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 May, 2011

Queer judge blames Christians for spreading AIDS!

How offensive and perverse! Article below by Michael Kirby, a retired Australian High Court judge who is openly homosexual. Christians are like Apartheid practitioners according to His Honour.

Instead of blaming Christians, might it not be a more productive strategy in the fight against AIDS to dissuade homosexual penises from entering homosexual anuses?

In 2010 Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa declared that the time had come, particularly for Africans, to stop the “wave of hate” and to stand up “against wrong”.

He was referring to the wrong to “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people” who are “part of the African family” and who “are living in fear.”

This news from Africa would be bad enough. But the same fear extends far beyond that continent. And in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, which has afflicted humanity since the 1980s, the vulnerable are not only gays but also sex workers, injecting drug users (IDUs) and women.

This fear exists in many countries where, despite the knowledge that science now affords us about human sexuality, irrational hatred of sexual minorities and sexual activities is encouraged and even sometimes promoted by religious leaders, in supposed reliance upon their understandings of religious texts.

They rely on their imperfect understanding of what was written in ancient books long before Dr. Alfred Kinsey, American biologist and founder of the Institute of Sex Research, demonstrated the realities of human sexual experience, the frequency and variety of its manifestations, and the dangers and injustice of punishing people for adult, private, consensual sexual conduct. [Relying on the perverted Kinsey and his discredited "research" shows the intellectual shallowness of Judge Kirby]

Most religious people are good and kind. Love for one another exists as a basic tenet in all religions and all cultures. I have myself been brought up in religious faith. I honour brothers and sisters in all religions who are struggling to make a charitable, informed and unbiased contribution to the global struggle against HIV/AIDS.

However, officially the Roman Catholic and Greek and Orthodox Christian churches are still in serious denial about the scientific evidence available about human sexuality. As they have often been in denial about science and its teachings in the past.

Just as they originally denied the opinions of Galileo and Copernicus that the earth circled the sun. And as they, and the Anglican Church, originally denied Darwin’s thesis of evolution of the species, expounded 150 years ago.

Clutching onto imperfect understandings of ancient scripture, leaders of most of the spiritual faiths, instead of re-examining their holy texts by reference to science (as they did in other instances in the past), have adopted a new, irrational approach.

In other parts of the world, the hate may not always be so intense. But the stigma over sexual conduct that is often taught by religious people cannot be accepted any longer. It is now a major cause of death in the AIDS epidemic.

It has to stop. Not only because it is immoral, conflicted, irrational and wrong. But also because it is now seriously impeding the global struggle against HIV and AIDS for the saving of lives. The magnitude of the suffering demands blunt speaking at this time.

As Bishop Tutu has said: “All of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services…Show me where Christ said ‘Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones’. Gay people too are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

Rightly, Bishop Tutu has drawn a parallel between the earlier, successful, global struggle against racial apartheid and the present global struggle against sexual apartheid. To the moral struggle against sexual apartheid must now be added the urgent needs of the struggle against HIV and AIDS.


Britain returning to its old measurements

About time too. You don't make decimal point mistakes with Imperial measurements

Strawberries will be sold by the pound on supermarket shelves again today as the clock is turned back for shoppers who prefer old-style weights. Asda is to sell 1lb punnets of strawberries for the first time in 16 years to gauge shopper demand ahead of a potential roll-out of imperial measurements to other fruit and vegetables. The punnets will display both imperial and metric weight labels.

The move follows consumer research which found that 70 per cent of the supermarket’s shoppers were confused by metric and would prefer products to be labelled in pounds.

Around 20 per cent said they took longer to shop because they spent time translating metric into imperial.

‘No one wants to order a litre of beer in the pub, so why do we have to buy 453.39g of strawberries?’ Asda strawberry buyer Andy Jackson told trade magazine The Grocer.

Consumers had the right to see both types of measurement on their groceries, according to John Gardner, director at the British Weights and Measures Association. All packs have to display metric weights, but imperial can be used as a ‘supplementary indication’, since an EU law change in 2007.

Asda said it may extend pounds and ounces to other fruit and vegetable if the trial was successful.


The Left ignores the truly oppressed

By Barry Cohen (Barry is a former member of an Australian Labor Party government and one of my favourite people)

FREEDOM is not something that occupies the minds of most Australians for they have always had it. It has, however, gained a new lease of life in the Middle East where only one of the 18 countries in the region has ever experienced freedom. This must come as a shock to the motley collection of left-wing academics, students, trade unionists, journalists and the idiot brigade that controls Sydney's Marrickville council.

One institution that was not surprised was a body formed in New York in 1941 to fight Nazism, fascism, communism and totalitarianism in all its forms - Freedom House. From its birth, Freedom House illustrated its independence by having as its co-founders Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband's Republican opponent in the 1940 presidential election, Wendell Willkie.

It has continued to devote its resources to monitoring and measuring political rights and civil liberties on a global basis. Factors taken into account are free and fair elections, freedom of association, freedom from domination by the military, foreign powers, religious hierarchies, freedom of speech, free trade unions, the rule of law and the basic human rights that democracies throughout the world take for granted.

In 1973, Freedom House began its annual survey that rates every country according to a series of freedom indicators. The survey has a seven-point scale for both political rights and civil liberties with one being the best and seven the worst. The average determines the overall status with the free scoring 1 to 2.5, the partly free 3 to 5.0 and those countries who are not free scoring 5.5 to 7.0.

The organisation's most recent report Freedom In The World, 2011 - The Authoritarian Challenge To Democracy, was scathing in its comments on the backward movement in China (the appalling treatment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo); Egypt (Hosni Mubarak's 95 per cent vote in his last election); Belarus (Alexander Lukashenko's 80 per cent vote in its election); Venezuela (pretty well everything); Russia (corruption, arrest and murder of journalists, activists and those opposing the government and the sentencing of regime critic and former oil magnate Mikhail Khordorovsky).

The regional pattern of freedom makes for interesting reading. In the Americas 24 (69 per cent) are free, 10 (29 per cent) are partly free and one (3 per cent) is not free. In Western Europe 24 (96 per cent) are free, one (4 per cent) is partly free and none is not free.

In the Asia-Pacific 16 (41 per cent) countries are free, 15 (38 per cent) are partly free, and eight (21 per cent) are not free. In Central and East Europe/former Soviet Union 13 (45 per cent) countries are free, nine (31 per cent) partly free and seven (24 per cent) are not free.

In the Middle East and north Africa only one (6 per cent) country is free, three (17 per cent) are partly free and 14 (78 per cent) are not free. In sub-Saharan Africa nine (19 per cent) countries are free, 22 (46 per cent) are partly free and 17 (35 per cent) are not free.

The figures illustrate that freedom is very strong in the Americas and western Europe, where only one country is classified as not free, in contrast with the tyranny that reigns throughout the Middle East where only one country is considered free - Israel. Sub-Saharan Africa with 17 countries out of 48 that are not free is better, but only just.

The terms used to describe the three categories are a little insipid. They don't come close to describing the appalling oppression that rules most Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan countries where elections are rigged, dissidents are persecuted, jailed, tortured and often executed. The executive, without the rule of law, has total control of its citizens resulting in regimes where women are treated as 10th-rate citizens, homosexuals and adulterers are often executed and corruption is rife. Westerners find it impossible to imagine what life is like in such brutal regimes.

What is bizarre is that the United Nations not only ignores the absence of basic human rights in these countries but has devoted more than half of its condemnatory resolutions (more than 400) to one country - Israel.

Forty seven out of 194 rated not free is bad enough but it gets worse. Freedom House now has two "unofficial" sub-categories: the worst of the worst - Belarus, Chad, China, the Ivory Coast, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, South Ossetia, Syria and Western Sahara - and the worst of the worst of the worst - North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Somalia and Tibet (under Chinese jurisdiction). These are vile, thuggish regimes who brutally oppress their own people with but one goal - to stay in power. They don't tolerate genuine elections for if they did they would be out on their ear. Those who have defended or ignored this thuggery are now doing the greatest volte face in history as one country after the other in the Middle East rebels against dictatorships.

Which begs the question. Why did they remain silent all those years? How did the "geniuses" in our universities, the media, trade unions and politics get conned by the propaganda of the Palestinians and their Arab cohorts? Was it stupidity, ideology and bribery or just the latest fad of the cafe latte set who searched to find something to replace their love affair with the Soviet Union and its satraps when they collapsed in 1989? Many gravitated towards the Greens as another means of attacking capitalism.

How could those who claim to be committed to propagating basic human rights close their eyes to the denial of them in 47 countries and concentrate their efforts on the one country where such rights exist? Their hypocrisy is breathtaking. If they were serious about alleviating the plight of the oppressed they would have been equally loud in their condemnation of the 47 countries that are not free.

Those involved in the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel will tell you that the dispute is different and complex. It is nothing of the sort. The day the Arab/Muslim countries accept Israel's right to exist and end their oft-repeated goal of destroying Israel will be the day when there is genuine peace in the Middle East.

To pretend the proposals being put forward by the Palestinians and their supporters are a peaceful solution is ignorance, stupidity or blatant anti-semitism. Solve that problem and they can then turn their attention to the 47 countries that have no basic human rights.


Sexist French politicians 'in trouble' over treatment of women

France's male politicians are becoming increasingly anxious about their futures after one female minister warned half of the country's male MPs were potentially "in trouble" due to their treatment of women.

Still reeling from the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief, on sexual assault charges, France's political class was struck by a fresh sex scandal on Sunday with the resignation of Georges Tron, the public works minister accused of molesting two former female staff members.

The massage enthusiast's "foot fetish", which two ex-town hall employees in their thirties claim morphed into full-blown abuse, has sparked a backlash from France's embattled female politicians. They are calling for an end to the "French exception" of "everyday machismo" among male peers often bordering on harassment.

"I think that there are a lot of (male politicians) who must be a touch stressed right now," warned Rachida Dati, the former justice minister and fallen star of President Nicolas Sarkozy's cabinet whose love of designer clothes received as much coverage as her policies in France.

Miss Dati was herself the butt of countless sexist jokes after using the word "fellatio" instead of "inflation" in a recent interview. She ruffled male reactionaries by refusing to name the father of her child and returning to work just five days after giving birth.

"Many will be looking at their shoes and saying to themselves: 'I hope to goodness we can move on to something else,'" the euro MP and mayor of Paris' 7th arrondissement said.

Sexism in France's National Assembly has got so bad that Chantal Jouanno, the sports minister and a former French Karate champion, said she can no longer turn up to parliament in a skirt without a volley of cat calls.

One female cabinet minister said that male politicians were so incorrigible that "if all those who mix power and sex had to account for their actions, half of our (male) politicians would be in trouble".

A Socialist woman MP said that when she turned up in tight-fitting clothes to a parliamentary commission, a male MP from Mr Sarkozy's UMP party exclaimed: "Dressed like that, don't be surprised if you get raped." "A kind of infantilisation of women reigns in parliament that I had never seen before," said Sandrine Mazetier, Socialist MP for Paris."

The trigger for the backlash was the arrest of Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former French presidential hopeful, who faces charges of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a New York chambermaid.

"This scandal will do more for feminism than all the articles of law," predicted Chantal Brunel, who leads France's gender parity watchdog.



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

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

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


30 May, 2011

Amusing furore: Psychology Today Apologizes for 'Black Women Less Attractive' Post

The data must say what we want it to say, apparently‏. This is an old, old story in the social sciences. If you don't like a set of findings, you can always criticize the study in some way. Nothing can be proved finally. Only intellectual honesty can lead to a conclusion that a finding is most probably correct. And intellectual honesty will go down to political correctness almost always

The disgrace in this case is that the furore was motivated by the desirability of the conclusions, not by the facts presented. The reality that successful black men like Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson chose white lovers must not be mentioned, of course

Earlier this month, the popular magazine Psychology Today published an article by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa titled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" that was met, expectedly, with mass outrage. The article used data based on another study to make several claims such as "black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women" yet "subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others."

After some attempted editing of the title, the magazine retracted the post from its website in its entirety. Kanazawa in turn is facing an investigation by the London School of Economics, where he is a professor, after a unanimous vote for his dismissal by the student union.

Contributing writers to Psychology Today moved quickly to do some damage control. Dr. Kaufman, in his blog for the magazine "Beautiful Minds," wrote a post re-analyzing Kanazawa's data.

We retrieved the data from Add Health on which Satoshi Kanazawa based his conclusions to see whether his results hold up to scrutiny... Kanazawa mentions several times that his data on attractiveness are scored "objectively"... [However] the low convergence of ratings finding suggests that in this very large and representative dataset, beauty is mostly in the eye of the beholder.

Because raters differ strongly in terms of how they rate... this source of variation needs to be taken into account when testing for average race differences in ratings of attractiveness. Kanazawa does not indicate that he did so.

Moreover, Kaufman noted that "the majority of [Kanazawa's] data were based on the ratings of attractiveness of the participants when they were teenagers." When the data was stratified based on age, he concluded that "as adults, Black Women in North America are not rated less attractive by interviewers of the Add health study."

In another post on magazine's website, Dr. Stanton Peele leveled his criticism at the field of evolutionary psychology as a whole.

[T]he logic underlying [Kanazawa's] racism is exactly that which drives the field -- i.e., there are biological imperatives that determine social behavior, attitudes, and undeniable human reality... [But] the only inevitabilities are (a) in Kanazwa's head and (b) ev psych's fantasy version of the human species as the end result of a deterministic evolutionary process that makes people think and act in the ways they say people must -- that is, according to their own preferred prejudices (like Kanazawa's ideal woman -- who is NOT African-American!).

However, many were still waiting for a direct response from the magazine, who, according to Stanton, "is probably the most popular PT blogger." Considering the level of outrage, the apology was some time coming. Kaja Perina, the Editor-in-Chief, issued the following statement on Friday:

Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published--and promptly removed--from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today's mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.

However, there was no word on whether the magazine will continue to publish articles by Kanazawa. He has not published on entry on his blog since the one removed, although there is no indication that the blog will be terminated.


Two thirds of British serial criminals dodge jail: Thousands with 15 convictions or more 'let off' with fines or community service

Nearly two thirds of criminals avoid jail despite amassing at least 15 convictions, shocking figures show. Instead of being put behind bars, more than 62,000 offenders were given lesser punishments, such as community service or a fine, last year.

More than 4,000 walked out of court with only a caution. The figures reveal that serial offenders are less likely to be given a jail sentence today than at any time in the past decade.

And they further raise concerns that career criminals, including drug dealers and burglars, are getting only a ‘slap on the wrist’.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Many of my constituents are losing faith in the criminal justice system because – as these figures show – even when people have become habitual offenders they are not actually brought to justice. ‘The criminal justice system simply doesn’t administer what my constituents regard as justice.

‘If the Government wants to claim to be a government that puts victims and the law-abiding first, it urgently and desperately needs to take action on this.’

The figures showed a total of 96,710 criminals sentenced last year for more serious ‘indictable’ offences had 15 or more previous crimes against their name. They included violent muggers, burglars and drug dealers.

Of those, only 36 per cent – around 34,600 offenders – were given immediate custody. That means around 62,100 were given other sentences.

Of that total, 8,200 were given suspended sentences, leaving them on the streets unless they committed other crimes. More than one in five were handed community service and 16 per cent – around 15,000 offenders – were fined. One in ten was given a conditional discharge.

The figures also showed that 4,340 criminals were given a caution for their most recent offence despite 15 or more previous offences. In 2004, the custody rate for offenders after 15 or more crimes was 42 per cent.

Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: ‘Most people would expect a serial offender with over a dozen previous convictions to be sent to prison, if only to protect the public and give communities some respite.

‘We need to cut reoffending rates but we also need to protect the public by ensuring that those prolific offenders who keep committing crime are locked up.

‘Over the last decade, sentences got longer in law but shorter in practice and more repeat offenders were diverted on to ineffective community sentences instead of going to prison.’

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to cut the number of prison places by 3,000 over the next four years, to save millions from the justice budget. But he has faced a backlash from right-wing Tories concerned about the party’s reputation on law and order.

Ministers have faced criticism for cuts to policing and criminal justice of 20 per cent or more, while aid spending is increased.

But Mr Clarke has insisted cuts are necessary and has pledged to toughen up community sentences. He also wants to start a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ in prisons to turn offenders away from crime. Currently three out of four offenders return to crime within nine years.

Mr Clarke will use private and charity groups, paid by results, in an effort to stop the ‘revolving door’ justice system.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We are clear that the justice system will continue to protect the public by locking up serious and dangerous criminals. ‘Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts, as only they have the full facts in front of them.

‘These statistics highlight that the number of criminals committing multiple crimes has nearly doubled in the last decade. This underlines why it is so important to focus on taking a new approach specifically designed to tackle reoffending, and so cut crime.

‘The consultation on our proposals for doing this has closed and we will be publishing our final response shortly.’


'Bradford is very inbred': Muslim outrage as British professor warns first-cousin marriages increase risk of birth defects

Inbreeding among British Muslims is threatening the health of their children, a leading geneticist warned yesterday. Professor Steve Jones, from University College London, said the common practice in Islamic communities for cousins to marry each other increased the risk of birth defects.

‘There may be some evidence that cousins marrying one another can be harmful,’ he told an audience at the Hay Festival. ‘We should be concerned about that as there can be a lot of hidden genetic damage. Children are much more likely to get two copies of a damaged gene. ‘Bradford is very inbred. There is a huge amount of cousins marrying each other there.’

Studies have shown that 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins – and in Bradford, this rises to 75 per cent. Other research has found that children of first cousins are ten times more likely to have recessive genetic disorders and face deafness, blindness and infant mortality.

But Prof Jones’s comments provoked anger among some Muslim groups yesterday. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, which promotes the image of Muslims in Britain, said: ‘I know many Muslims who have married their cousins and none of them have had a problem with their children.

‘Obviously, we don’t want any children to be born disabled who don’t need to be born disabled, so I would advise genetic screening before first cousins marry. 'But I find Steve Jones’s comments unworthy of a professor. Using language like “inbreeding” to describe cousins marrying is completely inappropriate and further demonises Muslims.’

Concern about the risks to children from first-cousin marriage has been described as the last great taboo.

Former environment minister Phil Woolas was rebuked by Downing Street in 2008 for saying British Pakistanis are fuelling rates of birth defects by marrying their cousins, with the spokesman for then prime minister Gordon Brown saying the issue was not one for ministers to comment on.

Mohammed Saleem Khan, chief executive of the Bradford Council for Mosques, said: ‘It is important to discuss these issues, but I just do not know of any firm evidence backing up Professor Jones’s claims. I think we need more conclusive studies so we can know for certain if there is any genuine risk.

‘Marriages between cousins is certainly common within south Asia, but it is becoming less so in Britain and also in Bradford. Islam allows you to marry anyone you want, so in many ways Islam promotes diversity.’

In his talk, Prof Jones said inbreeding was not confined to Muslims, and historically had occurred in every part of society, including the royal family. He said: ‘We are all more incestuous than we realise. In Northern Ireland lots of people share the same surname, which suggests a high level of inbreeding.

‘There’s a lot of surname diversity in London but if you look at the Outer Hebrides there are rather fewer surnames in relation to the number of people.’


Australia: Children's play equipment too safe for their own good, expert warns

PLAY equipment designed by "safety Nazis" shouldn't prevent children from taking risks and enjoying themselves, a child expert has warned. More kids aged two to seven were getting injured in playgrounds because they didn't know how to take calculated risks.

A speaker at the Early Childhood Education Conference in Melbourne this week, early childhood specialist Prue Walsh said modern "plastic fantastic" playgrounds were too safe.

"Often playgrounds are designed by engineers who have no knowledge of children," she said. "Children need to actively explore and discover the world around them and to do that they need to learn to take calculated risks," she said.

Playground injuries were often a result of children being poorly co-ordinated because they did not know how to negotiate risks, Ms Walsh said. "I worry about children who don't run up slippery slides," she said.

Ms Walsh said commercial pressures, such as insurance premiums, had influenced the design of today's playgrounds. "Parents are scared of their precious children getting injured and teachers are scared of getting sued," she said.

To improve playgrounds, Ms Walsh suggested longer and bigger slides built into embankments to eliminate falls. Also, smooth boulders for balancing, shallow ponds for exploring and plenty of vegetation to provide nooks and crannies for children to crawl around.

Triple P Parenting Program founder Professor Matt Sanders said children should be in a place safe where they can have accidents and falls. "You want equipment that are in parks and children using toys that we buy to be basically safe so that kids can't be easily injured on them or accidents that easily occur," he said.

"But at the same time we should be encouraged kids to be kids and to enjoy themselves. "Exploring, climbing and experimenting is part of childhood but when it's done when adequate supervision the risks are minimal."



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

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

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


29 May, 2011

Girl risks her life to rescue woman from hoodies - as scum British police sit in their car and do nothing

A young woman told yesterday how she risked her life to stop a street robbery – while two police officers sat in their patrol car a few yards away.

Marie Wastlund, 27, was walking home from a night out when she saw three hooded thugs throttling and kicking a woman in view of the police vehicle. The student waved and shouted to get the attention of the officers – parked only 25 yards away – but they did nothing.

So she waded in herself and pulled the thugs away from their victim by their hoods – at which point they fled. Astonishingly, she then had to dial 999 to summon police help and sat cradling the distraught victim in her arms for ten minutes.

At one point the two officers got out of their car but, apparently not noticing what was going on, they got back in again. In fact, the pair only ventured out to investigate the incident when Miss Wastlund’s friend arrived and rushed over to their car and knocked on the window.

Even if the officers didn’t initially see what was happening, it was claimed they should have been alert enough to cotton on to an attack that went on for several minutes so close to their car.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary yesterday pledged a full investigation into the incident in the St Paul’s area of Bristol.

‘I was waving and shouting at them to come and help,’ said Miss Wastlund. ‘It was pretty clear something was going on in the road – anyone with half a brain could have seen something was happening. ‘They should have done something. It’s disgusting – they are paid to protect people. ‘It could have been me being attacked. It’s a scary thought that police were so close to the incident and did nothing.’

Miss Wastlund came across the robbery at 5am after a night out at a street festival. She saw two youths and one woman beating the victim who was on the ground at the side of a road. After Miss Wastlund’s screams for help went unnoticed, she grappled with the gang – all of them white and in their 20s. One of them told her the woman owed them money before running off with a small amount of her cash.

Miss Wastlund, who lives in Bristol city centre, said: ‘I realised there was no point running after them. I didn’t want to put myself in any more danger. ‘I suddenly realised that I could have been stabbed or something in trying to protect the woman. I went back to her and tried to calm her down and called the police.’

Miss Wastlund added: ‘After the gang fled I was on the floor with the victim for about ten minutes. She was crying and I was cradling her. She was in a dreadful state. ‘I couldn’t leave her to run to the police car so I dialled 999. I told them to get on the radio to that squad car straight away. ‘They did get out of the car at one point – but didn’t come over. They had probably gone off to get doughnuts or something.’

Her friend, who had also been at the festival, walked by and came over to help. ‘It was only when my friend came over that I told her to go and get them.’

The police car was parked facing away from the assault but Miss Wastlund insists officers must have seen her in their mirrors or heard her screams for help. She said: ‘There was nothing but road between the attack and the car. They were only about 25 yards away. When they finally did get out they said they had not seen anything. They are paid to be aware and look out for trouble.’

The two officers then spoke to Miss Wastlund and her friend, who asked not to be identified, before taking the victim, 29, to hospital.

Avon and Somerset police confirmed it was investigating the assault and robbery and the police reaction to the incident. Superintendent Ian Wylie said: ‘I am grateful to the witness for reporting the incident and bringing to our attention her concerns about a police car nearby. We take allegations such as these very seriously.’ [Only when newspapers make them]


Jared Loughner and our crazy system for trying the insane

The fact that a federal judge this week deemed Jared Lee Loughner incompetent to stand trial does not mean he will never face a jury. Subdued by antipsychotic drugs, the man accused of killing six people and wounding 13 outside a Tucson supermarket in January may eventually start behaving himself well enough to get through what he loudly derided as a " freak show" on Wednesday.

But by agreeing that Loughner is so "gravely mentally ill" (as his lawyers put it) that he cannot comprehend what is going on in court, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns seemed to bolster the claim that Loughner is not responsible for his actions because his disease made him kill. That insanity defense follows logically from an argument that was widely heard after the Tucson massacre: To prevent such crimes, we should make it easier to lock people up before their mental illness drives them to violence.

Both that freedom-denying prescription and the responsibility-relieving insanity defense rely on subjective, unverifiable judgments by experts who are not equipped to predict future actions or peer into past states of mind.

We should not let their pseudoscientific pronouncements replace the moral principles that tell us when it is appropriate to punish someone or deprive him of his liberty.

Under federal law, an insanity defense requires showing that the defendant "was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts" due to "a severe mental disease or defect." According to the diagnosis on which Burns relied, Loughner does suffer from a severe mental disease, schizophrenia, so the question becomes whether it prevented him from understanding the nature of his actions.

Since the vast majority of people diagnosed as schizophrenics never commit violent crimes, the relevance of this label in explaining Loughner's behavior or in justifying a policy of preventively detaining people like him is open to question. Yet University of Maryland political scientist William Galston says the Tucson shooting spree illustrates the need to eliminate the requirement that "seriously disturbed individuals constitute a danger to themselves or others" before they can be confined to mental hospitals. Instead, he says, "a delusional loss of contact with reality should be enough" to justify involuntary treatment.

The clear implication here is that Loughner's loss of contact with reality, as demonstrated by his weird YouTube videos and strange comments in college classes, led him to do things he otherwise would not have done.

While advocates of forcible psychiatric treatment such as Galston, syndicated columnist Mona Charen and Time essayist Joe Klein diagnosed Loughner from a distance, the government-appointed psychiatrist and psychologist who judged him too crazy for trial concurred, after five weeks of in-person evaluations, that he suffers from "delusions" and "disordered thinking" caused by schizophrenia. Yet this judgment, too, was ultimately based on the odd things Loughner said and did, not on any medical test that pinpointed an underlying defect in his brain - a defect that supposedly caused him to gather guns and ammunition, drive to the shopping center where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was meeting with constituents and methodically shoot 19 people.

If Loughner is never deemed sane enough to be tried, a jury will never have a chance to decide whether he was sane enough on Jan. 8 to be found guilty. He may instead wind up confined indefinitely to a mental hospital, the same fate that would have awaited him even if he were acquitted by reason of insanity. Either way, his uncertain legal status highlights the troubling extent to which freedom and responsibility hinge on psychiatrists' dubious claims to see into men's souls.


Block Big Brother’s Internet snoops

Online protections against the government’s unconstitutional Web searches are needed

Americans are moving more and more of our personal data onto the Internet. We send and save emails through Hotmail and Gmail. We share photos with Flickr and post videos on YouTube. We set up everything from our calendars to video rentals so they can be managed remotely from our cellphones and multiple computers.

What most Americans don’t realize is that if the government wants to read your emails, look at your pictures or gain access to any data that you have stored online for more than 180 days on sites including Yahoo! Google Docs and online backup sites, it can do so without a search warrant. Data saved online is not protected by the Fourth Amendment in the same way that information is protected if it is stored on a home computer, CD or detachable hard drive.

A new bill introduced by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, is a good step toward closing this huge loophole. The bill would extend due-process provisions against illegal wiretapping in the ancient and outdated 25-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). It would update the ECPA to include personal files and information that is stored in online data centers owned and operated by third parties, known in tech circles as the “cloud.” Under Mr. Leahy’s bill, the government would be forced to secure a warrant if it wanted access to emails or other information you have stored online.

Right now, the law only protects the privacy of data while it’s moving across the network. It leaves vulnerable any information that might be saved in the thousands of data centers nationwide. These are virtual lockboxes, with no functional distinction from a home PC disk drive, which in turn has little functional distinction from a locked desk drawer. As online services and applications evolve and become more popular, it is critical that these privacy and due-process protections extend to data saved online. Public cloud infrastructure, applications and platforms are growing rapidly. A comScore study calculated that more than 153 million people visited Web-based email providers in November 2010 alone. And the International Data Corp. found that at the end of 2010, 34 percent of Internet users stored personal pictures online, 7 percent stored personal videos, 5 percent paid to store files and 5 percent backed up their hard drives by uploading data to websites. These numbers are all expected to grow.

Today, the government can access most of that personal data without even bothering to get a search warrant. And law enforcement agencies already have shown that they will take advantage of any lack of specific constitutional safeguards to access private data. Using the Patriot Act, the FBI demanded that phone companies turn over thousands of calling records of U.S. citizens in what amounted to a fishing expedition under the guise of the war on terror. The courts found this illegal. The new bill would codify this and require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to provide a name, address and probable cause before demanding a search warrant for private phone records. The same would apply to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and the geolocational information that cellphones and dashboard navigational devices collect.

This protection is badly needed. At the same time, the bill could be strengthened even more if, as the American Civil Liberties Union suggests, there were stricter reporting requirements about the use of online surveillance and greater safeguards against the use of “emergency exemptions” that could undermine the bill’s aims.

The current ECPA was passed in 1986 and is in desperate need of updating. It was written when communications were mostly done over land-line phones. The Internet was just in its infancy and still unknown to most. The Fourth Amendment delineates the right of citizens to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Our legal system needs to keep up with technology instead of giving government ways to use it for end runs around the Constitution.


The Mistake of Global Democratization

We are hearing a great deal about a budding “Democracy movement” spreading throughout the Middle East. Many are calling it an “Arab Spring.” The belief is that after centuries of totalitarian oppression, the Arab street is suddenly pining for more freedom; rebelling against the elitist ruling class of kings, emirs, despots and tyrants. This is most likely true for a great number of those filling the streets of Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Bahrain and myriad other Middle Eastern, predominantly Muslim nations. But there is a less than honorable component amongst the rebellion that simply waits for the “right” to a democratic vote. Contrary to how the idea of a move to Democracy presents, in the volatile Middle East there are elements in play that could make it a move in the wrong direction.

Each and every day we hear the misnomer that the United States of America is a Democracy. We hear it from the average man on the street, the mainstream media and even from those we have elected to office. But the fact of the matter is this: we are not a Democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic. A thorough and convincing exhibit of the facts surrounding this reality is presented in Notes on Democracy: And the Republic for Which It Stands. The fact that this issue is even in need of address is a scathing commentary on the constitutional illiteracy of the American electorate and serves as a sobering reminder that, often times, what sounds good – what “feels good” – isn’t always as it presents.

The distinction – between the benefits of a Democracy and a Constitutional Republic – is incredibly important, and while some describe our nation as a Democracy in an error of ignorance, others – some with schemes of political opportunism – do so with a nefarious purpose and bad intentions.

James Madison, recognized as the Father of the US Constitution, said this about factions and Democracy in Federalist No. 10:
“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people...From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.”

Why is this important in the context of what is happening in the Middle East at this very moment? Simple; it is important because “factious tempers,” and “local prejudices of sinister design” are prevalent throughout not only the ruling classes of the Arab-Muslim world, but exist – and on a tremendously popular level – throughout the Middle East, Arab culture and around the world in Islamic populations.

In Lebanon, Democracy and the democratic election process brought legitimacy to the terrorist group Hezbollah, a group, created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard after the Islamist Revolution of 1979, responsible for the greatest number of American and Western deaths until al Qaeda exploded onto the scene, no pun intended. Through a scheme of “providing” for enough people in Southern Lebanon to win elections, Hezbollah was transformed from a ruthless Shiite-Islamist terror organization (a moniker still bestowed upon it by the US State Department and freedom-loving governments around the world) into an officially elected entity in the Lebanese Parliament, its influence expanding year after year.

In the Palestinian-held Israeli territories, the Palestinian Authority, born of the Palestinian Liberation Organization – recognized at its genesis as a terrorist organization before the United Nations bestowed legitimacy on it, has seen an accord between the Fatah faction of the West Bank and the Hamas faction of Gaza; Hamas, a Sunni-Islamist group, recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and other non-Arab nations around the world. Hamas, like Hezbollah, but after an armed coup against Fatah in Gaza, held “democratic elections” establishing itself – although questionably so – as the democratically elected government of Gaza. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas achieved legitimacy – albeit ever so suspect – through the process of Democracy.

Another example of Democracy not serving freedom – or liberty – are the elections held in the former Soviet state of Russia. During the Soviet Era, Soviet Premiers had to at least subject themselves to the scrutiny of the elitist class Communist Party members who made up the Soviet politburo. Today we see a former KGB colonel, in Vladimir Putin, not only usurping the intent of the Russian constitution by installing a puppet president to “insert” a term into the mix before he runs, yet again, for the Russian presidency, but we see a system so corrupt that it has re-installed the same mindset of global power acquisition as seen before the fall of the Soviet Union. In fact, it is argued in many circles that not only is the Cold War not over, but the West is now playing defense.

But perhaps the most alarming sign that democracy does not serve the purpose of freedom and/or liberty comes in the report that a faction of the Egyptian “awakening” has announced the formation of a “Nazi party with a contemporary frame of reference.”

Let me state that again...Egyptians benefiting from the “Arab Spring” want to form a Nazi Party in that country. Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egyptian publication, reports:
“A group of Egyptians have announced their intent to establish a Nazi party with ‘a contemporary frame of reference,’ an independent Egyptian news website said on Wednesday.

“Al-Badeel, a leftist news portal, quoted founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying the party would bring together prominent figures from the Egyptian society. The party’s founding deputy is a former military official.

“Abdel Sattar told Al-Badeel that members are increasing at an unexpected rate, and several people came to ask about the nature of the party and its plans.

“The party has a one-year plan to develop Egypt, unlike the ‘marginalized liberal parties, which are like dead bodies,’ he said.

“The founders want to avoid media attention until they are fully ready, the source said.”

With God as my witness, I never thought I would see the day when we would need to address the possibility of having to combat Nazism on the world stage once again.

If, in fact, this newly formed Egyptian Nazi Party organizes in the style of Hamas or Hezbollah – or the American Progressive Movement, for that matter (it is a fact that American organized labor had boots on the ground in Egypt in the beginning days of this so-called “Arab Spring”) – what is to keep them from using the democratic process to bring to power a 21st Century Nazi Party, complete with a 21st Century “Final Solution” for Israel and the Jews?

We are a Constitutional Republic because our Founders and Framers understood the absolute danger of a pure Democracy. We use a democratic election process to determine the awarding of Electoral College votes by each state, but we do so to empower a constitutionally Republican form of government; a government of laws and not men; a government where the minority’s rights are protected just as viciously as the majority’s, or so it is supposed to be.

A stunningly frank examination can be viewed here. Succinctly, we in the West – and especially in the United States – should be promoting a move toward liberty in the Middle East, not a move toward Democracy.

Democracy leads to Democratic Socialism, which leads to Socialism, which history proves always fails, leading to totalitarian and despotic rule. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of world history understands this. Alas, we do not, today, place any importance on history in our schools. Perhaps that’s because Progressives are too busy rewriting history. Perhaps that’s why we are looking at a resurrection of the Nazi Party in Egypt.

On May 24, 2011, the military government of Egypt announced it was permanently opening its border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

If the world screams, “Never again,” again will the leaders of the free world hear us? Or are they to busy burying their heads in the sand to care?



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

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

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


28 May, 2011

Burglar is freed to care for his children after British judge rules prison breached his 'human rights'

A burglar was let out of jail yesterday because locking him up breached his family’s human rights. In a staggering judgment, the Appeal Court ruled that the rights of Wayne Bishop’s five children were more important than those of his victims or the interests of justice.

MPs said it opened the way to thousands more convicts claiming a ‘get out of jail card’ under the controversial Human Rights Act.

Article 8, the right to a family life, has repeatedly been used by foreign criminals to avoid deportation from the UK. But this is believed to be the first time it has been used to let a prisoner walk free from jail.

Bishop, 33, of Clifton, Nottingham, was sentenced to eight months after admitting burglary and dangerous driving. He has now been let out after only one month.

The decision was condemned by his neighbours, who described him as ‘nothing but trouble’. Bishop himself boasted of how he had managed to make a mockery of justice. He told the Mail: ‘I’m a lucky boy and I’m on top of the world.’

At the Appeal Court, Mr Justice Maddison and Mr Justice Sweeney agreed that imprisoning Bishop was not in the ‘best interests’ of his children, and ordered the sentence to be suspended instead.

The court was told that Bishop was the sole carer of his children, aged between six and 13, for five nights a week. Since he was jailed, the children have been cared for by his sister during the week and their mother, Bishop’s ex-partner Tracey York, 30, at weekends.

The court heard the sister, a single parent, was already responsible for seven children and lived seven miles from the schools attended by her nieces and nephews.

Mr Justice Sweeney suggested it was hardly in the children’s best interests for their father to be out committing burglary and asked who had been looking after them at that time. But he and Mr Justice Maddison together concluded that the judge who jailed Bishop at Nottingham Crown Court had not paid enough attention to the effect that imprisonment would have on his children.

Mr Justice Maddison said: ‘It is important that criminals should not think that children can provide some sort of licence to commit offences with impunity.

‘All of that said, however, we have to be aware of the highly unsatisfactory and difficult situation faced by the children and those now doing their best to look after them.’

Tory MP Dominic Raab, who led the Westminster revolt against prisoner voting, said: ‘If criminals can argue that a chaotic family life entitles them to a get-out-of-jail card, it will severely undermine public trust in the justice system. ‘Article 8 of the European Convention was never designed for this. We need to amend the Human Rights Act to stop this kind of perverse precedent.’

The court was not told that Bishop has been married for the last three years. Bishop told the Mail that his wife Sandra, 36, was never considered as a possible carer for the children because she has four children of her own, one of whom has behavioural problems.

He said the couple live at separate addresses with their own children in Clifton, Nottingham. ‘Sandra has her hands full as it is,’ he said. ‘She was unable to look after my children. People need to understand my situation. They should leave me alone to live with my children in peace.’ He added that he accepted he had ‘made mistakes’ but promised to turn over a new leaf.

He and three other men raided Mansfield Rugby Club, taking only some chocolate, before he and one of his accomplices drove off in a van. Bishop clipped a police vehicle and drove through red lights before he drove up a dead-end street and was arrested.

Bishop told the Mail he turned to crime because he struggled to survive on benefits. He said: ‘People need to know how hard it is for single parents. I regret getting involved in crime but I am on a low income. The benefit agency won’t help me get a job and I turned to crime. ‘I am not an armed robber or a drug dealer, or anything. It was a one-off and I got caught. ‘It is not like I denied it. I didn’t enter the premises. I was just the getaway driver.’

More than 200 foreign prisoners, including killers, cheated deportation last year by claiming they have a human right to a ‘family life’ in Britain.


U.S. Tax Dollars Will Sponsor a Homosexual Film Festival in… Bulgaria

Here in America, Schools are closing, firehouses are shuttering and millions of citizens are out of work. Yet, on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria announced that it would be using your tax dollars to underwrite a gay film festival and “an after-show party.”

The publicly-funded embassy has partnered up with its German, French, British and Swiss counterparts to explore the “different issues and challenges which members of the LGBT community face in today’s world.” An official press release from the embassy reads as follows:

"The U.S. Embassy joins the British, German, French, and Swiss Embassies in announcing the start of the Sofia Pride International Film Series in honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, which is celebrated each year in June. The series features one movie selected by each of the five sponsoring embassies, and aims to promote acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Bulgaria by examining the different issues and challenges which members of the LGBT community face in today’s world. All films will include Bulgarian subtitles."

The U.S. Embassy has decided to show “Milk,” the popular film about America’s first openly gay elected official. The Daily Caller posted the official event flyer here. Here’s a preview of the other films that will be shown:

The Germans will show “Sascha,” a gay teen who struggles with his place in German society, the French will show “Comme les autres,” a movie that tackles a gay man’s journey to becoming a father. The Swiss film, “Katzenball,” will focus on the life of a gay woman, while the British flick, “Beautiful Thing,“ will delve into the story of a ”working class teen infatuated with his male classmate.”

With all of the problems our nation currently has, it‘s curious that we’d be spending taxpayer monies to sponsor a gay film festival (let alone any film festival) in a foreign land.


Australian abortion doctor gives women Hep C

Evidence of the low moral standard needed in an abortionist

A MELBOURNE doctor has been charged over allegations he infected nearly 50 women who visited his clinic with hepatitis C.

Police say anaesthetist James Latham Peters, 61, of Hawthorn will face 162 separate counts, including 54 counts of conduct endangering life, 54 counts of recklessly causing injury and 54 counts of negligence causing serious injury.

Police formally laid charges just before noon at the St Kilda Rd police complex where he was being held.

Police said the investigation continues, and Dr Peters could face further charges. The expected charges against Dr Peters come after a lengthy and complex investigation by police Taskforce Clays, established in April last year to investigate how the disease was spread to patients at the Croydon Day Surgery. He was taken into custody before 10am and is believed to be being questioned at the St Kilda Rd police complex.

The women had gone to the clinic to have abortions before being infected. A further 19 women treated by the doctor showed signs of past infection but there was not enough virus present for a definitive ruling. At least 4000 women who used the centre, now known as the Maria Stopes centre, have already contacted in connection with potential exposure to the disease.

The Health Department says 241 further women treated at the clinic between 2008 and 2009 could not be contacted, but it continues to cooperate with the police inquiry. "We would urge them to contact the Department of Health at their earliest opportunity,’’ a police spokeswoman said.


Australia: Muslims try peaceful persuasion instead of bombing people

A big improvement

CHRISTIANS in Sydney will have their core beliefs challenged by provocative advertisements due to appear on billboards and buses in the next month.

The ads, paid for by an Islamic group called MyPeace, will carry slogans such as "Jesus: a prophet of Islam", "Holy Quran: the final testament" and "Muhammad: mercy to mankind". A phone number urges people to call to receive a free Koran and other Islamic literature.

The organiser of MyPeace, Diaa Mohamed, said the campaign was intended to educate non-Muslims about Islam. He said Jesus was a prophet of Islam, who was to come before Muhammad. "The only difference is we say he was a prophet of God, and they say he is God," Mr Mohamed said. "Is it thought-provoking? Yes, it is. We want to raise awareness that Islam believes in Jesus Christ," he said.

Mr Mohamed said he hoped the billboards would encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground. They were not intended to downgrade the significance of Jesus. "We embrace him and say that he was one of the mightiest prophets of God."

MyPeace plans to extend the campaign, funded by private donations, to television.

The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, said it was "complete nonsense" to say Jesus was a prophet of Islam. "Jesus was not the prophet of a religion that came into being 600 years later."

But the billboard was not offensive, he said. "They've got a perfect right to say it, and I would defend their right to say it [but] … you couldn't run a Christian billboard in Saudi Arabia."

The bishop said he would pay for billboards to counter those of MyPeace if he could afford it, and "maybe the atheists should run their billboards as well".

A spokesman for the Australian Islamic Mission, Siddiq Buckley, said the campaign would increase awareness of the positive facts of Islam. "I would be looking at this as a good opportunity to explain what we mean."



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

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

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


27 May, 2011

Mugabe torturer is given asylum in Britain... and yes it's in case he's tortured back in Zimbabwe

A thug who carried out horrific acts of torture for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has been allowed to live in Britain – to protect his human rights.

An immigration tribunal found Phillip Machemedze inflicted terrible injuries on political opponents of the vile Mugabe regime. But despite ruling he was involved in ‘savage acts of extreme violence’ – including smashing a man’s jaw with a pair of pliers – immigration judges said he could not be deported.

They said the 46-year-old, who is HIV positive, could himself face torture if he was returned home, having turned his back on Mugabe’s Zanu PF regime. Both he and his wife – who was granted asylum – can stay in Britain indefinitely.

Machemedze worked as a bodyguard to a senior Zanu PF minister, as part of Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation.

Court documents exposed the horrendous crimes he committed as a state-sponsored torturer. The tribunal heard he smashed one victim’s jaw with a pair of pliers, before pulling out a tooth.

Another victim, a farmer accused of supporting the rival Movement for Democratic Change, was shocked with electric cables, slapped, beaten and punched unconscious.

On another occasion, a woman MDC member was taken to an underground cell where she was stripped naked and whipped. Machemedze admitted putting salt in her wounds.

He also stripped a man naked and told him he would be forced to have sex with his daughters if he did not talk.

The hired thug told the court he ‘initially enjoyed his job’ but ‘soon had enough of the torture’. He left Zimbabwe and came to Britain in 2000 on a visitor visa. Eight years later, in December 2008, he claimed asylum along with his wife Febbie. The couple live in Bristol. Their daughter also lives in Britain, but two other children are in Zimbabwe.

The immigration tribunal ruled his crimes were so horrendous that he was barred from claiming asylum. However, the judge ruled that he could not be sent home because of the likelihood he will be tortured or executed by the Mugabe regime – breaching his rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

His wife, an MDC activist, was granted asylum. In his ruling, Judge David Archer said: ‘I find the respondent has produced a compelling case that the first appellant has committed crimes against humanity. ‘I reject his claim that he was acting under duress. The first appellant was deeply involved in savage acts of extreme violence.’ He added: ‘I find that the appellant’s protected rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights Convention will be breached by returning him to Zimbabwe.

‘Those rights are absolute and whatever crimes he has committed, he cannot be returned to face the highly likely prospect of torture and execution without trial.’

Ministers have faced demands to take action over the more than 350 suspected war criminals living in Britain. Nearly 500 have been targeted by the authorities over the past five years, but just a fifth have been refused entry, kicked out or have left voluntarily. The total includes 75 from Afghanistan, 73 from Sri Lanka, 39 from Rwanda and 32 from Zimbabwe.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was ‘disappointed’ with the ruling and would seek to appeal. He said: ‘We consider all asylum applications on their individual merits, however it is the Government’s policy that the UK should not be a refuge for war criminals or those who have committed crimes against humanity or genocide.

