better define" a proposed public interest test, protect regional news and allow only two existing press councils.

Mr Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, said the Media Advocate at the centre of the changes was a "sledgehammer" with power beyond that of the Tax Commissioner.

He told a snap Senate inquiry that in his 40 years in the media "I have never seen anything so intrusive ... can only recall legislation in this haste in the wake of 9/11".  "The legislation is in my opinion draconian," he said.

Mr Williams said News Limited, which owns the Herald Sun, would mount a High Court challenge if the laws were passed.  "In the event that these laws are passed we will immediately be seeking leave to appeal to the High Court," he told the committee.

"These Bills breach constitutional rights, equate to direct government intervention and regulation of the media, and are a direct attack on free speech, innovation, investment and job creation," he said.

"These proposals will affect every Australian and the quality of their democracy. This is bad legislation with a bad process."

Mr Williams released a 20-page open letter to all MPs that he said was a "sober, non-hysterical analysis" of the problems. He said it was inappropriate the Media Advocate would rule on mergers and oversee reporting standards.

Mr Hywood, whose company, Fairfax, owns The Age, said the regulatory powers would have "too many dangers in the long term" and would "shut down" a news organisation.  "This is a nuclear option," he said.

He said the Advocate wouldn't be independent, as ministers appointed those who reflected their views.

Ten Network's Hamish McLennan said more regulation was not needed, while Foxtel's Richard Freudenstein objected to "flawed" legislation.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Advocate would not look over the shoulder of media or rule on complaints.  "The Advocate's job is simply to say: does the Press Council uphold its own standards?  "The Advocate has no role in setting those standards."

Labor senator and committee chairman Doug Cameron referred to the phone hacking scandal in the UK.  "I find it absolutely breathtaking to be lectured by the Murdoch press about the privacy laws," he said.

Mr Williams said two independent inquiries had found no such activity had taken place in Australia.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews expressed reservations about the media changes.  "I ... believe freedom of the press is integral to our democracy," he said.  "People are right to take a free press and free speech very seriously. I certainly do."

Premier Denis Napthine said he had severe misgivings. "I am flabbergasted that the Federal Government would want to curtail the free speech in the media of this state," he said.

TV bosses were at odds at a separate inquiry looking at abolishing the "75 per cent reach" rule that prevented network broadcasting to more than three-quarters of the population.

Nine Network chief David Gyngell, whose company wanted to buy the Southern Cross network if the rule was axed, said it was outdated, owing to the internet.

"I wouldn't allow the 75 per cent rule to be removed without the certainty of the high-quality news content viewers currently receive," he said, adding that regional journalists would keep their jobs.

Other networks oppose the change.

The Senate committee is due to hand down an interim report on Wednesday, while the joint select committee will report on the reach rule on Tuesday.



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


19 March, 2013

Extreme Right poses a threat like al Qaeda, warns British junior minister

Mr Brokenshire is anti-Christian and in favour of secret courts so one wonders who is the extremist here.  And he boasts below of the extent of internet censorship under his aegis!  Yet another British fan of the old East Germany, it would seem

Right-wing extremists could pose an al-Qaeda-style threat in Britain, the security minister warned today.

James Brokenshire said the “ugly face” of the far Right was a “real” danger to public safety and had the same aim as Islamist extremists of wanting to reshape society.  He warned of the risk of attacks by Right-wing “lone wolves”.

He also said the activities of the English Defence League could “stoke radicalisation” and push people towards terrorism. Such groups “can provide ‘gateway ideologies’ through which individuals may migrate to more extreme organisations”, he said.  “Where these lines blur, from a counter-terrorism perspective, is where the real risk lies.”

In a speech at King’s College London, Mr Brokenshire revealed that more than 2,000 websites containing illegal terrorist material had been taken down by a new police unit set up to combat the problem. Schools, libraries and other public bodies were being asked to block similar content.

He said that 10 per cent of those referred to the Home Office’s Channel project, which tries to divert people from extremism, were now from the far Right.

Although the threat was not as severe as that of al Qaeda, it shared some similarities, he said: “Many of the challenges mirror those from al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. There is the risk from lone individuals.”


Stitching up press freedom behind closed doors

Labour and Hacked Off are now prepared to hold the political system to ransom and rewrite the UK constitution in order to tame the press

One minute reports suggest that the leaders of Britain’s main political parties are finally getting ‘close to agreement’ on a new system of press regulation, the next we are told that talks have ‘broken down’ again. Whatever the latest twists, the one certainty is that the hard-won freedom of the press from state supervision, fought for over centuries of public political struggle, is now in danger of being stitched up and sacrificed quietly, behind closed doors.

The main drivers behind this attempt to tame the press have been the Labour Party and its allies in the Hacked Off lobby. These illiberal forces have tried to turn history on its head by claiming that regulating the press, long the ambition of kings and tyrants, is now a ‘radical’ cause for ‘ordinary people’. To pursue their crusade for statutory regulation, they have proved willing to hold democracy to ransom, threatening to disrupt the political process via a handful of peers in the House of Lords unless they get their way.

A brief summary of the tortuous legal and political shenanigans as we know them to date. In his report last November, Lord Justice Leveson proposes that a tough new ‘independent’ press regulator must be backed by statute. Labour, the Lib Dems and Hacked Off demand that Leveson’s proposals be implemented in full. Tory prime minister David Cameron says he wants to implement Leveson’s plans for taming the press, but balks at the notion of a new law to help do so.

In an effort to escape the corner they have thus painted themselves into, the Tories then propose that, instead of a parliamentary law, the new regulator should be recognised by a Royal Charter. As pointed out previously on spiked, if anything this is potentially even worse than statute, evoking shadows of the old system of the Crown licensing of the press. Labour and the Lib Dems have suggested that they might accept a Royal Charter as an alternative to statutory-backed regulation – but only if it is embedded in statute!

As these top-level negotiations have dragged on into 2013, the high-handed pro-regulation lobby has opted for more direct action. First Labour peers, led by Lord Puttnam and backed by others from all corners of the House of Lords, attached an amendment effectively creating a Leveson law to the Defamation Bill that was going through its final stages in parliament. Cameron then indicated that he would rather drop the entire bill to reform the dreadful libel laws than allow such a press law to be created via the backdoor.

Outraged by the prime minister’s refusal to do as he was told, the pro-regulation ‘rebels’ then threatened to attach a Leveson amendment to every piece of legislation in the House of Lords, whether it was about energy policy or business regulation, until the government allowed a press regulation law to pass. This is effectively an act of political blackmail, which would hold the entire parliamentary process to ransom until the government agreed to their terms.

This week, it appeared that the blackmailers might be close to success, with Cameron reportedly agreeing to a compromise deal. Under this new plan, a statute would be passed that did not refer specifically to Leveson or the press, but which underpinned more broadly the status of all Royal Charters. Thus we would be left with statutory regulation of the press in all but name. Latest reports suggest that Cameron has now had second thoughts, broken off talks with Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband and decided to publish the Tories’ plans for a Royal Charter on Monday. We shall see.

The most telling revelation in all this was who drew up the compromise proposal on indirect statutory backing for the Royal Charter. This devious scheme for achieving state-backed regulation of the press, not so much through the back door as through the cat flap in the bottom of it, was the brainchild of Hugh Tomlinson QC, the champion of celebrity super-injunctions who is now the leading legal light in Hacked Off.

Having, as their own modestly entitled book, Everybody’s Hacked Off, makes clear, sparked the demand for the Leveson Inquiry, set the terms for it to probe not just phone hacking but the entire ‘culture and ethics’ of the press, set the tone for the public circus via their celebrity witnesses and ghost-written most of Lord Justice Leveson’s final proposals, this little lobby group is now being invited by Labour and others effectively to rewrite parts of the British constitution in pursuit of its crusade against the heretics of the press.

The pro-regulation forces that have claimed to act on behalf of ‘the people’ now stand exposed as politico-legal elitists of the worst order. They have made clear that they believe the ‘public interest’ is best left in the unaccountable hands of the likes of Lord Puttnam, pulling parliamentary stunts in order to force the government to impose the will of the equally unaccountable Lord Justice Leveson. These supposedly high-minded reformers have proved willing to indulge in low political blackmail and vandalism – including wrecking the Defamation Bill for libel reform that is so dear to many campaigners’ hearts – in pursuit of their culture war on the ‘popular’ press.

The crusade to tame press freedom has brought together the worst of the new and old forms of political elitism, combining the traditional peers in the House of Lords with the new aristocracy of celebrity. In the name of ‘the people’ (you get the feeling they would like to say ‘the little people’), an unholy alliance of Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Lord Skidelsky and Lord Puttnam, backed by a select court of lawyers, hackademics and lobbyists, is keen to ride roughshod over democracy and liberty.

The willingness of Labour and Hacked Off to stoop so low has shocked some radicals sympathetic to their cause. Yet it is only really the logical outcome of the anti-democratic drift in UK politics over the past decade. With the decline of the trade unions, the rump of the Labour-supporting left has become increasingly detached from the public, instead looking for change from sympathetic establishment figures such as human-rights judges (at home and in Europe) and members of the House of Lords. How much easier it is to lobby these civilised ladies and gents than have to mix with the rough-house of the public forum!

We might recall the enthusiasm with which the Tories’ opponents have embraced ‘rebel’ lords as the potential saviours of the NHS and the welfare state, through such initiatives as the TUC-backed ‘Adopt a peer’ campaign. They were happy to see a few peers defying the government then. They surely should not be surprised to see Labour and Hacked Off pursuing the same lordly tactics to get statutory press regulation through.

Before it is too late, the debate about press freedom needs to be taken out of the smoke-free rooms of the corridors of power, and into the public arena. And the entire discussion needs turning on its head. However they are to be implemented, by statute, Royal Charter or act of God, the Leveson principles, from the oxymoronic nonsense of ‘independent self-regulation’ to the new restrictions on investigative journalism, need to be put in the dustbin, not on a pedestal. There are plenty of problems with the British press but none of them will be solved by these shenanigans. As some of us have argued from the start, the central myth of the Leveson debate - that the press is too free to run wild and must be tamed one way or another - needs to be challenged now. The truth is that the press is already not nearly free nor open enough – and giving into blackmail never solved anything.


'You can't work here, you'll upset the atheists': What hotel told jobseeker after discovering he was a committed Christian

A graphic designer is suing a hotel after claiming he was turned down for a job there because he is a Christian.

Jamie Haxby said he felt 'victimised and persecuted' after allegedly being told he could not design adverts for the Essex venue due to his faith.

Mr Haxby, a regular worshipper at his local church, says manager Celie Parker apologised for inviting him to the interview after discovering he was a committed Christian.

He claims he was then told he would not be  considered for the role as his beliefs could upset atheists working there.

He is now taking Prested Hall country house hotel near Colchester to an employment tribunal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The hotel denies the claims.

The row is the latest in a series of clashes between Christians and employers over their rights to express their faith in the workplace.

But legal experts say this case is unprecedented because Mr Haxby apparently faced discrimination merely on the basis of his beliefs rather than his actions, such as wearing a cross.

The designer, from Fordham Heath, near Colchester, applied in December for a part-time job creating 'eye-catching' advertising and promotional material for the hotel in nearby Feering.

Mr Haxby, 24, said his problems began when he showed Ms Parker his portfolio, which included his designs for fliers for his local church and a T-shirt for a Christian charity.

He also displayed other items such as a logo for a furnishing company called Blue Lapin, a sleeve for a CD and material for a hairdressing business.

Mr Haxby said: 'Everything was going well, and I felt happy with how the interview was progressing. Celie made several comments about the high standard of my work and how talented I was.

'However, just over halfway through looking over my portfolio, Celie stopped me and said she did not think we needed to go any further.

My heart slightly sank as I could tell there was something she did not like. She then explained that she thought my work was brilliant, but that she and others on her team were atheists.

'She said that judging from my work I was clearly a committed Christian, and I understood from what she was saying that it would be very difficult for me to work there.  'I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I felt upset and angry.'

Mr Haxby said he remained calm but told her his faith should not be the basis on which to judge him.

'She just said not to take it personally, but that it wouldn't be sensible and that it wouldn't work, or words to that effect,' he added.

'She also expressed regret over ever asking me to the interview and apologised for wasting my time. But I was feeling increasingly distressed and upset.

'I then said there was no way that this was right in equal opportunities Britain and that everyone should have an equal chance at getting a job.'

Mr Haxby said Ms Parker 'back-tracked' by agreeing to look through the rest of his portfolio, but remarked that other applicants were more experienced than him. He felt she was just trying to distance herself from her earlier comments.

He added: 'I told her I was not the kind of person who would preach at people or make them feel uncomfortable.'

Mr Haxby has now lodged a complaint with the East London employment tribunal, saying: 'I have been unlawfully discriminated against for reasons relating to my Christian faith.'

The hotel's co-owner, Mike Carter, said Ms Parker denied saying she or other members of staff were atheists who could not work with Christians, and claimed there were Christians already working at the hotel.

He said the religious beliefs of employees were not the business of the hotel's managers, and the marketing job had been awarded to another, more experienced, candidate.

But the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr Haxby, said: 'Jamie's case is shocking, and shows that discrimination against Christians is getting more brazen.

'There's no place for this anti-Christian intolerance at the hands of aggressive atheists. It's high time the Government took the issue more seriously.'


Australia: Tough new penalties wanted for racial spite

People get abused for all sorts of reasons.  You need to get used to it.  It is part of life.  I was accused at school of being a homosexual because I had no interest in sport.  It was like water off a duck's back to me.  I just went on my way reading books.  Why should racial abuse get treated differently?  If you agree with Alan Jones, why should you be prevented from saying so?  The behaviour of Lebanese Muslims is notorious

The broadcaster Alan Jones could have been jailed for up to three years for labelling Lebanese Muslims "vermin" and "mongrels" who "rape and pillage", under a proposed overhaul of NSW racial vilification laws.

The criminal prosecution of a woman who racially abused the ABC newsreader Jeremy Fernandez on a Sydney bus in February might also have been possible under changes being suggested by prominent community groups.

The Jewish Board of Deputies and the NSW Community Relations Commission are pushing for a radical overhaul of the laws in submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into whether it should be easier to criminally prosecute cases of serious racial vilification.

The inquiry was ordered by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, who was concerned there has not been a prosecution since the laws began in 1989. The inquiry has been attacked by opponents who say changes risk trampling on free speech.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act applies penalties of up to $5500 and six months' jail for inciting hatred, contempt or ridicule against a person or group based on their race.

But it must be proved that the person threatened physical harm against the person or group, or their property, or incited others to do so.

The community groups argue the reference to physical harm should be scrapped.

The Jewish Board of Deputies argues there is "a serious gap" in the law and suggests a new offence of "conduct intended to harass on grounds of race". The change would mean criminal prosecutions could be pursued over racial harassment that involves threats, intimidation or "serious racial abuse", whether or not a physical threat is involved.

The submission argues the maximum penalties should be a fine of $27,500 or two years' imprisonment for individuals and fines of up to $137,500 for corporations. It also says the offence should be included in the Crimes Act, be subject to a jury trial and include online abuse.

The Community Relations Commission argues for similar changes and proposes a maximum penalty of three years in jail.

The commission's chairman, Stepan Kerkyasharian, who is also president of the Anti-Discrimination Board, argues in the submission that the laws "ensure that both incitement of hatred and harassment can be prosecuted".

He also says the laws should be extended to cover cases where a person is assumed to be part of a racial group even if they are not and clarified to capture vilification online and on social media.

"If the ferocity of the verbal attack is significant enough, that in itself should be enough to be a breach of the act," Mr Kerkyasharian said.

But the secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said the proposals "go too far".

Mr Blanks said criminal prosecutions could be made easier by removing the requirement to prove the intention to incite physical violence. This would "preserve the right to free speech but attack speech with consequence".

In January Jones was ordered by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal to apologise on air for describing Lebanese Muslims as "vermin" and "mongrels" who "simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that's taken them in".

In February, Mr Fernandez tweeted that while on a bus a woman had said he was a "black c---" and told him to "go back to my country" during a 15-minute tirade of racial abuse.



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


18 March, 2013

The Foresight of Justice Kennedy

Since the 1950s the Longview, Wash. City Council has opened its public meetings with prayer, as Congress has done for 239 years. But fear of a lawsuit from groups like the ALCU has caused the mayor to tell the local ministerial association that it is “not acceptable” for ministers who volunteer to give a Christian prayer that refers to Jesus.

To their credit, the ministers refused to give a generic prayer that violates the convictions of their faith.

So, for fear of an ACLU threat, city officials decided to exclude ministers simply because their faith teaches them to pray a particular way.

In 1992, the Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of public prayer. Justice Anthony Kennedy warned that when the government dictates that public prayers must be generic or avoid references that are unique to any particular faith, like referencing Jesus, it is constitutionally problematic.

Surprised? That’s because you can’t believe everything you read in the news releases of groups that want to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square.

Kennedy explained that allowing the government to dictate the content of prayer can create a state religion and disguise religious hostility under the cloak of neutrality.

Now, some 20 years later, reports indicate that the city of Longview is foregoing Kennedy’s insight. As The Daily News reported, “‘Christ’ ban signals apparent end to Longview council meeting invocation.”

This is a mistake of constitutional proportions. Kennedy’s opinion concerned a prayer given at a public school graduation exercise, but his warning applies equally to cases challenging public invocations given before legislative meetings.

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court decided Marsh v. Chambers, which denied an atheist’s attempt to stop the Nebraska Legislature from opening sessions in prayer. The court rejected the claim, noting that the first Congress voted to hire chaplains to open sessions with prayer three days before finalizing the wording of the First Amendment. The court wisely reasoned that finding legislative prayers unconstitutional would foolishly accuse the Founding Fathers of violating the Constitution - even as they were writing it!

Following Marsh v. Chambers, some questioned whether the government could place limits on the types of public prayers that are offered. Likely well-intentioned officials began imposing restrictions on the content of the prayers because they believed that audiences would be more comfortable with a generic prayer. It was this sentiment that gave rise to Kennedy’s warning in Lee v. Weisman that government should not and cannot dictate a form of prayer.

Unfortunately, some courts have ignored his warning.

In 2011, one lower court scoffed at the notion that mandating a non-descript, religiously neutral prayer would create a challenge for local governments. But the Longview debacle demonstrates that demanding a person leave their faith at the door of city hall is indeed a real problem.

Since 2004, secularist groups like the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have brought 17 different federal lawsuits to prevent people from praying according to their personal beliefs. Instead, the secularists ask courts to banish the historic tradition outright or to so neuter prayers that they become meaningless.

In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to weigh in again on challenges to public prayer. The Town of Greece, N.Y. has asked the high court to reverse a federal appeals court decision striking down a prayer practice because too many of the prayers were Christian. Let’s pray the Supreme Court gets this one right.


Don’t attack Britain’s oldies – they keep the economy going

The growing army of working over-65s dispels the idea that the elderly burden the young

When I worked at The Scotsman, news editors were always looking out for stories portraying Glasgow in a positive light. The newspaper was anxious to overcome perceptions of an Edinburgh bias, so there was great excitement at conference one morning over a study hailing Glasgow as the “youngest city in Europe”, with an average age of 36. Much discussion followed about the city becoming a cosmopolitan magnet for the young, until a Glaswegian colleague spoiled it all by stating the obvious. “They’re young,” he said, “because when they’re not, they’re deid.”

It was an inarguable point. To be a “young” city, or country, is no boast: it tends to mean poverty, sickness and low life expectancy. But the converse is also true: as a country becomes more prosperous, its people become healthier and live longer. To note that Britain is “rapidly ageing” is another way of saying that things are getting rapidly better. The air is cleaner, the roads are safer, our hospitals (for all their problems) can equip us with new knees or hips to keep us moving and working. The political panic about the “ageing population” is the equivalent of saying: Oh my God, we’re all going to live.

This, at least, was the reaction to the House of Lords report yesterday peering a little into the future. It found that, by 2030, the number of over-65s will rise by a third. The new Royal baby can expect to be writing a letter to himself (or herself) in July 2113, because half of children born nowadays will likely become centenarians. Cities such as Glasgow have their own problems, but most Brits will live longer than ever. That ought to be great news – in Westminster, though, it is seen as a “demographic timebomb”, and an impending avalanche of dribbling NHS customers.

The truth is obvious to anyone who has done any shopping and looked at the age of the cashier: the over-65s are not just fitter than ever, but working harder than ever and paying more tax than ever. Ten years ago, 500,000 pensioners were working, and by the peak of the boom that number was 700,000. But it didn’t stop there. Throughout the great recession, Britain’s grey workforce have been working harder than ever. Almost a million of them are now employed – behind checkout desks, at the office or even setting up companies. The proportion of elderly people in work has doubled over a decade.

Neuroscience has now proved what many long suspected: that the brain accumulates wisdom and older workers tend to make better decisions. In the old days, health could be a problem. Now, medicine has advanced to the extent that a 76-year-old with one functioning lung can be elected pope and 85-year-old pontiffs resign because death is too distant a prospect.

The nature of work is changing, too: the Church of England will next week enthrone a former oilman for whom religion is a second career. As retirement becomes a process, rather than an event, pensioners find themselves with more energy than ever.

There are two ways of seeing this. One is to salute the industriousness of those whose taxes built the welfare state, and still choose to keep at it. The other is to imagine that the “baby boomers” are now stealing the jobs of the young and burdening the NHS, having grown undeservedly rich from the property boom. In recent years, this latter argument has morphed into the “intergenerational fairness” agenda, which is worth taking seriously, because it is one of the more potent and sinister ideas of recent years.

The complaint of the generational jihadists is based on a valid point: that the housing boom of the past two decades has left pensioners living in properties worth mind-boggling amounts. Now and again, there is talk (even among young Tory strategists) about taxing the “unearned” income of the old and passing the cash to the young to address the elderly’s “unearned” boost in assets. The baby-boom generation have anyway benefited from free university education, runs the argument, and their legacy has been a massive debt that will take decades to repay. So it’s time for the taxman to impose a little “fairness”, perhaps with a wealth tax.

There is, of course, no moral justification for penalising those who have saved just because they happened to do so before an asset boom (induced, incidentally, by an easy-money policy that continues to this day). Nor would it be reasonable to begrudge NHS care, no matter how expensive, to those who built this country and, in many cases, defended it.

But if the Government is wrong to regard pensioners as charity cases, it is also wrong to dispense so much charity that it cannot really afford. The idea of free bus passes, for example, is hard to defend in the age of cuts. A minister in the last government told me that he started work on abolishing them, and envisaged £1 billion of savings. He was amazed to see David Cameron pledge to keep them – the first of many pledges to ring-fence benefits for the elderly, who were by no means demanding the concessions. The irony of last year’s Budget was that George Osborne was lambasted for a granny tax while giving the largest ever increase to the state pension. “We should have been telling pensioners: 'You’ve never had it so good’,” one Cabinet minister tells me.

The generational jihadists say that this generosity is because the baby boomers are now the most powerful lobby group in the country. But the truth is rather more mundane. Politicians, of all persuasions, seem to view pensioners with a mixture of fear and condescension – imagining that they do little else but stay at home, count their benefits and vote for the party that offers the most. A fear of the grey vote led the Coalition to make the most expensive ring-fence pledge of all: a “triple lock” on pensions, which have been rising far faster than salaries. This focuses pain on working-age benefits and, of course, students.

There is no oldies’ union that demanded a triple lock on pensions. It wasn’t in the Tory manifesto. It emerged because politicians panicked, and imagined that pensioners want greater welfare. And this sprang from a patronising and out-of-date view about how to please the over-65s – who, incidentally, account for a fifth of the increase in employment under Cameron.

Michael Caine, who turned 80 yesterday, spoke for many when he wondered a few years ago if the old were now carrying the young. “We’ve got 3.5 million layabouts on benefits and I’m 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them,” he complained when filming Harry Brown. “Let’s get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it up.”

The idea of a clash of generations is based on a false idea: that the working-age must support the pension-age. Each day, a growing army of healthy (and much sought-after) British workers over 65 is disproving this notion. The balance between tax and welfare will have to change, but the shifting demographics make odd grounds for panic. Britons are leading longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than ever before – as political problems go, it’s a good one to have.


Parents' social service hell after one anonymous letter : Judge attacks Baby P council for 'knee-jerk' abuse investigation

A mother told of her nightmare yesterday after being secretly investigated for child abuse by social workers who received a  single, anonymous letter.

The woman was left ‘terrified’ that her six-year-old daughter would be removed in the probe by Haringey Council – the authority at the centre of the Baby P scandal.

After winning a ‘landmark’ case yesterday, she also spoke of her anger that the local authority had sought to avoid being named in the affair to prevent further public embarrassment.

Officials had obtained three mobile numbers and a landline phone number for the family after contacting the girl’s school without her parents’ knowledge.

The mother – who works as a social worker – said she was ‘horrified’ when a student social worker later contacted the couple to belatedly reveal they were investigating allegations of mistreatment.

Yesterday a High Court judge condemned Haringey for its ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to the unsigned letter, which was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

This included approaching the child’s GP and her school to ask for any signs of ‘emotional and physical abuse’ of the child before they had spoken to her parents.

Judge Anthony Thornton said the child was never at risk of harm from her middle class parents, who had never been in trouble with police or had previous contact with social services.

He quashed the ‘unlawful’ decision to start the investigation and ordered the council to pay £2,000 compensation to the couple and legal costs expected to run to tens of thousands of pounds.

After the hearing, the girl’s mother urged the Government to step in to sort out Haringey’s beleaguered child protection department.

She expressed fears that while the council squandered taxpayers’ cash investigating spurious complaints it risked overlooking genuine cases.

She said: ‘This has been a dreadful ordeal that has taken a huge emotional and financial strain on my family. Although I knew it was groundless, I was terrified they would take my child away.

‘We were accused of smacking our child. As it happens, we don’t smack, but if the council starts investigating all parents who occasionally smack their child to discipline them, they would end up looking at 90 per cent of families in the borough.’

The woman and her partner are both experienced social workers and so knew the council’s reaction was excessive.

They brought a legal challenge to the council’s decision to investigate them under Section 47 of the 1989 Children Act, which the judge described as an ‘intrusive’ assessment of a child and her parents to determine if she was being harmed.

The mother said: ‘Because we know the system we had the courage to stand up to the council and take it this far, but I pity the many other parents who aren’t able to do this and have to suffer in silence.

This is the first time that a section 47 investigation has been successfully challenged and overturned.’

The council launched the investigation after its ‘social services child abuse department’ received the unsigned letter dated March 2011 from someone claiming to be a neighbour of the family saying he was worried about the child.

The judge ruled that approaching the GP and school without seeking the parent’s permission was ‘erroneous’.

He said: ‘These were serious departures from permissible practice and these actions were unlawful.’ The child was not at risk of significant harm and it... was highly likely the anonymous referral was malicious.’

A Haringey Council spokesman said: ‘Our handling of this case fell below the standards that we would expect, and we apologise to the family concerned.’


Ita Buttrose joins growing chorus of prominent Australians who don't back the Australian Labor Party's proposed media regulations

AUSTRALIAN of The Year Ita Buttrose has slammed Labor's media reforms saying the public should be the ultimate judge of what is appropriate journalism.

The publishing queen told News Limited she was disappointed with the government's package of reforms, announced this week, and did not believe greater regulation of the press was necessary.

"I don't think we need any further regulation," Ms Buttrose said.

"There are already enough regulatory authorities and it's not really clear what the problem is with the current way of doing things.

"At the end of the day the public makes their own decisions. If they feel we've done the wrong thing they switch us off or don't buy us. The public should be the ultimate arbiter."

Ms Buttrose has been a staple of the Australian media landscape for decades. She was the founding editor of Cleo and editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph in the 1980s.

In January Ms Buttrose was announced as the 2013 Australian of The Year at a ceremony on the lawns of Parliament House presented by Julia Gillard.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has come under fire for Labor's media reforms, with many slamming the package as an attempt to constrain freedom of the press.

Senator Conroy has said the measures would be put into parliament next week and needed to be passed by Thursday or they would be abandoned.

This morning he said it was not an imposition to ask parliament to pass the laws quickly because the issue had been debated since 2007.

"For people to suggest that there hasn't been an effective debate around the country, they are just ignoring the facts," he told ABC radio.