‘Where someone has been found not to need protection, we expect them to leave voluntarily. For those who choose not to do so, we will seek to enforce their departure.’


It Just Ain't So

We Need to Build Society for “Shared Prosperity”?

In a recent New York Times column (“Degrees and Dollars,” March 6), economist Paul Krugman surprisingly had an “it just ain’t so” moment of his own, taking issue with the widely accepted but erroneous idea that more education is the key to increasing prosperity. While he was right about that, his conclusion that technological changes will so “hollow out” the middle class that massive new government programs are needed to “directly” build a society of “shared prosperity” does not follow at all.

Proponents of the megastate like Krugman simply cannot acknowledge that the coercive, redistributive policies they love have adverse consequences. As we will see, his proposed “shared prosperity” will further undermine the prosperity we still have, reduce incentives for individual effort, and create new opportunities for political rent-seeking. If you would like to see America become more like Greece, Krugman’s ideas are a perfect recipe.

Let’s look first at what Krugman gets right, though.

One of the greatest conceits of modern liberalism is that more education (formal education, especially of the sort run and funded by government) is always good because it gives people “higher skills,” thus making the United States “more competitive.” To his credit Krugman joins a growing number of critics who argue that such education doesn’t necessarily produce good results. President Obama keeps saying the nation must make more “investments” in education to increase employment and keep up with other countries. Not so, says Krugman.

But why has Krugman broken ranks? In the last few months evidence has strengthened the contrarian case by showing that a large and increasing percentage of college degree holders end up having to take jobs that don’t call for any advanced academic preparation and that many college students coast through with little or no gain in human capital. Those are among the reasons why I long ago concluded that America has oversold higher education, principally by heavily subsidizing it.

Krugman, however, points to a different reason for his turn. He contends that technology and “globalization” are eliminating the middle-class jobs college-educated people used to take, thus “hollowing out” the middle class. As a result, he argues, we can’t rely on education for social mobility.

Exhibit A is Krugman’s discovery that technology is having an impact on the legal profession. Computers, he reports, are increasingly used in legal research, scanning cases and documents for possible relevance much faster than people can. He says that this shows how technology “is actually reducing the demand for highly educated workers.”

It’s perfectly true that technology is changing the legal profession. Decades ago, lawyers had to manually hunt for relevant cases and other documents, then read them. Beginning more than 20 years ago, that laborious work was made easier with the advent of computerized research engines that would almost instantly compile lists of cases. Now computers can apparently even do some of the preliminary analysis.

Krugman’s conclusion that this is reducing the demand for educated workers does not follow, however. Just because technology has made a part of lawyers’ work faster does not mean there will be fewer lawyers—any more than the technological improvements that have made writing and editing easier and faster than in the days of typewriters and erasers has reduced the number of writers and editors.

America already has a surplus of lawyers, but that isn’t because of technology. It is because government subsidizes students who want to go to law school, and some law schools practice deception with regard to the employment and earnings prospects for their graduates.

Technological improvements certainly can lead to the elimination of some jobs in the legal profession (and others), but they simultaneously open up new jobs for educated workers elsewhere.

Krugman’s other argument is that globalization is going to wipe out some middle-class jobs because it is now possible to offshore work formerly done by American workers. He gives no examples or evidence of the magnitude of this phenomenon, but let’s assume that he is correct. Do we need to worry and insist on government action?

No, we don’t. The number of middle-class jobs is not fixed, dictating that if some are done by robots or foreigners or computers, the number remaining must be lower. You might think an economics professor and international trade specialist with a Nobel Prize to his name would know that people have been wringing their hands over the supposed harms of free trade in goods and services for centuries, but despite the apocalyptic predictions, the dynamism of the economy always produces new jobs to replace those that are lost.

In sum there is very little support for Krugman’s claim that the middle class is being hollowed out, but that doesn’t keep him from leaping to the conclusion that we need more government intervention.

He first declares that labor needs more “bargaining power.” That’s vague language, but what Krugman undoubtedly means is that the government should enact pro-union legislation. Make that more pro-union legislation, since existing law (unchanged since 1959) is already highly pro-union. Bargaining power has not been taken from unions over the last 30 years. Rather, many old, unionized companies have had to face increasing competition. They have shed workers and some have gone out of existence. Simultaneously, many new firms have come into existence, and their workers have often shown so little interest in unionization that union organizers have given up.

Furthermore, can Krugman believe that unions automatically and costlessly raise worker earnings? They can’t. As economist W. H. Hutt showed in his book The Strike-Threat System, even if unions can temporarily exploit invested capital (as was the case in the auto industry), in the long run investors will put their money elsewhere.

Finally, Krugman writes that government must “guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.” Even if it were true that technology and global competition were hollowing out the middle class, why should government assume this role? Back in the 1960s the federal government began a “War on Poverty” that entailed giving “the essentials” to the poor. Rather than conquering poverty, the policies exacerbated it, as recipients of government benefits reduced their own efforts at improving their circumstances and interest groups learned how to game the system. Krugman’s coercively shared prosperity ideas would give America more of that.

Instead of resorting to federal handouts and union threats to increase the middle class, I suggest we abolish the many governmental barriers to entrepreneurship and entry into occupations so that more Americans can succeed on their own.


Six Political Illusions: A Primer on Government for Idealists Fed Up with History Repeating Itself

You don’t believe in magic, do you? Magicians employ a variety of tricks to deceive audiences into thinking that something has happened that can’t. They are masters of illusion. Adults know that they’re being fooled when the rabbit seems to materialize out of an empty hat.

Magic is harmless fun, but the government is not. It squanders vast amounts of money while simultaneously whittling away at people’s freedom. Instead of solving problems, it makes them worse, often creating brand new problems. Why don’t more of us rebel or at least denounce the State? In his latest book, political scientist and Freeman contributing editor James Payne explains why not: Most Americans have fallen for six political illusions. Although opinion polls show that a large majority of the population is fed up with the government, most think we must continue to rely on it for a wide array of “services.” They just want better politicians in charge. Those people aren’t stupid; they’re under the spell of the following illusions:

* The Philanthropic Illusion: the idea that government has money of its own.

* The Voluntary Illusion: the impulse to want to believe that government action is not based on force.

* The Illusion of the Frictionless State: the idea that the State can transfer resources with negligible overhead cost.

* The Materialistic Illusion: that money alone buys public-policy results.

* The Watchful Eye Illusion: the idea that the government has greater knowledge and wisdom than the public.

* The Illusion of Government Preeminence: the belief that the government is the only problem-solving institution in society.

In short, Payne admonishes people to start examining government as it really is, not the way children see magic. The book’s cover, a reproduction of an 1842 painting by Thomas Cole, gives a visual analogy to its thesis. In the painting a lad in a boat on a river is entranced by an apparition in the sky—a gleaming temple. Unfortunately, he is oblivious to the reality that his boat will soon go over a waterfall unless he gives up on the apparition and grasps the truth confronting him. That’s an excellent depiction of modern America.

Payne does a superb job of explaining and illustrating each of his illusions. I will focus my comments on the last two of them, as they are particularly critical at this juncture.

In the wake of the financial meltdown following the collapse of the housing bubble, politicians have been trying to capitalize on Payne’s “watchful eye” illusion by telling voters that the debacle was all due to inadequate powers of supervision by the government. What we needed, they cry, was more federal oversight to prevent short-sighted and greedy decisions. Give us more regulatory authority and nothing like that will ever happen again!

Payne shows that there were in fact regulators whose job was to blow the whistle on excessive risk-taking by the federal housing giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but politicians paid no heed to their warnings. Payne then takes the analysis a step deeper, arguing that people should never put faith in government officials to foresee danger and protect them. That is because government officials don’t suffer the losses when they’re wrong. Instead of expecting a watchful eye from the government, it’s far more intelligent to rely on individuals and private institutions to detect and avoid undue risks because they will suffer adverse consequences if they are wrong.

Payne’s sixth illusion encompasses the others. It is the erroneous view that we must look first (and perhaps exclusively) to government for the solutions to problems. Politicians encourage that illusion since they want citizens to regard themselves as impotent while the State possesses almost limitless capabilities. When a social problem arises, politicians almost never say, “The government should do nothing about that; it’s a problem that should be dealt with by the voluntary sector.” Saying that would be almost suicidal in a nation caught in the grip of the illusion of government preeminence. Instead, politicians seldom miss an opportunity to show their great “concern” by introducing new legislation they claim will take care of everything, from the harm supposedly done by incandescent light bulbs to the drug trade.

Wise individuals, Payne contends, will look at the merits of the voluntary sector rather than leaping on the bandwagon for government activism. Currently, for example, many people are concerned about the possibility of catastrophic climate change and automatically assume that the only way of responding is to give government officials tremendous new regulatory powers. Anyone who reads Payne will contemplate both the possibility that voluntary responses might work better and that government will botch the job.


Liberty and the Power of Ideas

A belief that I stress again and again is that we are at war—not a physical, shooting war, but nonetheless a war that is fully capable of becoming just as destructive and just as costly.

The battle for the preservation and advancement of liberty is a battle not against personalities but against opposing ideas. The French author Victor Hugo declared that “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” This is often rendered as, “More powerful than armies is an idea whose time has come.”

In the past ideas have had earthshaking consequences. They have determined the course of history.

The system of feudalism existed for a thousand years in large part because scholars, teachers, intellectuals, educators, clergymen, and politicians propagated feudalistic ideas. The notion “once a serf, always a serf” kept millions of people from ever questioning their station in life.

Under mercantilism, the widely accepted concept that the world’s wealth is fixed prompted men to take what they wanted from others in a long series of bloody wars.

The publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776 is a landmark in the history of the power of ideas. As Smith’s message of free trade spread, political barriers to peaceful cooperation collapsed, and virtually the whole world decided to try freedom for a change.

Marx and the Marxists would have us believe that socialism is inevitable, that it will embrace the world as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. As long as men have free will (the power to choose right from wrong), however, nothing that involves this human volition can ever be inevitable! If socialism comes it will come because men choose to embrace its principles.

Socialism is an age-old failure, yet the socialist idea constitutes the chief threat to liberty today. As I see it, socialism can be broken into five ideas.

1. The Pass-a-Law Syndrome. Passing laws has become a national pastime. Business in trouble? Pass a law to give it public subsidies or restrict its freedom of action. Poverty? Pass a law to abolish it. Perhaps America needs a law against passing more laws.

Almost invariably a new law means: a) more taxes to finance its administration; b) additional government officials to regulate some heretofore unregulated aspect of life; and c) new penalties for violating the law. In brief, more laws mean more regimentation, more coercion. Let there be no doubt about what the word coercion means: force, plunder, compulsion, restraint. Synonyms for the verb form of the word are even more instructive: impel, exact, subject, conscript, extort, wring, pry, twist, dragoon, bludgeon, and squeeze.

When government begins to intervene in the free economy, bureaucrats and politicians spend most of their time undoing their own handiwork. To repair the damage of Provision A, they pass Provision B. Then they find that to repair Provision B, they need Provision C, and to undo C, they need D, and so on until the alphabet and our freedoms are exhausted.

The Pass-a-Law Syndrome is evidence of a misplaced faith in the political process, a reliance on force, which is anathema to a free society.

2. The Get-Something-from-Government Fantasy. Government by definition has nothing to distribute except what it first takes from people. Taxes are not donations.

In the welfare state this basic fact gets lost in the rush for special favors and giveaways. People speak of “government money” as if it were truly free.

One who is thinking of accepting something from government that he could not acquire voluntarily should ask, “From whose pocket is it coming? Am I being robbed to pay for this benefit or is government robbing someone else on my behalf?” Frequently the answer will be both.

The end result of this “fantasy” is that everyone in society has his hands in someone else’s pockets.

3. The Pass-the-Buck Psychosis. Recently a welfare recipient wrote her welfare office and demanded, “This is my sixth child. What are you going to do about it?”

An individual is victim to the Pass-the-Buck Psychosis when he abandons himself as the solver of his problems. He might say, “My problems are really not mine at all. They are society’s, and if society doesn’t solve them and solve them quickly, there’s going to be trouble!”

Socialism thrives on the shirking of responsibility. When men lose their spirit of independence and initiative, their confidence in themselves, they become clay in the hands of tyrants and despots.

4. The Know-It-All Affliction. Leonard Read, in The Free Market and Its Enemy, identified “know-it-allness” as a central feature of the socialist idea. The know-it-all is a meddler in the affairs of others. His attitude can be expressed in this way: “I know what’s best for you, but I’m not content to merely convince you of my rightness; I’d rather force you to adopt my ways.” The know-it-all evinces arrogance and a lack of tolerance for the great diversity among people.

In government the know-it-all refrain sounds like this: “If I didn’t think of it, then it can’t be done, and since it can’t be done, we must prevent anyone from trying.” A group of West Coast businessmen once ran into this snag when their request to operate barge service between the Pacific Northwest and Southern California was denied by the (now-defunct) Interstate Commerce Commission because the agency felt the group could not operate such a service profitably.

The miracle of the market is that when individuals are free to try, they can and do accomplish great things. Read’s well-known admonition that there should be “no man-concocted restraints against the release of creative energy” is a powerful rejection of the Know-It-All Affliction.

5. The Envy Obsession. Coveting the wealth and income of others has given rise to a sizable chunk of today’s socialist legislation. Envy is the fuel that runs the engine of redistribution. Surely, the many soak-the-rich schemes are rooted in envy and covetousness.

What happens when people are obsessed with envy? They blame those who are better off than themselves for their troubles. Society is fractured into classes and faction preys on faction. Civilizations have been known to crumble under the weight of envy and the disrespect for property it entails.

A common thread runs through these five socialist ideas. They all appeal to the darker side of man: the primitive, noncreative, slothful, dependent, demoralizing, unproductive, and destructive side of human nature. No society can long endure if its people practice such suicidal notions.

Consider the freedom philosophy. It is an uplifting, regenerative, motivating, creative, exciting philosophy. It appeals to and relies on the higher qualities of human nature such as self-reliance, personal responsibility, individual initiative, respect for property, and voluntary cooperation.

The outcome of the struggle between freedom and serfdom depends entirely on what percolates in the hearts and minds of men. At the present time the jury is still deliberating.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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

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

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


26 May, 2011

Biased BBC accused of ageism after 'snubbing pensioners from Question Time panel because the studios are too hot'

The BBC was last night accused of ageism by a national pensioners’ group. Question Time bosses are said to have told the National Pensioners Convention that its representatives could not appear on the show’s panel because they ‘wouldn’t be able to cope with the lights and the stress of a live broadcast’.

The convention, which has 1.5 million members, claims the remarks were made in a meeting with Question Time bosses. The organisation is planning to protest outside the venue of tonight’s show in Exeter as part of a campaign to get an invitation.

It accuses the programme of ignoring campaigners for the elderly on its panels and said the broadcaster did not want to ‘acknowledge our existence’ or ‘our right to a voice in society’.

But show insiders last night hit back, pointing out that Dame Joan Bakewell, vocal campaigner for the elderly, was on the show in October 2009. In recent times Question Time, which is presented by 72-year-old David Dimbleby, has included Dr David Starkey, 66, Sir Max Hastings, 65, Max Mosley, 71, Lord Ashdown, 70 and Vince Cable, 68. Last night the BBC said: ‘We have found no evidence to support these comments having been made.’

Convention general secretary Dot Gibson, 76, said: ‘The first time we applied in 2008 we were told we weren’t well known enough as an organisation. Then we were told our representatives wouldn’t be able to cope with the lights and the stress of a live broadcast. 'It’s ridiculous and condescending and smacks of ageism. We have accused the BBC of ageism in the past as it seems they don’t want to acknowledge our existence or our right to a voice in society.’

'They have never had a representative for people of pensionable age on before I think it is absolutely ludicrous when there are 11 million people of that age in our society.'

Ms Gibson added: 'They have representatives from student groups, fascists, political parties, trade unions and even comedians. 'There's simply a refusal to accept that there is a pensioner movement in this country and that we are officially represented.

'Obviously last year the government were introducing cuts which would have affected people of pensionable age.

'We would have been happy to be invited on at this time, but they didn't get in contact. 'The most recent correspondence we have had they said we can go on this month but only in the audience.' It is claimed that the remarks about coping with the ‘lights’ and ‘stress’ were made at a meeting with show bosses in November 2008.

Members of the pensioners group say inclusion on the programme would offer a valid perspective on the nature of public sector and pension cuts on the elderly.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Question Time prides itself on representing all sections of society. ‘Both the Question Time panel and audience are chosen to reflect a wide range of demographics which includes pensioners.’ He added: ‘Many of our panellists are over or close to the age of retirement, including 20 in the current series, as are members of the invited audience.’

A spokesman also denied shunning the National Pensioners Convention and said they had a guest who represented the elderly during a show in October 2009.


Anti-abortionists on British sex education panel... to fury of the left

An anti-abortion charity has been given a key role advising the Government on sexual health. Life – a group which believes teenagers should be encouraged to be abstinent – has been appointed to join a committee which will help draw up policy on sex education.

But there are concerns the pro-life charity is so opposed to contraception and abortion it may hinder practical discussions on the panel. The country’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which played a major role advising the previous government, has been snubbed from the committee.

Ministers set up the Sexual Health Forum in February to replace Labour’s Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV. It is made up of 11 organisations including Marie Stopes International – another major abortion provider – the Family Planning Association and teenage sexual advisory service Brook.

It will meet regularly to discuss issues such as sex education, tackling teenage pregnancy and HIV.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris warned the inclusion of Life could ‘prevent the panel having frank and open discussions because you have a group there committed to opposing current policy’. He said: ‘When you have an organisation campaigning against the law and against current policy, which is pro-contraception and about ensuring that abortion is a choice, the risk is that you prevent the panel being given access to confidential information.’

Government officials insist it would be impractical to include both BPAS and Marie Stopes on the panel as their views would be too similar.

But Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said: ‘We are disappointed and troubled to learn that having initially been invited to the Sexual Health Forum we have been uninvited, particularly now we understand that Life have been offered a seat at the table. ‘We find it puzzling the Department of Health would want a group that is opposed to abortion and provides no sexual health services on its Sexual Health Forum.’

Life has already been given a key role advising the Government on sexual health education policy. Last week the charity was appointed as the founding member of the Sex and Relationships Education council, an umbrella body launched in Parliament with the backing of Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Stuart Cowie, Life’s head of education, said it would seek to build ‘common ground’ with other members of the panel. He said: ‘We are delighted to be invited into the group, representing views that have not always been around on similar tables in the past. ‘If we can be involved in reducing the number of abortions, that fits with our charitable objectives and I don’t think is unpalatable to anyone else, regardless of their position on when life begins.’

The Department of Health said: ‘To provide balance, it is important that a wide range of interests and views are represented on the Sexual Health Forum. Marie Stopes International and the BPAS have similar interests. We offered them shared membership but they declined.’


French Prez. says internet freedom will lead to anarchy

Nicolas Sarkozy has claimed the lack of regulation online risks plunging the world into anarchy. In an extraordinary attack on internet freedoms, the French president said that governments must be included in regulating the virtual world. He claimed that excluding officials took 'the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy.'

'Now that the internet is an integral part of most people's lives, it would be contradictory to exclude governments from this huge forum,' he said.

'Nobody could nor should forget that these governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. 'To forget this is to take the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy.'

Mr Sarkozy''s comments were addressed to an audience of leading multimedia executives who had gathered in Paris for a conference ahead of the G8 summit.

Plans by Mr Sarkozy for global co-operation in regulating the internet will be opposed by David Cameron, it was reported today. A Downing Street official said: 'We will not be regulating the internet any time soon.'

The announcement came as debates raged over the legality of breaking injunctions such as the one taken out by Ryan Giggs via internet-based media such as Twitter.

Mr Sarkozy's comments angered Google Inc's Eric Schmidt, who said no one would win if ‘some stupid rule,’ stunted the growth of the web.

Mr Sarkozy is notorious among techies for creating a law that calls for copyright pirates to be cut off from the internet.

He caused further animosity when he lauded the gathering of tough tech titans executives, that included Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, for helping fuel the Arab spring and spurring economic growth.

At the summit held in Paris, the French politician softened his usually tough stance on internet regulation but stark divisions remained on everything from privacy to copyright.

As speakers paraded on a stage built in the Tuileries Gardens of central Paris, deep rifts between policymakers and internet executives became apparent, with few signs of how they would be resolved in the two-day forum.

A draft communique, which is being finalised for release at the conclusion of the forum, suggests that the gathering will paper over the deepest divisions and shy away from making concrete policy proposals.

The draft will urge G8 leaders to adopt an international approach to protecting users' personal data but will sidestep the fraught issue of intellectual property by leaving it largely under the purview of national governments.


Revenge of the "Ruling Class"

On May 10, 2011 a Wyoming grassroots organization created a political firestorm within the state’s Republican Party by sending an e-mail to its office holders that asked two highly inflammatory questions, along with a declaration of its intentions to publicize any responses to those questions. Furthermore, having dealt for years with the standard liberal tactic of officials who dodged queries of this type by simply ignoring them, the organization also advised recipients that non-responses would be regarded as negatives.

The reactions from within the party were immediate and furious. Some accused the organization of engaging in “bullying and intimidation,” while others threatened legal action against it. Still others, straining the boundaries of credibility and severing any tenuous ties with reality, asserted that the organization was engaged in some manner of moneymaking scheme and that the letter was an integral part of it.

So just what was the nature and motivation of this insidious organization? And what were the provocative and malicious questions that caused all of the uproar? “WyWatch,” the group that undertook this evaluation of the condition of the Wyoming GOP, is a totally volunteer organization of citizens who have become concerned with the degradation of their society, and the seeming inability of their state’s ostensibly “conservative” government to forestall or reverse this ongoing decay.

As to the questions, in their entirety they were “Do you agree that the [Wyoming Republican] Party platform establishes terms under which elected and appointed officials exercise their power?” and “Do you agree with the principles enumerated in the Party Platform?” Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the correspondence contained a space in which respondents could elaborate on their sentiments, whether in support or opposition to the questions.

While some who received the e-mail did indeed merely answer the questions in the affirmative or state their contentions with certain concepts suggested therein, others clearly construed a mere request for information regarding their personal stances as an affront and an outrage, whereupon they caterwauled their opposition to it.

Though seemingly an isolated event in a single low population state, it would be wise for the conservative grassroots across America to take note of this occurrence and recognize its ramifications for the rest of the nation. As the nation undergoes the current political upheaval, similar incidents are unfolding in a thousand different settings from one coast to the other, all bearing witness to the same set of conflicting attitudes among aspiring power brokers pitted against those who are ultimately forced to live under the laws and regulations imposed on them.

Once one wades past all of the hysteria, it becomes apparent that the single element of the WyWatch inquiry which generated so much resentment was its demand for accountability. For years, public officials in the Cowboy State have remained relatively unaccountable to the citizenry, with the sole exception being a necessity to steer clear of any frontal attacks on the Second Amendment. But apart from that, a wholly self-serving and autocratic Republican Party has coalesced over the years, and has been relatively free to drift inexorably left, delving ever deeper into bureaucratic bloat and governing excess, all under the rubric of Wyoming being America’s “most Republican” (and presumably most “conservative”) state.

As a result freedoms are regularly being encroached upon, and cultural norms are disappearing while the legislature and state government fritter and chatter. Wyoming is now one of only two states west of New York that has no defense of marriage statute on the books. And state government spending per capita is among the highest in the nation, with no consideration of any serious effort to reverse the trend. Over the years, the state legislature has instead seen fit to studiously protect the public from the horrendous and burgeoning menace posed by whole milk taken from privately owned cows.

No doubt, those at the “inner circles” of power in Wyoming had expected their unchecked revelry to continue indefinitely. Private citizens are expected to put out the yard signs when instructed to do so, and on the appointed days go blindly into the voting booths and pull the lever with the “R” next to it, no questions asked. But with the advent of such organizations as WyWatch, the prospects of a future so devoid of accountability is definitely in jeopardy.

Back in Washington, the same mindset can be observed among the Republican “establishment,” albeit on a much grander scale. Last fall, in one of the biggest electoral upheavals in U.S. history, Congress was returned to Republican hands as a direct result of Tea Party fervency and devotion to the cause of rescuing America.. But now its time for the peasantry to sit back and leave those newly empowered professionals in the House to carry on their business as usual, continuing the funding of Obamacare, accepting the Democrats’ new baseline of trillion dollar budget deficits and, in a sad likelihood, raising the nation’s debt ceiling to whatever point Obama and his minions find comfortable.

For some, the elections of 2011 were the opening shots in a battle for the future of America. To others however, they merely represented a high water mark in the political ebb and flow that occasionally favors one side and then, often capriciously, shifts to the other.

This time, far too much is at stake to accept such a cavalier assessment of the nation’s precarious condition. Definitively constitutional questions are being juggled by courts with outcomes entirely determined by the political leanings of judges and the ideologies of the particular presidents who appointed them. Boundaries on political activity are no longer constrained by the quaint precepts of the “rule of law,” but are instead imposed or ignored as a direct result of their benefit or liability to the current administration and its lackeys at the Department of “Justice.”

Accountability for all political office holders, from the national down to the local level in the smallest townships, is key to any restoration of the greatness of America. And those who strive against it, regardless of the party affiliation they find most convenient, must be relegated to the ranks of “unfit” to hold office, whether they be wolves in sheep’s clothing, or are merely naive and sufficiently unprincipled to sacrifice their core values for a proverbial “place at the table.”



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

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

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


25 May, 2011

Naming Names in Sexual Assault Cases; Is the American practice fair?

Should someone accused of a crime be publicly identified by the authorities before conviction? If so, should the accuser be as well?

The arrest in New York of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges is being handled quite differently in France and America. The French are enraged by Strauss-Kahn’s “perp walk,” the American police practice of parading an accused in public, allowing the media to take photographs and yell questions. In France, releasing images of an accused before conviction violates his presumption of innocence and so is illegal.

Divergent cultural traditions account for the different reactions in the two countries. For one thing, the French are notoriously tolerant of their politicians’ sexual misdeeds, including criminal ones, which are rarely publicized. They are also less protective of accusers; for example, Slate France unapologetically published the name of Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim. By contrast, the American media have a strong tradition of naming the accused and protecting the accuser.

Culture and the media quite properly evolve their own standards, as do law enforcement, legislatures, and the judiciary. Are there sound legal reasons for publicly identifying or protecting either the accused or the accuser?

Criminal Procedure

Anonymity for either cannot be rooted in an appeal for privacy because a criminal procedure, to be just, must be public and transparent rather than secret. Nor can protection be based on a person’s prominence or other special characteristic because that would embed a double standard into the law, creating legal privileges.

It is an almost universal practice in America for the police to release an accused’s name and to include it in public documents. Indeed, it is increasingly common for the photo of those arrested to be posted on police public websites.

Yet in sexual assault cases the names of accusers are typically withheld. Court documents often refer to accusers as “Jane Doe,” and judges have been known to gag the media.

Two common explanations are advanced for treating such an accuser’s identity so differently: 1) to protect the purported victim from further trauma; and 2) to encourage future victims to come forward. Neither of these rests on theories of judicial transparency or equality under the law. Indeed, they violate them.

Begging the Question

The first defense appeals to compassion: A sexual assault victim should not be brutalized a second time by publicity. This defense fails, however, because it presumes precisely what is in question: Is the accuser a victim? Until a fair trial occurs, it is the defendant, not the plaintiff, who should be presumed innocent, with the burden of proof resting on the prosecution. Moreover if compassion protects the accuser’s identity, then logically it should also protect the accused, who might otherwise be falsely dragged through an ordeal that ruins his reputation.

The second defense speaks to future accusers. If identities are publicized, women will not report crimes such as rape. By lowering standards of accountability, which identification provides, it does seem likely that reports would increase. But how many would be false reports? There is nothing positive about increasing the number of accusations unless they are accompanied by standards to ensure their accuracy and the rights of the accused.

What’s more, an accuser’s anonymity decreases the likelihood of a fair trial. When an accused rapist is publicly named, other victims can come forward and add their testimony. By contrast, when an accuser remains unnamed, witnesses who could discredit her account are unaware of the proceedings.

Equal Treatment under Law

Transparency, equal treatment under law, and a defendant’s presumption of innocence all seem to dictate that both accused and accuser should be identified.

These issues and others surrounding the Strauss-Kahn case will not disappear. Indeed, the case is poised to become more explosive as the accuser herself will likely be harshly judged, at least in Europe. Strauss-Kahn is prominent in France; as a member of the Socialist Party, he was widely expected to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president. A recent poll found that 57 percent of the French public believes the arrest is part of a political conspiracy; many suspect American involvement. The percentage of conspiracy theorists rises to 70 percent among French socialists.

American police would be well advised to avoid further perp walks, the purpose of which does seem to be humiliation rather than justice.


Women are more attracted to traditional manly men

Real women like real men

Women find happy men significantly less sexually attractive than those who swagger or brood, researchers said today. They are least attracted to smiling men, instead preferring those who looked proud and powerful, or moody and ashamed, according to a study.

In contrast, men are most sexually attracted to women who look happy, and least attracted to those who appear proud and confident.

The University Of British Columbia study, which is the first to report a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles, helps explain the enduring allure of 'bad boys' and other iconic gender stereotypes. It is also the first study to investigate the attractiveness of displays of pride and shame.

Lead researcher Professor Jessica Tracy said: 'While showing a happy face is considered essential to friendly social interactions, including those involving sexual attraction - few studies have actually examined whether a smile is, in fact, attractive. 'This study finds that men and women respond very differently to displays of emotion, including smiles.'

More than 1,000 adult participants rated the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of images of the opposite sex. These photos included universal displays of happiness (broad smiles), pride (raised heads, puffed-up chests) and shame (lowered heads, averted eyes).

The researchers found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men - in contrast to men, who were most attracted to women who looked happy. Overall, the researchers said, men rank women more attractive than women rank men.

Study co-author Alec Beall said: 'It is important to remember that this study explored first-impressions of sexual attraction to images of the opposite sex.

'We were not asking participants if they thought these targets would make a good boyfriend or wife - we wanted their gut reactions on carnal, sexual attraction.'

'The results reflect some very traditional gender norms and cultural values that have emerged, developed and been reinforced through history, at least in Western cultures'

He said previous studies have found positive emotional traits and a nice personality to be highly desirable in a relationship partners.

Professor Tracy and Mr Beall said that other studies suggest that what people find attractive has been shaped by centuries of evolutionary and cultural forces. For example, evolutionary theories suggest females are attracted to male displays of pride because they imply status, competence and an ability to provide for a partner and offspring.

According to Mr Beall, the pride expression accentuates typically masculine physical features, such as upper body size and muscularity. 'Previous research has shown that these features are among the most attractive male physical characteristics, as judged by women,' he said.

The researchers said more work is needed to understand the differing responses to happiness, but suggest the phenomenon can also be understood according to principles of evolutionary psychology, as well as socio-cultural gender norms.

For example, past research has associated smiling with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the 'submissive and vulnerable' woman, but inconsistent with the 'strong, silent' man.

Professor Tracy said: 'Generally, the results appear to reflect some very traditional gender norms and cultural values that have emerged, developed and been reinforced through history, at least in Western cultures.

'These include norms and values that many would consider old-fashioned and perhaps hoped that we've moved beyond.'


British Muslims on bin Laden's side

The Bin Laden backlash: Angry Muslims demonstrate outside Downing Street as Obama visits Britain

Muslim activists descended on Downing Street today in protest at Barack Obama's state visit to London. As the president met David Cameron in Whitehall, an angry crowd of burka clad women as well as protesters from Muslims Against Crusades gathered on the streets outside.

They were joined by a number of prominent campaigners, including Anjem Choudary.The radical cleric said that President Obama has made himself a 'legitimate target' for Muslim extremists after the killing of Osama bin Laden. He called for Mr Obama to be dragged before a sharia court over his role in the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking before the march on Downing Street Choudary said Mr Obama was enemy number one for Muslims. Choudary said Obama was an 'even greater killer of Muslims' than his predecessor George Bush. He said: 'Just like Osama Bin Laden is the number one enemy for the west, Obama is for Muslims.

'He is a war criminal, it goes without saying. He has slain more Muslims than even his predecessor George Bush and has overseen the escalation of the war on Islam. 'He must be arrested and face a sharia court for his crimes.'

He added: 'The only security risk in today's march will be because some may see him as a legitimate target for what he has done. 'The anti-Obama camp is far bigger than the pro-Obama.

Choudary said he was also holding the demonstration to voice his disapproval with the way the U.S. administration killed terrorist chief Osama bin Laden. He said: 'They say they believe in justice and yet they act like common criminals breaking in and killing a man. 'If they wanted justice they should have captured Osama and taking him to a Sharia Court to face charges instead they act like common criminals and murders.'

Choudary was eventually dragged away by police, prompting scuffles to break out with his supporters.


Four lazy British cops to face misconduct hearings over Fiona Pilkington death

Four police officers will face misconduct proceedings over failures to stop a gang terrorising a woman who killed herself and her disabled daughter, a watchdog said today.

An inspector, a sergeant and two constables will be quizzed over their actions after investigators ruled that Leicestershire Police should have done more to identify Fiona Pilkington and her 18-year-old daughter Francesca Hardwick as vulnerable.

The mistake "lay at the core of their failure to provide a cohesive and effective approach to the anti-social behaviour the family suffered", an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry found.

In October 2007, the single mother set fire to the family's car while she and her 18-year-old daughter Frankie sat inside. Their deaths came after the family were abused by a gang of youths on their street in Barwell, Leicestershire, for more than a decade.

In September, a coroner holding an inquest into their deaths, criticised Leicestershire Police and Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council for failing to help the struggling mother. The hearing was told Ms Pilkington contacted police 33 times in 10 years after she, Francecca and her son Anthony, now 19, were tormented by a mob of up to 16 youths, some as young as 10.

Their house was regularly pelted with eggs, flour and stones, while on one occasion the gang shouted at Francesca, who had the mental age of a four-year-old, to lift up her nightdress as she went to bed. Anthony was often beaten up or verbally abused, once being locked in a shed at knifepoint by the gang.

But despite Ms Pilkington's repeated pleas for help, the police failed to act and she was driven to such despair that she killed herself and her daughter.

The family's solicitor Jocelyn Cockburn of Hodge Jones & Allen LLP said: "The family welcomes the IPCC investigation into the police conduct and hopes that it will lead to improvements in the way that victims of anti-social behaviour and hate crime are dealt with by the police."

"The family know first hand the terrible impact of such behaviour on vulnerable people and they dearly hope that other victims will be helped by this case." "The family are still struggling to come to terms with the loss of Fiona and Francesca and therefore they ask the press to respect their privacy and not to make any approach to them directly."



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

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

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


24 May, 2011

Muslim gang launched horrific attack on religious studies teacher they did not want teaching girls

A gang of four Muslim men launched a horrific attack on an RE teacher because they did not approve of him teaching religious studies to Muslim girls, a court heard yesterday.

Gary Smith, 28, was left with facial scarring, both long and short-term memory loss, and now has no sense of smell. He became depressed after his face was slashed and he suffered a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull and broken jaw following the attack.

The men were said to have attempted the assault several times, ‘lying in wait’ for Mr Smith before successfully am-bushing him on his way to work on July 12 last year.

The gang was recorded planning the attack by detectives who had bugged defendant Akmol Hussain’s car over an unrelated matter. They were taped saying they wanted to hit or kill the teacher just because he was the head of religious studies at the Central Foundation School for Girls in Bow, East London. In one recording Hussain said: ‘He’s mocking Islam and he’s putting doubts in people’s minds .... How can somebody take a job to teach Islam when they’re not even a Muslim themselves?’

Armed with an iron rod and brick, they punched, kicked and attacked Mr Smith, leaving him unconscious covered in blood on the pavement in Burdett Road, Tower Hamlets, East London.

Mr Smith was taken to hospital after he was found by two passers-by, and only regained consciousness two days later.

The gang, made up of Simon Alam, 19, Azad Hussein, 27, of Bethnal Green, Sheikh Rashid, 27, of Shadwell and Akmol Hussain, 26, of Wapping, fled the scene in a car and went on to boast about their role in the assault. Alam said he hit Mr Smith over the head with a metal bar saying: 'I turned and hit him on his face with the rod and he went flying and fell on his stomach.'

Sarah Whitehouse, prosecuting at Snaresbrook Crown Court, said: 'He was subjected to a violent attack while he was on his way to work. 'His injuries included bleeding in the brain and a broken upper jaw. He has been left with permanent scarring to his face. The attack was pre-meditated and was vicious and sustained. 'It was also a cowardly attack, carried out by a group of at least four men, using weapons, on the single victim who would have had limited opportunity to defend himself.'

The teacher had been at the school for eight years teaching faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Hinduism. 'It was a cowardly attack, carried out by a group of at least four men, using weapons, on the single victim who would have had limited opportunity to defend himself'

Ms Whitehouse added: 'He was targeted as the victim of this attack quite simply because of his position as head of religious studies at the school. 'The defendants held strong religious beliefs and they chose him because they did not approve of his teaching.'

Hussain's car had been bugged on an 'unrelated matter' and it was during that surveillance operation that some of the gang members were recorded discussing the attack. He spoke about a pupil at the school, calling her teacher a dog - an offensive name in Islam. He is then heard saying 'this is the dog we want to' and then a word is said in Sylheti - a language from Bangladesh - that means to hit, strike or kill.

Two other attempts, on on July 8 and one on July 9 last year failed when Mr Smith did not take his usual route to work.

Akmol Hussain, 26, of Wapping, Azad Hussein, 27, of Bethnal Green, Sheikh Rashid, 27, of Shadwell and Simon Alam, 19, of Whitechapel, all in East London, admitted GBH with intent. A fifth defendant, Badruzzuha Uddin, 24, also of Shadwell, admitted assisting the thugs by hiding blood-stained clothing.


Now British Elf 'n Safety zealots warn: Beware low-flying GEESE

A keep-fit class in a local park is not an activity most would consider fraught with danger.

While participants may occasionally suffer minor injuries such as a muscle strain or a twisted ankle, health and safety zealots have identified a previously undiscovered danger – low-flying geese.

A fitness instructor was warned of the airborne peril after being approached to run exercise classes for office workers in a leafy part of West London. Before being allowed to organise the workout sessions, the instructor was asked to provide a list of potential hazards at Chiswick Business Park, which has attractive landscaped gardens centred around a lake.

After struggling to think of any dangers posed at the location, the woman received a form from the park’s own health and safety team highlighting the supposed risk of injuries caused by a ‘collision’ with wildlife. The form stated: ‘Instructors are instructed to stay clear of wildlife (eg low-flying geese)’.

One of the keep-fit participants said they were most surprised when told about the potential risk to their health. ‘When I heard about it, I thought it must be a joke,’ said a class member, who asked not to be identified. To be spending time deliberating whether a group of adults running on the spot are in serious danger from airborne geese does seem to be taking health and safety just a little too far.’

The assessment form also warned of the dangers of trees, lampposts and benches. Instructors were told to ‘avoid trees with low-hanging branches’ and to keep clear of such areas completely ‘during low light conditions’.

They were also urged to ‘brief clients’ on the safe use of ‘park furniture’ and to ‘avoid all water features, or if moving past, to slow down and inform clients to avoid the water feature’.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said it did not have any records of anyone attending hospital accident and emergency departments as a result of injuries caused by low-flying geese. A spokesman said that accidents involving ducks or geese tended to occur when people tripped or slipped over while feeding them. However, she said that several thousands of people were injured every year after bumping into a tree or branch.

RoSPA occupational safety adviser Roger Bibbings criticised risk assessments that focused on trivial rather than real safety issues because they undermined the whole system.

Mr Bibbings said: ‘Part of the problem is that risk assessments can turn into a tick-box exercise in which ¬people include every conceivable risk and every conceivable hazard they can imagine. It doesn’t help anybody. When you get people going over the top on health and safety, it brings the whole system into disrepute.

A spokeswoman for Chiswick Park Enjoy-Work, which runs the private park for about a dozen businesses, said all event operators had to provide ‘relevant’ risk assessments. She said that firms normally drew up their own assessments based on an inspection. But she confirmed that Enjoy-Work had itself drawn up the assessment referring to low-flying geese for one instructor because she was struggling to complete a form.

The spokeswoman said that the company had included a number of potential hazards that other operators running similar fitness classes had mentioned. She added: ‘I think it is a case that this issue was raised, it was of concern, and we like to look after the wildlife here and make sure it is safe. We do have a large lake on the site which is home to a lot of wildlife including ducks, swans, herons and geese.’

Apart from fitness sessions, events held for the park’s 5,000 employees include fireworks displays and barbecues.


Good News on Lasting Marriages

While tabloid fare on marital fiascos (such as the recent demise of the Schwarzenegger–Shriver marriage) tends to dominate headlines, breaking news actually bodes well for marriage in America.

According to a report based on census data released Wednesday, marriages are lasting longer, with three in four couples who married after 1990 celebrating their 10th anniversary. In fact, more than half of the nation’s married couples have been together for at least 15 years.

This is good news not only for those families but for society as well, given that intact families tend to fare better financially and marital satisfaction has been linked to better physical and emotional health. The average income of single men is just 60 percent of that of married men, and single women’s average income is just 40 percent of their married counterparts. And the economic benefits of marriage are not for adults alone. Marriage can decrease the likelihood of child poverty by more than 80 percent.

And there’s good news regarding the marital prospects of the next generation—giving “legs” to the rising trend of marital longevity. Children tend to follow the marital trajectory of their parents. Children whose parents enjoy a stable marriage tend to have higher expectations for their own marriages and experience greater marital satisfaction, while children who lived through parental divorce are themselves more likely to divorce.

In addition, research by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia found that greater educational attainment is linked to greater marital stability and that people without a college degree are three times as likely as those who graduated college to divorce within the first 10 years of marriage. Given that children from intact families tend to have better academic achievement and higher educational attainment, the current increase in the longevity of marriage bodes well for the next generation’s marital relationships as well.

Thus, the benefits associated with the upward trend in long-lasting marriages can have ripple effects for generations to come.


Profiles in Tolerance

Mike Adams

Last month, I was standing at the podium getting ready to give a lecture when I noticed a young woman had her laptop computer out. I was amused when I saw that the outside of her computer was adorned with a bumper sticker that said “TOLERANCE” in big white letters. I ignored her plea for tolerance as I demanded that she put her computer up during the lecture. I simply don’t “tolerate” students who pretend to take notes on their laptops while they are, in fact, surfing the net and posting on Facebook.

But I do seriously wonder whether she – or any other student promoting tolerance - really understands what the word means. It is unlikely that she does given that most of her professors do not understand what it means. Like catatonic schizophrenics, professors often mindlessly repeat words they don’t understand. And, arguably, “tolerance” and “diversity” are among the most repeated and least understood words in higher education today.

To illustrate my point, I am including (below) an email I recently received from a UNCW sociologist we’ll call “Tolerant Rob.” It was the third email I received announcing the showing of a pro-homosexual film at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Inter-sexed, and Allied Center at UNC-Wilmington:
“Gentle folks~

I know that I'm ‘taking a chance’ forwarding this to you all. I know that some are intolerant, unaccepting and ‘not comfortable’ with ‘the gay lifestyle’. But someone has to have some huevos around here and that would be me.


Jimmy Wheeler had hopes and dreams. He was a gifted poet and painter and had a loving family who supported and cared for him. But for Jimmy Wheeler, growing up gay in rural Pennsylvania was too much to take. He was abused regularly at school. He was called awful names. In 1997, alone in a cold room, Jimmy Wheeler took his own life. ‘Jim in Bold tells the story of young James Wheeler and tells the stories of gay youth in this country, from the tragic impact of hatred to the triumphant resilience of youth,’ said Equality Forum’s Executive Director Malcolm Lazin.

”The first and most amusing thing you probably noticed about this email is that Tolerant Rob congratulates himself on the courage he exhibited in sending it. Of course, that is debatable since I am the only conservative Republican on the list of professors to whom it was sent. The other two dozen professors in my department are either independents or registered Democrats. Several are Marxists and almost all of them are staunch supporters of the so-called “gay rights” movement. So sending this email to the department is about as courageous as sending a racist email to a bunch of Klansman. But if you read the message carefully it gets even better.

After I received the first notice (from the LGBTQIA Center) about the “coming out” film I simply deleted it without comment. After I received the second notice (from the department Chairman) I again deleted it without comment. Next, Tolerant Rob sent the alert out with a judgmental statement that not only applauds his personal courage but characterizes those who disagree with him as “intolerant” and “unaccepting.”

In other words, Tolerant Rob is not willing to tolerate intolerance. Nor is he willing to accept un-acceptance. At this point, you may be wondering whether Tolerant Rob actually spends much time thinking about what he actually thinks.

The point that Tolerant Rob lacks tolerance of those of us who subscribe to the Judeo-Christian worldview is too obvious. In fact, he is so intolerant and unaccepting of those he considers intolerant and unaccepting that he must underline the words “intolerant” and “unaccepting.”

What is less obvious is that he also lacks tolerance towards homosexuals.

Tolerance presupposes a moral judgment. Therefore, if Tolerant Rob claims to approve of homosexual conduct he cannot simultaneously claim to tolerate it. If that doesn’t make sense then let me illustrate with a few examples.

*I approved of the decision to include Anna Kournikova in the annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Therefore, it is not possible for me to “tolerate” seeing her in the magazine wearing a bikini.

*I approved of the decision of Springfield Armory to send me a free personally engraved .45 semi-automatic handgun. Therefore, it was not possible for me to “tolerate” their benevolence.

*I approved of the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. Navy Seals. Therefore, it is not possible for me to “tolerate” their actions as an unfortunate necessity of war.

The problem with sociologists like Tolerant Rob is twofold: 1) They often use words they do not understand, and 2) They often claim to be morally superior to others because they do not believe they are morally superior to others.

The logical incoherence of moralistic relativists can be annoying. But we need to show them toleration and acceptance. They didn’t choose to be sanctimonious hypocrites. They were probably born that way.



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

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

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


23 May, 2011

Christian doctor who prescribed faith in Jesus fights for his job in Britain

A Christian GP is facing the threat of being struck off for suggesting a patient could find solace in Jesus. But Richard Scott said yesterday that it was worth the risk if he could ‘make a stand’ for his faith.

Dr Scott, 50, was placed under official investigation for talking to a patient about Jesus.

The Cambridge-educated GP, who used to be a medical missionary and surgeon in Tanzania and India, has refused to accept a formal warning from the General Medical Council, which said he risked bringing his profession into disrepute by discussing Christianity.

He is preparing to appeal against the censure – even though he has been warned this could result in him being struck off.

Dr Scott insists no guidelines were breached as religion was mentioned only during a ‘consensual discussion between two adults’ after he had carried out a thorough and lengthy consultation with a patient last year at his Christian-orientated practice in Margate, Kent.

The father of three, whose wife Heather, 50, is also a doctor, is fighting to have the formal warning removed from his unblemished record – maintaining that he acted professionally and within the medical regulator’s guidelines.

The complaint was brought by the mother of the 24-year-old patient, a man who was described as ‘in a rut and in need of help’. Dr Scott told him that faith in Jesus could give comfort and strength.

When asked by his mother how the meeting had gone, the patient apparently replied: ‘He just said I need Jesus’ – prompting her to complain that Dr Scott had ‘pushed religion’ on her son, who nevertheless continued to receive treatment from the practice.

Dr Scott, a lay preacher, told the Mail: ‘The GMC decided to take the complaint seriously, which I feel is an injustice. 'They said that by speaking about my faith I had abused my position and potentially exploited vulnerable patients. ‘The patient didn’t indicate that they were offended or wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation. ’

Dr Scott is one of six Christian partners at Bethesda medical centre in Margate, which is named after a biblical pool of healing. It states on the official NHS Choices website that spiritual matters are likely to be discussed with patients during consultations.

Dr Scott added: ‘By appealing against the decision, it will go to a public hearing where the GMC may warn me or decide to take matters further. But it is worth the risk as I wanted to do this because there is a bigger picture. ‘I wanted to give confidence and inspiration to other Christians who work in the medical profession.’

Dr Scott’s case follows a series of high-profile disputes between Christians and their employers over their freedom to express their faith – including a nurse who prayed for a patient and an electrician who displayed a cross in his van.

Andrea Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is handling his case, said Dr Scott had acted within the GMC’s guidelines and his unblemished record should not be tarnished – even by a letter on his file.

Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said: ‘Are we really getting to a position where Christians are not allowed to speak about their faith at all in the workplace? ‘Dr Scott had a rigorous policy of not pressing the point if people didn’t want to hear his views and it sounds like he was very respectful. ‘I think the GMC should be glad to have people like that rather than disciplining and putting them under pressure to keep their faith quiet.’

But Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘Our guidance is clear. Doctors should not normally discuss their personal beliefs with patients unless those beliefs are directly relevant to the patient’s care. ‘They also must not impose their beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views.’


British Conservatives under fire as only 1 in 3 muggers is jailed

Less than a third of convicted muggers and car thieves end up in jail, figures reveal. Thanks to the rise of community sentences, just over half of drug dealers go to prison – and only 43 per cent of those who have sex with a child under 13 are put behind bars.

The revelations come as a poll shows voters believe the Government is even softer on crime than Labour.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has been heavily criticised for his money-saving plans to send fewer offenders to jail and reduce the prison population by 3,000. This would see more sex offenders and drug dealers free to roam the streets. Figures show thousands of our most serious criminals already get off with soft community sentences.

The statistics, released following a parliamentary question from Labour’s justice spokesman Sadiq Khan, show just 32 per cent of muggers and 22 per cent of those convicted of child neglect and cruelty go to prison. In addition, 42 per cent of drug dealers and 54 per cent of those guilty of conspiracy to murder get off without being sent into immediate custody. Only 51 per cent of criminals who commit a sexual assault are jailed and, amazingly, just a third of those who have had sex with children under the age of 13 end up in prison.

The figures, which cover the period from April 2009 to March 2010, also show dangerous drivers, arsonists, people convicted of firearms offences and those who steal cars are more likely to escape jail than not.

Last night Dr David Green, director of the centre-right think tank Civitas, warned even more criminals would get soft justice under Mr Clarke’s proposals. ‘Some serious offenders, such as burglars and robbers, have been receiving light sentences for many years, and the latest figures show that little has changed,’ he said. ‘If Kenneth Clarke has his way, then we can expect ever fewer serious offenders to receive the sentences they deserve.’

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times found some 30 per cent believe David Cameron’s government is less effective at reducing offending than Gordon Brown’s, while 43 per cent rate the two as much the same. As many as 62 per cent opposed Mr Clarke’s plan to halve sentences in return for early guilty pleas.

The Justice Secretary shocked the Tory conference last year with his stated aim of scrapping prison sentences of less than six months in a bid to reduce the prison population by 3,000 to around 80,000. Community sentences range from treatment programmes and job training to curfews and unpaid labour.

MPs are due to debate a Labour motion today condemning Mr Clarke’s soft justice proposals.

Tory backbencher Philip Davies is understood to be planning to vote with the opposition on the issue. He said: ‘These figures show that it’s difficult enough to be sent to prison – you have to be a very persistent or serious offender to have any chance of going to prison at all. ‘For Ken Clarke to want to make it any harder for criminals to get into prison beggars belief. He is completely out of step with public opinion on this.’

The latest figures also reveal many serious offenders are still able to take part in elections, as a ban on voting only applies to those sent to jail.


The Tyranny of Hurt Feelings

Call it testosterone poisoning: A group of fraternity pledges at Yale, blindfolded and led in a line, each with his hands on the shoulders of the boy in front of him (the Yalie bunny hop?), were paraded in front of the Women's Center. There they shouted vile and puerile slogans including "No means yes, yes means anal" and "My name is Jack, I'm a necrophiliac, I f--- dead women."

"It makes you want to slap those kids," laments Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Idiotic behavior like that of Delta Kappa Epsilon makes his job -- defending free speech and common sense in the Orwellian universe of the American academy -- that much more difficult.

A group of Yale women and alumnae have filed a Title IX complaint against the university, prompting the self-described "lonely civil libertarian feminist," Wendy Kaminer, to lament that women are acting like helpless females.

"What accounts," she asks in The Atlantic, "for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats?"

But the bureaucrats are hard at work -- even if it means compromising the due process rights of the accused. In fact, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education has pretty well mandated that the rights of the accused be downgraded.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter dated April 4, 2011, the Office for Civil Rights informed all recipients of federal funds that when adjudicating accusations of sexual harassment or sexual violence (the two are constantly conflated, as if the latter were merely a more extreme form of the former), universities must reduce the burden of proof from "clear and convincing" evidence to "preponderance of the evidence," or 50.01 percent likelihood that the offense took place.

American law has traditionally afforded stricter standards of proof when the stakes for the accused are high. In criminal cases, the standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt." The OCR claims -- bizarrely -- that sexual harassment cases are like claims for money damages. Hardly. The stakes for the accused in a campus disciplinary hearing concerning sexual harassment or sexual violence could scarcely be higher. The student's reputation, education, and even liberty are at risk.

Throughout the letter, as Kaminer notes, the Obama administration, through the OCR, assumes the guilt of the accused, just as the Duke faculty presumed the guilt of the lacrosse players. No concern is spared for the possibly falsely accused student.

The OCR's demand is consistent with two decades of "speech codes" and sexual harassment standards at American universities that seek to micromanage speech and thought. Lukianoff believes that students are being trained at colleges to "unlearn liberty." As the definition of what constitutes "harassment" expands, the First Amendment freedoms Americans take for granted contract. It's a tyranny of protected feelings extending into ever-more-ridiculous realms.

A student at the University of New Hampshire was found guilty of harassment because he posted fliers in his dorm jokingly suggesting that female students who wanted to lose weight take the stairs instead of the elevators. A student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was found guilty of thought crime. He was seen reading "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How The Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan" (a book that celebrated the Klan's defeat by the way) and was convicted of racial harassment. A Muslim student at William Paterson University was charged with sexual harassment after a comment he made in an email to a professor concerning a lesbian-themed movie.

At Duke, university regulations specify that "sexual misconduct" may be determined by a number of factors, including "real or perceived power differentials between individuals," which may create an "unintentional atmosphere of coercion." The University of California's sexual harassment "info sheet" defines sexual harassment as, among other things, "Sexual innuendoes and comments about your clothing, body or sexual activities ... Suggestive or insulting sounds (ie: cat calls, whistles, etc.: hostile environment); Humor and jokes about sex in general that make someone feel uncomfortable or that they did not consent to..." So if you tell me a joke that makes me feel uncomfortable, you are guilty of sexual harassment.

By tossing aside nearly all standards of sexual conduct 40-odd years ago, liberals abetted the free-for-all they are now so feverishly trying to check. That's condign retribution. But in the process, they are endangering freedom of speech and thought -- and in some cases even inviting gross miscarriages of justice.


Homosexual columnist: let’s face it, we want to indoctrinate children

As the same-sex “marriage” battle heats up again in New York, one writer at a prominent gay news source is questioning why his lobby refuses to admit that the gay agenda involves “indoctrinating” schoolchildren to accept homosexuality.

Queerty contributor Daniel Villarreal criticized (WARNING site contains inappropriate images) the homosexual movement’s knee-jerk reaction against accusations of meddling in public schools. Villarreal pointed to a recent National Organization for Marriage (NOM) ad launched in New York that points out how homosexual indoctrination has been introduced in Massachusetts and California schools.

While gay activists usually deny that they want to indoctrinate children, said Villarreal, “let’s face it—that’s a lie.” “We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it,” he wrote.

Villarreal pointed to the tactics of a gay activist group FCKH8, which fought a recent Tennessee bill prohibiting classroom discussion of homosexuality in grade school by “hir[ing]some little girls to drop F-bombs” in their controversial online ad campaign, and handing out gay paraphernalia to schoolchildren. “Recruiting children? You bet we are,” he said.

“Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

In fact, Villarreal said that his dream of increasing not only the acceptance, but the future practice of homosexuality among youngsters was common among those in the gay lobby.

“I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach, and expose children to queer sexuality AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT,” he wrote.

New York is seeing a renewed push for same-sex “marriage,” with supporters hoping to see passage of a new marriage definition before the end of the legislative session on June 20.

A similar initiative had failed in 2009, but gay rights strategists are hopeful that power shifts in the legislature since then, including two more senatorial seats in favor of gay “marriage,” will result in a different outcome. Supporters also cite rising support for gay “marriage” in polls among New Yorkers, with 58 percent reportedly saying they back the change in a recent poll.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday to overturn the traditional definition of marriage in the state.



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

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

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


22 May, 2011

Another gross miscarriage of justice by British social workers

Why would they not return a child to a loving father who wants her? It's just vindictiveness and shows absolutely NO regard for the welfare of the child

The man at the centre of one of the country's [New Zealand's] most public custody fights is about to lose his daughter for a second time. Kiwi Stephen Jelicich, who took baby Caitlin into hiding in 2005 in the middle of a bitter tug-of-love with his former Welsh wife Diane Ellis-George, has revealed his daughter is about to be adopted.

Ellis-George, a nurse, died two years ago of breast cancer and Caitlin was put in the care of her 27-year-old half-sister in the UK. In 2005, Jelicich sparked a police hunt with his actions after an Auckland court awarded the mum custody. After nine days on the run, he gave himself up.

Jelicich said he had hoped Caitlin, now aged 7, might eventually "be returned to me" - but he could not afford to fight for her any longer. The half-sister told him recently she would soon adopt Caitlin and "there's nothing I can do about it".

A teary-eyed Jelicich said he had come to accept Caitlin would grow up in Wales. But he was immensely grateful the half-sister had allowed him a little into her life now. He skyped Caitlin only a couple of months ago and sent her Christmas presents and sometimes penned letters too. "I let her know her dad is here and loves her and will always be here - and I hope to see her when she's old enough and wants to catch up."

Jelicich, 46, now a farmer in the Manawatu, has since become the proud dad to a 3- year-old daughter whom he wants to shield from publicity.

Asked if she helped heal his heart, Jelicich replied, "no". Both daughters "are separate", very much loved and neither could replace the other, he said. "You are going to make me cry again. I'm still not over it and will never be over losing my daughter," he said. "There's a hole in my heart and nothing can ever fill it ... not a day goes by that I never think of my daughter."

He revealed that he was a typical parent when it came to a relocation dispute - he had spent $30,000 fighting his case, almost exactly what Otago University researchers say parents spend on these types of cases. He is still paying off this debt.

The cost was worth every cent, he said, because "you can't put a value on having your child with you" and at least he knew he tried everything he could.

Jelicich said any parent who faced similar circumstances would have spent all their cash trying to get custody. He was not surprised some Kiwis spent close to $200,000 on custody and separation disputes.

He said fighting for custody through the courts was like "whacking your head against a brick wall ... but how could you not try [for custody]?"


Protest against Leftist/feminist infiltration of Girl Scouts

"Chances are, if you're naming your blog after a Taylor Swift album, your judgment's already suspect." That's Salon dismissing two teen girls, in a piece on the Girl Scouts and its liberal feminist tendencies. And, as it happens, the line itself actually speaks to the heart of the problem.

Think about what the young country star's songs often embody: A rooted goodness, and higher expectations than instant gratification -- for herself and for those she loves. Are those things that should be so scornfully patronized by the liberal chattering class?

Sydney and Tess Volanski, about to be a rising sophomore and high-school freshman, respectively, started the aforementioned Taylor-named website, Speak Now, when they left the Girl Scouts after eight years because of the group's values clash with their own -- namely, its ties to Planned Parenthood.

The rude awakening for the sisters was the reported distribution of a Planned Parenthood brochure, entitled "Healthy, Happy and Hot" -- which dealt with satisfying sexual urges and procuring a "safe abortion" while living with HIV-- at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts meeting last year. But Volanskis' concerns go beyond that -- to the worldview of the Girl Scouts as a whole.

These girls are bent on reform, rather than destruction, however.

"We were part of a great troop," Sydney says. "We had our Bronze Award and were in the process of planning for our Silver Award. It was a great experience, only marred when we found out that GSUSA is not who they say they are. We were saddened by the fact that we were representing a group in name and financially that had moral viewpoints in direct opposition to ours."

Sydney tells me: "Many Girl Scouts are good, wholesome girls. The problem lies within the national organization's leadership's lack of adherence to their promise of neutrality," on abortion. Further, she adds, girls often need and "should get help, but Planned Parenthood and abortion -- what GSUSA is directing them to -- are not help. Abortion has serious risks for women, including breast cancer, infertility, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. Does this sound like help?"

"If we had a say," Sydney continues, "we would make it so they were truly neutral about a girl's health and sexuality, abortion and birth control and political affiliations, as they promise to be. We would put the focus where it should be, on character-building and leadership activities."

When I asked them if they were just doing the bidding of their pro-life mom, as Salon accused, Sydney told me: "We have passion for the pro-life cause on our own. We are old enough so that we can form our own opinions. Teenagers are not all as apathetic as society seems to think; we can care enough about something to take action. This is something that we cared about, so we took action and made this website because we wanted to."

Sydney and Tess are finding their voices at a time when they're far from alone among young people, and young women. Tess points to Lila Rose, the 22-year-old who has made an early name for herself doing independent pro-life undercover work: "I am inspired by the many amazing women who fight for life in our culture today. One who stands out is Lila Rose. Her commitment and courage are very motivating. We found in person that Lila is not only bold and courageous, but also very kind and compassionate."

The Volanski sisters' new attitude to the Girl Scouts puts them in a growing crowd. Patti Garibay is the national executive director of American Heritage Girls, which has grown in the years since its 1995 founding from simply an alternative to the Girl Scouts to the more fitting sister group to the Boy Scouts. Just this year, the Boy Scouts joined American Heritage in a joint "memorandum of mutual support." Garibay explains some commonalities between the two groups, "AHG and BSA are both centered on a duty to God, we are 'owned' by our charter partners, thus allowing our programs to serve as a ministry of the church, we are structured the same, AHG leaders use the BSA youth protection and outdoor skills training to name a few."

And, she adds, in response to some of the critics of those concerned about GS mission creep: "Yes, girls need to know about sexuality but why not within a moral framework of faith, family, and church." You can't build character without a moral barometer, Garibay argues.

Anna Halpine, who founded the World Youth Alliance adds: "A lot of good organizations affiliate with (Planned Parenthood) both nationally, (locally) and internationally, since they are the big banner organization that is promoting women and girls, and claiming to advocate their health and healthy lifestyles. I think that many of these groups would find their local and national chapters agitating to form alliances with other groups if those were available to them. In essence; we need an alternative to the current options."

It can be hard to be a good girl in our often over-sexualized culture. But it looks like the girls -- bolstered by parents or church or other prevailing bastions of sanity -- might just blaze the paths themselves.

You go, girls! And like in a Taylor Swift song or two, the guys might just follow -- and appreciate it more than you know.


Thou Shalt Not Criticize (some things)

On May 6th, Dr. Keith Ablow, a TV psychiatrist and university professor, penned a controversial article entitled, “Cameron Diaz Is Right -- 4 Reasons Why Marriage IS a Dying Institution.” The article, which was posted on FoxNews.com, received a considerable amount of criticism, as Dr. Ablow claimed that marriage is “one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.” He even wrote that, “marriage is a dying institution . . . because it inherently deprives men and women of the joy of being ‘chosen’ on a daily basis.” Come again?

Did Fox News pull the article in the face of criticism? Certainly not. After all, the doctor is entitled to his opinion (even if his opinion is deemed inane) and, for a website and news agency, the more controversy the better – at least to a point. There are certain lines that one dare not cross these days, and one of those now appears to be the line of “transphobia.” (In case you’re not up on LGBT vocabulary, transphobia is to transgender what homophobia is homosexual.)

This, then, is what happened in the space of just two days. On May 17th, Dr. Ablow posted an article on FoxNews.com entitled, “Inside the Mind of Chaz Bono,” writing, “Chastity Bono, the daughter of Cher and Sonny Bono, has undergone gender reassignment surgery and now asserts she [that’s right, she] is a man. . . . I know my thoughts on this matter will be politically incorrect, but they are entirely biologically and psychiatrically accurate.”

Dr. Ablow continued, “First, Chaz Bono is not a man. She is a woman who has undergone radical surgeries and is taking male hormones in order to look like a man. That isn’t a political position, it’s a biological reality. Chaz Bono wants to be thought of as male, but she is not male.”

He explained, “Delusional disorders are notoriously difficult to treat. Paranoia . . . can require extensive psychotherapy and anti-psychotic medication. Sometimes, that isn’t even enough. So you can imagine that believing you are a man when you are a woman could require even more vigorous and dedicated attempts to alleviate the psychotic person’s symptoms. . . . “I think Chaz Bono, who is, in fact, a woman, will not escape, through surgery or manipulation of hormones, suffering that is far more than skin deep.”

On May 18th, just one day after Dr. Ablow’s article was posted, it was pulled from the Fox News website without explanation, apparently because of an uproar from the gay and transgender community, including threats of boycotts. When it comes to homosexuality and transgenderism, the message is plain and clear: “Thou shalt not criticize!”

Was this article any more controversial than his article attacking marriage? Hardly. After all, there is no genetic or biological indication that Chastity Bono is a man other than what she/he perceives in her/his head. (I say that with all respect to the struggles that Bono has passed through and without minimizing the very real needs of those who identify as transgender.) Perhaps Chastity could have been helped from the inside out? Perhaps some of Chastity’s inner turmoil had to do with the very unusual family environment in which she was raised?

When Chastity released her coming out story as a lesbian in 1999, we were expected to embrace her new identity with affirmation and approval, recognizing that this was who she truly was. Now we are being told that she was really not a lesbian at all but rather a heterosexual male trapped in a woman’s body. Is it so outrageous for a psychiatrist to question whether Chastity/Chaz is suffering from some kind of disorder? Apparently so.

In today’s upside-down world, a psychiatrist can make the claim that marriage is a dying institution, one of the major causes of depression, and that is perfectly fine. But let that same psychiatrist suggest that Chastity/Chaz Bono is suffering from a mental or emotional disorder (for the record, it is called Gender Identity Disorder), and his voice must be silenced post haste.

Consider the political climate in which we now live: Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, the chief of the US Olympic team mission for 2012, resigned from his position under pressure from gay activists. Why? He supported Prop 8 in California, defining marriage as the union of a man and woman, and this was deemed too controversial. One week later, Rick Welts, the owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, openly declared his homosexuality and received nothing but praise and commendation for his candor. And “transitioning” from a woman into a man gets you a spot on Oprah and David Letterman, while questioning the rightness of sex-change surgery gets you silenced.

A queer thing, indeed, has happened to America. One can only wonder what is coming next.


Australia: Muslim radio stays on airwaves

A MUSLIM group accused of having links to a "radical cult" will keep broadcasting on radio in a ruling that mainstream Islamic groups have condemned.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has renewed 2MFM's community radio licence for five years, angering Muslims who say it is linked to a "fringe group that promotes extremist views".

Muslim Community Radio Incorporated, the operator of 2MFM, has ties to the Islamic Charity Projects Association, which is associated with the group Al-Ahbash.

Al-Ahbash was founded in Lebanon and critics say it is a violent cult, but members deny the claim and say they promote Islamic pluralism.

Station manager Malek Jouddawi said criticisms of the station were "utterly wrong … whoever listens to our radio station can tell very clearly that we're moderate … We don't want to waste time responding to these people."

The endorsement by the authority was "evidence that 2MFM is serving the community responsibly".

The authority approved the licence renewal on the condition the station encouraged greater participation by "members of the wider Muslim community".

But Keysar Trad, the president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said the condition would change nothing "because no Muslims in the wider community want to have anything to do with them - no one will go near them."

Mustapha Kara-Ali, a founder of 2MFM who has distanced himself from the group, said the condition could work but it was crucial "for the [Muslim] community to overtake the Al-Ahbash and run the radio station for the whole community."



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

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

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


21 May, 2011

Britain soft on rape: How 200 sex attackers were let off with just a caution

Shocking new figures released today revealed that over the past five years almost 200 rapists have escaped with just a caution.

The startling statistics, disclosed by 14 police forces in response to Freedom of Information requests, show one in 100 rape arrests resulted in a slap on the wrist. Figures showed that 198 people arrested on suspicion or rape between 2006 and 2010 admitted the offence but only received a caution. The revelations come just days after Ken Clarke's gaffe that some rapes are less serious than others.

One of the most shocking cases involved a caution given to a rapist who admitted abusing a girl under the age of 13 in Gwent, Wales, in 2008. A further 12,842 rape claims - or 65 per cent of arrests - were not taken any further by police in the same period because of a lack of evidence.

Davina James-Hanman, 44, director of Against Violence and Abuse, today described the findings as ‘shocking’. She said: ‘The problem is not getting a conviction in court - it is getting the case out of the police station. ‘Using cautions can be appropriate at times for example if a woman is completely crushed and you have only been able to get a short statement from her to use in court. ‘It is shocking to think of how many rapists are just given cautions. But at least it will remain on their record if they reoffend.

‘The worst thing is that many rapists who accept a caution would plead not guilty if they were taken to court because they know they will be able to get off. ‘There is always a suggestion of bad character about the woman. There is no other crime where people ask about what the victim had done to cause it. ‘If you forgot to lock your car people are still sympathetic if it gets broken into. That is not how people treat rape victims.’

Catherine Briddick, Senior Legal Officer at Rights of Women, said a caution for rape would ‘rarely be appropriate.’ She said: ‘If someone has accepted a caution then they have accepted criminal responsibility for an incredibly serious offence. ‘Giving a caution for a serious sexual offence would rarely be appropriate and when making this decision it is vital that the informed views of the survivor are taken into consideration. ‘Works needs to be done to reduce the number of cases that are dropped at the investigative stage of rape case.’

Fourteen of Britain's 52 police forces released rape figures following a Freedom of Information request. In a five year period between 2006 and 2010 a total of 198 people who admitted rape walked free with just a caution.

In total there were 19,806 arrests on suspicion of rape in the 14 forces from January 2006 to December 2010. But police released 12,842 suspects without charge - a staggering 65 per cent of all rape arrests.

While many would have been innocent or mistakenly accused some cases are not taken to prosecution due to lack or insufficient evidence.


'It is the court's duty to protect vulnerable women': Judge takes on British government as he jails rapist for 16 years

A senior crown court judge yesterday launched a veiled attack on Kenneth Clarke’s controversial plans to halve jail terms for rapists who plead guilty early. Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC appeared to accuse the Justice Secretary of ignoring the ordeal suffered by the victims as he jailed a rapist for 16 years.

The judge told Bradford Crown Court: ‘When others comment on these cases the need to protect vulnerable women who have been grievously affected by these crimes is sadly forgotten.’ The courts must treat these ‘grave and destructive offences’ with the utmost seriousness, he added.

In a further swipe at Mr Clarke, he said he had to be careful not to use language which could deter complainants or undermine the efforts made to try such horrendous crimes.

The judge’s comments came at the end of a terrible week for Mr Clarke. He was forced to apologise unequivocally after suggesting during a radio phone-in that not all rapes were ‘serious’. The minister said he had ‘phrased it very, very badly’.

Sources now claim that his plans to increase sentence cuts from 33 per cent to 50 per cent for offenders who spare their victims the ordeal of testifying by pleading guilty early will be shelved.

But Mr Clarke’s apology did not appear to have appeased Judge Durham Hall, who spoke out whilst sentencing 29-year-old rapist Paul Lupton. Passing the 16-year sentence for Lupton’s attack on a 19-year-old stranger, the judge said: ‘The public will understand, I hope, that a life sentence is reserved for the most clear cases of extreme danger.

‘There is an alternative...that permits me properly to address the danger you present as well as to punish and send the clearest message to the public that the courts treat with the utmost seriousness this grave and destructive offence.’

The court was told how Lupton, of Bradford, violently raped a vulnerable girl in a dark alleyway while high on butane gas. Branding him ‘a dangerous offender’, Judge Durham Hall ordered him to spend at least eight years behind bars before he is eligible for release. He will then be released under close supervision on a ‘rigorous’ extended eight-year licence period.

Lupton’s victim was detained in hospital for psychiatric treatment for weeks after her harrowing ordeal, the court heard. Asked what she thought of Mr Clarke’s comments, she said: ‘All rape is serious rape regardless of the circumstances.’

The judge ordered Lupton, who pleaded guilty, to remain on the sex offenders’ register for life. He will also be subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order.


Hailing the Lies, Punishing the Truth

In his May 14, 2011 article, published in the Ottawa Citizen, Michael Taube, a former speech writer for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, blasted Geert Wilders and accused him of not understanding the difference between radical Islam and moderate Islam.

Wilders is the founder of the Party for Freedom (PVV), the Netherlands' third-largest political party. He is concerned about the rapid Islamization of his country. He believes that Islam poses an existential threat to the western civilization that is based on Judeo-Christian and humanistic values. He has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and has advocated banning the construction of new mosques and a moratorium on Muslim immigration. He has said that Islamic immigrants are the Trojan horse in Europe and that it is only a matter of time for this continent to become Eurabia. “In short,” Taube points out, “Wilders wants to remove elements that he believes are tearing apart the fabric of his society -and assimilate those who genuinely want to live in peace.”

Taube says although we can discuss and debate the merits of Wilders' ideas until eternity, Wilders does not understand the difference between radical Islam and moderate Islam. Why do we need to debate for eternity on something that is so obvious?

Taube names a few Muslims like Salim Mansur, Irshad Manji and Tarek Fatah and even Ayaan Hirsi Ali whom he acknowledges to be an atheist as examples of moderate Muslims. How an atheist can be called a Muslim, is something only Taube can explain. He must think anyone with an Arabic name must be a Muslim. For the record, Ali’s views on Islam are not different from Wilders’ or mine.

This is not Taube’s only misunderstanding. His charge on Wilders is also a straw man fallacy. Wilders has repeatedly stated that the majority of Muslims are moderate, whom he urges to assimilate. Yet, he believes that Islam is not moderate.

Taube says he was “completely floored,” when he heard Wilders say, “Please forget about the concept of radical Islam. There is only one Islam, and that cannot be taught to young children that we want to have a full and a respected life in our societies," and that made him write his venomous article against Wilders.

Why pick on Wilders? Why not attack Turkey’s Prime Minister who also says the same thing? Erdogan is offended when westerners categorize Islam as “moderate Islam” and “radical Islam.” The Turkish newspaper Milliyet quoted him say, “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” See also here.

Is it possible that Erdogan and all the Muslim scholars don’t understand Islam, and Mr. Taube does? It is this arrogance, this patronizing of the westerners who try to define Islam for Muslims that offends them. Muslims are not familiar with such terms. They have no words for Islamism, and radical or moderate Islam. These terms were invented by westerners. There is only one Islam. It is the Islam of Muhammad – the Islam of the Quran, you either follow it or you don’t.

Like followers of any faith, Muslims are not all alike. In Christianity, there are people like Jimmy Swaggart and James Baker and there are also people like Mother Theresa. We can argue that Mother Theresa was a true follower of Jesus whereas the other two were not.

Likewise, not all Muslims follow their religion to the tee. However, when they do they become terrorists. “Moderate Muslims,” are moderate, to the extent that they don’t follow Islam. They are lukewarm or wishy-washy Muslims.

Jesus never advocated violence. He said those who live by the sword will perish by the sword. He urged his follower to forgive peoples’ sins so theirs can be forgiven. Nothing comparable to that exists in the Quran. The Qiran says, “Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you?” (Q. 2:216)

The Quran tells Muslims to kill the disbelievers wherever they find them (2:191), murder them and treat them harshly (9:123), slay them (9:5), fight with them (8:65 ), strive against them with great endeavor (25:52), be stern with them because they belong to hell (66:9). Is there anything like these in any other religious book?

Taube believes “Wilders' position on Islam is complete nonsense.” Taube is ignorant of Islam. It is his position that is complete nonsense. Wilders is merely reading from the Islamic texts. Many of Wilders argument, such as “the Quran is like Mein Kamph,” “Islamic immigration is Islam’s Trojan horse,” and “Islam is the only religion that does not recognize the Golden Rule,” were previously said by yours truly. I am glad that a politician of Wilder’s stature has the fortitude to bring them to the world attention and I am honored that he has quoted me in several of his speeches.

Those named by Taube (with the exception of the apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali) don’t tell the truth about Islam. After the 9/11 tragedy the world asked where the moderate Muslims are. There was a demand for this “commodity.” These opportunists rose to fill that demand. They sell books, and are invited to television shows as experts. The westerners are their only audience. They have no following among Muslims. Irshad Manji is a Lesbian for heaven’s sake. If anyone thinks Muslims will take a Lesbian as their spiritual guide, that person must be living la-la land. To a Muslim the idea is laughable. These people tell what westerners love to hear. If you want to be fooled, be my guest but don’t expect Muslims to be fooled. Muslims follow their Quran.

Let me give you one example of the deception of these “moderates.” In an ABC 20/20 special interview Manji claimed that the houris promised in the Quran are actually not virgins but raisins.

Let us see what the Quran says about the houris. They will have dark eyes and will be wedded to Muslims (Q.44: 51-54), (52:20). They are bashful whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before (55: 54-56). They are dark eyed, sheltered in their tents (55:70-74). They will be the companions of the martyrs. They will have beautiful lustrous eyes – like pearls well guarded (Q. 56:22-24).They are created (maiden) of special creation and as virgins, loving their husbands only (Q. 56:35-38). And they will have swelling breasts (Q.78: 31-34). Are these the descriptions of raisins?

This is how these “moderate Muslims,” hailed by Taube, try to fool their non Muslim viewers. The media loves to hear these ludicrous lies, but hates Wilders’ truth. Why? What does this say about our society that punishes the truth as hate speech and hails lies? How can a society founded on such a self deception survive?

Truth matters. Even if it hurts, it is our only salvation. Manji and her ilk are deceptive liars. How can we benefit from lies and gain by prosecuting the truth? I have strived for 13 years to understand this mentality and still I don’t. Maybe Taube can help.

The story of raisins is just one example of Islamic deception. It is utterly shameless. Everything Manji and other so called “moderate Muslims” say are lies. If you love lies, listen to them and buy their books, but don’t spit and say it is raining.

I sent this article to Ottawa Citizen in response to what they published. They refused to publish it. Doesn’t fairness require that opposing views should also be heard? Apparently not for Ottawa Citizen.


Australia: One in the eye for a nasty bitch: "The Director of Military Prosecutions, Lyn McDade"

She's not even a good lawyer, let alone knowing anything about army combat. Prosecuting the troops for defending themselves was always utter slime. Get rid of the stupid bitch!

THE case against two army reservists charged with manslaughter in Afghanistan will not go to a court martial after a judge advocate yesterday dismissed the charges. However, Sergeant J and Lance Corporal D could still face alternative charges pending a decision by the Director of Military Prosecutions, Lyn McDade.

At a pre-trial hearing in Sydney, judge advocate Ian Westwood dismissed the case against Sergeant J and Lance Corporal D. That means a court martial set down for July 11 will not go ahead and Brigadier McDade must now decide whether to bring different charges against the soldiers.

It is not clear what yesterday's decision means for a third soldier - the unit's commander - who is yet to face a court martial and whether the lieutenant colonel is likely still to be prosecuted.

The charges related to a February 12, 2009, incident involving members of the Special Operations Task Group undertaking a compound clearance operation in Oruzgan province. Six civilians, including five children, were killed. [When a Talib fired on our men at close range from the middle of a room housing the women and children. The deaths were entirely on the head of the Taliban!]

Sergeant J and Lance Corporal D had been charged with manslaughter and, in the alternative, two counts of dangerous conduct, with negligence as to consequence.

Brigadier Westwood agreed with their defence team that the charges should be thrown out because they "did not disclose service offences". He said the issue of whether there was a duty of care was of "fundamental importance".

It had to be established that the soldiers had a duty of care before it could be decided whether or not they'd been negligent. But in reading through the Defence Force Discipline Act, he found an "absence of plain words" on any duty of care to non-combatants.

Brigadier Westwood said his ruling did not detract from the personal tragedy inherent in the prosecution's allegations or diminish the importance of the lives lost.

He said soldiers were in a unique position when they were engaged in armed combat. Australian law authorised the application of force, including lethal force, when troops were sent into combat. In fact, soldiers were compelled on "pain of penalty" to carry out attacks on the enemy and they could not simply decide not to take any further part in hostilities.

There was rarely time for calm reflection in what were frequently life or death situations. He noted that the prosecution had been unable to find previous cases where manslaughter charges were brought in an active combat situation and that illustrated the difficulty in proving a duty of care.

Former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove said he felt relief for the soldiers, who had got their lives back. "They had to stand up straight and let the legal system work itself out," he told Macquarie Radio. "It must have been terrible for them and their loved ones and their mates while they went through this process."

Lawyer Patrick George, who represented Sergeant J, said last night the charges were misconceived because soldiers clearly did not owe a legally enforceable duty of care for their actions in combat.


Comment from a reader:

There appears to be allegations amongst the legal profession that Brigadier (sic) McDade brought the charges against the soldiers to enchance her application for a position as a War Crimes Judge at the Hague. As no case to answer was found in relation to these two soldiers now is the time for formal charges to be brought against McDade - such as conduct unbecoming an officer or if she has indeed applied for a position at the Hague more serious charges should be brought. She is a disgrace to the uniform and could not in anyway lay claim to the honourable distinction of being a soldier.


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

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

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


20 May, 2011

Once again homosexuals get a better deal in Britain

William Blake’s rousing hymn Jerusalem is at risk of becoming ‘reserved for homosexual couples’, a Labour MP has warned. Former Anglican priest Chris Bryant highlighted the conflicting rules governing the use of the anthem – which was sung at the Royal Wedding – for ceremonies.

Heterosexual couples marrying in church find ‘many clergy refuse to allow it to be sung because it’s not a hymn addressed to God’, he said. Yet if the same couple were to have a civil service they could not use it because of its religious nature.

But the Government now plans to allow same-sex ceremonies with ‘a religious aspect’ to use the song.

The openly gay former Foreign Office Minister told the Mail: ‘I am fighting for the rights of straight couples’. ‘The government is now changing the rules to allow religious symbols at civil ceremonies for same sex couples. 'But in the interests of equality, the same should apply to heterosexual couples getting married in civil venues. 'It seems odd to say you can’t have Jerusalem for a straight wedding yet you can have it at the same place for a gay wedding.’

Yesterday he told MPs that ‘many clergy will refuse to allow it to be sung because it’s not a hymn addressed to God’.

He asked Commons Leader Sir George Young to investigate, saying: ‘Can we just make sure that Jerusalem is not just reserved for homosexuals?’ Sir George, the senior Conservative, paused before replying: ‘I think that Jerusalem should be sung on every possible occasion.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Jerusalem was sung at the Royal Wedding and the Prime Minister thought it was a jolly good idea.’

The song is also sung at rugby matches by England fans, was adopted as the official song for the English football team and is sung at the end of every Labour Party conference.

Jerusalem was written in 1804 as a poem by William Blake, as an introduction to his much lengthier work, Milton a Poem.

Sir Hubert Parry composed the music to it in 1916 and it has become England’s most patriotic song. But its hints to a possible visit by Jesus to England have sparked controversy. Jerusalem also touches on the ‘dark Satanic Mills’ of the Industrial Revolution. Labour has reinterpreted the song’s call to ‘build Jerusalem’ as a reference to social mobility.

Its wide-ranging and ambiguous references have made it controversial in both civil ceremonies and churches. However last year, the Church of England called on vicars to allow them to use the hymn at weddings. The church said that while ‘opinion on the matter is strongly divided’, allowing it to be sung could be the ‘preferable decision from a pastoral point of view’.


Stephen Colbert's Free Speech Problem

The comedian runs up against campaign-finance law in an attempt to lampoon the Supreme Court

Comedy Central funnyman Stephen Colbert, like most of his friends and allies on the left, thinks that last year's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC is, literally, ridiculous. To make his case that the ruling invites "unlimited corporate money" to dominate politics, Mr. Colbert decided to set up a political action committee (PAC) of his own. So far, though, the joke's been on him.

The hilarity began last month, when Mr. Colbert began to have difficulty setting up his PAC, which is a group that can raise money to run political ads or make contributions to candidates. So he called in Trevor Potter, a former Federal Elections Commission (FEC) chairman who is now a high-powered Washington lawyer.

Mr. Potter delivered some unfunny news: Mr. Colbert couldn't set up his PAC because his show airs on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, and corporations like Viacom cannot make contributions to PACs that give money to candidates. As Mr. Potter pointed out, Mr. Colbert's on-air discussions of the candidates he supports might count as an illegal "in-kind" contribution from Viacom to Mr. Colbert's PAC.

All was not lost, however. As Mr. Potter explained, the comedian might still be able to set up a "Super PAC," a group that can raise unlimited sums of money as long as it spends it only on independent ads, without donating at all to candidates. Super PACs exist because of another case that proponents of campaign-finance law despise, SpeechNow.org v. FEC.

So the newly dubbed "Colbert Super PAC" was off to the races. Mr. Colbert could finally show us how amusing it is to raise unlimited corporate dollars and spend them on political ads.

Or so it seemed. On May 11, Mr. Potter returned with more bad news: Viacom didn't like Mr. Colbert's plan because his on-air commentary might still amount to a contribution from Viacom to his Super PAC. It's difficult to place a dollar value on airtime, so a reporting mistake could put both Viacom and Mr. Colbert in legal hot water. Isn't campaign-finance law funny?

"Why does it get so complicated to do this? I mean, this is page after page of legalese," Mr. Colbert lamented. "All I'm trying to do is affect the 2012 election. It's not like I'm trying to install iTunes."

Well, that's pretty much what the nonprofit group Citizens United said to the Supreme Court in the case that Mr. Colbert is trying so hard to lampoon.

Campaign-finance laws are so complicated that few can navigate them successfully and speak during elections—which is what the First Amendment is supposed to protect. As the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United, federal laws have created "71 distinct entities" that "are subject to different rules for 33 different types of political speech." The FEC has adopted 568 pages of regulations and thousands of pages of explanations and opinions on what the laws mean. "Legalese" doesn't begin to describe this mess.

So what is someone who wants to speak during elections to do? If you're Stephen Colbert, the answer is to instruct high-priced attorneys to plead your case with the FEC: Last Friday, he filed a formal request with the FEC for a "media exemption" that would allow him to publicize his Super PAC on air without creating legal headaches for Viacom.

How's that for a punch line? Rich and successful television personality needs powerful corporate lawyers to convince the FEC to allow him to continue making fun of the Supreme Court. Hilarious.

Of course, there's nothing new about the argument Mr. Colbert's lawyers are making to the FEC. Media companies' exemption from campaign-finance laws has existed for decades. That was part of the Supreme Court's point in Citizens United: Media corporations are allowed to spend lots of money on campaign speech, so why not other corporations?

Whether Mr. Colbert understands that he has made the Supreme Court's point is anyone's guess. But there's nothing funny about what he has had to go through to set up a PAC, because real people who want to speak out during elections face these confounding laws all the time. And as his attempt at humor ironically demonstrates, the laws remain byzantine and often impossible to navigate, even after Citizens United.

There's a joke in here somewhere, but it isn't on the Supreme Court.


Obama sponsors hate

Rapper "Common" recently performed for "poetry night" at the White House. "Objection!" said the out-of-touch, Golf Channel-watching, Pat Boone-loving right-wingers, who called Common unworthy of an invitation to the People's House. The Comedy Channel's hip Jon Stewart ridiculed the unhip for their outrage. Who's right?
White House press secretary and apparent rap-o-phile Jay Carney, who hails from the mean streets of the Lawrenceville prep school and Yale -- where he majored in Russian and Eastern European studies -- defended Common as "socially conscious."

Common ought not, therefore, be grouped with non-socially conscious rappers -- the gold-chain-wearing, crotch-grabbing, dope-smoking, dope-selling, misogynistic kind who riff about killing cops, hating whites, and fighting the ever-present and all-encompassing racism practiced by The Man. (The Man, of course, briefly left his post in November 2008 and allowed the election of a black president. Everybody has bad days.)

Think of Common as a black Ward Cleaver, up from the 'hood, who comes in from a hard day at the office, sets down his briefcase at the coat rack, hangs up his tweed jacket and shouts, "Bitch, where's my dinner?!" Sure, Common, like the non-socially conscious rappers, has rapped about killing cops, beating up white people and burning President George W. Bush. But to be fair, even Common lovers admit that the first two might not be all that socially conscious. This is a poet with a soft spot -- for blacks who murder white cops.

President Barack Obama's White House celebrates open-mindedness and tolerance. For example, Obama just dined with the socially conscious Rev. Al Sharpton, the whitey-denouncing race hustler who rode to fame by falsely accusing a white former assistant district attorney of raping a black teenage girl. Sharpton's incendiary rants -- "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house" -- helped ignite a riot in Crown Heights that left a hundred wounded and a Jewish student stabbed to death.

Unlike Sharpton, Common never called then-New York Mayor David Dinkins, the city's first and only black mayor, a "n--ger whore." Besides, Common and Obama go way back. They both belonged to Trinity United Church of Christ, presided over by the Rev. Jeremiah "United States of KKK" Wright.

So what's the problem with Common?

His daughter is named after Assata Shakur, a black panther formerly known as Joanne Chesimard. Shakur was sentenced to life for her role in the execution-style murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Shakur broke out of prison and fled to Cuba, where she still lives under political asylum. Congress passed a resolution demanding that Fidel Castro return her to the States. The FBI calls her a "domestic terrorist" and offers $1 million for her capture.

Now it's possible that Common named his daughter after Shakur because he likes the name. On the other hand, he did write a poem in which he calls Shakur an innocent woman wrongly convicted by the racist criminal justice system.

This would be the same racist criminal justice system that the socially conscious rapper insists unjustly convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal, currently serving a life sentence for the execution-style murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. But let us not single out Common. Abu-Jamal defenders include Hollywoodies Ed Asner, the late Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Ossie Davis, Mike Farrell, Tim Robbins and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as the French. Not all of the French, just the ones like the then-mayor of Paris who made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen and the Parisian suburbanites who named a street after him.

Common does not personally advocate violence. He merely adopts a character, and becomes a tool through which urban angst of the streets is given voice. Does actor Anthony Hopkins actually eat people with some fava beans and a nice Chianti?

Middle-agers, who grew up on Motown, are hopelessly out-of-touch. Why if it were today, Smokey Robinson would be doing drive-bys on Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Stax and Motown would trade lead over which label was "keepin' it real." Otis Redding would be sitting on the dock of the bay, recovering from gunshots fired by the Temptations -- strapped, cruising the streets in a tinted SUV, searching for respect. It's hard out there for a pimp.

When not rapping, Common stays in touch with his inner Klansman. Like the Klan, Common condemns interracial dating. Sticklers might recall the heat then-presidential candidate George W. Bush took when he agreed to speak at Bob Jones University, which, at the time, forbade interracial dating among students without parental permission.