He said some of the media coverage on the reforms had been "hysterical" considering the concepts in the package had been in place in the US and UK for years.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said he believed it was unlikely the reforms would pass through parliament.

He said Senator Conroy had done a poor job at selling the package.   "He could not sell fresh fish to starving seals," Mr Turnbull told the Nine Network.

Labor needs to secure the votes of several independent MPs in order to pass the reforms.  But former Labor MP now independent Craig Thomson and independent Rob Oakeshott have both indicated they won't back the package.



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


17 March, 2013

The anti-Semites mistaken for mere eccentrics

Why are race-hate outbursts by the likes of the Labour Party's Lord Ahmed not punished sooner?

By Stephen Pollard

It would be nice, just for once, if we could change the record. Even though I’m the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, there are all sorts of things I’d rather write about than anti-Semitism. The weather. Traffic. House prices. Pretty much anything, as it happens.

But with a regularity that is as relentless as it is depressing, some idiot comes out with an anti-Semitic rant. This week, it was Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer. Last month, it was David Ward, a Lib Dem MP. Next month, it will be someone else’s turn.

Perhaps it’s because I lack sufficient self-awareness that I can never put myself in the mindset that holds the Jews – that is, me – responsible for all the world’s ills. Then again, for Lord Ahmed, it’s not just the world’s ills that I’ve caused – it’s his own, too.

In 2009, he was sent down for 12 weeks after he smashed into a stationary car, having sent a series of text messages while driving his Jaguar on the M1 at 70mph. The other driver died. You might think 12 weeks rather lenient. Apparently not. According to Lord Ahmed, in an interview given on Pakistani TV last April, which has only just surfaced, he was sentenced so harshly purely because of a conspiracy by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”. The judge, he added, had been specially chosen because the Jews wanted to punish him for supporting the Palestinian cause.

It seems that as well as running the media, banks and business, we Jews also spend our time monitoring motorway CCTV tapes and looking out for supporters of the Palestinian cause in the hope that we can get a compliant judge to send them down. Of course, I shouldn’t be flippant – because flippancy is the default reaction of so many people to the likes of Lord Ahmed, who are treated essentially as figures of fun.

That certainly seems to be the attitude among the Liberal Democrats. In January, an obscure MP called David Ward decided that the most appropriate thing to do after signing the Holocaust Memorial Trust’s book of remembrance was to sound off about how “the Jews… could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”. Not the Israelis – the Jews. Apparently, I and others have failed to absorb properly the lesson Hitler was teaching our ancestors in the Holocaust.

While it might be easy to dismiss such rants, there is a bigger point here. Mr Ward remains an MP. His chief whip decided a fortnight ago, after weeks of inaction, that the only necessary response was to suggest that Mr Ward might meet with the Lib Dem Friends of Israel – compounding the problem by conflating support for Israel with opposition to naked anti-Semitism.

Mind you, the Left does seem to have developed a remarkably laissez-faire attitude when it comes to Jew-baiting. It took the Lib Dems years to impose serious sanctions against Mr Ward’s companion in arms, Baroness Tonge. She spoke understandingly of suicide bombers and how, in the Palestinians’ circumstances, she “might just consider becoming one myself”. The response? Nothing. She then revealed how the “pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.” Again, nothing.

The Lib Dems only took action after she said there should be an inquiry into claims by a fanatically anti-Israel journal (of which she happened to be patron) that the Israeli army was using its presence in Haiti not to offer humanitarian aid after the 2010 earthquake, but to harvest body parts. She kept the whip, but lost her job as health spokeswoman. She only resigned from the party last year, after Nick Clegg demanded that she apologise for saying that Israel would disappear. She refused.

The problem is that while the liberal Left pays lip service to anti-racism, there is at least one form of it that is regarded as odd, but not worth making too great a fuss over, especially when the culprit is Muslim. For example, in 2005, Lord Ahmed hosted Israel Shamir, a notorious anti-Semite, at a meeting in the Lords. When Shamir’s speech was full of the usual stuff – “Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media… the Jews like an Empire…” – Lord Ahmed refused to distance himself, and Labour refused to utter a word of criticism.

Eight years later, the remarkable thing is not that Lord Ahmed has now been suspended by the party, but that he still held a whip to be suspended. If a Labour or Lib Dem representative had said, of Muslims, something similar to Lord Ahmed or Mr Ward’s comments about Jews, you can bet your life that they’d have been drummed out of Westminster before you could say “racist” – and quite rightly.

But when it comes to anti-Semites, the villains are dismissed as eccentrics, and thus given a form of licence to indulge their racism. Soon, the show will move on from Lord Ahmed. And nothing will have changed.


British council placed four-year-old in foster care of suspected paedophile then spent £23,000 trying to keep blunders a secret

A council spent £23,000 of taxpayers' money trying to gag reporting of a case where it had placed a four-year-old in foster care with a suspected paedophile.

Bristol City Council tried and failed to obtain a High Court injunction which would prevent embarrassing details of the case being made public.

Social services took nearly three weeks to remove the girl from a foster family, despite the father being under suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

He later killed himself after police took a laptop away from the property which contained a cache of child abuse images.

Despite the little girl and the children of the suspected paedophile being automatically granted media anonymity, the council still tried to obtain a blanket gagging order.

On the final day of the two-week hearing in October last year, the council's barrister Jo Lucas went to the civil court to get an injunction banning any reporting of the case.

Temporary restrictions were then put in place to prevent publication of Bristol City Council, or the names of the social service workers who failed to protect the little girl.

But these were overturned in London's High Court in January following a costly three-month legal wrangle.

Mr Justice Baker ruled it was in the public interest for the story to be published, but that the identities of the girl, her family and foster family should all be protected.

A Freedom of Information Act request has now revealed that the 'external cost' of the legal wrangle to Bristol City Council came to £23,528,40.

But the true cost is likely to be much higher as the quoted figure does not include the time council employees spent working on it.

The hefty bill included £11,730 for legal advice, preparation and representation by Robin Tolson QC for two High Court hearings in London and one in Bristol.  The council also paid the legal costs for the foster family, which came to £3,623.40.

However, a spokesman for Bristol City Council today insisted the legal action was only taken to protect the identity of the child.   'The object throughout was only to protect the identity of the child,' he said.

'It is important to realise that automatic reporting restrictions in respect of children subject to care proceedings do not last once the proceedings have ended...

'The council did not think that this was in the child's best interests and, as the press were already involved and had attended some of the hearings in relation to the care application, we considered that we had no option but to seek to protect the identity of the child beyond the care proceedings.'

The case at Bristol's Family Proceedings Court heard that concerns were first raised in March 2012 when the girl had been living with the family for three months.  Police informed social services that child sex abuse images had been accessed at the house for the second time.

Unlike the first incident, which was blamed on a foster child at the house, the police strongly suspected the father had accessed the sick images.

But despite being informed by police, social services did nothing for two weeks, leaving the little girl where she was.

The child also told her real father and a social worker that she had been 'strangled' by another child at the foster home, but still she was returned to the house.

Social worker Sherilyn Pritchard told the hearing, chaired by Annette Young, that there was 'not enough information to justify immediate removal' of the girl when the allegations arose.

The child's appointed legal guardian said: 'I think we have to bear in mind that she may have been sexually abused in that foster placement.'

Chairman of the magistrates Mrs Young criticised Bristol City Council for not following child protection procedures, saying: 'These matters concern us greatly and we believe should be thoroughly and forensically investigated and reviewed in an independent forum.'

No disciplinary action has been taken against anyone from social services following the council's internal review, but an independent review has not yet been published.

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker said the authority's bid for a gagging order was 'unjustified', adding: 'It is in the public interest for these matters to be published.'

The girl is now in a new foster home. But speaking at the time of the court hearing, her natural father said: 'I am livid.  'They said she wasn't safe at home but they put her where someone had been downloading child abuse images.'

He added: 'There is a danger that those who practise in the family justice system fail to give proper consideration to the Article 10 rights of the media. This must now cease.'

Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This was a shameful attempt to suppress the media from reporting council bungling.

'It's a disgrace that Bristol City Council have spent taxpayers' money trying to hide its involvement in a very serious and disturbing case.

'Questions must be asked not only of those responsible for the mistakes in the original fostering case but also of whoever authorised the use of taxpayers' money for the legal action to cover it up.'


MO: House passes “conscience rights” bill

The state House passed a bill today that would allow Missouri health care workers to refuse to participate in certain medical procedures that go against their religious beliefs or morals.

The “conscience rights” bill passed the chamber in a 116-41 vote – more than the two-thirds needed to override a gubernatorial veto. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers made several nods to abortion and anti-abortion talking points during the debate.

Opponents said the patient’s rights and access to necessary medical services could be threatened under the bill.  “Patients have rights that the medical professionals must follow,” said Rep. Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis. “The patient has a right to control their own health care decisions.”

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, said the bill discriminates against women and would most impact rape victims, couples who seek fertility treatments and women who have ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages.  “This bill has been narrowed to just women,” she said. "This bill is wrong - it hurts people.”

But supporters say the measure largely mirrors what’s in current law – only clarifying the provisions that let workers opt out of procedures they do not support.  “This bill will do absolutely nothing to affect anyone’s access to emergency medical services in the state,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka and the sponsor of the bill.

Rep. Keith Frederick, a Republican from Rolla who is a doctor, said his nearly three decades in the health care field helped shape his position in support.  “In my view, you don’t really want somebody working on you who is distracted or feeling conflicted or just plain doesn’t want to be there,” he said.

Under the proposal, doctors, nurses and other health care providers could opt out of certain medical procedures or research that goes against their religious, moral or ethical principles.

The bill specifically notes those medical procedures could include “abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, sterilization which is not medically necessary, assisted reproduction, human cloning, human embryonic stem-cell research, human somatic cell nuclear transfer, fetal tissue research and nontherapeutic fetal experimentation.” Those who claim “conscience rights” exemptions can’t be punished or discriminated against for not participating.

Similar legislation was approved in the House last year but never made it all the way through. Jones said he worked to address some of the issues that were raised, including adding the new provision that requires treatment in emergency situations.

In an at-times heated debate on the floor, Jones accused critics of the bill of not reading it.  “I don’t understand a lot of the attacks that were levied against the bill,” he said.

The Legislature passed a separate “conscience rights” law last year that focused on employers’ and allowing them to opt out of providing health care coverage for contraceptives if they have religious objections. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, but the House and Senate voted to override it in the fall. It has since been challenged in court.


Australia:  Some people are easily offended

An attempt to be helpful offends

Liberal Eleni Evangel's win over John Hyde in the seat of Perth in the weekend's state election came as a surprise to some but for one constituent, it was Ms Evangel's campaign material that provided the biggest shock.

Ms Evangel won the seat from Mr Hyde who had held it since 2001 but she did not win any support from Perth woman, Kerry Jacobs.

Mrs Jacobs received a campaign letter written entirely in Chinese from Ms Evangel in the lead-up to the election.

Mrs Jacobs' maiden name is Chong (she was married last year). Her parents are Malaysian and speak Mandarin but she was born in Perth and has lived here all her life.

"I was really offended," she said.  "I can understand it's generally an Asian sounding name but other than that, I have no idea how she [Evangel] came to the conclusion that I must speak Chinese."

Mrs Jacobs assumed the mistake was made because the Liberals must have had an old copy of the electoral roll, with her maiden name on it and someone made an assumption based purely on that.

She said she initially had no idea what the letter said as she could not even tell if the language was Mandarin - all she knew was that it was Chinese.

"My parents have been here since the 70s and my dad has never received anything like this," she said.

Mrs Jacobs said she was bothered by an assumption she was from a certain background based on her last name or appearance.

Although a Vietnamese neighbour who received a letter in Vietnamese did not appear to be offended about his letter when he spoke to Mrs Jacobs about it, he agreed his correspondence must also have been tailored to his surname.

"She [Ms Evangel] may have been told that because this is a culturally diverse area, it would work to her advantage," Mrs. Jacobs said.

But she pointed out that she would prefer to see Ms Evangel out at Chinese New Year celebrations and taking part in cultural events rather than sending letters in different languages based on assumptions.

Ms Evangel said letters were sent out in Chinese, Vietnamese and Serbian languages.

"Community leaders recommended doing this as there are some people in the area who aren't so fluent in English," she said.

Ms Evangel said members of culturally diverse community groups identified people with names they thought were from certain backgrounds from the electoral roll and would therefore speak certain languages.

However she said most of the foreign language letters were sent out with an accompanying version in English.

"There was a hiccup in the office and one set of letters was sent out without the English translation," Ms Evangel said.

"It's a shame because it was a bit of a slip-up during the hectic lead up to the election."

Ms Evangel said she received a small handful of complaint letters about the matter but many more "thank yous."

She said she had meant well by sending the letters in different languages.

"I'm of Greek background, my mum's been here 50 years, she can communicate in English, but there's no way she'd be able to read something like that [a letter in English]. We read it and explain it to her," Mrs Evangel said.

Those who did not receive the English version of the letter were sent it about a week after the first letters were sent out, Ms Evangel said.

Ms Evangel did not say whether any further material that she sent out to constituents would be done in a similar fashion.

"For now I'm concentrating in getting setup, which will take a couple of weeks, there is so much to do," she said.



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

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

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


15 March, 2013

Women's have-it-all fantasy often spells heartbreak

Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg’s 'Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead' ignores the sorry fate of those who miss out on motherhood

The difficulty with a successful woman setting out to write a book about work and ambition is that half her target audience won’t know what she’s talking about because they’re too busy trying to make ends meet. The other half will hate her because she’s successful.

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and an Alpha female, is running this gauntlet right now, thanks to her controversial new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

I once spoke at a glitzy event in New York on much the same theme. It was sponsored by a clothing company, which planned to sell women’s officewear in the interval. While the Mrs Alphas were sipping their soya lattes and debating whether they really could have it all, I popped backstage and got talking to some of the sales staff.

Mainly Hispanic and white women from poorer boroughs, they told me they were lucky if the clothing company let them have three weeks off after they gave birth. They didn’t want to leave their newborns, but they had bills to pay. The new infant would either be left with a family member or placed in production-line daycare with as many as 100 other babies. In the industrialised world, the United States is the only nation without a paid parental leave policy. Instead, mothers are eligible for something called, unbelievably, “sickness and disability”.

I felt distinctly queasy as I returned to the podium to banter about the challenges of balancing a career and motherhood. Did the privileged women in that hall ever spare a thought for the weary mum of three handing them a fancy linen jacket to try on?

Of course not. We are so subsumed in our own daily struggle to reply to work emails at midnight while assembling a Pippi sodding Longstocking costume for World Book Day that the fate of other working mothers is too hard to take on board. Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, I kept thinking, “Yes, fabulous, Sheryl, honey, but as Mrs Alpha of Silicon Valley you really have no idea what it’s like for Miss Beta, let alone Mrs Delta.”

Sandberg is not just privileged, she is worth an estimated $500 million. Money can’t buy you love, but it sure as hell purchases a lot of child care. The fact that Sheryl barely mentions her children’s nanny or the crack support team that smoothed her path to Time’s 100 Most Impressive People list is all too typical of the “Look, no hands!” it’s-easy-to-juggle brigade.

Instead, Sandberg bemoans the fact that highly trained women are scaling back or dropping out of the workforce in high numbers. Girls, she says, take their foot off the pedal too early in their career because they know they want to have kids. Instead, they should “lean in”, work ferociously hard and get a job it will be rewarding to return to.

Rubbish! As the latest figures reveal, the fastest-growing trend among professional women is involuntary childlessness. Far from “leaning out”, most ambitious young females work like stink and figure that they will find time to get pregnant at some convenient date in the future. For one in four, that day never comes. Fertility clinics in the West are full of tearful 40-year-olds who have latterly discovered that becoming Project Director for Asia may not, after all, be the meaning of life.

Only this week, Erin Callan, former chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers, admitted that the price she paid for working so insanely hard was divorce and not becoming a mother. “I sold myself short,” says Erin, who is now trying for her first baby at the ambitious age of 47. No doubt, this will involve the costly purchase of eggs or the rental of a friendly womb.

If, in order to get a seat on the board, you have to act like a man for 20 years, then sub-contract your biological function to a younger, poorer woman, it’s hardly surprising today’s girls are not exactly queuing up to join Sheryl and the Mrs Alphas.

To be fair to Sandberg, she is very good on the way that men will have to take their place at the kitchen table to enable women to take theirs at the boardroom version. What really riles in this book, though, is its author’s cool dismissal of the negative “stereotype” of the “harried and guilt-ridden woman” – such as the heroine of my novel I Don’t Know How She Does It – who tries to divide her time between work and family. Guess what? It’s not a stereotype, Sheryl. If you don’t have a chauffeur, a boss who lets you leave work at 5.30pm (as Sheryl does), a team of researchers to write your book, oh, and $500 million in the bank, then guilty and harried are the daily deal.

God made mothers guilty for a reason. If we hear a nagging inner voice whispering that we’re not spending enough time with our children, we should heed it, not “lean in”. On Tuesday, Swedish psychologist Jonas Himmelstrand warned British MPs that babies and toddlers aged under three should not be in daycare. Sweden, he said, is seeing a huge raft of social problems caused by sending children to nursery at too young an age. Swedish teenagers who spent long hours in daycare are today experiencing serious psychological problems. Performing badly at school, they are unmanageable out of it. Himmelstrand said that the Swedish experiment had failed: “Daycare means parents have lost a grip on their responsibilities: they cannot set limits.”

I suspect history will relate that parents who neglected their young in pursuit of their ambitions caused more problems for society in the 21st century than those slackers who failed to “lean in” to their careers.

Sheryl Sandberg’s colleagues ran a sweepstake on how long it would take their boss to be back on email after the birth of her first child. She lasted a whole day. Poor baby.


What Can Israel Do?

When Israel took action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last year, the world media did its damndest to try to paint the Jewish state as a human rights violator. One of their chief cards in this effort was a photo of BBC video editor Jehad Misharawi holding his son Omar's body. Supposedly Omar had been killed in an Israeli missile strike.

The picture quickly went viral. The Washington Post ran with the story. The BBC suggested that Israel was responsible for the death. BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar tweeted, "Questioned asked here is: if Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month) how did Jihad's son get killed." The story became ubiquitous, a sign of Israeli brutality in an impoverished area of the world.

There's only one problem: the story wasn't true.

A report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that Israel was likely not the source of the fire that killed Omar. Instead, they said that Hamas likely fired the rocket that killed Omar.

This is not rare. Civilian casualties in Palestinian-controlled areas are common -- not because Israel is targeting civilians but because Palestinian forces often target civilians as human shields to protect against Israeli strikes. And the media often buys the propaganda efforts of Palestinians attempting to demonstrate the supposed evils of the Jews.

Israel is under assault, as usual, by both a Palestinian population largely interested in its destruction and a media that refuses to believe that uncomfortable fact. Meanwhile, President Obama is heading to Israel where he will likely call for a renewal of the failed "peace process" -- a process that has resulted in thousands of deaths, both Palestinian and Jewish, and has brought Israel no closer to peace.

So what must Israel do to protect herself?

Some on the left have proposed more land concessions by Israel. Nothing could be a greater incentive to terrorism and violence by the Palestinians. Each and every time Israel hands over land, a wave of terror follows from an emboldened anti-Semitic population bound and determined to use any territorial gains and military launching points.

Some on the right have proposed population transfer from the Gaza Strip or West Bank as a solution. This is both inhumane and impractical. Moving millions of Palestinians out of areas they have known for their entire lives will certainly not pave the way to peace. Moreover, these Palestinians will have no place to go, since their brethren across the Arab would prefer to keep them cooped up in dismal poverty than house them in their own lands.

In the end, both right and left agree that a population separation is necessary. That does not mean Palestinian statehood, which will undoubtedly result in another Iran directly on Israel's borders. It means instead moving beyond utopianism and making mental peace with the fact that no solution will be permanent. Israel will have to protect its citizens, and it will have to continue to police Palestinian borders. Settlements are not the problem here. Removing settlements is not the solution. The problem is intractable.

Recognizing that the problem is intractable is the first step toward real security for Israel. Signaling to the Palestinian population that occupation will remain permanent so long as they continue supporting terrorism should provide a disincentive to do so. As for the propaganda wars, Israel has no choice but to weather them. Omar Misharawi will always end up on the front page; the U.N. retractions will always end up on the back pages. Israel must live with that. It's difficult but not impossible. A lasting two-state solution, however, is both easy and impossible under current circumstances.


"Disparate impact"

Once we recognize that large differences in achievement among races, nations and civilizations have been the rule, not the exception, throughout recorded history, there is at least some hope of rational thought -- and perhaps even some constructive efforts to help everyone advance.

Even such a British patriot as Winston Churchill said, "We owe London to Rome" -- an acknowledgement that Roman conquerors created Britain's most famous city, at a time when the ancient Britons were incapable of doing so themselves.

No one who saw the illiterate and backward tribal Britons of that era was likely to imagine that someday the British would create an empire vastly larger than the Roman Empire -- one encompassing one fourth of the land area of the earth and one fourth of the human beings on the planet.

History has many dramatic examples of the rise and fall of peoples and nations, for a wide range of known and unknown reasons. What history does not have is what is so often assumed as a norm today, equality of group achievements at a given point in time.

Roman conquests had historic repercussions for centuries after the Roman Empire had fallen. Among the legacies of Roman civilization were Roman letters, which produced written versions of Western European languages, centuries before Eastern European languages became literate. This was one of many reasons why Western Europe became more advanced than Eastern Europe, economically, educationally and technologically.

Meanwhile, the achievements in other civilizations -- whether in China or in the Middle East -- surged ahead of achievements in the West, though China and the Middle East later lost their leads.

There are too many zig-zags in history to believe that some single over-riding factor explains all, or even most, of what happened, either then or now. But what seldom, if ever, happened were equal achievements by different peoples at the same time.

Yet today we have bean counters in Washington turning out statistics that are solemnly presented in courts of law to claim that, if the numbers are not more or less the same for everybody, that proves that somebody did somebody else wrong.

If blacks have different occupational patterns or different other patterns than whites, that arouses great suspicions among the bean counters -- even though different groups of whites have long had different patterns from each other.

When American soldiers were given mental tests during the First World War, those men of German ancestry scored higher than those of Irish ancestry, who scored higher than those who were Jewish. Mental test pioneer Carl Brigham said that the army mental test results tended to "disprove the popular belief that the Jew is highly intelligent."

An alternative explanation is that most German immigrants came to the United States decades before most Irish immigrants, who came here decades before most Jewish immigrants. Years later, Brigham admitted that many of the more recent immigrants grew up in homes where English was not the spoken language and that his earlier conclusions were, in his own words, "without foundation."

By this time, Jews were scoring above the national average on mental tests, instead of below. Disparities among groups are not set in stone, in this or in many other things. But blanket equality of outcomes is seldom seen at any given time either, whether in work skills or rates of alcoholism or other differences among the various groups lumped together as "whites."

Why then do statistical differences between blacks and whites set off such dogmatic assertions -- and "disparate impact" lawsuits -- when it is common for different groups to meet employment or other standards to different degrees?

One reason is that "disparate impact" lawsuits require nothing more than statistical differences to lead to verdicts, or out of court settlements, in the millions of dollars. And the reason that is so is that so many people have bought the unsubstantiated assumption that there is something strange and sinister when different peoples have different achievements.

Centuries of recorded history say otherwise. But who cares about history anymore? Certainly not as much as they care about the millions of dollars available from "disparate impact" lawsuits.



Speech restrictions in England

While the Human Rights Act 1998 (“HRA”) gives us the “right” to be free from interference with “with peaceful enjoyment of property, (deprivation)… of... possessions or (subjection of) a person’s possessions to control,”  interference which is carried out “lawfully and… in the public interest” is above board. Furthermore, evidence obtained from illegal searches and seizures is prima facie admissible in an English court (which has a discretion, not an obligation, to exclude it).  Lacking a credible prohibitory function, the HRA's provisions are less rights, more self-imposed guidelines. They flow from the state rather than delineating its boundaries, their function being to restrain only transgressions deemed by the state itself to be sufficiently grave.

Other “rights” under the HRA are similarly wet. As was made very public over the course of last year's Reform Section 5 campaign relating to the Public Order Act 1986, freedom of speech is far from absolute in Britain, especially when compared to the United States. In America, picketing the funeral of a murdered seven-year-old is permissible; in Britain, however, what is fairly ordinary political speech in the U.S. is not protected, and often criminal, even despite the Section 5 campaign.

It is thus by design. Convention rights are subject to express restrictions, including such as “are necessary in a democratic society...  for the protection of the reputation or rights of others.” This is a contentious concept from a civil liberties standpoint and has most publicly been brought to the fore in the context of Section 5. But the debate pre-dates the 21st century, an early iteration taking place in the context of the Public Order Act 1936, the 1986 Act's predecessor.

Quite how far this concept of the rights of others has moved Britain down the slippery slope is only evident when one compares cases decided under the old rule, prior to the passage of the HRA (under section 5 of the 1936 Act), with cases after it. The 1936 legislation reads:

"Any person who in any public place or at any public meeting uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned, shall be guilty of an offence."

This is very similar to the Section 5 we know and love. However, in the absence of the HRA the rule was applied far differently, as illustrated by the case Brutus v Cozens from 1973. In Brutus, the defendant dared to interrupt a tennis game at Wimbledon by staging a sit-in while throwing anti-apartheid leaflets in the air; after being peacefully removed from the grounds of the All England Club, Brutus was arrested and charged with “using insulting behaviour.”

At first instance, the judges hearing the case acquitted Brutus; however the prosecutor, perhaps a closeted tennis fan, appealed, arguing that “insulting behaviour” under the 1936 Act was that which was “disrespectful and contemptuous.” The Court of Appeal agreed, and interpreted the statute to also include:

"behaviour which affronts other people, and evidences a disrespect or contempt for their rights..."

...however, this view was decisively overruled on further appeal to the House of Lords, which found that “an insult has a narrow meaning which is... aimed at or intended at a person's susceptibilities... the words must hit the man in question.”  The Lords opined that “behaviour which evidences a disrespect or contempt for the rights of others” does not “of itself establish that that behaviour was threatening, abusive or insulting.”

Brutus, therefore, set down two principles. First, insulting, threatening or abusive behaviour must be insulting, abusive, or threatening per se in order to fall within its scope; second, it is perfectly possible to be disrespectful and even contemptuous of the rights and sensibilities of one's fellows without falling within its ambit. The statute banned insults, abuse and threats, it did not ban contempt for the rights of others. The two types of conduct, while potentially very similar in certain circumstances, were legally not the same.

The rights of others

As of 1973, then, the “rights of others” were not a consideration in question relating to freedom of expression. Thirty years later, however, the formalisation of the protection of the “rights of others” by the HRA changed the landscape. In McCann (2002), Lord Hope pointed to it as an express justification to interfere with freedom of speech, adding that “respect for the rights of others is the price that we must all pay for the rights and freedoms that it guarantees.” McCann was followed by Norwood v DPP (2003), where it was found that a criminal conviction for hanging a poster that read “Islam out of Britain” was “a necessary restriction of... freedom of expression... for the protection of the rights of others” (those rights being, as argued by counsel for the prosecution but not expressly confirmed by the Court of Appeal, the convention rights of freedom of conscience and belief, and freedom from discrimination).

Or, for example, see Abdul v DPP (2011), where the convictions of seven Muslim activists picketing the Royal Anglian Regiment on its return from Iraq (using fairly explicit language, but language only)  were upheld on the grounds that “it can properly be said, in this particular case, that prosecution and conviction was proportionate in pursuit of... the protection of the reputation or rights of others.”

The decisions in the three individual cases mentioned above do not make express mention as to which “rights of others” are being protected in each; what is clear from each, however, is that the courts are willing to employ a broad-brush application of Article 10(2) of the HRA to justify restraining freedom of speech.

From a civil liberties standpoint, this is unacceptable. The starting point about the “rights of others” is a simple one: in each, the defendants were speaking on matters which they believed “were not abusive and insulting because they were true.” None has a monopoly on truth in politics, and the protest outlined in reported cases, though distasteful, does not involve the application of coercion by the speakers upon their listeners. It is merely the meeting of widely differing points of view in a public space.