When asked about "mixed-race relationships," Common explained: "I disagree with them. ... Sometimes to get back up to the level of respect and love, you've gotta stick with your own for a minute and build a certain amount of strength and community within yours so that other people can respect and honor your traditions." Unlike the Klan, Common approves of interracial sex, in which he admits having indulged. He opposes only interracial relationships, like the kind that produced ... President Obama.

Maybe Common will rap about that at next year's poetry night. Until then, peace out.


Australia: Victoria's Premier drops compulsory Aboriginal welcome

Good riddance to a stupid bit of tokenism. It is pioneers such as my ancestors who made Australia what it is today. If you are going to single out any group in multicultural Australia, a better case could be made for honouring them.

I have a picture of my grandfather's bullock team on my wall and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the quiet heroism with which they laboured to bring civilization to this vast country. Henry Lawson knew the bullockies (teamsters) well. Read his poem "The Teams" to get a picture of them. He describes my grandfather pretty well

The Premier has confirmed he will no longer force ministers and public servants to acknowledge traditional Aboriginal land owners at official events.

In a major policy shift that has upset some indigenous leaders, the State Government has dumped a Labor protocol as too politically correct. Brumby government ministers had to acknowledge the "traditional owners and custodians of this land".

But Mr Baillieu believes Labor's stance was dictatorial and has told his ministers that such acknowledgments aren't compulsory.

Former premier Steve Bracks has also slammed the state government calling their decision a "retrograde step." "I acknowledged the traditional land owners of Australian regularly when I spoke as premier." "I would have thought we would have moved on quite a bit," he said. "Thousands of times I started my speech with an Aboriginal welcome and I always felt very strongly about it."

He warned that people in defiance of the government could start using Aboriginal welcomes to embarrass the party. "That's what will come of this, it's the wrong step," he said.

Wurundjeri elder Auntie Di Kerr said she was saddened by the change, which comes as the AFL prepares for its indigenous round. "It's nice to be actually recognising first nation's people because we've been neglected and downtrodden for so many years," she said. "It shouldn't be a forced thing either, it should be a respectful acknowledgment and honest."

Mr Baillieu still acknowledges traditional owners at indigenous functions, but uses a new form of words at mainstream events.

"Can I particularly acknowledge all of those, past and present, including our indigenous communities, whose love of this land has made this a place we treasure and a state we all seek to nurture," he said at the recent inauguration of Governor Alex Chernov.

A government spokesman said the only requirement was that ministers and MPs used respectful language, including appropriate acknowledgments to particular audiences. "Unlike the former Labor government, ministers are free to express themselves as appropriate for the occasion," he said.

The issue has been raised at the federal level, with Tony Abbott attacking Labor MPs for "tokenism" and misplaced political correctness.

Tim Wilson, policy director for the Right-wing think tank Institute of Public Affairs, said the new policy made sense because indigenous acknowledgment were over-used. "The obsessive acknowledgment can only belittle and undermine the intent of such statements," he said.

Labor's spokesman for aboriginal affairs, Richard Wynne, said: "Labor believes it is the right thing to do to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and it causes great offence to Aboriginal people when political leaders fail to do so."



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

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

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


19 May, 2011

Outrage! Black women seen as less attractive

The hostile review below is probably the only way Kanazawa's findings could safely be reported. The screen grab shows that Kanazawa was making a perfectly factual report:

The picture below ran with the article. Most amusing that they chose a half-white woman (Campbell) to represent blacks! And the text below the article does not at all represent what Kanazawa said. It's a Goebbels-style misrepresentation in fact.

According to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, Naomi Campbell is less attractive than Miranda Kerr simply because she is black

Kanazawa's findings are in fact pretty mundane. People tend to prefer the familiar and someone brought up among whites would tend to prefer that. I am always pleased to see red-heads about the place. Would the fact that my late father was a redhead have anything to do with that?

"BLACK women are less attractive than white, Asian and Native American Women. And there's scientific proof."

No right thinking website would want to be associated with an article as incendiary and nonsensical as this but Psychology Today did just that this week when it published the latest blog by controversial evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa.

Kanazawa's post, which the website has since taken down, argued that black women were less physically attractive than other women and that it has something to do with testosterone and genetic mutations.

He wrote in his regular blog, The Scientific Fundamentalist: A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature: "Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women ...Because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races."

Kanazawa, who teaches at the London School of Economics, attempted to justify his theory by dressing his post up with colourful bar graphs and lots of stats.

However, the entire study appears to be based on the perspectives and opinions of adult respondents, although Kanazawa reports his findings as objective facts.

Kanazawa's article caused a huge backlash and drew accusations that he and Psychology Today were peddling racist nonsense. At first Psychology Today tried editing the headline but then it took the post down.

The site's editor-in-chief, Kaja Perina, did not apologise for the post but put out this statement: "Our bloggers are credential[ed] social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing. We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons."

Kanazawa has form. Other posts in his blog include: Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?, If Beautiful People Have Daughters, Why Do Posh and Becks Have Three Sons? and More Intelligent People Are More Likely to Binge Drink and Get Drunk.


Oppressive British bureaucrats again

Robert Tchenguiz, the Mayfair-based entrepreneur, has challenged his arrest by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) under a judicial review filed at the High Court on Tuesday.

The businessman, who made millions in the property boom leading up to the crash of 2007, has branded his arrest "unlawful, aggressive and disproportionate". He has also accused the SFO of using his arrest as a publicity stunt to justify its continued existence.

In a statement, Mr Tchenguiz said: "My business, my family, and I personally continue to suffer losses as a result of the SFO's unlawful, aggressive and disproportionate action. The SFO's conduct has left me with no option but to take legal recourse in order to recover from the extensive financial and reputational damage they have caused."

Mr Tchenguiz and his brother Vincent were arrested in separate raids on their homes and offices earlier this year. The action by the SFO related to its investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Robert Tchenguiz was a major customer and shareholder of the bank through his investment vehicle Exista.
Vincent, who filed a judicial review to challenge searches on his properties, was a customer of Kaupthing.

He has separately filed a £1.5bn lawsuit against Kaupthing relating to assets he claims the bank is holding.

Robert claims his arrest was illegal as he had previously offered to be interviewed and there was no risk of him destroying documents.

The Tchenguiz brothers were released without charge. Both deny wrongdoing.

The SFO said decisions to investigate were based on the merits of each case.


How EU officials simply forgot about Christmas

The European oligarchy’s failure to include Christmas in a diary for schoolkids sums up their separation from the demos.

The political bosses of the European Union and their army of technocrats could do worse than listen to the lyrics of the Band Aid tune ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ Because apparently they don’t know that 25 December still has significance for the vast majority of the EU’s 502million inhabitants.

A year ago the European Commission (EC) printed more than three million school diaries for distribution to students. They are lovely diaries which, true to the EU’s multicultural ethos, helpfully note all the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Chinese festivals. The diary also highlights Europe Day, which falls on 9 May. But the diary is not without some very big gaps. For example, it makes no reference to Christmas - or Easter or indeed to any Christian holidays.

However, the importance of 25 December is not entirely ignored. At the bottom of the page for that day, schoolchildren are enlightened with the platitude: ‘A true friend is someone who shares your concern and doubles your joy.’

Not surprisingly, many Europeans are not exactly delighted by the conspicuous absence of Christian festivals from a diary produced for children. In January, an Irish priest complained to the ombudsman of the EC and demanded an apology for the omission of Christian holidays and the recall of the diaries. A month later, the commission apologised for its ‘regrettable’ blunder. However, the ombudsman dismissed the demand to recall the diaries, arguing that a one-page correction sent to schools had rectified the error.

A storm in a teacup? Or a symptom of the European oligarchy’s indifference to the cultural legacy of Europe? The German Conservative MEP Martin Kastler linked the diary ‘error’ to ‘aggressive atheism in the apparatus of the European [institutions]’. However, it is unlikely that this episode is the result of a militant atheist agenda and that the references to Christian festivals were deliberately omitted. Rather, what this oversight demonstrates is a political outlook that is increasingly estranged from Europe’s historical and cultural traditions.

This is an outlook which is characteristically casual about taking such traditions seriously. The authors of the diary were probably so obsessed with the EU’s administratively constructed values of diversity and inclusion that they never once stopped to think what kind of experiences really mattered to the people of Europe. From this perspective, getting the dates of various non-European cultural events correct mattered far more than remembering Christmas.

It is clear that what was driving the authors of this diary was not the concern of hundreds of millions of people for whom Christmas and Easter constitute important events, but rather the latest administrative diktat of the EC.

Unfortunately, with the passing of time, Brussels officialdom has become less and less sure about what it means to be a European. It spends millions of euros on promoting the EU brand through distributing pamphlets, comic books and textbooks, but its attempts to cobble together a European identity rarely succeed in injecting meaning into public life.

One reason for its failure to uphold any meaningful identity is because it continually strives to distance the EU from Europe’s cultural heritage and traditions. It appears as if, ashamed by its past, the EC wishes to invent a European identity that is freed of the continent’s cultural and historical legacy.

For the EU political elite, the history of the continent before 1945 is alien if not hostile territory. European history contains its share of depressing and horrific episodes, of course. And it is entirely understandable that many enlightened Europeans wish to do everything they can to eliminate the regressive influences of aggressive nationalism and xenophobia. But like it or not, Europe is stuck with its past and it cannot go forward unless it consciously assimilates its experiences.

Nor is Europe’s history something to be ashamed of. Ancient Greece was responsible for acquainting humanity with the spirit of philosophy and opening us to the promise of science. From Judaism and Christianity, Europe gained a series of moral principles that are upheld as ideals to this day. From the Romans we inherited an appreciation of the law and a legal system that provides security and order.

Europe’s history has provided an important intellectual resource for revitalising the thinking of humanity. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment were genuinely history-making European events: they drew on the experiences of ancients to call into question prevailing assumptions and prejudices. It is no less likely that Europeans today will need to draw on their past to revitalise their society and develop the intellectual resources necessary to face the future.

Recently it was reported that the cost of the EU’s proposed House of European History has doubled from its original estimate to £137million. One could live with these rocketing costs if the project remained true to its objective of promoting an awareness of European history. But instead of serving the cause of making Europeans conscious of their historical memory, the museum is likely to institutionalise historical amnesia. Why? Because EU politicians regard the past as a source of tension and conflict and believe Europe’s disunited history is an embarrassment rather than an inspiration.

Consequently, the designers of this project have decided that 1946 will serve as the point of departure for the EU’s history. By settling on 1946 as Europe’s year zero, the EU political elite can free itself of a tradition that it neither appreciates nor understands. A political culture that can be so cavalier with its past is readily disposed to regard the calendar as merely a set of dates to be fiddled with. Disdain for history is the flipside of indifference to a traditional calendar.

Yet the past matters. What Europe needs is not commission-sponsored mission statements about artificially constructed values, but an appreciation of its historical legacy. Paradoxically, the best antidote to petty national rivalries is a dose of historical memory. History provides Europe with experiences that transcend national boundaries but which also constitute a genuine transnational sensibility.


Australia: Pay for Muslims to feel at home?

AUSTRALIA'S top Muslim organisation wants taxpayers to finance the expansion of Islamic schools and halal food outlets into mainstream suburbs.

And in a sign of growing community tension, the nation's peak Jewish authority has called for new migrants to be put on probation while their commitment to Australian values and laws is checked.

In a submission to a federal inquiry into multiculturalism, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said Muslims were forced to live in enclaves near Islamic schools, mosques and halal food outlets. "The Government should invest in expanding services like halal and kosher meat and food outlets as well as faith-based schools," it said. "If the Government and politicians cannot recognise this as essential, it should no longer accuse the Australian Muslim community of intentionally living in enclaves."

Heba Ibrahim, the AFIC board member who wrote the report, told the Herald Sun there were reasons groups were drawn to certain suburbs. "I'm saying there needs to be a greater investment generally in schools that wish to go out into other areas that are not heavily populated with particular migrant and religious groups," she said.

Governments do not contribute to the building of new private schools, but private colleges get state and federal cash for running costs and upgrades. For example, Springvale Islamic school Minaret College received about $10 million in recurrent financing and almost $2 million in capital expenditure in 2009, according to the latest MySchool website data.

Melbourne has several halal butchers, but AFIC wants government help to make halal food more widely available. Houssam Dannawi, from Madina Halal Meats in Brunswick, said his customers were not limited to Muslims. "They try it and they come back. They like the diversity of what we offer," Mr Dannawi said.

In a separate hearing, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has told a Federal Parliament committee on migration that Australia must learn from the failed "anything goes" model of multiculturalism in Europe.

It wants migrants put on probation to enable a "confident assessment of their acceptance of Australian values and laws before granting full citizenship".

The council's executive director Peter Wertheim said there was concern about Islamic extremists. "If they're involved in criminal activity or incitement of violence or incitement of racism, that's something that should be taken into account," he said.

The organisation also wants mandatory English training for migrants.



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

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

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


18 May, 2011

Let them eat pizza: Parenting guru's recipe for bringing up children

By a man who knows what the genetics research shows. I have long known it too so when I was helping to bring up kids, I let them do pretty much what they wanted -- but I did spend a lot of time playing with them. And as adults they are all now absolutely fine

Children should be allowed to eat pizza and watch more television, says a parenting guru. Dr Bryan Caplan believes parents try too hard when bringing up their offspring and advises a more relaxed approach.

He claims ‘investment parenting’ – music lessons, organised sports and educational games – does not make the slightest difference to children when they become adults.

Instead, the academic says, parents should ‘cut themselves some slack’ and stop trying to control every aspect of their child’s lives.

He calls for a relaxed and fun style of bringing up children dubbed ‘serenity parenting’ which involves parents taking a backseat role. The theory will cause consternation among the growing band of so-called ‘tiger mothers’ who have subscribed to the latest childcare movement which recommends tough love, hard work and minimal play.

Based on the best-selling book by Amy Chua, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, that theory says parents should fight to improve the academic achievements of their child.

But Dr Caplan’s advice is likely to relieve the many busy parents who are often racked with guilt over how little time they can devote to their children. Dr Caplan, a father of three, argues his case in Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids: Why Being A Great Parent Is Less Work And More Fun Than You Think, published this month.

He states: ‘Right now, parents are “overcharging” themselves for each kid. Parents can sharply improve their lives without hurting their kids. Nature, not nurture, explains most family resemblance, so parents can safely cut themselves a lot of additional slack.

‘Quit fretting over how much TV your kids watch. Don’t force them to do a million activities they hate. Accept that your children’s lives are shaped mostly by their genes and their own choices, not by the sacrifices you make in hopes of turning them into successful adults.’

Dr Caplan, an academic and economist from George Mason University in Virginia, America, says his ‘serenity’ theory is based on scientific evidence. He points to academic research on twins and on adopted children which found that parenting’s long-term effects range from small to zero for a wide range of outcomes such as health and success in later life.

Studies also show that a child’s intelligence can be increased by parental interaction when they are young. But by the time they reach the age of 12 it has no effect.


British red tape adviser: 'community volunteers should not face legal action'

A small step towards sanity, it seems

People who volunteer to help others should not be sued if their well-intentioned acts go wrong, the Government’s red tape adviser has said. Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts suggested people should not have to take out a gambling licence to hold raffles with low value prizes.

In a report, Lord Hodgson said it was time Britons fought back against red tape which was preventing them from helping in their communities. His study, Unshackling Good Neighbours, criticised a “suffocating blanket of red tape and an insidious mythology about being sued are deterring millions of Britons” from helping others.

A key finding was to seek to develop a ‘reasonableness’ test to protect volunteers from consequences of well-intentioned voluntary acts. For example, he said, charity volunteers should be protected from being sued if an elderly person slips on a pathway.

Lord Hodgson, the chairman of the Big Society Red Tape Task Force, said: “As long as volunteers behave reasonably they should not be liable if something goes wrong - the legal framework must make this clear.”

The study also recommends that car insurance could also be cut for people who use their vehicles for volunteering. The Association of British Insurers told Lord Hodgson that it would revise its definition of “non-business ‘social driving’, which currently puts people off using their cars for volunteering because they have to pay higher insurance premiums.

It also suggested simplifying the licensing of fund-raising events, so that people would not have to take out a gambling licence to hold raffles with low value prizes.

The report published a 20-strong list of what people can do to improve their community. They included putting a plaster on a child’s cut, putting up hanging baskets, hanging flags and bunting at events and holding a pancake race.

It also recommended reforming the law to clarify the extent of charity trustees’ and volunteers’ liability to encourage more involvement and participation.

Nick Hurd, minister for Civil Society, said: “Many volunteers, charities and social enterprises are frustrated with the amount of red tape interfering with their day to day work. We do have a responsibility to protect people but it’s clear we need a better balance. We will consider the recommendations in full.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of National Council for Volunteering Organisations, said: "We are delighted to see common sense prevailing. "Beyond the headlines about conkers and pancake races, this report makes huge strides in setting out how to balance appropriate risk taking with the Government's duty to regulate."


White Americans See Anti-White Bias on the Rise

Both white Americans and black Americans perceive significant progress in the fight against anti-black bias, but white Americans believe the progress has come at their expense, a new survey finds.

The researchers contacted a random national sample of 209 whites and 208 blacks, and asked them how much discrimination each group faced, on a scale of one to ten, for each decade since the 1950s.

Black Americans saw anti-black bias as declining steadily, from 9.7 in the ’50s to 6.1 in the ’00s. Over the same period, they perceived a small increase in anti-white bias, from 1.4 to 1.8.

White Americans saw an even steeper decline in anti-black bias: from 9.1, in the ’50s, to 3.6, in the ’00s. But more striking, according to the researchers, was the sharp increase in perceived anti-white bias: Among whites, it shot up from 1.8 to 4.7.

White Americans, in short, thought that anti-white bias was a greater societal problem by the ’00s than anti-black bias.

The researchers described the pattern—which did not vary markedly with regard to age or education levels—as evidence that white Americans see race relations as a zero-sum game, in which one group’s gains must be offset by another’s loss.


Australian Govt blocks sharia law push by Federation of Islamic Councils

THE GILLARD Government has quickly moved to block calls for sharia law to be introduced in Australia.

In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the government's new multiculturalism policy, The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has called for Muslims to be granted “legal pluralism".

Attorney-General Robert McClelland stomped on the request. “There is no place for sharia law in Australian society and the government strongly rejects any proposal for its introduction," Mr McClelland said.

Sharia has faced repeated criticism. It is again in the headlines following an Iranian court's decision to delay a planned “eye-for-an-eye" act of justice against a man who threw acid at a woman's face because she refused his marriage proposal.

“As our citizenship pledge makes clear, coming to Australia means obeying Australian laws and upholding Australian values," Mr McClelland said. “Australia's brand of multiculturalism promotes integration. “If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law then Australian law wins out."

Mr McClelland is keen to assert Australia's position as a “stable democracy" where “rule of law" underpins society.

“People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact that we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and woman are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background."



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

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

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


17 May, 2011

'A story from the pre-health and safety generation': Swallows And Amazons to be adapted for 'timely' BBC series

For generations it has been the ultimate boys own adventure - free of the modern chains of health and safety. Now for the first time children's classic Swallows and Amazons is being adapted for screen by the BBC.

Arthur Ransome's hugely successful book, which is set in 1929, follows the four Walker children, who while on holiday in the Lake District with their mother, run in to local famliy the Blackett's.

The children from both families sail in dinghies and meet on an island on Lake Windemere and enjoy a series of adventures, which see them exploring, sailing, camping, and facing piracy.

It is billed as a celebration of a bygone time when children enjoyed more physical freedom and would spend much of their time playing outside and learning about the world through trial and error.

Head of BBC Films, Christine Langan, said the film and the book were the antithesis of today's health and safety obsessed world. She added: 'This story is from pre-health and safety generation. Modern parenting is fraught and complicated - worrying about what sort of society we live in. 'There is a danger we are physically infantilising our children. There is a sense of freedom in the book and a sense of innocence that people perhaps miss. The film is very timely.'

Swallows and Amazons features one of the most famous phrases in children's literature - but such a phrase could never me uttered by parents today. At the beginning of the book the Walker children write to their father – who is away at sea – to ask whether they can sail and camp on the lake’s island. He agrees with the reply: 'Better drowned than duffers if duffers won't drown.'

Executives said the film would remain true to the sentiment of the novel - and so the children will not be shown wearing life-vests.

In his heyday Ransom's books were hugely popular with thousands of children writing to him pleading for more novels. His style of writing and adventure paved the way for favourites such as Enid Blyton and C.S Lewis. Ransome wrote 11 other books in the series including Peter Duck and Missee Lee, which went on to become bestsellers.

If this film is a success it is understood that more of the books will be adapted for the big screen under the Swallows and Amazons banner.

Miss Langan said that with the culmination of the Harry Potter franchise this summer, she hoped it could help give children something new to capture their imagination. She said: 'I hope that Swallows and Amazons could draw upon that same audience. It is a very British film but it is universal in that it is about all [the dreams] of all children.



One of William F. Buckley's later books was titled simply "Gratitude," which is, when you think about it, one of the cardinal conservative virtues. The spirit of gratitude was amply on display this past week at a symposium jointly sponsored by the Bradley Foundation and the Hudson Institute titled "True Americanism: What It Is and Why It Matters." Spoiler alert: It matters.

Panelists took as their starting point an indispensable new book by Leon and Amy Kass and Diana Schaub called "What So Proudly We Hail," a selection of stories, songs, and speeches about "the American soul" which should become "The Book of Virtues" for patriots. From the Mayflower Compact to Flannery O'Connor, and from Ralph Ellison to George S. Patton Jr., this collection ranges across American history lighting upon the words that have shaped and reflected us.

Whether we continue to cherish the uniqueness of America was one of the questions tackled by the panel, which included Charles Krauthammer; Prof. Robert George of Princeton; Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal; and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., among others.

Though there were disputes on some points, the panelists were agreed that what makes America exceptional is our dedication to enduring principles, our willingness to confront and overcome failings and sins, and the great blessing of having been founded by a collection of political geniuses unequaled in human history.

Liberals always worry that a celebration of American greatness will descend into chauvinism, triumphalism, and/or denial of the mistakes and crimes of American history. Juan Williams, another panelist, mounted just such an objection.

The danger, at the moment, seems quite the reverse. Our national embrace of multiculturalism, grievance mongering, and internationalism, along with a distorted and biased version of our national story (such as can be found in nearly every textbook in America) threatens to blind us to the sources of our strength. We don't need a sanitized edition of American history in order to be proud of our heritage -- we can handle the truth. But we do threaten the survival of liberty if we fail to instill in those lucky enough to have been born here a deep reverence for what is unique about this country.

On that subject, it's worth quoting at length from one of the essays in "What So Proudly We Hail," by one of America's most thoughtful philosophers of government -- Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge was president when the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and delivered a speech to mark the occasion.

He began by stressing that it wasn't the fact of seeking to break away from the mother country that distinguished the American Revolution:

"It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles that July 4, 1776 has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history."

It may surprise contemporary readers to learn that Coolidge upheld the principle of equality as the most important in the declaration. It sprang, he argued, from the religious sensibilities of the American people.

"They preached equality," he said, "because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man."

In words that could easily have been penned in our own generation, Coolidge defended the eternal validity of the founding documents:

"About the declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences, which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great chapter. If all men are created equal, that is final. ... If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."

And finally, this, from the man who held the presidency during the Roaring '20s: "If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy."

Americanism matters.


An alternative to abortion

Take, for instance, the people of the Northwest Center in Washington, D.C., a pregnancy center and maternity home. They provide a whole host of services to women, children and men: material needs, job training, educational assistance and housing. Established 30 years ago by graduates of Georgetown University, with a modest budget and more demand than it can ever possibly meet, it has served more than 40,000 people.

At its fundraising dinner this year, the Center honored Congressman Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from Illinois, for being a staunch defender of the most innocent human life. In his acceptance speech, Lipinski in turn honored the real heroes of the fight for life and family in a country beset by a culture of death: the volunteers and those who make Northwest Center and its services possible. But even more so, the mothers -- those parents who bravely say yes to the lives with which they have been entrusted. Who, whatever the circumstances that brought them to pregnancy, surrender themselves to service.

"I believed no one supported my choice to choose life," a very pregnant Sharnece Ward explains. Ward has faced most obstacles a single mom can have. The father of her child gave her a litany of reasons to abort. "Planned Parenthood was recommended." She lost her job and housing. But she managed to find the Northwest Center and its "effortless support," the help "my family wouldn't give me." She's living there, at no cost. Suffering from gestational diabetes, she is getting the basic and additional health care she needs through the Center's help. And in addition to the parenting skills, she's continuing her education. She was determined to be the mother she already was, despite the option so many around her were all too insistent she pursue.

No political party owns social justice. Every individual is called to serve and defend the cause of life. In the face of evil and confusion, we often just need to encourage one another -- help each other with the support and resources -- to answer the call. Bonhoeffer's example reminds us of this. A contemporary martyr in a far-off country reminds us. A mother reminds us. In service, in courage, there is peace. Be not afraid, as a wise, saintly man of the last century implored.


Government assistance for families bringing up children should not be denigrated as "Middle-class welfare"

Comment from Australia

Much of the post-budget discussion has turned on whether what is fashionably termed "middle-class welfare" should be curtailed or continued. The debate has centred on the Gillard government's decision to cease indexing certain payments to families earning more than $150,000 a year. But a more appropriate question, in terms of the budget debate, is whether such a phenomenon as middle-class welfare exists.

Take a husband and wife with two children who live on the north shore or in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and earn a family income of $150,000. If they send their children to a government school, use a bulk-billing doctor and attend the local public hospital when necessary, no one would then depict them as welfare recipients.

However, if a government decides to pay benefits for bringing up children whose parents earn $150,000, this is now classified as middle-class welfare. Is it? Not really. Successive Coalition and Labor governments have decided to assist families with children. Such payments increased during the latter period of the Howard government and have been wound back somewhat under Labor.

John Howard tackled the issue directly during his address to the Menzies Research Centre in April 2006, declaring: "Those who seek to denigrate what we've done constantly refer to family tax benefits as 'middle-class welfare'. They are nothing of the kind. They are tax relief for a universal reality - that it costs money to raise children."

It may be intellectually unfashionable to say so, but there are good policy reasons to encourage families - including men and women with a total income of about $150,000 - to have children. This is for two reasons. The best way to constrain the ageing of the population is for Australians to have children. Ageing societies have their limitations - as a glance at Japan, Italy and Russia demonstrates.

Then there is the matter of what used to be called the middle class - once positioned between the upper class and the working class. Such terminology is now out of date for numerous reasons, including the fact that most Western nations also possess a group of welfare recipients, many of them young, who cannot be depicted as members of the working class. There is also the fact that what was once the working class has merged into the middle class and many of the former group, commonly known as "tradies", now run their own businesses.

Australia does not want a situation to develop where it is primarily the rich and the less well-off who have children. This was the rationale for Howard's family tax benefits scheme, along with the baby bonus (which was a form of parental leave). Such schemes are best regarded as payments - not unlike contributions made by governments covering the education and health of children.

It is noticeable that most middle-income earners in the private sector do not sneer about middle-class welfare. This is very much the preserve of the well-educated middle-income earners in relatively secure employment in the tertiary sector. Journalists, academics, public servants and the like. Occasionally this can lead to a lack of self-awareness.

Take the Grattan Institute economist Saul Eslake. On May Day, The Sunday Age quoted him saying "there is little good done by giving people who are perfectly capable of looking after themselves and their dependents money raised by higher taxes on other people". But where should the line be drawn? Eslake is perfectly capable of working in the private sector. But he is on the payroll of the Grattan Institute, which received $30 million in grants from the federal and Victorian governments.

Last week on ABC2's The Drum program, the lawyer Kara Greiner interrupted a statement by fellow panellist Julian Morrow on people becoming dependent on public funding with the telling question: "Isn't your entire income from public funding?"

There is good reason to be strict on welfare in particular and government spending in general. It's just that payments to assist in offsetting the cost of bringing up children should not be ridiculed as welfare, for whatever class.

More here


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

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

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


16 May, 2011

Better the dole than a dud job?

The discussion below from Australia is an interesting example of selective attention to the evidence by Leftists. A conservative writer replies quite well but I think just one point is needed to reveal the Leftist obfuscation:

I don't think anyone likes working in a dumb or grim job and many people resign from such jobs -- often becoming welfare dependent as a result of that. It is that basic fact that Leftists have latched onto here and here and here. They conclude from that fact that unemployment can be desirable. They conclude that being in a dumb job can be worse for your sense of wellbeing than being unemployed. And that may well be true in some cases.

What the Leftists "overlook" is that dumb jobs are very commonly just a first step on the occupational ladder. You have to crawl before you can walk and in your first job you will almost certainly be assigned the most routine work available. If you use that time to familiarize yourself with the organization's activities and show a willingness to work, however, you have a good chance of being given more rewarding work later on.

So the Leftists see only a static picture where what they are looking at is really a dynamic, changing situation -- and they therefore draw totally wrong conclusions. They fail to see that even routine work can be better than the dole because it puts you on the employment ladder. Being on the dole will get you nowhere

Now I guess many of us think we could be Managing Director of BHP-Billiton, but most of us accept that we might have to start at the bottom and work our way up.

But according to Stephen Long, ABC’s Economics Correspondent, talking about the government’s ‘tough’ welfare to work measures:
But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.

Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.

Now I’m not absolutely sure what body of medical and other research Long is referring to, but here’s a tip – the main findings of the research are as follows:

Unemployment has an unambiguously negative effect on health, particularly mental health;

The unemployed have lower levels of life satisfaction than those with a job (check out the HILDA results, Stephen);

A fair proportion (at least 50 per cent) who have a low paid job in period one have a better job in periods 2, 3, 4, etc. (again check out HILDA) – that is, low paid jobs are not necessarily ‘dead end’.

The research to which Long may be referring compares those in jobs with considerable control and autonomy with those in jobs without those characteristics and, not surprisingly, people feel better about the former.

Having said this, the HILDA survey suggests that long hours – which are a correlate of more senior jobs – does not lead to higher life satisfaction overall. So the jobs may provide personal control but come at the cost of long hours.

The government is on the right track in emphasising the dignity of work.


Why Britain's liberal elite get it so spectacularly wrong

The writer goes overboard in describing AV (preferential voting) as undemocratic. Australia has had that system for around a century now and is not only still democratic but also provides a markedly better life for its people than Britain does. Otherwise, however, his comments seem sound

As the campaign to wreck Britain's electoral system gathered pace in the days before our emphatic referendum result, I experienced an intense feeling of deja vu. Somewhere before, I had heard the cloying sanctimony with which Stephen Fry, Nick Clegg and Eddie Izzard recommended abandoning common sense.

Their certainty that every voter should understand the importance of sending more people like them to Parliament was familiar and disturbing, but why? Then I remembered.

The incident took place in a wine bar in Glasgow's affluent West End. I overheard a conversation between a clique of academics, actors and journalists. They were deploring a decision to refuse a grant application from a radical theatre company. 'Everyone,' they concluded 'is absolutely incensed.'

I barely resisted telling them that their reference to 'everyone' was absurd. They meant everyone they knew, a group so distinct from ordinary Britons that it meant hardly anyone.

Now I understand the connection. That conversation took place in Glasgow Kelvin, the beautiful, leafy part of town where family homes cost upwards of half-a-million pounds and typical occupants work as lawyers, at the university, or the BBC. Kelvin is a place where private schools abound and Toyota Piouses compete with Porsches to park on polished cobbles. And it was one of only ten constituencies in the whole of Britain that voted 'Yes' to AV.

I know and love Kelvin, as I do several areas among the very short list of communities that voted to give unpopular parties influence that democracy denies them. Others include Oxford, Islington, Cambridge, Southwark and Edinburgh Central, where supporters of Alistair Darling, once the local Labour MP, suggested printing posters reading 'Vote Labour, Darling' because that, after all, was what they were telling their friends.

Oxford and Cambridge are host to the world's most concentrated communities of cloistered academics. Islington is where New Labour's Praetorian Guard live and devour sun-dried tomatoes in memory of Tony Blair. Southwark, where the Electoral Reform Society is based, nestles adoringly against the South Bank Centre in anticipation of the next Arts Council extravaganza.

Am I being cruel to these lovely locations and to Camden, Haringey and Lambeth that also saw fit to imagine Britain should embrace an electoral system that is scorned by devout democrats everywhere?

Of course I am. I lived in Kelvin and went to university in Cambridge. I am an academic and I was a journalist. I respect Britain's intellectual and cultural elite. They are my friends and I share some of their values. But I resent profoundly their cast-iron, ocean-going certainty that they are right - about everything. And I deplore their complacent assumption that all the rest of the population need do to achieve virtue is follow their advice.

The AV referendum has given this country a forceful reminder of something many intelligent, hard-working adults in towns, villages and suburbs across the land have long known. Policies and proposals that are treated as pure wisdom inside soi-disant 'progressive' bastions such as university common rooms, small-circulation newspapers and the BBC are anathema to millions of Britons. And this silent majority is, very reasonably, fed up with being told that it is wrong.

It is not simply the progressive elite's patronising sense of entitlement that offends me. Their ignorance of popular opinion and resistance to reason are truly obnoxious. And these prejudices are damaging too.

Progressive insensitivity to good sense has burdened Britain with institutions and practices that offend a clear majority of their fellow citizens, increase the burden of taxation and make many of us feel unwelcome in our own country.

Examples of policies that might be reversed if the population at large were listened to include Britain's membership of the European Union, metrication of weights and measures and abolition of grammar schools.

Few, outside a privileged elite that calls itself liberal while rejecting much of what that great philosophy promotes, would have incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. Fewer still would have promoted unplanned mass immigration from Eastern Europe or turned London into a safe haven for terrorist sympathisers.

Safe inside their charming homes and protected by generous salaries and prestigious qualifications, my progressive friends delude themselves that such policies express universal values. They think nothing of paying a little more to purchase green power or cycling to work, because they have money and they are their own bosses.

They say self-interest is the lowest form of interest because, to them, the privilege that spawns such piety feels entirely natural.

They are not bad, but they are insulated from reality to an extent that can make them appear so. It is too easy for them to imagine that fringe politicians, who resemble them and share their easy access to the media, are in touch with popular opinion. They open their mouths to spout forth ideas that people without a media platform and contacts to politicians properly dismiss as bizarre, abstract delusions.

The extraordinary aspect of their arrogance is that many progressives are sufficiently well educated to know they are wrong.

They know that efforts by a self-selecting elite to tell the majority what was good for them failed, abjectly, from the moment that mass voting was first permitted.

Victorian Liberals assumed that middle-class people would vote Liberal simply because Liberal reformers had championed their right to vote. Instead, mass suffrage undermined the Liberal Party and created the Conservative/Labour divide with which we are still familiar today.

Offered the freedom to vote, the British people did not meekly do as they were told. They took freedom seriously and expressed their own opinions, not those towards which their self-proclaimed betters steered them. This left do-gooding reformers exiled from power for generations.

Great British leaders including Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher have recognised the innate good sense of this decent, modest majority. John Smith, Labour's great lost leader, recognised it too.

People who live unglamorous lives in unfashionable locations from Penzance to Wick - the type of towns Americans call 'places you fly over' - understand the reality of the human condition in ways many prosperous intellectuals never will.

We cannot afford to have referendums on all of the things this silent majority might choose to change. The core principle of our representative democracy is that we elect MPs to do that on our behalf.

But, in the aftermath of a referendum that asked a question to which the answer was starkly obvious from the beginning, we are entitled to say never again. Never again should a tiny, incestuous elite be allowed to impose its wild, unrepresentative delusions on middle Britain.

The big lesson of the second national referendum in the history of British democracy - after 1975's vote on whether to remain in the EEC - is that if our elite wishes to be taken seriously it must learn to listen and not to preach.

Intelligence is not the sole preserve of a tiny group that listens only to the views of its members. Rather than sinking too deep into its comfort zone, the progressive classes should remember that among the most depressing products of incest is madness.


Can Liberty Thrive in an Illiberal Culture?

The desire for freedom is something hardwired into the fabric of the human soul. Unfortunately, so is the desire for power and control. This tension is playing out today in cities across the Middle East, as protestors eager for reform find themselves targeted by brutal dictatorial regimes. As inspiring as these cries for liberty may be, it is questionable whether stable, authentic democracy will ever triumph in the Middle East. Why? Quite simply, because the region lacks some of the essential cultural foundations necessary for democracy to thrive.

As a recent article in the Washington Post explains, the power elites of the Arab world don't seem to have much genuine enthusiasm for democratic institutions, despite their western intellectual pedigrees:

"The idea that Arab dictators have democrats for sons is surely another myth that has been shattered by the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Yes, they had traveled widely and attended European universities. And yes their speeches were peppered with words such as "consensus," "dialogue," and "process" – hardly the typical talk of their dictatorial dads. But, as the deans of the London School of Economics learned in February, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi is not a different man because of his tutorials on politics and globalization. When the Libyan people rose up, the young Gaddafi quickly took to the airwaves and promised that his father's regime would fight to the "last bullet."

These young autocrats-in-waiting may have a theoretical grasp of democratic political theory and free market ideas. They know how to talk the talk of liberalism when needed. Indeed, they have undoubtedly benefited from the blessings of liberty as privileged elites exempted from the harsh realities of Totalitarianism. This exposure to liberty cannot compete, however, with a cultural narrative that is fundamentally illiberal.

When one considers the cultural components that allowed for representative government and the rule of law to rise in certain regions of the world, the role of religion cannot be ignored. Take Christianity for example. Heeding Christ's command to "render to Caesar what it Caesar's," Christians value the separation of Church and State. They recognize that there are secular spheres in which the Church should have no power, and likewise jealously defend the Church's right to preside over spiritual affairs unencumbered by any secular political agenda.

Because they believe that all human beings are created in God's image, Christians value the rule of law and absolute civil equality. Male or female, black or white, young or old, able-bodied or infirm, all are worthy in the eyes of God, possessing innate human dignity.

Because the God whom Christians worship is a personal God who desires a voluntary relationship with each and every person, Christians recognize that religious faith is not something that can be externally enforced. They ardently defend the freedom of each individual to worship God – or not – according to the dictates of their conscience.

Finally, Christians don't have a Pollyanna view of human nature. They understand that human beings are flawed, sinful, and inclined to abuse power. This is why the Founders established a clear separation of powers between three coequal branches of government. They didn't want to concentrate too much power in the hands of sinful people, realizing the damage that could be perpetrated on our freedoms.

For all these reasons and more, Christianity has long been called the "seedbed of democracy." Does this mean that Christian peoples have never committed atrocities against their own? Absolutely not. The point is that the Christian faith offers a moral foundation that condemns such actions. There is no justification for the tyrannical subjugation of others in the Gospels, no matter how much sinful demagogues may try to spin things.

Contrast the Christian political tradition with that of the dominant religious influence in the Middle East: Islam. Setting aside whether or not Islam properly understood is a religion of peace, it is worth considering whether the values that flow out of Muslim culture are compatible with western style democracy.

In most, if not all, Muslim countries religious liberty (often described as the "First Right") is not highly prized. Women are often viewed as second class citizens, and treated as the property of their males relatives in the eyes of Sharia Law. Islam doesn't recognize the separation of church and state, but rather views the state as an extension of Islam and an instrument of coercion for carrying out the agenda of the mullahs.

Religious tolerance and civil liberty are taken for granted in the United States. It is therefore difficult for Americans to accept that the blessings of liberty are not universally available. We are reluctant to articulate the obvious relationship between our Judeo-Christian foundations and our political and civil culture for fear of being labeled imperialist xenophobes. Let's not kid ourselves. Ideas have consequences, and to this point the ideas that have predominated in the Middle East have not lent themselves to liberty and justice for all. It remains to be seen whether Islam is capable of bearing such fruit. Meanwhile, the world is watching and waiting, and people are dying.


Anti-Muslim rally in Australia

No need to guess where the violence came from

MUSLIM groups are worried by a new nationalist organisation that claims Australia is in danger of being Islamicised.

Australian Defence League supporters clashed with Left-wing protesters in the city yesterday as the group held its first local rally, sparking a warning from the Baillieu Government that bigotry would not be tolerated.

A small team of police initially kept the groups apart, but ADL supporters were forced to end their protest early when activists encircled them and tore up placards.

The ADL is an offshoot of the English Defence League, which has staged demonstrations in areas of high Muslim concentration in the UK. About 40 ADL members, including women dressed in mock hijabs, protested in Federation Square yesterday over issues such as the certification of halal meat and concern sharia law would be introduced.

Protest organiser Martin Brennan claimed the group had 1400 members but denied it was anti-Muslim. "We are not racist whatsoever, we are against radical Islam infiltrating Australia," he said.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said the group was provocative and wrong to believe that most Australian Muslims wanted to bring in sharia law. "It's of great concern that anyone is out there trying to disrupt the peaceful social fabric of Australia," he said. Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussein said the ADL's views were uninformed and saddening.

State Multicultural Affairs Minister Nick Kotsiras said the Government did not tolerate racism, bigotry or the incitement of hatred. "Activities which undermine the multicultural harmony of Victoria will be dealt with swiftly," he said.

The ADL protest was swamped by the much bigger group of activists and unionists who shouted anti-racism slogans.

Anti-racism protester Mick Armstrong, from Socialist Alternative, said the ADL was trying to copy the tactics of its British counterpart. "They have had their protest and we have ended it," he said.


Christian preachers at Australian homosexual rally

No need to guess where the violence came from

A GAY and lesbian rally against homophobia in Adelaide has ended in violence after it was crashed by Christian protesters, with two people being removed by police.

About 200 people had gathered in Adelaide, outside the South Australian Parliament, on Saturday to rally in support of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia when members of the Adelaide Street Church showed up.

Rally organiser Jason Virgo said one woman was pushed out of her wheelchair and police had to be called. "A small number of right-wing Christians came out and started waving their flags and getting in people's faces, yelling quite loudly, some of them got in a bit of a fight," Mr Virgo said. "(They had) signs saying `God hates sinners' ... no sign should say `God hates'.

"It's an International Day Against Homophobia and for them to come to us and come to our rally and say things which we find homophobic, it's disrespectful. "We would never go to their church and disrupt things the way they did today."

The Street Church's Damien Gloury said the preachers were mobbed and hit for proclaiming their Christian message. "We're just preaching the Bible, we're quoting the bible and it says that homosexuality is a sin," he said.

"We thought we would go out and not try to disrupt because we do love everybody, it might sound like we're condemning people but we're not we're just preaching the Bible.

"We've been mobbed, we've been hit, our banners have been thrown down and these people have been hating our guts just for proclaiming the Christian message in this nation and that's what it's about."

A spokeswoman for South Australia Police said two people had to be removed for breaches of the peace, but no arrests were made.
22 comments on this story



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

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

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


15 May, 2011

The "Fair Trade" racket

It's good at providing airfares to self-righteous Leftist ignoramuses but not much else

Lawrence Solomon

Coffee is one of our guilty pleasures, and not only because of the calories that can be packed into a double latte. Many of us feel guilty that our pleasure is coming at the expense of the Third World coffee farmer, so much so that we gladly pay more for "fair-trade" coffee, which certifies that farmers receive more revenue for their crop.

Today, on World Fair Trade Day, we have something else to feel guilty about. That fair-trade cup of coffee we savour may not only fail to ease the lot of poor farmers, it may actually help to impoverish them, according to a study out recently from Germany's University of Hohenheim.

The study, which followed hundreds of Nicaraguan coffee farmers over a decade, concluded that farmers producing for the fair-trade market "are more often found below the absolute poverty line than conventional producers.

"Over a period of 10 years, our analysis shows that organic and organic-fair trade farmers have become poorer relative to conventional producers."

These findings do not surprise me. I speak as someone who has had contact with various Third World producers in my capacity as president of Green Beanery, a company I founded seven years ago to raise funds for Energy Probe Research Foundation, a federally registered charity that I manage. Green Beanery sells more varieties of coffee, including fair trade and organic coffees, than any other company in Canada, giving me occasion to witness the nature of the fair trade business, and hear first-hand of its impact on small producers that supply us.

The fair-trade business is filled with contradictions.

For starters, it discriminates against the very poorest of the world's coffee farmers, most of whom are African, by requiring them to pay high certification fees. These fees -one of the factors that the German study cites as contributing to the farmers' impoverishment -are especially perverse, given that the majority of Third World farmers are not only too poor to pay the certification fees, they're also too poor to pay for the fertilizers and the pesticides that would disqualify coffee as certified organic.

Their coffee is organic by default, but because the farmers can't provide the fees that certification agencies demand to fly down and check on their operations, the farmers lose out on the premium prices that can be fetched by certified coffee.

To add to the perversity, it's an open secret that the certification process is lax and almost impossible to police, making it little more than a high-priced honour system. Although the certification associations have done their best to tighten flaws in the system, farmers and middlemen who want to get around the system inevitably do, bagging unearned profits. Those who remain scrupulous and follow the onerous and costly regulations -another source of inefficiency the German study notes in its analysis -lose out.

The study, published in the journal Ecological Economics, recommends that policy "move from certification schemes to investments in the farm and business management skills of producers" -in other words, phase out the certification fees.

Most merchants of certified coffees are aware of these contradictions, but most won't be aware of other problems in the certification business. For Third World farmers to qualify as fair-trade producers, and thus obtain higher prices for their coffee, farmers must join co-operatives. In some Third World societies, farmers readily accept the compromises of communal enterprise. In others, they balk. In patriarchal African societies, for example, the small coffee farm is the family business, its management a source of pride to the male head of the household. Joining a co-operative, and being told when and what and how to plant entails loss of dignity.

The contradictions are acknowledged even by many fair-trade merchants, who often refer instead to anecdotal reports of less quantifiable benefits such as better health care or schooling in a village or even, most tangentially, improved habitat for birds or wildlife.