Caution is advisable, then, when one hears that the Government is planning to “(pull) Britain out of the European Convention of Human Rights” because, per Chris Grayling, “we cannot go on... where people who are a threat to our national security... are able to cite their human rights when they are clearly wholly unconcerned for the human rights of others."

Where one day the “rights of others” serve to justify the deportation of a particularly infamous philosophical opponent of the British state, on many other days our own courts – not European ones – have shown considerable willingness to construe these “rights of others” to criminalise offensive and inflammatory, yet honestly held, political beliefs of ordinary people.

As the debate on the HRA and its possible repeal unfolds in the run-up to the next election we should not, therefore, be lulled into the commonly held, and false, impression that the HRA protects us as fully as we might like it to. Relating to speech alone, expression relating to the merits of political violence - whether such violence takes place at home or abroad -  is thoroughly proscribed by section 1(3) of the Terrorism Act 2006, a vexing dilemma for prosecutors before the Arab Spring, in that their discretion to ignore “plots against the Libyan regime (which) were possibly encouraged years ago” was rather fettered by the “rapprochement” initiated by the Blair government, while concurrently “plots against Syria are openly tolerated."

Written or electronic communications of an offensive but nonetheless firmly political nature remain illegal.

Furthermore, in Section 5, though “insulting” is gone, “abusive” remains – which gives one pause to wonder whether the Reform Section 5 campaign achieved anything significant as, looking to Abdul, the courts are very willing to conflate the two ideas: “the words shouted by the defendants were both abusive and insulting,” it was said at first instance, with Mr. Justice Davis adding on appeal that “it is not... possible to establish in advance a bright line statement of approach whereby prospective conduct or language can be styled as within or outwith the proper exercise of freedom of expression.”

That the only legally safe speech relating to Section 5 seems to be silence speaks volumes about the nature of the “rights” created by the HRA. However, we can sum the problem up in just one sentence. It's not that the HRA goes too far, it's that it doesn't go nearly far enough.



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


14 March, 2013

"Racism" inborn

A discriminating side to babies has been revealed in a study that showed they condone bullying of those 'dissimilar' to them.

The University of British Columbia carried out research that found infants divide their friends from their foes as young as nine-months-old.

Previous research has shown that babies generally prefer people who act kindly, but this new study is the first to find that they condone antisocial behaviour directed at individuals who are different to them.

Professor Kiley Hamlin of the University's Department of Psychology, who carried out the study, said: 'Our research shows that by nine months, babies are busy assessing their surroundings, trying to determine who is friend or foe.  'One important way they make these distinctions, our study finds, is based on perceived differences and similarities.'

Researchers made babies choose which food they preferred between crackers and green beans then treated the babies to a puppet show.

During the show one puppet demonstrated the same food preference as the infant, while another exhibited the opposite preference.

In the experiments, other puppets harmed, helped or acted neutrally towards the puppets with different or similar food preferences.

Prompted to pick their favourite puppet, infants demonstrated a strong preference for the puppets who harmed the 'dissimilar' puppet and helped the 'similar' one.

One baby even went as far as planting a kiss on the head of the familiar puppet.

Professor Hamlin added: 'These findings suggest that babies feel something like schaudenfreude - pleasure when an individual they dislike or consider threatening experiences harm.  'Or babies have some early understanding of social alliances, recognising that the 'enemy of their enemy' is their friend.'

Hamlin described the behaviour as an early form of the social biases that exist in most adults.  She said that as humans get older, they favour individuals who are more familiar to themselves - over people with whom they have fewer things in common.

These familiarities include origins, languages, appearances - even birthdays and sports affiliations.

While studies show that humans tend to gravitate toward people who have things in common, these preferences can have a dark side.

Professor Hamlin said: 'Disliking people who are different may lead us to mistreat them, and excuse - or even applaud - others who mistreat people who are different than us.

'But this does not mean that more extreme outcomes, like xenophobia and intergroup conflict, are inevitable.

'Rather, this research points to the importance of socialization practices that recognize just how basic these social biases might be and confront them head-on.'

The study, called Not Like Me = Bad: Infants Prefer Those Who Harm Dissimilar Others was published by the Association for Psychological Science.


More Calls For Censorship To Prevent “Bullying”

We live in a culture where harsh but truthful criticism, or exposure of wrongdoing, is viewed by some as “bullying,” especially when it affects someone’s inflated “self-esteem.” For example, “DePaul University has punished a student for publicizing the names of fellow students who admitted to vandalizing his organization’s pro-life display,” classifying his speech as “bullying.”

When historian Michael Bellesiles’ academic fraud was exposed by fellow historians, resulting in his forced resignation,  a leading “anti-bullying” expert, who shared Bellesiles’ progressive political views, got him a new job at her university, claiming that he “was the victim of a “mobbing” or group “bullying” campaign by his fellow historians, who were distinguished people across the political spectrum.

The Minister of Education in Ontario, the most populous Canadian province, has sought to define pro-life advocacy in religious schools as gender-based bullying.  Self-styled crusaders against “workplace bullying” want to impose broad definitions of bullying at the expense of free speech and use existing overly broad school bullying rules as models for laws against workplace bullying that would hold employers and co-workers liable for compensatory and punitive damages for speech and expressive conduct deemed to be bullying — something that disturbs groups such as the Chamber of Commerce.  Activists claim bullying is an “epidemic” and a “pandemic.” But in reality, bullying and violence have steadily gone down in the nation’s schools.

In the name of preventing “bullying,” Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled state legislature is poised to pass an unconstitutionally vague, overbroad, and viewpoint-discriminatory ban on speech in public schools and in private schools that receive state funds.  It would ban certain speech that denies students a “supportive environment” as bullying.  (As someone who practiced education law for years,

I can assure you “supportive environment” is not a term of art that is made any clearer or fleshed out by case law.  Rather, it is just as vague and subjective as it sounds.  It is much vaguer than the already rather ambiguous concept of “hostile work environment” that exists in workplace harassment cases, which applies only to specified categories of harassment such as sexual harassment, and — in theory — requires a showing the harassment be “severe or pervasive” rather than “isolated.” 

By contrast, the Minnesota bill applies even to the “use of one or a series of words”).  UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh notes the Minnesota anti-bullying legislation violates even the fairly limited free speech rights possessed by K-12 public school students and that other language in the bill — not just the “supportive environment” language — is hopelessly vague:

    First, what does interfering with “the ability of an individual … to participate in a … supportive learning environment” mean, exactly? Say students are talking over lunch about how a classmate committed a crime, cheated, said racist things, treated his girlfriend cruelly or whatever else that causes people to feel hostile towards the classmate. That interferes with his ability “to participate in a … supportive learning environment.” Presumably that’s now forbidden, right?

    Second, what on earth does “creat[ing] or exacerbat[ing] a real or perceived imbalance of power between students” mean? What kind of power? Social power? Financial power? Power within student-run institutions, such as clubs or businesses that students set up?

    Third, what does “violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals” mean? The disclosure of private facts tort doesn’t really tell us, because it is by design limited to speech said to a large group. Would a girl telling a friend that her ex-boyfriend has an STD violate the ex-boyfriend’s reasonable expectation of privacy? (What if the boyfriend is hitting on the friend?) Would revealing a secret qualify? Revealing an acquaintance’s religious or political beliefs, if the acquaintance views them as a private matter?

    Fourth, “relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, [or] age … of a person or of a person with whom that person associates” would require restrictions on a vast range of speech.

    Condemning illegal aliens, Scientologists, people who marry too young, people who are flunking out of school, or people who are on welfare would have to be forbidden as “bullying.” That’s true whether one says this about a student, about the students’ family members (“person[s] with whom that person associates”), or presumably about the group as a whole: After all, even a general condemnation of illegal aliens might interfere with the ability of an illegal alien student who “observes the conduct” to “participate in a … supportive learning environment.” (It’s not very supportive when people think that people like you should be deported, no matter how strong the case for deportation might be.)

    Now public schools have broader authority to restrict student speech than does the government acting as sovereign. But even public schools’ authority is limited (see here for more details); and a public school policy that’s this broad would, I think, be unconstitutionally overbroad and thus invalid on its face, see, e.g., Saxe v. State College Area School Dist. (3d Cir. 2001) (Alito, J.). The government’s use of funds for private schools — even funds that amount to a small fraction of the school’s budget — as leverage to suppress a wide range of speech at those schools is even more constitutionally problematic, see FCC v. League of Women Voters (1984). And beyond that, the proposal’s overbreadth is bad policy as well as being unconstitutional.

Vague provisions in the amended bill purporting to exempt First Amendment-protected speech do not adequately fix these problems and will not prevent censorship in practice.  See Nitzberg v. Parks (1975) and Gentile v. State Bar (1991).

Earlier, a school superintendent labeled a column in a school newspaper that criticized homosexuality as “bullying,” even though the column was part of a debate about adoption by same-sex couples that the school itself had invited (K-12 school newspapers have no obligation to feature such debates in the first place, but if they do, students should not be punished for taking part in them; doing so violates principles of fair notice and viewpoint-neutrality).

A federal appeals court ruled in Saxe v. State College Area School District (2001), there is no “harassment” exception to the First Amendment for religious and political speech that offends members of minority groups. Speech cannot be banned simply by labeling it as “bullying” or violence, either: For example, in Bauer v. Sampson, another federal appeals court ruled a campus newspaper’s depiction of a college official’s imaginary death was protected by the First Amendment, even though the college declared it a violation of its policy against “workplace violence.”

The anti-bullying website NoBully.com, and schools such as Alvarado Elementary, define even “eye rolling” and other mild expressions of displeasure or hostility as bullying, even though doing so raises First Amendment problems. Banning all eye-rolling as “bullying” violates the First Amendment under the Saxe decision, which invalidated a harassment code that banned isolated instances of hostile speech, holding that even a hostile “purpose” is not always reason enough to ban speech that is neither lewd nor disruptive. 

Equating “teasing” with bullying, and calling for it to end (as Education Secretary Arne Duncan once did in a speech) is a bad idea, according to psychologist Dacher Keltner, who noted in The New York Times that teasing is educational for children and teaches them “the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously.”

The anti-bullying panic has enriched high-paid consultants. After New Jersey passed a broad anti-bullying law, hundreds of schools “snapped up a $1,295 package put together by a consulting firm that includes a 100-page manual.”  Reason’s Jacob Sullum wrote earlier about how New Jersey’s law infringes on free speech and imposed illegal unfunded mandates. When New Jersey passed its incredibly complicated and burdensome anti-bullying law, which contains 18 pages of “required components,” that gave a huge boost to a burgeoning “anti-bullying” industry that seeks to define bullying as broadly as possible (to include behavior like a kid always associating with the same group of friends) in order to create demand for its services.

Broad anti-bullying rules can backfire and be harmful to child development. As a school administrator noted after passage of New Jersey’s bureaucratically rigid anti-bullying law, “The anti-bullying law also may not be appropriate for our youngest students, such as kindergartners who are just learning how to socialize with their peers. Previously, name-calling or shoving on the playground could be handled on the spot as a teachable moment, with the teacher reinforcing the appropriate behavior. That’s no longer the case. Now it has to be documented, reviewed and resolved by everyone from the teacher to the anti-bullying specialist, principal, superintendent and local board of education.”


Baby P sackings 'WERE justified': Two social workers lose appeals

It's very hard to get evil British social workers fired

Two social workers responsible for the care of Baby P have lost their claim that they were unjustly fired because of the 'hysterical media outcry' after his death.

Maria ward and her supervisor Gillie Christou claim they were 'hung out to dry' by London's Haringey Council after the tragic death of 17-month old Peter Connelly nearly six years ago.

But the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that an employment tribunal was right to say the council acted reasonably in dismissing the two women in April 2009.

Sharon Shoesmith, the former Director of Social Services at the council, had previously won her own claim for unfair dismissal and is due £1m in compensation.  Mrs Shoesmith had appeared in the public gallery to support Mrs Christou and Miss Ward at an earlier hearing last month.

Peter had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on an at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

Peter's mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker - and Barker's brother, Jason Owen - were jailed in 2009 for causing or allowing the toddler's death.

Mrs Christou and Miss Ward were sacked after an investigation which discovered there was a period in mid-2007 when they did not know where the child was.

Peter's mother claimed she had taken the little boy to visit her sick uncle in Cricklewood, north west London, despite being told to return home.

The pair's legal teams had claimed they suffered 'double jeopardy' because they faced two Haringey misconduct panels looking at the same allegations against them.

The first simplified disciplinary procedure concluded that they only needed to receive written warnings.  However later, more formal proceedings - after the criminal trial of those responsible for Peter's death - resulted in summary dismissal for gross misconduct.

In their ruling Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice McCombe dismissed their claims to have suffered 'double jeopardy'.


You've no right to a house near your parents: National Trust chief warning to children of rural families

Housing is heavily regulated in Britain and efforts to free it up have met much opposition  -- example below

Children raised in the countryside have no automatic right to live near their parents’ homes when they grow up, the chairman of the National Trust declared yesterday.

Sir Simon Jenkins said the majority of new homes should be built in towns and cities, rather than in unspoilt rural areas.

His comments are at odds with existing policies that encourage affordable housing to be built in villages for local families.

Sir Simon said: ‘Somehow it is considered the right of people in the country to have their children living next door at public expense. I don’t understand it.

‘Are you going to say that people who have lived in the Windrush Valley [in the Cotswolds] for 100 years have a right to go on living there? No, I’m afraid they don’t. Sorry.’

Last night, some countryside groups attacked his comments, warning that villages without young families risked being turned into ‘little more than retirement ghettoes’.

But Sir Simon, who owns homes in west London and rural Wales, even called for areas of the countryside to be listed to protect the most beautiful parts. He suggested introducing four different listed ‘grades’ of countryside – one of which could include a ‘presumption against development’.

He said: ‘We should list the countryside as we list the town by virtue of its beauty.What it is that people want to retain.

‘We don’t want to pull down Belgravia. We don’t want to build housing estates in Hyde Park. We should adopt the same approach to the countryside.’

But opponents warned that house prices will rise even higher in rural areas if new homes are not built there.

The row comes at a time when the average home in the countryside costs around £200,000 – around £30,000 more than a town house.

The Windrush is a river in the Cotswolds, which flows through the famously picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water as well as the Prime Minister’s constituency town of Witney.

Prices of homes near the Windrush can be eye-watering, with bungalows in Bourton-on-the-Water selling for up to £645,000 in recent months.

But Sir Simon, who was speaking in a personal capacity, told the Home Builders’ Federation conference in central London: ‘I want building to take place in towns on the whole. I want there to be massive incentives to build in towns because it makes more sense.’

He said there will be many parts of the countryside – ‘on the whole, rather lovely parts of the countryside’ – that ‘just don’t want to take large numbers of more people.’

He singled out the Cotswolds village of Stow-on-the-Wold, where he said many residents are ‘seriously angry’ at proposals to build a large number of new homes.

Last night his comments were attacked by those who said more affordable rural homes were needed.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders’ Federation, said: ‘We need to be providing homes across the country in places where people want to live. We should not be trying to just pigeon-hole people into living in towns where they might not want to live.’

Kate Houghton, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘We do agree that the bulk of new housing should be built in or near to urban areas, so people have more easy access to public transport, community facilities and essential services.

‘However, if we don’t make provision for at least some affordable houses in rural areas, where it is clear that there is need and people do want to stay, then our villages could become little more than retirement ghettoes or commuter dormitories.’

At the conference, Malcolm Harris, chairman of house builders Bovis, accused Sir Simon of being ‘quite naïve’.

He said: ‘These are your children. These are people who already live in the community. We have failed for year after year after year to provide the housing. That is a real issue in Great Britain.’

In England, around 110,000 new homes are built ever year, but this is way behind the rate at which new households are being formed, estimated to be around 230,000 a year.

A spokesman for Priced Out, the first-time buyers’ campaign group, accused Sir Simon of being ‘out of touch with the aspirations of hard-working young adults who have been priced out of a home in their local area.’

Housing Minister Mark Prisk, who spoke at the same conference, said home ownership remains the dream of the vast majority of Britons.

He told builders that the quality of the homes they build is just as important as the quantity, calling on them to reject the stereotype of the ‘rabbit hutch’.

Sir Simon’s intervention comes weeks after Planning Minister Nick Boles warned Britain will be dragged back to the 19th century when home-ownership was the preserve of the wealthiest unless more homes are built.

He said: ‘We can pass by on the other side while working men and women in their twenties and thirties have to live with their parents or share bedrooms with friends.

We can shrug our shoulders as home ownership reverts to what it was in the 19th century: a privilege, the exclusive preserve of people with large incomes or wealthy parents.

‘Or we can accept that we are going to have to build on previously undeveloped land and resolve that we will make these decisions locally.’



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


13 March, 2013

Britain's coffers are empty, yet still the compassion industry squeals for more money

Cut spending and taxes now, Tory MP Liam Fox demanded yesterday. A week ahead of the Budget, he delivered an almost undisguised assault on the Coalition's economic policies - and his speech will be music to many Conservative ears.

We are almost three years into the life of a Government which took office promising to reduce the mountain of debt bequeathed to the nation by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls.

Yet today, while the BBC runs an unrelenting propaganda campaign on behalf of the Left, proclaiming the iniquity of 'Tory cuts', there has been no effective progress in reducing that debt.

State spending takes nearly half of national output. The national debt burden is still rising and scheduled to reach an awesome 96 per cent of GDP by 2016. The social security budget will rise from £182 billion this year to £199.3 billion in 2016-17. What is happening to Britain - and to our money?

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has arguably done his best. In his first years of office, he set targets for reducing state expenditure that seemed at the time brave and ambitious. He also increased many taxes to boost Treasury revenues, with hopes of cutting them again towards the end of this parliament.

Yet, in the event, thanks to the stagnation of the economy, the tax take has fallen well short of predictions. Meanwhile, cuts have proved extraordinarily hard to deliver.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, only 67 per cent of promised reductions have materialised, including just 32 per cent of pledged savings in the £208 billion bill for welfare.
The Treasury has struggled against the intractable problem that £138 billion of the Government's total £677 billion spend is committed to public sector pensions, almost all of them index-linked. The cost  of servicing these continues  to soar.

Since the welfare state was founded in 1945, a vast fortress of public entitlements has been created, defended by a garrison of lobbyists and crusaders which we might call the compassion industry. This fights tigerishly against every attempt to turn off the tap of taxpayers' generosity, even to the least deserving recipients.

There is currently a new applicant every nine minutes for Disability Living Allowance, which is due to be phased out; 71 per cent of those who come forward are provided benefits for life without checks.

The Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in at the weekend with remarks wet enough to earn him a place on a fishmonger's slab about the wickedness of proposed real-terms benefit cuts.

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, earlier this month warned of possible civil unrest if the legal aid budget is cut as proposed. Scarcely a day goes by without some prominent educationalist denouncing the Government's parsimony towards schools and universities.

Yesterday morning, I read an online blog about the NHS by a contributor who complained: 'I am a nurse and I find it increasingly frustrating that there seems to be a focus on a cost-effective service rather than the patient being the focus of the service.'

My point is that we are institutionally wired to assume unlimited public funds are available to fulfil obsessively extravagant requirements for human rights, environmental protection and much else.

Coroners constantly demand drastic new public safety measures to protect against outlandish forms of accident.

We need the imagination and courage to defy kneejerk sentiment about health care, and admit that the resources do not exist to give any hospital or NHS trust the money it wants to do everything modern medical science makes possible for every patient.

This is a harsh but vital message. Yet the Government gets almost zero support from health professionals, pundits and the media in conveying it to the public.

I recently heard a senior doctor say smugly: 'It is not my job to ration medical care. My job is to give patients the very best treatment available, and leave it to the politicians  and bureaucrats to worry about the money.'

He thought this emphasised his own high ethical standards. Some of us would say that, instead, he exposed a wretched lack of responsibility about helping to solve a huge problem in our cash-strapped society.

We cannot reasonably expect the recipients of welfare to refuse their opportunities to claim cash on offer. But it seems somewhere between regrettable and scandalous that so many people holding responsible jobs collude with them.

For instance, consider those young unmarried mothers who make no attempt to find jobs because they live perfectly comfortably on benefits.

There are doctors who knowingly sign false sickness claims, and local councillors and officials who fight tooth and nail to cling to every penny of their budgets.

And at the same time there are always BBC correspondents who peddle repeated  half-truths and sometimes outright falsehoods about government cuts.


The Nazi musicians who changed their tune

Events in central Europe during the Thirties and Forties cast a long shadow, and hiding in it for a long time has been the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – which has finally come clean about its over-friendly relationship with the Third Reich and revealed that almost half its players at the time were Nazi Party members; that 13 Jewish players were expelled, five of them to die in concentration camps; and that a lingering culture of sympathy to Nazism survived into the Sixties thanks to an SS-enrolled trumpeter who not only kept his job after the war but became the orchestra’s executive director.

This is shameful and disturbing – and it’s generating fever-pitch debate, especially among those commentators who still tend to judge the merits of mid-20th-century musicians by their war record. There have been calls for the Vienna Philharmonic to be disbanded and its recordings shunned on the grounds that they’re “contaminated” by lingering evil. As the argument has opened out, I’ve seen lists of “Nazi villains” of the music world – Furtwängler, Schwarzkopf, Karajan and Strauss, the usual suspects – resurrected for comparison with lists of Nazi victims: Korngold, Weill, Hans Krasa, Erwin Schulhoff and the countless others dispossessed or silenced. And it isn’t hard to understand the indignation. These are wounds that still hurt. We inherit them. We feel them with a sense of shock.

Behind the shock, though, lies the curious assumption that all great musicians should be great examples of humanity, and that you can’t be one without the other. Where in history you find the slightest evidence of this, I’ve no idea. The fact is that bad people often generate good music, and good people bad. Wagner was a monster but still gave us Tristan, Meistersinger and the Ring. Reciprocally, although it’s tempting to award a random genius to composer-victims of the Third Reich, they are mostly minor figures. Interesting, worth investigation, celebration and acknowledgement, but not great.

In any case, lining up villains versus victims isn’t subtle. Still less is it accurate. Was Richard Strauss a villain? Yes, to the extent that he allowed his international prestige to dignify the Third Reich by accepting Goebbels’s gifts of honours, status and performances. But every gift came with a loaded gun behind it. Strauss was old, and felt himself entitled to sit back and be adored rather than trouble-make and face the consequences. And one thing never to be forgotten before you condemn Strauss is that he had a Jewish daughter-in-law and two Jewish grandsons. His compliance kept them all alive.

As for Furtwängler and the others who performed under the swastika, there was an undoubted mixture of foolishness, delusion, opportunism and cowardice. You can say of all these people that they should have had more courage, more integrity, and been prepared to sacrifice careers, futures and maybe lives. But that’s a big ask. What would you or I have done? I like to think I’d have been brave, but I can only thank God that I’ve never had to find out.


Intellectuals and Race

Thomas Sowell

There are so many fallacies about race that it would be hard to say which is the most ridiculous. However, one fallacy behind many other fallacies is the notion that there is something unusual about different races being unequally represented in various institutions, careers or at different income or achievement levels.

A hundred years ago, the fact that people from different racial backgrounds had very different rates of success in education, in the economy and in other endeavors, was taken as proof that some races were genetically superior to others.

Some races were considered to be so genetically inferior that eugenics was proposed to reduce their reproduction, and Francis Galton urged "the gradual extinction of an inferior race."

It was not a bunch of fringe cranks who said things like this. Many held Ph.D.s from the leading universities, taught at the leading universities and were internationally renowned.

Presidents of Stanford University and of MIT were among the many academic advocates of theories of racial inferiority -- applied mostly to people from Eastern and Southern Europe, since it was just blithely assumed in passing that blacks were inferior.

This was not a left-right issue. The leading crusaders for theories of genetic superiority and inferiority were iconic figures on the left, on both sides of the Atlantic.

John Maynard Keynes helped create the Cambridge Eugenics Society. Fabian socialist intellectuals H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were among many other leftist supporters of eugenics.

It was much the same story on this side of the Atlantic. President Woodrow Wilson, like many other Progressives, was solidly behind notions of racial superiority and inferiority. He showed the movie "Birth of a Nation," glorifying the Ku Klux Klan, at the White House, and invited various dignitaries to view it with him.

Such views dominated the first two decades of the 20th century. Now fast forward to the last few decades of the 20th century. The political left of this era was now on the opposite end of the spectrum on racial issues. Yet they too regarded differences in outcomes among racial and ethnic groups as something unusual, calling for some single, sweeping explanation.

Now, instead of genes being the overriding reason for differences in outcomes, racism became the one-size-fits-all explanation. But the dogmatism was the same. Those who dared to disagree, or even to question the prevailing dogma in either era were dismissed -- as "sentimentalists" in the Progressive era and as "racists" in the multicultural era.

Both the Progressives at the beginning of the 20th century and the liberals at the end started from the same false premise -- namely, that there is something unusual about different racial and ethnic groups having different achievements.

Yet some racial or ethnic minorities have owned or directed more than half of whole industries in many nations. These have included the Chinese in Malaysia, Lebanese in West Africa, Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, Britons in Argentina, Indians in Fiji, Jews in Poland, and Spaniards in Chile -- among many others.

Not only different racial and ethnic groups, but whole nations and civilizations, have had very different achievements for centuries. China in the 15th century was more advanced than any country in Europe. Eventually Europeans overtook the Chinese -- and there is no evidence of changes in the genes of either of them.

Among the many reasons for different levels of achievement is something as simple as age. The median age in Germany and Japan is over 40, while the median age in Afghanistan and Yemen is under 20. Even if the people in all four of these countries had the same mental potential, the same history, the same culture -- and the countries themselves had the same geographic features -- the fact that people in some countries have 20 years more experience than people in other countries would still be enough to make equal economic and other outcomes virtually impossible.

Add the fact that different races evolved in different geographic settings, presenting very different opportunities and constraints on their development, and the same conclusion follows.

Yet the idea that differences in outcomes are odd, if not sinister, has been repeated mindlessly from street corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court.


The horror of abortion

Our governor here in Arkansas now has vetoed not one but two anti-abortion bills that made it past the state legislature this session. One bill sought to protect the unborn starting at the 20th week of pregnancy. The other would go into effect after 12 weeks' gestation if a fetal heartbeat could be detected. Both are now law, passed over the governor's objections.

The Hon. Mike Beebe is ordinarily the most reasonable and agreeable of men -- even if he is a lawyer by trade and a politician by career. And his vetoes made some good points. For the governor has aligned himself with those who have come up with powerful arguments -- legal, economic, and just about every other variety -- against attempting to put limits on abortion.

I say almost every other variety. For the governor overlooked one small point that may explain why our legislators have overridden his now repeated vetoes by overwhelming margins: the inalienable dignity of human life.

That minor detail may be lost in all the learned arguments of constitutional experts and others committed to the most modern, advanced Darwinian concept of humanity as but the latest and highest-evolved of life forms. But to those of us who believe -- yes, preposterous as it may be -- that we are created in His image, that one small point is all-important. And we choose life.

The governor explains that he vetoed these pro-life bills because he has taken a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, a document replete with provisions to protect a wide array of rights great and small, from freedom of religion to due process. Yet he asks us to believe that the Constitution cannot protect the first and most fundamental of human rights, the one that precedes all the others, and without which all the others are meaningless: the right to life. And there are many others learned in the law who agree with him, if for their own purposes.

But this issue is far from closed. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has moved closer and closer over the years to protecting the unborn in a series of decisions recognizing the states' -- and the people's -- interest in protecting the next generation, each time softening the harsh decree that was Roe v. Wade in 1973. Maybe it's because the composition of the court has changed since the 1970s, or maybe it's because even justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have a conscience that can be awakened, however gradually.

My theory is that the court has begun to shift its position because all the steadily accumulating scientific evidence -- sonograms and neonatal research and fetal heartbeats and the like -- confirms what the biology textbooks long have said:

From the moment of conception, a human being is a human being -- not a cat or dog or horse or just a blob nobody will miss. The secret of our development is already locked within the genetic code of a microscopic, single and singular cell. Maybe, just maybe, we are indeed wonderfully and fearfully made.

"Thy life's a miracle," to quote from "King Lear." "Speak yet again." As the Supreme Court continues to do on this subject. Could it be that an Elizabethan playwright knew more about life than our oh-so-advanced sophisticates do today? And just as art can be science in the making, poetry may yet presage law. Thy life's a miracle, governor. Speak yet again.

But abortion is the law, we are incessantly reminded. Yes, and racial segregation was once legal, too, And it was law of the land longer than abortion-on-demand has been, but that does not mean men of conscience ceased to struggle against it, or that all the states made themselves a party to it.

Why should Arkansas -- or any other state -- make itself an accomplice to this sordid war on the unborn? If we cannot stop it, at least let us not join it. Instead, let us do what we can to limit it -- ethically and morally, legally and constitutionally. And if we lose one court battle, that does not mean the war has been lost.

The basest of all reasons not to defend the most innocent and vulnerable, the least among us in this Age of Abortion, is that we cannot afford the court battles. It will cost too much, we are told, to save them. So much for the old idea that life is priceless. Indeed, miraculous.

Our governor's current defense of his vetoes comes disturbingly close to asserting that the Constitution is whatever a majority of the Supreme Court says it is at a given time, as if the court could never see things in a different light. Allow me to pose a simple question about American history that may illuminate the difference between the Constitution and the Supreme Court's interpretation of it: Tell us, governor, who do you think was truer to the letter and spirit -- and vision -- of that Constitution?

Was it the venerable Roger B. Taney, the chief justice who wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision that declared human slavery the law of the land, the whole land, in accordance with his narrow view of the Constitution? That landmark decision saw nothing ironic about the spectacle of the Image of God on the auction block in this land of the free, full of souls praying that God save the United States of America. So tell me, governor, was Chief Justice Taney true to the Constitution in Dred Scott v. Sandford?

Or was it a prairie lawyer named Lincoln who never accepted the precedent or permanence of the Dred Scot decision? Mr. Lincoln read the Constitution as the embodiment of the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. As in: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Emphasis definitely mine. As one day I hope it will be the governor's, too. Thy life's a miracle, governor. Speak yet again.

To this day there are still those who, like Mr. Lincoln, dream of a land of life and liberty. And there are those killers of the dream like Roger Brooke Taney, whose cramped view of the Constitution is based on neither science nor art. And offers neither hope nor vision nor poetry nor grace. Nor, in the end, life.



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

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

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


12 March, 2013

The Queen a gay rights champion? I don't buy it

The Queen signs a new Commonwealth Charter today, declaring: ‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’

‘Other grounds’ is interpreted to be a reference to gays and lesbians, whose sexual activities are punishable by death, life sentences or flogging in 41 of the 54 Commonwealth nations.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay and lesbian pressure group Stonewall, reacted by calling the Queen ‘a feminist icon’ who has taken ‘an historic step forward’ on gay rights.

But another gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, points out: ‘In truth, the Commonwealth Charter does not include any specific rejection of discrimination based on sexual orientation. This was vetoed by the homophobic majority of member states.

Peter Tatchell, a lovely chap

‘While I doubt that Elizabeth II is a raging homophobe, she certainly doesn’t appear to be gay-friendly. Not once during her reign has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community.’

Will the new Commonwealth Charter’s anti-discrimination provisions make much difference? Or, like the contents of the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of every parliament, are they merely a description of what the powers-that-be would like to achieve?

We never make the mistake of thinking the Queen is personally attached to any of the policies she describes in Parliament. Why imagine it’s different with the Commonwealth? There must surely be occasions when she thinks ill of the policies her government has asked her to outline. But I can’t think of a single occasion when her mask has slipped.

As a Palace spokesman says of today’s announcement: ‘The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical, as it is in all matters of this sort.’

The monarch began her reign in the pre-gay rights era, when homosexuality was an underground, illegal activity. Now, all discrimination against homosexuality is illegal.

In her lifetime, it has moved from being an aberration to becoming an official third sexual preference.
Ben Summerskill reacted to the Queen's comments by calling her 'a feminist icon' who has taken 'an historic step forward' on gay rights

Ben Summerskill reacted to the Queen's comments by calling her 'a feminist icon' who has taken 'an historic step forward' on gay rights

Indeed, HM’s current government is making homosexual marriage legal. Does HM approve?  We’ll never know.

In any case, when the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, homosexuality was not the monolithic concept it is today. Then, there were degrees of homosexuality, from slight to extreme, and little public pressure for any change in the law.

Her Majesty will have known homosexuals — and have been close to some of them — throughout her life.

It’s said she occasionally went incognito to a cinema near Buckingham Palace with a certain unmarried courtier. Her late mother’s household staff was evidently composed of  disputatious, confirmed bachelors whom the Queen Mother addressed starchily one morning: ‘There is one queen in Britain today who has not had her breakfast.’

I don’t think much discrimination has ever been practised against homosexuals in the Queen’s household. But there isn’t much she can do about homophobia in her larger  family — the Commonwealth — other than to articulate the desires of those who run its day-to-day affairs.

Apologists for the Commonwealth nations which execute, jail or flog homosexuals say they do so under their colonial-era laws. But this is nonsense.

Millions of Africans abominate homosexuality without having to rely on old laws they’re free to repeal. If they won’t allow the Queen to mention homosexuality among her Commonwealth’s new list of proscribed discriminations, there surely is no early prospect of them changing course.

Bigging up HM as an enemy of homosexual discrimination could easily backfire, reducing her influence rather than enhancing it.


British welfare minister slams bishops: There's nothing moral about trapping people on benefits, says Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith was embroiled in a battle with the new Archbishop of Canterbury last night. The Work and Pensions Secretary told Church leaders there was ‘nothing moral’ about their opposition to flagship welfare reforms.

He reacted with fury after the Most Rev Justin Welby led an uprising against the Government’s plans to limit benefit increases to one per cent a year for  the next three years.

Mr Duncan Smith, a devout Roman Catholic, insisted it was neither fair nor moral to trap millions of families on welfare payments which made it not worth their while seeking work.

The intervention of 43 bishops threatens the biggest row between the Government and the Church since the Coalition was formed in 2010.

Mr Duncan Smith is understood to be particularly angered because at a private meeting last week the new Archbishop made no mention of his concern about the benefit cap, let alone the Church’s plan to launch a public assault on it.

The Coalition has announced that increases in out-of-work benefits and some tax credits will be limited to one per cent for the next three years, a move which will save more than £2billion a year.  Traditionally, benefits have been increased in line with the rate of inflation.

That prompted uproar last year, when the formula meant their value increased by more than five per cent at a time when many working families had to contend with pay freezes or below-inflation rises.

The Coalition’s Welfare Uprating Bill, passed by a big majority in the Commons, will affect single parents on benefits most. They will lose on average £5 a week.

Working households receiving state support in the form of tax credits will be an average of £3 a week worse off, though the Treasury insists this will be more than cancelled out by record increases in the basic-rate income tax allowance.

A letter signed by 43 bishops and endorsed by the new Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York claimed that capping benefit rises would have a ‘deeply disproportionate’ effect on children.

The welfare bill will be debated in the Lords next week and bishops in the house have tabled an amendment in an attempt to exempt all child-related benefits and tax credits.

Archbishop Welby, in his first significant political intervention, said the reforms could push 200,000 children into poverty, adding: ‘As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.

‘It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.

‘The current benefits system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with inflation.

‘These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the Government.’

He added: ‘Politicians have a clear choice. By protecting children from the effects of this Bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty.’

Mr Duncan Smith, hitting back, said the Government’s legislation was ‘about fairness’.

‘People who are paying taxes, working very hard, have hardly seen any increases in their salary and yet, under the last government, the welfare bill rose by some 60 per cent to £200billion,’ the Work and Pensions Secretary said.

‘That means they have to pay for that under their taxes, which is simply not fair. That same system trapped huge numbers, millions, in dependency, dependent on the state, unable, unwilling to work.

'What is either moral or fair about that?  ‘There is nothing moral or fair about a system that I inherited that trapped people in welfare dependency. Some one in every five households has no work – that’s not the way to end child poverty.  ‘Getting people back to work is the way to end child poverty. That’s the moral and fair way to do it.’

Labour enshrined in law its measure of poverty – 60 per cent of median earnings – in law, and used tax credits to try to push families just over the line. Incredibly, nine in every ten families with children ended up qualifying for credits.

The last government set a target to reduce the number of children living in relative income poverty to 1.7million by 2010/11. This was not met, with a total of 2.3million that year.

The Coalition has now agreed to tear up Labour’s definition – insisting that basing it purely on a crude measure of family income is perverse, when other factors can be just as critical in determining children’s life chances.

Mr Duncan Smith suggests broader ways of calculating child poverty – including whether or not parents are in work, educational failure, family breakdown, problem debt, gambling and poor health.

He insists that giving a family ‘an extra pound in benefits’ does not address their problems – and can even push a family further into difficulty if a parent spends the cash fuelling his or her dependency on alcohol or drugs.

Justin Welby’s attack on the welfare reforms is the second time in recent years that the Church of England has become embroiled in a political row.

In June 2011 his predecessor as Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, took David Cameron to task, questioning the democratic legitimacy of many of the Coalition’s flagship policies.


Beggar your neighbor?

Neighborhoods Seek to Banish Sex Offenders by Building Parks.  Restricting the sex offender classification to actual rapists and pederasts would solve much of the problem

LOS ANGELES — Parents who pick up their children at the bus stop in this city’s Harbor Gateway neighborhood say they often see men wearing GPS ankle bracelets and tell their children to stay away. Just up the street, 30 paroled sex offenders live in a single apartment building, including rapists and child molesters. More than 100 registered sex offenders live within a few miles.

So local residents and city officials developed a plan to force convicted sex offenders to leave their neighborhood: open a tiny park.

Parents here, where state law prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or a public park, are not the only ones seizing on this approach. From the metropolis of Miami to the small town of Sapulpa, Okla., communities are building pocket parks, sometimes so small that they have barely enough room for a swing set, to drive out sex offenders. One playground installation company in Houston has even advertised its services to homeowners associations as an option for keeping sex offenders away.

Within the next several months, one of Los Angeles’s smallest parks will open here in Harbor Gateway, on a patch of grass less than 1,000 square feet at the corner of a busy intersection. But even if no child ever uses its jungle gym, the park will serve its intended purpose.

“Regardless of whether it’s the largest park or the smallest, we’re putting in a park to send a message that we don’t want a high concentration of sex offenders in this community,” said Joe Buscaino, a former Los Angeles police officer who now represents the area on the City Council.

While the pocket parks springing up around the country offer a sense of security to residents, they will probably leave more convicted sex offenders homeless. And research shows that once sex offenders lose stable housing, they become not only harder to track but also more likely to commit another crime, according to state officials involved with managing such offenders.

“Putting in parks doesn’t just break up clusters — it makes it impossible for sex offenders to find housing in the whole city,” said Janet Neeley, a member of the California Sex Offender Management Board. “It’s counterproductive to public safety, because when you have nothing to lose, you are much more likely to commit a crime than when you are rebuilding your life.”

Restrictions on where sex offenders can live, which have been passed in most states, have already rendered most residential areas in many cities off limits.

The number of homeless sex offenders in California has increased threefold since 2006, when the latest residency restrictions were passed, and a third of sex offenders on parole are now homeless, according to reports from the Sex Offender Management Board.

The others cluster in the few pockets where they are still allowed, like Harbor Gateway, a working-class neighborhood that stretches south of the main part of the city along Interstate 110.

Because of continuing litigation over the residency restrictions, it is unclear exactly how many of the sex offenders living near the new Harbor Gateway park would have to leave the area, or when. Currently, all sex offenders, even those whose crimes were not violent or against children, must register for life in California, but only those on parole are prevented from living near parks and schools. About 3.5 percent of paroled sex offenders commit a new sex crime before the end of their three-year parole period, according to a 2008 Sex Offender Management Board report.

The pocket park policy has been an unmitigated political victory for Mr. Buscaino, who easily won re-election to the City Council on Tuesday. The park’s groundbreaking last month became a neighborhood celebration, complete with a marching band and residents who loudly cheered Mr. Buscaino and other local officials.

“I think it’s great,” said Patti O’Connell, 58, who lives a block from the park. “I just feel sorry for wherever they’re moving to. It’s scary that there’s sex offenders all around with all these little kids here.”

And Mr. Buscaino is moving ahead with plans to squeeze even further the areas in Los Angeles where sex offenders can live.

Two more pocket parks are planned for another neighborhood in Mr. Buscaino’s district, in hopes of breaking up a cluster of sex offenders who live there. He also hoped to bar sex offenders in Los Angeles from living near day care centers and after school programs, as other cities have already done.

The park in Harbor Gateway will cost only about $300,000, because the city already owns the land. But one of the other new parks, which will be three acres, will cost the city about $6 million, including buying the land.

Mr. Buscaino said he supported housing for sex offenders, but said the pocket park would improve the quality of life in Harbor Gateway.

“Let’s house them, absolutely, but not in a high-population area like this one,” he said.

Many of the sex offenders who live near Harbor Gateway have been placed there with the help of parole officers, precisely so they would not end up on the street.

The landlord of some nearby apartments where dozens of sex offenders on parole live, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said that keeping paroled sex offenders together in transitional housing actually kept the community safer because it places controls on them even after they leave prison.

The doors are locked by keypads so that officers can regularly check on the parolees, he said. Residents are under strict curfews and are not allowed to drink, use drugs or view pornography while living in the apartments. If they violate those rules, parole officers can send them back into custody.

“People come out of jail, and they just become homeless,” the landlord said. “They have no food, no money, no anything. What’s the possibility then that they’re going to reoffend? They can add all the parks they want, but they still have to go somewhere.”

In some urban areas, however, there is already nowhere left for sex offenders to legally live.

In Miami, dozens of convicted sex offenders camped under a bridge, unable to find any other shelter, until the encampment was broken up several years ago. Another camp in Miami, where a dozen offenders slept on the sidewalk, was dispersed last year when Marc Sarnoff, a city commissioner, had three pocket parks built in the neighborhood.

Mr. Sarnoff said he did not know where the offenders ended up.

“There has to be a strategy in place so they don’t just live on the sidewalk,” Mr. Sarnoff said. “We need more resources in place so these guys don’t reoffend. But that’s beyond the city’s resources. It has to be at the state level.”


A Venezuelan Student’s Reflections on Hugo Chávez’s Death

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan de facto regime finally came to terms with its citizens.  After 87 days of disappearing from the public eye, the Politburo finally announced that the despot is officially dead.

As much as I would like to, I cannot offer my condolences.

I do not wish to deceive anyone.  The only sadness I felt with Tuesday’s news was propped by fear of manifesting myself publicly; fear of repression from his successors and his followers who received the news by rioting and turning to violent sprees.

I am sad about my country’s subjugation to the arbitrary whims of one man.  I’m sad about the exile of friends, family, and countless political refugees.  I’m sad about a cheated people, used to forgiving lies.  I’m sad about the treatment of political prisoners – Simonovis, Judge Afiuni, and all those in similar situations.  I’m sad about the countless mothers who’ve lost their children to a rampant violence promoted by the regime’s indifference towards crime.  I am sad about starving Venezuelans seeing their savings evaporate with inflationary policies that enrich the Boligarchs (the Chavista elite).

I am sad about the censorship that keeps us perpetually uninformed.

That man, whose death was confirmed on Tuesday, has already caused me much sorrow.  Perhaps the list is too long for his death to be included in it.

Venezuela has not become another country since then, nor will it become one tomorrow.

This is merely an opportunity to oust a regime that has oppressed and cheated Venezuelans for 14 years.  Let us hope the leaders in both sides rise to the occasion.  I doubt they will.

One thing I cannot deny:  with the absence of this despot, the world is now a better place.

Since socialism plagues an impotent opposition as much as it does the ever-powerful and totalitarian Chavismo, I expect no real change to occur – at least not now, at least not for the better.

But there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel:  despite all adversities, SFL’s network is rapidly growing in Venezuela.

What started in 2011 as a small reading group of libertarian students has become a solid movement of liberty activists. We’ve held reading groups, film forums, and debates. We’ve covered entire universities with huge-print libertarian quotes. We’ve held political orientation quizzes and explained the philosophy of liberty to hundreds of students. We consistently challenge statism from within.

For the second year in a row Estudiantes por la Libertad held a series of events commemorating the fall of the Berlin wall; expanding from one university in 2011 to four in 2012.  One of these was a public university with militant communist groups that interrupted our activities with dissent-smashing teargas (to which I’ve just about become used to by now).  Notwithstanding, the events received widespread positive feedback engaging hundreds of students while promoting free speech. (By the way, if you’re interested in holding similar events check this out our SFL’s Free Speech Week resources.)

In January, we held SFL’s first under-the-radar conference.  We had to abstain from any public promotion in order to avoid drawing attention.  All speakers, students, and sponsors found out about the conference through word-of-mouth.  For additional security, the event had to be held in an undisclosed location two hours away from Caracas.

Even under these circumstances, the first Estudiantes por la Libertad Conference was a huge success, secretly gathering 58 students interested in promoting an idea that to the eyes of the regime is considered “imperialistic,” “subversive,” and ultimately “dangerous”: the idea of liberty.

If the idea of liberty is so strongly engrained upon human nature that it can even permeate the Orwellian ambiance generated by Venezuela’s deceased oppressor; then, the idea of liberty can rise anywhere.  We just need the principled leaders to bring them forth.

That is what SFL is all about.  That is why we’re launching an executive board for Latin America.  That is why we run our Charter Teams Program throughout the world.

May we shed not tears for tyrants but stand boldly against the repression they stood for.



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


11 March, 2013

Atheism as an emotional and civilizational loss

It's one thing to catalogue the manifest faults within this or that religious tradition, which the new atheists have ably done... over and over and over again. It's quite another to claim, as these authors also invariably do, that godlessness is not only true but also unambiguously good for human beings. It quite obviously is not.

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.

Honest atheists understand this. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, but he called it an "awe-inspiring catastrophe" for humanity, which now faced the monumental task of avoiding a descent into nihilism. Essayist Albert Camus likewise recognized that when the longing for a satisfying answer to the question of "why?" confronts the "unreasonable silence of the world," the goodness of human life appears to dissolve and must be reconstructed from the ground up.

In our own time, physicist Steven Weinberg admits that he is "nostalgic for a world in which the heavens declared the glory of God" and associates himself with the 19th-century poet Matthew Arnold, who likened the retreat of religious faith in the face of scientific progress to the ebbing ocean tide and claimed to detect a "note of sadness" in its "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar." Weinberg confesses to his own sorrow in doubting that scientists will find "in the laws of nature a plan prepared by a concerned creator in which human beings played some special role."

The past century has given us many honest atheists, some well known, others less so: The playwrights Eugene O'Neill and Samuel Beckett, aphorist E.M. Cioran, filmmaker Woody Allen. But perhaps the most brutally honest of all was the poet Philip Larkin, whose poems movingly describe the immense psychological struggles that often accompany atheism — an outlook he considered to be both "true" and "terrible." Religion — "That vast moth-eaten musical brocade / Created to pretend we never die" — used to dispel the terror of annihilation, or at least try to. But Larkin will have none of it. And that leaves him — and us — with no solace or reassurance, confronting the horrifying prospect of a lonely plunge into infinite nothingness: "This is what we fear: no sight, no sound, / No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, / Nothing to love or link with, / The anesthetic from which none come round."

To reject religion does not merely entail facing our finitude without comforting illusions. It also involves the denial of something noble. It is perfectly fitting, Larkin seems to say, for an atheist to lament his lack of belief in a God who bestows metaphysical meaning on the full range of human desires and experiences. As he puts it in the unforgettable closing stanza of "Church Going," in which the poet ponders the prospect of a world without religion, the empty shell of the church he inspects with "awkward reverence" is, finally, "a serious house on serious earth." And its seriousness flows from its capacity to serve as a place — perhaps the only place on earth — where "all our compulsions meet / Are recognized, and robed as destinies."

It is a striking image, capturing at once the dignified beauty of religious ritual and its capacity to conceal the truth under a layer of intricate artifice: The whole point of the liturgy performed on the church altar, Larkin implies, is to seduce us with the beautiful and supremely fulfilling illusion that our worldly compulsions have cosmological meaning and significance. And for Larkin, this longing for our most precious hopes to link up with the order that governs the universe "never can be obsolete." Which means that this aspect of religion, at least, may very well be too deeply rooted in the human soul ever to be completely purged.            

The compassionate generosity and honesty of Larkin's atheism also infuse a poem titled "Faith Healing," which reflects on the deepest sources of humanity's religious impulses. Larkin suggests that human beings are creatures governed by the longing to love — and even more so, by the longing to be loved. It is a need, a hunger that never can be permanently satiated. But religion tries, understanding and responding to this crucially important aspect of humanity perhaps more fully than any other institution or practice. When a preacher looks into the eyes of a suffering parishioner, cradles her head in his hands, and utters "Dear child, what's wrong?", Larkin writes, "an immense slackening ache / ... Spreads slowly through" her, "As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps." The preacher's love may be a charade, the loving God that appears to act through him may be a fantasy conjured out of a combination of imagination and spiritual yearning, but in that moment faith has demonstrated its unique capacity to heal the human heart.

That godlessness might be both true and terrible is something that the new atheists refuse to entertain, no doubt in part because they want to sell books — and greeting cards do a brisk business. But honesty requires more than sentimental, superficial happy talk, which is all readers will get from A.C. Grayling and his anti-religious comrades in arms.



The Historical Jesus

Every once in a while, we hear a false charge. A charge that has significance during this Lenten season of 2013.

It’s an old lie that seems to keep resurfacing. The accusation is that supposedly there is no historical reliability to Jesus as a person.

In other words, we supposedly can’t know for sure that He even existed historically.

That is so false. For example, Will Durant, the great historian who wrote the series, "The Story of Civilization,"noted in the volume, "Caesar and Christ," that if the same criterion by which some philosophers claim Jesus didn’t really exist as an historical person, then by that same criterion we’d have to throw out all sorts of historical figures, such as Hammurabi or King David.

Will Durant was not a believer. But even he saw how false this notion was.

This lie that we don’t know if Jesus ever existed is even dallied with, and (thankfully) dismissed, by some of the modern bestselling books promoting atheism by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

I heard a caller on a talk show recently where he was challenging the host and co-host as to Jesus Christ. The caller made the astounding claim that Jesus is only written about in the New Testament, but there were no secular or non-Christian sources writing about Him during those early years.

Unfortunately, the hosts let this comment slide by with some sort of remark like, “You have to take it on faith.” But Christianity is well-rooted in history. Jesus is better attested than virtually any figure of antiquity.

Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University is the author of "The Historical Jesus." He tells us that there are multiple non-Christian sources from the first and second centuries that refer to Jesus Christ in one way or another.

These include: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, the Talmud, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, and so on.

In addition, there are multiple sources from Christian writers who are not in the New Testament. They would include Clement of Rome, Diognetus, Aristedes, Papias, Barnabas, Polycarp, Ignatius, Melito of Sardis, Quadratus, Justin Martyr, and so on.

Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Mike Licona, authors of "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus," note that there is more documentation for Jesus Christ within 150 years of his life, even from secular sources, than there is for Caesar Tiberius.

That’s an astounding observation.

To create an analogy: Imagine if 2000 years from now, there was more documentation on the life of a traveling minister (whose ministry lasted three and a half years) than there was for the President of the United States, during whose term the preacher preached.

Furthermore, Dr. Habermas once told me, “Actually, the life of Jesus is recorded in whole or in part, different segments, in about 20 different non-Christian sources, archaeological or historical, outside the New Testament.”

He went on to say, “Now most of these are little snippets, a sentence here, a paragraph there, but you put them all together and there’s approximately 60 to 65 facts concerning the life, death, resurrection, teachings of Jesus in the earliest Church. You can get an outline of his life and never touch the New Testament.”

So the next time somebody tries to sell you on the idea that Jesus cannot be documented in history---even secular history, please lovingly but firmly stop them in their tracks…with the facts.

No reputable historian denies the historicity of Jesus.


How typical of the Left to idolise a despot who gloried in attacking America and Britain

Scenes of mass grief and hysteria have accompanied the deaths of many dictators, from the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin in 1953 to North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il in 2011.

The public mourning in Venezuela following the death this week of the country’s Socialist President Hugo Chavez from cancer at the age of 58 will be played out for weeks.

The Venezuelan people have been whipped into hysteria by the propaganda of the sinister — and aggressively anti-American — political machine Chavez left behind as his legacy.
Chavez was a brutal despot who strutted the world stage basking in the international celebrity status he gained as a result of his anti-American rhetoric and relentless attacks on Britain

Chavez was a brutal despot who strutted the world stage basking in the international celebrity status he gained as a result of his anti-American rhetoric and relentless attacks on Britain

His designated successor Nicolas Maduro claimed risibly that Venezuela’s President was murdered by the CIA with ‘a technology for inducing cancer’ even as he choked back tears and paid his tributes to a glorious leader.

The truth is that Chavez was a brutal despot who strutted the world stage basking in the international celebrity status he gained as a result of his anti-American rhetoric and relentless attacks on Britain.

He was a master of propaganda who deftly wooed the ‘useful idiots’ of the Left — to use the phrase Stalin applied to Britain’s Labour politicians and trade unionists — while clamping down on free speech in his own country, rigging the political system in his favour and presiding over a nation drowning in bloodshed and mired in poverty.

He befriended murderous tyrants such as Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, used his country’s vast oil wealth to support terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and helped terrorist drug-runners in Colombia  whose products cause misery and death across the world.

He may not have been a genocidal maniac in the style of Kim Jong-Il or Stalin, but Chavez was one of a grotesque line of authoritarian strongmen who have been the curse of Latin America over the decades.

And yet, because of his defiant stance on the U.S. and his attacks on British ‘imperialism’, he was lionised in this country by the Left and its media mouthpieces, The Guardian and the BBC. (Perhaps that’s not so unexpected — we have to remember that a BBC reporter wept during the funeral of arch Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat.)

Much of the British Left is prepared to overlook all manner of ugly truths to canonise their secular saints such as Chavez. This explains why the usual suspects have been overcome with grief at the death of the Venezuelan Comandante.

Radio 4’s Today programme, the BBC’s flagship morning news show, led its bulletins with the news of Chavez’s death, according it extraordinary reverence and solemnity.

They gave air-time to his greatest British champion, former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who claimed Chavez ‘was focused on what he could do for the people of Venezuela and of course also what he could do for poor people in New York or London’. Admittedly, his views were opposed by an American commentator.

Livingstone later tweeted: ‘The best tribute for Hugo Chavez is to redouble our efforts for a world free of exploitation and colonialism. RIP.’

Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, announced his death was a ‘tragedy for Latin America and the Caribbean’.

Respect Party MP George Galloway portentously tweeted: ‘Farewell Comandante Hugo Chavez champion of the poor, the oppressed everywhere. Modern day Spartacus. Rest in Peace.’

At least they did not join Chavez’s friend, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, in comparing the departed with Jesus and the Twelfth Imam.

This Latin-American Spartacus-cum-Robin Hood was born in 1954 to parents of a modest background, and he indoctrinated himself in the revolutionary politics of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara while in the army.

Oil-rich Venezuela was so prosperous in those years that they used to say people ‘fell out of trees and into Cadillacs’.  But then the price of oil fell in the late Eighties, and poverty and unemployment soared — along with visceral class hatred.

In 1992, Captain Chavez tried and failed to seize power in a coup before turning to ‘democratic’ politics, founding his own party.

Six years later, in 1998, he was elected President — and was still in office when he died.

Opponents in successive elections were dismissed as ‘criminals’, ‘mafia’ and ‘oligarchs’. State funding of opposition political parties was banned and the electoral system reorganised to ensure Chavez could not lose.

Details of those who voted against Chavez were recorded and used to blight their chances of jobs, loans or benefits. His Cuban-trained police bugged the phone calls of dissenters, then aired them on TV to discredit these critics.

For in Venezuela, television was the primary tool Chavez used to destroy free debate, an inconvenient truth that is overlooked by the leftists of the BBC.

He monopolised the media and held court on TV for hours, even days, at a time, with rambling monologues that involved him singing, dancing, ranting, raving and praying.

Live audiences included hapless members of his Cabinet, who he would harangue and humiliate in public, culminating in an Alan Sugar style: ‘You’re fired.’

There was usually an obligatory phone call to his father-figure Fidel Castro, whose country Chavez kept afloat for years with so much free oil that the Cubans could export it.