The contradictions extend to consumers of coffee in the West. Several years ago, I received a call from a church in Kingston, inquiring whether Green Beanery could supply it with freshly roasted fair-trade coffee on a weekly basis.

Along the way, the church officer mentioned that the parishioners wanted to do what they could to help poor farmers in the Third World. I replied that I'd be happy to supply the church, but I also advised him that fair-trade coffee would not help the poorest of farmers -these smallholders are actually hurt when Western consumers forsake them for coffee produced by better-off farmers who can afford the certification fees.

I also mentioned that various coffees produced by small farmers in some of the neediest parts of Africa would taste superb while costing the church less, allowing it to spend the difference on some other worthwhile cause.

After a long pause, the church official replied something like: "I still think the parishioners would feel better knowing that they were drinking fair-trade coffee."

Some believe that certified coffee is superior in some way. But it is not always so. The small-scale farms whose local ecologies produce distinctive, niche coffee beans can't operate on a scale that would justify official certification. As the German study notes, "Certified coffees have distinct production and marketing systems with different associated costs than the conventional system."

Neither is certified coffee different at all. In fact, at Green Beanery we have received bags of coffee, some labelled fair trade, some not, grown on the very same farm and identical in every respect. The fair-trade certified farmer himself can't tell which beans will be sold as fair trade and which not -that decision is made by the higher-ups.

Because the fair-trade associations are intent on keeping the price of fair-trade coffee up, they limit the supply of coffee that can be labelled as certified. To the certified farmer's chagrin, most of his fair-trade certified crop could end up being sold as uncertified conventional coffee.

And in this well-intentioned pricefixing game, the fair-trade farmer is the pawn and the joke is on the customer.


Give my job back, says drug expert 'forced out by anti-Christians'

A Christian GP dismissed as a Government drugs adviser over his views on homosexuality has launched a legal bid to win his job back.

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe was removed from the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in February following attacks on him in the Press. Ministers said he was sacked because he failed to disclose an `embarrassing' academic report he co-authored in 2005 that linked homosexuality to paedophilia.

But Dr Raabe, 46, believes the `spineless' Home Office caved in to pressure from liberal campaigners who opposed his firm line on drugs. The German-born doctor has now begun a judicial review against Home Secretary Theresa May and is being represented by leading human rights lawyer James Dingemans QC.

Dr Raabe, whose sacking provoked widespread protests from anti-drug groups, said he was taking the action because there were `increasing attempts' to force Christians out of public life.

Dr Raabe's 2005 report was drawn up with other doctors to brief Canadian politicians who opposed gay marriage.

But he says it is irrelevant to his role providing scientific advice to the Government on drug misuse and it had not occurred to him to mention it when he was interviewed for the unpaid post.

Dr Raabe and his co-authors wrote in the report: `While the majority of homosexuals are not involved in paedophilia, it is of grave concern that there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles.'

The Manchester-based GP said the real reason his appointment was revoked was that the Home Office got `cold feet' because of the `witch-hunt' against him. `I am not anti-gay,' he said. `I have been a GP for 19 years and have treated all my patients professionally and equally. 'It is bizarre for the Home Office to suggest I am unable to issue balanced advice on drug issues to gay people.'

Dr Raabe says his dismissal had been illegal and he is asking the High Court to quash it. He said the Home Office had breached natural justice by failing to allow him a chance to challenge the decision by the then Drugs Minister, James Brokenshire, to remove him from the ACMD.

A spokesman for The Christian Institute, which supports the GP, said: `Dr Raabe's comments about homosexuality have nothing to do with his role as a drugs adviser. 'His removal is worryingly like some sort of anti-Christian McCarthyism.'

A Home Office spokesman said: `Dr Raabe's failure to disclose a controversial report that he had co-authored which, among other things, links homosexuality to paedophilia, raised concerns over his credibility to provide balanced advice on drug misuse issues.'


British Public sector staff 'are 43% better off' than private workers - and the pay gap is widening

Public sector workers are 43 per cent better off per year than people with private sector jobs, a report shows. On pay alone, they are more than 20 per cent better off per year than their private sector equivalents in Scotland, the North East, the North West and Wales - and the gap is widening.

But in the South East, public wages are only four per cent higher than those of private sector workers, according to centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange.

The report found the gap between the sectors' pay rose throughout last year, despite unions' complaints that state workers were hard done by.

The findings are even more stark when hourly pay rates are compared. The public sector `premium' - the additional pay a public sector worker receives - is up to 35 per cent when calculated on hourly pay, the report shows. Nationwide, the average hourly premium is 24 per cent.

When gold-plated public sector pensions are taken into account, those on the state payroll are 43 per cent better off.

Even when factors such as the differences in age, experience and qualifications are considered, the hourly pay premium for a public sector worker was 8.8 per cent in December. This almost doubled from 4.3 per cent two years earlier. And the gap was growing despite widespread pay restraint in the public sector.

Ministers have put in place a two-year pay freeze on public sector incomes - sparking claims by unions that state workers are being unfairly punished. But the report shows that it is the private sector staff and firms that have borne the brunt of the recession. Pay shrank for the bottom 30 per cent of private sector workers last year.

Crucially, the researchers found: `Even if the public sector pay freeze were extended beyond April 2013, the public sector pay premium would not be eliminated until 2016. `Including the superior value of public sector pensions, it would not disappear until 2018.'

Only the highest paid workers in the private sector - those earning at least œ47,000 - continue to be paid more than their public sector counterparts, but even there the gap is shrinking.

The report said: `Public sector workers are paid more than private sector workers whether measured annually, by typical wage or raw average. 'For all these measures, the gap between public and private increased between 2009 and 2010.'

Policy Exchange director Neil O'Brien said: `It is unreasonable and unfair to expect private sector workers to make all the sacrifices. `We need a much better-balanced system of public pay, with organisations like the NHS and schools given greater freedom to vary pay so they can attract staff but also get value for the taxpayer.'

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber accused the think tank of `stirring up divisions', saying: `The truth is that both [sectors] are having a terrible time. `Public sector workers are facing a pay freeze, job losses and have seen the value of their pensions cut by 25 per cent. `In the private sector, pay freezes are still common, and public spending cuts are doing just as much damage as they are in the public sector.'


When you see a priest, do you think pedophile?

By Rick

I can understand that sentiment but let's face it... it's sourced in crap, it's sourced in something that comes straight from the pit, it's sourced in that which desires us to have a perspective keeping us from Truth. The fact is that for every wayward priest, there are many, and I do mean many, who are doing the Lord's work quietly, faithfully and effectively:
I visited a gentleman in the hospice this morning. He is from my neighborhood and a Catholic, but I had never seen him in the church, and by the time I was called, he was already unconscious. I gave him the sacrament of the sick, and I'll probably do his funeral later this week. There is nothing emotionally wonderful about all that. It's a chance to trust purely in God's mercy.

There are other moments of comforting God's people, however, that do warm the heart. Just as I was leaving the hospice, I caught myself asking the nurse if there was anyone there who had no family or friends. She immediately pointed me to 6B. It was the half of room 6 occupied by a Mr. Harris. I took his hand and spoke in a loud voice. His eyes remained closed, his head down. After a few futile attempts to connect with him, I raised my voice even louder and told him he looked wonderful. I told him he was strong. I placed a Yankees cap on his head and laughed at him.

With eyes still closed, and to my great surprise, he squeezed my hand with the grip of a twenty-year-old. A few minutes later he opened his eyes wide, recognized the collar, and asked one thing: "Did you come here, Father, just to see me?" "I did, Mr. Harris, I did." He cried like a baby. More tears of joy. Comforting people in the throes of tragedy is sometimes a downer emotionally, and sometimes it feels good.

That from a Kathryn Jean Lopez interview  published a couple of weeks or so ago with Father Jonathan Morris of New York.  Read the whole thing, it's good stuff and I think it's represents much of the good stuff being done by priests that we never hear a damned thing about.

I've had the recent pleasure of spending some time outside of church with my own priest, a man who I've written about before, who has helped me in my own walk, who I hope will continue to do so.  His love for God and for His Church oozes from every pore and yet in unguarded and personal moments, he comes across as a regular guy with a regular life (as regular as it can get for a guy who's been blind since the age of 6) who experiences the kinds of angsts that we all do and who told me he's been "personally devastated" by the effects of the sex abuse scandals on the Church.

Those one on one times with him have made me remember that this person, this man who stands in persona Christi for me and for all deserves my regular prayers and after spending some time with him, I see that more clearly than ever. Have you prayed for your priest?  If not, start.  If so, continue.  He is at the forefront of a vast spiritual battle and he's leading us in the fight against evil.  Because of that leadership, he is also a target. Pray for him.  Even now:
by St. Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart, where none may touch them.

Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with your Precious Blood.

Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.

Let Your holy love surround them and shield them from the world's contagion.

Bless their labors with abundant fruit and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown.




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

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

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


14 May, 2011

From now you must jail EVERY burglar, British judges will be told

Judges and magistrates are to be told to send burglars to jail in instructions that end a decade of official leniency. Rules for the courts made public today said a criminal who burgled somebody’s home should ‘expect a custodial sentence’.

In a shift away from efforts to reform burglars, the rules put the harmful effect of crime on victims before the hope of rehabilitating offenders.

The least serious crimes will continue to attract community punishments, but the guidelines say only in exceptional cases should a domestic burglar escape jail.

Drawn up by the Sentencing Council, a body dominated by judges, the guidelines reflect an Appeal Court ruling by the Lord Chief Justice more than two years ago in which Lord Judge declared that ‘our homes should be our castles’.

They end a slide towards soft sentences for burglars which began in 2002 when former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said more burglars should be kept out of prison because few criminals were deterred by the threat of jail and community sentences were cheaper for taxpayers.

Sentencing Council rules demanding jail sentences and longer prison terms are also a rebuke to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who is pursuing a policy based on Lord Woolf’s thinking which encourages greater use of supposedly reforming community sentences.

Since 2000, the proportion of burglars convicted in the courts who are sent to prison has fallen from more than 50 per cent to less than 40 per cent.

The new guidelines, sent out for consultation, say that in cases of domestic burglary, where someone’s home is invaded, the offender should escape prison only in exceptional cases where there has been no break-in, where only low-value items have been stolen, and there are no aggravating factors.

Courts are told to concentrate on the impact of burglary on victims rather than theories on how criminals might best be rehabilitated.

Last year the Sentencing Advisory Panel said that in the most serious cases of domestic burglary, in which homes are wrecked or people are threatened with violence, the minimum sentence should be two years. The Sentencing Council said that should be three years.

For such crimes, it said the panel’s recommendation of a four-year maximum jail terms should be changed to six years.

In the case of the least serious burglaries, the council guidelines still allow a community sentence. But even the least serious offenders can be given six months in jail under the new rules, as against three months suggested by the panel last year.

Courts are also told that if a victim is at home during a burglary or suffers trauma, sentences should be more severe. The guidelines said: ‘The majority of domestic burglaries should receive a custodial sentence.’

Lord Justice Leveson, the council chairman, said: ‘Burglary can have a very serious impact on victims – it is very far from being only a crime against property. ‘As a result, we have ensured that the impact on victims is at the centre of considerations about what sentence should be passed on a burglar.’

He added: ‘The guideline does not reduce the severity of sentences being given to those convicted of burglary. Rather, it reinforces current sentencing practice that burglars targeting people’s homes can expect a custodial sentence.’

Javed Khan of Victim Support said: ‘We are pleased that victims are being considered in these guidelines.’


The right to protest is not exclusive to the Left

A new left-wing group defending the right to protest needs to defend the right of those they disagree with, too

Last Thursday, a newly formed left-wing campaign group, Defend the Right to Protest, held an emergency meeting in London in response to police tactics at anti-cuts and student fees demonstrations. The following day, a member of the right-wing protest group the English Defence League (EDL) was served with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) restricting his right to protest. Has Defend the Right to Protest complained loudly about this shocking restriction on someone’s democratic rights? Not at all. Yet if this collection of left-wing activists is serious about defending the right to protest, it should unequivocally condemn the state’s curtailment of everyone’s rights of association and organisation – including those with whom we might disagree.

There ought to be no doubt that the EDL case represents a severe infringement of an individual’s rights. Over the next three years, 19-year-old Joel Titus is forbidden from attending any demonstration that is connected with the English Defence League or being ‘part of a group of 10 or more people whose actions could cause alarm or distress’. His ASBO from Uxbridge Magistrates Court also claims he must not ‘display a sign or placard or use defamatory or insulting language which could cause alarm or distress’. (What might constitute causing alarm or distress remains unclear.) He is also forbidden from entering mosques, Islamic prayer rooms or a defined area of Whitechapel in London.

What did Titus do to deserve such a punishment? Absolutely nothing EDL-related. Titus was instead convicted of a ‘section 4 public order offence’ and for obstructing a police officer as a result of an incident at a pub in Hillingdon, north London last year – an incident which the Metropolitan Police has confirmed to spiked wasn’t associated with EDL activities.

This use of an unrelated offence to remove an individual’s right to protest is the most insidious attack on the EDL’s political rights to date, yet protesting bans on EDL members are not new. In fact, this is the latest in a series of ASBOs that have been slapped on EDL members. In March, due to abuse he’d shouted at an Asian family at a train station, Shane Overton was banned from attending or organising any EDL demonstration or meeting or even visiting its website for 10 years. In addition, he was banned from travelling by train anywhere in the UK and from entering a mosque, meeting room, school or cultural centre.

And last December, two individuals pleading guilty to ‘disorderly conduct’ at an EDL march were given bans preventing them from engaging in EDL activities (including on the internet). They were also restricted from attending any protests anywhere in the UK that weren’t within a 10-mile radius of Birmingham.

Yet strikingly these affronts to civil liberties seem to have passed many of those on the left by. The newly convened Defend the Right to Protest group has yet to make any mention of these cases. Instead supporters complain about the fact that their pet project UK Uncut seems to have been ‘singled out’ for harassment by the police, blind to the fact that far greater restrictions to the right to protest are being routinely placed on the EDL.

This isn’t to downplay the importance of Defend the Right to Protest’s opposition to police actions, such as kettling and pre-emptive arrests. These do impinge upon our freedom to protest and should be stopped. And the official Defend the Right to Protest website is right to argue that ‘it is vital for all those who value our democratic right to protest to stand in solidarity with students and others who have been arrested or injured by police on these demonstrations’.

But it is equally as vital for those wanting to defend the right to protest to speak out against attempts to restrict the freedom of groups they may not agree with. After all, if, a few months down the line, left-wing activists start getting ASBOs preventing them from attending UK Uncut protests, then they will be in a poor position to protest – they turned a blind eye when such orders were imposed on others in the name of ‘public security’. Unfortunately there are precedents for such double standards. As spiked editor Brendan O’Neill has pointed out elsewhere, left-leaning liberals didn’t pipe up when police used authoritarian techniques against football supporters; they only started to complain when they start being used on them.

The idea of defending the right’s right to protest is not something certain groups on the left are likely to stomach. Indeed many have a terrible track record in terms of lobbying for No Platform policies to be applied to groups they don’t agree with. And left-leaning groups can often be found lobbying the state to try to get a demonstration they don’t agree with banned. Take Hope Not Hate, the group behind the anti-fascist publication Searchlight. It has promised to watch EDL demonstrations closely in the hope of spotting any members with ASBOs so it can then rat on them to the authorities. It seems that groups like Hope Not Hate have no problem with the idea of compromising the right to protest as long as the state only restricts the freedom of people with the Wrong views.

Defending the right to protest means nothing unless everyone has it, regardless of the content of their protests. Otherwise what exists is not a freedom to protest as one sees fit; it is a state-sanctioned privilege to protest as the authorities see fit. This is something that those on the left, who are now discovering the importance of defending the right to freedom of expression, would do well to remember.


Political Correctness Bullies and Libertards

The Miami Heat's LeBron James was publicly rebuked for saying "retarded" in a post-game interview during the NBA playoffs.

One Public Rebucker was Gary Blumenthal, CEO of the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, who rebuked: "LeBron James offended millions of people with his use of the 'R'-word," thereby conflating the R-word with the racial N-word.

Another Speech Code Tyrant, chipping in with his own rebuke of "LeBron James should apologize immediately" was Peter Berns, CEO of the advocacy group The Arc.

So who decides what is or isn’t politically correct?

That would be a cadre of self-appointed thin-skinned sensitivity-saturated Political Correctness Bullies whose sole justification for existence is to publicly heap verbal abuse on anyone who utters the wrong word at the wrong point in history.

The Mother of all Ironies in all of this is that The Arc previously called itself the Association for Retarded Citizens of the U.S.

"Retarded" fell victim to what Steven Pinker calls the "euphemism treadmill." Earlier vulgar taboo words like "idiot," "imbecile" and "moron" gave way to "retarded" which gave way to the more cumbersome but suitably syrupy "mentally challenged," "intellectually disabled," "with learning difficulties," "developmentally disadvantaged," and "special needs."

One can only wonder what new sensitivity-sanctioned euphemism will eventually displace them all.

Meanwhile, can we expect Blumenthal or Berns to publicly rant against those who call libertarians "libertards"?

In case you’ve missed it, this too-clever-by-half locution, used repeatedly online, was coined by the big government statist masses who yearn to be taxed, subsidized, regulated, controlled, domesticated, neutered and coddled by the coercive collectivist state and is designed to slur freedom lovers as "libertarian retards."

Here’s an example of its usage: "Ron Paul is probably our country’s most famous Libertard. He is, of course, a f...ing moron." - suicidegirls.com. (The F-word was self-censored because Examiner is a mainstream fuddy-duddy site.)

This means that people who use a derivative of "retarded" and the word "moron" are both anti-freedom and insensitive to special needs individuals – most likely Progressives with mile-wide hypocrisy streaks.

But libertarians embrace a live-and-let-live philosophy that includes freedom of speech. By their definition, then, a "retarded libertarian" is still immensely smarter than the smartest government-worshipper.

Libertarians welcome all freedom loving people, including "retards" no matter their currently fashionable euphemistic label, into their ranks.

Libertarians don’t need any euphemism-muttering Political Correctness Bullies advocating for them.


Belief in God is part of human nature - Oxford study

Humans are naturally predisposed to believe in gods and life after death, according to a major three-year international study. Led by two academics at Oxford University, the £1.9 million study found that human thought processes were “rooted” to religious concepts.

But people living in cities in highly developed countries were less likely to hold religious beliefs than those living a more rural way of life, the researchers found.

The project involved 57 academics in 20 countries around the world, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. It set out to establish whether belief in divine beings and an afterlife were ideas simply learned from society or integral to human nature.

One of the studies, from Oxford, concluded that children below the age of five found it easier to believe in some “superhuman” properties than to understand human limitations.

Children were asked whether their mother would know the contents of a closed box. Three-year-olds believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers were not omniscient.

Separate research from China suggested that people across different cultures instinctively believed that some part of their mind, soul or spirit lived on after death.

The co-director of the project, Professor Roger Trigg, from the University of Oxford, said the research showed that religion was “not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf”.

“We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies,” he said. “This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts, such as the existence of supernatural agents or gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life.”

Dr Justin Barrett, from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, who directed the project, said faith may persist in diverse cultures across the world because people who share the bonds of religion “might be more likely to cooperate as societies”.

“Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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

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

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


13 May, 2011

Abortion and ideology

Mike Adams below bases his argument on Christian assumptions which I as an atheist do not share. I too find abortion abhorrent however so am broadly on the same side. In the absence of religious assumptions, however, I don't take a "no abortions at all" position. Human societies never have. Babies conceived through rape, for instance, have always been treated as properly aborted. So the important question for most people is where do you draw the line. I set out my views on that here
“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question of whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of its life. And that is nothing but murder.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Over the course of the last two weeks I have had conversations with two men who claim to be conservative but who also steadfastly defend a woman’s right to choose abortion. In both cases, the self-proclaimed conservative asserted that the government has no right to tell a woman what to do with “her” body. One went so far as to say that a government that could outlaw abortion could also re-institute slavery.

Support for a so-called constitutional right to abortion is completely at odds with conservatism. In fact, when you hear a “conservative” claiming to support abortion rights you can be certain that the individual simply does not understand basic conservative principles. In all likelihood the pro-abortion-choice “conservative” adopts the label because of self-interest. Perhaps he makes good money and does not want to pay high taxes. What makes a person human does not necessarily make him conservative.

When you suspect you are talking to a pseudo-conservative there are usually two questions you can ask that will either confirm or disconfirm your suspicions immediately.

First and foremost, it is important to ask the self-proclaimed conservative the following: “Do you believe in the inherent ‘goodness’ or ‘perfectibility’ of mankind.” If you hear a “yes” you are talking to a liberal. If you hear “Did you mean to say ‘person-kind’?” you are talking to a feminist. (So end the conversation as quickly as possible!).

If you hear the right answer to question one, you can move on to question two: “Does man get his rights from other men?” If you hear a “yes” you are talking to a liberal. If you hear “Did you mean to say ‘persons’” you are still talking to a feminist. (I thought I told you to end the conversation as quickly as possible!).

Roe v. Wade was (and is) a deeply flawed ruling because it is predicated upon the notion that man can grant rights to man not granted to him by God. The distinction between the first, second, and third trimesters was not based upon any long-standing legal doctrine. Nor was it based upon solid and reliable medical evidence. It was simply based upon identity politics.

Harry Blackmun, author of the majority opinion in Roe, once said “I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” That was from his opinion in a death penalty case. But Blackmun also said that our “Constitution compels abortion on demand.” That basic human rights should be assigned in such an arbitrary manner does lend credence to Blackmun’s characterizations – made in a different context - of the Justices as “eccentrics” and “prima donnas.”

The authors of our Declaration of Independence - as well as the Framers of our Constitution – had a very different view of the origin and assignment of basic human rights. Lest we forget:
“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 - To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
Medical technology has come a long way since 1973. It has told us what we knew in our hearts all along; namely, that abortion, regardless of the trimester in which it is performed, constitutes a deprivation of life initiated by our Creator.

Ultrasound technology allows us a better view of the target of the procedure known as abortion. It takes little intelligence to understand that something that is moving (and growing) is indeed alive. Technology also shows us that a new heart is beating within a month of conception. Surgical abortions are not even performed until 6 to 7 weeks into the pregnancy.

This issue is important as the conservative movement seeks in future elections to make inroads among blacks, Hispanics, and younger voters. It is important because all three of these groups have something in common: They are clearly pro-life on the issue of abortion.

Younger voters are moving in the direction of life simply because they are the first generation to grow up with basic access to and familiarity with ultrasound technology. With the help of this younger generation, which now responds to opinion polls, the country passed the 50% mark in opposition to abortion just two years ago.

So it would be politically disastrous for the conservative movement to compromise on abortion. We are in the enviable position of being out in front on an issue that is consistent with both our political goals and our deeply held principles. Leave it to the opposition to argue that men have endowed us with an unalienable right to stop a beating heart.


Censored! British bikini advert blacked out with spray paint by 'Muslim extremists who object to women in swimsuits'

She is supposed to be advertising a sexy bikini. But instead the model on this poster, in Birmingham, has been defaced in an act of vandalism blamed on militant Muslims who were offended by her flesh.

Similar acts of vandalism have been carried out in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Police there also believe extremists are responsible.

The advert, which promotes a £3.99 bikini top from high-street fashion retailer H&M, a scantily-dressed model stands on a sun-kissed, white sand beach.

The freestanding advertising unit, stands in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, which has a large Muslim population.

Across the road from 'Muslim Students House Masjeed', an education centre, the poster is next to a busy main road.

The fact that almost all of the model's flesh has been covered has led local residents to speculate that the vandalism was not random, but a religiously-motivated targetted attack.

Delivery driver Robert Tonkins, 45, said: "You see a lot of women wearing the hijab around here, and what's been done to that poster looks very similar to it.

'I don't think it's just kids messing around - they've spray-painted specific areas and covered up anything that might be offensive to very religious people.

'It's a bit worrying, I don't think it's up to other people to decide what can and can't be displayed on our streets, especially because we're a Christian country.'


The race card is so last century

Can we please stop playing the race card? Yes, racism still exists in America, and it’s appropriate to call a racist a racist when he or she actually is one. But this game of preemptively shutting down all political discussion by slapping the race card in someone’s face is getting both boring and embarrassing.

Calling someone a racist for merely disagreeing with something relating to Barack Obama is lazy at best and just plain stupid at worst.

First, it’s blatantly inaccurate. Barack Obama is the son of a black father and a white mother. That means anyone slapping the race card on you for disagreeing with him is playing with half a deck. to be accurate, he would have to call you a "Half Racist," a charge that would show him up as the halfwit that he is.

Second, playing the race card is so Twentieth Century. Only doddering old political geezers like Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson and long-in-the-tooth sideline liberals like Letterman still play the race card. They’ve been doing it so long they just don’t know any better. It’s like your senile old grandfather calling you "hippy" or "toker."

We can forgive cranky old people and aging race-baiters with a shrug or a snicker or an eye roll and a politely muttered "Yeah, right" before getting on with our lives.

Contemporaries who still try to play the old worn out race game at embarrassingly inappropriate times should be firmly but gently chastised for their childish behavior. All they’re really doing is just showing off their liberal creds to each other like birds puffing up their breast colors to attract attention.

When a libertarian points out that Obama is a statist and one of his worshippers responds by calling you "racist!" you should just smirk, shake your head in annoyance and say "Fail." If he tries to respond say "Epic fail" and walk away.

Of course the poor race-player may be a politico-geek, unaware of the online meaning of the word, but then that’s pretty much the point. Don’t go all defensive over false accusations; let the Race Case go all defensive. But be careful. "Fail" is rapidly becoming a cliché too. "Fail" is so last Tuesday.


Australian public broadcaster makes no secret of bias

Gavin Atkins

FOLLOWING the recent anti-carbon tax protests, the editor of The Drum, the ABC's opinion website, contacted me looking to commission an article.

Jonathan Green had first gone to Twitter to try to find someone to write a story from the perspective of the carbon tax protesters but come up empty.

He eventually tracked me down, but it's telling that none of his regular contributors or 7000 Twitter followers could help him accommodate the views held by 60 per cent of Australians. I suspect the reason he was so keen to get the story is once my article had appeared he was off the hook.

The ABC opinion website is not compelled by editorial policies to demonstrate any form of balance but merely to provide a "range of subjects from a diversity of perspectives".

At The Drum, one conservative opinion is all it requires to legitimise a dozen from the Left. Take, for example, the death of Osama bin Laden. Since his death, Drum readers have been provided with pretty much the same opinion every day from a total of nine writers: it was an extrajudiciary killing; the US was working outside the rule of law; celebrations of his death were disgraceful.

One of these writers, Greg Barns, went so far as to appear on The Drum's television show to express doubt that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.

Two contributors were eventually published wishing good riddance to bad rubbish, enough for the ABC to claim it has provided a diversity of perspectives, and publish another brace of tales from the hand-wringers.

But it is ridiculous to assert, as the ABC's chief executive Mark Scott did following the launch of the ABC's editorial policies in 2006, that this fulfils an expectation that "audiences must not be able to reasonably conclude that the ABC has taken an editorial stand on matters of contention and public debate".

The real measure of bias at The Drum is not the range of opinion, it's the frequency. Until the end of last month, 98 writers had been published eight or more times at The Drum, producing a total of 1880 articles. Only eight of these contributors (one in 12) would pass muster as being on the right of the political spectrum: Glenn Milne, David Barnett, Chris Berg, Kevin Donnelly, Tom Switzer, John Hewson, Niki Savva and Sinclair Davidson.

Of these, Milne is first and foremost a journalist rather than an opinion writer, Hewson rarely expresses any conservative viewpoint, and others are specialists in areas such as education or economics rather than political issues of the day.

This means, for example, that of all the writers who are given a regular platform on the ABC website, I could find only four articles that were in some way supportive of Israel and none in favour of the war in Afghanistan.

By comparison, there are dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Afghan war pieces on the taxpayer-funded website, most of them accusatory and damning. For example, there are at least nine anti-Israel articles by Antony Loewenstein alone, 12 anti-Afghanistan war rants by Kellie Tranter, and many more from Labor Party speechwriter Bob Ellis scattered among his 110 contributions

Similarly, among the regular contributors to The Drum, there have been more than 20 articles critical of farmers on the Murray-Darling Basin, and none that I can find in support.

A few people were unearthed to write from the point of view of the farmers, so the ABC may now claim to have shown a range of perspectives but, like me, the editor would have had to search for them, and there will be no plans for these people to contribute again to The Drum any time soon.

Compared with a tally of at least 50 stories sympathetic to the plight of asylum-seekers, there does not appear to be a single article from one of the top 98 contributors advocating the border protection policies of the Coalition.

When asylum-seekers drowned at Christmas Island, there were no conservatives available at The Drum to question the policies that lured them here in the first place, only the usual queue of regulars writing from their default setting of confected moral indignation.

Think of just about any other issue that divides the Right and Left - say, David Hicks, nuclear energy or the National Broadband Network - and you will find reams of left-leaning group-think at The Drum. Thanks to its regular writers, this bias is structural and predictable. But it doesn't stop there. The Drum has started up a Twitter round-up on ABC online while question time is on in the House of Representatives. These efforts by a clubby group of left-leaning journalists, have been dominated by Green's former workmates at the Crikey website, including Green himself and Crikey contributors.

While the ABC's internet sites attract more than 25 million hits a month, a big concern is all of this frivolous online activity appears to be distracting our public broadcaster from giving us the news. The ABC is coy about exactly how much we are paying contributors to The Drum, saying only that the innovations division of which it is a part cost taxpayers nearly $10 million last financial year.

In the meantime, significant problems with the ABC's news have been exposed. ABC News 24 missed most of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on the day it occurred and ABC1 failed to cut into regular programming as the news broke about bin Laden.

Now here's a radical idea: if the ABC concentrated on giving us the news instead of this online puffery, it could help solve two problems at once.



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

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

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


12 May, 2011

Political correctness is as severe a form of censorship as any, warns The Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall yesterday branded political correctness ‘as severe a form of censorship as any’. In a timely speech, Camilla described freedom of expression as being ‘at the heart of our democratic system’ and expressed her hope that people would continue to speak without fear or favour.

The Prince of Wales’s wife also expressed her ‘passionate belief’ in the ability of newspapers to ‘question, debate and criticise’ and described the Press as having a ‘pivotal’ role in scrutinising every corner of society.

Camilla, who has fielded her fair share of brickbats from the media, chose to speak out at a time of intense public debate over the insidious nature of privacy laws. Parliament is facing calls to debate super-injunctions – draconian gagging orders being used with alarming regularity by celebrities to prevent the media reporting details of extra-marital affairs and other personal misdemeanours.

But rallying to the defence of the media, the Duchess said yesterday: ‘I take enormous pride in our ability to question, debate and criticise all aspects of our society.

‘I believe passionately in freedom of expression. I believe freedom of expression, so long as it doesn’t contravene the law, or offend others, to be at the heart of our democratic system. In this, you [the Press] play a vital, if not pivotal role.

‘But just one note of caution: in our right to speak freely, please let us not become too politically correct, because surely political correctness is as severe a form of censorship as any.’

Sources close to the Duchess said that by ‘political correctness’ she was expressing her hope that people – and newspapers – would be able to speak out about a variety of issues, including race and sexual equality, without feeling ‘inhibited’.

‘She sees arguments over what is deemed the politically correct thing to say about issues that affect our day-to-day life as a way of curtailing free speech,’ the sources said.

The Duchess was speaking at the prestigious London Press Club awards, giving a warm and witty address to the assembled editors.

‘When it comes to the Press you have probably guessed that my motto is “No news is good news”,’ she said. ‘But I wanted to take this opportunity of talking about something that matters deeply to me but which I feel sometimes goes unnoticed, and that is to celebrate what is best about Britain.’

In particular she praised the nation’s ‘brave’ armed forces as well the foreign correspondents and cameramen who risk their lives to report on international incidents.

Camilla also jokingly referred to ‘a certain wedding the other week’ which, she said, provided a much-needed boost of patriotism.

Drawing to a close, she concluded: ‘There is nothing shameful in expressing pride in our values and accomplishment.’

As she presented the awards, Camilla couldn’t help but smile when one of the speakers included a waspish remark about the financial problems recently suffered by Duchess of York.


Insane Britain

Fired: Stationmaster who pulled trolley off line to stop an accident... and what a surprise, it's all down to elf 'n' safety

Over nearly three decades of dedicated service, he was always happy to go the extra mile for his rail passengers. Stationmaster Ian Faletto even spent his own money on flowers, carpets and heaters as well as handing out free sweets and jigsaws to travellers.

Now, however, he has been sacked after pulling a shopping trolley dumped by vandals off the track. The 49-year-old bachelor believed his prompt action prevented an accident at Lymington Pier, Hampshire.

But bosses at South West Trains saw it very differently – and dismissed him after a 27-year career for ‘a serious breach of safety’.

Mr Faletto said: ‘I can’t believe it after all I have done for them. What I did prevented an accident which could have derailed a train and injured passengers.

‘I saw the trolley on the line and managed to remove it before the first train arrived that morning. Health and safety rules have gone too far when you prevent an accident and get sacked for it. I just want my job back.’

As well as dipping into his pocket to add homely touches, he used to go in on days off to make sure Lymington Pier and the other three stations he ran were staffed. Mr Faletto, from Southampton, also painted railings in his own time and had not taken a holiday in five years.

‘I’ve been a real ambassador for the company,’ he said. ‘I have spent thousands of pounds of my own money making the stations the best they can be.

‘That’s what commuters deserve for the amount they pay, to have a nice warm place to wait and they were grateful for it. ‘I don’t know how I am going to get by.

‘Because I was sacked, I lost my mortgage protection and my pension. I will have to find a way but the trains are all I know.’

The incident which cost Mr Faletto his job was on Sunday, March 6. After arriving at 8.30am and spotting the trolley, he contacted the signalman to request that the power be turned off and jumped on to the line in protective shoes to remove it.

A week later, a district manager saw the incident while looking through CCTV footage and it emerged that the power had not been switched off. Mr Faletto was suspended and then sacked following a disciplinary hearing.

Passengers are also very unhappy at the decision to axe him. They include the Reverend Alex Russell, 52, from St Mary’s Church, Pennington, who is organising a petition in a campaign backed by 200 people. ‘He always went the extra mile for passengers,’ she said. ‘No one has ever had a bad word to say about him.

‘People have been driving miles just to sign my petition. He has been sacked for breach of health and safety but there is an exception rule if it is an emergency. ‘I would have thought stopping an accident is an emergency. ‘His life is in ruins. He has worked for the railways for 27 years and has nothing else.’

Mr Faletto also ran Lymington Town, Ashurst and Beaulieu Road stations on a branch line from the main line to Lymington, a staging post for Isle of Wight ferries. The single-track line has two trains an hour in each direction. Mr Faletto, who is taking his former employers to a tribunal, worked at nearby Sway station for 15 years before moving to the Lymington line. He has won 25 awards, including most improved station in the region and best kept station in the country for four years in a row. Mr Faletto also won a rare award for ‘outstanding personal contribution’ to the railways.

He fears standards have slipped in his absence. ‘I’m so upset about this as well as angry,’ he said. ‘I went back to see the station and it’s a blooming mess now, full of rubbish. I tried to make it the best it could be.’


The significance of Herman Cain

The most intriguing question raised by the first presidential debate in Greenville, S.C. involves the way Republicans will characterize the surprising showing of Herman Cain. Does the business leader and talk radio host represent the next Ronald Reagan --or the second coming of Alan Keyes?

Cain’s fans and supporters cite the reaction to Thursday night’s encounter to stress the Reaganesque qualities of their champion. According to a focus group conducted by Fox News analyst Frank Luntz, Cain gained more support from his self-assured and capable performance than any other candidate in the 35 debates the pollster has covered. Among 29 participants, only one favored Cain prior to the telecast; afterwards, a clear majority selected him as their “first choice” among presidential possibilities. (Most of the heavyweights ducked the debate.)

Cain’s detractors liken his long-shot campaign to a three-time presidential loser and notorious vanity candidate who similarly (and disastrously) relied on his communication skills: Alan Keyes. His debate performances always grabbed attention (including an incident in 1996 when Atlanta police blocked his attempt to rush the stage of a candidate forum to which he’d been disinvited), but he gained no traction in terms of votes or delegates. Some Republicans encouraged Keyes out of a desperate and forlorn desire to promote telegenic black conservatives; Cain’s critics say he exploits that same hunger, even as logic dictates that his chances of victory remain remote.

But the Keyes analogy makes little sense. Herman has been a guest on my radio show several times, and at 66, he has compiled a genuinely dazzling record of corporate success, with top executive positions at Pillsbury, Burger King and Godfather Pizza. Keyes could point only to minor diplomatic appointments and failed campaigns, with no more executive experience than Barack Obama. Cain’s business background (including chairmanship of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) and proven head for numbers (he holds a mathematics degree from Morehouse College and a master’s in computer science from Purdue) make him a plausible candidate at a time of economic stress and looming fiscal catastrophe. His followers, citing his leadership of Godfather Pizza, bill Herman as “the Godfather of Common Sense”; on the other hand, the phrases “common sense” and “Alan Keyes” have never appeared together in the same sentence.

Despite the flurry of attention to Cain’s candidacy, he stands scant chance of winning a major primary or caucus. His modest personal fortune provides a comfortable life for himself and his family but, unlike other business leaders pursuing the presidency (Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, John Huntsman) he can’t pump tens of millions of dollars into funding his own campaign. The expected addition of better-known contenders in the next few weeks (almost certainly including Newt Gingrich and perhaps Mitch Daniels and Michele Bachmann) means that he’ll never again be able to steal the show in future debates the way he did in this initial outing (against Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and the enigmatic Gary Johnson).

Still, Herman Cain could well play a significant role in building a stronger GOP for 2012 and beyond. While many commentators sneered and snickered at the South Carolina debate (my Daily Beast colleague Matt Latimer compared it to “a low-budget Star Trek convention where only the guy who played Dr. McCoy and a bunch of extras bothered to show up”) they ignored a truly historic, even epic aspect of this event.

In South Carolina – the home of secession, John C. Calhoun, Strom Thurmond, and the long-fluttering Stars and Bars over the state Capitol building – a black guy won in a landslide with a nearly all-white focus group of local Republicans.

This provides potent counter-evidence to the tired Democratic charge that conservatives – particularly Southern conservatives – dislike Obama primarily because he’s African-American. In fact, right-wingers don’t hate the president’s guts because he’s black: they despise him because he’s liberal—an old-fashioned, free-spending, big government lefty. They didn’t like Bill Clinton any better (does anyone remember impeachment?) despite his notably lighter complexion. To paraphrase Cain’s fellow Georgian (and fellow Morehouse graduate): conservatives care more about the content of his character (or his political ideology) than they do about the color of his skin.

Of course, some cynics suggest that any Republican attempt to draw support from African-Americans represents a distracting waste of time and resources, given the virtual certainty that Obama will once again carry the black vote by vast margins. This argument, however, ignores the undeniable fact that the African American vote amounts to such a substantial share of the overall electorate (13 percent in 2008) that even small shifts could bring big consequences.

If John McCain had performed as well as George W. Bush performed among black voters in 2004 (winning 11 percent instead of 4 percent), it would have brought nearly a million extra votes to his popular vote total, and swayed desperately close outcomes in major battlegrounds carried by Obama, including Virginia and North Carolina. Part of the untold story of the Republican House victory last year involves more than doubling the GOP percentage of the black vote, and electing two new African-American Republican congressmen. The very survival of the party depends on further efforts to undermine Democratic efforts to portray the GOP as a bigoted, whites-only political movement.


Minimum Wage's Discriminatory Effects

By Walter E. Williams

As if more proof were needed about the minimum wage's devastating effects, yet another study has reached the same conclusion. Last week, two labor economists, Professors William Even (Miami University of Ohio) and David Macpherson (Trinity University), released a study for the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute titled "Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases."

During the peak of what has been dubbed the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for young adults (16 to 24 years of age) as a whole rose to above 27 percent. The unemployment rate for black young adults was almost 50 percent, but for young black males, it was 55 percent.

Even and Macpherson say that it would be easy to say this tragedy is an unfortunate byproduct of the recession, but if you said so, you'd be wrong. Their study demonstrates that increases in the minimum wage at both the state and federal level are partially to blame for the crisis in employment for minority young adults.

Their study focuses on 16-to-24-year-old male high school dropouts, understandably a relatively inexperienced group of labor market participants. Since minimum wage laws discriminate against the employment of the least-skilled worker, it shouldn't be surprising to find 16-to-24-year-old male high school dropouts its primary victims.

Among the white males, the authors find that "each 10 percent increase in a state or federal minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5 percent; for Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2 percent.

"But among black males in this group, each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage decreased employment by 6.5 percent."

The authors go on to say, "The effect is similar for hours worked: each 10 percent increase reduces hours worked by 3 percent among white males, 1.7 percent for Hispanic males, and 6.6 percent for black males."

Even and Macpherson compare the job loss caused by higher minimum wages with that caused by the recession and find between 2007 and 2010, employment for 16-to-24-year-old black males fell by approximately 34,300 as a result of the recession; over the same time period, approximately 26,400 lost their jobs as a result of increases in the minimum wage across the 50 states and at the federal level.

Why do young black males suffer unequal harm from minimum wage increases? Even and Macpherson say that they're more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs in eating and drinking establishments. These are businesses with narrow profit margins and are more adversely affected by increases in minimum wage increases. For 16-to-24-year-old men without a high school diploma, 25 percent of whites and 31 percent of blacks work at an eating and drinking establishment. Compounding the discriminatory burden of minimum wages, not discussed by the authors, are the significant educational achievement differences between blacks and whites.

The best way to sabotage chances for upward mobility of a youngster from a single-parent household, who resides in a violent slum and has attended poor-quality schools is to make it unprofitable for any employer to hire him. The way to accomplish that is to mandate an employer to pay such a person a wage that exceeds his skill level.

Imagine that a worker's skill level is such that he can only contribute $5 worth of value per hour to the employer's output, but the employer must pay him a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, plus mandated fringes such as Social Security, unemployment compensation and health insurance. To hire such a worker would be a losing economic proposition. If the employer could pay that low-skilled worker the value of his skills, he would at least have a job and a chance to upgrade his skill and earn more in the future.

Minimum wage laws have massive political support, including that of black politicians. That means that many young black males will remain a part of America's permanent underclass with crime, drugs and prison as their future.


Australian parliamentarian proposes tough love for prisoners, saying prisons 'like hotels'

Mr McLindon is the sole representative of his party so will not have much influence. But he represents a rural electorate so some mainstream conservatives might take up his ideas

PRISONERS would have to go without air-conditioners, 24/7 electricity and porn in a proposed new "tough love" approach.

Following an inspection of the Townsville Men's and Women's Correctional Centres, the Queensland Party will today propose new restrictions to be placed on prisoners across the state. Leader of the Queensland Party, Aidan McLindon, will make these suggestions to Parliament today, including that prisoners be put on the same medical waiting lists as other Queenslanders.

"I spent four hours touring the facility and saw that prisoners had access to electricity, air conditioning and the latest DVDs along with stockpiles of pornos," said Mr McLindon. "It is no wonder that there is a 70 per cent re-offending rate in Townsville.

"Additionally, offenders have direct and instant access to medical treatment while everyday Queenslanders are left waiting for years."

Mr McLindon said the Queensland Party are looking to end the "easy living conditions" and replace them with "tough love". "Prisons are becoming hotels whilst the prison guards act as nothing less than glorified room service," Mr McLindon said.

"Queensland prison guards are doing the very best they can under these ludicrous circumstances and somebody has to lift the lid on this stupidity."



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

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

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


11 May, 2011

So prison DOES work: Criminals who spend longer behind bars are less likely to reoffend

Prisoners who spend longer behind bars are less likely to return to crime when they are let out, a report revealed last night. Reoffending rates fell sharply when criminals were sentenced to up to four years instead of just one or two, a Ministry of Justice study found.

The report will reignite the row about whether 'prison works'. Defenders of tougher sentences said the study - the first of its kind - showed prison had a powerful 'deterrent effect'.

Dr David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank said: 'This seems to show that for people who merit prison, the longer you keep them there the better. As well as protecting the public while they are there, there is also a deterrent effect on release.

However, the report also provides backing for Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who has criticised the failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates jailed for short periods.

The report found the highest reoffending rates were among inmates given sentences of up to 12 months and who do not have access to prison rehabilitation programmes.

Last night Mr Clarke said it was a 'national scandal' that nearly half of all offenders reoffend within a year of release. He said: 'Prisons need to be places of hard work, not idleness, and both prison and non-custodial sentences need to do much more to properly address the serious underlying causes of crime such as drugs and mental illness.'

The report compared offending by 'like for like' criminals jailed for similar offences.

Nearly 60 per cent of those sentenced to less than a year behind bars in 2008 committed another crime within a year of release. That compared to a 51 per cent of those given community service. Criminals handed terms of between one year and two had reoffending rates of 43 per cent. But the likelihood of committing further crimes was seven per cent lower for those handed longer terms of up to four years.

Mr Clarke has promised a 'rehabilitation revolution' aimed at cutting reoffending and he wants to expand the use of community service. But critics have branded him 'soft on crime' and attacked moves to reduce the prison population by 3,000 by 2015.

Blair Gibbs, the head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: 'These figures - although only a partial picture - do confirm that the longer the prison sentence the lower the reoffending rate after release.