This Latin-American Spartacus-cum-Robin Hood was born in 1954 to parents of a modest background, and he indoctrinated himself in the revolutionary politics of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara while in the army

This Latin-American Spartacus-cum-Robin Hood was born in 1954 to parents of a modest background, and he indoctrinated himself in the revolutionary politics of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara while in the army

He used one TV programme to attack the Queen over the Falklands, making a direct appeal to Buckingham Palace. ‘Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas? Mrs Queen of England, I’m talking to you,’ he said. ‘The time for empires is over, haven’t you noticed?’

He described British control of the islands as ‘anti-historic and irrational’, and asked ‘why the English speak of democracy but still have a Queen’.

In one marathon four-day TV session, Chavez sent ten tank battalions as live entertainment to a tense border stand-off with Colombia.

The complete collapse in law and order in his country meant crime spiralled out of control, with an average 16,000 kidnappings and 18,000 murders a year, many related to a thriving trade in drugs.

The capital Caracas has a murder rate that dwarfs Baghdad and Kabul combined, and the country is one of the deadliest on the planet with 160,000 murders during his time as President — a four-fold increase on the period before he took office. But you will never hear this on state TV or radio, because they were, of course, Chavez controlled.

Political arrests have mushroomed and strict defamation and slander laws result in 30 months in jail for disrespecting a public official.

And this was the man who at international conferences or the UN had the gall to call George W. Bush a ‘sulphurous devil’ or Spain’s conservative Prime Minister ‘a Fascist’.

It would be farcical, but for the ruin that 13 years of misrule by Chavez has inflicted on a country with the world’s largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.

About $1 trillion of oil revenues have been squandered in an attempt to build what Chavez called ‘21st-century Socialism’. This regime has so much oil wealth it does not have to account for how it is spent.

Yet, there are chronic food shortages and the infrastructure is crumbling, with collapsing bridges and potholed roads. Electricity supply is erratic.

Nationalisation of hundreds of companies — sometimes live on TV — has resulted in a thriving black market. The environment has been ruined by reckless industrialisation. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have sought a better life abroad.

Meanwhile, Chavez doled out Venezuelan oil on the cheap to fellow Left-wing regimes in Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, not forgetting London — whose wide-eyed mayor Ken Livingstone wasted taxpayers’ money on visits to meet Chavez in Cuba and Venezuela.

The common denominator between Chavez and all those he supported, and who now worship him in death, is not a passionate belief in improving the lot of the poor through Socialism. It is an atavistic loathing of America and, by proxy, Britain.

Chavez blamed the U.S. as the hidden hand responsible for all the world’s ills. But no matter how crude his views of the Great Satan, they are widely shared among Britain’s bien-pensant circles, where the fatuous notion that the Americans ‘gave’ him cancer will soon join such canards as the CIA crashing planes into the World Trade Centre to provoke a war.

One can only speculate as to what post-Imperial resentment has inspired such irrational sentiments — and led such people to view a belligerent bully like Chavez as some sort of saint.


The perils of photographing children again

Parents lose custody of their children for a month after they take innocent bathtime photos in to be developed at Walmart and employee calls police

An Arizona couple falsely accused of taking pornographic pictures of their three young daughters are suing Walmart in a bid to win damages after an horrific ordeal which they claim robbed them of precious time with their kids and cost them $75,000 in legal fees.

In 2008, Lisa and Anthony 'A.J.' Demaree took their three young daughters – then aged five, four and 18 months - on a trip to San Diego.

On returning home they took 144 photographs, mostly from their recent trip, to their local Walmart in Peoria, Arizona to have them developed.

The couple were reported to child protective services after a Walmart employee was concerned that some of the images being developed might be child pornography

What happened next was the start of a nightmare for the Demarees.

Instead of receiving a batch of happy memories of a fun family outing, the couple were reported to the police and their children were placed into the care of the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency.

‘It was a nightmare, it was unbelievable. I was in so much disbelief. I started to hyperventilate,’ Lisa Demaree told ABC News at the time.

It was a month before the girls were returned to their parents, after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled the photographs were in fact harmless and a medical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse.

The family was reunited but the damage had been done. The couple’s named went on a central registry of sex offenders, while Lisa was suspended from her job at a local school for a year while the investigation was under way.

The couple also had to spent $75,000 on legal bills.

‘We’ve missed a year of our children’s lives as far as memories go,’ Demaree told ABC News.

‘As crazy as it may seem, what you may think are the most beautiful innocent pictures of your children may be seen as something completely different and completely perverted.’

In 2009, the couple sued the city of Peoria and the State Attorney General’s office for defamation. They also sued Walmart for failing to tell them that they had an ‘unsuitable print policy’ and could turn over photos to law enforcement without the customer’s knowledge.

The couple lost the initial hearing after a federal judge sided with Walmart, ruling that employees in Arizona cannot be held liable for reporting suspected child pornography.

However the Demarees appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and on March 6 the court held a hearing before three judges.

The family’s lawyer has argued that Walmart committed fraud by not disclosing to customers that employees would look at their photographs and was also negligent because ‘untrained clerks’ were given the authority to make assumptions about the content of the pictures and report them to police.

Lawyers for Walmart argued that under Arizona statute employees who report child abuse without malice are immune from prosecution and there was no indication of malice in this case.

The Demarees are currently awaiting a verdict from the appeals court on the case against the city and Walmart.



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


10 March, 2013

A Double Standard on Hate

By Daniel Greenfield

Every year college campuses across the country hold a festival of hatred aimed at Jews and the Jewish State. Israeli Apartheid Week has become notorious for the targeted harassment of Jewish students, support for Hamas and even physical violence.

This year the David Horowitz Freedom Center has responded to Israeli Apartheid Week with Islamic Apartheid Week. Unlike Israeli Apartheid Week, which is based on a lie, Islamic Apartheid Week addresses the sexism, homophobia and religious bigotry threatening minorities in the Muslim world. To promote Islamic Apartheid Week, the Freedom Center attempted to place an ad in forty college papers.

The ad called "Faces of Islamic Apartheid" drew attention to the victims of Islamic sexism, homophobia and theocracy by briefly telling the stories of gay men hanged in Iran, women and girls murdered by their governments and their families for the crime of falling in love and the Christian Minister for Minorities Affairs in Pakistan's cabinet who was murdered for trying to reform his country's theocratic blasphemy laws.

These four women, three men and one little girl were the victims of Islamic Apartheid. Five of them have been murdered. Their memory lives on only when they are remembered. One has been on death row for six years. Telling her story may help save her life. The remaining two live under threat of death.

Instead of listening to their stories, the campus culture of political correctness drowned out their voices and apologized for even allowing their stories to be told.

Nine college papers turned the ad down, five of them in the University of California system which has been criticized for tolerating anti-Semitism. When the California State Assembly passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on campus and warned that no public resources should be used for anti-Semitic hate, the University of California objected on free speech grounds. However free speech for Israeli Apartheid Week did not translate into free speech for Islamic Apartheid Week.

Seven college papers took the advertisement. Of those papers, Tufts University's Tufts Daily and Austin's Daily Texan both ran apologies from their editors for even printing the ad.

Tufts Daily editor Martha Shanahan called the decision to run the ad an "editorial oversight." Daily Texan editor Susannah Jacob denounced the attempt to tell the stories of victimized women and children as "hateful" and "an unspoken incitement to violence."

Martha Shanahan spent two pages apologizing for the existence of the "Islamophobic and violently offensive" advertisement, the existence of Tufts Daily, its staff and her own existence. At no point during her long series of apologies, did Martha acknowledge that her paper had run four editorials in a single week from Students for Justice in Palestine attacking Israel and promoting hatred for the Jewish State. And in an unequal response to this, it also ran a brief letter from Tufts Friends of Israel distancing itself from the ad and politely suggesting that apartheid shouldn't be used to refer to Israel.

Anthony Monaco, the President of Tufts University, took to Twitter to denounce the advertisement for vilifying Islam, but made no such denunciation of the Tufts Daily's op-ed, "The Case for Israeli Apartheid" which (not coincidentally) appeared on the same day as the ad. At Tufts, no one apologizes for accusing democratic Israel of apartheid. There are only apologies when theocratic Iran and Pakistan are accused of practicing Islamic Apartheid.

When anti-Israel voices are outweighed 4-to-1 and the editor apologizes for publishing another perspective that would have made it 4-to-2 then the freedom of debate at Tufts University is in a very sad state. When that same editor prints editorials describing Israel as an apartheid state, but promises to put in place an entire system of oversight to make certain that no advertisement challenging Islamic Apartheid is ever printed again, then a system of censorship has been put into place silencing the voices of victims and encouraging their persecutors.

The Daily Texan's Susannah Jacob claimed that the crosshairs over the faces of the victims were an incitement to violence when they were actually a way of bringing urgency to the violence that had been committed against them. And making it clear that she never even saw the advertisement that she was denouncing, Susannah described the ad as depicting six women, when it included two gay men, one Christian man and one little girl.

Susannah further distorted the truth about Islamic Apartheid when she described the pervasive sexism, homophobia and theocracy that these people fell victim to as "discrete incidents of violence by Muslims" being used "to implicate all Muslims" while ignoring the fact that five of the victims in the ad had been targeted by their governments or with government backing.

Can the Daily Texan's editor honestly claim that Iran's persecution of women and gay men or Pakistan's persecution of Christians are "discrete incidents of violence", rather than state policy? Could she find a single human rights organization that would agree with such a dishonest whitewashing of the terror under which millions live?

The responses to the advertisement have established once again that some forms of apartheid are privileged on campus and that some forms of persecution cannot be talked about. Demonizing the Israeli victims of Islamic terror is within the realm of campus free speech, but speaking about the vulnerable minorities in the Muslim world is not.

If the advertisement was wrong, then there would have been no need to censor it. False claims can easily be disproven. Five minutes with Google would have told every reader and editor whether there was any truth to the Faces of Islamic Apartheid.

It is never necessary to censor lies. It is only necessary to censor truth.

That is why the majority of campus papers – ten so far, including Harvard whose editors said they would not print it under any circumstances -- refused to run this paid advertisement. It is why those few who did have begun making ritual apologies while lying about its contents. It is why the attacks on the advertisement have taken refuge in vague platitudes about offensiveness, without a single attempt at a factual rebuttal. It is why every response to the advertisement has consisted of claiming that speaking about Islamic bigotry is the real bigotry.

There were eight faces and eight names in the censored advertisement that the President of Tufts, the editors of Tufts Daily, the Daily Texan and the editors of ten college papers that turned down the ad, did not want their students to see or know about because it might disturb the manufactured campus consensus that they have constructed with great effort around Israel and Islamic terrorism.

These are the names. Amina Said. Sarah Said. Afshan Azad. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Shahbas Bhatti. Rimsha Masih. Mahmoud Asgari. Ayaz Marhoni.

They were repressed as individuals. Now their story is being repressed on the American campus.

Via email

Royal Navy girl who fought in Afghanistan told to cover up uniform on Virgin flight in case it offended other passengers

For 15 years she has proudly served her country as a Royal Navy engineer, risking her life in Afghanistan when she fought against the Taliban.

But far from showing Nicky Howse the respect she deserved as she flew back to her latest posting, Virgin Atlantic staff chose to humiliate her – by demanding that she remove her uniform because it was ‘offensive’.

They warned the 32-year-old helicopter technician she would not be allowed to fly unless she took off her combat fatigues and wore a sleep suit instead.

Petty Officer Howse is on a three-month deployment with a helicopter unit in the US, but had been home on compassionate leave to attend her grandfather’s funeral. She had worn her uniform without any problems on a Virgin flight from America to Britain the week before.

The incident happened as she waited for her return flight to Los Angeles from Heathrow on Monday.

She was confronted by a G4S security guard and Virgin Atlantic staff, who ordered her to change into pyjamas before boarding the jet.

They told her – wrongly – that it was the company’s policy not to allow military personnel to travel in uniform.

In emails sent to a civilian friend, Petty Officer Howse, from Ipswich, Suffolk, said: ‘It was horrific. I was made to feel uncomfortable in my own country for wearing the uniform I wear to defend the place. It made me ashamed of my country that a British serviceman can’t travel in uniform. I was so distressed.’

She told her friend: ‘It started at check-in. Some G4S security guy gave me the third degree about travelling in uniform. I was fuming. He was rude, he wouldn’t let the check-in girl give me my passport.

‘I was shaking with rage. I thought it was all done. But when I got to the departure gate I was taken to the side by the flight supervisor and they said I wasn’t allowed to fly in uniform and had to wear a sleep suit. I then stood feeling completely humiliated with other passengers, clearly curious as to what was going on, staring at me, waiting for him to come back with the black pyjamas.

‘I asked if it was Virgin policy, they said “Yes”. I refused to wear it until after I was on board then still refused but basically got told I’d be asked to leave the flight if I didn’t take it off or cover it up.’

She told her friend: ‘I was basically told it was because “We don’t only fly British passengers” and told it was seen as a threat. I went ballistic. I said “In the country I defend I can’t wear my uniform?”

‘They then said it was for my own safety to stop abuse to which I replied I can deal with that myself if it arises as I did in Afghanistan.

‘Honestly, I was gobsmacked and horrified. I was so distressed, particularly since the whole reason I was travelling was for a funeral.

‘To clarify, a British airline who claims to be Britain’s flag carrier won’t allow a member of Britain’s armed forces to travel on their airline in uniform.’ Armed Forces rules state that a serviceman or woman can wear their uniforms voluntarily from their ‘residence to place of duty, irrespective of whether they travel by public or private transport, or on foot.’

Colonel Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘This is an insult to the Royal Navy and to the British armed forces who the Queen’s uniform represents.

‘This naval engineer has volunteered to serve and to fight for her country. How dare Virgin Atlantic and G4S treat her like dirt?’

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry officer, said: ‘Our soldiers, sailors and airmen risk their lives so that firms like Virgin Atlantic can operate and make money.

‘It is nothing short of disgraceful that they don’t receive the proper respect due to their uniform.’

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said it did not have a policy against passengers travelling in uniform.  He added: ‘This was a completely isolated case in which our staff were incorrectly advised by a security agent?…?We have made contact with the passenger in question to express our deep regret for any upset caused.’

G4S declined to comment, claiming it had not received a complaint.


British Liberals  are a bunch of 'nutters and cockroaches', says the party's OWN president

The Liberal Democrats are a 'bunch of nutters and cockroaches', the party's president Tim Farron has claimed in an astonishingly frank interview about their future prospects.

Mr Farron admitted the Lib Dems are in a 'critical state' but he was trying to 'breed and train a bunch of nutters' willing to work tirelessly to defy the opinion polls and win elections.

Despite being rocked by sex and court scandals, he claimed the party had the resilience and ability to survive of 'cockroaches' but warned: 'One day someone will stand on us if we are not careful.

As the Lib Dems prepare for their spring conference in Brighton, starting tonight, Mr Farron warned the party faithful that they cannot take their future survival for granted.

It comes as a new poll shows fewer than a third of Liberal Democrat voters at the last election plan to back the party again, a major poll reveals today.

A survey commissioned by former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft suggests there is little room for complacency for Nick Clegg despite the by-election victory in Eastleigh last week.

Mr Farron told parliamentary journal The House: 'We are a bit like cockroaches after a nuclear war, just a bit less smelly, we are made of sterner stuff.

'The party is in a critical state. We may well be cockroach-ish, but we shouldn't take that for granted. One day someone will stand on us if we are not careful. We shouldn't assume our survival is guaranteed.'

He said the party could not depend on safe seats, so anyone who chose to stand for election needed to be a 'nutter.

'Essentially we are trying to breed and train a bunch of nutters, absolutely dedicated and who have the skill set and understanding that what it takes is not just doing a good hustings, it’s not just about being able to do a nice TV interview, it’s actually about having the immense fighting spirit.'

In recent weeks the party has been rocked by groping allegations  - strongly denied by Lord Rennard - that women activists were sexually harassed by the former chief exeuctive.

Mr Farron - who previously appeared to make life difficult for the Deputy Prime Minister by suggesting the party had 'screwed up' - said the Lib Dems 'certainly appear to have let people down' but insisted it was crucial that they did not now go into 'institutional self-defence mode'.

He added: 'I think 99 per cent of the people out there just don't care, it's not been raised. I've done a lot of door knocking both in Eastleigh and in my patch this last week. It was mentioned to me once, and that was in sympathy.'

However, the Lord Ashcroft poll reveals the Lib Dems have a real fight for survival.

While many left-leaning former Lib Dem voters want the party to be more vocal in opposing the Tories, such a move would put off more moderate, Conservative-leaning voters who might otherwise stay with the party or even switch to it.

Lord Ashcroft’s research, based on a poll of more than 20,000 voters, finds that only 29 per cent of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 say they would do so again tomorrow – just 5 per cent of the electorate.

The other 71 per cent say they would vote for another party, or don’t know.

However, nearly a quarter of those who say they would vote Lib Dem in an election tomorrow did not vote for the party in 2010 – indicating the party has picked up significant support since entering government.

The party's reputation for scandal has also been bolstered by both the Rennard scandal and the resignation of Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, who now faces jail after admitting perverting the course of justice over his wife Vicky Pryce taking his speeding points.

Today Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader said: 'Obviously we’d have much preferred that neither of these things should have arisen.'  But he told BBC Radio 4: 'Rumours of our death are grossly exaggerated.'

According to the Ashcroft poll, some 29 per cent of Lib Dem voters in 2010 now say they would vote Labour or Green – with many angry that the party joined the Coalition. Another 8 per cent of 2010 Lib Dem voters would now vote Conservative, with 7 per cent backing UKIP.

More than a fifth – 22 per cent – of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 do not know how they would vote tomorrow. Though many have lost confidence in the Lib Dems, they are resistant to Labour and do not know who to trust on the economy.

The Lib Dems’ flagship economic policy – raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 – is backed by an overwhelming 85 per cent of voters, but four in ten think it was a Tory proposal. The most recognisable Lib Dem policy is an amnesty for illegal migrants, which only 25 per cent of voters support and has not been implemented in government.

Lord Ashcroft, who is now a leading pollster, said: ‘After the Eastleigh by-election Lib Dem activists will be relieved to think that despite the polls, strong local government and an invincible leaflet-dropping network will see most of their MPs safely back to Westminster.

‘But that is not the whole story. Localness matters, but a general election decides who walks up Downing Street. Clegg must have something to say about the Liberal Democrats and government.’

Lord Ashcroft warned the Tories would learn the ‘wrong lessons’ from the Eastleigh by-election if they chased the UKIP vote as this would leave moderate and centre-right voters ‘wide open to the Lib Dems’.


Southern Poverty Law Center Finds Fewer Militias, Hypes Militia Threat Anyway

The Southern Poverty Law Center would more honestly be called the Hatred of Conservatives Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its annual report on "The Year in Hate and Extremism," in which the organization estimates the size of the "extremist" threat. Since its count of hate groups has dropped since last year—the number went down from 1,018 to 1,007—the center is hyping a 7 percent increase in another category: what it calls "conspiracy-minded antigovernment 'Patriot' groups." The SPLC's definition of "Patriot" is pretty broad: The list ranges from the conservative websites
WorldNetDaily and FreeRepublic.com to the Moorish Science Temple and its offshoots. The Moors, a black militant movement, are presumably included because they sometimes borrow ideas from the sovereign citizens and other folks often associated with the right.

For SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok, that 7 percent surge is a sign that a growing terrorist threat demands the Department of Homeland Security's attention:
Eighteen years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote then-Attorney General Janet Reno to warn about extremists in the militia movement, saying that the "mixture of armed groups and those who hate" was "a recipe for disaster." Just six months later, the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed. Today, with our country’s political polarization at historic levels and government officials being furiously demonized by Patriots, we may be approaching a comparable moment.

In the 1990s, warnings that might have averted some of the violence from the radical right failed to stick. Now, as we face another large and growing threat from the extremists of the Patriot movement, the country needs to do better. One important start would be to demand that the Department of Homeland Security, which gutted its non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit after unjustified criticism from the political right, rebuild its important intelligence capabilities.

A different story emerges if you study the list itself. For one thing, while the number of Patriot groups has gone up since last year, the number of militia groups has gone down, from 334 to 321.

That doesn't necessarily mean that there are fewer people involved in militias: One quirk of the SPLC's decision to measure activity by counting groups is that if an organization splinters in a faction fight that shows up as growth, but if two smaller groups join forces it looks like shrinkage. But given that Potok invokes the militias in both the opening and the conclusion of his article, and given that the article makes a big deal of the increased Patriot count, it seems disingenuous not to mention that the militia count is actually declining.

More important, neither the number of militias nor the number of Patriot groups writ large is a good proxy for the number of potential terrorists. As I wrote in response to an earlier edition of the SPLC's list, the Oath Keepers—whose chapters take up 67 spots on the 2013 list—have a history of distancing themselves
from violent-minded supporters, and the whole point of the organization is to persuade the government's agents to refuse orders the group considers unconstitutional, a central tactic not of terrorism but of nonviolent civil resistance. Meanwhile, 41 groups on the SPLC list are chapters of the John Birch Society. Far from an adjunct to the militias, the Birchers—notorious for their own conspiracy theories—devoted a lot of effort in the '90s to debunking the more elaborate conspiracy yarns popular in much of the militia world. They frown on insurrectionary violence, too, sometimes suggesting that it merely plays into the hands of the Grand Cabal.

The militia subculture itself is far from united. The University of Hartford historian Robert Churchill—author of an excellent book on the militias, To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face—has identified two distinct though sometimes overlapping elements within the movement: the "constitutionalists" and the "millenarians." While the first group stresses civil liberties and organizes in public, the second segment is more prone to paranoid, violent, and apocalyptic rhetoric and is more likely to form secret cells. The Hutaree [a militia charged in 2010 with plotting a terror attack] hail from the far end of the millenarian side of the spectrum. There doesn't seem to be any love lost between them and the area's dominant militia, the constitutionalist Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia (SMVM), which greeted the March arrests by denouncing the Hutaree as a religious cult. Mike Lackomar of the SMVM even told The Detroit News that the Hutaree had called his militia asking for assistance during the raids and had been rebuffed....In mid-April both Lackomar and another militiaman, Lee Miracle, told The Detroit News that they had warned the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the Hutaree over a year ago. Miracle says he urged the agency to check out the Hutaree website, telling his contact, "See if they creep you out the way they creep me out."...

None of this is unprecedented. Back in the 1990s, several would-be terrorists in the Patriot milieu were arrested after other militiamen got wind of their plans and alerted police.
Potok cites one more set of data to argue that "the threat of violence seems to be looming":
Already, to the surprise of some analysts, a major new study of domestic political violence from the radical right—"Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right," by the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point—found that right-wing violence is up dramatically from the 1990s. Specifically, the report found that there were an average of 70 "attacks or violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far-right of American politics" in the 1990s, but that the comparable number for the 2000-2011 period was 308, with especially high numbers from 2007 on.

Potok is pulling a bait and switch here. As noted above, the SPLC keeps its count of hate groups, such as the various competing Klans, separate from its list of anti-government "Patriot" groups. The West Point report follows suit, though instead of Patriot it uses the label antifederalist. Potok's piece is specifically about an increase in the number of Patriot groups, and it's in that context that he invokes the West Point paper. But he cites the paper's claims about right-wing violence overall, not its data on antifederalist violence.

It's not hard to see why he does this. In recent years, as the SPLC was reporting a continuing growth in Patriot activity, the West Point dataset showed a steady level of one to four violent incidents involving "anti-federalists" per year. In 2010, the number spiked to 13, but the year after that the number dropped back down to two. "Thus," the West Point paper concludes, "while there may be a rise in the number of active militia groups, except for 2010 we still do not see this systematically manifested in the level of violence." Given how low these numbers are to begin with, it's not even clear whether the 2010 results reflected something that happened that year or if they were a random outlier. (For more on that West Point report, which really doesn't demonstrate what a lot of people who quote it seem to think it demonstrates, go here.)

Finally, a note about double counting. I don't really mind the fact that the SPLC lists separate chapters of the same organization; it makes sense to do that if you're aiming to show how much activity there is on the ground. I have a harder time seeing the justification for listing both the Tenth Amendment Center and Nullify NOW!, since Nullify NOW! is a campaign run by the Tenth Amendment Center. I was also amused to see that the list includes not just WorldNetDaily but the Western Center for Journalism, which spawned WorldNetDaily; there is also a slot for Aggressive Commentary, a radio show hosted by a WorldNetDaily columnist. Maybe the SPLC should spin off WorldNetDaily into its own list.



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


8 March, 2013

Let's talk about the exodus of 600,000 whites from London

It is not wrong to discuss the cultural changes that large-scale immigration can cause, such as 'white flight' from certain areas in London

Imagine if Glasgow disappeared. Not overnight and not physically, but imagine if everyone who lived there decided to leave, in the space of 10 years. Argyle Street, in the city centre – empty. Byres Road, next to the university – derelict. The Crow Road – abandoned (except, perhaps – if this were an exciting new BBC drama – for an old Iain Banks novel, rain-damaged pages flapping in a gutter, symbol of the great evacuation). All those tenements, riverside apartments, suburban villas, all lying vacant. You’d sort of notice, wouldn’t you? You’d expect people to talk about it, at least.

If your geographic history differs from mine, and you’ve no mental image of Glasgow to play with, consider, instead, Sheffield, or Nottingham, or Belfast. All cities of about 600,000 people. Imagine if everyone who lived there upped and left.

Not the opening scenes of a dystopic science fiction screenplay, but the unfictional, real London, whose white British population has declined by roughly the population of those cities in the 10 years between the last two census surveys. “White British” (as opposed to Eastern European) citizens now make up less than half of London’s population. This is a change of profound significance, by any historical benchmark.

We have an ugly phrase to describe the phenomenon – I used it a fortnight ago, in a piece about the Tories’ attempts to woo votes from ethnic minorities (a term whose meaning has changed: in London, at least, we’re all “minorities” now). The departure of people from London’s hitherto majority grouping is called “white flight”.

It’s tempting to be caustic about the current, undoubtedly brief, spasm of media interest in the phenomenon. No one seemed to mind as inner London became more and more multicultural: that was what made it so “vibrant”, after all. Only as the profile of the suburbs changes (Enfield’s white population has dropped by nearly 25 percentage points in 10 years, for example) is it worth any serious attention: the BBC website carried a piece just this week.

To read the BBC article, by the home editor Mark Easton, there is nothing to worry about. Indeed, the historic shift of London, from a city of white Britons to a mixture of minorities, is a cause for celebration, and not just because of that oft?lauded “vibrancy”.

That the proportion of white people in the borough of Barking and Dagenham has dropped from four fifths to less than a half in a decade is nothing more than the natural desire of increasingly prosperous people to retire to the seaside. I’m paraphrasing Mr Easton a little, but that was more or less the suggestion in his commentary. It’s a rising tide of prosperity that first of all flushed the Eastenders from Bethnal Green to Dagenham, and it’s the inexorable rise in property values that leads their descendants to move from metropolitan Essex to that beautiful county’s coastline.

“Leigh[-on-Sea],” said Mr Easton, “is a particular favourite.” After all: “Many residents from Barking and Dagenham will have taken the train along the Thames Estuary towards Southend on a work excursion – the old beano to the seaside.” And so everything is dandy?

Fundamentally, none of this is strictly about “race”, but rather the cultural constructs we layer on to genetics. There are good and bad neighbours of every hue, of course. But the scale of white flight demands more than issuing congratulations to the second and third generation children of immigrants, who’ve done well in life and moved from Zone 2 to Zone 5 of the Central or Northern Underground lines. It’s also absurd to assume that the grandchildren of cockneys are moving still further out, just because their houses have increased in value.

Take Bethnal Green. The people leaving Dagenham now are themselves displaced Eastenders. The borough they first left behind would be unrecognisable to their grandparents, with a mayor whose election was supported by an Islamist group with unpleasant (to put matters mildly) views.

Hate crimes disfigure its streets: in an ironic reversal of one reason for the East End’s fame – that it was where indigenous, working-class Londoners faced down home-grown fascists – the streets of Bethnal Green and Whitechapel are now scenes of increasingly violent attacks on gay people.

The BBC doesn’t talk about this, oddly, or wonder why the Eastenders’ movement is always away from their original homes: there are plenty of expensive properties in E2. (In 2001, I moved to Bow, from Harlow: my neighbours in Essex thought I was mad, for reasons unconnected with relative property prices.)

Discernment is required: nobody decent is arguing for a return to the homogeneity of Call the Midwife’s Poplar. Finally, politicians have admitted that to notice the scale of the immigration engineered by the last Labour government doesn’t make one racist.

But neither is it wrong to discuss the cultural changes that large-scale immigration can cause. Six hundred thousand Londoners have left. They didn’t all sell ex-council houses in Barking, in order to purchase five-bedroom cliff-top villas in sunny Leigh-on-Sea.


Social workers arrived at hospital to take woman's baby while she was in LABOUR over concerns for its welfare

Bureaucratic evil abounds in Britain

A mother has told how social workers turned up while she  was giving birth in hospital to say they would be taking her baby  into care.

Without consulting her, social services chiefs had decided Kelly McWilliams was unfit to look after her baby because she had suffered from depression five years earlier after her ten-year-old son was found hanged.

The officials arrived without warning to say the baby would go straight into foster care as they were concerned about Mrs McWilliams’s mental health.

But the baby, a girl named Victoria, had serious breathing problems and was transferred to intensive care.

Mrs McWilliams, 36, said she was only allowed to spend two hours a day with her daughter, supervised by a social worker.

She was forced to call a lawyer from hospital and ended up in court two days after the birth to plead her case.

Victoria’s father, who lived apart from Mrs McWilliams, was given temporary custody of the baby when Victoria was discharged from hospital ten days after her birth, and for four months Mrs McWilliams was only allowed two hours of supervised time each day with her child.

Last night, the mother of five from Doncaster said: ‘I feel very, very angry and very, very let down because I had overcome my mental health problems and was in a very good place and I was feeling proud and ready to be a mother.

‘Then this came along and crushed me. I lost precious time with my daughter. I missed her first smile, I missed so much.’

The social workers were able to take Victoria into care after obtaining an emergency protection order from Doncaster Magistrates’ Court.

Mrs McWilliams said: ‘They literally just walked in very coldly and said as soon as I had delivered my baby she was going to get placed into foster care.

‘I was in labour when they came in. To be honest I didn’t actually believe them, at first I thought it was some kind of joke.’

When she asked why Victoria had to be fostered, she said they replied: ‘Because you are not well.’

According to Mrs McWilliams’s lawyer, Doncaster social services had gone too far when Victoria was born in August 2011, having failed to carry out a pre-birth assessment or case conference to discuss any possible intervention.

Solicitor Sarah Young said that if proper procedures had been followed, social services may not have needed to take action.  Miss Young added: ‘I think it’s a shocking example of a massive over-reaction by social services in Doncaster.’

Victoria is now 18 months old and happily living with her mother. But Mrs McWilliams is demanding an apology from Doncaster social services, which she fears has not learned from its mistakes.

Her case follows a series of major failings by care bosses. In November, an Ofsted inspection found that children’s care in Doncaster was still ‘inadequate’.

The service had already been criticised over the deaths of seven children and failures that led to the torture of two boys by two brothers who were in foster care.

Mrs McWilliams said: ‘People need to know what Doncaster social services are like, because they make mistake after mistake but they are not paying for it.  ‘To me, they have got more power than the police, they can do what they want when they want.

‘Nobody can make up for what they have taken away from me. They need to change the way they work. It can’t happen to anyone else. I was an experienced mum and yet I had to be supervised all the time I was caring for Victoria.

‘I am constantly terrified that there will be a knock on the door and that someone will come to take Victoria away from me.’

Chris Pratt, director of Doncaster’s Children and Young People’s Services, said: ‘It’s inappropriate for us to comment on cases involving individual children. However, when any matter of concern is raised with me I do ask for this to be examined and I have done that in this case.’


One threat to free speech recedes

Leftists get nervous about free speech restrictions too

Often, when I make the points I made in my recent post, "Why Am I So Cheerful?", people hand me their distress. That is, they argue back about why I shouldn't be cheerful or why they shouldn't be cheerful, all based on why the world is much worse than I think and is getting even worse.

I actually haven't had that kind of pushback this time but the point I want to make is that it's important to look at one's past predictions about how awful the world would get and measure them against what actually happened. Last week, I came across an October 2008 piece by Michael Barone. It was titled "The Coming Obama Thugocracy." In it, he made the case that candidate Barack Obama and many of his most ardent supporters are foes of free speech. His evidence ranged from weak to strong.

Barone's weak evidence?

"Obama fans jammed WGN's phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest emails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Rosenberg's example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One."

It's true that that was the message, but it wasn't an attack on free speech. Indeed, it was the exercise of free speech.
Barone's strong evidence?

"In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Obama that were "false." I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Obama's ties to Ayers."

Based on his reasoning, Barone made a prediction, writing:

"To their credit, some liberal old-timers -- like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey -- voted against the "fairness doctrine," in line with their longstanding support of free speech. But you can expect the "fairness doctrine" to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities."

That was a legitimate fear. I remember fearing it at the time myself and talking to a friend who makes his living in libertarian/conservative talk radio and who was also concerned.

And the Democrats did increase their congressional majorities.
So what happened? It didn't get another vote. [The following two passages are from Wikipedia. Why? Maybe this had something to do with it:

"In February 2009, a White House spokesperson said that President Obama continues to oppose the revival of the [Fairness] Doctrine."

Moreover, Obama moved in the other direction:

"In June 2011, the Chairman and a subcommittee chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, both Republicans, said that the FCC, in response to their requests, had set a target date of August 2011 for removing the Fairness Doctrine and other "outdated" regulations from the FCC's rulebook.

On August 22, 2011, the FCC formally voted to repeal the language that implemented the Fairness Doctrine, along with removal of more than eighty other rules and regulations, from the Federal Register following a White House executive order directing a "government-wide review of regulations already on the books", to eliminate unnecessary regulations."


Americans speak every language, but only English unites us

GABRIEL GOMEZ, one of three Republicans vying for the US Senate seat vacated by John Kerry, speaks Spanish like a native and seems intent on making sure every voter knows it.

Gabriel Gomez introduces himself first en español, and only afterward acknowledges "those of you who don't speak Spanish."

The Cohasset businessman, a former Navy SEAL commander, announced his candidacy last month in an online video that opened in Spanish: "Me llamo Gabriel Gomez, y yo estoy anunciando que voy a correr para ser senador de los Estados Unidos." Then he switched to English: "For those of you who don't speak Spanish, today I'm announcing my run for US Senate." He did the same thing as he hit the campaign trail for the first time last week. At an American Legion post in Quincy, he began by introducing himself en español, only afterward acknowledging "those of you who don't speak Spanish."

Bilingual fluency is a great asset, and Gomez acquired his effortlessly: He was born in Los Angeles to parents who had recently emigrated from Colombia, and as a child was speaking Spanish before he learned English. In a Republican Party anxious to appeal to Hispanics – especially after an election in which the Hispanic vote broke heavily for Democratic candidates – Gomez clearly believes his Latino roots and flawless Spanish give him a political edge. In Massachusetts last November, more than 4 of every 5 Hispanic voters backed Elizabeth Warren in her challenge to Senator Scott Brown. So it's hardly surprising to hear Gomez calling himself a "new kind of Republican" as he goes out of his way to address voters in Spanish.

He's not alone. In February, Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, the first time a leading member of the opposition party did so in two languages. Rubio's address was delivered live in English on the major TV networks, while a version he had prerecorded in Spanish aired simultaneously on the Spanish-language networks.

Outreach to ethnic minorities is a timeless political practice in this country, as American as a sampling bratwurst during Oktoberfest or marching in a Columbus Day parade. To hear some strategists tell it, the eagerness with which candidates like Gomez or Rubio are seeking ways to campaign in Spanish is part of that same melting-pot tradition – as innocuous as George W. Bush welcoming guests to the White House Cinco de Mayo party with mariachi music and a jovial "mi Casa Blanca es su Casa Blanca!" As Republican media adviser Alex Castellanos recently told National Journal, "When you speak to people in their native language, you are telling them we're part of the same community."

But if that's the case, why didn't Republicans arrange for a full-blown response to the State of the Union address in Chinese or French or Vietnamese? Why hasn't Gomez made a point of introducing himself in Portugese or Italian or Russian? Spanish may be the second-most common language spoken in the United States, but there are dozens of other languages used daily by millions of American voters. Don't those voters also need to be reassured that we're all "part of the same community"?

English has always been integral to the American identity. Without a common language, the miracle of E Pluribus Unum would never have been possible. Americans come from every corner of the globe; they represent a vast array of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic traditions. Yet they have been able, by and large, to form a single nation – to mold an American mainstream, despite such a hodgepodge of incompatible origins. They couldn't have done it without a commitment to English as the national tongue.

Rubio and Gomez could learn a lesson from the city councilors of Doral, Fla., a Miami suburb whose mayor recently proposed making Spanish the official second language. Few places in America are more Spanish-friendly than Doral: Nearly 80 percent of the population speaks Spanish at home. It is where Univision, the leading Spanish TV network, is headquartered. Every member of the city council is Latino. Yet every one voted against the mayor's resolution.

"We came here," Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez explained, "knowing we had to adapt to the language of this country." Generations of immigrants have known the same thing, and their embrace of English has been essential to the great American success story.

Spanish is a rich and beautiful language. But privileging Spanish in public life is a reckless strategy for partisan success. Latinos don't come to America to be patronized or pandered to, but to share in the blessings of American unity. One nation, indivisible. One language, indispensable



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


7 March, 2013

UKIP is fuelling the same 'distrust' of foreigners that triggered WWI, claims Lib Dem peer in warning against 'negative nationalism'

Lib Dem Lord Tyler questioned how much UKIP's Nigel Farage knew about the First World War, but it emerged Mr Farage runs his own tours of battlefields

There is a lot of talk about why Britain entered WWI.  They had no love of the French so why did they send troops to help France?  The war would have ended with a rapid German victory if Britain had stayed out, saving millions of lives.

But Britain was not defending France.  It was scared stiff of the rapidly expanding German navy and wanted Germany defeated before the German Hochseeflotte became powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy on the oceans of the world.  Royal Navy supremacy was needed to protect the Empire

The UK Independence Party has been accused of fuelling the same ‘distrust’ of foreigners which swept Europe before the outbreak of First World War.

Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler sparked a major row with UKIP leader Nigel Farage with a warning against blaming ‘foreigner scapegoats for our economic troubles’.

The peer made the provocative remarks during a House of Lords debate on how best to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

The peer claimed Mr Farage would ‘do well to revisit the history of that period’ to learn that ‘fomenting distrust can so easily lead to hatred’.

However, it emerged Mr Farage runs regular tours of First World War battlefields and he said his opposition to the European Union was in part informed by the way the collapse of the single currency had fuelled 'hatred' between eurozone countries.

As part of national commemorations next year, 100 years on from the start of the conflict, children from every state secondary school will travel to the battlefields as part of a £50million package of events.

David Cameron has said Britain had a duty to ‘honour those who served, remember those who died and ensure the lessons learnt live with us forever’.

But Lord Tyler, a former MP for North Cornwall, said the tone of the events must reflect how the sacrifice of millions ‘did not achieve the war to end all wars that they thought they were fighting for’.

Lord Tyler said his three uncles died in the conflict which was 'largely pointless, meaningless and avoidable'.

He went on: 'We should not be celebrating its absurd origins, however much we may pay tribute to those who fought, were wounded or lost their lives.

‘Instead, we must remind ourselves of the futility of negative nationalism, so sharply distinct from positive patriotism.’

He then went on to appear to draw parallels between the rise of UKIP based on attacking 'foreigner scapegoats' and the spread of nationalism across continental Europe before 1914.
More than a million Britons died in the First World War

More than a million Britons died in the First World War. The Battle of the Somme was one of the most deadly in the four year conflict. Here a party of Royal Irish Rifles is pictured in a communication trench on the first day of the Battle of the Somme

The First World War was sparked by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian during a visit to Sarajevo on June 28 1914.

As the two countries clashed, their allies lined up in support with Germany backing Austria, with Russia, Britain and France sympathising with Serbia. A period of of grand-standing, abortive talks and partial mobilisation of troops culminated in Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia on July 28.

Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 and then France on August 3, demanding free passage through Belgium, which lead Britain to declare war on Germany. On August 6 Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia and within weeks Japan had also entered the conflict.

Lord Tyler said the catalogue of events in 1914 marked 'a terrible failure of common sense and common humanity'.

He told peers: 'I will find it difficult to mark the centenary of the war's outbreak with anything other than a resolve that we should do all we can to reconcile the peoples of Europe in the 21st century, avoiding new foreigner scapegoats for our economic troubles, and perhaps also reminding ourselves of the 1914 warmongering populism of the British press, which seems familiar.'

‘I do not know where Mr Farage's ancestors were between 1914 and 1918, but he would do well to revisit the history of that period. Fomenting distrust can so easily lead to hatred.’

The remarks come just days after UKIP ran the Lib Dems a close second in the hotly-contested Eastleigh by-election, as all the main parties wrestle with how to respond to the rise of the Eurosceptic party.

Lord Tyler told MailOnline today: ‘Making a scapegoat of other peoples for problems which are closer to home is extremely dangerous.

‘Clearly [UKIP] are more serious players than they were so they have got to watch how they approach these issues.’

However, Mr Farage told MailOnline the criticism was ‘totally absurd’. Twice a year he leads tours of World War One battlefields, with groups of friends, colleagues and visiting politicians whom he labels ‘Farage’s Foragers’.

‘I know a lot about the First World War and its origins and I know that in the wake of it we formed something called Yugoslavia to stop Balkan conflicts and look where that got us.

‘It is totally absurd, and I would invite Lord Tyler to go and visit Athens and see real hatred. They now hate the Germans more than at any time since 1945.

‘I want us to have a Europe of independent nation states that trade and co-operate together.

‘But if you force people together against their will, history tells us the long-term outcome will be deeply, deeply unpleasant.

'You breed extreme nationalism. Lord Tyler is 50 years out of date with his analysis of what Europe is.’


Pay gap for women an enduring myth

Long term readers will recall that for some years now I've been saying that we've not really got a gender pay gap. We've a motherhood pay gap, that we do, but not a gender one. In this I am supported by all sorts of interesting evidence. Like this from the Telegraph, this from this here blog, and even this quite delightful piece. Where the Statistics Authority chief rapped Harriet Harman over the knuckles for misleading people with bad statistics. You know, the crime of being a politician.

Now, the proof that we do not have a gender pay gap comes in the details of the (correct) statistics. Single no children women in their 40s earn more than their male age cohort. Women in their 20s on average make more than men in their 20s. There is indeed a pay gap though: one that opens up in the average pay for women as they enter their prime child rearing years. And we can even see that it really is child bearing years as well. A generation ago average age at first birth was in the low 20s. And that's where the pay gap started. Today it's around 30 years old and that's where the pay gap starts now.

And between all of us we've managed to get this basic fact across to the political classes. Shared parental leave might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is indeed an admission that since it is childcare that causes the pay gap then perhaps parents might want to share that pain? All of which is lovely. Then enters Viviane Reding [An airheaded Luxembourg politician, currently serving as European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, pic below]:

"16.2%: that’s the size of the gender pay gap, or the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the EU, according to the latest figures released today by the European Commission. The news comes ahead of the 2013 European Equal Pay Day on 28 February. The EU-wide event marks the extra number of days that women would need to work to match the amount earned by men: currently 59 days, meaning this year the day falls on 28 February."

Sigh. As we know domestically in Britain the pay gap is not a gender pay gap. It's a motherhood/child rearing one. Which, even assuming that you wanted to solve it means rather different policies to do so, no?

To make matters worse they also peg the UK pay gap as being at 19.6%. Which as we know from the Statistics Authority chief isn't actually the correct number at all.

This is the problem with multiple levels of government. You beat back ignorance and idiocy at one level and it just reappears at another.


"The Left Now Seems To Have Reverence for Fanatics"

Dennis Prager

This is an edited version of the interview with Lars Hedegaard that took place on Dennis Prager's nationally syndicated radio show. The entire unedited interview may be heard www.facebook.com/dennisprager.

DENNIS PRAGER: Are you in Copenhagen as we speak?

LARS HEDEGAARD: I can't really tell you where I am at the moment.

DP: Can you tell me what country?

LH: I'm in Europe somewhere.

DP: The reason you can't tell is that there was an attempt to murder you just a few weeks ago. A man came to your door, speaking perfect Danish. Tell us what happened.

LH: There was a buzz on my door phone, and a man said he had a package for me, in accent-free Danish. He was, I'm certain, an immigrant from some Arab country or possibly Pakistan. I went down to get the package, and as soon as I opened the front door he pulled out a gun and shot at my head. He missed, and there was a struggle between us. I tried to hit him in the face which made him lose the gun. He then recovered it and tried to cock it for a second shot, and he didn't manage to do that. And we fought some more, and then he grabbed the gun and ran off. That's what happened.

DP: You were nearly murdered. What did you write and what are you fighting for?

LH: I don't know exactly what motivated the attack. I've been writing on Islam, Islamic history and Islamic ideology for about ten years. I haven't done anything differently recently except that we started our new newspaper, the weekly Dispatch International, on the third of January. It's a Swedish language newspaper, but we have an online edition in English.

I've been wondering, of course, why someone wanted to shoot me, and I cannot think of anything that I've done differently recently than what I have been doing these last couple of years. I've been called a hate speaker, and I'm not a hate speaker. I've been called a racist, and I'm not a racist. I'm just a normal historian and a journalist. It's my job to describe what's going on in the world, and that's what I've been trying to do to the best of my abilities.

DP: Correct me if I'm wrong: You are a man of the left.

LH: Yes.

DP: Where are the attacks on you being racist coming from? What part of the ideological spectrum?

LH: I would say almost exclusively from the left. (Of course, also from Muslims. Not all Muslims, but some.) I seem to be very unpopular with my old friends. I think the problem is that I know what it's all about to be left-wing; I used to be a leading Marxist in this country. But I've held to the opinion that we first of all have to fight for free speech and freedom and equality between the sexes and the rule of law; and also, that we should not bow before religious fanatics of any type, regardless of where they come from. This seems to me what was the essence of being left-wing back in the days. No longer.

The left now seems to have reverence for fanatics -- as long as they are Muslim. Of course, they can criticize Christianity all they want. But when somebody threatens with violence -- if you criticize me, I'll come and kill you -- then all of a sudden they become soft. They become understanding. They talk about tolerance; we have to show respect. I don't want to show respect for people who say that men are worth more than women, that women can be killed if they are adulterers; that apostates from Islam should be killed; that people should be stoned, etc. I mean, I don't like that. I want to fight that. I want to describe it. And I don't think the left does.

DP: I think it comes with greater credibility to many when you say this, as a man of the left, than when I say this. I share every moral sentiment you have just stated and I am considered, in America, conservative.

LH: Well, good for you. Many of my friends are conservative

DP: I'm sure more and more are.

LH: Can we disagree on politics in a civilized manner? Can we stop killing each other? Threatening each other? That is my point. Can we maintain free speech -- the First Amendment?

DP: You write in your Wall Street Journal article that in your home county of Denmark, "some newspapers have availed themselves of this opportunity to emphasize what a despicable racist I am. But at least they express their satisfaction I am not dead. Not so in Sweden. They seem disappointed that my delivery man was not a better marksman."

DP: And Sweden is more left than perhaps anywhere else in Europe.

LH: I wouldn't exactly describe it as left. It's more politically correct.

DP: Forgive me, but political correctness is a brainchild of the left.

LH: It is. It is indeed. I've got to admit that.

I think among all the countries in Europe, Sweden has the most politically correct media. They are in absolute agreement on anything you can imagine, from man-made warming of the world to Islam. And any deviation from the line will be considered a sin.

DP: Do you still call yourself a Marxist?

LH: Yes, to some extent. I don't believe in the desirability or inevitability of revolution or socialism. But some of the analytical terms of Marxism I still use to the great amazement of my friends, who think I'm an idiot. But I stick to that.

DP: Is there any way for us to support your work for freedom, other than reading your work? Can we sign up for anything, do you take money?

LH: Well, you can subscribe to the paper [Dispatch International] in English online. By the way, I am suing the Swedish media for libel, and there is a donate button on our website www.d-intl.com. I think it'll be a big thing. They have been lying through their teeth.

DP: What have they been saying?

LH: They've been saying that I'm a convicted racist, and the fact is, I've been acquitted by a unanimous Danish supreme court.

DP: In America, at least as of this moment, there is no such thing as being convicted as a racist. You are free in this country to say what you like.

LH: I know that.

DP: Europe does not have that.

LH: We do not. We don't have your First Amendment. The Free Press Society has been fighting for nine years to introduce a first amendment in Denmark and other places in Europe. We don't have that. We have an article in our penal code called 266(b), which means that you can be convicted of hate speech, racism, denigration of religion, or a number of things, which is despicable.

I agree with the American Constitution -- you should be able to say anything you want, and if you're an idiot or a jerk you should be corrected by other people. You can lose your career, you can lose your reputation if you talk ill of people because of their race, which I have never done. But you should have the right to say anything. You should have laws against libel, lying about people, threatening people with violence, revealing state secrets, etc. You have that in any civilized country. But apart from that, I agree with the First Amendment. We don't have it here.

DP: I'll tell you another thing you don't have there, which I periodically say to Europeans that I have on my show: You don't have talk radio. This has been a major factor in America in offering the alternate universe to that which the Swedish press and the American left, such as the New York Times, which would be perfectly at home in Stockholm, present to us.

LH: You're right. Speaking about the New York Times, they had an article today about me, that I'm full of "bile and viciousness and racism" and what-not. No, we don't have talk radio. What we do have is state radio, something that the people are forced to support by their tax dollars.

DP: Thank you. Good luck to you.


Norway State TV Airs Report Saying That Its Government Funds Anti-Semitic Palestinian Propaganda?

Norwegian state TV has aired a report from an Israeli group saying that the Norwegian government regularly funds anti-Semitic, Palestinian propaganda.

Norway has a long, dubious history when it comes to supporting anti-Semitism. While it may have reached its apogee during the Holocaust, little has changed today and it rarely comes as a shock when flagrant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment is elevated as truth in the country that, ironically, claims to stand for peace and tolerance.

To provide context on just how marked the negative bias and perception of Jews in Norway is, professor Alan M. Dershowitz once noted that Norway has done “everything in its power” to make life “nearly impossible for Jews.”

“Norway was apparently the first modern nation to prohibit the production of Kosher meat, while at the same time permitting Halal meat and encouraging the slaughter of seals, whales and other animals that are protected by international treaties,” Dershowitz continued. “No wonder less than 1000 Jews live in Norway.”

Underscoring this disturbing state of affairs, the Norwegian government gives over 300 million Kroner each year to the Palestinian Authority. Much of that money goes to fund Palestinian television, which consistently disseminates anti-Semitic content and incites violence — even among Palestinian schoolchildren — against Israelis.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an invaluable organization based in Jerusalem that provides translations of Arabic-language media content coming out of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-operated centers, reported that finally, Norwegian state television has acknowledged its government’s funding of Palestinian-driven anti-Semitism.

In the video provided, Norwegian TV NRK interviewed members of PMW as well as Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City. Not surprisingly, they discovered that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the most notorious work of anti-Semitism drawing on age-old blood libels (such as the canards that Jews used the blood of Christian children for the Feast of Passover, poisoned wells, spread the plague and seek to rule the world) — are alive and well and taken as absolute truth by everyday Palestinians. 

Norway’s State Secretary, Torgeir Larsen, speaking about an in-depth book compiled by PMW chronicling Palestinian media’s consistent incitement and use of blood libel, admitted to the bigotry, but will do naught to stop it.

“There are examples in the book (PMW’s Deception) that clearly express hatred,” he admitted. “There are also examples of anti-Semitism, which you find in Palestinian society.” But, he added, it is ”not relevant” when it comes to halting “Norwegian financial support to the PA.” Larsen claims Norwegian funds merely go toward the building of Palestinian institutions.

Author Asgeir Ueland conversely noted that anti-Palestinian media “hardly ever occurs…in the mainstream [Israeli] media.” He added that in 16 years of analyzing Hebrew-language media, he ”cannot remember [anything] being broadcast on radio, television or in major newspapers” that incites hatred towards Palestinians.

In a country tarnished by anti-Semitism, one would think Norwegian lawmakers would at least refrain from getting involved in the conflict at all, rather than double-down.



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


6 March, 2013

No old-fashioned chivalry in a value-free world

Below is the sort of thing you get when you preach:  "There is no such thing as right and wrong".  And feminist man-hatred doesn't help either.  Contempt for women is the obvious answer to such hatred

It was supposed to be a meeting of the brightest young intellects. Sadly, some of those involved in a prestigious student debating competition were only interested in small-minded behaviour.

They reduced two female speakers to tears with a barrage of sexist heckling. Students at Glasgow University made derogatory comments about the looks and chest sizes of Rebecca Meredith [above] and Marlena Valles as they took part in the finals of the annual Glasgow Ancients debating championship.

When one judge attempted to stop the heckling she was called a ‘frigid b***h’. Offensive comments continued during a party and ceilidh afterwards, it was claimed.

Miss Meredith, a politics student at King’s College, Cambridge, and Miss Valles, a law undergraduate at Edinburgh University, had reached the finals of the annual tournament that sees teams from Britain’s oldest universities compete. But as they spoke to the motion ‘This house regrets the centralisation of religion’ on Saturday evening, they were repeatedly interrupted.

Miss Meredith, 20, ranked among the top 20 speakers in the world, said that she was reduced to tears as she tried to make herself heard over the sexist heckles and intimidation.

‘The amazing Marlena Valles and I were openly booed by a small number of misogynistic male Glasgow Union debaters and members,’ she said. ‘Sexist comments were made about our appearance.’

One man yelled ‘Get that woman out my union,’ she said. ‘Our speeches were interrupted by cries of “shame woman” and boos at mention of female equality.’

When she and her debating partner complained, they were told it was ‘to be expected’ that female speakers would be booed.

Kitty Parker-Brooks, a judge at the competition, was abused as she tried to quieten the hecklers. She said: ‘I was sitting behind the boys from Glasgow Union and could hear them making audible derogatory comments about the speakers’ appearances – their hair, dresses, chest size, how attractive they were – physically picking them apart, as well as yelling “shame woman” and booing.

‘I shushed them – and one then called me a “frigid b***h”. I stood up and made a speech in the floor debate calling them out on their behaviour, saying they had acted absolutely atrociously.’

Miss Valles said on Facebook she was shocked and horrified. She wrote: ‘It is difficult to speak confidently to an audience that is booing you for the sole reason that you are a woman in a dress talking about women’s rights, especially when you are the only girls in the final. I had six separate members of the Glasgow University Union approach me and give the exact same apologist speech – “I’m sorry they did that but they aren’t bad guys and it’s just how it is here and how they are. They are only joking”.’
Marlena Valles, one of two female debaters heckled at Glasgow University

Miss Meredith said: 'The amazing Marlena Valles and I were openly booed by a small number of misogynistic male Glasgow Union debaters and members'

Cambridge University’s debating club, the Cambridge Union Society, yesterday voted unanimously to end its reciprocal membership with the GUU and says it will not send students to debate there again.

GUU president David Lockhart said last night: ‘We would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. We will be contacting the individuals concerned to apologise personally. Displays of behaviour that are misogynistic or sexist are entirely incompatible with our values.’

The GUU did not admit women until 1980 and continues to host an annual men-only meal. Former debaters include the late Donald Dewar, the late Labour leader John Smith, Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy.


Britain's top judge attacks Theresa May's criticism of judiciary

Britain’s most senior judge has launched an attack on Theresa May for criticising judges over their failure to deport foreign criminals.

Lord Neuberger said the Home Secretary’s strongly-worded criticism of immigration judges was “inappropriate, unhelpful and wrong”.

Neither ministers nor judges benefited and the attack last month, which singled out some judges for ignoring rules designed to enable more foreign criminals to be deported, were inherently unfair as judges could not fight back.

Lord Neuberger, who took over as president of the highest court in the land last October, also warned that such public attacks risked “destabilising” the delicate balance between Parliament and the judiciary.