British employment tribunal jackpots face axe: Plan to limit discrimination at work claims

Excessive payouts in sex, age or race discrimination cases could be reined in under Government plans. Employment minister Ed Davey will today float plans to end the tribunal jackpot system, which can see businesses crippled by penalties running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And, in a major review of workplace law, he will outline plans to slash the amount of time employers have to consult staff before making them redundant.

But, in a move likely to alarm businesses, the Lib Dem minister will announce that the right to request flexible working and shared parental leave will be brought in by 2015 – much earlier than thought.

Just two months ago, his boss, Business Secretary Vince Cable, indicated that the plan had been shelved. Mr Cable has already announced plans to make it much harder for workers to claim compensation for unfair dismissal in employment tribunals.

Now ministers are to extend the restrictions to claims for workplace discrimination on the basis of employees’ race, sex, disability or sexuality.

Mr Davey will announce plans to reconsider awards that ‘encourage people to take weak, speculative or vexatious cases in the hope of a large payout’. Payouts are presently unlimited. The biggest was £729,347 in a disability discrimination case. For sex discrimination the top award was £442,266, and the most successful race discrimination claimant won £374,922.

Last year saw a 36 per cent increase in claims for age discrimination, 40 per cent up for race, 18 per cent up for discrimination on sexual orientation, and 20 per cent for religion or religious belief.

The average payout for race discrimination is £18,600, £19,500 for sex discrimination, £52,100 for disability discrimination, £4,900 for religious discrimination, £20,400 for sexual orientation discrimination and £10,900 for age discrimination.

Just one mistake by a small company can see them having to make a huge payout – putting their future under threat. The proposals could risk a battle with the unions. But the Coalition argues that disgruntled staff and their lawyers are exploiting the lax rules to make exorbitant claims.

Mr Davey will say: ‘The areas we are reviewing are priorities for employers. We want to make it easier for businesses to take on staff and grow. ‘We will be looking carefully at the arguments for reform. Fairness for individuals will not be compromised – but where we can make legislation easier to understand, improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, we will.’

Plans could include imposing a limit on payouts, or making employees pay a fee before bringing a tribunal claim. The review will also look at reducing the length of consultation over collective redundancy, which currently has to last a minimum of 90 days.

Mr Davey will say this can hinder firms’ ‘ability to restructure effectively and retain a flexible workforce’, leading employers to ‘worry about how long they need to keep paying staff after it has become clear that they need to let them go’.

The review will look at rules which protect employees’ terms and conditions when a business is transferred from one owner to another.

And Mr Davey wants to introduce rules to make work more flexible. His plans to extend the right to request flexible working and introduce shared parental leave would make it easier to work while bringing up a family.


Munro Review: British social workers 'to face random checks'

It's a start

Social workers will face random checks under major Government plans to improve England’s failing child protection system. A review published today will recommend unannounced inspections of social services units in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the Baby P tragedy.

The report by Prof Eileen Munro will also call for swathes of paperwork currently completed by social workers to be axed to give staff more time with families and vulnerable children.

Experienced social workers will also be kept on the front line – instead of being given back office jobs – to take a lead on the most demanding cases and supervise junior staff.

The overhaul comes in a wake of a series of high-profile child deaths in recent years. This includes the killing of Baby P – Peter Connelly – who was tortured to death in Haringey, north London, despite being seen by 28 different social workers, doctors and police officers.

In today’s report, Prof Munro, an expert in social policy at the London School of Economics, will criticise the amount of central bureaucracy in the system, saying staff spend too much time “ticking boxes” rather than working in the community.

Existing guidance that social workers must follow is now 55 times longer than it was in the mid-70s, her report says. “Too often questions are asked if rules and procedures have been met but not whether this has helped children. Everyone in the profession can think of meetings and forms that don’t actually make a child safer,” said Prof Munro.

Her report will call for unannounced inspections of social services units by Ofsted to prevent departments spending weeks preparing for visits. Ofsted will also be stripped of the power to scrutinise official reports into the suspicious deaths of children because its approach is too formulaic.

Greater scrutiny will be made of so-called serious case reviews by making them open to the public for the first time, she will say, although they will also be monitored by a new expert panel.

Her review came as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed on Monday that the policing body responsible for protecting children is to merge with the new National Crime Agency. But in a key concession, the Government insisted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency (Ceop) agency would retain its own identity following concerns that child safety could be put at risk.

Jim Gamble, Ceop's previous head, resigned in protest over the planned move last year warning it was not in the "best interest" of vulnerable children.

Concerns were also raised by Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine McCann, and Sara Payne, the mother of murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah.

Despite the merger, Ceop will now retain its name, operational control and a separate budget and governance structure.


Something Rotten in Denmark (And elsewhere)

Surprisingly, on net, last week was not a good one for the Free World. Despite the signal accomplishment of liquidating Osama bin Laden, Western civilization suffered serious reverses on several fronts.

What these reverses all have in common is a deference to the doctrine our enemies' call "shariah," in a manner they perceive to be acts of "submission." Such behavior is exceedingly dangerous, as it invites our foes to redouble their efforts to make us, in the words of the Koran, "feel subdued."

For instance, consider the aftermath of SEAL Team 6's extraordinary take-down of bin Laden. What ensued was nothing less than a debacle as President Obama's political appointees kept changing their accounts of what had happened. As one wag put it, "Osama bin Laden died and we got 72 versions."

The subtext was of an administration effort desperately trying not to give offense to our adversaries. Yet, they and our friends could only have felt reaffirmed in their already dim view of what passes for American leadership under Mr. Obama.

Then, there was the unctuous effort to dispose of bin Laden's body in strict "conformance to Islamic practice." The fastidious cleansing and wrapping of the body, the 40-minute ceremony and the burial at sea conjure up images of an America treating one of its most psychopathic enemies as a legitimate, even revered figure. Islam scholar Andrew Bostom raises the question whether such rites actually included shariah-conforming denunciations of Christians and Jews? Either way, this exercise was a pathetic act of appeasement.

Next, the President announced that he had decided not to release the dead jihadist's photo. As with the handling of bin Laden's burial, the justification given was concern that the picture's dissemination would only inspire more violence against us and our forces overseas. The truth of the matter is that the more we signal our fear of the violence of shariah-adherent Muslims, the more certain it is to be visited upon us.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday an appeals court in Denmark convicted one of Western civilization's most courageous defenders - Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society. His crime? He gave offense to Muslims. Yes, that's right, a Danish judicial panel effectively enforced shariah blasphemy law. In the process, the court violated one of the most cardinal pillars of freedom: the right to free speech.

If allowed to stand, the ruling in the Hedegaard case will be used to abridge fundamental civil rights throughout Europe, and possibly far beyond. Yet, there has been remarkably little outcry about the defendant's plight - most especially from journalists who have as much to lose as anybody.

In this instance, as in the foregoing ones, the West is acting out of fear, lest our conduct become grounds for fresh violence. This is an enduring legacy of, among other things, the manufactured outrage and mayhem over the Danish cartoons a few years back. It gives ominous new meaning to the expression "Something is rotten in Denmark."

Unfortunately, our own judicial processes seem increasingly susceptible to Islamist intimidation, as well. Recently, counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole published at Pajamas Media excerpts from an interview with an anonymous source high in the Obama Justice Department. These included an allegation that political appointees in that department had "quashed" a request by prosecutors to pursue individuals and organizations listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the nation's largest terrorism financing trial: United States v. the Holy Land Foundation.

According to Poole's insider, the problem was that the administration stood to be embarrassed if this prosecution went forward. After all, the defendants associated with Muslim Brotherhood fronts like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) would assuredly have tried to use their close ties with government officials and agencies to avoid the convictions and punishments meted out to the first five Holy Land conspirators.

The plot thickened last week. Shortly before Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill, the prosecutor in the Holy Land case, U.S. Attorney Jim Jacks, told the Dallas Morning News that there was no political interference from "the Attorney General or the White House" leading to a decision not to prosecute CAIR. This directly contradicts not only Patrick Poole's source but also House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY), who insisted that both prosecutors and FBI agents involved in the case had told him they had "vehement objections" to the "declination to prosecute" memo that came out of Washington.

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), himself a former judge and chief justice in the Texas court system, pointedly challenged the Attorney General during the latter's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Gohmert noted that it is a matter of record that Mr. Jacks had filed compelling briefs at both the federal district and appellate levels - and was upheld by both courts - in his position that there were sufficient grounds to treat CAIR and others as co-conspirators with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The AG claimed unconvincingly to be unfamiliar with the particulars.

We need to stand up against shariah, not submit to it - at home or abroad. We must demonstrate that we are, to use bin Laden's term, the "stronger horse," by touting our victories and power, and not convey the opposite impression by obscuring or apologizing for them. And we must see the paperwork that precipitated the declination to prosecute CAIR and its Muslim Brotherhood friends - and then get on with putting them out of business.



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

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

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


10 May, 2011

Centre for Social Justice: British PM has broken pledge to support family values

David Cameron’s Coalition has failed to support marriage, unfairly penalised middle-class parents and done “almost nothing” to address the breakdown of families, according to a think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith.

In opposition, Mr Cameron promised to make Britain “the most family-friendly country in Europe” and tackle the social problems arising from break-ups.

But in an audit of the Coalition’s first year in office, the Centre for Social Justice, which was set up by the Work and Pensions Secretary, said little had been done to support marriage and strongly criticised plans to cut child benefit for middle-class parents.

Marking the Coalition’s performance on family policy at just two out of 10, the centre concluded that the deal with the Liberal Democrats had seen family-friendly plans being watered down.

“Compromise to avoid difficult family policy decisions means it’s just business as usual,” the report said. The Coalition’s family policy was “a disappointing continuation of the last government’s failed approach”.

Gavin Poole, the centre’s chief executive, accused the Coalition of “compromise-driven inaction in tackling our devastating culture of family breakdown”.

The criticism will increase the pressure on the Prime Minister to enact more traditional “family values” policies. Mr Cameron fought last year’s election on a promise to introduce a transferable tax allowance for four million married couples worth £150 a year.

The centre said that transferable allowances “could make a genuine difference”, but despite its popularity among Tories, the policy had “moved off radar”.

The centre was set up by Mr Duncan Smith in 2004. He remains its patron, but is not involved in its day-to-day work. In opposition, its research on family breakdown and welfare dependency informed Conservative social policies and led to Mr Cameron’s warnings about Britain’s “broken society.”

The think tank’s “Report Card” for the Coalition also criticised the “unfortunate and unfair” decision to withdraw child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers.

The benefit will be taken away from a single-income couple earning more than £42,475 but retained by a couple where both parents work and earn £40,000 each, prompting allegations that ministers were penalising mothers who stay at home to care for their children.

The criticism will add to pressure on ministers to make changes to the Child Benefit plan, which will take effect in 2013.

The report was more positive about Mr Duncan Smith’s work to reform the benefits system, giving his plans to increase incentives to work eight out of 10.

However, some of the strongest criticism was reserved for a policy conceived to please Right-wingers, the planned cap on benefits claims. Under the new rules, no household will be able to claim more than £500 a week, regardless of how many members the family has. The centre warned it could bring hardship to thousands of large families “who will have the rug pulled from under them overnight”.

The Department for Work and Pensions said around 50,000 households would be affected, losing an average of £93 a week. However, some could lose as much as £150 a week. The centre said the move was “likely to be devastating” for some families.


Geert Wilders’ problem with Islam

Jonathan Kay comments from Canada

As an editor at the National Post, I often rely on three letters to protect my columnists from human-rights tribunals: I-S-M — these being the difference between spelling Islam and Islamism.

The former is a religion — like Christianity or Judaism. The latter is an ideology, which seeks to impose an intolerant fundamentalist version of Islam on all Muslims, and spread the faith throughout the world. Declaring Islamism a menace isn’t controversial. Declaring Islam a menace is considered hate speech.

Geert Wilders’ refusal to deploy those three letters is the reason that the 47-year-old Dutch politician travels with bodyguards, and cannot sleep in the same house two nights in a row. For Mr. Wilders, the problem plaguing Western societies is Islam, full stop. Terrorism, tyranny, the subjugation of women — these are not perversions of Islam, as he sees it, but rather its very essence.

“The word ‘Islamism’ suggests that there is a moderate Islam and a non-moderate Islam,” he told me during an interview in Toronto on Sunday. “And I believe that this is a distinction that doesn’t exist. It’s like the Prime Minister of Turkey [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, said ‘There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.’ This is the Islam of the Koran.”

“Now, you can certainly make a distinction among the people,” he adds. “There are moderate Muslims — who are the majority in our Western societies — and non-moderate Muslims.”

“But Islam itself has only one form. The totalitarian ideology contained in the Koran has no room for moderation. If you really look at what the Koran says, in fact, you could argue that ‘moderate’ Muslims are not Muslims at all. It tells us that if you do not act on even one verse, then you are an apostate.”

Unlike most critics of Islam, who tend to shy away from the explosive subject of Mohammed himself, Mr. Wilders forthrightly describes the Muslim Prophet as a dictator, a pedophile and a warmonger. “If you study the life of Mohammed,” Mr.Wilders told me, “you can see that he was a worse terrorist than Osama bin Laden ever was.”

It is an understatement to call Mr. Wilders a divisive figure in the Netherlands. On the one hand, he is the leader of the PVV, the country’s third most popular political party — which currently is propping up the ruling minority government. And Mr. Wilders has been declared “politician of the year” by a popular Dutch radio station, and come in second in a variety of other mainstream polls.

On the other hand, the Muslim Council of Britain has called him “an open and relentless preacher of hate.” For a time, Mr. Wilders, even was banned from entering the U.K. A popular Dutch rapper wrote a song about killing Mr. Wilders (“This is no joke. Last night I dreamed I chopped your head off.”)

Before meeting Mr. Wilders on Sunday, I knew him mostly from his most inflammatory slogans — such as his comparison of the Koran to Mein Kampf — which his detractors fling around as proof of his narrow-minded bigotry.

Yet the real Geert Wilders speaks softly and thoughtfully. It turns out that he’s travelled to dozens of Muslim nations. He knows more about the Islamic faith and what it means to ordinary people than do most of Islam’s most ardent Western defenders.

Nor do I believe that Mr. Wilders is a bigot — a least, not in the sense that the word usually is understood.

“I don’t hate Muslims. I hate their book and their ideology,” is what he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in 2008. Mr. Wilders sees Islam as akin to communism or fascism, a cage that traps its suffering adherents in a hateful, phobic frame of mind.

Mr. Wilders describes Muslim as victims of bad ideas, in other words. In this way, his attitude is entirely different from classic anti-Semites and racists, who treat Jews and blacks as debased on the level of biology.

Of course, in the modern, politically correct Western tradition, hatred expressed toward a religion typically is held on the same level of human-rights opprobrium as hatred expressed toward a race or an ethnicity. But Islam is not really a religion at all, as Mr. Wilders sees it, but rather a retrograde political ideology with religious trappings.

He notes that while other religions draw a distinction between God and Ceasar, between the secular and the spiritual, Islam demands submission in every aspect of human existence, both through the wording of the Koran itself and the Shariah law that has developed in its shadow. The faith also supplies a justification for aggressive war; vilifies non-believers; and pronounces death upon its enemies. In short, Mr. Wilders argues, it has all the ingredients of what students of 20th century history would recognize as a fully formed totalitarian ideology.

“I see Islam as 95% ideology, 5% religion — the 5% being the temples and the imams,” he tells me. “If you would strip the Koran of all the negative, hateful, anti-Semitic material, you would wind up with a tiny [booklet].”

It’s easy to see why many Europeans casually jump to the conclusion that Mr. Wilders is a hatemonger. He wants to halt non-Western immigration to the Netherlands until existing immigrants can be integrated, and he wants to deport any foreigner who commits a crime — the same sort of policies as those advocated by genuine xenophobes.

But even so, his insistence on the proper distinction between faith and ideology is an idea that deserves to be taken seriously. For it invites the question: If we permit the excoriation of totalitarian cults created by modern dictators, why do we stigmatize (and even criminalize) the excoriation of arguably similar notions when they happen to be attributed to a 7th-century Bedouin with supernatural visions?

It’s a good question. And as far as I know, Geert Wilders is the only Western politician taking it seriously.


MALE chests now obscene??

Soon everybody will be offended by everything. Where does it end

We've all wanted to tell a jogger to put his shirt back on, but what happened recently in suburban Boston is a little different.

Westwood High track coach Tom Davis was fired last week because one of his runners decided to whip off a shirt during training on a 75-degree day. This wasn't a girl, by the way. It was a boy.

And the Westwood High athletic director, Karl Fogel, was so irate about it that Davis thought he was going to lay him out. "I fully 100 percent was expecting to be swung at," the coach told NECN TV.

That wasn't the end of it. Davis was let go on the spot, in front of his team, and eventually escorted off school property.

"The kids on my team, it was terrible," Davis told the TV station. "Their faces, just pure disgust, pure fear."

The team was doing quite well this year under the second-year coach: one of the relay teams went to nationals less than two months ago and the outdoor team started off 5-0 this spring.

But there was an undercurrent of tension at the school as Fogel told Davis that some members of the girls team felt uncomfortable when the boys ran without shirts. [WHY, for heaven's sake??] Davis even warned his team about possible punishment for not wearing a shirt.


Australia: Harsh Federal Budget cracks down on welfare

WORK-for-the-dole rules will be twice as tough for almost 230,000 long-term unemployed people as part of the Gillard Government's Budget crackdown on welfare. And disability pensioners will face tougher work rules and limits on time spent overseas to prevent rorting of the payments of up to $670 a fortnight.

But Labor faces major hurdles in selling its "tough love" Budget to average families who will be offered little to help offset the soaring cost of living.

The Government has been pushed further into the red by the impact of the global financial crisis, the summer of natural disasters and a collapse in company tax revenue.

Labor has promised a tough approach to Australia's ballooning welfare bills to force more people into work. People who have been on the dole for more than two years will be forced to double their minimum work experience and training requirements to two days a week for 11 months.

At the moment, these work requirements are limited to six months. The new rules bring work-for-the-dole in line with the number of weeks worked by average Australians who take four weeks holidays a year.

Work-for-the-dole activities can include part-time work, volunteer jobs that lead to work and on-the-job training.

Disability pensioners could face rules that allow them to work for up to 30 hours a week and still get welfare payments in a bid to slash the 860,000 people receiving the assistance.

The Government will also tighten eligibility rules for the dole, youth allowance and parenting payments as it wields a big stick against welfare recipients.



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

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

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


9 May, 2011

British psychologists warn of 'causal link' between internet porn and rise in sex offences

Is this a new low in scientific reasoning? An interview with one deviant enables causal inferences about the whole population? You expect such talk from a guy in a bar but these are supposed scientists talking for the record. A picture of one of the quacks below, Dr David Wilson

Extreme sexual fantasies are being normalised because of the rise in deviant pornography on the internet, psychologists have warned. Researchers now believe there is a 'causal link' between the rise in explicit images available online and an increase extreme illegal behaviour in real life.

According to experts, the internet is allowing like-minded people to share explicit and violent sexual fantasies, therefore making them more acceptable.

The findings are based on research conducted by Dr Tim Jones, senior lecturer in cognitive psychology at Worcester University as well as top psychologists such as criminologist Professor David Wilson from Birmingham City University.

Their research is based around a series of interviews with a convicted paedophile named 'James' who is serving a 14-year sentence for numerous sexual offences involving children.

They also point to the rise images of child pornography available on the internet. The Greater Manchester police obscene publications unit has seen a staggering leap in the number of illicit images seized. In 1995, they seized around dozen images of child pornography, rising to over 41,000 in 1999, and by 2001, the unit was so overwhelmed with the number of images that they stopped counting.

Dr Jones told the Daily Telegraph: 'The internet is fuelling more extreme fantasies and the danger is that they could be played out in real life'.


Animal Rights extremists threaten BBC presenter

Animal rights extremists threatened to burn the children of TV presenter Adam Henson after he investigated the bovine TB and badger cull issue on the BBC's Countryfile programme. He revealed the threat and other hate mail when he spoke to 185 farmers and agricultural professionals at a conference in Cornwall.

He was answering questions in the session when he said: 'There are some very nasty extremists about. 'I have had some serious hate letters from them - things like "we are going to burn your children".'

He said he thought the abuse was very unfair as he worked to BBC guidelines when presenting the programme on the controversial issue. He said: 'These guidelines are very strict. So you will never hear me saying we should be culling badgers. 'My hands are completely tied on the issue. I cannot campaign for anything at all, simply report what is said on both sides. 'But this is a hugely emotive subject and we have to realise that there are extremists on both sides of the argument,' said Henson who farms in Gloucestershire.

He said farmers and conservation groups were 'at war' with each other when they should be working together to solve the problem. Henson said: 'Badgers are fantastic animals to watch and can be a great asset and there should be middle ground between farming and conservationists on tackling the bovine TB problem.'

Mel Squires, regional director of the National Farmers' Union in the South West, told the conference at St Mellion, Cornwall, that bovive TB caused the death of 38,000 cattle last year. She said: 'Behind the scenes we know the pressure is really on the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, and the Farming Minister. But they are very concerned about public opinion. 'Now we are expecting the Government to take some really brave steps. They have said they are going to support us. If they don't they are going to leave the cattle industry in real distress. 'It's very difficult and incredibly complex, but Jim Paice has been a great support and an advocate for farmers.'

Mrs Squires urged her audience to contact their MPs and keep up the pressure for a solution to the TB scourge.

A proposed scheme to cull 70 per cent of all badgers in disease hotspots - three of them likely to be in the South West - is expected to be announced by the Government in the next few weeks.


Nasty British police again

Regardless of their suspicions, they could still have treated an elderly couple with courtesy and interviewed them in their own home. And in the absence of evidence there was certainly no need to charge them. The British policec were once renowned for their courtesy. After 13 years of hectoring by a Leftist government they are now more like a Gestapo

An elderly couple arrested for manslaughter after their germ phobic daughter died at home have been cleared of any involvement in the tragedy.

Samantha Hancox, 40, suffered from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and would shower for up to 20 hours every day. Her crippling condition left her housebound at the family home in Tipton, in the Black Country, and she was cared for by loving parents Ken, 76, and Marion, 77.

But last May they found their only child dead in an armchair. A post-mortem examination revealed that the one-time law student had died from dehydration and a skin infection.

But the elderly couple were arrested by police on suspicion of manslaughter and quizzed for seven hours at a police station before being bailed, pending further investigations.

Now, a year after their daughter’s death, the Crown Prosecution Service has dropped the case due to lack of evidence. Last night, former factory worker Ken spoke of his relief at the decision – and revealed frail Marion was now in a care home.

'The police just came to the house and told us there would be no more investigation,' he said. We have to have an inquest now so we are waiting for that, but we still haven’ t got her death certificate which is upsetting. 'We are just struggling on, that’s all we can do and Marion is now in a care home. I don’t know what to make of it all if I’m honest. I am just pleased the police have stopped the investigation.'

Samantha was Ken and Marion’s only child and enjoyed a normal early childhood. But at the age of 10 she was badly affected by the death of her grandma, Molly. By the age of 14 Samantha’s condition was so serious she that she had to leave school and was cared for at home by her parents.

She would spend up to 20 hours a day in the shower, trying to get clean, and would sit watching TV in her parents’ front room. After years of being cared for at home she deteriorated rapidly when dad Ken went into hospital for four days in April last year to have an operation on his prostate. Samantha stopped eating and eventually succumbed to dehydration and the skin infection.

Marion had previously expressed her disbelief at being arrested and she and her husband loved their daughter dearly.

'She just gave up her fight against it, she was so terrified of germs. She would scrub her hands all the time and wouldn’t let anybody into the house except me and Ken. 'Ken would make all her food and drinks for her because I can hardly walk. It’s heartbreaking to lose a daughter like that, we loved her,' she said.

Jayne Salt, head of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service Complex Casework Unit, said the case was now closed.

'Following the discovery of Samantha Hancox’s body at the home she shared with her parents in Tipton in May 2010, the police launched a thorough investigation to find the cause of her death and see if any criminal liability followed from this,' she said.

'A file was forwarded to me to examine all of the information and determine whether any criminal offences had been committed, and if so, was there sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

'Samantha, who was living with her elderly parents, had severe health problems which eventually lead to a serious deterioration in her well-being. She also had in the past declined support from medical professionals.

'Having had an opportunity read the police case file as well as information from expert witnesses and having the benefit of advice from Queens Counsel, I have decided there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the criminal standard of proof, namely beyond reasonable doubt that any act or omission by Ken or Marion Hancox resulted in their daughter’s death.

'This has obviously been a very tragic case and we hope that this decision can bring a sense of closure for the family.'


Why Christians Should Rejoice That UBL Is Dead and in Hell

Doug Giles

Let me go on the record stating that as a Christian I am completely cool with our Navy SEAL Team Six killing Usama. Or is it Osama? Does anyone know? I heard he liked it both ways. Anyway, the only thing that makes me sad about bin Laden’s death, as an orthodox Christian, is that a). It didn’t happen on Christmas or Easter, and b). The rude SEAL Team Six didn’t include me along to pull the trigger.

So, why do I bring up my Christianity in conjunction with my satisfaction with Usama getting capped? Well, it’s principally because of the rank anti-biblical bollocks coming from pastors and priests who believe that Christians should not be happy that bin Laden has now been eaten by groupers at the bottom of the Indian Ocean (or wherever the heck they tossed his damnable corpse).

For instance, Bill O’Reilly had a Catholic priest, Father Beck, on his show this past week who not only said we should dial down on our biblical joy that this evil SOB was shot but that we should’ve “loved him,” “forgiven him,” and “not judged him” because “we don’t know what was in Usama’s wittle heart that caused him to kill tens of thousands of people worldwide.”

To hear this cat talk, it sounds like all UBL simply needed was some Xanax, a new coloring book and a little face time with Dr. Drew because his daddy didn’t love him enough or something.

Well, Father Crock—I mean Beck—call me a heretic because I believe those commands to “love, forgive and not judge” don’t extend to a sick, twisted, violent, God-hating, woman abusing, implacable, wicked dog like bin Laden but rather to personal verbal detractors of one’s faith (y’know, people who don’t pose a grave global security threat. Duh).

It’s like I wrote in my best selling book, Raising Righteous & Rowdy Girls, about how I raised my girls: If you’re made fun of, ridiculed, or maligned for your beliefs, don’t sweat it; love and pray for your enemies and learn what I’ve learned over many years: Other people’s animosity can actually sell a lot of books.

However, should someone want to physically harm you in some form or fashion (say, a rapist or a terrorist) then it’s okay for you to defend yourself and hurt him or, if need be, kill him. Call me the devil. In my world the good person should live and the evil person should die.

Hey, Christian Love Machine: Usama wasn’t some angry blogger who merely said mean crap about Christians and western culture; he was a malevolent, murderous Saladin wannabe who was part and parcel of the massive, heartless slaughter of men, women and children both here and abroad. Remember? If not, here’s UBL’s résumé of death.

Christians should rejoice because bin Laden was decidedly evil; his body is currently the main course for coconut crabs at 300 feet; and his soul is browning on Dante’s BBQ. Providence, via our ministers of death, the bad ass SEAL Team Six, plucked a foul weed from this planet and officially ended his reign of terror. I guarantee that when the SEALs’ 5.56mm round exited Usama’s brain at 3,000 feet per second the Father, Son and Holy Spirit stood up and said to each other, “High five!” and then after that congratulatory moment simultaneously said like preternatural triplets, “Who’s next?” And you know what? We should feel the same way.



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

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

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


8 May, 2011

Political correctness casts a spell on the U.S. armed forces

The U.S. military's success in Pakistan this week proved the importance of maintaining a team focused on accomplishing dangerous missions. Others on the left prefer to look upon the armed forces as a playground to experiment with fringe ideas. Take the Air Force Academy which reportedly held a ceremony on Tuesday to dedicate a pile of rocks in the academy's "worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions."

This is a space cadets can use to perform rituals if they happen to be witches, warlocks and tree-worshipers. Overlooking the visitor center, the stone circle is designed for the benefit of a handful of those claiming to be Wiccans or Druids.

In a February 2010 article published on the academy's website, the superintendent explained the pagan altar was required by regulations. "The United States Air Force remains neutral regarding religious beliefs and will not officially endorse nor disapprove any faith belief or absence of belief," wrote Lt. Gen. Mike C. Gould. "The Earth-centered spirituality group that meets at the Air Force Academy falls within the definition of religion as defined in the United States Air Force Instruction 36-2706."

All of the actual Wiccans and Druids died out hundreds of years ago. The religions of the barbaric tribes of Europe faded away as the Roman conquest brought civilization to the region. Teachings once handed down by oral tradition were entirely forgotten over time. Around the 1950s, fringe leftists enamored by the concept of worshipping the Earth adopted the ancient labels and pretended to follow the old ways. They just left out the inconvenient bits, like human sacrifice. "They have likenesses of immense size, the limbs of which are composed of wicker, that they fill with living men," wrote Julius Caesar, describing a Druid ceremony. "After these are set on fire, the men inside perish in the flames."

To ensure no modern-day Druid misses out on important ceremonies, the Air Force maintains a multifaith calendar. Last year, "Lammas" fell on August 8. "This is one of the eight major High Days of the Druid and Wiccan calendar," the document noted. "High Day observances include evening prayer vigils and ritual dances. Wiccans and Druids (any Neo Pagans) on evening work shifts may request time off for High Day observances."

The Air Force is not alone in pandering. At Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland on Wednesday, the Army hosted a live-fire demonstration of its new M855A1 ammunition which boasts an "environmentally-friendly projectile." The new copper-tipped round gives military brass the opportunity to brag to members of Congress that they are "doing something" to heal the planet while waging war. This opens an interesting question: Did SEAL Team Six use "green bullets" to take down Osama bin Laden, or will the Navy have to offset the carbon footprint of its highly successful mission?

Such questions can only be raised in a politically correct military that may actually contain more Earth worshippers than imagined. Though cloaked in scientific terms, the tenets of global warming are essentially pagan. This belief system, which cannot be questioned, holds that material sacrifice - turn down your thermostat and trade in your light bulbs - will result in a change in the weather. It is the modern equivalent of a rain dance. These neo-Pagan worshippers now have a federally supplied space they can call their own in the hills of Colorado Springs, Colo.


The rise and rise of a pity-for-Osama lobby -- mainly in Britain

The chattering classes’ ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with the killing of bin Laden is underpinned more by moral cowardice than political principle. How did ‘I hate bin Laden and I’m glad he’s dead’ become the most shocking thing one can say in polite society?

This week we have shuttled from an atmosphere of congratulation, even muted celebration, over the killing of OBL to what Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and High Priest of the Chattering Classes, describes as a ‘very uncomfortable feeling’ about the killing of OBL. Those who dare to celebrate his death – mainly young American jocks – have been denounced as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘sickening’, and now the main way you advertise your decency, your membership of the civilised, upstanding, oh-so-unAmerican classes, is by wondering out loud if poor old OBL shouldn’t have been arrested and put on trial rather than having a bullet planted in his head.

This pity-for-Osama lobby, this bishop-led congregation of ‘uncomfortable’ moral handwringers, might pose as radical, denouncing America’s military action in bin Laden’s compound as ‘Wild West-style vengeance’. Yet in truth it is fuelled by self-loathing more than justice-loving. These critics are not opposed to Western intervention in principle – indeed, most of them have demanded ‘humanitarian’, political or legalistic intervention in other states’ affairs at one point or another. No, it is a discomfort with decisive action, a fear of what such action might lead to in the future, and a belief that people in the West should douse their emotional zeal and learn to be more meek, which motors the creepingly conformist anti-Obama and pro-Osama (well, almost) brigade. There is little, if anything, in this outburst of concerned liberal moralism that is worth backing.

The most striking thing was the speed with which the great and the good of the Western liberal elite sought to distance themselves from those vulgar, excitable Yanks and to express a more erudite and PC view of OBL’s demise. Barely 24 hours had passed since the dumping of bin Laden’s body in the sea before observers were describing President Obama as a ‘mobster’. ‘Are we gangsters or a Western democracy based on the rule of law?’, asked has-been mayor (and wannabe mayor) Ken Livingstone, who is so used to doing politics in the rarefied environs of London’s mayoral office that he doesn’t realise that the rule of law might not be so neatly applied during a shoot-out in a compound in Pakistan. Elsewhere the killing of bin Laden has already been described as a ‘war crime’ (isn’t everything these days?) while human rights campaigners say it would have been a better advert for Western values if justice against OBL had come ‘from a legitimate court of law rather than the end of gun’.

It didn’t take long for these apparently decent lovers of justice over violence to expose their real fears: that the sight of a few young Americans chanting ‘U-S-A!’ in response to OBL’s death might invite even more Islamist retribution upon us. One writer described this ‘frat boy reaction’ as ‘abhorrent’ – it is ‘sickening’, she said, and, more revealingly, it has ‘no dignity’. A British columnist said the anti-OBL shindigs were the products of a ‘patriotic reflex’ – that is, a nationalist kneejerkism amongst America’s unthinking classes – which is apparently ‘intense and pervasive’. In response to the chant of ‘We killed bin Laden!’, the columnist said: ‘If “they” killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, then “they” also bombed a large number of wedding parties in Afghanistan, “they” murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and “they” gang-raped a 14-year-old before murdering her, her six-year-old sister and their parents near Mahmudiyah.’ Yep, that’s right – if you celebrate the killing of OBL then you are also implicitly celebrating American atrocities overseas, including rape. Gang-rape-loving dunderheads.

The most telling phrase in that article was ‘they’, which was used again and again, always in quote marks, to refer to ordinary Americans. Because much of the ‘uncomfortable feeling’ over the killing of bin Laden is really an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with, if not outright disgust for, ‘them’, the people who make up America, and for the ideals of modern America itself. This is ‘very much the American style’, sniffed Livingstone about the anti-OBL get-togethers (which, by the way, were only relatively small, party-style expressions of a fleeting emotion). Other commentators have said that they ‘recoiled’ at the ‘gloating that Americans went in for’. Behind the high-falutin’ expressions of passion for justice over shoot-to-kill, much of the pity-for-Osama lobby is really concerned with expressing its moral superiority over apparently vengeful Americans. Where ‘them’ Yanks still have an attachment to nationalism and war, ‘we’ Europeans are post-nationalist, cosmopolitan, empathetic rather than vengeful, and are far more comfortable with having a man in a wig rather than a man with a gun sort out our moral and political problems.

Of course, such anti-Americanism is not confined to Europe. As we have seen in the 10 years since 9/11 it is rife within America itself, where the better-educated classes have long had an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ in relation to the antics and emotions of the American masses. And so it was that Time magazine, in keeping with the modern trend for explaining away every emotion as a product of evolution or of involuntary brain activity, said that human beings are ‘wired to perceive the punishment of rule-violators as rewarding’. In seeking to explain the appearance of frat boys outside the White House, Time cited scientific research showing that ‘when people witnessed snitches receiving painful electric shocks, the pleasure regions of their brains were activated (but only in men)’. Of course, some people – not ‘them’, but ‘us’ – are immune to this hardwired desire for vengeance and can rise above it to express a more considered ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with OBL’s death.

This is an explicit attempt to delegitimise the political and moral response of some American people to the killing of bin Laden. Their joy seems so alien to the better-minded classes that it can only possibly be explained as a ‘reflex’, an unfortunate ‘evolutionary trait’. It has ‘no dignity’, we are told, but rather springs from a base and instinctive ‘human taste for vengeance’. It is extraordinary, and revealing, how quickly the expression of concern about the use of American force in Pakistan became an expression of values superiority over the American people. The modern chattering classes are so utterly removed from the mass of the population, so profoundly disconnected from ‘ordinary people’ and their ‘ordinary thoughts’, that they effectively see happy Americans as a more alien and unusual thing than Osama bin Laden. Where OBL wins their empathy, American jocks receive only their bile.

There is nothing principled or properly anti-imperialist in the speedily rising critique of the killing of OBL. Indeed, many of those currently attacking Obama would have preferred it if bin Laden had ended up in one of the international courts, which themselves are political theatres for the expression of Western superiority over foreign peoples (usually black ones). If Obama’s troops really did mete out ‘military vengeance’ against someone they judged to be evil, then these courts continually serve up ‘legal vengeance’ against people judged to be war criminals. Also, it is striking that many of the critics of Obama express concern about the alleged emotions behind American militarism – vengeance, Wild West fury, a lack of basic decency – rather than being concerned about the moral question of whether America should have the right to intervene in other states. It’s the sentiment they hate, more than the use of military force overseas per se.

No, the now widespread ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with the shooting of bin Laden is really an expression of moral reluctance, even of moral cowardice, a desire to avoid taking any decisive action or expressing any firm emotion that might have some blowback consequences for us over here. It is the politics of risk aversion rather than the politics of anti-imperialism, the same degraded sentiment that fuelled the narcissistic ‘Not in my name’ response to the Iraq War in 2003.

So these critics fret that the killing of bin Laden, and the ‘scenes of jubilation’ it gave rise to, might heighten the threat of another terror attack. Watching Americans celebrate OBL’s death, Ken Livingstone said: ‘I realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack on London.’ This is really a call to elevate precaution over action, meekness over passionate political feeling, staying at home over taking risks, all in the name of protecting ourselves from any possible future action by a hot-headed Islamist. In this sense, the disdain for America and its people is really an expression of angst about what America is perceived to represent: confidence, cockiness, self-possession, a willingness to take risks (little of which is actually accurate). The post-OBL ‘uncomfortable feeling’ is really a quite craven sentiment, a fear-fuelled desire for self-preservation over anything else, which is dolled up as a principled critique of American militarism.

Look, if you want to have a real debate about Western intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, bring it on. spiked bows to no one in the implacability of our principled opposition to foreign meddling in other states’ affairs. But if you want to tell me that bin Laden was treated badly, and that the allegedly morally unhinged reaction to his death might invite more terror upon us, then I have only one thing to say: ‘F*ck bin Laden.’


The West’s very own celeb terrorist

Whether he was droning on about climate change or consumption, OBL’s ‘ideas’ were born and bred in the West

Soon after the death of Osama bin Laden had been announced to the world, 72-year-old Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir – the purported spiritual leader of the Islamist militant group Jemaah Islamiyah – issued a statement from his jail cell in Indonesia, where he faces trial for allegedly funding and organising terrorist camps. The statement, to the effect that ‘Osama’s death will not make al-Qaeda dead’, was designed to instill a sense of foreboding across south-east Asia.

But like all nobodies who hide their own uncertainties and weaknesses behind the words and deeds of supposed somebodies – in this case, behind the dread of al-Qaeda – Bashir simultaneously revealed his own lack of substance. This was apt, because bin Laden himself was always fond of citing Western commentators, academics and diplomats in seeking to legitimise his ostensible cause.

Sounding like any other contemporary critic of American policy, bin Laden droned on about a rag-bag of causes at different times: he lambasted the US for not signing up to the Kyoto treaty to control greenhouse gases; accused Washington of being controlled by a Jewish lobby; suddenly became concerned about Palestine after 9/11; suggested that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were simply money-making ventures for large US corporations; and even had the gall – for one in thrall to the Taliban – to argue that Western advertising exploited women.

In this regard, bin Laden revealed his true nature through his statements – including his annual post-9/11 rants that became as boring and predictable as the British queen’s Christmas message. He was entirely parasitical on what was being said about him and about the state of world affairs in the West. After the Madrid bombings of 2004, he even proposed that Western leaders should pay more attention to surveys that revealed how few people supported the war in Iraq.

But what kind of spiritual leader is it who piggy-backs on Western opinion-poll data and the views of environmentalists to get his point across? Why did he advocate reading Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky, rather than the Koran? In truth, bin Laden was entirely lacking in any substantial ideas of his own, let alone anything that could amount to an ideology. More media-has-been than mujahideen after his escape from US forces in late 2001, bin Laden was the leader of nothing who became the quintessential celebrity terrorist of our times – unable even to control his own fans, never mind control the course of history.

Sadly, those who opposed him were just as devoid of principles of their own. Accordingly, across the political spectrum and in all countries, political leaders and officials who themselves lacked purpose and direction sought to justify their increasingly illiberal policies and actions on the basis of the need to defeat al-Qaeda. Bashir’s recent words of warning sound true because much the same point was made by President Obama in his address to the nation, as well as being echoed by the head of the CIA, the UK prime minister David Cameron, and countless others.

Without al-Qaeda, the global counterterrorism industry would find itself in a real quandary. Little wonder that there is such enthusiasm to reiterate the danger from radical Islam now. The fact that the recent transformations in the Middle East – heralded by some as an ‘Arab spring’ – made little to no reference to either Palestine, or bin Laden and al-Qaeda, makes not a jot of difference to the insights of the self-styled experts.

Far from representing the views and grievances of those in the East and South – whom he never consulted – bin Laden was always a product of the West. He jumped on every bandwagon like some demented blogger and echoed the Western self-loathing he found there. His words would then be picked up again by both followers and critics who lacked the courage to speak out for themselves but preferred instead to point to bin Laden’s empty threats as evidence of what Muslim frustrations and humiliations might lead to.

Instead of a clash of civilisations we had a war of gestures as every controversy in the West about cartoons, books – and now even celebrations – that might be deemed as offensive, were picked up on as further examples of the supposed victimisation of Muslims. This over-sensitivity to images and words only further exacerbated the situation, as whole populations were taught that they must never put up with being offended.

Many commentators, aside from implicitly supporting al-Qaeda’s cause by giving a nod to the simplistic notion that suffering, anger and resentment inevitably leads to terrorism, have also noted more critically how the group came to kill more Muslims than Americans through its actions. But this criticism suggests that if the figures had been skewed the other way, if fewer Muslims had been killed, then these commentators would have been somewhat more understanding towards bin Laden.

The solution frequently put forward to resolve matters has been to create de-radicalisation programmes. However, given that the clerics involved in such programmes share the same misgivings about the modern world as the people they’re supposed to be saving, one wonders if these initiatives could ever possibly be truly successful.

Most notable is the general presumption that the removal of bin Laden will somehow lead to a greater risk in the immediate future through the possibility of reprisal attacks that could occur against anyone, anywhere and at any time. This model is itself a construct of the contemporary culture of fear that exists in the West today, presuming that as one threat goes away, another steps in to fill the void.

Those who argue this way fail to note that while there may be aggrieved individuals at large, these people rarely target the symbols of imperial or racial oppression that are held to drive them. Rather, by lashing out at all manner of symbols of modernity – tall buildings, aeroplanes, shopping malls, night clubs – they reveal their frustrations to be a quite mainstream rejection of Western materialism, and not the religiously inspired attacks that so many commentators presume.


Neither an open-air prison nor a terrorist haven

An Israeli advocate of freedom of movement says the Gaza debate is distorted by flotilla crews and Israeli officials

Gaza is rarely out of the news and, in the past week, it has become the focus of intensified diplomatic, military and media activity. From the potential opening of the Rafah crossing and the new Hamas-Fatah alliance to the impending arrival of a second ‘humanitarian flotilla’, Gaza is yet again being depicted as a place in need of taming or rescuing, depending on who you ask.

In an interview with al-Jazeera last Thursday, Egyptian foreign minister Nabil al-Arabi claimed that Cairo planned to open up the Rafah border crossing to Gaza within 10 days. The announcement followed Egypt’s successful brokerage of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal, with calls for the formation of a single caretaker government and preparations to hold presidential and legislative elections within a year. Egypt’s shifting foreign policy, in the wake of the January uprisings, seems to have rattled the Israeli political establishment. Unsurprisingly, Israeli officials say the new border policy and the Hamas-Fatah deal will damage the chances of a peace agreement and will open up opportunities for Iranian influence in the Palestinian territories.

But as far as Gaza is concerned, these are not the only worries for Israel at the moment. Even the much-hyped Iron Dome anti-rocket system has not thwarted all of the missiles being fired from Gaza into the south of Israel. And Israel’s intensified diplomatic efforts to stave off the second Gaza aid flotilla have not paid off. As the review panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to investigate last year’s Gaza aid flotilla affair prepares to release its findings next week, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his inner cabinet to continue diplomatic efforts to prevent the upcoming flotilla from setting sail. He also instructed Israel’s security forces to prepare for the flotilla’s potential arrival, postponed from the end of May until after the Turkish elections in June.

Amid the intensified focus on the Gaza Strip, two familiar and contrasting images of this small piece of land have reappeared. On the one hand, it is depicted as a hotbed of terrorism, a place filled with a people intent on, and capable of, threatening democracy in the Middle East and beyond. On the other hand, it’s seen as an open-air prison, crammed with helpless people in need of shiploads of handouts.

According to Yoni Eshpar of Gisha, the Israeli legal centre for freedom of movement, such black-and-white characterisations ‘cripple the discussion of Gaza and prevent a well-informed debate on Israeli policy towards it’. Gisha offers legal assistance to Palestinians and works to protect the free movement of goods and people, especially in and out of Gaza. It’s an ambitious mission to say the least.

Eshpar told spiked that Gisha wants to shift the focus away from both the ‘binary images’ of Gaza, emphasising that the obstacles that its residents face are neither primarily terrorist nor humanitarian in character. Esphar insists that the Gaza Strip is not a humanitarian crisis zone. ‘There is no, and was never, any hunger crisis in Gaza. There is food on the shelves.’ The problem, he says, is that since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the blockade imposed following Hamas’ rise to power, there has been ‘a complete devastation of the local economy. Gazans lack purchasing power, they lack job opportunities, and around 80 per cent of the population is dependent on aid.’

In this sense, the flotilla mission is hardly a practical initiative – after all, a few shiploads of random goods will hardly solve the economic crisis in Gaza. But then its aim was never primarily to present a practical and realistic resolution to the restrictions on Palestinians’ freedoms. Instead, the ‘humanitarian boats’ that have been sailing to Gaza for the past three years are a continual publicity stunt (albeit one that went horribly wrong when 10 activists were killed during the Israel Defense Forces’ interception of the flotilla in May last year). The flotillas are only the more ambitious manifestation of the recent transformation of Palestine into the place for an assortment of Islamists, Western radicals, intellectuals, politicians and middle-class life-purpose seekers to get their kicks.

Regardless of whether the situation in Gaza fits the definition of a humanitarian crisis, things certainly look dire for a large section of the population there. But, on the ground, a range of individuals and organisations are working to affect change in a non-headline-grabbing way that is not about inflating egos but about addressing real needs and aspirations. For instance, since January this year, Israeli authorities have permitted over 1,000 Palestinian businessmen to travel into Israel. Gisha helps Palestinians, particularly Gazans, to secure such permits. The organisation also assists Gazans who want to travel to Israel or the West Bank for day labour, education and personal matters, dealing with the army bureaucracy and appealing to the Israeli courts when travel permits are denied.

So what does Esphar make of the flotilla? He tells me that ‘people have the right to demonstrate in the open seas and Israel, as the occupying power in Gaza, has the right to stop a flotilla from reaching its shores’. ‘But’, he adds, ‘I really wish the debate wouldn’t focus so much on the flotilla’.

Indeed, last year’s flotilla debacle and the international rage against Israel that ensued showed how a publicity stunt can manage to shift the spotlight on to a conflict without shining any light on the intricate facts on the ground. Instead, it merely reinforced the image of Gaza as a victim. At the same time, painting Israel as a ‘rogue state’, and as a global pariah in need of disciplining in the form of sanctions and even military intervention, served to give Western governments and institutions further impetus to set the agenda in the Middle East.

Between the Israeli government’s glossing over of the situation in Gaza (for instance, through a recent misleading claim that there is a construction boom there) and the flotilla passengers’ hyperbole (with talk of systematic ethnic cleansing, starvation and 1940s-style ghettoisation), it is worth pointing out that some people in the region are interested neither in budging from critiquing the policies that make life in Gaza harsh nor in engendering pity for the Palestinians.



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

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

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


7 May, 2011

British emergency services need to be risk-takers

The emergency services should be free to risk their lives without being concerned about health and safety laws, Britain’s most senior police officer suggests after concerns that legislation hindered the rescue operation in the July 7 bombings.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, says in an interview with The Daily Telegraph — his first since returning to work after three months recovering from an operation — that he is not convinced such regulations should apply to police, fire and ambulance staff.

The public who intervene to help people or try to stop crime should also be protected, he suggests.

The inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of terrorist bombs on a bus and the London Underground concluded yesterday with the finding that all were unlawfully killed.

During the five-month hearing, Lady Justice Hallett, the coroner, heard complaints from police officers and firemen that health and safety legislation stopped them from carrying out their duties. In her ruling, Lady Hallett said that she felt the emergency services could be more flexible in their use of the protocols.

Referring to the legislation, which can see officers charged with criminal offences if breached, Sir Paul says: “I want my cops as safe as possible but it is a dynamic job they do. They face risks. When health and safety legislation was first applied to the police in its raw form, I wondered whether it was entirely appropriate for emergency services.”

One police officer told the coroner that colleagues were setting up cordons rather than helping injured passengers. Pc Glen Hesketh said he and fellow officers were not “paid to be wrapped up in cotton wool”. “When I joined in the 80s they said our priority was to save life.”

The coroner was also told that the first firemen on the scene at King’s Cross had to stand by and watch injured passengers emerging because they were not allowed to enter the tunnels until a back-up crew arrived.

Sir Paul adds: “Health and safety is important for my staff but they engage in the risk business. Cops join the force knowing they have to put their life on the line. Thankfully very few pay the ultimate price. Some get injured. They take risks … running across rooftops catching villains. I applaud them for doing that. I don’t want to criticise them or to be doing a risk assessment on every occasion.

“The last thing we should ever do is make the families of people who have a go, be they cops or public, feel they made the wrong choices. Let’s not pretend that the police work in a risk-free environment.”

The key findings of Lady Hallett’s ruling were that MI5 and the emergency services did not cause or contribute to any of the deaths on July 7 2005 and that none of the 52 victims would have survived even if emergency services had arrived sooner. Lady Hallett said she hoped the emergency services were “reminded that protocols are designed to save lives”. “Depending on the dynamics of the situation, which may change rapidly, protocols may be approached with a degree of flexibility.”

In the interview, Sir Paul warns that the death of Osama bin Laden has not diminished the threat to Britain from al-Qaeda. “As somebody who was here in London on the day the bombs went off, I cannot say anything other than that the world is a safer place without him,” he said, but added: “The consequences are huge. We have to be careful we don’t suddenly take our eye off the ball.”


Soviet Flags Fly in Kentucky on May Day (KENTUCKY!!)

Useful idiots. That’s what Vladmir Lenin called western sympathizers of the Soviet cause. He must have been smiling from his cave in Hell Sunday when he saw the Soviet flag – and Communist Party signs – being carried in honor of May Day.

“Union members, pro-labor groups, and even anarchists” participated, according to Fox41.

A couple of anarchists, dressed as clowns (how fitting), were arrested after they scribbled anti-capitalist slogans on downtown buildings in chalk. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, protesters “threw stones at banks and shops, and in isolated incidents police officers were targeted with bottles and fireworks,” according to published reports.

Chalk, schmalk. Is that the best these crazies can do? Put some heart into it! Make a difference for the cause. Or are they merely the type of useful idiots that bemused Lenin?

Call me a cynic, but I have a hard time seeing how the average American will sympathize with those who carry the flag of an empire that was bent on destroying the western way of life. But I suppose that’s a minor detail.

Elsewhere in the United States, AFL-CIO heavy Richard Trumka, began his remarks: “Brothers and Sisters, May Day is our day!”

He, along with other six-figure leaders of the “middle class” rallied their members against government spending reforms.

While it’s easy to laugh at these nutcases blocking the entrance of the Chow Wagon and marching under red banners, look how far they’ve come. Just a couple decades ago, they would have been accused of being traitors. Now they’re interviewed on the 6 o’clock news and have positions of real power.


Culture Challenge of the Week: When Money Trumps Motherhood

“But Mom, I don’t wanna eat breakfast at school! Why can’t I stay home and eat?” wailed Kirsten, nine-years-old. She looked plaintively at her mom and waited for her to answer.

Connie was miffed. I don’t need this, she thought. An engineer and mother of two, she had scaled back to part-time work when Kirsten was born. It was ideal---professional continuity, business networks, and limited hours so she could stay involved in her children’s busy lives.

At her most recent performance review, Connie’s boss stressed that career advancement required full-time work. If she’d bump back up to full-time, he’d give her the most demanding projects so she’d get ahead faster. Of course the time commitment would be demanding too.

It looked good to Connie. She thrived on positive feedback at work—but received almost none in motherhood. She loved diving into a project, focusing without interruption—a rare experience with kids around. Her job made her feel needed and valued. Mothering garnered no such praise from her friends and co-workers.

So Connie said yes. An extra 15 or 20 work hours every week shouldn’t matter too much to her husband and kids. They’d adjust, right?

But Kirsten didn’t – and Connie failed to look beyond the “breakfast” complaint and see the heartache of her daughter again that morning. Connie missed the point—Kirsten’s reluctance was not about breakfast, but about time, family, and relationships.

Kids need their moms—at every stage. A mother’s gift of time lays a strong foundation for healthy adulthood, built on love, security, affirmation and significance. And in a child’s first year, mom’s full-time presence is crucial.

A new international study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development sounds the alarm over mothers, like those in the U.S. and the U.K., who rush back to work—even part-time-- before their children are a year old. Compared to children of stay-at-home moms, kids of working moms had more limited vocabularies by age five and showed significant deficits in reading and math by age seven. Earlier research links a child’s time in day care with heightened aggressiveness and behavioral problems. Surprisingly, the children of better-educated moms are “even more affected,” in both achievement and behavior. Children whose mothers return to work within six months suffered the most.

The study contrasts starkly with a slanted 2010 report, which claimed children suffer no harm when mothers return to work within three months of birth. That conclusion, however, stands on shaky legs. Researchers in effect dismissed the negative effects on children’s cognitive and social development by offsetting them against the benefits of higher income, career progress for mom, and quality day-care. (As if an infant would value mom’s promotion over a stronger attachment to mom.)

Feminists and employers relentlessly pressure women to return to work too early, or, as in Connie’s case, to replace part-time work with full-time hours while their children still need time and attention.

The vast majority (62%) of working moms, however, want to be their children’s primary caregivers and would prefer part-time work to full-time employment. It’s common sense, really. The best moms are most responsive to their children. But responsiveness takes physical presence, first of all. It also takes knowledge--a function of time. Only by spending time with our children will we learn to read their cues and respond to their needs.

It’s not only young children who need their moms, however. Our older children confront a bewildering blur of social problems, from pornography, to sexualized fashions and explicit entertainment to drugs and violence. The casualties of poorly mothered children surround us.

But parents want to do right by their kids--82% of us say that family is the most important thing in our lives, bar none. If that’s true for you, Moms, then on this Mother’s Day commit to giving your children more of what they really need - YOU.


Pope gets tough on Leftist clergy

Christopher Pearson

LAST Monday the front page of The Australian featured a large photograph of an angry bishop. Some commentators in the blogosphere saw it as yet another media beat-up designed to depict the Catholic Church in an unflattering light. To my mind, it demonstrated a grasp of the battle lines in the culture wars that has eluded the rest of Australia's broadsheets.

The bishop in question was the outgoing Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris. He is one of three men who have been relieved of their dioceses by the Vatican in the past few months.

The others were the bishops of Pointe-Noire in Congo-Brazzaville and Orvieto-Todi in Italy. But while they were removed for financial mismanagement in one case and misbehaviour in the other, Morris's ouster was on doctrinal grounds.

Bishops are in some respects akin to sovereigns in their dioceses and, while it has the authority to remove them, the Holy See is usually very slow to do so, preferring discreet solutions such as early retirement.

The three forced departures in seven months have no precedent in recent years and suggest an increasing preparedness to intervene on the part of the Pope and his new prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The previous prefect, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, was an uber-liberal.

The Catholic archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, who will be retiring in 11 weeks, professed himself at a loss to understand the decision. He told the ABC: " I just wish it hadn't happened and I don't know why it happened and I would very much like to know."

Perhaps I can enlighten him. Morris issued an Advent pastoral letter in 2006 that canvassed various options to make up for the lack of priestly vocations in his diocese. Some were uncontroversial. Others, including the ordination of married or single women and recognising the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church clergy, were heretical.

He has since then maintained what he likes to call a dialogue on these non-options.

As anyone with the rudiments of a theological education would know, the Catholic Church resolved the question of women priests in 1994, with the Pope ruling that it had no power to ordain women in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1995 described that decision as unchangeably settled and "to be held definitively as belonging to the deposit of faith".

On the issue of recognising the orders of Protestant clergy, Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican orders "absolutely null and utterly void" back in 1896 in Apostolicae Curae. That decision was reaffirmed by the CDF in 1998 as an infallible pronouncement to which Catholics must give "firm and definitive assent". The Lutherans in Australia and the Uniting Church don't have bishops or anything remotely like ordination in the Apostolic Succession, so recognising their orders is, theologically speaking, inconceivable.

As a bishop, Morris was obliged to teach what the church teaches, rather than using his position to sow error and confusion among his flock. His removal must have come as an almighty shock to him and his brother bishops in Queensland because they've been getting away with flouting some of Rome's rulings with impunity since the 1970s.

Given that Morris has had five years of what he again likes to call dialogue with no less than three Vatican congregations and the Pope, with plenty of opportunities to change his tune, why has he persisted in error when he was so clearly in the wrong? There are several schools of thought.

The first argues the bishop just isn't very bright. Its spokesman, Frank Brennan SJ, says: "Bill Morris never pretended to be an academic theologian. He was and is a sensible, considerate, pastoral priest and bishop of a country diocese."

The second, aired on high-profile sites such as Rorate Caeli and Father John Zuhlsdorf's blog and local sites such as Vexilla Regis, is that Morris may have had health problems. The third view, which most agree is at least a significant element, is stubbornness. Morris is one of those liberal-authoritarians who like to assert that within their own jurisdiction they are as powerful as the Pope.

The (ultra-liberal) National Council of Priests encouraged this delusion with a press release last week. "We are concerned about an element within the Church whose restorationist ideology wants to repress freedom of expression within the Roman Catholic Church and who deny the legitimate magisterial authority of the local bishop within the Church."

However, the fact of the matter is that individual bishops have no authority to make independent decisions about questions of doctrine, but rather a collegial role with the other bishops under the leadership of the Pope.

And, again despite the NCP press release, the Pope is not merely the first among equals. According to Canon 331, "by virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power, which he is always able to exercise freely".

Morris's removal sends a clear message to bishops, in Australia and around the world. The Holy See's patience is not, as it long seemed, limitless.

As with the Orvieto-Todi case, the fact that this intervention happened in a first-world country suggests delinquents in the European and American hierarchies can take a lot less for granted than before. As well, requests from the Vatican for bishops' resignations are more likely to succeed during the rest of Pope Benedict's reign because he has just demonstrated that he's prepared to use his powers.

Morris has become a cause celebre in the US thanks to an editorial in The National Catholic Recorder. More of the same can be expected from The Tablet, the English Catholic journal and other liberal websites. No doubt some members of the Swiss and Dutch bishops' conferences will be once again canvassing the option of schism, de facto or actual.

What are the likely repercussions for the Australian Catholic Church? Morris's departure will further fortify the position of Cardinal George Pell and the more traditionally minded bishops.

The more realistic, liberal bishops are going to have to kiss goodbye to any lingering fantasies they clung to in the 90s of ordaining nuns, or at least keep them to themselves.

As well, the next two years will see an unusually high number of empty sees, as a cohort reaches the age of 75 and retirement.

Three of them are north of the Tweed and it looks increasingly likely that the Vatican will be choosing outsiders rather than locals to fill the vacancies. Mark Coleridge, now Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, will probably be translated to Brisbane.



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

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

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


6 May, 2011

Invaded by gypsies, ignored by the police. Now this British farmer is facing a £20,000 fine

They arrived on his picturesque farm three years ago in a threatening convoy of caravans and lorries. And they have remained there illegally ever since. Desperate for help, Gerald Cleave turned to police – only to be warned, with frustrating inevitability, that he could be arrested if he tried to force them out himself.

Now officials have finally taken action. But, astonishingly, that action is to tell Mr Cleave that if the travellers do not move on, it is he who will face prosecution. The 68-year-old has been informed he faced fines of up to £20,000 if the 50-strong community remains there today.

He was handed an enforcement notice by the Dartmoor National Park Authority threatening prosecution unless the camp was cleared by midnight last night.

The farmer said the brazen travellers have turned his agricultural land into an eyesore and have even arranged for their post – including insurance documents and catalogue orders – to be delivered to his farmhouse.

Yesterday he recalled how he pleaded with the group to leave the one-acre site at Middle Stidson Farm in South Brent, Devon, when they first arrived.

Mr Cleave was shocked when the National Park Authority, which is responsible for planning issues in the area, told him it had no legal powers to evict. He said police then warned him he could be arrested for assault or criminal damage if he intervened directly.

After the travellers arrived in May 2008, an application to turn the camp into a permanent site was refused. The group was served with an enforcement notice in August last year giving them nine months to leave.

But Mr Cleave was furious when a similar notice was sent to him. He said: ‘It’s ridiculous to think I could be left with a huge fine from all this. I don’t see why I should have to spend thousands getting rid of them. I’d rather go to prison than pay a penny. I have been given notice from Dartmoor National Park Authority that they must leave but they haven’t given me any help.’

He described the past three years as a ‘living hell’ and claimed his ‘hands were bound’. "I’ve owned this land my whole life. It was inherited from my father and I have had to watch as it has been turned into a mess,’ he said. ‘I’m desperate to get them out so I can get my land back and use it for agricultural land again. As it stands, there are at least 40 vehicles on the land, which is now a sprawling mess with horses and dogs running about.

‘I’m at a complete loss as to what to do. I’ve tried everything legally within my powers. ‘I could forcibly remove them but might face prosecution. I’ve asked them to leave and they won’t listen to reason, what more can I do? It’s the law of the land and the reason why this country has gone to pot.’

Dartmoor National Park Authority confirmed it had served an enforcement notice to the landowner ruling the travellers must leave. Stephen Belli, director of planning, said if the group hadn’t moved on, the authority had five options, one of which was prosecuting the owner. Others included prosecuting the occupiers or imposing a court injunction to imprison those still there.

He said: ‘I sympathise with the owner as obviously he didn’t invite them there, but that is an option available to all planning authorities throughout the country.’

The travellers had yesterday put up metal panelling and fencing around the site and posted a notice on the gate which read: ‘We live in this property. It is our home and we intend to stay here.’

They later held a huge party with loud music and drinking.
One woman said: ‘We won’t be moving. Where are we supposed to go? We have children enrolled in schools around here, and there is a lady in remission from cancer on the site. Now is not the time to move on.’


Debunking the 2-state myth

Op-ed from Israel: Counting on Palestinian state to improve our security situation is absolute madness

One of the assumed benefits of the proposed two-state solution is that the creation of a Palestinian state will finally make the Palestinians fully accountable for their actions. Thus, any acts of aggression from the new entity against Israel will be considered an attack on Israel from a sovereign country rather than from a terrorist organization.

Moreover, it is this distinction, so we are told, that will not only allow Israel to forcefully respond to any acts of Palestinian aggression but also do so with the full support and understanding of the international community.

Although such line of reasoning sounds very enticing and has even managed to win over some former skeptics, we shouldn’t buy it. In fact, a quick survey of the last 20 years seems to indicate otherwise.

At the height of the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq launched scud missiles at Israel in an attempt to draw it into the conflict. This was a classic case of a sovereign Arab country attacking Israel with powerfully destructive missiles, aimed at some of its most populous regions. Nonetheless, despite the numerous missiles that landed in Israel, due to various geopolitical considerations and behind-the-door pressure Jerusalem did not respond.

Roughly 10 years later, Israel speedily removed all of its troops from southern Lebanon. At the time we were promised that Israeli positions would be taken over by the South Lebanese Army (SLA) in order to prevent Hezbollah forces from stationing themselves within spitball range of Israel’s northern border. In addition, we were assured by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak that should Hezbollah ever commit an act of aggression against Israel our response would be very painful.

Like usual, Israel fulfilled its side of the agreement while the Arabs failed to uphold their part. As a result, rather than having the SLA parked across the border we received Hezbollah. This change of events afforded Hezbollah the opportunity to closely watch our troop movements, something they quickly cashed in on. After a mere few months of up-close surveillance, Hezbollah men dashed across the border and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers.

Israeli restraint

However, despite our hard-earned justification to retaliate to such an unprovoked act of aggression and even the prime minister's own guarantee to respond with might in such situation, in the end we did very little. Thus, the promises meant nothing and unfortunately the kidnapped soldiers were killed.

Five years after the tragic kidnappings in Lebanon, Israel removed all Jewish presence from Gaza. At the time we were told that the removal of Israeli troops from the Strip would shift the burden of accountability to the Palestinian Authority, thereby forcing it to rein in the various terrorist organizations. This, like every other promised benefit, turned out to be false as attacks against Israel only increased.

While Israel did eventually re-enter Gaza at the end of 2008 as part of Operation Cast Lead, this happened only after thousands of missiles were fired at Jewish communities close to the Gaza border. Moreover, the promised admiration of the world we supposedly were to acquire following our unilateral pullout quickly melted away, as many in the international community hypocritically condemned Israel for its actions in Gaza.

Although there were times when Israel responded forcefully to cross-border attacks, such as in the Second Lebanon War, the growing trend through the years has been for a limited Israeli response or total restraint. Moreover, rather than winning the world's approval based upon our polite and considerate behavior, this trend has been accompanied by the growth of an increasingly hostile anti-Israel environment worldwide.

This being the case, why should we believe that things will be different next time? It is far more plausible to assume that acts of aggression emanating from a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will be met with the usual limited Israeli response. Moreover, even in the rare instance where Israel responds more forcefully, it is safe to assume that the world will quickly condemn the Jewish state regardless of the circumstances.

In light of the above, how on earth can we use an unproven assumption as the basis for severely weakening our national security, something which is sure to happen if a Palestinian state is created in Judea and Samaria? Indeed, it's absolute madness.


Why Rebuffing the Legal Attack on the National Day of Prayer Matters...Especially at a Time Like This

The timing of the National Day of Prayer with the events of this week couldn’t be more appropriate if one would have planned it that way. And recent court decisions rebuffing the ability of anti-religious groups to go to court to strike down the event also couldn’t come at a better time.

First, it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation that anti-religionists had no legal standing to challenge President Bush’s speech because it contained religious references…

Then, just last month, the Supreme Court held in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, that there was no standing to claim that Arizona’s tax credits for school choice unconstitutionally establish religion simply because some of the private donations go to religious schools…

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama that the same anti-religious group from the Hein case has no standing to challenge the National Day of Prayer because the group hasn’t been harmed “one whit.”

This trend is a big deal. For years, individuals claiming the government violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (meant to keep the government out the church’s business by prohibiting the establishment of a national religion) have received a free pass into court because all they had to do is say a particular public display of religion offended them in some way.

No other area of the law is so liberal in this regard. Normally, in order to sue, one has to actually be injured. For instance, if your neighbor has a problem with city workers trespassing on his property, he can go to court, but you can’t. The court would say your neighbor has “standing” to ask the court to intervene in the matter, but you don’t. This avoids overloading the court with lawsuits filed by folks who don’t even have a real legal interest in the matter, but are merely interested observers.

For some reason, this wise legal principle has been all but ignored in the area of Establishment Clause cases. If an anti-religious group is offended by a cross at a veteran’s memorial way out in the desert, they can sue to challenge it, even if they’ve never even been out to see it.

The practical effect of this easy access to courts—and the ability to collect large attorney fee awards in the event of a win—is that government officials have purged many of the references to our religious heritage that permeate public memorials, meetings, and ceremonies. Why take the risk of having to pay attorneys to defend our historical religious roots and then pay the opposing attorneys their fees if the judge rules against the government? Besides, it’s always easier to do nothing.

Praying together as a nation truly is part of our national heritage. As Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th Circuit noted in the FFRF v. Obama opinion, “Since the founding of the Republic, Congress has requested Presidents to call on the citizens to pray. Every President except Thomas Jefferson…has complied.”

Governors in all 50 states have done the same, but they were hesitant to continue to do so after a federal district judge in Wisconsin struck down the statute establishing the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Upon hearing of the governors’ hesitancy, the Alliance Defense Fund distributed letters to them, pointing out that nothing in the judge’s decision prohibited members of the executive branch from continuing to issue prayer proclamations—and that we were confident the judge’s order would be reversed on appeal. Thankfully, Judge Easterbrook and two other judges did exactly that.

Hopefully, the 7th Circuit’s ruling is just one more case in the trend toward a more balanced view of standing in Establishment Clause cases. In every other area of law, the “psychological consequence presumably produced by observation of conduct with which one disagrees is not an ‘injury’ for the purpose of standing.” ADF will continue to make this argument in other cases across the country, in the hope that they will follow the Seventh Circuit’s lead.

Those bent on “freeing” our country of its religious heritage must be prevented from roaming the land and intimidating our government officials with the threat of litigation. If your town is being threatened by anti-religionists, you can get help by contacting ADF at www.telladf.org.


Australia has its very own brianwashed Muslims

THE ringleader of an Islamist plot to carry out an armed suicide mission at an Australian army base launched an astonishing diatribe against a Supreme Court judge yesterday.

The man, 34, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stood up in the dock, pointed at Justice Betty King, and called her a criminal.

"Why do you charge us as a criminal? Why don't you charge yourself as a criminal?" the man ranted. "You kill people for oil. You kill kids. You kill innocent people. You are criminal. We are not criminal."

Police and protective services officers surrounded the man and removed him.

When court resumed, Justice King said that though a tendered medical report had stated that the man's behaviour had moderated, his outburst did not indicate a significant change.

The prisoner, along with Saney Edow Aweys, 27, of Carlton, and Nayef El Sayed, 26, of Glenroy, was found guilty by a jury last December of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack on the Holsworthy army base in NSW.

The trio, armed with high-powered military weapons, planned to storm the lightly guarded base, jurors heard. CCTV filmed the ringleader approaching the gatehouse, which was manned by unarmed private security.

His lawyer, Patrick Tehan, QC, told yesterday's pre-sentence plea hearing the plot was amateurish, adding: "He is like Charlie Chaplin walking down (to the gate) with his little bag."

Justice King responded: "Except it's not very funny."

Mr Tehan said his client's conduct in furthering the plot was "very limited". "There're no maps, no plans, no documents found on him. No explosives. No material found in his possession of an extremist nature," he said.

Justice King accepted very little was done, but she said such plots struck terror into the hearts of Australians.

Mr Tehan said his client, born in Lebanon, was a simple man with a simple faith and a low IQ, and his religious fervour increased when he attended a mosque.

"You don't have to be intelligent to be a leader," Justice King said. "You can be charismatic and stupid and still be a leader. There are a number of them in the world."



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

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

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


5 May, 2011

Iranian MP: Bin Laden was a puppet of the Jews

Iranian officials have begun to hypothesize on the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, pronounced dead by the US early Monday morning.

Ismail Kosari, a member of the Iranian parliament's Security and Foreign Policy Commission and a close affiliate of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, postulated that bin Laden was actually operated by Israel.

"He was just a puppet controlled by the Zionist regime in order to present a violent image of Islam after the September 11 attacks," he said, adding that the al-Qaeda leader's assassination proves he had "an expiration date" forcing the US to kill him.

"Bin Laden's death reflects the passing of a temporary US pawn, and symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another in American policy in the region," Kosari said.

Another member of the commission, Javad Jahangirzadeh, accused the US of carrying out terror attacks with bin Laden's assistance. He says the administration killed the terrorist in order to prevent information about this from leaking out.

"The West has been very pleased with bin Laden's operations in recent years," Jahangirzadeh said. "Now the West was forced to kill him in order to prevent a possible leak of information he had, information more precious than gold."

He said the arch-terrorist could have endangered Western interests had he been allowed to go on living, by exposing past as well as future operations.

On Monday Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ramin Mehman-Parast officially responded to the killing, saying that now the United States and its allies have lost the legitimacy to stay in the region and fight terror.

"This event proves that there is no need for a massive war to deal with one person," he said, adding that Iran was opposed to all types of terror, "including the Zionist regime's organized terror".


Inequality increasing

Here’s an instructive graphic, produced for social affairs ministers at an OECD seminar in Paris over the last few days on rising income inequality. You don’t need the OECD to tell you that extreme social inequality is a growing scourge, and that it tends to be highest as far as advanced economies are concerned in the English speaking nations, particularly the US and the UK.

But what this chart shows is that it is growing almost everywhere, and that includes places where you least expect to find it. Countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland, which traditionally have had low inequality, are no longer spared from the trend. In fact, they’ve all had a rather bigger increase in inequality than even the UK over the past twenty years. Levels of inequality seem to be converging at a common and higher average.

We can only guess at what the figures look like for the non OECD developing nations of the world. Despite huge economic progress, already high inequality in China and India will have been growing even faster than it has in the advanced economies.

You can read the OECD’s background briefing for its inequality conference, “Growing Income Inequality in OECD Countries: What Drives It and How Can Policy Tackle It”, by clicking on the link.

Growing income inequality, though obviously undesirable from a social perspective, doesn’t necessarilly matter if everyone is getting richer together. But when most of the rewards of economic progress are going to a comparatively small number of already high income earners, which is what’s been happening in practice, there’s plainly going to be a problem.

One of the basic moral justifications for free market economics, namely that the pursuit of individual profit also provides the best mechanism for pursuit of the common good, gets undermined. In the two decades up until the start of the financial crisis, real household incomes across the great bulk of OECD nations for the top 10 per cent grew faster than for the poorest 10 per cent. In some countries, real incomes of those at the bottom have actually fallen. Income disparities have therefore widened markedly. In the US, the average income of the top 10 per cent is now 14 times the bottom 10 per cent.

The reasons for this phenomenon are well documented. It’s mainly, though not exclusively, to do with globalisation and technological progress. Growing automation in combination with now intense international competition in goods and services have usurped large numbers of traditionally quite well paid white and blue collar jobs in advanced economies.

Broadly speaking, the more skilled you are, the more likely you are to have benefited from these trends. Technological progress has shifted production in both industry and services in favour of skilled labour. The decline of trade unionism and other forms of employment deregulation has exacerbated the phenomenon.

Some countries have attempted to counter these trends through the tax and benefits system. But because these policies tend to be focused on the poorest, they’ve progressively disenfranchised the middle. The highest 10pc of earners have been leaving the middle earners behind more rapidly than the lowest earners have been drifting away from the middle. This is a deeply worrying development, for down the ages it has been demonstrated that societies need a vibrant and engaged middle class in order to prosper economically and politically.

But perhaps the most disturbing of the OECD’s findings is this: recessions turbo charge the growth in inequality. Large and persistent loss of relative income for low and middle earners gets entrenched by economic contractions. Tax rises and spending cuts associated with austerity programmes tend to affect the lowest earners most.

In their book, the Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett attribute virtually all the recognised ills of the world – from high levels of crime to teenage pregnancies, poor life expectancy, mental illness and obesity – to the problem of growing inequality. The most unequal advanced economies suffer from all these things more acutely than societies with a better distribution of wealth, the authors argue. Ergo, it’s all down to inequality.

Personally, I find this far too simplistic a way of defining the differences between societies, and also at odds with the natural human instinct of self betterment. Many people simply don’t want a more equal society. Some are always going to be more equal than others. The causal link implied by the writers between inequality and human affliction is at best arguable. But there is no quarrelling with their central thesis – excessively unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them. There’s not much point in being rich if forced to live in a dysfunctional, crime ridden and divided society. It will still be a miserable existence.

Yet the best way of attacking these problems is not, as suggested by the OECD, through the tax and benefit system, which tends to undermine the incentive to work and wealth creation, but through education and training. There is as yet lamentably little sign of either the US or the UK getting this right.


Popularity of monarchy soars in New Zealand

The popularity of the monarchy has surged in New Zealand since the royal wedding, with a big fall in the number of people expecting the country to become a republic.

A new poll by research company UMR shows 33 per cent expect New Zealand to abandon the monarchy within 20 years, compared with 52 per cent who expect the royal link to be retained. The rest were unsure.

The figures are a stunning reversal of those recorded when the same question was asked in 2005. At that time 58 per cent expected the monarchy to be ditched, with just 29 per cent believing it would be retained. The latest poll also shows 58 per cent of people support keeping the monarchy, with only 24 per cent opposed.

Under the Labour-led government of Helen Clark, who lost power in 2008, backing for the monarchy slid to around 51 per cent, while support for a republic came within a whisker of that figure in several polls.

Ms Clark, herself an avowed republican, once declared that the switch to a republic was "inevitable".

Approval of the Royal Family has also leapt since the wedding, to 74 per cent from 60 per cent in July 2002.

Prince William's popularity rose after he visited New Zealand in March to attend a memorial service for those who died in the Christchurch earthquake, and met families of the 29 miners killed in the Pike River disaster. But the royal wedding appears to have sent his personal ratings soaring, not least among the nation's young people.

New Zealanders became caught up in the enthusiasm for the wedding, with more than half of all adults saying they watched the ceremony "closely" on television, according to the UMR survey.

John Key, the Prime Minister, said the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton had "unquestionably" revived monarchist sentiment in New Zealand. "My feeling is that many New Zealanders support the retention of the royal family as the head of state. "It's not universal and never will be, but there is still an overwhelming support," he said.

Mr Key has vowed that there will be no move towards a republic "on my watch". One of the first acts of his National party government was to restore knighthoods, which had been abolished under Labour.

Simon O'Connor, chairman of Monarchy New Zealand, said the Royal Wedding had "brought attention back to why the monarchy is something we enjoy being part of".


Australian teenage mothers face welfare crackdown

This may actually do some good. Doing nothing is certainly a poor option -- JR

WELFARE dependent teenage mothers will be forced back to school in a crackdown on inter-generational poverty.

Their children will be forced to attend pre-school or receive specialised early learning services if deemed necessary to break a culture of underachievement.

The Advertiser has learnt Tuesday's Budget will contain draconian measures designed to end welfare as a lifestyle, and increase the pool of skilled workers available for employers.

It is understood Prime Minister Julia Gillard will reveal some details of the changes as early as today.

Ten local government areas selected for their high levels of welfare dependency will be used to trial the changes.

One site is likely to be in Adelaide's northern suburbs.

The radical measures follow a recent speech in which Ms Gillard nominated generation-to-generation joblessness and whole communities missing out on progress.

"The girl in Woodridge, south of Brisbane, who didn't fit in at school, now she's alone with a baby of her own, she needs more education and so will her child ... The Salisbury teenager who has drifted from education . . . I want young people to have a fair go, to have an opportunity in life, never to be held back by economic circumstance or social expectation," she said.

Teenage mothers and fathers receiving the Parenting Payment, of which there are 825 in SA and 11,000 nationwide, will be cut off unless they enter into stringent new workforce "participation requirements".

The benefit is paid at the rate of $626 a fortnight for a single; $429 if partnered; and $514 a fortnight if partnered but separated by prison, illness or the need for respite.

The trial rules will stipulate that from January 1 next year, welfare dependent teenagers with children aged six months or older, will be required to attend "compulsory" Centrelink support and engagement interviews.

That will then step up to compulsory school attendance and certificate level training once the child has reached 12 months of age.

The Government plans to defend the changes, which appear more stick than carrot, as necessary to break a self-reinforcing cycle of intergenerational poverty and social dysfunction.

It aims to address the problems created when children are raised by semi-literate parents - barely adults themselves - who start adult life behind the eight ball and never achieve full integration into the productive workforce.

It has long been recognised that teenage birth rates in socio-economically disadvantaged areas of Australia can be as much as eight times higher than normal.

Teenage parents are often under-educated, and frequently show up as having poor literacy, numeracy and confidence levels, rendering them unable and often unwilling to break into the workforce.

Government data suggests as many as eight out of every 10 have not finished school to Year 12 standard.

The figures show half of those receiving the payments had begun a life of welfare dependency with at least 12 months of Centrelink support under their belts before becoming parents.

Failure to comply with the new rules will see payments cut until compliance is achieved, although it remains unclear how a government can simply cut payments to a family which has no other economic means.

The policy is just one aspect of the Budget designed to unlock the productive capacity of the long-term unemployed, and force some on the Disability Support Pension into the job market.

The Government sees the changes combining overdue social reform with economic imperative.



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

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

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


4 May, 2011

Patriotism out! Fifth grader comes to Pennsylvania school with face paint supporting the death of bin Laden and is told to wash it off

It was a momentous occasion and a time for celebration all over the country, and one fifth grader simply wanted to show his happiness at the news America's biggest enemy was dead. But Connor Tressler's patriotic display didn't go down too well at school.

The 11-year-old from Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, painted his face with an American flag, the date of the demise of Osama bin Laden and the letters USA.

But Connor's mother got a phone call from the principal of Middle Paxton Elementary School Carol Lopez telling her that Connor would have to wash the paint off.

Jen Tressler said she didn't agree with the decision, so she decided to take her son home instead of washing off the paint. She said: 'I just painted a little American flag on one cheek, the date on his forehead. There was no way I was washing it off. They told me it was against the school’s code of conduct, that they’re not against the patriotic display, but that the paint goes against the scholastic environment.'

Central Dauphin School District spokesperson Shannon Leib explained the principal's rationale to ABC27: 'We don't allow face painting of any kind. It was disruptive. Kids were laughing at it and pointing at him. 'We did not remove him from the school. It was his mother's decision to remove him rather than have him wash his face.'

Though the dress code does not specifically exclude face paint, the code states that students 'have the right to wear such clothing or apparel as they choose, unless such clothing or apparel distracts from the educational program or constitutes a health or safety hazard'.

But Ms Tressler said she asked her son and he said that no one was laughing and in fact a lot of them thought it was great. 'I asked Conner and he said nobody was laughing. They were talking about it. Other kids in the class thought it was great. And the teacher, from what I hear, also didn't have a problem with it.'

Ms Tressler told ABC27 that there is nothing in the code of conduct that says you can't wear things on your face. She said Connor has worn other things that could be seen as disruptive, but there was nothing ever done about them.

She said: 'He had a Pittsburgh Pirates tattoo on his check and a tattoo that went all the way around his neck and that was last year and I got no phone call about that. 'And he has supported other causes, like on St Patrick's Day he wore a big green bow tie, he wears a Santa Claus hat at Christmas.'

Connor said: 'My teacher said it looks nice. But I guess I won’t paint my face anymore. They didn’t say anything about my shirt, so I’ll stick to T-shirts.'

Though he was a baby on September 11, 2001, he said he was stunned and proud when the baseball game he was watching was interrupted by President Barack Obama’s announcement. He has several friends whose parents served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and he was partially thinking about them as he planned his patriotic display. He’s happy for his country, he said.


Lord Sugar: efficiency could cost half UK civil servants their jobs

Half of Britain’s civil servants could be made redundant if Government adopted efficient private sector working practices, according to former Labour enterprise tsar Lord Sugar.

The close confidant of ex-prime minister Gordon Brown said that private companies’ use of multitasking made them much more efficient, and also suggested that a more hard-nosed approach to government procurement could save taxpayers £1billion a year.

“They employ God knows how many million civil servants, and if you spent the time that I spent in Whitehall, you do have to ask yourself sometimes what half of them are doing,” said Lord Sugar, in an interview in this week’s Radio Times. “When I compare it to my commercial organisation, we have people who multi-task, and if you applied that multi-tasking philosophy within the civil service you would cut the labour force by half.”

However he added that the strategy would result in paying large redundancy payments, and seeing many civil servants end up on benefits, so that it could be “out of the frying pan into the fire”, and that public spending could be more easily cut by improving Government purchasing.

“The Government is the biggest customer in this country. It spends God knows how many billions every year on everything from staples to nuclear missiles,” said Lord Sugar. “When you look at those in charge of procurement, with the greatest respect to them, they are not very streetwise.”

Lord Sugar suggested hiring Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, or Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks & Spencer, to make government purchasing more cost-effective. “That little team could save £1 billion a year,” said Lord Sugar. “Now, that is common business sense. Buying from the same people we are buying from now, just doing better deals. If you look at Philip Green’s Efficiency Review, he uncovered things like one department paying £73 for a box of paper that you can go into a shop and pay £8 for.”

However Lord Sugar said that he is still “a Labour boy”, and that he would not be applying for a job with the coalition.

Lord Sugar’s appointment as Labour’s enterprise tsar in 2009 caused a row with the Conservative then-shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who complained to the BBC about bias, given Lord Sugar’s role on the BBC One show The Apprentice.

Lord Sugar called Mr Hunt “an idiot” for complaining, but the furore led the BBC to postpone last year’s series of The Apprentice until after the general election. This year’s series starts next week.

In the interview, Lord Sugar also called for a renaissance of British manufacturing. “Why can’t we have a ‘Buy British’ culture here?” he said. “What annoys me tremendously is things like these contracts that are dished out for, say, wind farms. We as Britain get about 11 per cent of the business for making that stuff. We need a bit of nationalism. The French have got it built in them. It’s in their stomach.”

Of his elevation to the House of Lords, Lord Sugar said that he thinks of himself as “the people’s peer”. He added: “It needs a rough diamond like me in there to ruffle a few feathers.”


UN Workers say Holocaust Education Would 'Confuse' Palestinian children

United Nations workers in Palestinian Authority regions have expressed opposition to teaching children about the Holocaust. Earlier, UNRWA officials said they had approved the teaching of Holocaust studies in PA schools, as part of a unit on human rights.

“We emphasize our adamant opposition to confusing the thinking of our students' by means of Holocaust studies in the human rights study curriculum,” the UNRWA Workers' Union said in a statement published by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and translated by Palestinian Media Watch.

The union suggested teaching students that Israel had massacred Arabs, instead. “Emphasize study of the history of Palestine and the acts of massacre which have been carried out against Palestinians, the most recent of which was the war against Gaza,” the group said. The statement was issued shortly before Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

At the same time, PA media continues to accuse Israel of atrocities, and even to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. A report in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on April 17 accused Israel of maintaining a secret “experiments” station in its prisons that it uses to infect PA Arab inmates.

“Since the Israeli jailers attempt to imitate the German Nazis, who were the first to use prisoners as guinea pigs, for testing the weapons and the deadly drugs which they developed. The Nazi German doctor, Josef Mengele, was the most famous among them,” according to the report, which was translated by Palestinian Media Watch.

A similar report in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida two days earlier spoke of prisons “surrounded on all sides by a fence and guards who are armed with weapons from head to toe. They resemble the detention camps during the Nazi period.”

In March, it was reported that Hamas had banned UNRWA lessons on the Holocaust. However, it was later revealed that the entire story had been invented, as UNRWA had never planned to teach PA children about the Holocaust.

Last year, a small group of PA students decided to learn about the Holocaust for themselves. Led by Mujahid Sarsur, who heard of the Holocaust in conversation with an Israeli roommate in university, they toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and heard the story of the Holocaust from an Arabic-speaking guide.


The Myth Behind Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism, although theoretically a great utopian idea is proving to be a recipe doomed for failure like mixing vinegar and oil. The world can no longer tolerate the increase of violence such as suicide bombings, roadside bombs and along with injustices felt to be foreign to their cultures, imposed on us. With these uprisings there is increasing efforts and more countries around the world are beginning to say “no” to multiculturalism, including saying "no" to the veil.

Presidents, prime ministers, public servants, private citizens and others are irritated and tired of having to adapt to immigrants rather than immigrants adapting to their new countries and western culture. It’s become a “take it or leave it” situation, no longer worrying about whether we in the West are offending others, individuals, their communities or their cultures.

As psychoanalysts and observers we introduce the concept of adaptation, based on the works of the famous psychoanalyst Heinz Hartmann who claimed that the healthy baby, child or person learns to adapt to their environment, whereas the unhealthy ones insist on the environment adapting to them. Hartmann focused on how the realistic part of the psyche known as the ego has its own destiny in the ability to adapt to new environments. In applying Hartmann's concept to multiculturalism we believe it is fair to say that immigrants have a civic responsibility to adapt as long as the environment is acceptable.

Hartmann was himself an immigrant from Nazi Germany and knew of what he spoke and wrote. (We hasten to add that both of us are immigrants as well.) He was one of the first to move away from the intrapsychic world to the importance of the environment. The problem we see in accepting multiculturalism is it does not take adaptation into account. Instead for the most part, most Muslims feel it is up to their adopted country to adapt to them under the guise of being "misunderstood" with the accusation that westerners lack empathy and sympathy toward their “cause.”

Anthony Pagden, author of Worlds at War presents another issue that is the clash of civilizations where East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. This is precisely the problem for adaptation, which becomes far more complex because for over 1,000 years, the majority of Muslims have basically not had to adapt nor have they had to incorporate western ways of life, and the ones who have, have put their own lives at risk.

Even the alleged golden age of Spain and its convivencia tended toward more parallel communities living under the domination of Islam while being categorized as dhimmis, the "protected" (lege patronized) class of Christians and Jews in particular who were, by the way, basically treated at devalued females.

Let us now say a few words about multiculturalism and how under the guise of religious freedom one can act out their most destructive fantasies. Basically, multiculturalism as critiqued by social scientists and politicians shows the inability to adapt and the setting up of parallel enclaves within a larger society in a social benefits-oriented dependency.

German Chancellor Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy along with British Prime Minister David Cameron have noted the failure of this once trendy academic ideology, spear headed by the likes of the now dead Edward Said whose multiculturalism was and has been an attack on Israel in particular.

Our effort is not to trace out the origins of multiculturalism, but to look at it from a psychological point of view in order to enhance an understanding of why it is doomed to fail. From our point of view it is inextricably linked to the concept of adaptation. Submission, compliance, control and domination obviously do not mix with adaptation. These are elements engrained in a cult-like environment where the group bands together and under the rubric of saving face, support honor killings and suicide bombing as average normative behavior.

One cannot discuss multiculturalism without making reference to the veil and the symbolic covert message it conveys. Those who want to live under Sharia law in the West want to impose it. However, western women do not want the veil imposed on them or for that matter on any other woman as it represents the repression of women’s rights and the dark shadow behind creeping Sharia. One former Muslim, Al Fadi, recently expressed the irony he finds in all of this, that it is

“ . . .appalling that some Muslims always like to impose Islamic rules and traditions on others everywhere they go or live. It is frustrating to read or hear of such complaints by Muslims directed against others, when in fact Muslims tend to deny others the very same rights who live in Islamic countries under Islamic law.”

Westerners no longer see the veil as an exotic accoutrement but rather as a symbol of potential violence, hostility and vengeance but most especially the suppression of women as compliant and obedient. We believe that a significant majority of western women “get it” that these women who don the burka and any of its forms have been mentally if not physically beaten into submission though many would deny it. This is so, as we speculate, that they are highly dissociated due to being chronically terrorized and that they have formed an identification with their aggressors. Ironically, the veil has such poor fit since many western women want to shop until they drop in short skirts and low cut dresses without shame.

To conclude: the West has always embraced people of various cultures and has extensively tried to help them integrate, welcoming immigrants with open arms. Our hospitality has gone too far and it is now ego-dystonic to suddenly have immigrants take over and impose their laws and values as found in Sharia law. We must not be blinded with benevolent myopia to note how the rise of terrorism and the endless threats to the West are causing more people to see beyond the myth of this vision to a fantasy called multiculturalism. We now need to look beyond the veil to see multiculturalism for what it really is -- how it does not lead to more freedom of expression but rather it has lead to an insidious political correctness, more violence and threats of more terrorism.