Mrs May said the failure of judges to take new rules into account meant she would bring in new laws to stop them allowing foreign rapists and violent criminals to stay in Britain by claiming a right to a family life.

Asked about Mrs May’s attack, Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, said: “I’m concerned about it because I think it’s inappropriate and unhelpful for ministers to attack individual judges or groups of judges.

“For a minister to attack a judge I think is also wrong.”

He told the Daily Telegraph: “If we start attacking each other in public when each group was honestly trying to do its job, even if we don’t agree with the way they’re doing it, it does no credit either to the minister who’s attacking or to the judge who is being attacked.

“It’s bad for both of us and I don’t see what the benefit is.”

Asked if ministers should stop making such public attacks, he added: “Obviously I would prefer it if there weren’t any because I don’t think they’re appropriate.”

Lord Neuberger said ministers’ criticisms were unfair on judges who “don’t speak out in public against ministers”.

“One of the reasons why we don’t speak out is it just is destabilising for the system,” he said.

“We have a very good system in this country of distributing power and balancing power between the legislature, Parliament and the executive, civil service, ministers and the judges. We each respect each other’s turf.

“Inevitably there’s going to be tensions, indeed if there weren’t tensions something would be wrong. If the judges always did things ministers liked then there would be understandable suspicion as to what was going on.”

But he said any Government minister has “his or her own solution if a judge reaches a conclusion or adopts an approach the minister doesn’t like”.

“They can appeal the decision and if the appeal fails and the minister still isn’t happy then the minister can go to Parliament to change the law,” he said.

However, Lord Neuberger, 65, acknowledged the “pressures on people in public service, in particular on politicians” were great.

“I think that this happens from time to time,” he added. “It’s not the first time it’s happened.

“It’s fair to say, for both this government and the last government, that while there have been attacks on judges from time to time, which in my view are regrettable and shouldn’t happen, there’s never been any question of the government trying to do anything to undermine the independence of the judiciary, and that remains the position now.

“I’m concerned but I’m not alarmed.”

The Home Office declined to comment on Lord Neuberger's remarks.


Bungling armed police involved in British triple murder inquest couldn't be named - to protect their human rights

Crooked cop Cobain

A coroner banned the naming of bungling firearms officers in a triple murder inquest to protect their human rights.

In the latest secret justice farce, officers who wrongly allowed Michael Atherton to own guns were given anonymity to respect their ‘right to privacy’.

Police lawyers said their clients were worried about ‘the way in which they were talked about’ and feared ‘media pointing the finger’.

The ban was overturned following an appeal by the Daily Mail and it soon emerged that one of the officers dealing with Atherton, 42, had been selling on confiscated firearms while serving with the police.

It is the latest in a long line of orders banning journalists from reporting on the courts, which are supposed to be open to the public.

The order was made by Coroner Andrew Tweddle during the inquest into the death of Atherton, who killed himself, and three victims.

The taxi driver, who legally owned six guns, opened fire at his home in Horden, near Peterlee in County Durham, on January 1 last year. He killed his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and Alison’s daughter Tanya Turnbull, 24, before turning the gun on himself. He also wounded his step-daughter Laura McGoldrick, 19, as she fled.

The inquest in Crook, County Durham, heard Atherton had successfully applied for a licence for a shotgun in 2006 and five further guns in 2008.

Officers in the firearms licensing unit at Durham Constabulary knew he had a history of domestic violence and self-harm but decided to grant his application.

One of them was Damien Cobain, a firearms inquiry officer later convicted of selling guns.

In his evidence, Cobain said he had never seen guidance by the Home Office or the Association of Chief Police Officers on the issuing of gun certificates.

Although he found Atherton had not disclosed his history of domestic violence he recommended that his application be accepted. Mr Tweddle describe the force’s procedures as ‘ad hoc ’.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the shootings found that Atherton’s applications had not been properly scrutinised by Durham Police.

Six officers were to be made anonymous by Mr Tweddle.  The order to hide their names was made under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights despite there being no legal precedent for it in the UK courts.

But after reading submissions by the Daily Mail and other media outlets, the coroner overturned the ruling, saying that open justice was more important.

Cobain has since left the force after his conviction in 2010, where he was given a suspended sentence for selling guns that were due to be destroyed after being surrendered by the public.


Was Mother Teresa not so saintly after all?

Researchers spark controversy by claiming her care of the sick was 'dubious' and handling of cash 'suspicious'

Researchers are calling into question the saintly image of Mother Teresa after carrying out research into her life.

Born Agnes Gonxha in Albania, she founded the Missionaries of Charity and spent much of her life in Calcutta, caring for the sick and poor.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was beatified by the Vatican in 2003, six years after her death - one miracle away from sainthood.

But a number of critics have questioned how much of the image is justified.

Writing in journal Studies in Religion/Sciences, Serge Larivie and Genevieve Chenard, say her hallowed reputation does not stand up to scrutiny.

Prof Larivie said: 'While looking for documentation on the phenomenon of altruism for a seminar on ethics, one of us stumbled upon the life and work of one of Catholic Church's most celebrated woman and now part of our collective imagination - Mother Teresa.

'The description was so ecstatic that it piqued our curiosity and pushed us to research further.'

After studying nearly 300 documents on her life, they concluded that a number of issues surrounded the nun were not taken into account by the Vatican.

These included 'her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce.'

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries.

But these missions have been described as 'homes for the dying' by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta.

Doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers.

But the authors say the problem is not a lack of money, as the foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundred of millions of pounds.

They also say that following numerous natural disasters in India she offered prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid.

But she accepted the Legion of Honour and a grant from the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, said prof Larivee, and although millions of dollars were transferred to the various bank accounts, most of the accounts were kept secret.

Dr Larivie says: 'Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa's works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?'

He says that her image may have been built upon a meeting in 1968 with the BBC's Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist who shared her right-wing Catholic values.  It was his promotion of her which led to her fame, they say.

But whether or not her image is deserved, the authors accept that there are many positives to her reputation.

Dr Larivie said: 'If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice.

'It is likely that she has inspired many humanitarian workers whose actions have truly relieved the suffering of the destitute and addressed the causes of poverty and isolation without being extolled by the media.

'Nevertheless, the media coverage of Mother Teresa could have been a little more rigorous.'



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


5 March, 2013

A Democrat who hates the poor

Chicago alderman orders Salvation Army to stop feeding the poor in his ward and says "It's for their own good" that the Sallies not feed them

Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, which is mostly covered by the 46th Ward, has had a large homeless population for decades. The North Side ward is represented by Ald. James Cappleman. The Democrat and get this--social worker--is kicking the Salvation Army food trucks out of his ward that feed the homeless.

Mark Brown reports in the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Cappleman gave the social service agency one month to find a new North Side location — outside his ward — before ceasing operations, said Capt. Nancy Powers, who oversees the Salvation Army's homeless program in Chicago.  "He decided he felt the unit was pulling homeless into the area, and he does not want us to feed them," Powers told me.

This ought to clear up any lingering doubts as to Cappleman's motivation in seeking to close the Wilson Men's Hotel, one of the city's last two cubicle hotels, the subject of several recent columns.

He's obviously decided to rid the 46th Ward of unsightly poor people — with a not entirely dissimilar approach to the one he has employed to disappear pigeons.

The alderman says he's fine with the Salvation Army dispatching his fellow social workers in his ward, but not the food trucks.

Powers dismissed that gesture, telling Brown that the trucks are a calling card so her organization can promote its other services, such as substance abuse treatment. The Salvation Army operates food trucks in four other city locations--but none of those are on the North Side.

Chicago is messed up on so many levels. For starters, there are too many alderman--50 of them. That number should be cut at least by half. And the individual legislators have too much clout. Chicago's alderman are intoxicated by power--which partly explains why 29 of them have been convicted of crimes since 1972.

Here's my idea: Have Cappleman introduce a bill in the City Council that boots the Salvation Army food trucks out of the 46th Ward--and if the Council approves, see if Mayor Rahm Emanuel signs it.

Last year Emanuel said that Chick-fil-A, whose CEO is a family-values conservative, didn't reflect "Chicago values."  Just what are "Chicago values?"

Oh, can you imagine the nationwide howling that would occur if Cappleman was a Republican?

For more on Cappleman and pigeon napping click here. And click here to learn about the evil social worker's battle against the Wilson Men's Hotel.


“It’s a boy…err…girl…err…to hell with it, who knows?”

By Steve Deace

Journey back with me, if you will, to a simpler time. To a dark and ominous period known as American history up until now.

An oppressive period when society actually believed the genitals you left your mother’s womb with determined your gender. A tyrannical time when parents actually parented according to the acknowledged moral standard of the universe, rather than enabling and validating their offspring’s unhealthy tantrums and desires.

Thankfully we’ve progressed past that now.

We are entering a brave new world. A world where a 6-year old boy in Colorado Springs demanding he’s actually a girl isn’t thought to require discipline and guidance from his mother and father, but rather is a victim of natural selection run amok. Clearly his 6-year old mind is more qualified to determine how and why he was made the way he was made then that antiquated notion of a Creator, who he probably never heard of at his public school in the first place. When I was six I thought boogers and paste tasted good and the Super Friends were real, which just goes to show how much more progressive and enlightened we’ve become.

A world where a 6-year old boy can be rejected and killed by his own parents before he is even born, and the culture barely bats an eyelash. But should his parents allow him to be born then suddenly his quest for self-actualization also becomes theirs.

A world where a 6-year old boy demanding to use the girls’ bathroom at school isn’t spanked by his father for causing a disruption for the rest of his fellow first grade students and his teacher, but rather is a victim of a puritanical Colorado school district who actually still thinks in terms of male and female.

A world where a mom might stop her 6-year old son before he poses for pictures with purple hair because he looks ridiculous, but instead helps him dye the hair so it looks more professional—and then complains that he’s “bullied” when his peers make fun of him for it.

A world where just six years ago a doctor told his proud parents “it’s a boy” when tiny Coy Mathis was born, but six years later the news media refers to Coy as a “she” as it covers the story of his unchecked acting out.

I’m glad that old world of moral certainty, discipline, and accountability is gone because it was clearly holding us back from realizing our full potential. Left to our own devices we can become so much more powerful. Able to create alternative realities all of society and every more must succumb to at the ripe, old age of 6 even.

I think I like this brave new world so much we’ll homeschool.


Tories in turmoil as British PM vows 'no lurch to Right' then signals curbs on migrants using NHS

Senior Conservatives last night urged George Osborne to ‘change direction’ in this month’s Budget – amid mounting alarm about both the economy and ‘incoherence’ at the top of the party.

David Cameron’s former tax adviser Lord Forsyth said a package of radical tax cuts was needed to stimulate Britain’s ‘flatlining’ economy.

And Mr Cameron himself also came under fire for potentially confusing the public after pledging the party would not ‘lurch to the Right’ following the party’s dire showing in last week’s Eastleigh by-election.

He made his comments just as ministers signalled new crackdowns on immigration, health tourism and human rights laws clearly aimed at pleasing the discontented grassroots.

The mixed message frustrated senior party figures already unnerved following Eastleigh, where the Tories were pushed into third place behind the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party.

With an eye on the March 20 Budget, Lord Forsyth said Mr Osborne should ‘spend less time talking about an age of austerity and more time explaining how we can get back to an age of prosperity’. He added: ‘Out there in the country people are hurting, their living standards are falling – they’re finding it difficult to pay for their gas and electricity bills, the amount that’s left in their pay packages after stoppages is getting less and less, and to coin an old cliché, it’s the economy stupid, and George has actually got to change direction.

‘He’s got to put a touch on the tiller, he’s got to start cutting taxes and encourage enterprise to invest, because at the moment we are flatlining and we’re spending far more than we are bringing in income and the electorate understand that.’

Former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell also warned that the Budget could trigger a dangerous phase for the Chancellor and Prime Minister unless they could convince increasingly rattled backbenchers they had a recipe for restoring Tory fortunes.

Former minister Tim Loughton said the Government needed to start ‘doing some of the thing that people voted Conservative for at the last election. That’s about reducing taxes rather than coming up with new taxes, it’s about recognising families are having a tough time and recognising marriage and families in the tax system which we said we would do and haven’t.’

Mr Cameron insisted yesterday that he would not respond to the growing Ukip threat by adopting a string of new Right-wing policies.

He said he recognised that people felt Britain’s problems were ‘not being fixed fast enough by the Government I lead’. But he added: ‘The battle for Britain’s future will not be won in lurching to the Right, nor by some cynical attempt to calculate the middle distance between your political opponents and then planting yourself somewhere between them. That is lowest common denominator politics – and it gets you nowhere.

‘The right thing to do is to address the things people care about. It’s not about being Left-wing or Right-wing – it’s about being where the British people are. And where the British people, rightly, are on all these issues is where the Conservative Party is, too.’

Despite his comments, ministers signalled initiatives that appeared designed to appeal directly to disaffected Tory voters, with a pledge to scrap the controversial Human Rights Act and to tackle health tourism.

Tory MP Mark Field said the conflicting messages showed there was ‘incoherence at the top’. He said: ‘We’re saying one thing and thinking we can somehow convince the voters, yet actually the voters are not fools.’

It was ‘taken as read’ that Tory rebels plotting a challenge against Mr Cameron would hold their own post-mortem of the disastrous Eastleigh result. He added: ‘If the Coalition doesn’t last and if we are back in opposition in 2015, then clearly there will need to be a fundamental change of direction of where the Conservative Party goes.’

Asked if the Tories were moving closer to losing power, he said: ‘It’s going to be 2015 – I am under no illusions about that.’

Nick de Bois, secretary of the backbench 1922 Committee, accused Mr Cameron of pursuing a ‘flawed political strategy’ by focusing on ‘divisive’ issues, such as gay marriage, that alienate traditional voters.

‘The Government seems recently to have been focusing on what some have described as these rather metropolitan, elite, brand-conscious ideas, such as wind farms and whatever,’ he said. ‘We need to be connecting and speaking directly to those people who are living in the very sharp and harsh real world.’

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said voters no longer believed Tory promises. ‘Their own supporters look at a Conservative Party that used to talk about wealth creation, low tax and enterprise and it now talks about gay marriage and wind farms,’ he said.


One way to know that you're doing the right thing

Is to look at peoples' reactions to what you're doing. If, for example, you decided that you wanted to clean up the MPs' expenses system and every MP then started howling about how we mere ignorant citizenry aren't supposed to control them then we'd know that we were on the right track. Similarly, if every criminal in the country (to the extent that this is a different group from MPs) starts to complain about the length of sentences after just and righteous trials then you would at least begin to suspect that you might have created sentences which have a deterrent effect.

And when you're doing supply side reforms to the economy if you start to hear loud wailing from those suppliers being reformed then you've got a pretty good indication that you are achieving your goal. As with this letter to the Telegraph:

"As doctors and health-care workers, we are concerned about the Government’s proposed secondary legislation (under Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act) to force virtually every part of the English NHS to be opened up to the private sector to bid for its contracts. These regulations were proposed on February 13 and will become law on April 1 unless MPs first insist on a debate and then vote them down. Parliament does not normally debate or vote on this type of regulation, but it is possible. We urge parliamentarians to force a debate and vote on this issue to prevent another nail in the coffin of a publicly provided NHS free from the motive of corporate profit."

There then follows 1,000 or so signatures. Which is, as I say, a signal that something is going right. The aim and point of the NHS reforms is indeed to introduce a market. Competition among suppliers that is. The reason for doing this is that in the absence of competition the producer interest will dominate, not that of the consumer. This is why we insist upon more than one electricity supplier in the economy, welcome that there are many sources of food (whether trivially in shops or more importantly from many different farmers and producers), sell off four licenses for mobile telephony at a time, not just one.

We desire to have this competition because it stops that producer interest from ossifying and then taking over the entire system. Very much to the detriment of the consumer who is the person we're actually concerned with.

As a result we've got those producers howling about how just ghastly it is that people will be able to compete with them. Screaming about how undignified it is that such august personages might have to consider what consumers want rather than what producers might deign to provide.

Great eh? It's working!



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


4 March, 2013

Gay sex rings, 'The Filth' corrupting the Vatican...and why the Pope REALLY quit

John Cornwell (an on-again, off-again Catholic) has some interesting points in the excerpt below but it must  be noted that he is something of a sensationalist.  After his scurrilous but fashionable attacks on the role of Pacelli in WWII ("Hitler's Pope"), he was eventually forced to limit his criticism to the fact that Pacelli did not "explain" his role after the war.  But it would demean a Pope to engage in what would undoubtedly be seen as an Apologia.  Cornwell is, in short, an unreliable witness.  I have no doubt however about the moral corruption of not only the Curia but most of the hierarchy.  There is indeed a need for a root and branch clearout

Here is the remarkable thing you are seldom told about a papal death or resignation: every one of the senior office-holders in the Vatican  – those at the highest level of its internal bureaucracy, called the Curia – loses his job.

A report Benedict himself commissioned into the state of the Curia landed on his desk in January. It revealed that ‘The Filth’ – or more specifically, the paedophile priest scandal – had entered the bureaucracy.

He resigned in early February. That report was a final straw. The Filth has been corroding the soul of the Catholic Church for years, and the reason is the power-grabbing ineptitude and secrecy of the Curia – which failed to deal with the perpetrators. Now the Curia itself stands accused of being part of The Filth.    

Benedict realises the Curia must be reformed root and branch. He knows this is a mammoth task.  He is too old, and too implicated, to clean it up himself. He has resigned to make way for a younger, more dynamic successor, untainted by scandal – and a similarly recast Curia.

Benedict was not prepared to wait for his own death to sweep out the gang who run the place.  In one extraordinary gesture, by resigning, he gets rid of the lot of them. But what then?

The Curia are usually quickly reappointed. This time it may be different. It involves scores of departments, like the civil service of a middling-sized country.

It has a Home and  Foreign Office called the Secretariat of State. There’s a department that watches out for heresy – the former Holy Inquisition which under Cardinal Ratzinger dealt with, or failed to deal with, paedophile priests.

The Curia is a big operation. It maintains contact with all the bishops of the world, more than 3,000, in 110 countries.  The Curia oversees the hundreds of thousands of priests  who care for the world’s 1.2billion Catholics. The flow of information, and money, in and out of the Vatican is prodigious.

What makes the bureaucrats different from normal executives is they don’t go home and have another life.  Unless you’re a full cardinal, with a nice flat and housekeeper, you go back on a bus to the microwave and TV in a Vatican-owned garret.    

Rivalries between departments, vendettas between individuals, naked ambition, calumny, backstabbing and intrigues are endemic.

Not surprisingly, some of the bureaucrats let off steam in unpriestly ways. Some are actively gay men who cannot normalise their lives with a partner because of Catholic teaching.

They frequent discreet bars, saunas and ‘safe houses’. On another level there are individuals known to have a weakness for sex with minors.

It appears the people who procure these sexual services have become greedy. They have been putting the squeeze on their priestly clients to launder cash through the Vatican. There is no suggestion that the bank has knowingly collaborated.

But in January, Italy’s central bank suspended credit-card activities inside Vatican City for ‘anti-money-laundering reasons’.

The Pope was already furious over the theft by his butler of private correspondence and top-secret papers last year. The thefts were probably an attempt to discover how much the Pope knew of malfeasance within the Curia. 

Then news of a Vatican sex ring and money scams reached his ears late last year. Benedict should not have been surprised. Hints of a seamy Vatican underworld have been surfacing for years.

In March 2010, a 29-year-old chorister in St Peter’s was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes, one of them a seminarian, for a papal gentleman-in-waiting who was also a senior adviser in  the Curial department that oversees the church’s worldwide missionary activities.

Last autumn Benedict ordered three trusted high-ranking cardinals to investigate the state of the Curia. This was the report that was delivered to him just weeks ago.

It was meant for Benedict’s ‘eyes only’ but details of a sex ring and money-laundering scams last week reached the Italian weekly Panorama. Then the daily La Repubblica ran the story.

Benedict has resigned to ensure that the whole ‘Filth’ from many countries of the world right up to the Vatican centre is cleansed. He has given up his job to kick out all the office-holders and start again.

So the Pope’s resignation could be just the beginning of a wave of resignations, and/or sackings, when the new Pope comes in.

With just three days left of his  pontificate, Benedict accepted with lightning speed Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s resignation. O’Brien was not involved in covering up for paedophile priests – but allegations that he had made inappropriate advances towards priests in the Eighties were enough for Benedict to confirm that he was not to join the conclave.     

On Tuesday, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, former head of the Catholic Church in England, declared that the Vatican must ‘put its own house in order’.

In a bold castigation of the papacy and the Curia, the cardinal said: ‘There is no doubt that today there needs to be renewal in the Church, reform in the Church, and especially of its government.’ 

The culture of a highly centralised Church government is now deeply entrenched. John Paul II, the energetic superstar Pope, seemed just the man to clean up the Curia.

But he bypassed it, preferring to spend his time travelling the world. Benedict might have made a start on it – but he retreated into bookish pursuits.

But even if a reformer gets in, he is going to have his work cut out to change an institution that has amassed such a centralised grip. Choosing a new team to be trusted may take just as long. There is every chance that the old ways will return.

The coming conclave is set to be the most contentious for centuries. Whichever side wins – the conservatives, the reformers or the devolutionists – will create tensions and antagonism between Catholicism’s different pressure groups.

My guess is that we are going to get a younger Benedict. I believe that we will get a Pope who will remove any cardinal, bishop or priest who is in any way implicated in the paedophile scandal.

But he will also move to exclude Catholics, high and low, who are not prepared to follow the Church’s teachings on sexual morality as a whole. 

Benedict’s stunning self-sacrifice constitutes, in my view, the greatest gamble in the papacy’s 2,000-year history. If it works, the Church will begin to restore its besmirched reputation. If it fails, we Catholics are headed for calamitous conflict and fragmentation.


A great day for British justice: Theresa May vows to take UK out of the European Court of Human Rights

Britain is set to pull out of the discredited European Convention on Human Rights that has allowed dangerous criminals and hate preachers to remain in the UK.

It marks a triumph for The Mail on Sunday’s campaign against the ludicrous abuses of justice carried out in the name of human rights.

The historic move, to be announced soon by Home Secretary Theresa May, would mean foreign courts could no longer meddle in British justice.

The European Convention has led to such hugely controversial decisions as banning the deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada and giving British prisoners the right to vote.

Mrs May’s bold proposals to include the move in the next Tory Election manifesto reflect the party’s growing hostility towards Europe. If enacted, her policy would leave British judges free  to interpret the law without interference from the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Mrs May wants to withdraw from the convention before the next Election in 2015, but Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a keen pro-European, has made it clear he will veto the initiative.

As a result, it is set to be a manifesto promise to be put into action if David Cameron wins an overall majority. Together with the Prime Minister’s vow to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, it will give the Tory manifesto a strong anti-European theme to combat the increasing appeal of UKIP.

The provisions of the European convention are already enshrined in British law in the Human Rights Act – but under Mrs May’s plan, the final right of appeal would be to the British Supreme Court, not Strasbourg.

The proposal is bound to be seen as a response to the Tories’ humiliation of being beaten into third place in the Eastleigh by-election by Nigel Farage’s rampant UKIP. But well-placed sources insist the Home Secretary has been working on the issue for months, supported by Mr Cameron and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, and say it is not a ‘knee jerk’ response to the drubbing.

Last night, Nick de Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and a member of the Commons Justice Select Committee, hailed the move as ‘hugely significant’.

He said: ‘This would be a crucial pledge that will convince many, many voters to return a Conservative government at the next  Election.

‘It is imperative that we have legal decisions made here, not in Strasbourg. With this pledge, no longer will foreign criminals be able to take refuge in this country when they should be deported immediately after being released from prison.’

Mr Clegg blocked a similar move after Mr Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010.

As a compromise, the Coalition set up a panel to investigate the possibility of a British Bill of Rights.  But after 19 months and £700,000 of taxpayers’ money, the panel was branded ‘fatally flawed’ when it produced its findings last year: it did not even discuss whether Britain should pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

An attempt to reform the convention last year by Mr Cameron was dismissed as a flop after experts said it amounted to little more than ‘tinkering’.

The Prime Minister said the European Court was in danger of being ‘swamped’ by unimportant cases and had undermined its own reputation by overturning judgments decided in British courts.

Fewer cases should go to Strasbourg and British judges should be left to decide outcomes more often, he said.

But Mr Cameron’s move to significantly limit the court’s powers to influence the British legal process was opposed by Sir Nicolas Bratza, the British judge who headed the Strasbourg court until November.

Sir Nicolas, 67, accused countries such as Britain of trying to ‘dictate’ how it should operate.

He demanded independence for the court’s judges and said he was determined to protect ‘minority interests’ who bring cases to the court.

Sir Nicholas said that he had ‘no sympathy’ with critics of the ECHR who call for a shift in power away from Strasbourg.

The ECHR was set up after the Second World War to prevent torture and human rights abuses. The court was established in 1959, giving complainants direct access to justice at a European level.

But critics say the court has grown out of all proportion, and its judges do not even need to have any judicial experience in their homeland.

Lord Hoffman, a former Law Lord, said last year: ‘The Strasbourg Court has taken upon itself an extraordinary power to micromanage the legal systems of the member states of the Council of Europe. The very concept of human rights is being trivialised by silly interpretations.’

In theory, the Council of Europe, a body with 47 member states which oversees the Strasbourg court, could retaliate against Mrs May by expelling Britain. But this has not happened to other countries found guilty of flouting human rights laws in the past.

Opposition to the ECHR in Britain has been fuelled by a series of high-profile cases. The court wants to see tens of thousands of prisoners, including murderers and rapists, being given the vote, regardless of the offence that they have committed.

Its ruling, in defiance of a 100-year ban on votes for prisoners in the UK, came after the ECHR backed a complaint by John Hirst, a convicted axe killer.

The ECHR rejected an overwhelming vote by MPs for maintaining the ban, as Mr Cameron protested that the thought of prisoners voting made him feel ‘physically ill.’ Instead the ECHR threatened to award compensation in thousands of cases if the Prime Minister refused to change the law.

Last November, hate preacher Abu Qatada was freed after defying attempts by Mrs May to deport him to Jordan, where he is wanted on terror charges.

His victory came after an ECHR ruling that his trial in Jordan  could be unfair because some of the evidence might have been obtained by torture. The original objection was that Qatada himself could face torture, prompting Mrs May to accuse the ECHR of ‘moving the goalposts’.

Qatada has received hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits, while his praise for terror attacks led to him being dubbed Al Qaeda’s ‘ambassador in Europe’.


British Green belt at risk as gipsy camp rules are enforced

Ministers have ordered councils to increase the number of authorised sites for gipsy families, despite concerns that the ruling could increase tensions and see more caravans in the countryside.

Local authorities are also being given financial incentives, through council tax bonuses, to build traveller sites. A separate £60 million government fund will help cover construction costs.

Without action, the number of travellers’ caravans in unauthorised camps will almost double from 2,400 in 2010 to 4,500 by 2015, claims the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The total number of gipsy and traveller caravans in England and Wales has increased by 39 per cent between 2000 and 2011 to 18,383.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, said all councils must have allocated enough land by March 27 to cover rising numbers of traveller sites for the next five years.

Mr Boles said the measures would see more authorised sites for traveller camps, reducing the number of illegal settlements, such as the former camp at Dale Farm in Essex.

Ministers believe the policy will ease tensions between travellers and local residents in permanent housing and ultimately save councils money on evictions.

However, the official “impact assessment” on the rules warns of a risk that the arrangements will result in more unauthorised camps in the countryside.

“There is a potential risk that local authorities will not consider working together to produce joint plans,” the document says. “There may also be potential risks to areas such as the Green Belt if a local planning authority has special or strict planning constraints across its area unless neighbouring authorities were to work with it.”

The Government said national planning guidance had increased protection for the green belt, while councils will have more powers to tackle unauthorised camps.


Frankly, this secrecy is undemocratic

AUSTRALIA boasts a stable democracy and a famously frank political culture. Yet for all that robustness, Australians too readily accept secrecy by those representing us.

Like many journalists, I know a simple truth: if you want useful detail and you want it before your deadline, don't bother waiting for our leaders or their high-level officials. That way lies stone-walling and obfuscation.

A better bet is to go straight to the Americans, the Brits, the New Zealanders, or even the Indonesians.