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

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

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


3 May, 2011

Tescophobia: a new middle‑class malady

The chattering classes’ weird hatred of a large and successful British supermarket chain reveals the elitism of modern-day consumer activism: Reminiscent of Wal-Mart hatred in the USA

For a few years now Britain’s chattering classes have been in the grip of a peculiar malady. We might call it Tescophobia. Symptoms include an irrepressible desire to write long, boring tracts about how wicked Tesco is and a weird kind of brain rot that leads you to see perfectly normal behaviour – such as people buying nice food at low prices – as ‘evil’ and ‘thoughtless’. There is no known cure. Though I’m sure a glass of Tesco own brand ‘Scotch’ whisky could help tame this moralistic fever.

At the Easter weekend there was an outburst of a particularly bad strain of Tescophobia in Stokes Croft in Bristol. Following a heavyhanded police raid on a squat, the squatters and various anti-capitalist activists attacked both the cops and a new local Tesco store, against which they had been campaigning for months. They’ve won sympathy from sections of the media, where this ‘anti-Tesco action’ has been talked up as some kind of heroic defence of ‘community independence’ against ‘corporate entities’.

In truth, the ‘Tesco riot’ – as future generations will no doubt recall it (LOL) – exposed the naked elitism of modern-day consumer activism and the gulf, nay the chasm, that now separates middle-class radicals from everyday people.

The most striking thing about contemporary consumer activism is its disregard for the principles of democracy. I’m not into consumer politics; I don’t believe you can change the world by electing to buy Palestinian oranges but never Jewish ones, or by only drinking coffee for which the beans were crushed by the elbows of some far-flung Peruvian tribe who refuse to use pesticides and who get a fairtrade wage ($1.25 a day rather than $1).

However, if I did buy the idea that buying power equals political power, that how you shop tells us heaps about what you believe, then I’d most likely look upon Tesco as a bastion of democracy. The consumers have spoken, millions upon millions of them, and they have said in roaring chorus: ‘I love Tesco.’ They have voted with their wallets – as we are so often encouraged to do these days, by everyone from Greenpeace to anti-Israel agitators – and according to one eye-swivelling statistic £1 out of every £7 spent in Britain is now spent at a Tesco. If, as we are constantly informed by self-defined edgy commentators, consumerism is the new site for political expression and identity formation, then Tesco shoppers should surely be accorded the utmost respect; they are the majority, the most numerous of all of the consumers, and thus should rule the retail roost.

But the opposite is the case. Tesco shoppers are treated by the chattering classes with utter contempt, looked upon as trackie-wearing zombies witlessly buying lamb that has been flown thousands of miles and thus has left a honking carbon skidmark across Gaia’s face or milk squeezed from a cow cruelly strapped to a machine. Tesco is a ‘spiritual wasteland’, says one writer, with its patrons ‘slumping from place to place… listless and depressed’. A Telegraph columnist says people who shop at Tesco are those who go ‘on holiday to Spain to drink lager and eat egg and chips’. Whisper it: oiks, the working classes, probably even the underclasses since Tesco is so bloody cheap, who indulge in consumerism of the wrong, and thus eminently ignorable, kind.

Far from according any respect to the shopping habits of the Tesco masses, the influential Tescophobics do everything they can to curb these allegedly destructive habits. They campaign vociferously against the building of new Tesco stores, these garish temples to cheapness, and complain at length about the ‘Tesco-isation’ of society.

This elite anti-Tesco fury, which erupted into a shriek of violent middle-class rage at the weekend, exposes how inherently anti-democratic consumer activism is. Consumer activism implicitly empowers the comfortably-off middle classes over the less well-off working classes. Where in normal politics, everybody is ostensibly equal – one man has one vote, regardless of how rich or poor he is – in the sphere of radical consumer politics individuals who have superior spending power are inevitably more powerful than individuals with inferior spending power. In a political realm built upon consumerism, where buying organic or patronising your local butcher or only wearing expensive eco-cotton rather than Primark’s rags are all taken as signs of moral purity, how much a person has to spend determines how politically influential he can be.

So the average Tesco shopper, despite being part of the largest consumer tribe of all, can be transformed into an object of derision by the Waitrose-patronisers of the liberal smart set, because his ability to shop ‘imaginatively’, to buy expensive niche and PC products and foodstuffs, is limited in comparison to that of the well-off consumer activist. He is, in the political terms of the radical consumer lobby, inferior, unequal, the nigger of consumerism.

The distinction now made between good consumers and bad consumers – that is, between those with a lot of money and those with less – was summed up by a newspaper columnist who said that admitting to shopping in Tesco is to commit ‘social death’ in the world of London’s ‘middle-class incomers’. For those who do their food-shopping in ‘Portuguese delis and local markets’, there’s nothing more ordure than to visit a Tesco store. ‘We can all see what’s wrong with supermarkets in particular and colossal chain retailers in general’, he said. The most important word in that sentence is ‘we’ – he really means ‘us’, the well-paid media set, against ‘them’, the averagely waged Tesco hordes. Refusing to shop at Tesco is now one of the key ways that the right-thinking middle classes choose to advertise their separation from, and their superiority over, the grubby, vulgar, thoughtless lower orders.

This explains the real attraction of the politics of consumerism to modern-day, so-called radicals: it allows them to circumvent the traditional sphere of politics, where, ridiculously, every Tom, Dick and Harry has as much clout as every Will, Rollo and Cressida, and to enter a world where some people are naturally, by dint of their pay packet, superior to others. It is largely only the cash-rich and the time-rich, the leisured classes, who can make great play of their allergy to supermarkets and their slow and considered patronage of local ironmongers, organic bakers, traditionalist fishmongers, and so on – and through the politics of consumerism they can transform what is ultimately just a posh lifestyle choice into an advertisement of their moral superiority over the cash-strapped, time-pressed little people.

As I say, I don’t believe in consumer politics. But if it goes on like this, and Tescophobia continues to spread amongst the chattering classes, then buying a £2 prawn sandwich from a Tesco Metro might soon become an act of implacable rebellion against today’s radical snobs.


Bowing down to a new god: the scientist

Peter Atkins delights in telling us that humanity came from nothing and that we're returning to nothing, and he assumes anyone who doesn't share his nihilistic beliefs is an idiot

It seems that certain men of science, like their hymn-sakes the Christian soldiers, are on the march. For these faithless crusaders, science is not simply a method by which we gain understanding and mastery of the physical world. No, it has become a weapon of enlightenment, a cudgel to be wielded against the ‘ignorant’ multitudes, ‘deluded to the point of perversity’ (to quote high priest of The Science, Richard Dawkins) by religious metaphysics and philosophical myth. For these Darwin-obsessed, unblinkingly deterministic culture-warmongers, science has become more than a method. It has become a mission.

Joining Richard Dawkins at the front line in the war against People With Wrong Beliefs, whether Christian or German Idealist, is Peter Atkins, former professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford and author of On Being – A scientist’s exploration of the great questions of existence. It’s an unabashed attempt to show why the scientific method will come closer to answering the big ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions than – to sling Atkins’ mud – all the theological fantasists, political storytellers and philosophical shysters put together. And to be fair to the scientistic Atkins, he certainly knows his onions, albeit from the sub-atomic level upwards.

Starting with the beginning of it all, he looks at and speculates about the beginning of the universe, that instant of creation that thus far lies just beyond the comprehension of contemporary physicists. Having answered, at least as far he’s concerned, why there is something and not nothing – there is in fact still nothing, it’s just been rendered internally antagonistic – he quickly takes us on a red-in-tooth-and-claw tour through Darwin’s ‘dangerous idea’. Natural selection done and dusted, Atkins then offers up a sneaky peep at our individual beginnings in the human reproductive process, before indulging us with a gruesome portrait of our post-death decomposition. Atkins then ends with The End – not just of our universe, but of all universes - as the something reverts once more to nothing: ‘All life, including all the achievements, myths, and fantasies of mankind, if any survive for such a vast length of time, will be gone.’

And that, as they say, is that. This is what science can tell us about being, from beginning to end. If Atkins had just wanted to give a physical account of being, right down to the smallest atom, that might have been interesting. Yet, On Being does not want to be merely interesting; it does not want to simply say what science can (and cannot) tell us about life and death, the universe and the cosmos. It exists, rather, as a reprimand, a rebuke to all those who dare to think differently, who live their lives according to beliefs not derived from the natural sciences. On Being is infused with animus, not pedagogy. And little wonder: asserting that ‘everything is an aspect of the physical, material world’, Atkins believes that everything must be susceptible to a physical, material explanation. To think otherwise, to reckon on there being more to being than the laws of physics, is to commit heresy.

“Atkins is simply incapable of understanding any approach to ‘the great questions of existence’ not rooted in physical science”

His prose is replete with pejoratives for those exercising their freedom of conscience and not signing up to the dictates of evolutionary biology. They are the willing dupes of ‘mythmakers’ and ‘promoters of the spirit’, their beliefs, like a frog’s entrails on a dissecting board, mere ‘psychological and cultural viscera’ for Atkins to coolly analyse and dismiss as ‘nonsense’. Which he does a lot. At one point, while discussing eschatology and those poor deluded fools who cling to various theological termini - you know, redemption, that type of thing - he even plays the psychotic card: ‘The only chilling thought among all this persiflageous disputation [among millenarians] is the possibility that powerful born-agains, with their fingers close not to swords but to nuclear buttons, will conspire to bring about Armageddon and thereby, at the expense of civilisation, murderously verify their ludicrous but professedly sincerely held beliefs.’ Quite where in the Old Testament it urges people to actively destroy the world is not made clear. Not that this would matter to Atkins: his arrogance renders him oblivious to his ignorance.

His utter contempt for those, religious or otherwise, whose beliefs deviate from the scientific proofs irrefutably outlined in his Big Book of Scientific Facts, is even reflected in the form of On Being. So while discussing the replication and modification of human DNA, Atkins warns the reader that, because of the complexity of what he’s discussing, the typeface will become smaller. We, the cretinous readers, are told that we can skip these sections if we like, that is, if we accept that ‘science has achieved the near-miracle of detailed understanding’. Form speaks louder than content here. Atkins doesn’t want us to understand the science so much as consent to it. The densely-packed passages of complex explication, published in nine-point font, are the scientistic equivalent of shock and awe. Look on science’s works, ye morons, and submit.

Atkins is simply incapable of understanding, let alone tolerating, any approach to ‘the great questions of existence’ that is not rooted in the physical sciences. Like Doubting Thomas, Pathological Peter steadfastly refuses to countenance any concept, be it God or Geist, that does not have a material, physically provable existence. There is no ‘physically inaccessible kingdom of the spirit’, he spits. Yes, we may long for ‘the non-physical’, but ‘longing is not itself an adequate proof of the existence of what is longed for’, he writes, condescension inspiring his prose.

Facts are everything, for Atkins, because the only category he works with is that of ‘what is’. This is why he finds any notion of there being anything beyond what is to be anathema. Yet, ‘what is’, if he’d taken a peek outside his scientistic bunker, does not exhaust being; there is also the category of ‘what ought to be’. Atkins is right to assert that this other category, the domain not just of ethics, but of utopian imaginings, of redeemed futures, does not exist. It is not a fact. Rather it is that which humans, through their actions and conduct, strive towards. The idea, be it heaven or Charles Fourier’s phalanstery, is not existent because it is ‘not yet’ – in other words, it is to come.

Such hopes of transcending one’s current state, whether fallen or just plain old deprived, are not the preserve merely of messianic theologians or Kant-inspired idealists. They have been the source of some of humanity’s greatest achievements and have driven some of the most hard-headed political revolutionaries of recent times. Vladamir Lenin, not someone usually associated with idle idealism, quotes the nineteenth century Russian radical Dimitri Pissarev approvingly in What Is To Be Done?: ‘If a person were completely devoid of dreaming… if he were not to hasten ahead now and again to view in his imagination as a unified and completed picture the work which is only now beginning to take shape in his hands, then I find it absolutely impossible to imagine what would motivate the person to tackle and to complete extensive and strenuous pieces of work in the fields of art, science, and political life…’. Indeed. Without that leap of faith, that very human will to attempt to bend reality to some idea of how it ought to be, then one might well be prepared to leave things just the way they are.

“In On Being, humanity, in all its past and future glory, is reduced to utter insignificance”

But so bewitched are Atkins and his ilk by material laws governing everything since the formation of the universe that they completely ignore the ideas that help shape matter’s development. They’re closer to Stalin than Lenin insofar as there seems to be very little place for the subjective component in their theorising. Instead, everything proceeds with funeral certainty according to immutable, unquestionable physical laws, from the Big Bang to the slow thermo-nuclear ebb of our Sun’s entropic decline. ‘The spreading of matter and energy is the root of all change’, writes Atkins of entropy, his ‘favourite’ law: ‘Wherever it occurs, be it corrosion, corruption, growth, decay, flowering, artistic creation, exquisite creation, understanding, reproduction, cancer, fun, accident… or just simple pointless motion it is an outward manifestation of this inner spring, the purposeless spreading of matter and energy in ever greater disorder.’ On a grand, cosmic scale, Atkins replicates the determinism which Stalin’s dialectical materialism produced on the socio-historic. Our actions might appear to be the product of conscious decisions, themselves little more than neural activity, ‘but we should be aware that deep down we, like everything, are driven by purposeless decay: that is why we have to eat’.

In On Being, humanity, in all its past and future glory, is reduced to utter insignificance. Even the Big Bang that gave rise to our universe is deemed an ‘infinitesimal event on a grandly hypercosmic stage’. The effect of such rhetoric is, ironically given Atkins’ professed atheism, to encourage a deference towards something far, far greater than we could possibly imagine: ‘Although science might seem arrogant in arrogating to itself true understanding, what it discovers is often the foundation of true humility.’ We are encouraged to do little more than wonder at the pointless majesty of the cosmos, a resurrection of deference before a god, but with none of the purpose of religious belief.

Atkins’ faithless, shrunken world of energy and entropy is almost triumphant in its nihilism. ‘We shall have gone the journey of all purposeless stardust’, he concludes, ‘driven unwittingly by chaos, gloriously but aimlessly evolved into sentience, born unchoosingly into the world, unwillingly taken from it, and inescapably returned to nothing. Such is life.’ Nietzsche, so wrong when it came to many things, has it right for Atkins and his crew of scientistic New Atheists. In the absence of a will to something, there is only a will to nothing.


The Death Penalty Does Not Deter Liberals

Mike Adams

Liberals are compassionate people. That’s why they support abortion and oppose the death penalty. They figure it’s best to kill a majority of black children before they are born. If they did not, a small minority of those black children would later commit homicide. Liberals are not just compassionate people. They’re logical, too.

Because of their undying commitment to expanding abortion rights I always welcome moral advice from liberals. That’s why I was nearly moved to tears after I read a new report from Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Matthew Robinson. His “scientific” report asserts that the death penalty system in North Carolina costs millions of dollars a year and does not make our state safer.

What Professor Robinson does not report is that the abolitionist movement is the sole reason for the higher-than-expected expense and lower-than-expected deterrent value of capital punishment. The death penalty is expensive because abolitionists level costly appeals – even in cases where they know the condemned is guilty and has had a fair trial.

Put simply, the abolitionist wants to get rid of the death penalty regardless of guilt and regardless of process. And the impact of these endless appeals is predicable: It undermines the deterrent capacity of the death penalty.

If the liberal reader cannot understand why a fifteen year delay between crime and punishment undermines deterrence then just try this little two-step experiment: 1) The next time your fifteen-year old breaks a rule tell him he will be grounded when he turns thirty. 2) See if you can count to ten before he decides to recidivate.

Dr. Robinson also says that the death penalty “poses a serious risk to innocent people.” I have a similar concern with abortion. I think it might pose a pretty serious risk to innocent people. So, for me, the solution lies in the appellate process.

Here’s my plan: When a woman decides to abort, opponents of abortion should be able to file appeals on behalf of the baby. If we can just drag out the process for fifteen years or more then, who knows, we might be able to reduce the risk abortion poses to innocent people.

The learned Professor Robinson says that ''All the data point to one obvious conclusion … Our state's capital punishment system is broken, and our lawmakers should take a serious look at whether it is still serving the interests of North Carolina.'' Well, he’s right about that. We haven’t executed anyone in five years in this state. The abolitionists have certainly managed to break down the system.

Professor Robinson recently participated in a press conference with three other learned scholars - Dr. Frank Baumgartner and Dr. Seth Kotch of UNC Chapel Hill and Dr. Miriam DeLone of Fayetteville State University. They all agreed that the death penalty is both an ineffective and unfair punishment – although they said nothing at the press conference about the inherent unfairness of terminating 51% of black pregnancies in the name of “choice.”

''Among other things, this report shows us that the death penalty does not deter crime,'' said Professor Baumgartner. ''We haven't executed anyone since 2006, and the murder rate has gone down. If the death penalty isn't making us safer, why do we cling to this punishment?''

Baumgartner failed to mention that the crime rate rose every single year between 1967 and 1977 when there were no executions in America. He also failed to mention that after eighteen years of increases the crime rate finally leveled off in 1978. That was the year after the death penalty made a comeback in America.

Of course, we are all guilty of suppressing statistics when they make us feel somewhat uncomfortable. Every summer when ice cream sales increase the murder rate increases, too. But I don’t talk about it often. I really like ice cream. Did I mention that I like “social science” professors who make really complex statistical arguments?

Professor Robinson’s study asserts that decreased use of the death penalty has been followed by a decrease in murder. But that’s only half of the story. The increase in gun sales and issuance of concealed weapons permits has been followed by a decrease in murder, which has reduced the need for executions in North Carolina. But Robinson tries to keep things simple. He’s writing mostly for a liberal audience.

Robinson also asserts that innocent people are being wrongly sentenced to death. He notes that seven people have been exonerated and freed from North Carolina's death row since 1973. I’m glad he chose the year 1973 as a reference point. Since then, no wrongfully condemned person has been freed from a North Carolina abortion clinic. The criminal justice system is broken but, look, the health care system works just perfectly!

Robinson concluded a recent interview by asking, ''What do we get for all the money we spend on the death penalty?'' He humbly answered his own question saying, ''We get a punishment that is almost never used, that is mired in racial bias and that threatens the lives of innocent people. It defies logic to continue using a system like that.''

In recent years, the abortion rate has been dropping slightly – as has been the murder rate. Imagine if abortion were mired in racial bias or threatened the lives of innocent people. Then both logic and sanctimonious professors would defy its continued use.


Australia's Hobsbawm

Although he has been an unrepentant Communist for decades, German/Jewish historian Eric Hobsbawm (born "Obstbaum", meaning "fruit-tree") is much praised in Britain to this day, mostly by the British Left, of course.

Similarly in Australia, the now deceased historian Manning Clark was revered by almost the entire Australian political Left, including members of Labor party governments. Clark was not as open a Communist as Obstbaum but Ross Fitzgerald sets out below the evidence that he was in fact a fanatical Communist

After I'd left school and finished my PhD at the University of NSW in 1976, my brilliant but idiosyncratic biology teacher Norton Hobson confided that he was an ex-member of the Communist Party who worked as a part-time operative for the Victorian State Special Branch and for ASIO, supplying information about staff and students alike.

When I flew to Melbourne in late 1970, Hobson said that he had always regarded Manning Clark as a "crypto", that is, someone who kept his membership of the Communist Party and-or his strong support for the party a secret because he could be more useful that way than as an openly CPA member.

So what of the proposition that Manning Clark was a crypto-communist? On one level, because in those days the CPA was such a highly disciplined organisation, it seems unlikely the party would have wanted to recruit as a member someone such as Clark who was extremely erratic and who for most of his life had a severe drinking problem.

Yet because the historian was such a leading member of the Australian intelligentsia, it may have been the case that the CPA would have welcomed Clark's support.

This certainly applied to Clark's 1960 book Meeting Soviet Man, which detailed a trip, paid for by the Soviet Union, that he took in 1958 accompanied by the hardline Australian communist writer Judah Waten and the poet Jim Devaney.

This short book was effectively a pro-Soviet tract. At this time, Clark had already started to learn Russian. That Clark should have written such a paean for the communist state so soon after Nikita Khrushchev's so-called secret speech of March 1953 denouncing Joseph Stalin, and the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary in November 1956, would suggest Clark was, at least, an ardent fellow traveller. Also it's important to remember that, in this dreadful book, Clark described Vladimir Lenin as "Christ-like in his compassion".

Significantly, in an interview with Gerard Henderson at his home in Canberra in November 1988, Clark conceded Meeting Soviet Man was "not an aberration so much as an error of judgment in not making clear what I really had in mind". This interview is dealt with in depth in Henderson's chapter on Clark in his book Australian Answers, published in 1990. But what Clark actually had in mind in his 1960 book he never divulged. Certainly, the historian wrote unequivocally of his 1958 experiences of communist Russia that "whoever lives unmoved in Moscow must have a heart of stone". Certainly at that time, at least as expressed in the book, he had a very positive opinion about what life was like for the average person in communist Russia.

In June 1970 Clark again visited Russia at the Soviet Union's expense. Although this was a time when many dissident Russian intellectuals were still imprisoned or kept in psychiatric institutions, Clark gave a laudatory speech praising the Soviet Union and in particular Lenin, who he described as a great "teacher of humanity".

Even though he definitely did not get the Order of Lenin, Clark certainly received, on June 22, 1970, at the presidium of the Supreme Soviet, a Lenin Jubilee Medal to celebrate the centenary of Lenin's birth in 1870. Other of the many overseas recipients of the Lenin Jubilee Medal included delegates from North Korea and East Germany. That in 1970, after the brutal Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and with Leonid Brezhnev's ongoing repression of Soviet writers and intellectuals still in full sway, Clark should praise the Soviet Union without even mentioning the many victims of communist totalitarianism, is puzzling. Indeed it seems inexcusable.

And it's certainly true that back in Australia Clark was a strong supporter of the Australian-Soviet Friendship Society and a regular visitor to the Soviet embassy in Canberra.

Then there is the fact of his close and continuing friendship with his ex-academic colleague from the University of Melbourne, the well-known New Zealand-born, Oxford-educated communist Ian Milner, who undoubtedly was a spy for the Soviet Union and who defected to communist Czechoslovakia in 1950. Milner later worked for the Czech secret service spying on foreign visitors and also on students and his colleagues at Charles University in Prague.

Clark must have known that Milner was a committed communist yet he saw fit to visit Milner twice in Prague, once in 1958 straight after his trip to Russia and, again, in 1984.

Indeed five months before his death, Clark wrote to Milner: "I see us all as people who have lost their 'Great Expectations', either in any world to come, or in the here and now. [J]ust because 1917 fell into the hands of spiritual bullies, that does not mean we should give up the hope of stealing fire from heaven - or that we should bow down to 5th Avenue."

Even if Clark was not an active Communist Party operative, it seems indisputable that he was a strong supporter of the Soviets. To deny this seems as ridiculous as Gerry Adams, or his supporters, denying that Adams had once been a leading member of the IRA.

Many people, including Clark's most recent biographer Mark McKenna, argue that Manning Clark was a person who never made up his mind about the Soviet Union.

But even if this were so, what would the attitude be to an intellectual and historian who never made up his mind about Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany? Such a position would, rightly, be denounced. And would such a person be excused for sitting on the fence? Not on your nelly.



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

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

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


2 May, 2011

A joyful day... and, oh, what a rebuke to the sour-faced whiners of the British Left

For one glorious, uplifting, joyful day it was as if the everyday world had been faded out from the video screen and another picture altogether had taken its place.

Gone were the things that grind us down, terrify us, bore us rigid or turn us off altogether.

The economic crisis, war, voting reform, venal politicians and their idiotic name-calling, the endless litany of official incompetence, the vulgarity and ugliness of TV voyeurism and binge-drinking, the habitual cynicism and grey-faced indifference of the public in the face of all this: it all vanished from view.

Instead, there was quite simply an explosion of public joy at the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Britain beamed, cheered, laughed, gasped, threw its collective hat into the air and choked with emotion.

And this was not merely generous-minded delight at the happiness of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It was an eruption of feeling that some would have had us believe had vanished for ever: a profound affection and support for the monarchy — and for the Britain that it embodies.

For me, as I’m sure for many others, what brought a lump to the throat was not just the poignant spectacle of Prince William, the casualty of the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, receiving his radiant bride in the very place where as a teenager he had stood by his mother’s coffin.

It was also the roar of approval that went up from the huge crowds outside Westminster Abbey when he and his bride uttered the words ‘I will’.

It was the enormous cheer for the Queen as she stepped out of her car at the Abbey door. And it was the full-throated singing of the National Anthem by the throng that stretched down the Mall.

Some would have us believe that it is all over for the monarchy. They paint it as the anachronistic, class-ridden and discredited residue of a country that must shed its history, traditions and very identity in the interests of multiculturalism, diversity and equality.

Last Friday showed up this claim for the unpleasant piece of wish-fulfilment that it is. For the reported million or so who turned out to line the streets, and the many millions more gulping with emotion over their TV screens, were not some ideological fantasy of social engineering but the real people of Britain.

And they want what the British people have always wanted: a monarchy that reflects a collective image of themselves and of their country that they can admire.

That includes characteristics they yearn for (although maybe cannot always achieve): a happy family life, stoicism in the face of adversity, courage and selflessness, duty and sobriety, and the sense of sharing in a worthy collective national project. Only the monarchy, standing as it does above and beyond politics, can sustain this benign projection of national aspiration.

Which is why, although it embodies the particular history and traditions of these islands, it gives people from diverse cultures and faiths something uniquely valuable with which they can all connect.

In a society which appears to be creating more and more that painfully divides us, the monarchy is the one institution that actually unites the nation.

And so the crowds were roaring their approval of a ceremony, a monarchy and a nation steeped in ancient tradition.

Sure, they want to see it adapt to a changing world. They want a monarchy which at one and the same time is regal and with which they can identify. And the new Princess William gave them exactly what they craved.

Her appearance was perfectly judged: that stunning dress, demure and exquisite yet at the same time grand and traditional; her poise as to the manner born and her ordinary family background and lifestyle.

What she exuded was a regal serenity; whether the result of studied artifice or natural grace, it is the quality associated with the Queen Mother and the Queen herself.

If that calm dignity continues, she will become the ‘rock’ not merely of her husband’s life but of the monarchy itself. No wonder Prince Charles reportedly said of his new daughter-in-law that the Royal Family was lucky to have her.

But it wasn’t just the bride. Everything that day was perfectly judged. In a society now mired in the mediocre and the philistine, this was a spectacle of soaring beauty and splendour to lift even unknowing hearts.

And only Britain could do this. Only Britain has the history and tradition; only Britain can stage such a pageant, to the wonderment and admiration of the rest of the world.

So it was that people suddenly experienced an almost-forgotten emotion: being proud to be British.

Not the synthetic Britishness of serial banalities which Labour politicians periodically try to create. This was the real thing, explicitly identified with Britain’s particular history, tradition and religion.

For here was one of the most striking aspects of that day. We are repeatedly told that Britain has now left religion far behind. And similarly, traditional marriage is said to be a thing of the past.

But last Friday, people in this apparently godless nation were held spellbound by a wedding ceremony which was explicitly not just religious but Christian.

What was even more notable was the special prayer composed by the happy couple themselves. For in this they prayed for help to focus on the important things in life, to serve and to help the needy — all ‘in the spirit of Jesus’.

This was in effect an explicit dedication of themselves to a life of service to the nation on behalf of the Christian institution of the monarchy.

What a massive rebuke all this was to the Left — those sour-faced whiners and whingers who have tried so hard to destroy the nation, its traditions and the faith upon which these rest.

Surely, you might think, only someone with a heart of granite could rain on this uplifting parade?

Step forward, right on cue, the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, who is mortified that anyone might conclude from all the gaiety that Britain is not actually some benighted hell whose cowed populace is ground beneath the heels of the upper class (of which she herself happens to be such an illustrious member) and thus similarly consumed by her own hatred of the monarchy.

And so she sneers at the wedding as Britain’s ‘Marie Antoinette moment’, and complains that the picture of the nation painted by this day of celebration is merely ‘a grand illusion, the old conspiracy to misrepresent us to ourselves’.

Ah yes, the Left-wingers’ illiberal belief that no view contrary to their own can ever have any validity. At least Marie Antoinette said of the people ‘Let them eat cake’. Ms Toynbee appears to think the people are too stupid even to know what cake is.

Not for the first time, the Left has been caught flat-footed by the people whose cause it claims to represent, but whom it actually holds in such contempt.

For a day, Britain wore a huge smile on its face. Of course, this may soon fade as grinding reality resumes. But that smile has told us that the great heart of Britain — the authentic Britain, the one defined by a thousand years of history and more — still beats as strongly as ever.

Not one but two marriages were celebrated last Friday: between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and between the monarchy and the British people. Our constitutional vandals should take note. This wedding changed something in the political ether — and for the better.


Being too PC led us to shelter terrorists, says British ex-minister

A former Labour minister admitted today that political correctness had led Britain to offer shelter to violent extremists.

Kim Howells, a former Foreign Office minister, said Tony Blair's government and other administrations had been afraid to criticise the conduct of radical preachers and others because they feared being accused of racism.

He said the policy had been pursued even though there was plenty of intelligence about the "evil" intent of such extremists and that it was only reversed after the 7/7 bombings. Mr Howells also said that he had been unable to find a single imam willing to say publicly that suicide bombers would go to hell. He further criticised a reluctance in Muslim communities to condemn the "murderous actions" of terrorists.

His comments came as a leaked diplomatic cable, published today by WikiLeaks, revealed Britain had been warned years before the London bombings to stop giving asylum to "very dangerous" terrorists.

The cable, sent by a former military attaché to the Algerian embassy in Washington on July 12 2005, told US diplomats that Britain had allowed extremists to raise money for terrorist causes.

"Did the English consider the risks of allowing Londonistan to develop?" the cable states. "The British thought that sheltering terrorists was a good solution, but they did not realise that one can never align oneself with the devil, and they did precisely that for years and years."

In a BBC interview today, Mr Howells admitted that the criticism was justified.


French football 'approved quotas on number of black players’

French football chiefs have been accused of secretly approving unofficial quotas on the number of “athletic” black and Arab players in favour of “intelligent” white players in youth academies groomed for the national squad.

Senior figures within the French Football Federation, including the national coach, Laurent Blanc, backed plans for a 30 per cent limit for the number of non-white players once they reach 13 years of age, according to Mediapart, the investigative news website.

It cites sources inside the Federation as naming François Blaquart, the newly-appointed head of the Federation’s National Technical Board (DTN), as a key proponent of the alleged plan.

In February, shortly after his appointment, Mr Blaquart spoke of the necessity to “prioritise intelligence in the game with respect to the technical and, above all, athletic aspect.” Mr Blanc is reported to have approved a selection process favouring young talent sharing “our culture, our history”.

The site’s sources added that Mr Blanc cited the current world football champions Spain, reportedly saying: “The Spanish, they say 'we don’t have a problem. We have no blacks’”.

During a DTN meeting last year, Mr Blanc is quoted as suggesting that a stereotype of player, which he reportedly described as “large, strong, powerful” needed to be changed.

He is said to have told DTN board members: “And who are the large, strong, powerful? The blacks. That’s the way it is. It is a current fact. God knows that in the training centres and football academies, there are lots.”

According to Mediapart, the idea of imposing a non-white ceiling gained ground within the DTN after France’s humiliating exit from the World Cup last summer in South Africa. France was appalled when several players mutinied, insulted the coach and refused to turn up for training.

At the time many, members of the DTN are said to have blamed black players like team captain Patrice Evra or Muslim players, including Franck Ribéry, as mainly responsible for the fiasco.

Mr Blanc yesterday denied any knowledge of the alleged plan, saying “there is no plan to introduce quotas. It’s a lie to say that the France coach was involved.”

He admitted he attended a meeting with federation officials last November but that the main item on the agenda was to “define a style of play and a training program aimed at having the best results in five years.”

“Today, small players are penalised, that’s discrimination,” he said. “What upsets me most is to add ’colour’ to this. When one accuses me of this type of discrimination, that annoys me. “Diversity exists, on the street as in football.”

Mr Blanc was a defender in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning squad, hailed for its diverse ethnic mix as the “Black, Blanc, Beur” team — a play on words with the national flag meaning black, white and of North African origin.

Mr Blanc’s supporters yesterday said Mediapart had mistaken this issue for racism.

But André Merelle, a former boss of the French National Football training centre at Clairefontaine, yesterday confirmed the DTN had tried to reduce the number of players of African descent. “It was under [current Aston Villa coach] Gerard Houllier’s helm,” he said. “There was no official quota policy at the time, but a reflection about the numbers of black and Arabs. According to them, and that includes Francois Blaquart, there were too many.”

Despite Mr Blanc’s denials, the French federation said it would hold an internal investigation into the claims. Chantal Jouanno, the sports minister, said she did “not dare to believe the claims” but that sanctions, including withdrawing public funding, would be imposed should they prove accurate.


Heretical Australian Bishop gets a well-deserved boot

The usual arrogance that goes with "liberal" opinions. The man thinks his personal opinion should override centuries-old church teachings! It sounds like the Pope has been exceptionally patient in fact. The guy will find a happy home in the Church of England, however

THE Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, has been effectively sacked by Pope Benedict XVI over doctrinal disobedience for his support for ordaining women priests and other liberal reform.

Bishop Morris, 67, complained in a letter to his followers, read at weekend masses, that he was leaving unwillingly and claimed he had been denied natural justice.

He said he had taken early retirement because "it has been determined by Pope Benedict that the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop", The Australian reported.

In his letter, Bishop Morris said the Vatican's decision was sparked by complaints to Rome about an Advent letter he wrote in 2006. In that letter, he argued that with an ageing clergy the church should be open to all eventualities, including ordaining women, ordaining married men, welcoming back former priests and recognising the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church orders.

It is believed the Vatican had also recieved complaints about the material included in sex education programs in diocesan Catholic schools.

The style of Bishop Morris's departure is unprecedented in that he has made his disagreements with the Vatican so public. In previous years, bishops who fell from favour have usually resigned on the grounds of ill health, or no reason has been given for their departure.

Priests called a meeting at St Patrick's Cathedral to consider what action can be taken, including the possibility of a mass resignation of clergy. But one senior priest who has followed the bishop's controversial career said Bishop Morris had brought about his own demise because "you can't keep telling Rome to get stuffed".



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

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

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


1 May, 2011

Wonderful hymn trumps political correctness

It has long been my personal favourite. It is hard to believe that anybody with English blood in their veins would NOT respond to Blake's wonderful words and the perfectly matched setting by Parry.

The writer below is cautious about the origin of the hymn but it is in fact a hymn to a heresy of sorts: The British Israel heresy. The British Israelites believe that the British are descended from the ten "lost" tribes of Israel. British Israel sentiment was strong in the congregation of my old Presbyterian church when I was a member there in the 60s.

The theology is irrelevant to a great work of patriotic art, however. If you are not moved by the video below you have either no heart or no English blood in your veins -- JR

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land

Jerusalem, a hymn which has been banned, been an official anthem of the England football team and was once chosen by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Desert Island Discs, was hailed as one of the triumphs of today's royal wedding.

American actor Wendell Pierce, star of the Wire and Treme, tweeted in America on what a 'rousing version' had been performed at Westminster Abbey. Comedian Dara O'Briain hailed it as the wedding's 'best tune'. It was trending on twitter within minutes of the service ending. James Phelps, the actor who starred as Fred Weasley in Harry Potter, wrote: "I think 'Jerusalem' is such a great hymn, amazing & very moving."

The Prince of Wales was instrumental in helping Prince William and Kate Middleton choose the hymns for the service.

The hymn, which begins with the words "And did those feet in ancient time", was first composed by William Blake in 1804 as an introduction to one of his most famous poems Milton.

The words were later written to music in 1916 by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, an English composer.

The verses are thought to have been based on a legend that Jesus came to England as a young boy and visited the town of Glastonbury, Somerset, where he established a second Jerusalem.

Christians have subsequently interpreted the meaning of the hymn in different ways and some believe that the word "Jerusalem" could be a metaphor for heaven.

It has been suggested that the hymn refers to Jesus coming to England and creating heaven amidst the "dark satanic mills", the line at the end of the first verse, which has been interpreted as the industrial revolution.

In 1996 Gordon Brown made a memorable appearance on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in which he listed Jerusalem amongst his 10 favourite records.

In 2000 the hymn was made the official anthem of the England football team in the Euro 2000 tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands.

But it was banned from services at one of Britain's foremost churches three years ago

The verses were banned in 2008 from being sung by choirs or congregations at Southwark Cathedral because the words do not praise God and are too nationalistic, according to senior clergy.

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Rev Colin Slee, advised guests at a private memorial service that the hymn would not be sung because it was "not in the glory of God".

Jerusalem had been banned before by clergymen who do not believe Blake's poetry to be Christian.

In 2001 it was banned from the wedding of a couple in Manchester because the vicar deemed it to be too nationalistic and inappropriate to a marriage ceremony.


Have-a-go hero told he might be charged after tackling yob

British police bastardry again. The victim is always wrong

A groundsman who collared a vandal has received an apology from police after he was told he could be charged with assault by a 999 worker.

John Harvey bravely intervened after a gang of 12 yobs started vandalising a cricket club where he works in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and grabbed the main culprit.

The groundsman at Linden Park Cricket Club called police as he held the teenager telling cops he had caught the yob in the act and they should send an officer to arrest the teen.

But as the 47-year-old was desperately trying to keep hold of the teen as the other yobs - armed with sticks surrounded him - the police operator warned him he could be charged with assault.

Mr Harvey said: "I expected to be thoroughly supported by the police as a civilian and not rebuked. "I was expecting a response car immediately. I had restrained someone in the act of vandalism and she said 'I must warn you, you are leaving yourself open to an assault charge'." He added: "I told her 'You'd better be quick, there are 12 of them. I might be one of your statistics'.

"She was reading screen prompts and insisting I gave my name and address and I said 'With 12 kids in front of me?' "That sort of thing has to be put by the wayside. I could have been in the morgue by now."

Mr Harvey eventually hung up on the 999 operator and let the teen go as he was threatened by the other yobs - but put in a complaint to police about the attitude of the operator last week. And this week police apologised and said the 999 worker had been 'spoken to'.

Chief Inspector Simon Black apologised and said: "The call taker who spoke with Mr Harvey acted correctly in the advice she gave but has been advised she could have shown a little more empathy to Mr Harvey's situation."


'Indecent' lesbian kiss scenes on British TV face watershed crackdown

Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until late into the night under radical Government plans to stop children being exposed to ‘indecent’ images.

A review launched with the backing of David Cameron is expected to recommend that sexually suggestive scenes currently allowed before the 9pm watershed – such as the famous lesbian embrace on soap opera Brookside – should not be shown until later in the evening. A ban on explicit advertisements on high street billboards is also being considered.

The inquiry is being led by Mothers’ Union chief executive Reg Bailey. It was launched last year after the Prime Minister – himself the father of young children – warned that exposing youngsters to adult themes can ‘take away their innocence’.

Mr Bailey is likely to focus on a toughening-up of the watershed rules. A source close to the inquiry said: ‘It is hard to protect children in the internet and mobile-phone age but we have to do something.

‘For some parents, what has been considered acceptable in the past – such as that Brookside kiss – is not appropriate for children to see early in the evening.’

That scene in 1994 was the first-ever pre-watershed lesbian kiss. After a storm of protest from viewers, it was removed from Brookside’s weekend omnibus edition. However, Coronation Street and EastEnders have since featured similar scenes.

Sources also suggested that raunchy dance routines, such as those by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on last year’s X Factor final, could also fall foul of tougher watershed rules.

Currently, all programmes put out between 5.30am and 9pm must be suitable for children aged under 15. Sexual scenes are banned before the watershed unless there is a ‘serious educational purpose’. After 9pm, broadcasters are allowed to screen more adult themes.

Calls to beef up the laws, which were originally devised in the Sixties, are likely to be opposed by film-makers, who argue that the threshold is obsolete. And three years ago, MPs warned that the growth of TV channel websites, on which programmes can be seen at any time of day, had already made the 9pm limit unworkable.

Mr Bailey is also understood to be looking at a ban on sexually explicit advertisements in public places. The source added: ‘Some of those huge poster advertisements for bras and knickers leave precious little to the imagination and they are there for all our children to see. ‘It’s not unreasonable to want to take action against them.’

And Mr Bailey is examining a crackdown on internet pornography by enabling parents to ask web service providers to block obscene websites ‘at source’ rather than relying on parental controls.

The Department for Education, which is overseeing the review, said: ‘We look forward to receiving Reg Bailey’s recommendations.’


Must not enjoy hunting

Lou Hinger thought it sounded simple enough. Her bank had invited her to “express herself.” It was part of Capital One’s “Express Yourself” credit card campaign, whereby account holders upload a fun photo of themselves, or anything else they want, and it will appear on a personalized Capital One credit card.

Because Lou and her husband Frank of Hamburg, New Jersey, are avid hunters, she thought what better than to upload a photo of Frank, dressed in his hunting gear, posing with a beautiful buck he had taken last hunting season.

But when Capital One received the Hingers’s photo, well, apparently it wasn’t quite up to snuff. Lou received an email that said, in part:

“Sorry, we were unable to approve the image you submitted. We will not approve any images that contain the following: ‘Violence, hatred, or cruelty to humans or animals, profanity, obscenities or any type of death imagery.’”

If that sounds frightening, it was. Shocked and offended that her bank thought her, her husband and her children “violent and cruel” for participating in a time-honored and entirely lawful sport, she tried calling Capital One to get some clarification. What did that mean? What was so violent or obscene about her husband’s photo — a photo that is undoubtedly repeated in millions of homes across the country? The kind of photo that US presidents, generals and famous leaders from around the world have posed for? She got no answer.

The Hingers, like many Americans, hunt to feed their family. Especially when times are tight, thousands of Americans turn to hunting for sustenance. I should point out that thousands of homeless persons also depend on hunters for sustenance, through one of the many venison donation programs around the country.
Click here to find out more!

Despite the liberal media’s frequent portrayal of hunters, the Hingers are not vigilantes running around the woods with a shot gun for kicks, or to satiate a gnawing blood lust. They hunt lawfully and respectfully, both because it’s an American tradition and it puts meat in the freezer.

“We are livid,” Hinger told the NRA’s Hunters Rights blog, “as we are God-serving Americans who hunt to feed our family. In these economic times our family is fed by hunting, and it’s horrible to be associated with words like ‘hatred or violence.’”

When I spoke to Lou and Frank, they told me how much hunting meant to them, how serious they are about it, and how humanely they take their deer.

But for Capital One, the idea of deer hunting is apparently too violent for that company’s sensitive palate. You know Capital One, right? They have those commercials where wild-eyed vikings and barbarians run around with medieval weapons like spears and battle axes and catapults, throwing farm animals around and, well, joking about violence?

Now these commercials are obviously meant to be funny. And they are. Anyone who finds them offensive should probably stick to CSPAN and the Weather Channel, and get their sense of humor checked out.

But they are also, well, kind of violent. In one of the commercials a live human being is shot at from a catapult! In another a child sits on Santa’s lap with a battle axe! In another a horse is flung into the air!

If Capital One has issues with violence, their commercials violate their own standards. There is nothing violent about lawful hunting.

I talked to the NRA about this. J.R. Robbins is managing editor of NRAHuntersRights.org, and he was not amused by Capital One’s implication that the Hingers’ past time was somehow inappropriate.

“Number one, they just called 14.9 million law-abiding American hunters violent or cruel,” said Robbins. “Number two, there are laws against cruelty to animals and hunting doesn’t violate them. And number three, hunting is a legal activity that funds most wildlife conservation, game management and research efforts in this country.”

Robbins also took issue with the way the bank handled the situation, saying, “Capital One’s reluctance to talk to the Hingers about this incident is just bad customer service and bad business.”

I also talked to Capital One spokesperson Pam Girardo this morning. She was familiar with the incident and had this to say:

“Capital One has a broad customer base with diverse interests and we are pleased to offer our cardholders the opportunity to personalize their card. We do in fact accept hunting images and have many cardholders with such imagery on their cards. In this case, the photo was too graphic. We invite this cardholder to either submit an alternate image or crop the current image.”

Capital One told the NRA that the photo in question was not the original photo the Hingers sent in, and that the original photo “showed blood.“ Robbins concedes that ”the image on our site was cropped to eliminate a slightly distracting portion of another deer hanging in the background.”

The point is this: I don’t care if there was a gut pile in the photo. Classifying hunters as violent and cruel is unacceptable. Furthermore, I’m not sure how Capital One thinks deer are hunted. With kittens? Pillow feathers? Marshmallows?

Unless they’re bionic deer, they bleed when they are shot. That’s the reality of hunting. Incidentally, fish bleed when they are caught, too. Again, there’s nothing violent — or criminal — about hunting or fishing.

Capital One is free to set whatever decency standards they wish. That’s their right. And it should be noted that the NRA, which also offers personalized credit cards, follows a similar standard, requesting that cardholders clean up any visible blood from their photos. But the NRA would never categorize 15 million Americans as violent or cruel or criminal in the process. That is the distinction.

Capital One owes their customers a clearer set of directions when submitting a photo for personalization. And more importantly, Capital One owes their customers a less offensive response than to characterize them as “violent” or “cruel.” In my opinion, Capital One owes the Hingers an apology for that statement.


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