And you don't even need to go to them directly. Sometimes their websites display a level of detail Australian officials reflexively withhold as if the country's survival depends on its non-disclosure.

Foreign officials are sometimes disarmingly frank and are often quite happy to background media revealing pertinent facts, context and atmosphere.

Perhaps surprisingly, Australia's claimed egalitarianism and supposed disdain for rank and privilege does not extend to a perceived right of ordinary people to information.

When US President Barack Obama travelled to Cambodia last November for the East Asia Summit, members of the White House press corps were given a detailed briefing covering what the administration hoped to achieve in foreign policy terms and how the President would go about it. The briefing was transcribed and made available on the White House website.

Australian journalists covering the summit were provided a logistical briefing on Prime Minister Julia Gillard's main appointments. Matters of inevitable interest to the media were judiciously excluded, such as the fact that Ms Gillard's partner Tim was accompanying her and that his son would meet the couple in the Cambodian capital.

A Reuters colleague tells of approaching the Australian embassy in Burma during a period of intense political violence. He was turned away amid "blind panic" at the ramifications of talking to the press. The British, on the other hand, invited him inside, offered a full briefing and even provided internet facilities.

Domestically, the same non-disclosure tendencies inform most of what governments do.

Last week, Fairfax Media's Anne Davies reported on a push to have Gillard reveal her daily diary, so Australians can see what she is doing, and with whom she is meeting.

This kind of information is available in other countries, including the US and Britain.

Yet it is so foreign to official Australian sensibilities as to be almost unthinkable.

Ask the Prime Minister's office about issues being considered at Cabinet meetings and, more often than not, there is a reluctance to confirm even that a meeting is scheduled.

Now as we enter the longest-ever federal election campaign, both sides are moving into super-secure mode. This involves not revealing where and when the leader will be at any given time.

The dominant fear is of protesters stealing the limelight and wrecking carefully stage-managed television pictures. To that end, advice to media is parsed out on an event-by-event basis.

This circling of the wagons reaches its absurd apotheosis during the campaign proper when travelling media are not told of campaign functions and destinations sometimes until the last possible moment. This secrecy is inimical to democracy.

In its place we get circuses such as this week's Western Sydney soiree crafted to impart the illusion of accountability and participation while cementing in place the polar opposite.



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


3 March, 2013

TV Networks Make Pope Butt of Jokes, Center of Scandal:

* Since the Pope’s resignation announcement, networks have characterized the Catholic Church as “troubled 122 times and used the word “scandal” 87 times.

* Catholics Must Get With The Times: ABC, CBS and NBC have pushed for the church to be more liberal – calling for church to “modernize” 32 times, change its stance on women seven times and on gays 13 times.

* Making a Joke of Faith: The resignation of the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics is the time for … making jokes. The networks ran jokes from late night shows about the Pope seven times and even brought on comedian George Lopez to give his sacrilegious perspective on Catholicism.

* All They Learned, They Learned From Fiction: ABC was obsessed with Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” comparisons, even though Brown was reviled for his attacks on the church and for his outlandish account of Jesus.

A frail, ailing 85-year-old man announces he doesn’t have the strength to continue as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people. With the humility of one whose entire life has been in service to God and his Church, he says he will retire to quietly live out his remaining years.

Cue the laugh track and gin up the scandal rumors. It was three weeks full of journalistic contempt for the Pope and the Catholic Church.

ABC, CBS and NBC have never been fans of Pope Benedict XVI. They saw the former Cardinal Ratzinger as a “hard-liner” for “strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion,” as ABC’s Dan Harris put it in 2008. But the broadcast networks’ coverage of Benedict and the Catholic Church in the weeks since he announced his retirement has been bizarre – relentless negativity punctuated by often inappropriate humor and personal attacks.

From Benedict’s Feb. 11 resignation through the evening of Feb. 27, the day before it took effect, the networks referred to the Catholic Church as a troubled institution 122 times and aired the word “scandal” 87 times in 112 reports. Anchors and reporters suggested that the Church must modernize (32 times) and pressed for change in issues regarding women (7 times) and gays (13 times). At times, they trivialized the first resignation of a Pope since the 1500s as “worthy of a Dan Brown novel.”(ABC’s Harris again.) and sensationalized it by entertaining theories about other reasons Benedict might be stepping down.

The night before the Pope’s resignation took effect, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos said he was “known as God’s Rottweiler.”

The networks also aired jokes from late-night comics about the Pope and the church, and even asked a comedian for his thoughts on the resignation.

Network bias against the church and traditional Catholicism has never been so clearly apparent as in these few weeks ending Benedict XVI’s papacy.

Laughing the Pope Away

Christians have long suspected that most of what media types know about the faith comes from comic monologues and satirical TV shows. Over the last few weeks, the networks have done their best to confirm it, choosing to air seven jokes about Benedict and the Catholic Church from late night comics.

The most inappropriate injection of comedy into the story came from CBS “This Morning” on Feb. 22, during an appearance by comic George Lopez. Lopez, although a Catholic, has repeatedly cracked pedophilia jokes about the church in the past. So of course CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell treated him as an authority on Catholicism, asking, “Do you think we’re going to have a Hispanic Pope?” Lopez had hope, because, after all, “There’s enough room for his children [in the Vatican].”

Lopez only went downhill from there. He gnawed at the Pope’s resignation saying, “But first of all, with the Pope now, you don’t quit. Listen, there’s no crying in baseball.” At O’Donnell’s prompting he went on, “There’s no quitting in Catholicism.” Lopez then said he didn’t believe the Pope’s health was the real reasons for his resignation. “You can’t throw in the holy towel and say, listen, I’m concerned about my health.” Instead, Benedict is “being squeezed out by some bad cardinals.”

Over at NBC’s “Today” show February12, the hosts expressed a particular appreciation for Jimmy Fallon. They aired a Fallon spoof of a Twitter war between the Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict XVI calling each other names. Willie Geist summarized one of the Pope’s “tweets:” “My hat is dope says the Pope.” Natalie Morales immediately added, “We love Jimmy Fallon. We love it. He’s so creative.”

Both CBS “This Morning” and “Today” aired a piece of “Saturday Night Live” concerning the Pope’s resignation on February 18. CBS showed a greater extension of the clip, beginning with a man declaring, “There is no God.” SNL’s Jason Sudeikis replied, “Hey, hey, there is a God. He has not abandoned us, OK. All right. Let’s see what’s in the news. The Pope resigned. Oh, lord.”

Jimmy Fallon material turned up again on “This Morning” February 12, saying that for Lent, “Some Catholics will give up chocolates. Some Catholics will give up alcohol and one Catholic is giving up being Pope.”

The next day, “This Morning” showed a clip of Jimmy Kimmel quipping about Benedict’s next occupation: “What will the Pope do for – for work from now on? He could become the most over qualified Wal-Mart greeter of all time …”

“This Morning” featured Conan O’Brien twice, on February 12 and February 21. In the first clip, O’Brien commented on the Pope’s surprising resignation, “Yes, a pretty dramatic change. It means he’ll go from wearing a robe all day to wearing a robe all day.” The second clip showed him turning the papal conclave into a baseball game: “It’s being reported that the next Pope could be a cardinal from Boston, which means the Vatican may soon endorse birth control but only for Yankee fans.”

David Letterman also made an appearance on “This Morning” in a clip where he said “The Vatican is already holding auditions to see who might be the next Pope. And we – we have one of those auditions…” The clip ended before proceeding to Letterman’s Vatican audition skit, which turned the cardinals’ conclave into an acrobatic exhibition.

The jokes themselves were mostly inoffensive, and they’re entirely appropriate for late-night talk shows. But to choose to feature them on news programs shows a lack of seriousness and respect. It’s difficult to imagine those shows yucking it up about an important event in any other faith – especially Islam. The Pope is the spiritual father of Catholicism, beloved by the faithful. He, and they, deserve more respect from “news” organizations.


Holocaust row: Liberal MP who condemned 'the Jews' to escape punishment while he has TRAINING in how not to be anti-Semitic

A Lib Dem MP who sparked a row on the eve of a Holocaust memorial with comments about 'the Jews' is to escape censure while he receives training in how not to be offensive.

Campaigners accused Nick Clegg of not taking anti-Semitism seriously after it emerged that plans to punish Bradford East MP David Ward have been 'adjourned' while he learns what language to use in future.

The row comes as the Lib Dems reputation has been battered by allegations of a cover-up over groping claims against Lord Rennard and the resignation of former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne, who faces jail for perverting the course of justice.

Embattled Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg staged a showdown meeting with Mr Ward over his 'unacceptable' comments in which he accused 'the Jews' of atrocities against Palestinians.

Days before the annual Holocaust Memorial Day last month, Mr Ward wrote on his blog: 'Having visited Auschwitz twice - once with my family and once with local schools - I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.'

He was summoned to the meeting with Mr Clegg and Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael where he was told his use of the phrase was ‘unacceptable and must not be repeated’.

During the hearing Mr Ward agreed to remove the comments from his website and said he would work with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel to ‘agree language’ that is proportionate, according to the party.

But the Holocaust Educational Trust said the Lib Dems' response to the ‘sickening’ comments was ‘disappointing’.

The row first blew up over a posting made by Mr Ward after signing a memorial book to mark Holocaust Memorial Day last month.

Following the disciplinary meeting Mr Carmichael sent a letter to the MP setting out the party's actions.

He wrote: ‘At the meeting you undertook to work along with Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel and Simon Hughes MP to identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise in your future interventions in this debate. We would also hope that this would allow you to achieve a better understanding of the legitimate concern that your comments has caused within the wider Jewish community.

‘I am not clear how much time this work will require although it will involve other people making time available to work with you and their availability is at present unknown.

'In the circumstances, therefore, the disciplinary process currently stands adjourned and a date will require to be fixed at which progress can be reviewed and it can be concluded.’

Mr Carmichael added that Mr Clegg wanted it to be understood that the ‘party recognises your right to express your legitimately and sincerely held views’ on conditions in which Palestinians live, especially on the West Bank and in Gaza.

He added: ‘He was equally clear, however, that the language in which these views are articulated must not be generalised and indiscriminate in its nature. Liberal Democrats believe in fearless criticism where it is justified, but abhor generalised condemnation of a whole people where it is not.’

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: ‘This is a disappointing response to Mr Ward's sickening and unacceptable comments which he has kept on his website.

‘He has shown no understanding of the offence he caused in both the language that he used and the timing of his comments - sadly the mishandling of this situation appears to demonstrate that Holocaust equivocation and anti-Semitism are not being taken seriously.’


Must not kill mice?

He's never been one to shy away from controversy.  And now Jeremy Clarkson has managed to rile animal activists, after he posted a photo of a huge mouse that had been flattened during rehearsals for his show, Top Gear.

The television presenter, who is currently filming his car series in Russia, posted the photo with the comment: 'Sadly, some animals were harmed during rehearsals for Top Gear Live in Moscow.'

Clarkson, 52, posted a close up picture of the animal, which lay twisted and flattened in the road.

While some of his fans joked that the mouse could be his co-star Richard Hammond, 43, - whose nickname is the 'Hamster' - animal right's charity PETA were not amused.

A spokesman said: 'This man seems doomed to be remembered as an oaf and lout, stuck in a bully boyhood, in which it's funny to mock the misfortunes of anyone in a slightly different form than his own.

'His tombstone will read, "Ignorant and unfeeling, except when it came to cars".'


Australian Muslim activists lose free speech case

Two Muslim activists accused of sending offensive letters to families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan narrowly lost a court appeal Wednesday that cited their constitutional freedom of speech.

Iranian-born Man Horan Monis, a self-styled Sydney cleric also known as Sheik Haron, was charged in 2009 with 12 counts of using as postal service in an offensive way and one count of using a postal service in a harassing way. Amirah Droudis was charged with aiding and abetting the offences.

The six judges of the High Court split on whether the charges were compatible with Australians' right to free speech. When the nation's highest court is undecided, an appeal is dismissed and the lower court decision stands.

That sends the charges to a lower court where they will be heard on a date to be set.

Monis allegedly wrote letters critical of Australia's military involvement in Afghanistan and condemning the dead soldiers. He also allegedly wrote to the mother of an Australian official killed in a terrorist bomb blast in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2009 and blamed Australian government policy for the tragedy.

His lawyers argued in the High Court last year that the charges were invalid because they infringed on Australians' right to freedom of political communication.

The Australian Constitution doesn't include an equivalent of the U.S. First Amendment. But the High Court has held for decades that the constitution contains an implied right to free speech because such political communication is essential to democracy. This right is not as extensive as that guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The pair had appealed in the High Court the unanimous ruling of three judges of the New South Wales state Court of Appeal in December 2011.

"Whilst at one level the letters are critical of the involvement of the Australian military in Afghanistan, they also refer to the deceased soldiers in a denigrating and derogatory fashion," their judgment said.

It is not immediately clear what potential jail term the charges carry.



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


1 March, 2013

ACLU Loses Plaintiff, and Ten Commandments Case

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lost its six-year campaign to tear down a Ten Commandments monument at the Dixie County, Florida courthouse.

They've even lost their usual extortion money for harassing a community.

The case fell apart after the plaintiff, an anonymous North Carolina man who had planned to come to Dixie County to live in his RV, decided not to move there after all.

Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice M. Paul dismissed the case without prejudice on Feb. 13, because the plaintiff lacked standing. The ACLU could re-file if an actual resident is willing to buck the strong tide of sentiment in the county. For now, Mr. “‘Heel on Wheels” [not his actual nickname] has sunk the ship.

In February 2007, the ACLU filed a lawsuit naming “John Doe” as the plaintiff. Judge Paul ruled in 2011 that the monument was an establishment of religion, and awarded $130,000 in legal fees to the ACLU, which had tried to finger the taxpayers for $160,000. He then stayed his order, and was reversed by the 11th Circuit. When the plaintiff pulled out, it blew up the whole thing, including the ACLU’s award of legal fees.

Harry Mihet, an attorney at Liberty Counsel, which represented Dixie County, found the outcome pleasing: “We went from an order that ‘the monument goes and you have to pay $130,000 to the ACLU,’ to ‘the monument stays, and the ACLU has to pay a total of $3, 600,’” Mr. Mihet told me.

For the 75-year-old “John Doe,” the dismissal’s bright spot is that he won’t have to leave North Carolina’s barbecue country for less certain barbecue conditions in Florida. He made the decision not to move upon learning that his identity would be revealed if the case proceeded. The initial ruling had triggered a pro-monument rally of 1,500 in nearby Cross City, whose population is 1,700, according to Ocala.com. So far, the ACLU has not insisted that Cross City change its name.

Mr. “Doe” apparently figured, according to the ACLU, that his new neighbors would welcome him not with their own version of home-cooked barbecue but with something a little stronger. No word on whether the good citizens of Dixie County will countersue for defamation, claiming that “John Doe” and the ACLU have slyly caricatured them as violent half wits right out of the movie “Deliverance.”

“The ACLU got caught with its hands in the constitutional cookie jar,” Mr. Mihet said in a press release. “In getting kicked out of court, the ACLU has learned that it cannot impose its San Francisco values upon a small town in Florida, using a phantom member from North Carolina.” The five-foot-tall 12,000-pound monument was erected at the top of the courthouse steps in 2006 after Joe Anderson Jr., chairman and founder of Lake City-based road builder Anderson Columbia, purchased it for $20,000.

Joe Anderson has not only funded several other Ten Commandments monuments in Florida, but also a “revival” mobile display. It’s parked somewhere until legal threats arise, and then it takes off down the road. “He’s having some fun with the ACLU,” Mr. Mihet said.

“We’re just getting started,” Mr. Anderson, 73, told me last Friday, saying that he had several requests from other counties to erect Ten Commandment monuments. “We got a bunch of them up right now, already built, ready to go.”

After the initial ruling, Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, commented:

“Dixie County is not establishing a religion by allowing a private individual to place a monument in a location where similar monuments may be placed. Dixie County should be applauded, not sued, for fostering open and robust speech in a public forum. Rather than take advantage of the forum, the ACLU prefers to censor speech with which it disagrees.”

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in favor of a Ten Commandments monument alongside other historical items at the Texas state capitol, the ACLU has had a tougher time ripping God’s directives out of the ground. Oklahoma just installed a set of privately-financed Ten Commandments on the state capitol grounds in November.

Hiram Saffer, director of litigation for Texas-based Liberty Institute, which will represent Oklahoma in any legal challenge, said the ACLU has not yet sued there, but is actively trying to tear down crosses such as the one atop the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego. In that case, in which Liberty Institute is representing the Memorial Association, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to reverse a Ninth Circuit order to take down the cross. All parties are awaiting a “remedy” fashioned by the lower courts.

In King, North Carolina, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is suing to have a veterans memorial remove a Christian flag and a statue of a soldier kneeling at a comrade’s grave. How do we know it’s a grave? Because of the cross. Liberty Institute is representing the American Legion.

While the courts sort things out, wouldn’t it be interesting if Florida’s Mr. Anderson took his mobile Ten Commandment display on the road, up to North Carolina? He might run into “John Doe” and his RV.

Now, that would be a race to remember, and I wouldn’t bet against the Ten Commandments.


The Southern Poverty Law Center and Violent Bullying

Bullying is not a new phenomenon; it’s as old as man. But bullying has reached a point of near epidemic proportions, with one in four children experiencing bullying and up to 35 percent of the U.S. workforce reporting being bullied at work. Bullying is wrong, and should have no defenders.

Bullying knows no boundaries. It’s not just boys on the playground or people at work; it can even be organizations on the national stage as was revealed in a federal court room on February 6th.

What was unveiled in the court chambers was the reality that some of the nation’s biggest bullies hide behind the façade of being against bullying!

Consider the following:

In July 2011, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sued the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, in apparent coordination with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, for discrimination based on sexual orientation related to bullying.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is located northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since the early 1990s, Anoka-Hennepin had witnessed an ongoing debate over the nature of its sex education curriculum. The Parents Action League (PAL), located within the school district in Champlin, was founded by concerned parents in 2010 to participate in the process of the development of bullying policies.

The SPLC said the school district’s anti-bullying policy that was neutral toward homosexuality, declaring it was neither a moral right or moral wrong, was “discriminatory” and sued the District. PAL, which opposed the SPLC’s imposition of their pro-homosexual bullying policy, was then placed on the SPLC’s national hate group list along with the Klan.

Who is the real bully?

Lest one might think this was an isolated case of bullying, in January 2013, a federal magistrate judge in Colorado called out the Southern Poverty Law Center for their tactics.

In this case Eugene Delgaudio, the president of the Public Advocate of the United States, a non-profit advocacy organization, had opposed political candidates in Colorado, who supported the redefinition of marriage, and used a photograph of two homosexual men to illustrate his opposition to the candidates. The SPLC teamed up with the two homosexual men to file suit against Delgaudio’s organization and in their public filings posted Delgaudio’s home address for the sole purpose of intimidation.

In the recent investigation of Floyd Corkins, the armed gunman who attacked the FRC headquarters, seriously wounding our colleague Leo Johnson, it was reported that Corkins was seen casing the headquarters of Delgaudio’s group in Northern Virginia. This information was apparently a factor in the order handed down by Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya.

Judge Tafoya ordered the SPLC to remove Delgaudio’s private address because it might subject Delgaudio to “politically motivated harassment, or even violence.”

The threat of violence was clearly not speculative. Judge Tafoya’s order came six months after the August 15 attack on FRC. How did Corkins choose FRC and his other targets?

According to statements of the federal prosecutor the evidence revealed the source of Corkins’ hit list was, in fact, the SPLC’s “hate map,” that listed FRC’s address.

At FRC, we hate no one. We actively affirm God’s love for everyone. We also affirm what we believe to be sound theological and sociological reasons for upholding sexual morality and preserving marriage as the institution between one man and one woman.

Is this hate? Most reasonable people would say no. Evidently the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees, and under the guise of “anti-bullying,” the SPLC is willingly fomenting hostility and violence that is jeopardizing the lives of the people with whom they disagree, just to advance their cause.

It is time the public sees the SPLC for what they really are – bullies intent on intimidating and silencing those who oppose their anti-parent, anti-Christian policies. 


Scrap 'dangerous and unnecessary' secret justice bill, hundreds of lawyers and QCs urge the British Government

Hundreds of lawyers, including some of the country’s most eminent QCs, today launch a devastating attack on Government plans for secret courts as ‘contrary to the rule of law’ and demand they are dropped.

More than 700 figures from the legal profession insist that the Government’s Justice and Security Bill is ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ and will ‘fatally undermine’ the fairness of court hearings.

The group of 702, which includes 38 QCs, says in a letter published in today’s Daily Mail that the proposals to allow a huge extension of court hearings behind closed doors will ‘erode core principles of our civil justice system’ by undermining the right to a fair trial and open justice.

They include Nicholas Vineall QC, former chairman of the Conservative Lawyers’ Association, Reverend Nicholas Mercer, a lieutenant colonel who was the Army’s most senior lawyer during the Iraq war, and Ian Macdonald QC, who resigned as a security-cleared special advocate in protest at the existing use of secret justice.

The intervention of such a significant number of lawyers is a shattering blow for the Government, which had been hoping to get the legislation through Parliament as quietly as possible following months of controversy. It is expected to return to the Commons next week.

In another setback for the Government, a group of international organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and similar bodies from Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Egypt and Hungary, also expressed concerns about the Bill in a joint statement.

It warned: ‘If the UK Parliament passes this proposal into law it will be a huge setback for those of us fighting to secure truth and fairness from our own governments and within our own justice systems across the world.’

The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in civil hearings.

Defendants or claimants will not allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.

Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.

The legislation has been drafted in close cooperation with the security services, who have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.

But critics say the proposals are simply designed to ensure potentially embarrassing cases are conducted behind closed doors.

Reverend Nicholas Mercer, one of the most prominent signatories of today’s letter, said: ‘The Justice and Security Bill has one principle aim and that is to cover up UK complicity in rendition and torture.

‘The Bill is an affront to the open justice on which this country rightly prides itself and, above all, it is an affront to human dignity. The fact that some of those individuals who are complicit in rendition and torture can not only assist in the drafting of the Bill but also vote to cover their tracks is a constitutional scandal.

‘It is little wonder that the Bill has been heavily criticised by the UN Rapporteur on Torture and condemned by the vast majority of lawyers and human rights organisations in this country.’

Michael Fordham QC, one of the country's leading public law specialists, warned the Government that if it pressed ahead judges might refuse to preside over secret courts.

‘Secret trials undermine the principles of open justice and natural justice on which the rule of law is built. By promoting the spread of secrecy, state authorities become self-immunised from proper public scrutiny, and in relation to the very types of actions which most need it,’ he said.
no to secret justice

‘Parliament is unwisely provoking the untapped power of our unwritten constitution which it could come to regret. The last word will not be Parliament's, but that of judges asked to preside over secret courts. An unwise Parliament may be about to find that it has constitutional limits, when the rule of law fights back.’

Paul Bowen QC said: ‘The extension of closed material procedures is not necessary for public protection.  The state is already free to withhold evidence from disclosure under Public Interest Immunity procedures.  What is not fair, or just, is evidence being shown in secret to the judge who decides the case on the basis of that evidence.

‘In those cases where disclosure of torture or other human rights abuses by the British government or its agents is sought, the public interest surely requires that to be brought into the open.’

Dinah Rose QC, a former special advocate and another signatory, said: ‘Closed material procedures are alien to British justice and will distort civil trials beyond recognition.

'What may look and sound like a trial is in fact nothing of the sort. Judges will be asked to decide cases on the basis of "secret evidence" that would not withstand legal challenge and hand down judgments in secret. This Bill is a dangerous perversion of our national legal system and will undermine constitutional rights.’

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: ‘When will the coalition that once championed civil liberties listen to the condemnation of its secret courts proposals?

‘Liberty was dismissed as the reactionary human rights lobby- but now legal and international communities have joined the opposition to secret stitch-ups between government and judges, with victims, press and public shut outside. Secret justice is a complete perversion - it is no justice at all.’
key evidence on spy will be censored

Minister without portfolio Kenneth Clarke, who is in charge of the legislation, will today table further amendments supposed to address some of the concerns of critics.

They mean a judge must be satisfied that the Government has considered whether to make a claim for public interest immunity before making an application for a secret hearing as one of the tests to be met. Mr Clarke is also proposing an annual report on the operation of closed hearings and a full review after five years.

He said: ‘With these final amendments the Government has gone to extreme lengths to meet every practical legal objection that has been made about the Bill. The judge now has total discretion over whether to order a closed material procedure following an application either by the Government, the claimant, or from the court of its own motion.

‘I do not believe closed material procedures are ideal, but in the very exceptional circumstances where national security is at stake, they offer the only practical means of delivering justice where otherwise there would be none.

‘CMPs already exist in our justice system and the Government does lose in them – sometimes to the great anger of the Daily Mail’s readers.

‘This Bill is now proportionate, sensible and necessary.  It resolves the highly unsatisfactory legal no-man’s land we have at the moment where national security cases can be brought, but not resolved.

‘Of course these amendments will not reassure the Bill’s hardline critics, who prefer silence to judicial decisions on allegations of kidnap and torture, and are prepared to accept that millions of pounds could go without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.

These final amendments should now resolve all right thinking citizens that this is a sensible, worthwhile Bill which they would give their support to.

'There are few Governments in the world who would go to these lengths to ensure that we will uphold justice and the rule of law in the process of securely safeguarding the safety of our citizens and the national interest.’


British college lecturer confronts teenage bullies who punched her nine-year-old son... and SHE'S dragged to court for breaching the peace

A college lecturer landed in court after standing up to bullies who attacked her young son in the street.

Shannon Sibley, 48, was charged with a breach of the peace after her nine-year-old son was punched and had abuse hurled at him by a group of teenagers.

Miss Sibley, from Carfin, Lanarkshire, took her car out to find those responsible and confront them after her son had been reduced to tears.

The mother-of-two caught up with her son's tormentors, who had been selling sweets in her housing estate, and after a heated exchange returned home.

But she was reported to the police after a witness saw the incident on May 20 last year.

Miss Sibley, a senior lecturer in travel and tourism at Anniesland College in Glasgow, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court where she pleaded guilty to the offence.

But Sheriff David Bicket gave her an absolute discharge and told her he 'understood' the reasons for her actions after hearing the case.

Today, Tory politician Margaret Mitchell MSP blasted prosecutors for allowing the case to reach court.

She said: 'I think the sheriff has looked at all the mitigating factors and decided that there wasn't a reason to punish this woman despite the position taken by prosecutors that a crime had taken place.

'I can't help but sympathise with her and feel that the sheriff certainly came to the right decision by dealing with the case with an absolute discharge.'

Depute fiscal Fiona Kirkby told the court how the incident had unfolded.

She said: 'The accused's son, aged nine, was involved in an incident with the complainer, a young male aged 13.

'He came home and was very upset. The complainer and a group of friends had been selling sweets round houses in the area.

'After her son returned home, the accused then got into her car and arrived at the locus and confronted the complainer.

'She asked him why he assaulted her son and shouted 'How would you like to be bullied' and similar utterances.

'The accused was extremely angry. A female witness who had been buying sweets from the complainer split the confrontation up.

'The witness then tried to note Miss Sibley's registration down as she drove away at which point she opened the car window and shouted her address to the woman.

'The witness then attended to the boy who was shaken by the incident and it was reported to police.'

Defence lawyer Heather McCracken said: 'Miss Sibley's son was playing in the street outside their home with a friend.

'The complainer and a number of his friends made certain taunts and offensive remarks to the nine-year-old child who was wearing a green top.

'Miss Sibley's son was then hit and he returned home. The group who were involved in the altercation were not from the area and were selling tablets and sweets round the doors of the estate.

'She took her son in the car to find the boys who were responsible for the assault. When she confronted the boy, she was told to f*** off.

'She then felt threatened by a forward movement by the complainer and made a pushing away gesture.

'Miss Sibley is a college lecturer and holds a high up position in the education authority and has assisted children affected by poverty.

'To say this episode has had a profound effect on Miss Sibley is an understatement.'

Miss Sibley said: 'This has cost me thousands of pounds and caused great upset. I don't want to talk about it.'

Sheriff David Bicket said: 'I am satisfied that this was a one off incident and although I do not condone it I understand the explanation behind the offence. I am discharging you absolutely.'



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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds