The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


30 November, 2011

Don't rage at the laughing burglar - save it for the clowns who let him go free

By Peter Hitchens

At last we know what thieves really think about the people whose lives they ruin. A bitterly funny and honest letter from a burglar to his victim disposes for all time of the notion that there is any point in being nice to crooks. Remember that this creature has actually been caught and is in the hands of the police. Is he trembling and afraid? Not exactly.

He explains: ‘I have been forced to write this letter... To be honest I’m not bothered or sorry about the fact that I burgled your house. Basically it was your fault.’ The victims, he argued, knew they lived in a high-crime area, so they shouldn’t have left a window open.

What is doubly funny about this is that it is almost exactly the same message given to honest citizens by our defeatist police. They, too, are always telling us that if we are robbed, it is our fault for not turning our homes into fortified bunkers. They assume that nobody has any morals or conscience any more, and also that robbers are no longer afraid of the law.

And why should they be afraid? They know the law won’t hurt them, or punish them. The courts yearn to find some excuse to let them go – because otherwise the prisons will burst.

It was while seeking an excuse to let the laughing burglar off that the police told him to write to his victim.

They let him off anyway – no prison, just an ‘electronically monitored curfew’ and 25 hours a week of so-called ‘structured activity’. The more syllables these phoney sanctions have, the less they mean. They mean ‘let off’.

Letting criminals off is what we are good at. Nearly 30,000 habitual criminals were also let off last year with cautions, after they had returned to crime.

The prisons are bursting because hundreds of thousands of people who were once afraid of the law now laugh at it. Eventually, after 15 or more crimes, the state locks them up for a few weeks in an effort to look tougher than it is. But it is just for show.

This is all quite obvious. Our Government refuses to learn from it because it is the slave of a foolish, Leftist dogma, that crime is a disease caused by hardship. It is not. It is human evil let loose, and till we return to that view, it will get worse. Like the laughing burglar, I’m not going to show any sympathy for the clowns who have got us into this mess and keep us there.

No doubt you agree with me, in which case why do you keep voting for the clowns? That’s the bit I don’t understand.

Mr Injustice Bean says that it is not a crime to swear at the police because they hear foul language too often to be offended.

On the same principle, the time will come when burglary, mugging, GBH and even murder will no longer be crimes, because we have all got used to them happening all the time. Well, when that day comes, we won’t need Mr Bean any more.


Useless British police again

They are only good for harassing inoffensive people over trivialities -- like helping put a silly man in jail for 4 years for "holocaust denial"

Police abandoned the streets to opportunistic looters during the August riots, an inquiry has concluded. By not getting a grip at the outbreak of the violence, officers allowed the impression to take hold that the streets had been surrendered to thousands of yobs. Disturbingly, the report added that unless police improve their response few rule out the prospect of riots in the future.

The official inquiry into the five days of violence – which cost the country at least £500million – concluded the shameful scenes were not motivated by ‘politics’. Instead, the rioters’ main objectives were getting their hands on ‘luxury branded goods’ which ‘confer instant status’. The report describes looters queuing up inside shops to get the best products, trying on trainers in the wreckage of stores and admitting their motivation was ‘greed’.

The panel, established by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, concluded: ‘Rioters believed they would be able to loot and damage without being challenged by the police. In the hardest-hit areas, they were correct.’

Labour MPs had claimed the shocking scenes witnessed in August, which included 5,000 crimes and five fatalities, had been sparked by Coalition cuts. But panel member Heather Rabbatts said: ‘These were not riots that were political, these were particularly characterised by opportunistic looting and very much targeted at brands.’

The panel, which interviewed those who lost their homes and businesses, said the vast majority believed the ‘sole trigger’ for disturbances was the perception that the police ‘could not contain’ the scale of rioting in the capital.

Between 13,000 and 15,000 people were 'actively involved' in rioting which swept across the country between August 6 and 10. More than 4,000 suspected rioters have been arrested with nine out of 10 already known to the police, the study said. More than 5,000 crimes were committed - and there were five deaths.

There were 1,860 incidents of arson and criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries, 141 incidents of disorder and 366 cases of violence against the person.

The final bill could be around £500 million, with up to £300 million of claims under the Riot Damages Act and £50million on policing London.

Miss Rabbatts said scenes from Tottenham, North London, in which it ‘looked as if police were backing off’, led to a ‘perception that the streets were there for the taking’.

The panel members, headed by Darra Singh, have a long history of working in the public and voluntary sector. Mr Singh has worked for homeless charities and was chief executive of two local councils. Miss Rabbatts spent time as a barrister and a BBC governor.

They were joined on the panel by Baroness Sherlock, of the Refugee Council and the National Council for One Parent Families, and Simon Marcus, who founded the Boxing Academy for teenagers at risk of gang crime.

Riots broke out in Tottenham on August 6, two days after the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan. Unrest spread to other cities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

Mr Singh said: ‘Our research has also led us to conclude that riots of this nature will happen again unless immediate action is taken.’

The Riots, Communities and Victims panel painted a devastating picture of a country in which ‘some would argue consumerism is the new religion’. It said: ‘The desire to own goods which give the owner high status (such as branded trainers and digital gadgets) was seen as an important factor behind the riots.’

Looters repeatedly targeted the same types of shops across the country, including Footlocker, JD Sports and electrical stores. The panel went on: ‘The ownership of luxury branded goods confers instant status. It is therefore perhaps not surprising these goods became the rioters’ main objectives.’

The panel, demanding much improved planning from police in future, said: ‘The police decision to withdraw to the periphery of riot-hit areas left many communities feeling they had been abandoned.’

The panel also called for insurers, who were accused of a ‘poor response’ in some cases, to do far more to pay compensation claims promptly.

It also called for an overhaul of the 1886 Riot Damages Act, which is used to claim compensation from the state.

An Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman said the riots had presented ‘considerable challenges’ to the police.


Britain's poor whites 'feel like they are last in line for council housing'

White working class people believe they are the last in line for state handouts, welfare help and council housing, a report by a respected research group said yesterday. It said that many think if they complain they will be silenced with the charge of racism.

The inquiry by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that many white people in poorer districts use ‘racialised language that would be unacceptable to many reading this report.’ But it found that such rough language is regarded as normal by the people who use it, that they regard themselves as tolerant and welcoming, and that they hate being labelled as racist.

The Rowntree report also said that, contrary to the fears of many politicians and left-wing commentators, white working class people do not turn to far-right politics or organisations like the British National Party. Instead, it said there was ‘active distaste’ for racial extremism and the far right, and people were outraged that their views were taken as indicating they supported racist parties.

The report, produced by Professor Harris Beider of Coventry University was based on interviews with residents of three working class districts and findings from focus groups drawn from people who lived there. People with lower incomes from Aston in Birmingham, Canley in Coventry, and Somers Town in North London, took part in the project.

Professor Beider said: ‘The way that people from working class white backgrounds are portrayed is often negative, which doesn’t reflect the reality of the pride most people hold in their community, nor their strong work ethic, and collective values.

‘It is important to confound negative stereotypes and understand that people in these communities feel their voices are not listened to, and that they have no stake in their community. They want to be valued, heard and connected to government.’

The inquiry comes in the wake of wide concerns over the past five years over the resentment felt in by white people in poorer parts of the country.

Former Labour minister Margaret Hodge said in 2007 that her white constituents in Barking in East London felt they had little chance of getting council or housing association homes because newly-arrived migrants were given priority in the queues.

However fears that disaffection would lead to large-scale support from the BNP or other far-right extremists in places like East London or Stoke-on-Trent were proved groundless when the BNP collapsed in the 2010 general election.

The report from Rowntree – whose chief executive Julia Unwin was an adviser to Gordon Brown during his premiership – said that the allocation of social housing should be seen to be fair. This would ‘counter widespread perceptions of queue jumping or preferential treatment for certain groups.’

Since the 1970s council and housing association homes have been awarded not on the basis of waiting lists compiled largely from the names of local people, but on the basis of a points system in which ‘need’ is important. Families who are newly-arrived in a district can often score highly in terms of points if they are jobless or can say they have inadequate housing.

The report said that terms like ‘community cohesion’, coined after the 2005 London bombings when Labour ministers decided to abandon the left-wing doctrine of multiculturalism, mean little to working class white people.

Instead equality programmes are associated with political correctness or attempts by selected groups to siphon away state money. One project in Birmingham was described by a white resident as ‘run by Asians for Asians’.

White working class people, the report said, ‘are proud of their working class identity and the values it stands for – working hard, looking after each other, pride in the community.’

The report said white working class people deeply resented being painted as political extremists. ‘The association of the white working class with the far right follows an established (and false) narrative going back to the rise of Oswald Moseley in the East End of London,’ it said.

‘Since this point, the white working-class has been labelled as hostile to race and immigration: teddy boys in the 1950s; dockers in the 1960s; skinheads in the 1970s; and the rise of the BNP since 2000.’


Fat Fascists put on their brown shirts

This is NOT a medical issue. It is a civil liberties issue. The deprivation of liberty is real whereas the medical considerations are hypothetical. Overweight people live out a lifespan little different from slim people.

An obese eight-year-old boy has been taken into custody in Cleveland after social services said his mother was failing to keep his weight at a healthy level. Authorities said the child's mother was essentially neglecting him by allowing his weight to rise to more than 14 stone (200lbs).

The intervention, which will be challenged in court, has potentially widespread ramifications for social policy in the United States, where up to a third of all under-18s are estimated to be obese.

Social workers took the boy from his school on October 19, placing him in a foster home and telling his mother she could only see him for two hours a week.

"They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don't love my child," the boy's mother told The Plain Dealer website.
"Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It's a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying."

Aside from his weight, the 8-year-old is reported to be happy and doing well in school, where he is on the academic honour roll.
His only current health problem is sleep apnea, a treatable disorder which affects breathing at night, and his weight meant he was at high risk of developing diabetes or hypertension.

"We approached this as a medical issue, this wasn't a about obesity it's about the child's health and well being," Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services, told the Daily Telegraph but said she was unable to give more detail.

The child first came to the attention of social services in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, early 2010, when he was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.

His mother was given advice on how to control his weight, including getting him a bike, and for a time he appeared to be returning towards a healthy size.

But in recent months his weight began to rise dramatically, prompting social services to step in.



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 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 November, 2011

Christian Worker Sues London Airport After Unfair Dismissal and Harassment From Islamic Fundamentalist Colleagues

A woman who used to work at London’s busy Heathrow Airport is suing her former employers claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion. The Telegraph reports Sunday on Nohad Halawi who is suing for unfair dismissal from the airport she worked at for 13 years:
“She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.”

Christian Concern reports that Halawi was fired following ” unsubstantiated complaints by five Muslims about her conduct.” Halawi had persistently complained to management over personal religious abuse and harassment from the Islamic staff, who even mocked her about “shitty Jesus.“ Halawi claims that complaints against her were made by a small group of ”extremist” Muslims, and that there is now a great fear among employees that their jobs could be at risk if the small group turns on them.

“This is supposed to be a Christian country, but the law seems to be on the side of the Muslims,” Halawi told the Telegraph.

The Telegraph notes that the case comes as Christian groups in the country have continued to complain about their treatment in comparison to Muslims:
“Her case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who say it raises important legal issues and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers.

It comes amid growing concern among some Christians that their faith is being marginalized and follows calls from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christians to be given greater legal protection in the wake of a series of cases where they have been disciplined or dismissed for practicing their faith.”

The paper points to recent examples of alleged discrimination at Heathrow, including a Jewish businessman who has complained about being repeatedly singled out by Muslim security staff for full-body scans. In addition to discrimination, Christian Concern notes that Halawi’s allegations, if true, raises questions about the influence of Islamic fundamentalism at Heathrow Airport and issues of national security.

Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, emphasized to the Telegraph that she claims to have always got along well with Muslim colleagues, but the atmosphere has changed as a growing number of employees are espousing to “fundamentalist Islam.”

In May, five of her Muslim colleagues had complained to the trading manager at World Duty Free where she sold perfumes at a commission-based pay position, that Halawi was anti-islamic. She had described a Muslim colleague as an allawhi, which means ‘man of God’ in Arabic. A heated argument broke out when another worker overheard the remark and thought she said Alawi, which was his branch of Islam. Following the complaints Halawi was suspended and then told to withdraw her security pass in July.

A petition was signed by 28 of Halawi’s colleagues, some of them Muslims, arguing that she has been dismissed on the basis of “malicious lies.” Despite this, Halawi has not been reinstated.


British firms to be freed from elf 'n' safety red tape in bid to release us from nannying state

Ministers will today unveil plans to overhaul Britain’s ‘nannying’ health and safety culture which has held business back for decades. Employment Minister Chris Grayling will announce that one million self-employed people will be exempt from health and safety red tape – drastically reducing the amount of paperwork they have to complete.

There will be stringent curbs on local authority health and safety inspectors, to make sure they do not step beyond the law in imposing burdens on business.

Between a third and a half of all regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace will be scrapped, and the law which makes employers liable for almost any accident their staff may have will be axed.

The reforms are proposed in a report by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt of King’s College, London. Current rules are estimated to cost firms hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Last night Mr Grayling said he would be using the findings to push the European Union to reduce the number of health and safety directives which affect Britain when they are reviewed in 2013.

He said: ‘I start from the principle that health and safety is about saving lives and stopping serious injury in the workplace. It is not about interfering in the running of decent businesses.

‘We want to put greater responsibility on the individual for their own conduct, rather than assuming that the employer has to nanny them in all circumstances.’

Mr Grayling said his reforms would lift the burden on the self-employed from health and safety red tape, giving them ‘substantial exemptions’ from rules if they run a business that does not put anyone at risk. At present, even a person running an online company from home has to fill in reams of paperwork, such as risk assessments.

Mr Grayling added: ‘We want to get back to the situation where health and safety isn’t seen as a laughing stock – and is seen for what it should be: an important part of the management of high-risk locations. ‘What you don’t need is silly rules that apply to charity shops, having to produce vast risk assessments. We want a balance of responsibility – if you do something stupid, you can’t just blame your employer.’

He blamed health and safety rules for putting pressure on police authorities not to let their officers take risks, for fear of prosecution. ‘The Metropolitan Police not being able to do something heroic because of health and safety rules makes no sense to me,’ he said. ‘This is about making Britain a much better place to do business in.’

A spokesman for the Institute of Directors said: ‘Health and safety regulation has gone too far. Our members tell us they feel forced into activity which doesn’t benefit them or their staff, out of fear of breaking rules that defy common sense.’


The Real Prison Industry

I've long thought the notion of a prison-industrial complex to be laughable left-wing nonsense peddled by Marxist goofballs and other passengers in the clown car of academic identity politics.

For those who don't know, the phrase "prison-industrial complex," or PIC, is a play on the military-industrial complex. The theory behind PIC is that there are powerful forces -- capitalist, racist, etc. -- pushing to lock up as many black and brown men as they can to maintain white supremacy and line the pockets of big-prison CEOs and shareholders with profits earned not just from the taxpayer but from the toil of prison-slave labor.

Self-described "abolitionists" in the anti-PIC cause seek to get rid of prisons altogether. Indeed, they want to abolish punishment itself. That goes for murderers, rapists and pedophiles.

"People who have seriously harmed another need appropriate forms of support, supervision and social and economic resources," explains the website for Critical Resistance, the leading outfit in the "abolitionist" cause. In other words, if Penn State's Jerry Sandusky is found guilty on all counts, he doesn't deserve prison; he deserves "support, supervision and social and economic resources."

Personally, I think that is just bat-guano crazy. Still, the state of our prisons has become something of a scandal. We have more prisoners today than we have soldiers, and more prison guards than Marines.

Our prisons have become boot camps for criminals. That's one reason why I'm sympathetic to Peter Moskos' idea to bring back flogging. A professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Moskos argues in his book, "In Defense of Flogging," that flogging -- aka the lash -- is more humane than prison and much, much cheaper. He suggests that perpetrators of certain crimes -- petty theft, burglary, drug dealing -- be given the option of receiving one lash instead of six months in prison.

Before you shrink from the cruelty of the proposal, ask yourself which you would prefer: six lashes or three years in jail?

Moskos' motive is to reduce the size, scope and influence of prisons while keeping them around for the people who truly must be locked up: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, etc. I might disagree with where he would set the ideal size of our prison population (I think incarceration rates have reduced crime more than he does), or how many lashes criminals should get, but he makes a compelling case, and his objective is reasonable.

But it's not an objective shared by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA). This was the outfit that essentially destroyed then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to fix the state budget.

In a state where more than two-thirds of crime is attributable to recidivism, CCPOA has spent millions of dollars lobbying against rehabilitation programs, favoring instead policies that will grow the inmate population and the ranks of prison guard unions. In 1999, it successfully killed a pilot program for alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders. In 2005, it helped kill Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce overcrowding by putting up to 20,000 inmates in a rehabilitation program. It opposes any tinkering with the "three strikes law" that might thin the prison rolls.

According to UCLA economist Lee E. Ohanian in a illuminating paper for The American, "America's Public Sector Union Dilemma," California's corrections officers have exploited their monopoly labor power to push policies that will expand the prison population and, as a result, the demand for more guards who just happen to be the best-paid corrections officers in the country. That's why, contrary to what the Marxist sages would expect, they've successfully kept privately run prisons out of the state.

Meanwhile, incarceration costs in the essentially bankrupt state are exploding. California spends $44,000 per inmate, compared with the national average of $28,000. A state prison nurse exploited overtime rules to earn $269,810 in one year.

Also contrary to left-wing expectations, these policies have been implemented not so much by the hard-hearted captains of industry and their Republican lackeys, but by a Democrat-controlled state legislature lubricated with donations from a powerful public-sector union.

The system is now up for much-needed reform thanks to a court order mandating that California fix the prison mess. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose 2010 gubernatorial campaign received more than $2 million from CCPOA, has been forced to figure something out.

Still, I suppose I owe the folks in the clown car at least a small apology. They're still nuts, but they're right about the existence of a prison-industrial complex. They were just looking in the wrong direction.


EU could ban orchestras from using cow gut for violin strings

They are lauded as some of the greatest works of European culture. But even compositions by the likes of Bach, Vivaldi and Purcell aren’t safe from the Brussels busybodies.

Performers warn it may soon be impossible to play such music as the composers intended it to be heard because of EU rules restricting the manufacture of traditional cow gut instrument strings. Brussels has got involved over fears that musicians could catch ‘mad cow disease’ from the strings.

Specialist musicians play violins and cellos with such strings to replicate the musical sounds of 1650 to 1750. However, strict controls on raw materials from cows are threatening the centuries-old technique of making their instruments.

Campaigners say that to catch mad cow disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, from strings from an infected animal, you would need to swallow several yards of them.

Carolyn Clarke, of manufacturer Bow Brand, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, said: ‘The gut is bleached and varnished in string making so it poses no risk to humans. ‘And why would anyone chew on a harp string?’

Violinist Viktoria Mullova, who has a 1750 Guadagnini violin with gut strings, said banning such strings ‘would be like telling pop stars they couldn’t use microphones’.

Among those potentially affected is the British-based European Union Baroque Orchestra. A spokesman said: ‘It would be catastrophic if gut string production ceased. We would have to close. Gut strings are essential to our music.’

The gut string craft is regulated by controls brought in a decade ago. Some makers were granted EU dispensations allowing them to continue but the rules were toughened again in 2009 and fears for the industry were sparked earlier this month when leading Italian manufacturer, Aquila Corde, was told its dispensation had ended and had not been renewed.



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 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 November, 2011

Bitch Wisconsin prosecutor

A new low in the criminalization of children

A 6-year-old Grant County boy has been accused of first-degree sexual assault after playing "doctor" with two 5-year-old friends.

Now, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the prosecutor, who attorneys said is trying to force the boy to admit guilt.

The boy's parents had planned to speak with WISC-TV on Monday to discuss the emotional toll the prosecution has taken on their son. But the prosecutor, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, on Monday morning asked a judge for a gag order in the case and was granted it. The gag order prohibits the boy's parents from talking about the case.

But the attorneys for the parents in the federal suit, which names Riniker as a defendant, can aren't included in the gag order, and they spoke with WISC-TV from Chicago.

Attorneys for the parents of the 6-year-old, who is being referred to as "D," said that Riniker has gone too far by bringing a felony sex charge against a first-grader for touching a 5-year-old girl inappropriately while playing doctor last fall.

"That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous," said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy's parents.

Cooper and attorney David Sigale filed the federal suit last week, alleging that Riniker wants D to sign a consent decree admitting some level of guilt.

"We're certainly hoping to vindicate D in the eyes of the law," Sigale said.

"He (the boy) says he didn't do it, and the little girl says he didn't do it. The little girl says he touched the back of one of her buttocks," Cooper said.

The attorneys are also asking for about $12 million in damages from Riniker and two co-defendants.

Cooper and Sigale said they are prepared to present evidence that D has been psychologically harmed by the court proceedings and is terrified of going to jail.

"She (Riniker) bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear," Cooper said.

The attorneys said they have sought the opinion of many experts who said that children "playing doctor" is not a sex crime.

"(The experts say) a 6-year-old child is unable to intellectually and emotionally associate sexual gratification with the act that D has been accused of committing," Cooper said.

In justification for the charge, Riniker is quoted in the lawsuit saying "the Legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute ... the legislature did no such thing."

The lawsuit also alleges the charges were brought because the 5-year-old is the daughter of a high-ranking official in Grant County.

Repeated calls to Riniker and an attorney for she and two co-defendants have gone unanswered since Friday, WISC-TV reported.

Riniker went to Judge Bill Dyke, who is handling the case from Iowa County, and he issued a gag order for the parents Monday morning. WISC-TV has not received a copy of the order nor a reason for its issue.


White Air Force Vet Prohibited from Registering to Vote Because of Race

Believe it or not, there is a place where the American flag flies that citizens of particular races are excluded from voting. Citizens not of the chosen race are not allowed to vote in an important election. White and Asian citizens of the United States there are even prohibited from registering to vote for the election. As implausible as it sounds, such is the law on the island of Guam, a territory where the American flag flies and the Voting Rights Act applies, along with the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Unless you are a Chamorro (a “native”), you are not allowed to register to vote for a certain election involving the future of Guam. If you are white, or Filipino, you are prohibited from participating.

Even in the Jim Crow south of 1951, some blacks successfully registered to vote after they navigated the nasty maze of character exams and shifting office hours. In Guam, for the plebiscite election, whites (or Filipinos) cannot register to vote, period.

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Guam by the Center for Individual Rights to have this racially discriminatory law declared illegal. Dave Davis, a retired Air Force Major who has lived on Guam since 1977, is the plaintiff. I am also an attorney helping to bring the case. We seek to open up the election to all U.S. citizens, regardless of race.

Many Americans don’t appreciate Guam’s important relationship to America. For starters, more than 1,700 U.S. Marines died liberating Guam from a brutal Japanese occupation in the summer of 1944. I’ve stood on Asan Beach where the Third Marines landed and clawed up sheer beachside cliffs to dislodge the suicidal Japanese firing down on them. More than 18,000 Japanese died in the battle. Guamanians have served in the U.S. armed forces since the island became a territory in 1899, and continue to give their lives for America in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guam is the tip of the spear for American power in the western Pacific, while at the same time China is challenging American dominance in the region. A nuclear submarine base is on Guam, as well as Andersen Air Force Base, the operating home of B-2 and B-52 bombers aiming west.

But organized anti-American agitators want to throw this essential military presence off Guam. They use the tactics of the European Pershing missile protesters of the early 1980s, but add a native twist — calling the United States the “colonizer” while loudly picketing outside Andersen and the Navy base. They even rely on calls by the United Nations to “decolonize” places like Guam.

Enter the racially discriminatory status plebiscite we are challenging in federal court.

The plebiscite election would decide what Guam’s relationship to the United States should be. The supporters view it as the tool to achieve “decolonization.” One choice would be to sever all ties with the United States. If that choice prevailed (though it is unlikely the federal government would peaceably acquiesce), it would antagonize relations between Guam and the United States.

The organizers have rigged the plebiscite election by prohibiting any whites or Asians from participating in the vote. Only native “Chamorros” are allowed to register and participate. Once enough Chamorros are registered to vote, the election will take place. The government promises to ratify the results of the racially discriminatory election however they can.

In an echo from a nasty bygone era, the plaintiff, Dave Davis, literally had his voter registration form rejected because he is white. Filipinos have been rejected also.

Unfortunately for the activists, the United States Constitution applies on Guam. The 15th Amendment prohibits racial discrimination in voting and the Organic Act of 1950 (the federal law which serves effectively as Guam’s constitution) incorporates the Amendment. The Voting Rights Act also applies on Guam, and strictly prohibits racial discrimination in voting.


745 youngsters are out of work in a British town, but a craftsman can't find a British apprentice there

The result of a welfare State

Skilled crafts are dying out in Britain because our failing schools are producing a generation of youngsters ill-equipped for working life. That is the view of one master cabinet-maker, who is struggling to recruit a new apprentice despite the fact there are 745 jobless young people in the small market town where he works.

Piers Hart said British teenagers had a poor work ethic, and blamed the education system for failing to prepare them for employment.

When he advertised for a young trainee three years ago, the only applicant willing to work for apprentice wages while he learnt his craft was an 18-year-old Lithuanian who spoke little English.

Now he is looking for more help – and has hit the same difficulties.

His experiences echo an influential survey, reported in The Mail on Sunday last week, which said firms were being forced to recruit foreign workers – despite one million 16 to 24-year-olds being out of work – because the British education system was not equipping teenagers with basic skills.

Mr Hart, 63, said that when he offered a job to a local youngster in Thetford, Norfolk, he lasted just one week. ‘He did not turn up on the second Monday so I rang his mother to check he had not been hurt in an accident on the way to work,’ he said. ‘She said her son had decided “he did not like it”. That’s typical of the attitude. ‘Young people rarely apply to join us, and when they do they’ve had no preparation for the job and don’t know what a day’s work is.’

Yet the Lithuanian he took on, Paulius Gelezauskas, was delighted with the job, which pays £8 an hour now he is qualified. ‘I would recommend it to anyone,’ he said. ‘We make such beautiful things. If I wasn’t here with my craft, I’d be in a chicken factory.’

Mr Hart said the job market had changed substantially in the 37 years he has been in business, with schools turning their backs on vocational training. ‘Twenty years ago I would write to the schools’ careers masters and ask for suitable candidates,’ he said. ‘They identified people and the process was well-handled.

‘We would regularly get 20 applicants for one apprenticeship. We found really good people and in fact my first apprentice came to me at 16 and is still with me – he’s 50 now.’

But now he says he gets no response from schools, adding: ‘Either they have no interest in advertising the jobs or woodworking is of no interest to young people.’

He has also given up on Jobcentres, saying: ‘They have no idea who is a realistic applicant. Jobcentres will send you someone who has once cut a piece of wood with a saw and think that will make a woodworker. ‘Or we get people who apply for jobs just to get their benefits, but have no interest in the job at all.’

Mr Hart is offering £3.50 an hour (the minimum wage for apprentices is £2.60) but said Government red tape was holding him back. His company operates on four ten-hour shifts a week, but health-and-safety laws prevent a 16-year-old from working more than eight hours a day.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg unveiled measures to try to tackle the unemployment crisis among young people, including a £1,500 incentive for small businesses taking on their first apprentices.

But Mr Hart believes the money would be better spent on vocational training, saying his recruitment efforts have been impeded by Suffolk College in Ipswich scrapping the three-year, one-day-a-week NVQ cabinet-making course, due to lack of demand. Woodworking is still on the curriculum, but it is geared towards the building trade and does not teach the craftsmanship that is needed for high- quality goods.

A spokesman for the National Apprenticeship Service said Mr Hart should advertise his position online.



Taliban paid £100 a month to stop fighting. It didn't work in the 10th century and it won't now either

Members of the Taliban who give up their fight are being paid £100 a month and will be allowed to keep their guns in a new initiative to end the insurgency.

The “reintegration” programme, which has the full support of Nato, is intended to keep them from attacking troops from the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (ISAF).

Those who have attacked and killed British forces are also effectively given an amnesty, which means they will never be put on trial.

The amnesty extends to all Taliban fighters, including those who have taken part in atrocities, such as murdering children, beheadings and hanging women.

The agreement is part of a policy signed by the British Government in which insurgents are being allowed to “walk off the battlefield” and enter a “reintegration” scheme.

Taliban joining the programme are not interrogated but instead are asked to complete a questionnaire explaining their reasons for joining the insurgency.

The strategy has been designed to encourage rank and file Taliban to stop fighting and instead return to their communities with “dignity and honour”.

More than 2,700 insurgents have been reintegrated into mainstream Afghan society since October 2010, with 800 now described as “showing interest in leaving the Taliban”. Of those, about 90 are from Helmand, where nearly 400 British troops have been killed and more than 5,000 injured.

The reintegration policy has already produced some startling results. In northern Afghanistan, about 900 former Taliban have left the insurgency and violence has decreased by 30 per cent.

But it is not without risk. Maj Gen David Hook, the director of the Joint Force Integration Cell in Kabul, admitted in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that the programme would be difficult for many British families to accept but insisted that reintegration was vital if peace was to be achieved.

The British general, who previously served as a commander in southern Afghanistan, said he saw some horrendous examples of Taliban brutality, which he said he would have “personally found difficult to forgive”.

The general confirmed that even if the insurgent who murdered five members of the Grenadier Guards battlegroup at a check point in Nad e’Ali in November 2009 entered the scheme, he would not be prosecuted. “This is an Afghan process which the international community signed up to,” said Maj Gen Hook.

“My role is to support the Afghans in that process. This idea of forgiveness has been agreed by the international donors and the UK has given £6.5  million and helped design the programme to deliver peace at the local level.

“We accepted large numbers of IRA back into our own society because we wanted peace in Northern Ireland and I don’t see it any different in Afghanistan.”

Taliban who want to leave the insurgency enter a three-month training programme of “de-indoctrination” where they are taught the values of good citizenship and must vow to severe all links with al-Qaeda, take no further part in violence and uphold the laws of Afghanistan.

Islamic scholars also provide lessons explaining that the true path of Islam is non-violent. During this period volunteers are paid a stipend of about £100 a month. “We’ve had more than 2,700 Taliban come across and only five have returned to the insurgency,” said Maj Gen Hook.

He said many of those who joined the Taliban had simply had enough of fighting and wanted to return to their families. “General John Allen [the American commander of the ISAF] talks about three natural ways of leaving the Taliban – killed, captured or reintegrated,” he said.

“The prospect of death is a great motivating force. The insurgents are feeling the pinch after a very effective summer of fighting by Nato. The insurgents know that if they continue fighting they will be killed.”

The money — there is a total of £98 million — is handed out by the Afghans who run the scheme, which is under the supervision of Maj Gen Hook.

Those who complete the process are offered a period of vocational training and efforts are made to establish whether they will be welcomed back by their communities.

Maj Gen Hook said: “It’s not a case of, 'Come in and we’ll give you £100 a month.’ Some of these negotiations take weeks while people try to resolve the grievances that are keeping them in the insurgency. Once their grievance has been addressed it’s another powerful reason why they won’t become recidivistic.”

He said it was important to distinguish between draining the Taliban of its numbers and surrendering to them. “This programme is about an individual coming back and seeking forgiveness from his community and the community willing to accept them back,” he said.

“It is not surrender. That forgiveness provides a strong bond between the individual and the community, which is perhaps better than some of the previous attempts [to get men to leave the Taliban] where people have been paid to stop fighting but return to the fight once the money has gone.”

The idea is based on a concept of “afwra”, part of the code that governs behaviour among Pashtuns, the ethnic group from which the Taliban tends to be drawn. “Afwra is about forgiveness, so both sides have to forgive for it to work and when that forgiveness is given by both sides they lock into each other, which makes it less likely to break down,” he said.

Contact is made with the Taliban by Afghan “outreach” teams venturing into rural areas and trying to establish the reasons why young men are joining the insurgency.

Research had shown that many join the insurgency because of a grievance that is not addressed by central government. Some Afghan men turn to the Taliban for help. In Helmand, for example, the governor of the province believes that the insurgency could be reduced by 25 per cent if disputes over land rights could be resolved. Maj Gen Hook said: “If you address the grievance then those young men don’t want to fight because there is no reason to fight.”

Despite the relative success of the programme, he admitted that the number of Taliban leaving the insurgency had not been as high as expected. “There was an expectation that the programme was going to be more successful than it has been and that it is one of the challenges we face,” he said.

“It was designed by people whose experience was Iraq, which from a tribal aspect was far simpler and there was a degree of optimism at the start of the programme but the tribal dynamics in Afghanistan are such that the programme was never going to be the silver bullet that perhaps people thought. “I see it as a slow process which will eventually reach a tipping point.”

However, critics of the scheme have warned that too few of those defecting are actual insurgents, and that it is failing to undermine the rebels in their southern heartlands.

Hanif Atmar, a former interior minister, said last week: “Of around 30,000 insurgents, only eight per cent have reconciled so far — and 99 per cent of them are not from the south.

“Frankly speaking, it does not work. The eight per cent that are reconciled, most of them are not genuine insurgents, particularly not from the regions that matter.”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 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 November, 2011

British Father Christmases told children can no longer sit on their knee

Don’t blame Father Christmas if he doesn’t allow your child to sit on his knee at a school event — teachers may have banned him from coming into contact with youngsters. While those playing Father Christmas are no longer required to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check, many schools have decided to “err on the side of caution” and impose rules on grotto behaviour.

Parents who have offered to don the red suit have been told they must not allow youngsters to sit on their laps and cannot be left alone with them.

Because CRB checks are required only for volunteers who have regular contact with children, Father Christmases are exempt. However, government guidance states: “Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure … be left unsupervised with children.”

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this meant many of its members had decided it was better if Father Christmases avoided all physical contact with children.

“The climate we work in, and the risks of getting it wrong, mean many school leaders err on the side of caution,” he said. “And if you are going to 'err’ I think that’s the side most parents would prefer.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were “completely comfortable” with the situation. “Santas in schools should be treated in the same way that other visitors to the school are managed. Our guidance recommends that for such visitors a member of staff is present,” added the spokesman.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, added: “It would be a great shame if misinterpretation of regulations deterred schools from traditional festive celebrations.”


Thousands of serial offenders handed just a caution in Britain

Almost 30,000 serial offenders escaped with a caution when they went back to crime last year, figures show. Some 4,600 of them were career criminals with at least 15 previous offences to their name. They were given an effective slap on the wrist even though their new offence was so serious it could have been dealt with in a crown court. And thousands more who were taken to court were handed fines, community penalties or conditional discharges.

The trends last night fuelled concern that little is being done to combat the most serious and persistent offenders and a revolving door in the criminal justice system.

It will increase pressure on Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, over his planned sentencing reforms, which will see tens of thousands fewer criminals go to jail.

In May this year, it was revealed that serious repeat offenders stand the lowest chance in a decade of being jailed. And it emerged in the wake of the summer riots that half of those involved were, on average, responsible for 15 previous offences, but had never been jailed.

Dee Edwards, of the R and K Foundation, a crime victims' group, said: “The revolving door is clearly going faster. “It saddens me that some many crime victim groups have set up over the years and it feels like we are banging our heads against a wall. “The people with the power are still not giving out the sentences that they should.

“In my view the first time you commit a crime you should go to jail just to see what it is like. But for someone who has committed 15 or more offences to then be given a caution the next time, they are just laughing at us.”

In the year to June 2001, some 101,774 adult offenders received a caution for a so-called indictable offence, effectively crimes that are usually dealt with in the crown court.

Of those, some 27,682 had at least three previous offences on their record and 4,600 had fifteen or more, according to the Ministry of Justice figures. That was a rise on the 4,400 the previous year. Related figures showed 28 per cent of offenders fined by the courts had at least 15 previous offences, up from 16 per cent a decade ago.

One in five were given a community order, up from 12 per cent in 2001, and 29 per cent received a conditional discharge, compared with 14 per cent ten years ago.

Separate figures from May showed only a third of all such career criminals received a jail term after committing a new offence. That was the lowest custody rate since such figures began being recorded in 2000.

Mr Clarke has been criticised by traditional Tories over proposed sentencing reforms that will see fewer criminals sent to prison and more handed penalties such as community orders and fines.

Figures released in September found hundreds of the August rioters were serial offenders who had been handed community penalties, fines or cautions for their previous crimes, leaving them free to join in the disturbances last month. One in 20 had more than 50 previous offences to their name.

Nick Herbert, Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: “Out-of-court disposals have an important part to play in the criminal justice system. “They allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level, often first-time offending which does not merit prosecution at court, freeing them up to spend more time on front line duties and tackling serious crime. “They can also provide reparation and a prompt resolution for victims.”


We Are Atheism’ Initiative Tries to Mimic Gay Rights Campaign to Get Non-Believers to ‘Come Out’

If they stopped attacking Christian observances and mocking religion they would have no problem. I am an atheist but always treat Christian observances and beliefs with respect and I have never had a moment's difficulty because of being an atheist

Modeled after the well-known “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative geared towards gays and lesbians, three non-believing University of Kansas college students have launched “We Are Atheism.”

The campaign hopes to encourage those who don’t have a belief in a higher power to “come out” and be open about their views. Amanda Brown, 25, who is one of the project’s co-founders, says that it’s time for atheists to “stand up, speak out and be counted.”

“It is time for us to put up our videos and change the face of atheism. We want people to see we are normal people who have children and lives and do good in the community,” she explains. ”The whole point of the website is to let younger atheists know you will face persecution. But through us knowing each other we can all help.”

Brown, her husband and a friend started the campaign after hearing Jessica Ahlquist speak. Ahlquist is a teen atheist who was bullied after rejecting a school prayer banner that has been on display in her high school.

Essentially, Brown’s effort serves two overall purposes: The first, as mentioned, is to encourage closeted atheists and to change the way that the general public views non-believers. Thus, the project is essentially a PR effort to change the perceptions that believers have about atheists.

To accomplish these goals, videos and personal essays from atheists are published on the “We Are Atheism” web site, where daily traffic has been known to climb into the thousands. Prominent names in the anti-faith movement have even produced their own videos for the cause. Take, for instance, David Silverman from American Atheists. His profile on the site reads:
I’ve been an atheist since I was a small child, and I’ve never been closeted. I asked many questions, starting as early as 6 years old, but the answers were always hollow and nonsensical, even from my religion instructors. After a short time, I realized that my Jewish education was a waste of my time, and of my parents’ money.

According to Brown, atheists of all ages have reached out to say that the site has helped them feel less isolated. Some have even claimed that it has encouraged them to “come out” to loved ones.

Brown, who as Religion News Service highlights, had experience founding a gay-straight club in her school, has modeled “We Are Atheism” on the gay community’s “It Gets Better” campaign — an effort intended to stem bullying. While the latter inspires closeted gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual individuals, the former is intended to inspire those who fail to believe in the Almighty.

The idea here is that by exposing people to non-believers, biases and prejudices against them will dissipate. The students behind the initiative have already scored the support of The Richard Dawkins Foundation, one of the premiere groups promoting atheism.


Nurse Says He Was Fired Over Treating Muslim Women

A male registered nurse and Vietnam war Army medic has sued the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, saying he was fired for disobeying a Muslim supervisor's order not to treat women wearing conservative Islamic dress.

John Benitez Jr. filed a sex discrimination suit Wednesday in Detroit U.S. District Court after getting the go-ahead from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a "right to sue" letter Oct. 19.

The Associated Press left phone and email messages during the Thanksgiving holiday seeking comment from Dearborn officials. The Detroit News said a Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.

In a complaint filed on his behalf, his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said Benitez joined Dearborn's Health Department in September 2010. The 63-year-old Madison Heights resident has a three-decade nursing career. Dearborn has a large Muslim community and one of the largest Arab immigrant communities in the U.S.

Soon after starting work, Gordon said a Muslim supervisor told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself.

The complaint said Benitez complied until Nov. 17, 2010, when a doctor saw what he was doing and questioned him "about the cumbersome and unusual practice of taking women wearing a head scarf to the nursing supervisor for care," rather than going ahead and treating them.

The complaint said Benitez then began complying with the new instruction that he treat women wearing hijab.

On Dec. 1, 2010, Gordon said Benitez was fired. She said he was told it was "not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic's conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."



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 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 November, 2011

Hate crime charges filed in Amish beard cutting

Seven members of a breakaway Amish group in eastern Ohio were arrested on federal hate crime charges for allegedly shaving the beards and cutting the hair of individuals who refused to support their leader, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.

One of the seven men is Samuel Mullet Sr., the leader of the breakaway sect and a man that local law enforcement and other Amish in the area consider a cult leader.

Mullet ruled the group with an iron fist, in some cases "forcing members to sleep for days at a time in a chicken coop" and beating those "who appear to disobey" him, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mullet had been "counseling" married women in his sect, "taking them into his home so that he may cleanse them of the devil with acts of sexual intimacy," the sworn statement from an FBI agent said.

Law enforcement officials believe he was behind the various beard and hair cutting attacks of the past few months. The men charged are said to have carried out "a series of assaults against fellow Amish individuals with whom they were having a religiously based dispute," according to the Justice Department.

The Amish who were attacked are believed to be former members of Mullet's group who left over various disagreements. Mullet wanted to "seek revenge and punish the departing families," the federal documents said.

"In doing so, the defendants forcibly restrained multiple Amish men and cut off their beards and head hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, causing bodily injury to these men while also injuring others who attempted to stop the attacks," the Justice Department said. "In the Amish religion, a man's beard and head hair are sacred."

Several of the men have confessed their involvement to local investigators, according to a sworn statement by an FBI agent that was attached to the complaint filed in Cleveland.

The seven men were arrested as part of a raid on Mullet's 800-acre compound that went down "without incident" early Wednesday morning, according to Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Ohio.

A combination of "about 40" officials from various agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Jefferson County and Holmes County sheriffs, were involved in the raid, Tobin said.

The defendants appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon. A magistrate ordered them held until a detention hearing, Tobin said. No date has been set for the hearing.

Samuel Mullet's sect is made up primarily of his relatives living on and around the compound in a remote valley outside Bergholz, Ohio, officials say.

The alleged religiously motivated physical assaults were a violation of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Justice Department said Wednesday. If convicted, each man could face up to life in prison, it said.

Five of the men were arrested last month on charges of kidnapping and burglary stemming from an incident at the home of Myron and Arlene Miller in early October in which a group of men pulled Myron Miller out of the home by his beard, held him down, and cut off large portions of the beard.

The incident at the Millers' home was one of a handful of incidents in several counties in which as many as 30 men and women carried out similar attacks, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla said.

When CNN asked the senior Mullet last month if he was behind the beard incident, he responded by asking rhetorically, "Beard cutting is a crime, is it?" He then denied the allegations that he was running a cult.

Asked about what was, at the time, the start of a federal investigation, Mullet said, "We're not guilty, so we have nothing to hide. If they want to come and check us out, we'd be glad to see them here."


New food bill in New Zealand takes away human right to grow food

In order to protect seed companies

I was shocked to learn from a friend on the weekend that a new Food Bill is being brought in here in New Zealand. The new bill will make it a privilege and not a right to grow food.

I find two aspects of this bill alarming. The first is the scope and impact the new bill has, and secondly that it has all happened so quietly. There has been VERY little media coverage, on a bill which promises to jeopardise the future food security of the country.

I read that the bill is being brought in because of the WTO, which of course has the US FDA behind it, and of course that is influenced by big business (Monsanto and other players). It looks like this NZ food bill will pave the way to reduce the plant diversity and small owner operations in New Zealand, for example by way of controlling the legality of seed saving and trading/barter/giving away; all will be potentially illegal. The best website to read about the problems with the new bill is http://nzfoodsecurity.org (I have no connection with this website)

Here are some snippets:

- It turns a human right (to grow food and share it) into a government-authorised privilege that can be summarily revoked.

- It makes it illegal to distribute “food” without authorisation, and it defines “food” in such a way that it includes nutrients, seeds, natural medicines, essential minerals and drinks (including water).

- By controlling seeds, the bill takes the power to grow food away from the public and puts it in the hands of seed companies. That power may be abused.

- Growing food for distribution must be authorised, even for “cottage industries”, and such authorisation can be denied.

- Under the Food Bill, Police acting as Food Safety Officers can raid premises without a warrant, using all equipment they deem necessary – including guns (Clause 265 – 1).

- Members of the private sector can also be Food Safety Officers, as at Clause 243. So Monsanto employees can raid premises – including marae – backed up by armed police.

- The Bill gives Food Safety Officers immunity from criminal and civil prosecution.

- The Government has created this bill to keep in line with its World Trade Organisation obligations under an international scheme called Codex Alimentarius (“Food Book”). So it has to pass this bill in one form or another.

- The bill would undermine the efforts of many people to become more self-sufficient within their local communities.

- Seed banks and seed-sharing networks could be shut down if they could not obtain authorisation. Loss of seed variety would make it more difficult to grow one’s own food.

- Home-grown food and some or all seed could not be bartered on a scale or frequency necessary to feed people in communities where commercially available food has become unaffordable or unavailable (for example due to economic collapse).

- Restrictions on the trade of food and seed would quickly lead to the permanent loss of heirloom strains, as well as a general lowering of plant diversity in agriculture.

- Organic producers of heirloom foods could lose market share to big-money agribusiness outfits, leading to an increase in the consumption of nutrient-poor and GE foods.


I will end the sicknote culture that acts as 'conveyor belt to a life on benefits', says British PM

A sicknote culture in the workplace is acting as a ‘conveyor belt to a life on benefits’, David Cameron warns today. At least one in five of those who are absent on long-term sick leave should either never have been signed off in the first place or could go back to work, the Government believes.

The Prime Minister, speaking to the Daily Mail, said he would press ahead with recommendations from an expert report to strip family doctors of the power to sign people off work long-term.

Businesses are being hit with a £9billion bill every year thanks to the 300,000 people who are slipping out of work and on to sick pay and then welfare handouts, he said.

Mr Cameron revealed he had asked ministers to draw up plans for an independent service which would assess workers’ fitness ‘more quickly and efficiently’.

An expert report for Downing Street suggested more than three-quarters of GPs admitted they had signed people off sick for reasons other than their physical health.

It also found that public sector workers are almost twice as likely to go off sick as those in the private sector. While privately employed workers take an average four days off sick each year, those in the public sector take seven, with council workers taking nine.

Mr Cameron said that attempting to steer Britain through the economic ‘storm’ raging across Europe meant not just helping people get jobs, but ensuring that those in work stay in it too.

‘Part of that means getting a proper grip of sickness absence in this country,’ the Prime Minister said.

‘Every year more than 300,000 people fall out of work and on to health-related benefits. Many… fall ill, get signed off by their GP, their fitness isn’t checked again; and before they know it they’re on a conveyer belt to a life on benefits.

‘Of course some of these people genuinely can’t work, and we must support them. That’s only fair. But it’s also fair that those who can return to work should be supported to do so. We need to end the something for nothing culture.’

The Prime Minister said it was clear that the ‘whole system is a mess’ and ‘incredibly frustrating’ for everyone involved. ‘It’s frustrating for business, as it costs them £9billion a year, and it’s frustrating for GPs too, many of whom resent being asked to sign the sicknotes,’ he said. ‘They want to focus on making people better, not spend their time policing the benefit system.’

Mr Cameron said he was alarmed by evidence of the scale of the problem from a report by Dame Carol Black, a world-leading expert on health at work, and David Frost, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

‘While 90 per cent of sickness cases are short-term – that stomach bug or flu that we all suffer from occasionally – nearly half of all days lost to sickness absence are because of cases that last four weeks or more,’ he said.

He also expressed concern at the spiralling number of sickness claims from those with ‘manageable conditions like stress or backache where a life on benefits is not an inevitability and where early intervention can really make a difference in preventing needless job loss’.

Mr Cameron backed the idea of passing responsibility for signing workers off sick long-term from GPs to a new, independent service.

‘The independent service would be free to all employers from four weeks of sickness absence, with the option for employers to pay for it earlier,’ he said. ‘It would provide an in-depth assessment of an individual’s physical and mental function. So if they’re unable to work, they’ll be helped – but if they are fit, they’ll be identified and supported back into the workplace.

‘This doesn’t just mean better advice for employees and employers in making the adjustments necessary for a faster return to work. It’s also potentially a vital step in getting to grips with sickness fraud.

‘So, for example, in cases where a foreign worker comes here to get a job and then goes back home to be signed off sick and is never seen again – the employer could simply reject the foreign sicknote and refer the employee to the independent assessment. If the employee refuses to attend the assessment, he or she will get no sick pay and ultimately could be fired.’

Mr Cameron said he had asked welfare reform minister Lord Freud and employment minister Edward Davey to draw up a ‘robust and effective’ new system ‘as soon as possible’. ‘We can’t shy away from this problem. We have to end the sicknote culture in this country, and that is what we will do,’ he said.

The Prime Minister’s proposal is likely to prove highly controversial, with critics claiming it is a way of forcing sick people back to work. It is also likely to alarm some Lib Dem MPs who believe the Government’s welfare reforms are moving too quickly.

A similar independent scheme for assessing people on Employment and Support Allowance – the new name for incapacity benefit – has provoked a storm of protest from disability groups.

The report from Dame Carol and Mr Frost suggested that ‘more generous’ sick pay on offer in the public sector was likely to be a factor in high sickness rates, as was the high level of trade union activity.

Civil servants, it said, took an average 8.2 days off sick last year. But while those at the Treasury took just 3.2 days, those at the Northern Ireland Office took 12.1 days.

The highest rates were found among ambulance staff and healthcare assistants who took almost 14 days a year off sick on average. By contrast, nurses and midwives took 2.3.

The study found that overall, sickness costs the economy £15billion a year, with 140million working days lost. Of those who move on to health-related state benefits, two-thirds are men over 50.


Portrait of Waterloo hero that has hung in a court for generations 'must be removed as he approved torture as colonial governor'

As one of the Duke of Wellington’s most skilful generals, he fought on the frontline of some of the bloodiest Napoleonic wars and was the highest ranking officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that, to celebrate Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton’s military heroism, a large portrait of the Welshman hangs inside the court house in Carmarthen, South Wales.

But today it emerged that a row has broken out about the painting, which lawyers claim is offensive and should not be displayed behind the judge’s chair in Carmarthen Crown Court.

They say Sir Thomas’s reputation as a cruel and brutal colonial governor – he was military governor of Trinidad at the turn of the 19th century, where he was accused of torturing a young slave girl - mean his image should not be associated with modern equality and justice.

However, Carmarthenshire Museum, who own the 8ft x 4ft portrait, disagree and say it was specifically commissioned for the court house, where it has lived for the past 182 years, and should stay.

Criminal lawyer Kate Williams, who is among those calling for the painting to be taken down, said: 'I appreciate the painting for historical purposes and that he (Picton) was a figure of note.

'But I find it very offensive that someone who was not only a known slaver, but also allegedly tortured a slave, should have his picture in a place where the values of justice are served.

'It’s fair to say he has a murky past and it is inappropriate to have his picture in a modern court of law, where we are supposed to represent the principles of equality and justice for all.

'I think people might misread the prominence of the picture as saying he has done something worthwhile to contribute towards justice, which really isn't the case.'

Sir Thomas, who was born in Poyston, Pembrokeshire, in 1758, was appointed military governor of Trinidad following the British victory in 1797 where he oversaw the production of sugar by slaves on the island’s plantations. But he operated a brutally authoritarian regime which lead to accusations of slave torture, false imprisonment and execution.

In 1806 he was called back to Britain and faced trial in London over claims he authorised the torture of a 13-year-old girl, Louisa Calderon, who was accused of robbery, by forcing her to stand on a sharpened wooden peg while suspended from the ceiling.

This form of torture was dubbed 'Pictoning' at the trial and, although he was found guilty, Sir Thomas later overturned his conviction on appeal and went on to resume his military career.

His greatest successes came in Spain, where he was instrumental in the Battle of Vitoria, helping Wellington eventually claim victory in the Peninsular War.

Sir Thomas was killed after being was shot through the temple by a musket ball at the Battle of Waterloo, where, Welsh folklore contends, he fought in his top hat and tails because his uniform had not arrived at the frontline in time.

His military reputation was so high after his death that several colonial frontier towns in Canada, Australia and New Zealand were named after him and he remains the only Welshman to be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

His statue is among 12 'Heroes of Wales', in Cardiff’s City Hall, a comprehensive school in Pembrokeshire is named after him and there is also another monument to him in Carmarthen.

The portrait, by Sir Martin Archer Shee, was presented to the former Carmarthen Borough Council on September 2 1829. It was placed in the town’s Guildhall – which is now used as a court – and has been hanging in the same spot ever since.

Ann Dorset, a spokeswoman for the museum, said that although Sir Thomas was a 'cruel and brutal' governor of Trinidad, he was a 'a man of his time' and should not be judged by today’s standards.

'Picton was a very well respected general but on the other hand he was regarded as a rough and tough man and a great disciplinarian. 'He was a great leader of men and these wars were tough. 'It was hand to hand fighting and they were not like the battles of today. He would have been right in the middle of it. 'I think we have to accept Picton warts and all and not judge him by today's standards.'

Richard Goodridge, former mayor of Carmarthen, said removing the painting would be churlish. He said: 'Louisa Calderon suffered no ill effects from the treatment she received and required no medical attention afterwards. 'After she was released from custody she walked more than a mile to the store where the crime took place, smoking a cigar.

'In February 1810 the court ordered Picton's recognisance and no further action ever took place. He was, and remains to this day, innocent of all the charges.

'Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton, despite what history may think of his unconventional ways, was an extremely popular officer and was killed in action at the battle of Waterloo in 1815 — the most senior officer to die for his country.'



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or 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 November, 2011

British Liberal leader accuses banks of discriminating against their black customers

Must not mention the possibility that blacks are less economically competent or that recent arrivals may not have significant savings or a savings record

Nick Clegg will today accuse banks of discriminating against black and other ethnic minority customers.

In an explosive attack, the Deputy Prime Minister will point to evidence suggesting that firms owned by black people are four times more likely than those owned by whites to be turned down for loans.

Even if they they can get credit, black African, black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani-owned firms have also been subject to higher interest rates than white and Indian-run enterprises, he will say.

Mr Clegg will make the claim in a wide-ranging speech on race equality, in which he will also highlight evidence of discrimination in the criminal justice system and sport. There are no black managers in the Premier League and just two in the top four divisions, though a quarter of players are black, he will say.

And there are 400 more young black British men in prison than young black students at the elite Russell Group of universities.

But it is his suggestion of discrimination by High Street banks that will prove most controversial.

Aides insisted, however, that he was not accusing them of institutional racism, and admitted current evidence was limited and that the reasons for ethnic minority customers having less access to credit were likely to be complex.

Mr Clegg will announce that he is asking race equalities minister Andrew Stunell to examine the ‘barriers preventing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans’, working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Government’s ethnic minority advisory group.

Giving the annual Scarman Lecture in Brixton, South London, the scene of race riots in 1981, Mr Clegg will attack Labour’s approach to race equality as ‘too narrow’. He will say: ‘They attempted to deliver equality solely through the state. The state has been used to hide the sins of the market – and the veil is now being lifted.’

Mr Clegg will say that no matter how many new laws are put on the statute book, or how much pressure is exerted on companies, what happens at home has a ‘huge influence’ on how children do.

He will say: ‘In any family, black, white, rich, poor, we need parents and relatives to support their children, helping with homework, keeping them in school.’

Mr Clegg, who will admit that he leads a party that is ‘still too male and too pale’, will say that among current business leaders, there are some ‘hugely important’ ethnic minority figures – but not enough.

‘Why is it that members of some of our ethnic communities want to start their own businesses, but their success doesn’t match their ambitions?’ he will ask. We know, for example, that 35 per cent of individuals from black African origin say they want to start a business, but only 6 per cent actually do.

‘Past evidence shows that firms owned by individuals of black African origin have been four times more likely than so-called “white firms” to be denied loans outright. And that Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black Caribbean and black African-owned businesses have been subject to higher interest rates than White and Indian-owned enterprises.

‘The reasons will be complicated: a mix of poorer education among ethnic minority groups, perhaps a lack of the right guidance, a lack of their own capital to invest. There may be an element of self-exclusion too.

‘But if we are serious about turning the UK into an island of entrepreneurs, we need to get to the bottom of this. Are our banks doing enough?

‘Britain’s banks, bailed out by the British people, have just as much responsibility as everyone else, arguably more responsibility, to help Britain build a strong and dynamic economy. Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is their duty too.’

The research highlighted by Mr Clegg was published in the International Small Business Journal, and involved more than 3,000 British firms.

Lesley McLeod, of the British Bankers’ Association, said: ‘UK banks wish to support all our customers. We take racism very seriously and many already have diversity and inclusion policies, with trained staff in place to help. Bank mentors are already working with the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance.’


Nasty British bureaucracy again

Council workers have left a family distraught after stripping a war hero's grave bare in a row over who owns the plot. Widow Judy Collins, 72, found decorations had been removed when she turned up to pay her respects. In place of her late husband Harry's memorial was a mound of mud, she claimed. Judy, who has visited the grave every week for the last 23 years, even found the cross bearing his name had been taken away.

The council said it removed the items because its records showed the grave was ‘unpurchased'. They say they put up notices in the area saying graves at the cemetery not owned by relatives would be cleared away.

But the family of Mr Collins - who served as an army mechanic in the Second World War - insist they were never informed. And they claim his plot was paid for by the Co-operative Funeral Directors when he was buried at the cemetery on May 25, 1988.

Daughter June Collins said her mother was on one of her weekly visits to the grave when she found the items were 'bagged up' in council sacks and left in a shed. June said: 'We have been looking after the grave and putting flowers on it every week without fail for 23 years. 'My mum has been left very distressed by this. A wooden cross made by my sister Linda’s partner has been ruined.'

Miss Collins said the family met council officials and claim they were told there is no record of the grave plot being paid for. She said the authority told the family that notifications were placed on 'unpaid' graves and letters sent to families.

June, from Portsmouth, Hants, added: 'We haven’t received anything from the council and there wasn’t a notice on my dad’s grave. It could have blown off. 'The council said they have no record of mum owning the grave and have it listed as ‘common’, which means they can bury someone else on it.'

The council confirmed the plot is one of 2,756 listed as 'unpurchased' at Warblington Cemetery, near Havant, Hants, and said decorations recently started appearing on it.

A spokeswoman for Havant Borough Council said: 'Prior to removing these items, we attached a sign to the area asking for those who had been visiting to make contact with us. 'After the time had lapsed for the visitors to make contact, the decorations were carefully removed and stored in a safe place.'

Graham Lymn, head of operations for The Southern Co-operative End of Life Services, said it has offered to pay half of the cost for purchasing the plot. He said: 'We, nor the council, have been able to find records going back to 1988. It’s difficult to say what may have happened nearly 25 years ago.'


Celtic fans: You’re not singing anymore

In what country was a 17-year-old recently arrested for singing an outlawed song? Iran? China? No, it was the UK.

Imagine the scene. A dawn raid. A vanload of police officers batter down a front door. A 17-year-old boy is dragged from his home and driven away. He is charged with a crime and appears in court. His lawyers apply for bail, but the court decides his crime is too serious for that. So he is taken to a prison cell and remanded in custody.

What was his crime? Terrorism? Rape? No, this 17-year-old was imprisoned for singing a song. Where did this take place? Iran? China? Saudi Arabia? No – it was in Glasgow, Scotland, where the 17-year-old had sung songs that are now deemed by the authorities to be criminal. The youth was charged with carrying out a ‘religiously aggravated’ breach of the peace and evading arrest.

Why haven’t you heard about this case? Why aren’t civil liberties groups tweeting like mad about this affront to freedom? Because the young man in question is a football fan. Even worse, he’s a fan of one of the ‘Old Firm’ teams (Celtic and Rangers), which are renowned for their historic rivalry, and the songs he sang were football ditties that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Draconian new laws are being pushed through the Scottish parliament to imprison fans for up to five years for singing sectarian or offensive songs at football games, or for posting offensive comments on the internet, and this 17-year-old fell foul of these proposed laws.

This is far from an isolated case. This young man is merely the latest victim of a new policy of intimidation directed at Celtic and Rangers supporters. Even before the new laws have officially been passed, there have been numerous arrests at or after football matches. Only last month, as I reported on spiked, Stephen Birrell, a Rangers fan, was jailed for eight months for expressing his hatred of Celtic fans on his Facebook page. In Scotland, sadly, what people say and write is now sufficient criteria for imprisoning them, as the centuries-old distinction between words and action is abolished.

In the absence of any criticism from civil liberties groups, it has fallen to fans themselves to take a stand against the proposed new laws. Despite being portrayed as ill-educated sectarian bigots, many Celtic fans have shown themselves to be intelligent and articulate defenders of free speech. A group called Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation has taken to the airwaves to argue against censorship and managed to mobilise 2,000 people for a public rally against the news laws in central Glasgow.

Even before the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Act has been passed, the singing of songs has become a key target of heavy-handed policing. The Scottish police have persuaded UEFA to announce an investigation into ‘illicit chanting’ by Celtic fans at a home game against French side Rennes. Likewise, Rangers Football Club was recently fined £35,000 and their fans banned from their next European game for singing sectarian songs during a match against PSV Eindhoven. Not to be outdone, the Scottish Premier League has launched an official investigation into the singing of offensive songs by Celtic fans at a Hibs game that took place several weeks ago. Things have now reached such ludicrous levels that last Sunday’s Scottish newspaper reports on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic game devoted more column inches to the songs sung by Celtic fans than to the teams’ performance on the pitch.

Why is something that has always been part of the Old Firm tradition – that is, the singing of Irish republican songs by Celtic fans and anti-IRA, loyalist songs by Rangers fans – suddenly been declared a massive problem? Of course, Irish rebel songs are not to everyone’s taste, but the irony is that - as memories of the Irish conflict fade - fewer fans tend to sing them anyway. Contrary to media reports, IRA songs are no longer a massive part of Celtic fans’ repertoire.

Nonetheless, to the extent that these songs, which clash against loyalist songs amongst Rangers fans, are still sung, they have been an accepted part of Old Firm games for decades. The idea that they are offending vast swathes of rival fans is a myth that is fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as more and more public figures line up to prove their anti-sectarian credentials by denouncing ‘hateful songs’. The Celtic game against Rennes that is now subject to a UEFA enquiry was actually a peaceful, good-natured match, at which some fans sang Irish rebel songs to no doubt bewildered French football fans. It is hard to imagine how that 17-year-old arrested for allegedly singing IRA songs, which he is said to have done at this Celtic/Rennes match, was breaching the peace of anyone.

The criminalisation and demonisation of Old Firm football fans by the massed ranks of the Scottish government, police and media is a serious problem. Far from reducing ‘sectarian conflict’ in Scottish football, the new censorious laws and the accompanying police campaign have led to a dramatic increase in tensions, with fans now encouraged to spy on each other, to take offence at every comment, and to report rival fans to the police.

In a very vicious cycle, the more rival fans are coaxed and cajoled into reporting offensive incidents, then the more arrests there are, and the more the authorities can cite such increases in arrests as a justification for tough new laws and sanctions. It is an open secret that over the past six months, police have been trawling Celtic Park for the remotest hint of a republican song being sung, so that they can arrest, prosecute and convict the person singing it in order to construct a PR image of mass religious hate crimes being committed. It is no coincidence that new and seemingly shocking arrest figures were released to the media in the week before a Scottish parliament vote on the proposed new laws.

The 17-year-old was finally released from prison after a successful campaign by Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation. But it is time that others, especially those who claim to support free speech, added their voices to the opposition to these tyrannical new laws. If we sit back and allow people to be imprisoned for saying (or singing) things that the state does not like, then we won’t be able to complain when the state decides to come after us.


But would you let someone shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre?

by Sean Gabb

This is the question that every advocate of free speech has at some time been asked. It may be one of the most tired clichés of political debate. It may indeed seem one of the most tiresome. But its continued popularity, and the air of finality with which it is unfailingly produced, do indicate that it expresses a very common belief - that the free expression of ideas may result in harm to others, and should therefore be restricted. And for this reason it merits at least a brief answer. Would I, then, let someone shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre? Or, to dive the question a more personal form, would I consider myself free so to shout? I can think of two replies.

First, we consider the matter purely on its own facts - which, though not entirely satisfying, does provide a technically sufficient answer. Every time that I go into a theatre or other similar place of entertainment, I enter into a contract with the management. I am to be entertained in a certain manner. In turn, I am to pay an entrance fee and abide by the rules of the house. To say that I do not specifically promise anything, nor ever see a copy of these house rules, is no proper argument. Assent to them is so obvious and reasonable a requirement of me that, for any legal purposes, it may be taken for granted on my buying a ticket and going in and I need only ask to be shown a copy of them. One of the rules will almost certainly be that I do not cause or participate in any disturbance within the theatre liable to endanger life, property or the enjoyment of other patrons. In that no one compels my attendance there, my consent, though tacit, is purely voluntary. To be sure, I have a right to speak my mind, but not to do so in breach of my freely given word. I therefore have no right to shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre.

The second reply is the genuine one. Suppose that, for whatever reason, I conceive a strong belief that the theatre I am in is on fire Perhaps I have the most sensitive nose in the audience, and I can smell burning. Or the position of my seat gives me a unique view of the spreading flames. Or my vast experience of other theatres indicates a fire by the nature of the draught playing around my feet. Grant this, and then tell me what I am to do. Certainly, to scream “Fire” and run for the nearest exit will be to start a panic which might result in injuries or deaths. But does this mean that I should sit still, patiently waiting my own death? Or should I bet up with every appearance of calm, and alone or with a few chosen friends walk out, leaving everyone else to burn?

Of course, I do no such thing. In the first instance, I make my fears plain to the management, which must, I presume, have some plan in readiness for dealing with this kind of emergency, or at least enough sense to be able to put one together at short notice. But suppose again that I have reason to believe that the management will refuse to hear me, and may throw me out - or even knock me on the head and hide me somewhere. Quite obviously, I must then use my discretion. I must communicate my fears to the rest of the audience while causing the least possible panic. This might involve walking from aisle to aisle, clearing each one at a time. Or I might force my way onto the stage and call for an orderly evacuation. But, if the progress of the fire is so advanced as to leave no time for orderly evacuations, I may well do best simply to shout “Fire” and hope that fewer people will be crushed in the panic than burned in the fire.

These are the two replies to the question. There are, however, two further points to discuss. Firstly, it must be said that, being such an extreme instance, the question hardly ever provides a fair analogy with what happens in the normal run of controversy. In the theatre, a man hears a shouted alarm. He sees others getting up and running for the exit. He may see neither the truth nor extent of the stated danger. He has no time to investigate. He is given strongly to believe that he must act at once or possibly die. If, in a crowd, he tramples someone else to death, his is not the moral responsibility that belongs to whoever has raised the alarm, and this is who will deserve punishment should the alarm have been a false one.

In the world at large, things are commonly very different. There is almost never any comparable emergency requiring instant and unthinking action. An idea is conceived and then stated, with supporting reasons given. There is no shortage of time for it to be considered, and replies to it framed or examined. Whoever acts on it immediately, and thereby attacks life or property, must, on any liberal view of human nature, be treated as entirely responsible for his actions, and not as the blind tool of someone else’s passion. The nearest case comparable to the theatre panic is that of a mob led by a demagogue. There are, of course, circumstances in which he will be liable to punishment along with those whom he may have incited to lawlessness. But, unless we are indeed to treat people as no more than irresponsible tools - in which case, why wish them free to direct their own lives or, by their votes, those of others? - This does not make out any general case for the suppression of the written word or of the temperately spoken word.

Secondly, it may be said that the question is nearly always asked by those wanting to suppress pornography or the ideas of the fascist right. The former, if at all, leads to individual assaults, hardly ever to bloodshed on a large scale. The latter, strictly defined, mean virtually nothing in the Anglo-Saxon world, and never have done. Yet if ever ideas have caused harm to others, there are those of Karl Marx. How many lives have been snuffed out this century in the name of the proletarian struggle is a number beyond my reckoning. Sixty million? A hundred million? Who knows? One thing, however, I do know. From that class of intellectuals who most often ask the above question I have never once heard it suggested that Das Kapital might be a fit subject for banning.



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 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 November, 2011

British job law shake-up to curb "unfair dismissal" tribunals: We'll free firms from red tape, vows minister

Emergency measures to kick-start Britain’s faltering economic recovery by reining in a £1billion-a-year employment tribunal bonanza will be unveiled today.

After a row in the Coalition over how far to go in slashing business red tape, Vince Cable will pledge to cut the number of tribunal claims hitting firms by at least a quarter.

The Business Secretary will also say ministers will make it easier for firms to sack large numbers of workers in one go and allow bosses to read the riot act to under-performing staff without fear of being sued.

The moves will be hailed as the biggest reform of employment law for decades and have infuriated the trades unions.

Yet last night ministers were still arguing over proposals to go even further by removing the right to claim unfair dismissal from certain employees.

Tory sources said they were still fighting for small firms taking on new staff to be protected from unfair dismissal claims.

Under plans drawn up for the Prime Minister’s strategy guru Steve Hilton, but fiercely resisted by the Liberal Democrats, firms would be able to dismiss staff at will as long as they are paid a fixed sum in compensation based on length of employment.

‘We’ll get there in the end, even if only for small companies,’ said one source.

The Coalition argues that unfair dismissal and compensation claims are increasingly exploited by disgruntled staff and their lawyers, adding more burdens to business. Ministers say it is essential to cut red tape as the private sector is asked to drag Britain out of the economic mire.

Today’s reforms, the Government says, will benefit employers to the tune of £40million.

Mr Cable will confirm that the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims will rise from one to two years from next April.

That will wind the law back to 1999, before which workers had to be employed for two years or more before they could pursue unfair dismissal cases.

All claims will have to go through a process of conciliation before they end up in a tribunal, while the Government will also consult on allowing ‘protected conversations’ in the workplace. These will allow either a boss or a member of staff to speak their mind without fear of it being used against them in court or at a tribunal later on, letting managers point out where employees are falling short without being hit with a constructive dismissal claim.

The plans would also help employees who wish to complain about a boss but fear disciplinary action would be taken against them if they speak out.

Mr Cable will also announce an overhaul of collective redundancy rules. He says the consultation period required in law when a firm wants to sack 100 or more staff – currently 90 days – should be reduced to as little as 30 days.

Business leaders welcomed the plans, having called for action to curb the number of employment tribunal claims.

Last year, there were a record 218,000 claims, up 44 per cent since 2008. The industrial courts grant an estimated £1billion a year in payouts to those who claim they have been wrongly dismissed or suffered discrimination.

Katja Hall of the CBI said: ‘We particularly welcome the changes to tribunals, including a rapid resolution scheme, which will allow faster justice for legitimate disputes.’

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Reducing protection for people at work will not save or create a single job.’


That’s enough anti-racist blather about Blatter

The obnoxious FIFA (soccer) president had a point for once – and the real targets of the moral backlash are the masses who watch and play football

When the presenter on the Talksport radio phone-in (the fount of all football wisdom) declared that ‘NO-ONE IN BRITAIN’ could defend what FIFA president Sepp Blatter had done, it was clear that something Evil must be afoot. When the media storm became a political one, and the figurehead of world football was denounced not only by the prime minister of the United Kingdom, but also by his secretary of state for culture, media and sport and even by the children’s minister, followed by the Labour leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, it was obvious we must be facing a crisis of national and international importance that could affect the next generation.

What crime against sport, humanity and the children could the old fool Blatter have committed to provoke such an outcry? Had he karate-kicked David Beckham? Turned up at the FIFA fancy dress ball in a Nazi uniform? Or perhaps called an African football official a ‘f***ing black c**t’?

Not quite. What Blatter did was give an interview to CNN, in which he was asked about the extent of racism in football today – a question, incidentally, prompted by the allegations of racial abuse facing England captain John Terry. This is the response that brought the civilised world down on Blatter’s head:

‘There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.’

Could these three badly constructed sentences have been the cause of such general we-can’t-believe-our-ears! hysteria for the past week? What was all that really about?

At the risk of contradicting the omniscient Talksport muppet, we might dare to suggest that, notwithstanding his politically incorrect language, the obnoxious Blatter for once had a point – indeed he had two points. And that the real target of the backlash has not just been the imperious Blatter, but more importantly, the working-class foot soldiers who play and watch football.

Briefly, on Blatter’s two reasonable points. First, it is beyond doubt that racism in and around football in a country such as Britain has declined dramatically over recent decades, both on and off the pitch. Things are now so different to the atmosphere of casual racism in which I grew up playing and watching football in the Sixties and Seventies that to say ‘there is no racism’ can barely be called an exaggeration, never mind a lie.

This is not, however, as Blatter and his cronies always claim, because of FIFA’s official anti-racist initiatives or the self-righteous ‘Kick it Out’ campaigns over here. Indeed, these things have mushroomed as racism has declined. It is far more because of the way our society has changed – and football follows where society leads, rather than ‘setting standards’ as some imagine. That is why when I was an angry young man we campaigned against racism, not racism in football.

Secondly, Blatter also had a point when he suggested, in his own cack-handed way, that offensive or abusive words or actions that do occur on the football pitch should be treated differently from what happens off it. It has long been accepted that football is not normal life.

As spiked’s sports columnist Duleep Allirajah recently argued, in response to the controversies over alleged racial slurs in the Premier League, the traditional view in sport has been that what’s said on the pitch stays on the pitch – and winding up your opponents is part of the game: ‘This isn’t genteel Radio 4 repartee; it’s war minus the shooting.

The traditional toleration of sledging is premised on a distinction between public and private. What’s said on the pitch is considered private and therefore outside the scope of conventional etiquette. As Arsene Wenger said of the Terry incident, players will say things “in a passionate situation” during a game that they don’t really mean…. Whatever insults were traded during the game, players are expected to shake hands and leave these animosities when the match is over. Yes, you need a thick skin, but the rules of engagement are fairly clear – or at least they used to be.’

After all, we do not treat somebody kicking us on the football pitch in the same way as we would if it happened in the street. So why should what they say be any different? The new attempt to impose a polite form of etiquette not only on the terraces but on the pitch is symptomatic of the muddying of the line between what is considered public and private these days. Football can only be the loser. The fact that not only the FA but the (thought) police have become involved in investigating something like the Terry business is far more dangerous than anything Blatter might say.

I don’t really want to defend Blatter any more than anybody else does. He certainly should not be running international football – though the alternatives on offer are little better. But the latest outburst of anti-Blatter outrage has not only been about him. The real target has been football players and fans, which largely means working-class men.

The theme of most of the complaints has been that by not simply repeating the official anti-racist mantra, Blatter’s words will somehow give the green light to everybody else around football to let out their inner racist. Much as genteel critics in the media and politics dislike Blatter, the people they fear and loath far more are the crowd, whom they believe harbour racial prejudice whether they know it or not. The idea of ‘role models’ who can spark monkey-see-monkey-do behaviour is bad enough when it is applied to celebrity footballers. The notion that a bloated suit such as Blatter can somehow set the standards that the world’s youth will follow is bizarre.

This is all a symptom of the way that football has become much more than a game. It has been turned into a national and international instrument for the moral re-education of the masses. Isolated and unpopular governments and authorities who see football as the only way they can still communicate with large numbers of people are desperate to exploit the game to promote all sorts of political agendas.

In particular, the crusade against racism in football has become a powerful way to try to impose a conformist view on the crowd and police the words and even thoughts of ‘ordinary people’. So important has this instrument of moral re-education become to the authorities that no scintilla of doubt can be entertained, no whisper of ambiguity allowed. That is why Blatter’s few clumsy and off-message words caused such consternation.

The irony is of course that FIFA itself has been a central player in this game of hunt-the-unwitting-racist. For the likes of Blatter, the World Cup is no longer just about the best team winning, but about striking a PR blow for Good against Evil and showing they are on the side of the angels. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was turned into an anti-racist festival, with team captains ludicrously required to read out Stalinist-style statements about their commitment to being good guys before the quarter finals (would they have been allowed to play if they had refused?), and Nelson Mandela wheeled out to declare that ‘[football] is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers’. Which is why of course governments want to use it to kick down the walls that stop them connecting with the working class – and why British politicians leapt at the chance to strike moral postures high up the pitch over ‘Blattergate’.

Indeed, it is striking how much this affair has been a very British kerfuffle, largely ignored by the rest of planet football. A few cynics have suggested this is to do with settling scores with Blatter over the fiasco of England’s humiliated bid for the 2018 World Cup. No doubt. But more broadly it is also about seizing the opportunity to show that Britain can still lead the world on the moral high ground, if not on the football pitch. That is a dangerous game, inviting others to point out that it was the allegation of racism against England’s captain that kicked all of this off in the first place. Those who live by the sword of self-righteousness can perish by it, too.

The worst culprits, as so often, have been the allegedly liberal-minded British pundits, screeching as if Blatter had been found guilty of Holocaust denial. These are the types who claim to love the ‘beautiful game’, yet hate the ‘ugly’ working-class people who watch and play it. At least one even went so far as to try to connect the Blatter affair with the sort of poisonous hatred that led to the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in London 18 years ago, for which two men are currently on trial. There are many things of which Sepp Blatter might be thought guilty, but that is not among them.

Enough of all the ‘anti-racist’ blather about Blatter. You need not be ‘soft’ on racism to see that he had a point – and even if he hadn’t, we should defend free speech for arrogant old fools, too. But more importantly, let’s stand up for football as the world’s game, rather than a tool for the moral re-education of the masses, before the fat man blows the whistle and it’s all over.


UK 'must do more to assure aid budget is not lost to corrupt foreign regimes'

Hear hear!

Ministers need to do more to prevent Britain’s ballooning aid budget from being lost to corrupt foreign regimes such as Somalia and Zimbabwe, a watchdog will report today.

The warning is another damning assessment of the Department for International Development which is enjoying a 34 per cent spending increase – to £12.6billion in 2014 – at a time when Whitehall budgets are being slashed.

In March, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced a strategy which will involve pouring billions of pounds of new aid money into some of the world’s most corrupt regimes in an effort to tackle poverty.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell: He announced that billions of pounds of aid money will be poured into corrupt regimes

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell: He announced that billions of pounds of aid money will be poured into corrupt regimes

He has insisted changes have been made to safeguard taxpayers’ money.

But in its first report, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact warns: ‘This focus on fragile states, together with the planned increase of the aid budget, will expose UK aid to higher levels of corruption risk.’

It adds that there is a lack of ‘coherent and strategic’ response when dealing with countries which have a high risk of corruption.

Figures reveal the biggest single aid winner will be Somalia, which has been riven by civil war for years and is rated the most corrupt nation on Earth.

Other winners include Burma, Zimbabwe, and Yemen, all of which will receive double-digit percentage rises.
Somali militia of Al-Shabab are seen during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu. The country is the world's most corrupt

Somali militia of Al-Shabab are seen during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu. The country is the world's most corrupt

The department has insisted that none of the money will go to governments and will instead be delivered through bodies such as the European Union and World Bank.

But the report warned: ‘DFID’s monitoring of these partners requires improvement. There is a need for more articulated processes for managing the corruption risks associated with particular aid types and greater attention to due diligence and on-the-ground monitoring.’

The watchdog added: ‘Taxpayers have the right to expect that the aid budget not only maximises impact but also delivers value for money.’

The ICAI reports has introduced ‘traffic light’ scoring system for its reports. The overall assessment given to the DfID’s approach to anti-corruption is ‘Amber Red’ – the second highest danger rating.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said ‘In order to manage the increasing risks presented by DFID’s focus on fragile states, DFID must give more attention to the fight against corruption.

‘DFID needs to invest more in analysis of corruption risks and a more strategic approach to tackling corruption proactively.’

Mr Mitchell said the report showed there were ‘some areas where we must do better’.


Footballers must not wear orange shoes??

I wouldn't be seen dead in orange shoes but the guy is black and blacks seem to have a much greater love of color than I and many whites do so he should claim that the ban is racist! THAT would put the cat among the pigeons!

The saga of Earl Bennett and his orange shoes will likely come to an end today, because the league has gone total jerkface about it. It's not just a fine Bennett would be facing this time. From Will Brinson at CBS:

According to CBS Sports' Charley Casserly, if Bennett wears the orange shoes on Sunday, he'll be fined another $15,000. And he'll be removed from the game until he changes.

"The NFL told me they called the Bears this week and told them this: if Bennett wears the shoes today during the game, he will be fined a minimum of $15,000," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "But more importantly, he will be removed from the game and he will not be allowed to go back into the game until he has the proper footwear on."

I love that this is the rules violation the NFL gets really serious about. A blatant, intentional helmet-to-helmet hit won't get a guy thrown out. You can cut the knees of an engaged blocker all day long, and you probably won't even be penalized. You can do whatever it was that Jerome Simpson did, and you're good to go.

Wrong color shoes, though? You are not welcome on our field, sir. It's a weird, weird league sometimes.



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 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 November, 2011

Britain's "elf n safety" [Health & safety] police

Richard Littlejohn

They are almost certainly motivated by the natural tendency of public officials in general and the police in particular to constantly seek extra powers and to cover their backsides whenever there is the remotest possibility that something might go wrong.

Today, that mentality manifests itself in our hi-viz jacket culture of risk aversion to the point of mental illness. Councils routinely ban Bonfire Night parties, either on spurious public safety grounds or because they contravene ‘smoke-free’ environmental policies.

Police close roads for hours after minor car accidents and turn every skid-mark into a ‘crime scene’.

No area of human activity is exempt from the tentacles of elf’n’safety.

Traditional pastimes are outlawed or severely constrained by rules, regulations and arbitrary ‘guidelines’ enforced with Stalinist zeal.

The problem is compounded by ‘no win, no fee’ ambulance-chasing spiv lawyers, who pretend there’s no such thing as an accident and ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’. The fear of being sued for com-pen-say-shun petrifies private companies and public bodies.
We are plagued by over-policing and hysterical health and safety

We are plagued by over-policing and hysterical health and safety

This column has made a reasonable living over the years documenting the wilder excesses of elf’n’safety insanity. And I’m pleased to report there seems to be no shortage of material. I could fill this page week in, week out with the latest lunatic examples. The dilemma is usually what to leave out.

For instance, a golf club in Scotland has just been forced to pay £120,000 because it didn’t have sufficient signs warning players about flying balls.
Niddry Castle Golf Club, in Winchburgh, West Lothian, was sued by Anthony Phee, who was hit in the eye by a wayward drive from fellow golfer James Gordon.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Mr Gordon was 70 per cent responsible for the incident, but that the club had to bear 30 per cent of the blame because it had failed to post a sign warning players that they could be struck by balls.

Even though Mr Gordon shouted ‘fore’ — the traditional warning of a wild stroke — he was found guilty of negligence and ordered to pay Mr Phee £277,000 damages for his loss of sight in one eye.

The judge also ruled that the club was liable ‘for their failure to place signs at appropriate places’.

Mr Phee is naturally entitled to sympathy and some financial redress for his injury. That’s what insurance is for. But all the warning signs in the world would not have prevented him being hit by Mr Gordon’s mis-struck ball. It was an accident. And accidents happen.

Don’t be surprised, though, if some killjoy now demands that all golfers are forced to wear hard hats, safety goggles and hi-viz jackets at all times when out on the course. That’s if they don’t want golf banned altogether.

Elsewhere, in Lymington, Hants, one of the world’s oldest cricket clubs has been ordered by its local council to spend £50,000 erecting safety nets around its entire boundary and designate a person to patrol the perimeter shouting warnings about the dangers of flying cricket balls.

If it refuses to comply, the club — which dates back two centuries — has been threatened with eviction. So it now faces either bankruptcy, to cover the cost of the netting, or being kicked off the ground where it has been playing continuously for 175 years.

It almost goes without saying that of the estimated 1.8 million balls bowled at the ground in those 175 years, not a single one has ever struck a spectator or passer-by.
At this rate, they'll soon be banning all sports, short of tiddlywinks

At this rate, they'll soon be banning all sports, short of tiddlywinks

That didn’t stop Councillor Penny Jackman insisting: ‘The plain and frightening reality is cricket balls have been landing at great speed a matter of inches from unsuspecting people.’

During a heated meeting, Mrs Jackman was also overheard saying to a colleague: ‘Oh, let’s just shut the buggers down.’

There speaks the genuine voice of elf’n’safety — the genuine voice, in fact, of all authority in this country.

This has nothing to do with safety. It’s about throwing their weight around, showing us who’s boss, finding out what people like to do and then stopping them doing it.

At this rate, they’ll soon be banning all sports, short of tiddlywinks. And even that has its inherent dangers. Better safe than sorry, eh?

‘Let’s just shut the buggers down.’

Sounds about par for the course.


Lesbian Couple May Sue Christian Baker Who Refused to Make Their Wedding Cake

Victoria Childress, a baker located in Des Moines, Iowa, may be facing legal action after she declined to create a wedding cake for a lesbian couple who were seeking her services. Her decision not to bake for the women, she says, was rooted in her Christian values.

Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers claim that they were shocked when they approached Childress, the owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage, and she declined their business. “It was degrading, you know, it was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her,” Vodraska said.

While the subject matter was clearly uncomfortable, both parties claim that the original conversation they had was cordial. Childress explained to the women that she was unable to provide the cake due to her faith. She claims that she was very pleasant and that she didn’t speak rudely to them.

“I didn’t do the cake because of my convictions for their lifestyle. It is my right as a business owner,” she explained. “It is my right, and it’s not to discriminate against them. It’s not so much to do with them, as it’s to do with me, and my walk with God and what I will answer (to) him for,” she continued.

But the dialogue between the two parties may end up landing Childress in the courtroom. LifeSiteNews.com has more about the legalities surrounding same-sex marriage in Iowa:
Same-sex “marriage” was legalized in Iowa in 2009 by the state Supreme Court, and a 2007 state civil rights act disallows discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in matters of employment, education, housing, and public accommodation.

LezGet Real, a web site that focuses upon issues of interests to lezbians, adds:
The couple released a statement calling Childress a bigot and saying that “Awareness of equality was our only goal in bringing this to light, it is not about cake or someone’s right to refuse service to a customer.”

The Iowa Civil Rights Act was amended in 2007 to include sexual orientation, and the couple have not said if they are willing to file a complaint under that law against the baker. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has declined to confirm or deny whether they will launch an investigation. The law allows exemptions only for religious institutions, and not for individual businesses.


Garland, Texas wants everybody’s house keys

Garland wants to be your boss, your big brother, your nanny, your wet nurse and your house sitter all rolled into one.

Heather Fazio, Texas Libertarian Party Membership Coordinator, issued the following Action Alert about Garland's city council meeting scheduled for November 14:

Council is requested to consider the recommendation of the Building and Fire Code Board and the Plumbing and Mechanical Code Board to adopt the 2009 International Fire, Residential, Building, Energy Conservation, Plumbing, Mechanical, Property Maintenance and Fuel Gas Codes along with local amendments.

What this means, Fazio explains, is that the city wants to make it mandatory for everyone to place a key box, like the ones used by real estate agents, on all doors to local businesses and homes so the Fire Department, or whomever they appoint, can enter your home or business at any time.

If you have a gate, they want a copy of that key too. "If you refuse," Fazio says, "the City will be able to refuse services, i.e., let the fire burn!"

What do these citycrats think they're going to accomplish by poking around in your home whenever they wish, whether you're home or not? Fire departments have had their own key to the door of your burning structure for decades; it's called a fire ax.

Do you have a problem with your front door getting splintered so fire hoses can reach the flames eating up your house? Or are the firefighters getting too lazy to swing an ax at your door? Just too much work? Afraid someone might accidentally get too close to the ax blade and get nicked?

The area Drug Prohibition Enforcers already have a key to your front door too. It’s called a battering ram. Are they finding it too strenuous to actually bust open a door with their ram before charging into a private residence at 3 AM so they can shoot the family dog and terrorize everyone in the house just to serve a misdemeanor pot possession warrant at the wrong address?

Some libertarians suspect this is a proactive code violation scavenger hunt designed to generate tickets that translate into big bucks for the city's coffers.

They'll say it's for the children, for our safety, for the environment. As they always say when they're about to rip off our rights.


Occupy movement: All process and no principle

If the occupiers are so opposed to ‘the one per cent’, why do they keep ripping off its soul-destroying managerial style of politics?

For some time now, it has been clear that politics is lost for words. Both establishment politicians and radical protesters share a political vocabulary that is denuded of principles and meaningful content. Instead of talking to people about their beliefs, elite politicians modestly refer to their ‘agenda’ or ‘project’. In turn, the protesters currently occupying public spaces in New York, Madrid and London make a big deal of their refusal to formulate political demands and principles.

Of course, sometimes it is difficult to find the right words to formulate policies and objectives relevant to our times. Even the most far-sighted political leader would feel severely tested by the scale of the problems thrown up by the current global crisis. But at least a sense of responsibility would force such principled leaders to struggle to find their voice and formulate some semblance of a way forward. All we get from politicians today is a pro-forma communiqué and a promise of another global conference of world leaders. Tragically, this affliction of political paralysis has become contagious and now envelops the whole of public life.

While the political elites pretend to have a plan and avoid facing up to the consequences of the fact that actually they lack ideas, their opponents in the Occupy movement make a virtue of having literally nothing to say. Even more striking is the affirmation that such a reluctance or inability to formulate political demands receives from the media. One commentator after another insists that the protesters are doing something far more important than coming up with political demands. They are ‘raising questions’, ‘serving as the conscience of society’, ‘demonstrating the idealism of youth’, ‘highlighting problems’, ‘creating democratic spaces’ or ‘providing an alternative form of organisation’. Or in Labour leader Ed Miliband’s words, they are reflecting a ‘crisis of concern’ apparently shared by many millions of people. It seems that the inability to formulate any solutions to the predicament facing humanity is a marker of virtuous and moral behaviour these days.

Anyone who asks what the protesters actually want is dismissed as a hopeless simpleton who fails to grasp that incoherence and inarticulateness are the new chic. In fact, given that the protesters are now supported by everyone from political leaders to bishops, and by every media outlet from The Times to the Guardian, with ‘the 99 per cent’ even in the running to become Time’s Person of the Year, it seems that inarticulate posturing is super chic. ‘Those who deride [the protest] for its lack of concrete demands simply don’t understand its strategic function’, lectures Gary Younge of the Guardian. Apparently its strategic function is to confront the ‘task of creating new possibilities’. It is as if the chattering classes have decided that the emperor’s clothes are not only terribly fashionable but actually represent the height of taste.

Processed politics

The clearest sign that the vocabulary of politics has become emptied of meaning is the ascendancy of process in public life. In effect, in recent years the political process has mutated into processed politics. Today, the language of public life is dominated by the rhetoric of process. Terms like ‘empowerment’, ‘support’, ‘inclusion’, ‘exclusion’, ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’ or ‘best practice’ all refer to institutional and organisational matters. The most significant expression of the shift from a political to a managerial style of authority is the fetish of governance. Once upon a time, governance referred to the act of directing and governing. Today it refers to the management of rules and processes. According to one definition, governance is ‘the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation’.

The impoverishment of the language of politics, or what the Australian social critic Don Watson describes as the ‘decay of public language’, reflects the erosion of a normative framework for the conduct of public life. It is when ideas about right and wrong, and when the question of what we should value cannot be taken for granted, that process comes into its own. The proliferation of rule-making within institutions and in all domains of human experience is an inexorable consequence of the hollowing out of a moral and political vocabulary. From the standpoint of governance, there is no normative expression of right and wrong; all that counts is whether the correct process has been followed.

The supremacy of process elevates people from making judgments about what is good or bad, right or wrong, a moral way to do things or an immoral way. It also disassociates people’s actions from their consequences. Instead of leaders, we now have the institutionalisation of mentoring. Contemporary political mentors, who are everywhere in the political sphere, do not lead – they ‘facilitate’ and ‘enable’.

The governance of protest

Protesters, like the targets of their actions, have also lost the capacity to express themselves in a moral or political way. The idealism and passion of young activists has been absorbed into a preoccupation with how to organise themselves. So a statement issued by Occupy Melbourne says: ‘We envision a politics of self-determination and direct democracy without the need for representation.’ From this standpoint, radicalism has more to do with the rules of organisation rather fighting for certain objectives.

The obsession with rule-making and process within the Occupy movement is now discussed as the defining feature of this new radicalism. One of the websites supporting the occupations declares that ‘the non-hierarchical decentralised structure, the inclusiveness and cooperation, are staples of the occupations’. Time and again, the occupiers boast that they are leaderless and non-hierarchical. Indeed, they have invented rules for achieving consensus without the need for political debate or an old-fashioned show of hands. Instead, agreement or dissent is expressed through silent gestures, such as waving your arms upwards to show consent or downwards to signal disagreement.

Processed protest can be seen in its most caricatured form in the Spanish Indignados movement. Their manual, titled How to Cook a Non-Violent Revolution, contains an organisational chart that is so intricate it would make the most bureaucratic bureaucrat proud. It describes the importance of having a Communication Commission to interact with the media and an Outreach Commission to engage with other assemblies and institutions. The Group Dynamics Commission is a heavy-duty body responsible for dreaming up new rules that assist ‘the consolidation of a group consciousness’. It ‘prepares the methodology to be followed in assemblies’ and draws up ‘moderation arrangements, floor times and systems for taking the floor’. The Respect Commission is charged with ‘conveying the importance of a respectful campground atmosphere’. There are literally more than a dozen other commissions and workgroups to oversee the governance of the Occupy camp in Spain.

What is desperately sad about this protest movement is the almost spontaneous manner in which it has internalised the ‘best practices’ of process-driven managerialism. So when Occupy London needs to respond to an event, it follows the practices routinely used in private and public sector ‘away-days’. At such events the pretence of participation and engagement is maintained through the phenomenon of breakaway groups. Likewise, at the occupation outside St Paul’s Cathedral the ‘general assembly’ of campers splits up into groups of 10 to discuss whatever issue is under consideration. In both instances, the manner in which a discussion is conducted trumps any consideration as to its content.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the organisational models adopted by the protesters is just how much they mirror those of ‘the one per cent’ they claim to despise. Consider the Occupy movement’s continuous celebration of non-hierarchical organisation. A regular reader of the Harvard Business Review would be quite comfortable with such advocacy of non-hierarchy. Numerous articles in the Review, with headlines such as ‘To Be A Better Leader, Give Up Authority’, clearly express the view that good business practice requires a non-hierarchical culture. These days, companies brag about their non-hierarchical business structures and non-hierarchical teams.

Although it is outwardly radical, contemporary protest culture has in fact adopted the procedure-oriented approach of the very establishment it claims to be protesting against. Paradoxically, it has embraced one of the least attractive features of contemporary Western public life, which is the tendency to look for organisational solutions to what are in fact political and moral problems. The most disturbing thing about today’s religion of governance is its addiction to rule-making. The institutionalisation of process inevitably begets more rules. It creates a demand for auditors and new processes to ensure that the proper processes are always followed.

When process turns into an ideology, it is only a matter of time before it becomes an instrument of deception and dishonesty. In the public sector, people can cut corners so long as they make sure that their paper trail is up to scratch. And in the new protest camps, the performance of non-hierarchical rituals allows a group of unacknowledged, unrepresentative ‘leaders’ to set the political agenda. Paradoxically, the protest-chic of the street exists in a symbiotic relationship with the process-chic of the boardroom.



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 November, 2011

Black/white marriage still unwise

The O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson episode certainly suggested that even rich and good-looking black men do not make good husbands for white women -- but one swallow does not make a summer. What does the overall data show? In plain language, the academic article below found that black/white marriages lead to less satisaftion with the relationship and more depression, with the depression apparently being caused by the dissatisfaction -- JR
Consequences of black exceptionalism? Interracial unions with blacks, depressive symptoms, and relationship satisfaction.

By Kroeger RA, Williams K.


Using data from Wave 4 (2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 7,466), we examine potential consequences of black exceptionalism in the context of interracial relationships among nonblack respondents. While increasing racial diversity and climbing rates of interracial unions have fostered the notion that racial boundaries within the United States are fading, our results add to the accumulating evidence that racial/ethnic boundaries persist in U.S. society. Results suggest that among non-Black respondents there is more stigma and disapproval attached to relationships with Blacks than there are to relationships with members of other racial/ethnic groups. Specifically, our results indicate that nonblack individuals with black partners have significantly more depressive symptoms and less relationship satisfaction than their counterparts with nonblack partners, regardless of respondent race and whether the nonblack partner is the same versus a different race from the respondent. Further, the relationship between partner race and depressive symptoms is partially and significantly mediated by relationship satisfaction.

Sociological Quarterly, Volume 52, Issue 3, pages 400–420

Bosses need to be bribed to employ British youth??

A bandaid solution if ever there was one. Fix the schools and the welfare state instead

Firms should be paid to take on poorly-qualified British teenagers instead of older or migrant workers, a business leader said yesterday. John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the Government should consider offering firms £1,500 subsidies for each young Briton they employ to limit the effects of youth unemployment.

He was speaking days after figures showed that around 500 foreigners landed a job in Britain every day over the past year while the number of UK-born workers plunged. Youth unemployment rocketed to its highest level since records began 20 years ago. It is now more than a million, and one in five of those aged 16 to 24 is out of work.

Bosses say many young Britons are too lazy and unpunctual to be worth hiring, while the British Chambers of Commerce says a lot of graduates have ‘useless’ degrees and are unemployable.

But Mr Cridland said the only way to tackle the problem would be to get British youngsters ‘up the beauty parade’ and into jobs by giving bosses an incentive to take them on. He said: ‘We need a skilled workforce. We don’t want people scarred by unemployment in the early years of their lives. This is as much a moral and social question as an economic one.

‘It has really impressed me that at a time when business has got its back to the wall, at a time it could be forgiven for thinking just about paying the wages of those already in work, it is really worried about teenage unemployment.

‘Think back to the riots in the summer, think back to what happened in the Eighties, and business is saying, “Youth unemployment is something we must not let get out of hand”.

‘If we gave employers £1,500 as a cash subsidy to take on a 16-year-old, they might take on a 16-year-old with lack of work experience and sometimes poor qualifications rather than a migrant worker or a mature worker who has got those skills. ‘So let’s get that young person up the beauty parade, let’s give them a chance to get a job today, not in five years.’

Mr Cridland said he believed the Government should stick to reducing the deficit but it was possible to stimulate growth without spending large sums of public money.

Last week, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said bosses preferred foreign workers because they had a more positive attitude.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, blamed poor education standards and the profusion of ‘Mickey Mouse degrees’. ‘There may be a course in underwater basket weaving, but that does not mean anybody will actually want to employ you at the end of it,’ he said.

Meanwhile, a survey by the CBI found that more than a third of businesses were looking to cut staff as confidence plummeted in the wake of the eurozone crisis. Seventy per cent of business leaders said the country’s economic prospects had grown worse since August.

Last week the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of British-born workers had fallen by 311,000 in a year, equal to more than 850 a day. In the same period, the number of foreign employees jumped by 181,000, or 495 a day.

Bosses said foreign workers tended to have a better work ethic. Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said Britons would ‘rather be footballers than do an honest day’s work’. He added: ‘We’re increasingly employing foreign workers. ‘They have the right attitude and are prepared to work harder.

‘The younger British generation who come in for interviews are often sent by the benefit people and have no desire for work. ‘They feel as if the country owes them a living.’


Licence to swear: Profanity is so common that it can't be offensive, British judge rules

Yobs should not be punished for hurling obscenities in public – because swear words are now so common that they no longer cause distress, a High Court judge has ruled. In a landmark judgment, Mr Justice Bean upheld the appeal of a foul-mouthed thug who was convicted for repeatedly using the f-word while being searched by police.

The ruling paves the way for scores of other louts to challenge their convictions for public order offences – and could force police to pay them compensation for wrongful arrest.

The decision, which provoked outrage among police, comes just weeks after the London Mayor Boris Johnson and Britain’s most senior policeman called for a zero-tolerance crackdown on those who abuse officers.

The case was brought by Denzel Harvey, who was fined £50 at Thames Youth Court for repeatedly swearing at officers while he was being searched for cannabis in 2009. The High Court heard that the 20-year-old launched into a tirade of abuse when he was stopped by two police officers in the street in Hackney, east London, telling them: ‘***k this, man. I ain’t been smoking nothing.’

When no drugs were found following a search, he continued: ‘Told you you wouldn’t find ***k all.’ After being asked whether he had a middle name, the surly yob replied: ‘No – I’ve already ****ing told you so.’

Mr Harvey was arrested for the outburst, and magistrates found him guilty of a public order offence after hearing that the expletives were uttered in a public area while a group of teenage bystanders gathered round.

But the conviction was quashed at the High Court, with Mr Justice Bean saying the ‘rather commonplace’ expletive is heard ‘all too frequently’. He claimed it was ‘quite impossible to infer that the group of young people who were in the vicinity were likely to have experienced alarm or distress at hearing these rather commonplace swear words used’.

Simon Reed, vice chairman of the Police Federation, said yesterday: ‘It’s astounding that you can use every swear word to abuse a police officer and they have got to accept it just because it is common. ‘This gives the green light for everyone to swear and use disorderly behaviour with police.’

The ruling is likely to reignite the row between Mr Johnson and the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, over swearing at police.

Mr Harvey was charged under section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which makes it an offence to ‘use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby’.

But in June it emerged that officers had been advised not to arrest those who verbally abuse police, with guidance stating that courts ‘do not accept’ that swearing at officers results in ‘harassment, alarm or distress’.

Last month Mr Johnson said he agreed with the new Metropolitan Police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, that that guidance should be scrapped. ‘Public servants are not there to be abused,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘They are there to serve society and society must respect them. ‘How can a copper cope with the job if the public are allowed to insult them with impunity?’

Mr Johnson wants a new offence of ‘swearing at or abusing a police officer acting in the execution of his or her duty’. He told the Conservative Party conference: ‘If people swear at the police, they must expect to be arrested. ‘Not just because it’s wrong to expect officers to endure profanities, but also because of the experience of the culprits. ‘If people feel there are no boundaries and no retribution, then I’m afraid they will go on to commit worse crimes.’


PETA Takes Aim at Turkey, Texas: Wants Town Renamed ‘Tofurkey’

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has approached the residents of Turkey, Texas with a request: rename your town “Tofurkey” in honor of Thanksgiving.

Even if the name change to the mock meat vegan alternative is just for one day, PETA said it will draw attention to the treatment that turkeys in the U.S. suffer virtually every day of their lives.

In return, PETA said it will treat the entire town — population 421, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — to a “delicious, healthy vegan holiday feast.”

“Changing the town’s name to Tofurky will remind people around the country that we each can have a delicious, protein-packed, and satisfying Thanksgiving meal without supporting animal abuse,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a letter Monday to the town’s mayor.

But local ABC affiliate KVII-TV spoke to a few locals who bristled at the idea of renaming their town.

“What do I think of changing the name of Turkey to tofu? I think it‘s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Tommy Sims said.

“We are insulted,” resident Carol Redd added. “We like Turkey. We are proud to be Turkey.”

City officials reportedly have no plans to change the town’s name.



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 November, 2011

Generation Mutant: Occupiers are the Natural Spawn of the Progressive Movement

Watching the “Occupy Wall Street” mutants (as I less-than-affectionately call them) riot on Thursday as part of their “Day of Action,” I couldn’t help but notice a striking resemblance to children throwing temper tantrums. And I couldn’t help but think: Why would adults act this way?

The “occupiers” are the post-digested remains of the natural journey through the intestinal tract of the metastasizing liberal ideology in education and pop culture.

The “millennials,” as they’re called, are the first generation spawned from the “progressive” idea of equal outcome disguised as equal opportunity. They are the “Participation Ribbon People” – a generation rewarded and praised simply for showing up. The result of social promotion, time-outs over spanking and the misguided concept that reward is deserved and not earned.

The movies, books and music these kids devoured portrayed business as evil and CEOs as thieves in suits whose wealth comes not from hard work but by exploiting the poor or selling dangerous and defective products to an unsuspecting population.

This generation grew up with “reality TV,” which is not, of course, realistic at all. It measures success as drinking more beers before you vomit than the next guy. A sex tape brings not embarrassment but celebrity status.

It might have seemed as if these children of entitlement treated rioting as an audition for the Jersey Shore, but they weren’t – although MTV was at Zuccotti Park recruiting candidates for “The Real World.”

The only thing more prevalent among the “occupiers” than body lice is their sense of entitlement. They’re entitled to forgiveness of the college loans they willingly took out. They can trespass on private property and stay as long as they like. They claim to represent the “99 percent” of the country not among the wealthiest 1 percent. But do they?

Unfazed by their unpopularity – the latest poll by the liberal group Public Policy Polling puts their support at 33% support – these parasites covered with parasites dare refer to their inability to camp overnight on private property as “Facing the most brutal assault on our Democracy since 9-11.” Ironically, they do this while ignoring actual assaults, rapes, sexual assaults and murder amongst their ranks.

Their world is one in which an unrepentant domestic terrorist is called “Professor” and is friends with the President of the United States, dodgeball is banned for “brutality” and kids picking on each other is criminalized. Self-esteem is their goal. They don’t intend to earn it through hard work and accomplishment. No, they want it given out like scoops of ice cream at a birthday party. The way it’s always been.

Nothing undermines civil society more than the belief that every thought is correct, that every desire should be fulfilled. It doesn’t work that way, of course. And when people discover their every whim won’t be met, they find scapegoats.

Zuccotti Park has been filled with people who’ve been coddled their whole lives, who’ve never been told they’re wrong, who’ve been raised to pursue feeling over logic. They’re being confronted with an uncertain future, and its doubly scary for them because they never have been allowed to face the consequences of failure.

They’ve been encased in an emotional bubble-wrap that protected them from reality until graduation. They’ve never truly faced failure. They got a ribbon or trophy every time. Now, suddenly, someone won’t hire them or promote them or give them a good apartment at a low price. What’s worse, someone else did get that job, that promotion. That someone must have cheated.

Thankfully, few in the Ribbon Generation have been successfully indoctrinated, which is why the protests have been so small. But the indoctrination continues, every day. Every day, more children are led to believe fulfillment of their constitutional rights means it’s OK to deny others of theirs.

The current attempt by progressives to impose their will on America is doomed to failure. It’s stupid to think you can bring people to your cause by obstructing their movements or annoying them in the public square. But progressives are patient and determined. The know one day the Participation Ribbon Generation will have children of their own. And those children won’t find counter-indoctrination examples at home many children have now.

President Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

If there is any good to come from the “Occupy” movement it’s that it can serve as a reminder of how special and important liberty is. After all, if a tiny group of committed Utopian socialists can’t create a tiny socialist Utopia when it’s just them in a park, where is this notion likely to succeed?


When Manly Virtue Died

These are difficult and perilous times for boys. A distorted culture has robbed them of virtue to measure themselves against. The good once associated with masculinity in a patriarchal society has been tossed out with the bad. This, alas, is the era of feminist ascendency.

Manhood is more easily mocked, satirized and derided, or exposed for its villainy, exploitation and criminality, than held up as an ideal for boys to aspire to. We've always had rogues, rascals and villains, but until now we've also had a baseline, a common denominator, of what it means to be a man. Male-female cultural distinctions, once blurred, now are disappearing.

That was a touching moment when Gloria Cain, in defense of her husband, told Greta van Susteren of Fox News that the harassment accusations couldn't be true because he was a man of "old-school manners," like walking next to the curb when he strolled down the sidewalk with her. Such considerations never made the man, but they were reminders that men cheerfully expected to protect women.

In the previous century, a man didn't have to be a John Wayne hero to be appreciated. His identity was less about the kind of work he did than by the fact that he worked. That single fact has been repealed by the accumulation of cultural changes that do not serve men -- or women -- well. Fewer men than women are finishing high school and obtaining undergraduate or professional degrees. They're entering the workforce much later. They're often dependent on government or family for sustenance. The recession makes things worse.

This confuses children. In a world dominated by media images, the flashy figures of sport and entertainment exert a disproportionate influence on the ambitions and aspirations of the young. The rich and famous become shallow idols, worshipped for their shortcuts in the pursuit of happiness that usually lead only to the illusion of a pot of gold at the end of a vanishing rainbow.

This bothers Bill Bennett, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, secretary of education in the Reagan administration and drug czar for George H.W. Bush. He's a prophet exiled from the Old Testament, marking the decline of civilization. His first book, "The Book of Virtues," a collection of moral tales, was an overnight best-seller to readers hungry for the literary gems that had once been a staple of the culture. His new book, "The Book of Man," is an anthology of literary forces riding to the rescue of a culture in a "crisis of manliness."

In the 1950s, he reminds us, 96 percent of boys and men between 15 and 54 worked at real jobs. That number has dropped to 80 percent today. The New Yorker magazine captured the essence of the "Boomerang Generation" with a cover depicting a young man hanging his Ph.D on the wall of his childhood bedroom, to dismay on the faces of his parents stuck with an unwanted roomer.

There are fewer entry-level jobs in an information-based society, which delays the assumption of responsibility. The result for men from deprived backgrounds is catastrophic. Statistics reflect the woe of young black women who are substantially more educated and economically well-off than young black men, which makes their marriage prospects slim. (In one study, one in five black men born between 1975 and 1979 had been in prison before they reached the age of 34.)

What boys -- and men -- do better than girls and women is playing video games. It's hardly surprising that the most popular first-person shooter games that once drew on heroics from World War II now depict violent fantasies set in the immediate future without an authentic historical context. One of the games appeals to the "soldier in all of us." But the conflicts depicted require neither conceptual nor moral thinking about real conflicts. It's forever playtime.

"Why are there so many boys and men who are irresponsible, unmotivated, unchivalrous, selfish, lazy?" asks Bill Bennett. "Why do so many boys and men spend so much time in pointless and soulless activities inconsiderate of others, absorbed in self or mindless technology?"

He doesn't answer the question, but he gives cause for reflection in one volume with examples of man at work and play, governing, soldiering, praying, demonstrating being responsible for families. The men in the stories are not merely slouching toward technology. Times have changed, he argues, but the need for virtue and character in man has not. That's a tough sell.


British welfare payments to soar by 4.5 per cent... almost DOUBLE the average working person's pay rise

Millions of benefit claimants are to get a bumper 4.5 per cent increase in their handouts next year – despite the unprecedented financial squeeze on the incomes of working families.

Reports yesterday suggested ministers are close to a ‘compromise’ deal that will see benefit payments rise at almost double the increase in average earnings. It will hand a windfall to the 5.9million people on out-of-work benefits. The increase is slightly lower than the 5.2 per cent inflation rate in September – the month usually used to set the following year’s benefit rises.

Chancellor George Osborne intervened to block an automatic rise at this level amid fears it would infuriate working families who are seeing their incomes shrink. Pensioners will receive a 5.2 per cent increase next year, putting the basic state pension up by more than £5 a week.

But Liberal Democrat ministers have blocked plans to peg other benefit increases to the 2.5 per cent rise in average earnings. Instead, they look set to rise by 4.5 per cent – although the Treasury insisted last night a final deal had not yet been agreed.

Tory MP Philip Davies warned a rise on this scale would cause resentment among taxpayers who will have to fund it – and undermine the Government’s pledge to ‘make work pay’. Mr Davies said: ‘It is incredibly generous to be offering benefit claimants a 4.5 per cent increase when very few working people can look forward to a rise on anything like that scale.

‘Virtually no one’s pay is keeping up with inflation and I don’t really see why those people not working should be rewarded with bigger increases than ordinary families who are struggling to pay their bills.’

Pegging benefits to average earnings would save £5billion, giving Mr Osborne much greater scope to help hard-pressed workers.

Treasury sources last night dismissed reports of a deal as ‘complete speculation’ and suggested ministers were still debating how much benefits should rise by next year. Mr Osborne is due to announce the final decision in his autumn statement to MPs later this month.

But plans to abandon the automatic increase in benefit payments were condemned by charities last night. Helen Dent, chief executive of the group Family Action, said: ‘The most vulnerable are already being hammered by benefit cuts, slashed services and food and fuel inflation. ‘A decision to break the link between inflation and welfare payments will put further pressure on families already at breaking point. ‘Many of the families we work with are having to choose between a warm home and food on the table, and this will break some of them.’


Do We Have an Epidemic of Sexual Abuse?

The modern world appears awash in sexual abuse and misbehavior. Over the past decade, we see grownup men (coaches and priests, both revered in society) who cannot resist sexually abusing children; those are the worst of the worst. But other misbehavers are lechers who cannot resist groping women, exchanging job promises for sex, or keeping young women captive for years to use them sexually. Are we losing our values, or is this not an epidemic at all, but the last flush of bad human behavior that did not used to be called bad?

The fact that we find these behaviors (along with wife and child beating, forced marriages, and “honor killing”) unacceptable in our society indicates that we have come a long way from how things have been for the past 5,000 years.

It is difficult to know how primeval humans behaved to children, but we can get a glimpse in today's outlier primitives, in New Guinea or Afghanistan, for example. Those children grow up early---as early as they are fertile---and we know they began to bear children in their teens. I recall a case decades ago of a Peruvian 5-year old who gave birth, impregnated by an uncle, they said. Considering the age of the child, we all thought this a one-time freakish event, but we were wrong.

Joel Brinkley, “Foreign Matters” columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, recently wrote about “Afghan Children: Grim Statistics and Few Rights.” The Afghan government (that cost us blood and treasure to rescue) has just cut the budget for human rights in half. This is a non-issue for them, dominated by the cultural values of the majority Pashtun tribe. Brinkley cites the following facts:

* The Taliban notoriously used children as human shields and child soldiers.

* Afghan parents can and do hand over girl children in settlement of a lawsuit. The aggrieved party can do with the child as they wish, and they do. Little girls are beaten, raped, and enslaved by their new masters and all their menfolk. Many girl children are also given as a “gift,” so that the parents can be spared a dowry.

* Girls handed over in marriage (in their early teens) have no protection against abuse by their husband or his family. Those bold enough to run away are pursued and murdered. In one infamous case, Time Magazine had a cover picture of a young woman whose nose had been cut off and she was left to bleed to death. American soldiers found and rescued her.

* Children can be sent to jail to serve out a sentence for an adult in the family.

* Children are deliberately maimed and sent out to beg, or work in brick factories, mining, or harvesting opium. School is out of the question for most.

And those oh-so-manly Afghan warlords are pederasts. It is a common practice to buy “beautiful” little boys from impoverished parents to be trained as “entertainers” who sing, dance, play musical instruments, to amuse their all-male parties. Grown men wax romantic about their beautiful boy lovers, whom they discard when they get their first whiskers. It seems that Pashtun men really don't like females much. Neither did the ancient Greeks, who may have introduced this culture to the Afghans via Alexander the Great.

These abuses and more are documented by human rights workers, western publications, documentary filmmakers, and UNICEF. Ask any veteran of the war in Afghanistan to tell you more. The country is barbarous, and the average miserable life span is 44 (much less for women).

The sexual bad behavior of the Afghans is culturally learned; that of modern, western men (including the passion for pornography) is not the norm, and seemingly involves the wiring of the brain. We can hope that our great progress in brain science will someday be able to identify and stop these remnants of sexual exploitation and abuse. It is to our credit that we find it horrible. Our only hope now is to imprison the perpetrators and not pass on the practice to the victims.



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 November, 2011

Four Legacies of Feminism

They have made life -- and life for women -- worse

Dennis Prager

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s feminist magnum opus, The Feminine Mystique, we can have a perspective on feminism that was largely unavailable heretofore.

And that perspective doesn’t make feminism look good. Yes, women have more opportunities to achieve career success; they are now members of most Jewish and Christian clergy; women’s college sports teams are given huge amounts of money; and there are far more women in political positions of power. But the prices paid for these changes — four in particular — have been great, and outweigh the gains for women, let alone for men and for society.

The first was the feminist message to young women to have sex just as men do. There is no reason for them to lead a different sexual life than men, they were told. Just as men can have sex with any woman solely for the sake of physical pleasure, so, too, women ought to enjoy sex with any man just for the fun of it. The notion that the nature of women is to hope for at least the possibility of a long-term commitment from a man they sleep with has been dismissed as sexist nonsense.

As a result, vast numbers of young American women had, and continue to have, what are called “hookups”; and for some of them it is quite possible that no psychological or emotional price has been paid. But the majority of women who are promiscuous do pay prices. One is depression. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently summarized an academic study on the subject: “A young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.”

Long before this study, I had learned from women callers to my radio show (an hour each week — the “Male-Female Hour” — is devoted to very honest discussion of sexual and other man-woman issues) that not only did female promiscuity coincide with depression, it also often had lasting effects on women’s ability to enjoy sex. Many married women told me that in order to have a normal sexual relationship with their husband, they had to work through the negative aftereffects of early promiscuity — not trusting men, feeling used, seeing sex as unrelated to love, and disdaining their husband’s sexual overtures. And many said they still couldn’t have a normal sex life with their husband.

The second awful legacy of feminism has been the belief among women that they could and should postpone marriage until they developed their careers. Only then should they seriously consider looking for a husband. Thus, the decade or more during which women have the best chance to attract men is spent being preoccupied with developing a career. Again, I cite woman callers to my radio show over the past 20 years who have sadly looked back at what they now, at age 40, regard as 20 wasted years. Sure, these frequently bright and talented women have a fine career. But most women are not programmed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family. They feel they were sold a bill of goods at college and by the media. And they were. It turns out that most women without a man do worse in life than fish without bicycles.

The third sad feminist legacy is that so many women — and men — have bought the notion that women should work outside the home that for the first time in American history, and perhaps world history, vast numbers of children are not primarily raised by their mothers or even by an extended family member. Instead they are raised for a significant part of their childhood by nannies and by workers at daycare centers. Whatever feminists may say about their only advocating choices, everyone knows the truth: Feminism regards work outside the home as more elevating, honorable, and personally productive than full-time mothering and making a home.

And the fourth awful legacy of feminism has been the demasculinization of men. For all of higher civilization’s recorded history, becoming a man was defined overwhelmingly as taking responsibility for a family. That notion — indeed the notion of masculinity itself — is regarded by feminism as the worst of sins: patriarchy.

Men need a role, or they become, as the title of George Gilder’s classic book on single men describes them: Naked Nomads. In little more than a generation, feminism has obliterated roles. If you wonder why so many men choose not to get married, the answer lies in large part in the contemporary devaluation of the husband and of the father — of men as men, in other words. Most men want to be honored in some way — as a husband, a father, a provider, as an accomplished something; they don’t want merely to be “equal partners” with a wife.

In sum, thanks to feminism, very many women slept with too many men for their own happiness; postponed marriage too long to find the right man to marry; are having hired hands do much of the raising of their children; and find they are dating boy-men because manly men are so rare.

Feminism exemplifies the truth of the saying, “Be careful what you wish for — you may get it.”


How the Obama Administration Helps Kill the Chances for Arab, Turkish, and Iranian Democracy

By Barry Rubin

In a speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks: “Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?”

Here’ s how the question should be rephrased: "Why does America subvert the chances for democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?"

Here’s the answer: In some places—notably Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip—America does nothing to promote democracy and the downfall of anti-American regimes because it is afraid to challenge the dictatorships. In fact, at times it comes to their aid and comfort.

In Iran, it did so by wasting two years on engagement and by failing to back the democratic opposition, even at the height of protests over a stolen election.

In Syria, by coddling the dictatorship until that became too obviously gruesome in backing such a bloodthirsty regime during an all-out revolt. Since then the U.S. government sub-contracted choosing the Syrian opposition exile leadership to the Turkish Islamist regime. Naturally, it chose a majority of Islamists. So this is the group that will be asked by the U.S. government for advice and be given money!

In the Gaza Strip, it helped the tyrants by pressing Israel to reduce sanctions and by doing nothing seriously to subvert that anti-American, genocidal revolutionary Islamist entity. Now it is empowering Hamas’s strongest ally, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in power would give Hamas a huge amount of help.

While in other places—such as Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia–it enables anti-American, anti-democratic, antisemitic, dictatorial movements.

But if I were to take Clinton’s question at face value the proper answer would be this:

The United States should support democracy most energetically where it hurts enemies and is aimed against the most vicious, bloody dictatorships. That means Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip.

The United States should support democracy less eagerly when it hurts allies and the prospects are for a new regime far worse than the existing one. That means Egypt, Tunisia, and several other places. At any rate, in each such case U.S. policy should support genuine moderates and do everything possible to reduce the power of revolutionary Islamist and far left groups that are anti-American and anti-democratic.

Clinton explained U.S. involvement in Libya as being part of a broad coalition that worked “to protect civilians and help people liberate their country….”

Is U.S. policy going to defend civilians in Turkey, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip when they are threatened by Islamist regimes? No, it is going to help put those civilians in far greater danger . It is doing the opposite of liberating their countries. It is helping to enslave them.

“In other cases,” Clinton continued, “to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks and perhaps even with troops on the ground.”

Imagine the intellectual poverty of this statement. Is sending troops the only option? This is a trick known as setting up a straw man. We couldn’t help people in places like Iran or Syria, we are told, because we would have to send troops and since we don’t want to send troops we won’t do anything at all.

There are, of course, many other ways to act: to support the moderates through overt and covert means,, to consider establishing a no-fly zone, and to do everything possible to undermine the interests of those regimes. For example, a serious campaign to sabotage Syrian interests in Lebanon would make sense.

Instead we get a policy of helping Islamist groups in Egypt, Tunisia, Gaza, Libya, and even Syria.

Says Clinton: “Our choices also reflect other interests in the region with a real impact on Americans’ lives — including our fight against al-Qaeda; defense of our allies; and a secure supply of energy,”

Yes, the U.S. government is fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban, or at least a “faction” of the latter. But those are the only revolutionary Islamist forces it is battling.

Moreover, which allies is America defending? Give us a list. When an ally tries to defend itself, like Israel, Obama says he can’t stand Netanyahu because the Israeli leader won’t buckle under to make more risky concessions. Is U.S. policy defending Arab allies? No, with the partial exception of Iraq. It is enabling their foreign enemies and often suggesting–albeit implicitly–that those monarchies should be overthrown as well.

What about defending Saudi Arabia and Jordan? The moderate government in Lebanon, was overthrown because Washington wouldn’t help. If the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is so moderate and should be running the country why doesn’t that apply to Jordan, too?

Concluded Clinton, “What parties call themselves is less important than what they do.” But doesn’t what parties call themselves have something to do with what they do? And what has the Muslim Brotherhood done that shows it isn’t a radical group? How has the Turkish regime behaved, at home and abroad, that shows it isn’t a radical Islamist government?

Finally, here’s something interesting. Consider Bahrain, which Clinton called a “challenge.” She explains, “Mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.”

What’s going on there? A hardline Sunni Muslim monarchy that is friendly toward the United States is repressing a Shia Muslim majority. Among the Shias there are more moderate forces that just want fair treatment and more rights, and a radical Islamist faction backed by Iran.

The Obama Administration makes things worse. By backing Islamists, it has convinced the Bahraini government and its Saudi backers that compromise is impossible. The ideal solution would be to make a deal with the moderates and defeat the radicals.

But with the Obama Administration arguing that there are no radicals, how could Bahrain’s regime take such a risk even if it wanted to? The Obama Administration has thrown away all of its potential leverage over Bahrain’s government. By becoming the enabler for radical Islamists, Washington proves the hardline regime “correct” in arguing that compromise would bring disaster. If an election were to be held, the Shias who want a pro-Iran Islamist regime (and to throw out the U.S. naval base there) would win.

So let me say it again: The chances for a stable, moderate democracy in Arabic-speaking states were always slim. By being so weak in supporting the moderates and so energetic in backing the radicals, the U.S. government has destroyed those chances and helped to ensure years of bloody dictatorship.

Does this sound too extreme and alarmist? That’s because the policy is too extreme and dangerous enough to set off the alarms.


The UK press is on trial for its freedom

And the tabloids have already been found guilty by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry/inquisition

The Leveson Inquiry, set up by the UK government in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, has just begun and is not due to report until late 2012. After the very first day’s proceedings, however, the result of the judicial inquisition led by Lord Justice Leveson already seems clear enough.

Behind the charade of neutrality, the British press is on trial for its freedom here. And the verdict is in: the tabloid press in particular has already been found guilty. Only the precise sentence remains to be decided.

Why else would Tory prime minister David Cameron, with all-party support, have ordered a judge-led inquiry not only to look into the phone-hacking cases but to scrutinise the entire ‘culture, practice and ethics’ of the UK press? It seems unlikely he expects it to conclude by praising the sophisticated culture, sound practice and high-minded ethics of the media. The rest of the tabloid press might avoid the death sentence already imposed on the News of the World. But it seems set to take a punitive beating and be subject to supervision orders.

The headlines this week are once again all about the extent of phone-hacking practised at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and possibly other papers. But it has been clear all along that this circus is about far more than that. Of course the interception of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s voicemail was indefensible, which is why nobody has ever tried to defend it. It was an extreme symptom of a degenerative strain in British journalism, the shift from investigation to voyeurism. As such it should prompt journalists to look at themselves, while the police look into any criminal aspects.

Instead, the voicemail hacking of the high-profile victims and celebrities has been turned into a pretext for the authorities to interrogate the entire press, using the Dowler family along with the likes of Madeleine McCann’s parents as emotive human shields behind which they can advance their crusade to ‘clean up’ the media industry. It was explained this week that part two of the inquiry, looking into the broader culture and ethics of the media, would unfortunately have to precede part one, examining phone-hacking in detail, because too many of those allegations are still the subject of criminal investigations. In fact this turnaround inadvertently confirms the real priority behind the Leveson inquiry – to put the press, rather than some hackers and their backers, in the dock.

For instance, as Robert Jay, the smug-sounding QC acting as counsel to the inquiry, laid out in his opening remarks, they will not confine their investigation to phone-hacking but will also examine any other ‘illegal and unethical’ practices used to obtain stories, from subterfuge to blagging. Yet these are all the tools of investigative journalism, used by reporters who often have to sail close to the wind to uncover truths that somebody does not want to see revealed. I always recall the words of William Randolph Hearst, a US press baron and the Rupert Murdoch of his day, who defined news as ‘something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising’. Underhand methods, possibly including rooting through somebody’s bins and voicemails, are often the only way for the media to get answers others would rather not give.

Of course the inquiry’s top lawyer was at pains to insist that they were not opposed to investigative journalism as such. So what examples did he give of investigations of which Leveson and Co might approve? Surprise, surprise, he cited the Guardian’s obsessive campaign over News of the World phone-hacking, which began long before anybody suggested Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, and seemed driven largely by the conviction that the Murdoch press was evil. He also endorsed the Daily Telegraph’s high-minded revelations over MPs’ expenses – which arguably were not produced by investigative journalism at all, but by simply republishing leaked documents. The irony is that one British paper still investing serious resources in making and breaking investigative news stories was the tabloid News of the World. But those distasteful probings did not meet with the legal establishment’s approval.

As Lord Justice Leveson himself made clear in his opening statement, the key question his inquiry will address is not who knew what about hacking but the far grander issue of ‘Who guards the guardians?’ Which means: how is the press to be best policed and controlled – by law, or by a strengthened watchdog, or what? David Cameron has said in advance that if Lord Leveson’s inquiry were to recommend full statutory regulation of the press, then that is what we would get. The decision on how far to reverse the centuries-long struggle for press freedom is effectively in the hands of an unelected, unaccountable law lord.

Yet almost everybody is going along with the ‘important’ Leveson inquiry and the need for new measures to tame the press. Even self-serving celebrity muppets such as Hugh Grant have been accepted as the authentic defenders of ‘the public interest’ against tabloid prying. The only voices speaking up for the freedom of the tabloid press seem to be the editors of those papers, backed by a few more traditionalist establishment figures. The liberal elite, however, appears to be fully behind Lord Justice Leveson and his legal guardians. This should hardly come as a shock; the allegedly liberal Guardian newspaper has led the campaign for more police and court action against tabloid journalists, and a Labour spokesman on the media recently proposed that journalists be formally licensed, so that they could be ‘struck off’ the register if they failed to meet the standards demanded by the authorities. (Meanwhile, almost the only ‘alternative’ to full statutory regulation being proposed is to police the press via a more muscular Press Complaints Commission with mandatory powers, which is now headed by another unelected, unaccountable Lord.)

The outlook of the liberal elite today was captured by Leveson’s opening statement to his inquiry, where he said he believed the freedom of the press to be ‘fundamental’ to ‘our way of life’, before adding the obligatory ‘But…’ They all believe in press freedom ‘But…’ these days. And the buts are getting bigger. Lord Justice Leveson went on to insist that he had ‘no wish to stifle freedom of speech or expression, BUT I anticipate that monitoring will take place of press coverage [of the inquiry] and it might be necessary to conclude that those vital rights are being abused’. In other words, the media is ‘free’ to remain on message.

Enough. In all the debate about reform and regulation, the underlying assumption is that the media – and especially the ‘feral’ tabloid press – is now too free to run wild and trample over decency and privacy. But the real problem is very different.

There is not too much media freedom in Britain today, but too little. There are not too few controls and restrictions on what can legitimately be published and broadcast, but already too many - both formal and informal.

Some newspapers in Britain and elsewhere might be going ‘free’ in financial terms, under pressure from declining sales and the new online media. But in almost every way that matters, the press is less free – thanks both to external constraints and the internal corrosion of the foundations of good journalism.

The UK press is less free from the threat of state regulation or of tighter ‘self-‘regulation; less free from the stultifying conformism that generally makes censorship unnecessary; less free in the sense of being willing and able fearlessly to investigate the truth; less free in terms of being independent of the political class; less free in the sense of being objective and open-minded; less free under the influence of the narrow-minded, emotionally correct, celebrity-centric, you-can’t-say-that culture of intolerance which has drained much of our public debate of substance and meaning.

These are the issues we should be debating in the open, not watching while the fate of a free press is deliberated over by government-appointed judges and lawyers.

And worse, we are left with this sorry state of press freedom at a moment when our society is in the midst of an economic and political crisis that has posed new questions and exposed many of the old answers as redundant. There can rarely have been a more pressing need for a free and open debate about how we got here and where we might want to go in future. And the media in all of its shapes and sizes has never been more important as a forum for public debate, the decline in the authority and standing of every other public institution leaving it with a virtual monopoly on shaping the national discussion.

Even before Lord Justice Leveson and his legal team get to work on it, there is no such thing as a free press in the UK – and we have never needed one more than now. The last thing we need is a fixed state-appointed inquiry to make matters worse. Never mind ‘who guards the guardians?’ Who will judge the judges?


Child rapist used 'human rights' to fight deportation from Britain - then struck again

A convicted sex attacker raped and violently molested two young girls as he fought deportation on human rights grounds. Asylum-seeker William Danga, 39, subjected the children to appalling abuse before and after he was jailed for raping a teenager.

One was just four years old when the Congolese national forced himself on her before heading out to preach as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Yesterday a judge said it was ‘remarkable’ that the sex attacker was not thrown out of Britain after being jailed for ten years for raping a 16-year-old girl a decade ago. Officials were ordered to deport Danga at the end of his sentence but he frustrated their efforts after losing his passport.

He was then freed on immigration bail while he challenged the move on the grounds that he had a right to a ‘family life’ because he had children with a young girlfriend.

The case is the latest in a string of outrages in which dangerous foreign criminals have used European laws to continue living here.

Just two months ago Nigerian rapist Akindoyin Akinshipe, 24, escaped deportation after European judges ruled he had a right to a ‘private life’ in Britain. Like many others, he used Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to claim the right to a ‘family life’.

Home Secretary Theresa May wants to scale back the use of the controversial clause in a bid to wrest back more control over our borders.

Danga was convicted of rape and a string of other sexual offences yesterday after a five-day trial at Croydon Crown Court, and jailed for 15 years.

His victims, now aged 14 and 12, were forced to relive their ordeals as they gave evidence to the jury via video link. The elder girl was first abused in 2000, when she was four.

Danga repeatedly attacked her before church meetings, but she escaped his clutches when he was sent from South East London to live in an immigration hostel in Portsmouth a year later. It was there that Danga was convicted of violently raping the 16-year-old girl in her bedroom after she tried to end their friendship. He was convicted of rape and jailed for ten years, with the judge ordering him to be deported on his release.

But in 2006 he was able to return to South East London after serving half his sentence, and began his legal battle to stay in Britain.

He began sexually abusing his first victim again before raping and molesting the second girl, who was just seven.

She said Danga wore a smart brown suit and would leave after the attacks to knock on doors and teach people about the Bible.

The younger victim told officers Danga would entice her into the bedroom by playing her pop hits including ‘Don’t Cha’ by the Pussycat Dolls on his mobile phone.

Describing one attack, she said: ‘I didn’t really like it but I didn’t say anything because of the music. I didn’t want it to happen again.’ Asked why she did not tell her parents, she added: ‘It crossed my mind a few times but then it was like, I felt like really bad because I felt it was all my fault.’

Yesterday Judge Nicholas Ainley jailed Danga of Beckenham, South East London, and ordered that he be deported on his release. He said it was ‘astonishing’ he had been allowed to remain in Britain after being freed the first time in 2006.

Unemployed Danga, who has two young children with his girlfriend Carla, whom he met when she was 18, shouted abuse at relatives of the two girls as he was led to the cells.

Last year around 200 foreign criminals won the right to stay in this country using Article 8, the right to a ‘private and family life’. They included failed asylum seeker Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who ran over 12-year-old Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’. He has fathered two children here.

Tory ministers have pledged to replace the Human Rights Act – which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into British law – with a UK Bill of Rights, but they have been opposed by their Lib Dem coalition partners.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We will seek to remove this individual as soon as he has finished his sentence. In 2010 we deported 5,235 foreign national prisoners from the UK.’



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 November, 2011

Unbelievable: Woman left to die because of British "safety" rules

Death would be too kind for the guy responsible

A Lawyer who fell 45ft down a mine shaft died after fire chiefs refused to mount an immediate rescue operation because of health and safety fears. Alison Hume, 44, was left lying in agony in the cold and dark for eight hours with several broken bones.

A report into her death yesterday found she could have survived if rank-and-file firemen had been allowed to do their job and bring her out. One fireman had been lowered down while a paramedic was strapped up in a harness ready to follow.

But bosses refused to use a winch to lift out the mother-of-two because they were slavishly following rules which said the equipment could only be used to save their own staff. Instead they waited through the early hours of the morning for a police mountain rescue team to arrive.

Mrs Hume was lifted out but died shortly afterwards from a heart attack brought on by hypothermia.

Last night her stepfather Hugh Cowan, 69, said: ‘They need to ask why people are using health and safety as an excuse for failure, rather than a reason for success.’

The case is the latest example of emergency service personnel putting their safety ahead of those they are supposed to be rescuing. Ten-year-old Jordan Lyon, of Wigan, drowned in a pond in 2007 after two police community support officers said they were unable to help him due to health and safety regulations.

Earlier this year coroner David Roberts said the emergency services must be prepared to ‘risk their lives’ after hearing how red tape cost vital minutes during Derrick Bird’s Cumbrian gun massacre.

She was found by her teenage daughter before Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service arrived and fireman Alexander Dunn was lowered to the bottom of the shaft.

Mrs Hume was still conscious but had a collapsed lung, several broken ribs and a broken sternum.

While the rescue operation was in progress, group commander Paul Stewart arrived as a media relations officer. He assumed command after realising he was the most senior officer there.

His first move was to stop a paramedic who was already strapped in a harness from being lowered. And he refused to allow colleagues to rescue her using ropes because they had not received the correct training. Mr Stewart feared they could be sued if the mission failed.

Incredibly, he told a fatal accident inquiry that the operation had a ‘successful outcome’ because the casualty was ultimately removed from the shaft.

Mr Stewart is still in the fire service and is on the waiting list for promotion to divisional commander. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service expressed ‘enormous regret’, but refused to apologise until after the report was published last night.

In the report Sheriff Desmond Leslie said Mrs Hume might have survived if she had been removed sooner. He said Mr Stewart and colleague William Thomson were ‘focused on self-justification for the action or non-action taken by them’ and did not reflect on lessons that could be learned from the tragedy. The sheriff added: ‘I found their evidence bullish, if not arrogant.’

The sheriff criticised the fire service's failure to recognise the urgency of a rescue, noting the firefighter had told the inquiry 'there was not a huge concern about the time'

Yesterday Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond ordered a fresh inquiry. Mrs Hume’s mother Margaret Cowan, 67, said ‘the public will lose all confidence in the fire service’ if the inquiry fails to ‘lead to something positive’. She added: ‘Some people have said to me that if the same thing happened again, they wouldn’t even phone 999 – they would get a rope and do the rescue themselves.’

And Mrs Hume’s father Ian McEwan described his daughter’s death as ‘a needless waste of life’. He said his granddaughter Jayne, 17, still had nightmares about finding her mother, adding: ‘She knew when she cried down to her mum that she was still alive.’

He added: ‘I hope no other family finds themselves in the same situation as we did.’ And Mr Cowan said he felt the fire service’s apology had been ‘forced upon them’.

He added: ‘I just feel have they been prompted by the fact that the First Minister has asked for an inquiry. ‘They did not seem interested in apologising yesterday or earlier today. It’s difficult to see whether I can honestly accept it under the circumstances.’

Former watch commander John Bowman – who had been ordered to rewrite the rule book on rope rescues weeks before the tragedy – yesterday spoke out against his former employers.

Mr Bowman, 52, had warned bosses that changing the rules to prevent firemen using ropes to rescue people was ‘a disaster waiting to happen’.

He said: ‘Many incidents you go to in the brigade don’t end with a successful resolution. Sometimes the person can be dead before you get there, sometimes you just can’t help people. This was not the case for Mrs Hume. It’s not the fire service’s finest hour.’

Last night the Chief Fire Officers Association said there was no uniform approach to the uses of winches in forces across Britain.

However, it said that health and safety legislation must not be ‘allowed to constrain incident commanders when making decisions in dynamic emergency situations’.


On the sexual (and political) exploitation of children

Of all the child sex abuse allegations levied against retired Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, none perhaps is more disturbing than the report that he used his non-profit foundation Second Mile to gain access to young boys — not only for himself, but for donors to his organization. Sexually assaulting children is by itself a monstrous act to contemplate; the idea that they may be pimped out to others is nearly unfathomable.

Yet to hear the mainstream media report it might lead one to believe that the problem of child sexual slavery is reaching horrifying levels in the U. S., and while it’s certainly not something to be ignored, it’s also not the “epidemic” the alarmists — and especially law enforcement — have portrayed it as.

One example of this media-fueled hysteria is a report released in September 2010 by the Women’s Funding Network, which earned them a national spotlight, not to mention an invitation from a House subcommittee, before which WFN chief program officer Deborah Richardson breathlessly warned that child prostitution was “exploding” in the U. S. — anywhere from 20 percent in New York to 65 percent in Minnesota. Lock up your daughters!

The study focused in particular on classified ad sites such as Backpage.com and Craigslist, whose adult sections, it claimed, were enabling the rapid expansion of the child sex trade. Craigslist succumbed to pressure brought by numerous U. S. Attorneys and closed its adult section, but The Village Voice, whose parent company owns Backpage, decided to do its own review of the study, and found it was based on looking at the pictures of girls in sex ads on the Internet — and making assumptions that a certain percentage of those ads must be for underage sex workers. There was nothing remotely scientific about the data acquisition or methodology; the research group almost literally made up most of the data.

Despite its questionable methods and conclusions, the study’s findings blew across the media landscape like a summer wildfire. Its numbers were reported without any critical analysis in papers such as USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, and cited by actress (and sex trafficking activist) Demi Moore, whose Web site still links to the WFN study.

None of this means that the child sex trade doesn’t exist, or that there aren’t a lot more Jerry Sanduskys lurking out there. But it does mean that publicizing bogus studies without any critical context can lead to bad policy decisions by lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. And we end up with Megan’s Law and Jessica’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act and other ill-conceived laws, all named after dead kids to make them seem critical to civilization’s continued existence, and not the further expansion of state power that they really are.

The air had barely escaped an Orlando courtroom following the Casey Anthony trial, in which she was found not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter, before an activist began pushing for a “Caylee’s Law”, which would have made it a felony for parents not to report a missing child within 24 hours. It is precisely during these times of high emotion, when sensationalized cases of crimes against children make headlines and inflame radio personalities, that such laws should not be considered. For they often serve only to increase the power of the police state without doing much to protect their intended beneficiaries. Politically popular and emotionally resonant they may be, but dead kids make for bad laws.

Raising awareness of social ills is important, but so is truth and justice, and the media serve neither when they engage in reporting that looks less like responsible journalism and more like alarmist propaganda for an ever-encroaching state.


PETA Slams 'Pro-Fur' Super Mario

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has set its sights on iconic video game character Mario for wearing fur in Nintendo’s latest 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land.

Since the game launched Sunday, the organization has launched a scathing online campaign entitled “Mario Kills Tanooki.” In Nintendo's new game, Mario sometimes dons the skin of a tanooki, which is a Japanese raccoon dog.

“Tanooki may be just a suit in the game, but in real life tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur,” PETA’s site states. “By wearing a Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it is OK to wear fur.”

To make their point, the site also features a disturbing video of real tanuki being abused by workers in the Japanese fur trade accompanied by a image of a bloodied Mario holding the head of a dead raccoon dog.

The jarring imagery falls in line with PETA’s aggressive and often controversial media campaigns. As part of its anti-fur action, members have attacked fashion shows with red paint. The organization has also vigorously recruited celebrities and supermodels to pose for the group’s “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign.

For Nintendo, the raccoon suit isn’t a fresh development. Mario first wore a Tanooki in 1988 with the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

In both games, the suits typically spring from special magic squares in the form of a feather.

"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games," a Nintendo spokesman told Eurogamer in a statement. “These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself.”

“These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."


NY Officials: Museum is “Christian Bashing”‏

A group of New York lawmakers and public officials are demanding that a taxpayer-funded museum in Brooklyn remove an art exhibit that includes a film depicting ants crawling on a crucifix – calling it another example of “Christian bashing.”

“This is an outrageous use of taxpayer money by the nation’s second-largest art museum, and an obvious attempt to offend Christians on the eve of one of the holiest times of the Christian faith,” wrote Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro in a letter to the museum director.

A total of seven Conservatives and Republicans signed the letter. Molinaro said Democratic lawmakers were also invited to sign, but he said they all declined.

“It’s fashionable to beat up on the Christians,” he told Fox News. “No one complains about it.”

“A Fire in My Belly” is part of a larger collection going on display at the Brooklyn Museum that explores how gender and sexual identity have shaped American art. The film, by David Wojnarowicz, was pulled from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., after members of Congress expressed outrage and a Catholic advocacy group labeled the art “sacrilegious.”

This same museum once featured an exhibit that showed Mother Mary covered in elephant dung.

Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman defended the film telling the Associated Press it was “such an important aspect of American art in the 20th century.”

“My hope is that this will be an extraordinarily important way in which to bring the entire city together to celebrate American art during this last century,” he told the AP.

Lehman declined to comment on the lawmaker’s letter. The museum said it encourages patrons with concerns about the artwork to view it in person.

“That’s the dumbest statement a man can make,” Molinaro told Fox News. “What is it to look at? Does it get better if I look at ants crawling up the nostril of Jesus?”

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” he said. “They’re bashing the Christians continuously at that museum.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to cut funding from the museum in 1999 after it featured an exhibit that depicted Mary with African features and included clumps of elephant dung and cutouts of female genitalia.

“This is New York City,” Lehman told the AP. “This is a city that has thrived on the incredible contributions from the gay and lesbian community.”

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) was one of the lawmakers who signed Molinaro’s letter. He said this is not a First Amendment issue.

“It’s an issue of how we spend our taxpayer dollars,” he told Fox News. “Everyone has a right to express themselves. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to go around offending massive groups of people and have other people pay for it.”

Molinaro and Grimm said the issue should transcend religions.

“I’m a very proud Catholic,” Grimm said. “Do I find this offensive as a Christian? Yes. But I also find it offensive as an American. If it was Islam or if it was Judaism, I would be just as offended as an American.”

“I’m against anything derogatory towards anyone’s faith,” Molinaro said.

And that’s why he’s calling on not just New Yorkers, but people across the country to turn up the heat – and urge the museum to reconsider.

“Everyone should come out against this – regardless if you are a Christian,” he said. “If everyone came out against it, I believe a difference would be made.”



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 November, 2011

U.S. Department of Justice Seeks Law Against some kinds of Lying Online

I myself not only put my real name online but also provide an extensive and highly checkable autobiography. But even so, I am strongly of the view that anonymous posting should be allowed. In an oppressive situation, it may be needed to get the truth into public view -- JR

Using a pseudonym on Facebook or fibbing about your age on a dating site could be illegal if the U.S. Department of Justice has its way.

The DOJ is going to Congress today to argue that Web sites' terms of service policies should be enforceable by law, according to CNet. For that purpose, the department seeks an expansion of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 25-year-old law that mainly deals with hacking, password trafficking, and threatening to damage a computer.

By outlawing terms of service violations, the department would have an easier time prosecuting cyberbullies such as Lori Drew, a 49-year-old woman who involved in a case where a 13-year-old girl committed suicide after interacting with a fake MySpace profile that Drew was involved with. Prosecutors got a conviction against Drew in 2008 for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but the case was thrown out by a U.S. District Court judge.

"It basically leaves it up to a website owner to determine what is a crime," U.S. District Judge George Wu said of his verdict in 2009. "And therefore it criminalizes what would be a breach of contract."

That's exactly what the Department of Justice is trying to do now, through Congress. Is the Solution Too Broad?

The department's heart is in the right place, of course, but as groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out in an August 2011 letter to the Judiciary Committee, outlawing terms of service violations is an overly broad way to solve the problem. In addition to snaring cyberbullies, it would also criminalize harmless fibs such as using a fake name on Facebook to protect privacy. It would also force people to digest needlessly long terms of service policies for online services, lest they inadvertently break the law.

Some U.S. states, including Drew's home state of Missouri, have passed their own cyberbullying laws. Attempts at federal cyberbullying legislation have gone nowhere, which may explain why the Department of Justice is trying a new strategy. But I have a feeling a broad law to make terms of service violations illegal would only introduce more problems than it solves.


British man too sick to go to jail

Killer motorist with 50 convictions spared jail after idiot British judge says his hands 'are tied' because criminal wouldn't get care he needs

He once killed a mother of two while speeding. Yet the tragic consequences of his actions meant nothing to Kevin Bracken. In the subsequent 20 years, he has racked up more than 50 driving offences.

But even now he will not face the full force of the law after a judge said he could not jail him because his local prison would not provide the round-the-clock care he needs for his physical and mental disabilities.

His latest offence came in January this year when the 46-year-old led police on a terrifying chase on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.

He had already totted up five convictions for dangerous driving, 29 for driving while disqualified, and 15 for taking a vehicle or allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle that had been taken.

Judge William Morris said that Bracken had ‘a complete disregard for the law’ and ‘deserved’ to go to prison for 19 months for his sixth dangerous driving offence, close to the two-year maximum sentence. ‘This is a shocking case of dangerous driving – how many times has that been said to you by judges?’ he asked. ‘I have never seen a record so bad for driving offences. You deserve to go to prison and you know it.’

However, having receiving guidance from Forest Bank prison in Salford, the judge admitted: ‘My hands are tied. I have had a letter from the prison to say that the medical services there simply could not cope with you, so what can I do?’

Bolton Crown Court heard that Bracken’s estranged wife has given up her job to look after him 24 hours a day. ‘The sad fact for you is you are almost imprisoned by your medical condition now,’ the judge added.

Bracken, who cannot walk unaided, says he is now paralysed on one side, though the precise nature of his disabilities is unclear. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance following a four-mile pursuit through Bolton on January 21. The court heard he performed two U-turns, went through two red lights, and drove on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.

After crashing he got into the passenger seat and told police that the driver had fled. But when officers tried to open the driver-side door, it was jammed shut.

William Donnelly, prosecuting, said of Bracken: ‘He is a prolific offender and has five previous convictions for reckless or dangerous driving. Tragically he caused the death of an individual in 1991.’ Bracken was jailed for two years after the death of Tracey Richardson, 28, who had popped out to buy sweets for her children. ‘One would think that would act as a brake in this behaviour, but not in the case of Bracken,’ added Mr Donnelly.

Judge Morris gave Bracken, of Bolton, a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and an additional five-year driving ban. ‘I won’t be driving again,’ Bracken said. ‘It was a moment of madness and I am very sorry for what I did.’

Last night, campaigners condemned the decision to keep him out of jail, and called for adequate punishments for persistent offenders.

Katie Shephard, of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘We know that losing a loved one in a road crash is sudden and completely devastating. It rips families’ lives apart. It’s appalling that he continues to risk innocent road users lives by getting behind the wheel'. She added: ‘There should be provisions in place so that offenders can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law'.


The BBC illustrates the one thing socialist Britain is good at: Bureaucratic bloat

The BBC may have embarked on some of the most dramatic cost-cutting in its history, but it seems there is still some way to go. There are almost 4,500 job titles in existence at the Corporation, it has emerged, and almost 2,000 of its staff have the word manager in their title.

It is thought there are even more staff on top of this who are classed as and paid as managers but do not have the word in their job titles.

The broadcaster, which has long been accused of having too many middle and senior managers, also employs 191 staff with the word ‘adviser’ in the title.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the BBC has also admitted that 44 members of staff have the word ‘strategy’ in their job role. Within its news department alone there are more than 1,000 job titles, another 700 in its TV department and nearly 500 in radio.

There could be significantly more roles because the figures only refer to BBC staff on permanent and fixed-term contracts and do not include casual workers, or jobs at its commercial arm or BBC World News.

Yesterday critics said the figures showed the BBC was still wasting large amounts of money ‘on sustaining a massive bureaucracy’. The area with the second highest number of job titles – 918 – was the Corporation’s operations group and executive support projects, which is not involved with programme making. Just what do they do?

This part of the business is in charge of areas such as strategy, policy, distribution, property, legal affairs and looking after the organisation’s buildings.

A BBC spokesman defended the number of different roles, claiming that the title manager is ‘generally used to reflect a particular level of experience and seniority within the BBC rather than someone who actually manages a team of people’.

Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is fresh evidence to support longstanding concerns that the BBC is wasting huge amounts of money sustaining a massive bureaucracy.

‘Families struggling to pay their licence fee on top of so many other bills, and expecting it to be spent on things like making programmes, will be worried that too much of their money is going on a bloated management structure.’

The news comes after the BBC promised last year that it was banning baffling job titles and would make it clearer to the public what staff are doing.

Last month, BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson was asked on Newsnight why when the Corporation wanted to put money into programmes it was at the same time trying to recruit a ‘decision support analyst’ on £58,000 a year. She admitted: ‘I don’t know what that person actually does but what I do say is that you want the BBC to be a well-managed organisation.’


Defending Israeli Democracy

Caroline Glick

US Embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks in September exposed the ugly truth that self-described champions of Israeli democracy would like us to forget about the actual goals of Israel's self-described human rights organizations.

In a meeting with then US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv in January 2010, B'Tselem director Jessica Montell explained what her group wished to achieve by colluding with the UN's Goldstone Commission's inquiry into Israel's handling of Operation Cast Lead. According to the embassy report, Montell said, "Her aim...was to make Israel weigh world opinion and consider whether it could 'afford another operation like this.'"

In other words, in colluding with the UN's anti-Israel commission, whose mandate from the UN Human Rights Council was to explain how Israel broke international law by acting to defend its citizens from Hamas's illegal, indiscriminate missile assault, B'Tselem's goal was to undermine Israel's ability to defend itself. B'Tselem wished to use the UN commission to foment an international witch-hunt against the Jewish state that would exact a prohibitive price for defending the country. Israel's democratically elected government would react to the international onslaught by ignoring the needs of the Israeli public and opting not to defend the country again.

Obviously, if Israel ceases to defend itself, in light of its enemies' dedication to its destruction, it will cease to exist. And in a meeting with US Embassy officers in February 2010, Hedva Radovanitz, the New Israel Fund's then-associate director in Israel said that would be just fine by her. According to a leaked embassy cable report of the meeting, Radovanitz said "she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic."

THE LIKES of Radovanitz and Montell are acutely aware that most Israelis do not share their extremist goals or their radical visions for Israel's future.

Radovanitz acknowledged that public support for the radical left, which the NIF supports to the tune of $18 million per year, has no serious domestic constituency.

As the cable put it, she described the "disappearance of the political left wing" in Israel and the lack of domestic constituency for the NGOs.

She noted that "when she headed ACRI's [the Association for Civil Rights in Israel's] Tel Aviv office, ACRI had 5,000 members, while today it has less than 800, and it was only able to muster about 5,000 people to its December [2009] human rights march by relying on the active staff of the 120 NGOs that participated."

As for Montell, in a meeting with the US Embassy's political officer in February 2010, she "estimated that [B'Tselem's] 9 million NIS ($2.4 million) budget is 95 percent funded from abroad, mostly from European countries."

The reality that these Wikileaks-leaked documents expose is precisely the reality which the Knesset this week launched a renewed effort to contend with by submitting three separate bills for consideration. Two of the Knesset bills address the issue of foreign funding to NGOs. One bill would limit the amount of funding Israeli political NGOs can receive from foreign governments and international organizations like the EU and the UN to NIS 20,000 per year. A competing bill would deny tax exemptions - that is, government subsidies - for such contributions and apply a 45% tax to all such foreign contributions.

While the laws would apply to all NGOs, obviously they would be particularly problematic for the NGOs run by Israeli radicals like Montell and Radovanitz that have no domestic Israeli constituency and rely on foreign governments to support their anti-Israel efforts.

THE THIRD bill addresses the main source of the political power of these foreign-funded NGOs - Israel's radicalized Supreme Court.

For the past 20 years or so, as the radical left has discredited itself as a political force in Israel, it has increasingly used the Supreme Court to achieve its aims. The Court is dominated by far leftists who legislate laws from the bench that would never pass in the Knesset.

Petitioning the Supreme Court, EU-funded groups like B'tselem, Peace Now and Adalah have been able to place court-imposed constraints on IDF operations.

They have been able to block or hamper the implementation of security measures that enjoy broad public support like the construction of the security fence.

They are able to block political leaders from devising and carrying out policies they believe serve the country's interests such as preventing illegal PLO activities in Jerusalem and building Jewish communities on Jewish- owned land in the Galilee.

The Supreme Court's radical legislative agenda is not limited to political and security issues. It has also overturned Knesset laws to liberalize the media and privatize sectors of the economy like the prison system. It has acted on the basis of constitutional claims that have little grounding in actual law, and that it applies inconsistently in accordance with its judges' ideological leanings.

The public has taken notice of the Court's increasingly undemocratic activities. According to a recent Maagar Mohot poll, the Supreme Court, once the most trusted institution in Israel, is now seen by 54% of the public as politically biased and, by a 75% to 11% margin, slanted left. Sixty-three percent of the public believes that the personal political views of the judges influence their legal decisions to some degree.

The Supreme Court's radical agenda is facilitated by Israel's undemocratic method of selecting its members.

Court members are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Committee. For all practical purposes, the committee is controlled by the Supreme Court itself and so the justices effectively select themselves. Fifty-six percent of the public wants this selection method changed.

The bill submitted by Likud MKs Yariv Levin and Zev Elkin would subject all Supreme Court nominees to public hearings conducted by the Knesset's Law, Constitution and Justice Committee. These hearings would provide legislators and the public with full disclosure on the views, activities and associations of prospective justices. Doing so would constitute a tiny step toward bringing court appointments procedures more in line with those in effect in most other western democracies.

While the bills dealing with foreign funding of NGOs and the bill concerning Supreme Court appointments are ostensibly unrelated, in fact they are directly linked.

Speaking to the media, the heads of various NGOs claim that the bills addressing their foreign funding are "unconstitutional" and therefore of little concern.

They know that they can depend on their ideological brethren in the Supreme Court to protect them from the public and its representatives in the Knesset. Just as the Court has not hesitated to block legitimate governmental policies and reforms in the past in the interest of the justices' radical ideological convictions, so the NGO representatives believe, the Court will protect them from the Knesset's actions this time around as well.

This means that the only way to protect Israeli democracy from subversive, foreign funded groups who seek to undermine the foundations of the state is to reform the Supreme Court that enables their activities.

All the bills that were submitted this week are serious attempts to tackle a serious threat to Israel democracy.

And they are not the first of their kind. Over the past several years, Israel's legislators have introduced several bills aimed at achieving the same goals. And each of these bills in turn has been attacked by the leftist Israeli media as "anti-democratic."

The media are repeating their standard practice today. Rather than foster debate about the substance of these bills and the problems they seek to address, the media are colluding with the heads of the NGOs and their foreign governmental donors to demonize the bills' sponsors and to threaten Israel with "diplomatic consequences" if the Knesset moves ahead with the initiatives.

All of this is bad enough. But what makes the situation even worse is the behavior of self-declared champions of democracy among senior Likud politicians. In the name of democracy, Ministers Bennie Begin, Michael Eitan, and Dan Meridor all oppose these measures, which are all focused on protecting and strengthening Israeli democracy.

Meridor can always be depended on to take the position of the left against his party's voters. But Begin and Eitan have distinguished themselves as independent thinkers. Eitan has taken a tough and independent line on governmental corruption. Begin has not hesitated to oppose the leftist media and bureaucracy in issues related to terrorism.

Yet here, these men habitually embrace the specious and frankly indefensible arguments of the radical left that represents no one but itself and its foreign funders.

It was the opposition of the likes of Begin, Meridor, Eitan and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that gave the radical left the necessary political cover to torpedo previous parliamentary initiatives to protect Israel's democratic institutions from their foreign-funded onslaughts.

And the Supreme Court's success to date in averting any serious parliamentary or governmental attempts to check its anti-democratic actions owes in large part to these Likud leaders' championship of its judicial usurpation of legislative and governmental power.

It is hard to know what is driving these men to act as they do. But it is high time that they exercise some independent judgment and rethink their support for the radical left's foreign funded, judicially enabled assault on Israeli democracy.



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 November, 2011

Useless workshy British youth

The product of a generous welfare state and dumbed-down, value-free schools. No need to work so why should they? And the bosses don't want them anyway. Given their "attitude", I certainly would be unlikely to hire any of them

Around 500 foreigners landed a job in Britain every day over the past year while the number of UK-born workers plunged. Official figures yesterday painted a shockingly bleak picture of a jobs market in crisis as unemployment hit a 17-year high.

The Office for National Statistics said the number of British-born workers has crashed by 311,000 in a year, equal to more than 850 a day. But in the same period, the number of foreign-born employees jumped by 181,000 – or 495 a day.

Ministers admitted the situation was ‘unacceptable’, although bosses warned that many young British workers were too lazy and too bad at basics such as punctuality to be worth hiring. But experts said the latest figures highlight the urgency of tackling the immigration problem.

Yesterday Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister, was asked about why one branch of the sandwich chain Pret A Manger appeared to be staffed entirely by foreigners.

He told Sky News: ‘It is certainly a situation that I find unacceptable. Of course, this country has benefited from people coming in from other countries to work.

‘But I want to see more young people in positions in this country and I want … to see them getting jobs that become vacant, rather than people coming into the UK.’

It comes as unemployment among those aged 16 to 24 has ballooned to its highest level on record, topping one million for the first time.

Overall unemployment is currently 2.62million, its highest since 1994. The number of employees has dropped by 305,000 between July and September, the largest fall since 1992. Last month, however, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by just 5,000, indicating, that many of those out of work refuse to claim because they expect to find a job again soon.

Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the general picture meant it already felt like a second downturn had begun for millions of workers. ‘This is a miserable time for UK workers as well as the jobless,’ he said ‘The anaemic “jobs-light/pay-tight” recovery itself feels just like a recession.’

Sir Andrew Green, of the Migrationwatch think-tank, described the figures as ‘stunning’. He said: ‘The immigration lobby can no longer pretend that these massive levels of immigration have no significant effect on the job prospects for British workers who are now unemployed.’

The crisis facing British-born workers comes after business leaders and lobby groups have warned they prefer foreign workers. The British Chambers of Commerce said many school leavers and graduates with ‘fairly useless’ degrees are unemployable because they lack basic skills.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the fault does not lie with the young person, but their education. ‘There may be a course in underwater basket weaving, but that does not mean anybody will actually want to employ you at the end of it,’ he said.

A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, meanwhile, said bosses preferred foreign workers because they had a more ‘positive’ attitude.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, warned recently that Britain was in ‘the last chance saloon’ if it wants to get British people off benefits and into the workplace.

Ministers in his department are understood to be ‘concerned’ at the figures. ‘It’s not a pretty picture,’ said one source. ‘It makes it very difficult to do welfare reform when there are so many people coming in.’

A new Government scheme, announced yesterday, will offer a £1,500 cash incentive to small firms who hire an apprentice for the first time. Under the proposal, companies will be forced to educate the young person in English and maths to a level at which they would be able to pass a GCSE in both subjects.


Meet the British bosses who say: Give us foreign workers every time


The number of foreign employees at a leading firm of plumbers has doubled over the past two years because British workers lack the right work ethic. Charlie Mullins, the 52-year-old founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said Britons would ‘rather be footballers than do an honest day’s work’.

Mr Mullins, whose firm has 200 staff, said he was forced to employ foreign-born people because they work harder than their British counterparts. ‘We’re increasingly employing foreign workers. They have the right attitude and are prepared to work harder,’ he said.

‘The younger British generation who come in for interviews are often sent by the benefit people and have no desire to work. ‘It’s a case of “won’t work”, not “can’t work”. They feel as if the country owes them a living.’

He said the number of foreign-born workers he employed at the company, London’s largest independent plumbers, had doubled in the past two years to 40, or 20 per cent of his staff.

They are mostly from South Africa and work as plumbers and tradesmen, roles which command annual salaries between £50,000 and £70,000.

But he also employs workers from Ireland, Italy, Australia and Spain in various roles in both the administrative side of the business and the trade side.

And he said his foreign-born employees tended to earn more than native workers because they were willing to put in overtime and keen to increase their workload.

Mr Mullins, from Kent, founded the firm in 1979. It now has a turnover of £17million. But he said that many of the British people he interviewed for jobs had the wrong attitude and demanded too much.

‘British workers are too picky and choosy and not prepared to work hard,’ he said. ‘They are demanding ridiculous money. ‘Many of the young people who come in for interviews have never even been in a workplace. Many of them have degrees: I don’t need people with degrees – I need people with the right attitude.’


Keith Abel was forced to employ foreign-born workers because his popular firm, which delivers organic groceries, has struggled to find young British people to fill vacant positions. He said some young Britons were trapped in the benefits system and did not want to get up early to do a job for £7-an-hour when they could rely on Government handouts.

Mr Abel, who started Abel and Cole more than 20 years ago, said: ‘We’ve got a fantastic workforce, we’ve got extremely hard-working people. ‘It’s just a bit of a tragedy that a considerable and significant number of them are from Eastern Europe and not the local communities given the rates of unemployment in the local area.’

He said his company could not recruit young British people to work for £7.25-an-hour as delivery drivers and that some young British people on benefits would rather receive handouts than work.

'People are not prepared to start with what they deem to be menial jobs. Terry Leahy, the head of Tesco, famously started stacking shelves. Everyone starts at the bottom.' ‘People who are in the benefits system struggle with the concept of getting out of bed at 5.30 to do a six o’clock until three o’clock shift on £7 an hour when the actual additional income they’d be taking home is initially very small,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘The point is, the better-paid work comes for the people who start on the lower-paid work. There must be a solution whereby the Government is able to wean people off benefits rather than shut them off completely when somebody goes into a job.’

He said he would happily find roles for young British people who were out of work. ‘If people who are on the unemployment register want to ask us for jobs, we’d interview them in exactly the same way we interview anyone else,’ he added.

‘Business people are in there to do business. Politicians are in there to solve problems like unemployment.’


While horrified that more than a million young people in Britain are unemployed, I’m afraid I’m not at all surprised. After working in the catering industry for 16 years – many of those as a manager seeking to employ staff – I have come to the sad conclusion that many young people simply do not want to work.

Of course they say they want a job. They send off job applications and turn up for interviews. But when it comes down to hard graft, they are simply not interested. The truth is that young people think the state owes them a living.

Underpinning everything is a welfare state which creates a culture where no one worries whether they have a job or not because there’s always free money from the Government to fall back on.

Also, brought up in school and home environments where criticism is practically non-existent, when they face the tough, challenging world of work, they are unable to cope.

To hear them complain about the shortage of jobs you would think they are desperate to work, willing to walk over hot coals to get a job. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

During my career, I have interviewed and employed many young people. And it shames me to say this but it was often easier to teach English to foreign applicants than it is to try to instill the right work ethic in our own English-speaking youth.

Time and again I see young people turn up for interviews wearing grubby jeans or tracksuits. They smoke and talk on the phone to their friends.

Many of them come with their partner or a parent (some even send their parents on ahead while they have a lie-in). What’s more, a lot don’t seem interested in the post at all – having turned up just so I can sign their Jobseekers’ Allowance form which means they can continue to receive welfare benefits.

Of those who do inquire seriously about the jobs, they often demand preposterous conditions. Many say they don’t want to work weekends or evenings because they want to go out with their friends. One applicant said the half-hour walk to work was too far.

One wretched soul told me he couldn’t work on Friday nights or Saturday mornings because he would be out with friends on Friday evenings and hung-over on Saturday morning! And they expect me to reward their commitment with a job?

Rather than interviewees doing their best to persuade me that I should employ them, the roles have become absurdly reversed with me having to persuade them to take the job.

Already I have had to let eight people go – and we have only been open since March – because they didn’t have the right attitude. One phoned in sick on his second day and never came back. Another lasted two weeks then she said the job was not for her because she missed Friday nights out with friends.

Another youngster was training for an NVQ qualification in our fine-dining team but lacked any ambition and decided life would be easier if she returned to her old job at a pub, where food was just heated in a microwave. And I sacked one employee for phoning in sick, then posting pictures of herself at a social event on the same day on Facebook.

Schools must take part of the blame. They teach subjects such as media studies, which give them false hopes about the type of jobs they can secure. There is a limit to the number of people who can work on The X Factor.

The tragedy is that so many youngsters seem devoid of real-life experience. This is where parents are at fault. From what I have seen, many parents have the same disengaged, uncommitted and welfare-sodden attitudes as their children.

Among many, there seems to be an utter absence of any sense of responsibility, work ethic or pride in contributing to society.

I recently gave a talk to a careers night at a local college. The youngsters stood slouched, hands in pockets staring up at the ceiling, some of them whistling under their breath. Not a single parent present chastised them for such unacceptable disrespect to an adult who had given up their time to address them.

There are those, however, who will do anything to secure a job. I once interviewed a young man in Staffordshire. He had taken a ferry, train and bus from the Isle of Man to make the appointment. He was wearing a suit and tie.

I gave him a job as a waiter and he’s now an events manager for a university. You’ve probably guessed – he is foreign (having been born in Indonesia). One of the best employees I ever had was a young Turk who barely spoke any English. He was so keen that I gave him a backroom job.

After infuriating weeks when other British employees had called in sick or turned up late, I put the Turk on the frontline. He was polite and friendly, happily juggling the job with two afternoons of English classes each week. He now manages one of the bars in Dublin Airport.

Job opportunities are certainly here and I want to give them to young people in my local area, but I’ve hit a wall. In desperation this week, I asked friends in the catering industries in Spain, Morocco and Holland to recommend any staff.

The first step to raise standards in our home-grown young is to admit that, for many, unemployment has become a personal choice to avoid hard work – and not an inescapable trap.


Australian PM kills off homosexual marriage push

The Labor party Left are disgusting. They want members of their own party to be forced to vote against their conscience

JULIA Gillard has effectively killed off the prospect of gay marriage by ruling out government legislation and allowing Labor MPs a conscience vote that would be destined to fail.

The prime minister's intervention has fuelled a backlash from the Left of the party, which is set to endorse a push against the PM's proposals at a meeting in Canberra on Sunday.

Ms Gillard says she expects "fireworks" at the conference, arguing that disputes will be a sign the party is not afraid of debating policy ideas.

"I expect and want to see a noisy conference," she said. "That shows we are a political party full of ideas and working through how Australia deals with challenges of today and the challenges of tomorrow."

In a compromise deal on gay marriage, Ms Gillard will allow Labor MPs a conscience vote if a private members' bill is introduced to the parliament.

But she has ruled out government legislation to change the Marriage Act, even if this is endorsed by the national conference.

A conscience vote on gay marriage would be doomed to fail because some members of the Labor Party would oppose it and the Coalition planned to block it.

Advocates of gay marriage have warned they will not be dissuaded from their campaign if a conscience vote failed to pass the parliament. Key Labor Right figures - including some who support gay marriage such as Paul Howes and Mark Arbib - backed the conscience vote.

Labor Left powerbrokers Doug Cameron and Mental Health Minister Mark Butler have vowed to campaign against a conscience vote. Senator Cameron said the conscience vote was a "tactical manoeuvre" by the PM that was "not appropriate".

But Queensland backbencher Graham Perrett, who is a Labor Left convenor and has argued for gay marriage, said people who opposed a change for religious reasons should have the right to vote against it.


Does a Full-Time Homemaker Swap Her Mind for a Mop?

Dennis Prager

I periodically write and regularly broadcast about male-female issues because I want to help men and women, especially husbands and wives, get along better. But I have developed a secondary reason: to elicit left-wing reactions. They reveal an enormous amount about how the left thinks.

For example, one of the biggest left-wing websites (Daily Kos) wrote that "Dennis Prager advocates marital rape." Why? Because I wrote a column in which I suggested that if a woman loves her husband, and if he is a loving and good man, she might not want to be guided solely by "mood" in deciding whether and when to have sex with him.

And just a few weeks ago, the same website declared me a misogynist for my column on what I believe to have been four negative legacies of feminism for women. I actually wrote the column on behalf of women, yet I was labeled a misogynist. Why? Because I suggested that feminist pressure on women to emphasize career over finding a husband, career over marriage and career over child rearing has not been good for most women or for society. That means, according to the Daily Kos writer, that "basically Prager is upset with contemporary women because they seek a life beyond being confined to domestic space and swapping their brains for a mop."

To suggest that children benefit from having a full-time parent -- which will usually be the mother -- is, in the eyes of the dominant intellectual culture, equivalent to advocating suppression of women and "swapping their brains for a mop." The left views full-time homemakers as individuals who, because of patriarchy and other nefarious forces, have abandoned their minds to the lowest intellectual activity the human being can engage in: homemaking. Being a full-time homemaker, mother and wife is the left's vision of hell.

Why that is so is not my subject here. Rather, I seek to refute the idea that full-time homemaking is intellectually vapid and a waste of a college education.

Let me first state that I have no argument with those mothers who need to or even just wish to work outside the home. My argument is with those who believe that staying at home is necessarily mind-numbing.

Nor do I wish to romanticize child rearing. As a rule, little children don't contribute much to the intellectual life of a parent (although older children who are intellectually curious can spur a parent to seek answers to challenging questions they may not have considered before). Any intellectually alive woman who is a full-time mother must therefore find intellectual stimulation elsewhere.

The point is that she can find such stimulation without leaving her house. Furthermore, the intellectual input she can find is likely to be greater than most women (or men) find working outside the home. There is a reason that about half the audience of my national radio show is female -- they listen to talk radio for hours a day and broaden their knowledge considerably. To the left, the notion that talk radio enhances intellectual development is akin to fish needing bicycles. But that's because the left's greatest achievement is demonizing the right and because they never actually listen to the best of us.

I am syndicated by the Salem Radio Network. My colleagues are Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt. Two of us attended Harvard, one Yale and one Columbia. One of us taught at Harvard, another at the City University of New York. And a third teaches constitutional law at a law school.

In addition to reviewing the news and discussing our own views, we all routinely interview authors and experts -- left and right -- in almost every field. The woman who listens to us regularly will know more about economics, politics, current events, world affairs, American history and religion than the great majority of men and women who work full-time outside of the house.

Lest the latter seem a self-serving suggestion, there are many other opportunities for full-time homemakers to broaden their intellectual horizons: recorded books and a few television networks, for example. And if a woman can get help from grandparents, neighbors, older children or a baby sitter, there are also myriad opportunities for study outside the house -- such as community college classes, book clubs, etc. -- and for volunteer work in intellectually more stimulating areas than most paid work.

Let me give an example of the woman I know best: my wife. She is a non-practicing lawyer with a particular interest in and knowledge of taxation and the economy. She decided to stay home to be a full-time mother to her two boys (one of whom is autistic) and her two nieces (who lost their mother, my wife's sister, to cancer, when they were very young). Between talk radio, History Channel documentaries, BookTV on C-SPAN2, recorded lectures from The Teaching Company/The Great Courses, and constant reading, she has led a first-class intellectual life while shuttling kids, folding laundry and making family dinners.

So it is not only nonsense that full-time homemaking means swapping the mind for a mop. It is also nonsense that the vast majority of paid work outside the home develops the mind. One may prefer to work outside the home for many reasons: a need or desire for extra income; a need to get out of the house; a need to be admired for work beyond making a home; a need for regular interaction with other adults. But the development of the intellect is not necessarily among them.



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 November, 2011

Men sue Swedish police for sexual discrimination

The National Police Board (Rikspolistyrelsen) has been sued by a rights group for alleged discrimination, arguing that women have been favoured ahead of men in the recruitment process.

The Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) has filed three writs against the board, alleging that male recruits have been denied places at the Swedish National Police Academy in favour of female recruits, despite the man having performed better in physical and language tests.

"If there has been violation of the law on admissions to the Police Academy, it is obviously very serious. Through this judicial process the questions will hopefully be answered," said Clarence Crafoord, director of the Centre for Justice, in statement. Crafoord argued that the issue is of extra importance "because the Equality Ombudsman has chosen to act extremely passively in the matter".

The Local reported in July that around 80 complaints had been filed with the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen - DO) alleging they weren't admitted to police training programmes because of their gender. The Centre for Justice has now reported that this figure has risen to 130 cases of alleged discrimination.

DO announced a couple of weeks ago that it would open a dialogue with the police board, responsible for the academies in Solna, Umeå and Växjö. The three cases set be tried concern two men from Malmö, Måns P... and Daniel Ståhl, and one from Småland, Albin Halldin.

"These men who applied for police training have been better than the women in both the language tests and physical tests, but despite this it is the women who have been admitted," Clarence Crafoord said. The men are each demanding 100,000 kronor ($15,000) in compensation.

Carolina Ekéus at the National Police Board press office told The Local on Monday that the board declined to comment on the case "as a judicial process has now begun". Ekéus furthermore declined to comment on the National Police Board's recruitment policies.

Back in January 2009 the National Police Academy announced that, for the first time ever, women outnumbered the men among the new recruits in that year's intake.

"We need people with different backgrounds and experience so that the police force is representative of the wider society," said Monica Landergård at the police academy to The Local at the time.


Don't push your luck, Britain's top judge tells Euro court in new 'rights' showdown

England's most senior judge yesterday warned the European Court of Human Rights against interfering too far in British law. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said judges in Strasbourg could be about to make the extraordinary demand that British courts ignore laws set down by Parliament. He told MPs and peers that an imminent ruling ‘has huge implications’ and ‘could in effect call on us to disapply the 2003 Criminal Justice Act’.

The looming showdown relates to the case of Imad Al-Khawaja, who was convicted of indecent assault in 2004. One witness gave evidence but died before his trial. A statement she made to police was read to the jury.

Mr Al-Khawaja’s is now a test case over whether criminals can be convicted on the basis of so-called ‘hearsay’ evidence from witnesses who do not appear in court. British law says they can, and the principle has been backed by the Supreme Court. But Strasbourg’s final appeal body, the Grand Chamber, is thought to be likely to over-rule that decision with its own, due shortly.

European human rights judges have regularly ordered Parliament to rethink its laws, as in the ongoing dispute over votes for prisoners. However, they are yet to order courts to actually ignore current statutes.

Lord Judge told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights that a decision to overrule the Supreme Court would amount to trespass on British independence and contravene the ‘margin of appreciation’ – the term for how much Strasbourg may interfere in domestic laws. ‘If the decision is that [Al-Khawaja] had an unfair trial, then that decision will be a very good demonstration that the margin of appreciation is not being followed,’ he said.

Lord Judge told the committee that the decision on whose law must be obeyed – that of Westminster or Strasbourg – will eventually go to the Supreme Court. ‘It will have to be resolved,’ he said.

He also claimed that British courts had been following Strasbourg’s rulings too closely. ‘Most of the decisions are fact-specific decisions; they are not deciding any point of principle. They are just saying “here are the facts, here is the answer”. That is not precedent for anything,’ he said. ‘There has been a tendency to follow much more closely than I think we should.’

In addition, the Lord Chief Justice indicated that he fears European Union manoeuvres may remove any opportunity for British courts to defy Strasbourg. At present, the Human Rights Act states that courts should merely ‘take account’ of the court’s judgments.

But the EU is negotiating to use its new constitutional powers, granted by the Lisbon Treaty, to become a member of the ECHR, with the same status as member nations. If it succeeds, the EU’s own European Court of Justice, which sits in Luxembourg, will be able to tell EU countries to follow the judgments of Strasbourg.

Lord Judge said: ‘There is a difference between Luxembourg and Strasbourg. ‘Never mind take account of – we will be ordered to follow Strasbourg law because Luxembourg is following it.’


Lies about child protection in South Dakota

NPR makes it sound worse than in Britain -- which is hard to do

I have been investigating National Public Radio’s three-part series on child welfare in South Dakota. Briefly, NPR claimed that South Dakota’s Department of Social Services sends social workers onto Indian reservations to “kidnap” Indian children, who are then placed more or less exclusively in white foster care–a transaction which NPR alleged that the state carries out for profit. I refuted these bizarre claims here, here, and here. I have also sent two emails to Laura Sullivan, the NPR reporter responsible for the series, asking her a number of questions about her allegations. She has not responded.

Now on to Part IV. It was only a matter of time before NPR’s series turned explicitly partisan–after all, NPR doesn’t exist to attack social workers. Part 2 of NPR’s series tried to link the “scandal” of kidnapped Indian children to South Dakota’s newly-elected Republican Governor, Dennis Daugaard:
With multiple campuses and emergency centers, Children’s Home provides services for up to 2,000 children a year. It’s now one of the largest nonprofits in the state. But it wasn’t always.

Ten years ago, this group was in financial trouble. For several years, tax records show, it was losing money. Then in 2002, a former banker named Dennis Daugaard joined the team. He became the group’s chief operating officer. A year later, he was promoted to executive director. And things began to change.

The money the group was getting from the state doubled under his leadership. Children’s Home grew financially to seven times its size. It added two new facilities.

So Daugaard did a great job. In most circles, this is considered commendable.

The group paid Daugaard $115,000 a year. But that wasn’t his only job. He was also the state’s lieutenant governor — and a rising star in state politics.

The seven years Daugaard spent at Children’s Home — and his ability to turn the place around — were prominent features of his successful 2010 bid for governor.

NPR claims that being Lieutenant Governor at the same time when he ran Children’s Home represented a conflict of interest:
It could be that Children’s Home was the best organization for the job, at the best price for all those contracts it got.

But it would be difficult for tax payers to know. In just about every case, the group did not compete for the contracts or bid against any other organization. For almost seven years, until this year, Daugaard’s colleagues in state government just chose the organization and sent it money — more than $50 million in all.

“It’s a massive conflict of interest,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, adding that any organization run by a state’s top elected official would have undue power in that state.

“When you’re lieutenant governor, people are anxious to curry favor with you,” she says.

Three points about this charge. First, NPR fails to note a basic fact–a wonderful fact, really–about South Dakota: being lieutenant governor is a part-time job. As of 2010, the state’s lieutenant governor earned a modest $17,699. This is, in part, because the lieutenant governor has no duties except during the two months each year when the legislature is in session. Thus, all lieutenant governors have outside, full-time jobs, as Daugaard did.

Second, the fact that Children’s Home got contracts to care for South Dakota children without having to bid against other organizations means nothing. States and other governmental units constantly enter into contracts with providers of goods and services. Whether a competitive bidding process is required as to a particular contract is a matter of state law; usually, it is not. Whether no-bid contracts are somehow scandalous depends entirely on the political affiliation of the administration currently in power and the political biases of a particular reporter, like Laura Sullivan.

Third, NPR’s statement that “Daugaard’s colleagues in state government just chose the organization and sent it money” is misleading at best. As a part-time, two months out of the year lieutenant governor, Daugaard did not supervise any state personnel, and had no authority over decisions made by Department of Social Services employees. The Governor’s office released a statement before NPR’s series aired. It stated in part:
DSS has had contracts with Children’s Home Society going back to 1978, when it was first licensed as a specialized group treatment home. Currently, Children’s Home Society is licensed as a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) for children aged 4 to 13. …

There are 11 PRTF’s in South Dakota that contract with DSS, and three of these are operated by Children’s Home Society. Any program that meets state and federal licensure criteria as a PRTF can provide services to DSS and receive a state contract that provides for uniform reimbursement methods based on the number of children served for DSS. This is not a case where contractors “compete” against each other for contracts and is consistent with laws reviewed and passed as recently as 2010.

Although Governor Daugaard cares deeply about Children’s Home Society, his plan to balance the state budget actually cut reimbursement rates to all PRTF contractors, including Children’s Home Society, by 4.5 percent.

In her report, Sullivan acknowledged and referred to the governor’s statement, but failed to note the fact that his budget cut reimbursement to Children’s Home.

Apart from her facile charges of conflict of interest, Sullivan’s main complaint is that some Indian children are placed in Children’s Home rather than with relatives:
Children’s Home has won many state accolades for its work with children. But that doesn’t mean much to Suzanne Crow or her granddaughter Brianna, who spent three years there. …

She didn’t want Brianna to grow up like she did, not knowing who she was, not knowing that someone in the world loved her. It took a court order for the state to send Brianna home to her stepfather.

“I didn’t care what it took,” Crow says. “I battled with them.”

State records show South Dakota paid Children’s Home almost $50,000 over three years to care for Brianna.

But across the state, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, family and tribal members would have cared for Brianna — and hundreds of other Native American children like her. They would have done so for free, keeping them close to their tribes and culture like federal law intended.

Perhaps so. But Children’s Home isn’t just foster care, it is a licensed psychiatric residential treatment facility. State employees are barred by privacy laws from commenting on particular cases, but it seems obvious that Brianna Crow needed more than a room in a relative’s house. But that question, NPR never addressed.

There is a painful but important story to be told about South Dakota’s Indian children. But that story isn’t a “scandal” about the Department of Social Services, or about an excellent treatment facility like Children’s Home. It is a much more difficult story, one that NPR won’t touch with a stick. That will be the subject of my next post in this series.


Congressman Says Hospital Guilty of ‘Abortion Coercion’

A New Jersey congressman accused a hospital of violating the civil rights of a dozen pro-life nurses who refused to assist in abortions, calling the decision illegal and unethical and suggested the hospital could put its federal funding at risk.

“This is an outrage – to coerce nurses or any health care professional to be involved either pre-op or during the commission of an abortion is against federal and state law,” Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) told Fox News & Commentary. “We’re talking about coercion here.”

Smith held a press conference Monday afternoon outside the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – one of the state’s largest hospitals. He called the nurses “very, very brave.”

The nurses filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Oct. 31, claiming they were told to either assist in abortion procedures or they would be fired. “Because the nurses recognize the innate value and dignity and preciousness of the child in the womb and have refused to participate or be complicit in an act of violence against a vulnerable child, they are punished,” the congressman said.

When Fe Vinoya got the news, she was heartbroken. The veteran nurse at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was told she had a choice – assist with abortion procedures or be fired. “It felt like the whole world crashed on me,” Vinoya told Fox News & Commentary. “You could sense the sadness in all of us. We felt betrayed.”

“We repeatedly told them we are pro-life nurses,” she said. ‘But they ignored our convictions. One of the nurses was even told that the hospital does not regard any religious objections.”

Vinoya has been a registered nurse for 21 years. For her, nursing is not a job – it’s a calling. “It’s a profession of caring,” she said from her home in West Orange, NJ. “Even when I was young, I wanted to take care of patients.

After the hospital ordered the nurses to prepare to assist with abortions, Vinoya went home and told her family the news. “That day my eight year old son was learning about The Ten Commandments in church,” she said. “He recited the sixth commandment – we are not to kill anyone. I just cried. I knew that God had given me hope and that he is really on our side.”

She said she received further affirmation from her 13-year-old son who was working on a school project about religious freedom.

“This fight really is a good fight,” she said. We are talking about religious freedom and it’s being violated right in front of us.”

Matthew Bowman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Vinoya and the eleven other nurses. who “possess strongly held religious and moral beliefs that she may not participate in the process of an abortion that causes the death of a preborn child.”

Bowman told Fox News & Commentary that the hospital had been performing abortions for decades without forcing nurses to violate their religious beliefs. But that changed a few weeks ago.

“The hospital passed a policy and put one of the nurses who did abortions in a supervisory position and started forcing nurses to assist in abortions out of the blue,” Bowman said. “It’s in complete violation of federal and state law – that says you can’t force people to assist abortions.”

Bowman said hospital officials agreed to meet with the nurses to discuss the matter, but when the nurses arrived with an attorney the meeting was abruptly cancelled.

“The hospital told the nurses they have no regard for their religious beliefs,” he said. “They were going to be assigned to these abortions or they would be terminated.”

Bowman said the hospital has displayed “an extreme level of arrogance” and is calling on the court to pull the plug of $60 million in federal funding until the hospital agrees to stop forcing nurses to assist in abortions.

Rep. Smith said the hospital is “very reliant on federal funds” and said its funding could be jeopardized. “I don’t know why any board of directors or any management would want to put its own federal funding stream at risk,” he said. “It brings enormous dishonor to the hospital to so callously treat its nurses as they are doing.”

As for Nurse Vinoya, she said she has been sustained by her faith in God, through prayers and Bible Study and by her fellow church members at The Life Christian Church. And in the end, she believes they will be victorious. “It’s a David versus Goliath battle,” she said. “But we all know who won.”



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 November, 2011

Children in broken homes are three times more likely to run away

"Broken" homes are now extremely common so this is not terribly informative. Which type of broken home yields the runaways? Low IQ or psychiatrically abnormal homes would be my first bet

Children who come from broken homes are three times as likely to run away as those who have a stable background, a major study said yesterday. The report, for the Children’s Society, found one in five youngsters who had experienced conflict at home ran away in the last 12 months. The risk bore no relation to whether the child came from a poor or wealthy background.

The findings are likely to intensify the debate over marriage and its status that continues to nag at David Cameron and Coalition ministers.

Married parents are far less likely to break up than those who live in cohabiting relationships, and research has again and again proved that their children are more likely to enjoy better health and succeed at school.

The report was based on interviews with 7,300 teenagers aged between 14 and 16 in schools across England. Around 84,000 children run away from home each year.

It said: ‘Children are equally likely to run away in all types of geographical areas – whether urban or rural; deprived or more prosperous. ‘The quality of family relationships is more important than economic factors – children who had recently run away reported a less positive relationship with parents and higher levels of family conflict. ‘One in five children living in these types of situations had run away in the past 12 months.’

It added: ‘Children living with both birth parents have the lowest rates of running away…Children who have experienced family change and conflict over the past year are three times as likely to run away as those who have not.’

The charity has spent 12 years examining the motives of children who run away from home. This is the first of its surveys to identify the overwhelming importance of family break-up.

Its chief executive, Bob Reitemeier, said: ‘We have shown that arguments and other family conflict play a massive part in a child’s decision to run. ‘Poor quality family relationships and neglectful parenting are making children and young people feel helpless.’ According to the survey, 70,000 children aged between 14 and 16 run away from home each year, but ‘substantial numbers’ of younger children also flee.

It said that more than a quarter are likely to have ‘harmful or risky’ experiences. One in nine of the runaways said they had been hurt or harmed while on the run from home, foster care or a children’s home, and one in six said they had slept rough or stayed with someone they had just met. One in eight said that they had stolen while away and one in 11 said they had begged.

Seven out of 10 were not reported missing to the police after they ran away. Mr Reitemeier called for ministers, police, schools and social workers to develop a ‘safety net’ to try to lessen the risks for runaways.

He said: ‘We are deeply concerned that tens of thousands of children are still running from home or care. Huge numbers are putting themselves in very dangerous situations. ‘One child in this situation is one child too many. Some children are so desperate that they steal, turn to drugs or alcohol or are abused by adults who groom them. ‘Too often they are alone and desperate for help.’


Giving jobs to women based purely on their sex is bad for society

The liberal intelligentsia is enjoying another of its occasional, mad bursts of self-flagellation. Its bien pensants, many of them white, middle-class and allegedly male, are horrified that Parliament is mainly, er, white, middle-class and of the trouser tendency.

The Institute for Government, a silo of Guardianista gibberish, produced some damn-fool report yesterday which demanded remedies to this allegedly atrocious state of affairs.

It wanted, among other things, means-tested bursaries for approved minority candidates in major political parties. It wanted state funding for postal primary elections of candidates who are non-white, non-male and non-middle class.

In addition to these Stalinist suggestions it said that the pro-minority skew should begin with elections to the proposed new police commissioner and mayoral posts. You want a white, well-educated man for your police commissioner? Bad luck. The Institute for Government has found someone more ‘acceptable’ for the job.

One term for this sort of thing is ‘tokenism’ (it certainly ain’t ‘democracy’). Its proponents prefer to talk of ‘affirmative action’ or ‘reserved political positions’, both expressions being typically opaque and dishonest, as is so much of the language used by today’s political scientists and think-tank wonks.

One person’s ‘outrageous favouritism’ is another’s ‘encouragement for under-represented sections of the community’.

One reason for the alienation of minorities and working-class people from parliamentary politics is the complex, politically-correct language used by the likes of the Institute for Government and other ‘approved’ outlets of multi- cultural opinion.

Whatever you call it, the idea of blocking the progress of the majority to some important public positions — which is, inevitably, what proposals such as those from the Institute for Government would achieve — is immoral, self-defeating and dangerous. It is also, I suspect, out of date.

With flames licking under the citadel doors of Western Europe and its bloated ‘rights’ culture, the last thing taxpayers are likely to want their politicians to spend their precious money on is yet more social engineering to fiddle with the gender, race and class balance in the House of Commons. But let argument be joined, all the same.

The Labour Party has for some time now had all-female shortlists in some of its parliamentary candidate selections, and has recently toyed with the idea, as has Commons Speaker John Bercow, of all-black shortlists.

I could point out that Jacqui Smith, arguably the worst Home Secretary of all time, was selected from an all-woman shortlist and at that point say: ‘No further questions, m’lud.’ But that would be a cheap shot and you know what a model of sportspersonship I am.

I could point out that the Commons which gathered after the general election of 1997 was the first to see significant numbers of all-women shortlist MPs. They were labelled ‘Blair’s Babes’.

Were they a success? Hardly. Parliament became lamentably toadyish and ineffectual. This was nothing to do, per se, with the gender of so many of its occupants. It was something deeper than that.
MPs who have been chosen off a restrictive shortlist cannot be said truthfully to have got to Westminster by merit in complete and open competition. They have not taken on all available rivals.

This is a point often made by that stonking former parliamentarian Miss Ann Widdecombe. She was chosen in an open selection contest against men (poor wretches, they never stood a chance). She duly spoke in the Commons chamber with all the brisk certitude of one who holds an undisputed mandate.

Shortlist MPs may have certain qualities, but they are bound to lack recognition as true meritocrats and they therefore lack authenticity and may not have complete confidence in their own judgments. They are products of favouritism and that is exactly how Blair’s Babes behaved, being craven before the system to which they owed their existence.

The shortlist is an instrument of patronage. That is why the Establishment Left and, troublingly, some of the sillier modernisers in David Cameron’s Conservative Party, so very much approve of the idea. They see shortlists as a way of increasing their control of the system.

It is inexplicable that a Speaker of the House of Commons should have anything to do with such gerrymandering of representative democracy. Speaker Bercow’s support for minority shortlists betrays him at his worst.

But Parliament is not the only place where the argument for ‘more women’ or ‘more minorities’ is being heard. One hears it said of TV and radio presenters. Jane Garvey, of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, was droning away about it the other day. Perhaps she is fishing for more work.

Given how long women have been a prominent force in journalism, it seems surprising that we do not have a few more hard-boiled memsahibs on the box alongside carbon-dated men such as John Simpson, John Humphrys and the remarkable Sir David Attenborough.

One of my favourite radio essayists is the veteran Katharine Whitehorn, who sounds like W.H. Auden. Maybe it is a depth-of-tone thing, or maybe, in TV, it is an inclination of society to be more severe in judging ladies’ looks.

Those who argue for positive discrimination always say they want to have society reflected. But what happens if the society they want to reflect does not actually want some Margaret Beckett lookalike presenting the Six O’Clock News? Houston, we have a prab-lem.

Our judiciary has long been semi-paralysed by self-criticism in this regard, senior judges twisting their limbs in agony that there are not more black, minority, ethnic, or female barristers.

Only yesterday Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said he wanted to use the new Equality Act to favour women and ethnic minority candidates when appointing judges.

Lady Hale, the only female member of the Supreme Court (or ‘Law Lords’ as they used to be called before being put in the Europeanist foodmixer), was also at it the other day. Calling for more women at the top of the legal world, she said: ‘It would be nice to have some company. It would be nice for there to be a critical mass of three or four women because then it is not something that anybody is going to comment on.’

As it happens, virtually the only person ‘commenting on’ it at present is Lady Hale, a beady-eyed old cabbage who has long played the token-woman card with shrewd aplomb. And if she wants some female company, can she not talk to her cleaner? Or is her cleaner a man?

Should members of the Supreme Court really be chosen in part because they are female or because they belong to some officially- sanctioned subset of society (to be granted approved status, perhaps, by the male, white, middle-class poohbahs of the Institute for Government)?

Should there be, say, only one Jewish member of the Supreme Court? Given the large number of brilliant Jewish lawyers in London, that may rob us of some excellent candidates. Any attempt to block their appointment would surely lead to accusations of anti-Semitism. Oh no!

Should there always be, for the sake of argument, one Muslim member of the Supreme Court? Should that be a Sunni or a Shia? Yikes, perhaps they should toss a coin to decide who gets it.

And should we have at least one Supreme Court chap who is gay? The lesbians may need to be given a turn every third time, or however so often is required in order to ‘reflect’ the number of homosexual men and women there happen allegedly to be in the country at that time.

These questions may be absurd, and of course they are intended to be that, but are they really so illogical when you start to play around with the principle of appointment on merit?

Militant egalitarians insist that all humans (I nearly said ‘men’) are equal. I do not happen to believe this. My view is that all humans are different. But basically the argument is that men and women should be treated equally.

The electorate, they are saying, should be blind to gender. At which point the positive-discrimination brigade do a volte-face and say equality can be achieved only by inequality, with one group or other being granted special favours.

As ever, state-imposed egalitarianism results in less real equality and in a system of chilling orthodoxy of which Chairman Mao himself would have been proud.


British council accused of a 'staggering invasion of privacy' as it plans to record EVERY conversation that takes place in taxi cabs

This could be troubling but if the safeguards are as announced it would seem to be beneficial on balance. As ethical standards decline we may have to ramp up the fear of getting caught

Cab drivers and their passengers are to be spied on during journeys in what has been denounced as a ‘a staggering invasion of privacy’. CCTV cameras are to be fitted in 650 taxis – costing the taxpayer £260,000 – to monitor drivers throughout their shift and record the conversations of passengers.

The cameras will begin recording sound and vision from the moment the ignition is turned on and remain on for 30 minutes after the engine has stopped running.

The footage gathered will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following, for example, an attack on the driver. It will cost Oxford City Council taxpayers £400 to fit each of the 107 black cabs and 545 private hire vehicles in the city with the CCTV system.

The fact that recordings will be encrypted and only accessible in the event of a police investigation are added safeguards, a council spokesman insisted.

Nick Pickles, the campaign group's director, said: ‘This is a staggering invasion of privacy, being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties. ‘Big Brother now has big ears, and they are eavesdropping on your conversations with absolutely no justification.’ He added: ‘Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the Prime Minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs.’

A spokeswoman for Oxford City Council said video and audio would run all the time in the cabs but officials will only be allowed to view the material if there has been a complaint.

The authority said complaints against both taxi drivers and passengers had increased year on year and without CCTV the allegations 'amount to one persons word against the other'. Complaints included overcharging, sexual assaults and attacks on drivers.

The spokeswoman added: ‘Oxford City Council considers that so long as clear notices are provided in vehicles which inform passengers that video and audio recording may be taking place, the risk of intrusion is acceptable compared to the public safety benefits.

‘In any event, the level of privacy reasonably to be expected in a licensed vehicle is far lower than that expected in the privacy of one’s home or own car.’ She added that the footage will not be routinely viewed, but will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following a specific incident.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office said it is not normally justified to use CCTV to record conversations between members of the public as 'it is highly intrusive'. But she added that council applications to install cameras in cabs are likely to be acceptable because of the number of crimes being committed in taxis.

An ICO spokeswoman said: ‘Licensing authorities must take account of people's right to privacy when deciding whether to impose CCTV as a licence condition for taxi drivers.

‘As well as assessing the impact on privacy, we have accepted they [councils] can take into account factors such as the likelihood of crimes being committed against drivers and passengers; the vulnerable one-to-one situation; the fact that taxis are travelling all over the area at different times of day; and CCTV can protect both the driver and passengers.’

All taxis licensed for the first time by Oxford City Council must have the equipment installed from April 6 next year. Cabs which are already registered will have until April 2015 to get the camera fitted, the council said.


I'll get powers back from the EU, says Cameron: Prime Minister's vow to rebellious MPs in Lord Mayor's speech

David Cameron last night said the EU was ‘in peril’ and described the debt crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to claw back powers for Britain. After being rocked by a Tory MP rebellion over Britain’s future in the EU, the Prime Minister cast himself as a ‘sceptic’, attacking ‘grand plans and utopian visions’ and vowing to ‘refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests’. He accused the EU of being out of touch and attacked its ‘pointless interference, rules and regulations’.

His remarks are diametrically at odds with those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called yesterday for the EU to focus on building a ‘political union’ as she warned the continent faced its biggest crisis since the Second World War.

She said: ‘The task of our generation is to complete economic and monetary union, and build political union in Europe, step by step. That does not mean less Europe, it means more Europe. If the euro fails, then Europe will fail.’

But as Mr Cameron prepared to start a whistlestop tour of European capitals, he said EU countries had ‘indulged in debt and overspending and looked uncertain or worse when confronted with the consequences’.

Addressing the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, the Prime Minister insisted leaving the EU would not be in Britain’s interest, with European countries accounting for half of our trade. But he said he wanted an organisation ‘with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc’.

Italy was forced to pay an effective interest rate of 6.29 per cent as it sold government bonds yesterday to fund its vast national debt of £1.6trillion. The yield on Spain’s government bonds crept above 6 per cent – almost three times that of the UK, which is increasingly being seen as a safe haven by international investors.

Mr Cameron, who has been under pressure from his party to set out a timetable for repatriating powers from Brussels and seeking approval for a looser relationship in a referendum, suggested that instead less should be done at a European level.

‘The EU’s achievements are dramatically overshadowed by its problems,’ he said. ‘It’s not just the crisis in the eurozone – urgent and all-consuming though that is. ‘It’s how out of touch the EU has become when its institutions are demanding budget increases while Europe’s citizens tighten their belts. It’s the pointless interference, rules and regulations that stifle growth, not unleash it.’

His remarks will be seen as an attempt to appease his party’s eurosceptics.

London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday became the most senior Tory to question the Government’s willingness to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund, which acts as the world’s global economic emergency service. ‘British taxpayers are going to be shelling out ever more in bailout dosh, much of which will ultimately go to banks and bankers’ bonuses,’ he protested.

Suggesting he would use treaty negotiations to try to repatriate powers for the UK, Mr Cameron added: ‘Change brings opportunities, an opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests and the interests of its other 26 nations too. ‘An opportunity, in Britain’s case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away, and for the European Union to focus on what really matters. ‘That is the kind of fundamental reform I yearn for, and I am determined to do everything possible to deliver it.’



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

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

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


14 November, 2011

Britain's judges continue to defy democracy

Two cases from the past week highlight a worrying extension of judicial power

The courts were flexing their political muscles again last week – as they seem to every week. First, a High Court judge ruled that Sefton Council could not legally freeze the fees it pays private companies to look after old people needing care. Then, on Friday, the same court ruled that the Isle of Wight could not cut its social care budget for the disabled.

I happen to agree that it is bad that the amount devoted to paying for the elderly, or the disabled, should fall behind demand – but what business is it of the High Court to enforce its view? No doubt those who will benefit, and their relatives, will be delighted. But since the money will have to be saved somewhere, other people will end up having their services cut, and will be very unhappy. What will the High Court do then?

It’s the job of local authorities to balance competing needs and to come to a conclusion as to which should be sacrificed – just as Parliament must perform that task on a national scale. The matter of how resources gathered from taxpayers are distributed is, and ought to be, a decision for the elected and accountable representatives of the people. If we don’t like what those representatives do, we can change them. That is what democracy means.

Judges are not accountable to anyone for their actions. Nor should they be: their independence depends on their immunity from the pressures that sway politicians. But as I have argued before, this requires that judges should not take it upon themselves to correct what they think are bad decisions by elected officials – because when they do, they subvert the democratic process.

In an important and revealing lecture last week, Jonathan Sumption QC explained why judges keep trespassing into areas which ought to be, in all but the most exceptional circumstances, the exclusive preserve of elected politicians. Essentially, it is because they do not recognise that this is what they are doing. Judges, Sumption suggests, do not set out to substitute their judgment for that of politicians. But because they do not think seriously about the importance of respecting the boundaries between the judiciary and the other branches of government, they end up discovering bad legal reasons for quashing policies they don’t like.

The passing of the Human Rights Act has made the situation worse – but it didn’t create the problem. Indeed, Sumption gives some powerful examples of judges substituting their own views for those of Parliament. In a very telling quote, Lord Steyn, the former Law Lord, justifies judicial activism on the grounds of the deficiencies inherent in the British electoral system.

Sumption comments that he “cannot be the only person who feels uncomfortable about the implicit suggestion that it is the function of the judiciary to correct the outcome of general elections”. He certainly is not: many judges would probably feel uncomfortable about it too, if they thought about it. The trouble, as Sumption suggests, is that they don’t.

Sumption is a famously formidable barrister, currently acting for Roman Abramovich in his battle with Boris Berezovsky. He’s also been appointed to the Supreme Court, a post he will take up as soon as that case concludes. Will he be able to persuade his fellow justices to share his sensible view of the limits of judicial power?

He may already have one ally in Lord Brown, who in a dissent that I reported on early last month, expressed alarm at the willingness of his colleagues to take what were essentially political decisions. Sumption may, however, find it difficult to persuade the other justices, none of whom is exactly celebrated for their ability to recognise that they are wrong about anything of significance.

Still, if anyone can persuade the majority of the 12-man court to think more carefully about trespassing into the political realm, it is Sumption. I dearly hope he succeeds. Because if he fails, the politicisation of the judiciary will only proceed further.


A deep breath for free speech -- and a blow against government propaganda

by Jeff Jacoby

THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION announced last year that harsh new labels, large and graphic, would soon have to cover half of the front and back of all cigarette packages and at least 20 percent of the space in all tobacco advertising. Included in each label would be a blunt warning -- "Smoking can kill you," for example, or "Tobacco smoke can harm your children" -- plus a hard-hitting color image. Among the grisly pictures approved by the Food and Drug Administration: ravaged lungs; a corpse with an autopsy scar down its chest; a man smoking through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; a diseased mouth with discolored teeth and cancerous lesions; and a woman sobbing with grief. Displayed on every image as well would be the toll-free number of the FDA's smoking quit line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The explicit labels, which Congress authorized in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, were supposed to be in place by next September. Last week, US District Judge Richard Leon wisely said no.

Most of the new warning labels approved by the Food and Drug Administration were quite graphic, and intended to provoke an emotional reaction.

The FDA's gruesome new labels are not designed to provide consumers with useful information about the hazards of smoking. After 45 years of mandatory Surgeon General's warnings, every non-comatose American knows perfectly well that cigarettes are a noxious health risk. That's why the share of Americans who are occasional smokers has fallen to an all-time low of 19.3 percent, or less than 1 in 5 -- a far cry from the more than 42 percent who were smokers in 1965. No one, not even Big Tobacco, disputes Washington's right to require cigarette makers to disclose pertinent facts about their product's dangers. Those disclosures, it's clear, have been effective.

So why the shrill new labels? Not to inform Americans, but to indoctrinate them. To "grab people by the lapels," as NPR put it last summer, "and be the visual equivalent of someone yelling: 'Stop smoking!'"

Indeed, the FDA released a video describing the required new labels as "bold and powerful messages," and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters that with the new warnings in place, "every single pack of cigarettes in our country will in effect become a mini-billboard." At a White House press briefing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the new regulations would amount to "rebranding" cigarette packs, transforming them to convey the message that "smoking is gross."

But "smoking is gross" is opinion, not fact. Millions of Americans -- including me -- may share that opinion, but under the Constitution the government has no power to compel anyone to express it. Requiring vendors to post accurate information, the First Amendment allows; forcing them to promote the FDA's anti-tobacco ideology, it forbids.

"The line between the constitutionally permissible dissemination of factual information and the impermissible expropriation of a company's advertising space for Government advocacy can be frustratingly blurry," acknowledged Judge Leon. But "here -- where these emotion-provoking images are coupled with text [exhorting] consumers to call the phone number '1-800-QUIT' -- the line seems quite clear."

In a memorable 1977 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Hampshire resident George Maynard, who had covered up the state motto "Live Free or Die" on his automobile license plates. Under the Constitution, the court held in Wooley v. Maynard, he could not be punished for doing so. Americans cannot be made to "use their private property as a 'mobile billboard' for the State's ideological message."

So in gloating that her agency's strident new warnings were intended to convert every pack of cigarettes into an anti-smoking "mini-billboard," the FDA commissioner was -- presumably inadvertently -- articulating precisely the goal that Wooley disallows.

Time and again the courts have made clear that compelled speech is as repugnant to the Bill of Rights as prohibited speech. Reasonable people can disagree over the point at which prudent consumer or public-health protections turn into patronizing nanny-state officiousness. They can disagree over whether urging Americans not to smoke -- or not to eat junk food or watch violent movies or drink too much wine -- is a wise use of government influence, time, and money.

But even the wisest policy must be constitutional. The FDA can rent billboards from sea to shining sea and fill them with the ghastliest smoking-is-gross messages it can dream up. What it cannot do is order tobacco companies to use their own products -- their own lawful products -- to advertise the government's anti-smoking agenda. If the First Amendment means anything, surely it means that.


Our society is hooked on harm reduction

We should approach the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs as a moral question, not as a clinical or legal matter

I start from the point that it’s much more useful to regard the whole debate around drug use from a moral rather than a medical, legal or criminal perspective, which is the dominant framework within which drugs tend to be discussed. ‘Moral’ in the sense of the question of what sort of standards of behaviour we hold ourselves to as individuals and what sort of standards we wish to prevail in the society in which we live and to determine our relations with other people.

Now, we start with the recognition that the use of intoxicating substances is a universal feature of human society. It’s surrounded with all sorts of rituals, it’s very pleasurable for individuals, and it plays a very important part in all sorts of social life.

And we also recognise that the resort to intoxicating substances in response to the vicissitudes of life is a permanent and ineradicable temptation and a part of the human condition. As Thoreau said, most people lead lives of quiet desperation and the resort to intoxicating substances or altered states of consciousness in response to that experience of life is a constant presence to the human condition.

The problem arises when occasional or episodic use of these substances becomes habitual, customary, compulsive. Then it can become a problem. And, of course, as a society we have existed with this problem in relation to alcohol, which is the predominant substance for creating an altered state of consciousness and intoxication, over hundreds or thousands of years.

The spectrum from recreational to problematic use is something that every individual has got to learn to work out in their own personal relationship to alcohol, because of the way in which it permeates our society. Everybody in this room has had to do that, and has negotiated that, because you can’t live in this society without doing so, and indeed that experience is extending to other sorts of substances which are becoming increasingly familiar.

We only have to look at alcohol to see that problem: alcohol is, on the one hand, a substance which creates great pleasure. It exists in an immense variety of forms. People get tremendous enjoyment from drinking it, making it, sharing it, consuming it at parties; it plays an important part in our lives. We also know the tremendously destructive effect that people’s relationship with alcohol can have and has had. Everybody in this room knows from their personal experience how people’s individual relationship with alcohol can be so damaging and destructive in their own lives, the lives of their families and the lives of people in wider society.

There’s a problem for our society to deal with. The fact that it’s subject to all sorts of political controversies at different times doesn’t detract from the fact that there’s always been a problem there. That problem is in some sense compounded and extended into the whole area of recreational drugs, however they’re defined. Obviously, the problems that those substances create are greater for individuals, and indeed for societies, for whom there is a lack of direction and purpose.

The most striking example of that is the destructive effect of the relationship of alcohol on indigenous or aboriginal societies in various parts of the world – societies which are in a particular state of demoralisation or crisis have a particularly difficult problem with alcohol. It’s a particular problem in our society for people who are poor, demoralised, unemployed, for the immature and the disaffected. These substances are a particular problem for people who are in that state of life. And therefore it’s quite understandable that people should resort to these sorts of substances, and it can become a habitual, customary, addictive part of their life, where the whole process of drug consumption takes over many constructive activities in relation to their personal or social lives.

In response to that, my medical colleague Theodore Dalrymple, one of the most perceptive of medical writers on this subject, takes what you might you say is an extreme view, which is to say that if society is going to stigmatise any activities, these ought to be stigmatised, indeed the addict ought to be stigmatised, because this behaviour is self-centred, self-destructive, self-indulgent and, indeed, socially destructive. I wouldn’t advocate the stigmatising of individuals and the social discrimination of individuals, but it seems to me that it’s an entirely sensible position for society as a whole to take a view of these activities as something that should be regarded with an element of social disapproval or disapprobation. We need to strive for a cultural climate in which these activities are not encouraged, rather than what seems to me to exist at the moment: today, these activities are indulged and in some sense rewarded.

Celebrity culture celebrates this, but it also happens on a smaller scale. It is interesting that a large population now exists that can claim disability benefits on the basis of being addicted to alcohol or drugs. There are 100,000 people in this country in receipt of long-term benefits with a diagnosis of either alcohol or drug dependency. And that’s doubled in the past 10 years.

That’s a very interesting social trend that has been created in our society. This activity is in a sense supported and indulged by the rest of society. One of the striking things – and there’s been some discussion in the medical world about this recently – is of the problem of aging addicts. I’ve got a couple of patients myself who have graduated into old people’s homes, along with their zimmer frames and bottles of methadone. And what that communicates is the extent to which the admission into the category of addiction is a life sentence. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy which lasts a lifetime – people are condemned to a life in that respect.

So I think we need to move away from that sort of support for the culture of drugs, from indulging it in those ways, and we should not celebrate this way of dealing with the experience of modern society as being in some way interesting or creative. As the slogan goes, ‘A drunk is a drunk, every heroin addict is a philosopher’. Pete Doherty is a cult hero of our era and that seems to me a morbid aspect of contemporary society that we have these sorts of folk heroes, people who celebrate this condition or the idea of creativity being enhanced by these substances - which is one of the great illusions that is well discussed by Theodore Dalrymple, going back to the romantic poets and de Quincy and Coleridge and that whole tradition. I haven’t got the space here to go into that now, but what a myth and a delusion that is.

I’m not saying that any of these activities should be banned or clamped down on. Instead, I’m talking about the sort of cultural climate we ought to seek to foster around them, and that seems to me to be consistent with this wider notion of bringing the morality of issues into focus.

The alternatives are to regard drug use as a medical or as a legislative issue. However, the consumption of drugs, it seems to me, cannot be construed as a medical problem; this idea that it’s a disease is a fatuous notion. The problem is not about a medical condition, but that people have not learned how to live their lives in a real and meaningful way. And that is a problem for which doctors have nothing to offer. I can tell you as I’ve worked in this area for 30 years. A doctor cannot tell you how to live your life, though many may be tempted to do so. The futility of this idea is eloquently confirmed by the complete ineffectiveness of medical treatments for drug use. But what I object to is not the fact that the treatments are useless, but how dehumanising they are.

Reducing the drug addict to a physiological system that can be blocked with some drug, detoxed by replacing one drug or another, or reducing the addict to some sort of automaton which will behave in a criminal way if the drug is not replaced with something else, is ultimately dehumanising. It construes the human being as something without any control or volition over their own behaviour, without any capacity to change their behaviour, without any control over how they live their lives. The paradox of this is the sort of warm glow of benevolence on the part of doctors and health professional who believe that they are being helpful in these relationships, when in fact they’re removing all humanity from the people that they’re treating.

The concept of harm reduction is very interesting in this regard; the idea that you have a state policy which reduces the harm associated with the activities that individuals undertake. That is an inherently infantilising concept: ‘We, the state, will take over from you the individual the judgement of what is safe for you to engage in.’ It takes responsibility away from you for determining your own behaviour. Nothing could be more reinforcing to irresponsible behaviour than the philosophy of harm reduction.

The usual alternative to the medical view of drug use is the legislative one. There’s much discussion of the decriminalisation of drugs which tends to be extremely simplistic. One of the issues about it is when people talk about decriminalisation what they usually mean is some change in the legislative framework, some different form of regulation rather than the current one. Anybody who wants to make out that it’s a simple problem doesn’t understand the complexity of it. And you only have to look at the history of alcohol to see that. Western societies have struggled with how to regulate alcohol for 200 years, manifestly unsuccessfully, and a triumph in that area doesn’t seem to be anywhere near coming around. It’s simple if you argue it from a basic principle - one that many people, including myself, hold dear – namely, Mill’s idea of non-interference in private behaviour. What the individual does is up to the individual and the state should not interfere in it. That is a very sound principle to which I strongly adhere. But you also can’t ignore the fact that there is a cost to be paid for that, which you can’t just entirely dismiss.

You can look at it entirely pragmatically and say, look, the harmful consequences of the war on drugs are even more than those caused by the drugs themselves. I think you can make a persuasive argument for that and people will be familiar with the discussion around that. But I would say, yes, there’s a case to be made there, but can you really be sure that the removal of all legislation would not create even bigger problems than we already have in relation to the flow and, in particular, the commodification of these drugs which are becoming increasingly widely available, and the promotion of them on the market? Would that indeed do less harm than the current regulation? Maybe, maybe not. It seems to me open to discussion.

On balance, many people, including my colleague Theodore Dalrymple, come down in favour of continuing the criminalisation of drugs in the current form. On balance I come down on the opposite position because it seems to me that the principle of individual autonomy, particularly in the current climate of more coercive and repressive state legislation, is a more important principle to stand by. The danger of the infantilisation of social policies in all areas and the dangers of intrusive social and public-health policies are greater than the dangers of drug use. Indeed, there’s a sort of soporific, stupefying effect of all those sorts of policies which is nearly as bad as methadone.

But more important than that discussion is a wider question. It’s not really a question about laws. It’s a question of the moral, cultural, social climate that we create around it, and I think that’s what we really need to tackle - the baleful effects of the drug culture and the drug-treatment culture. And we should make a start, I would say, by repealing the laws, closing the clinics, stopping the benefits. The take-home message from that is ‘take responsibility for your own actions’.


Nameless cab drivers?

Pandering to Muslims again. What if a passenger has a problem with a driver? A name is a lot easier to remember than a number

Photo IDs set to be introduced in Brisbane taxis will no longer include drivers' names, due to a fear passengers may verbally abuse cabbies over their foreign names. From November 30, cab drivers in Brisbane and the Gold Coast will be required to display authorised Queensland taxi driver display cards in their cabs. The cards will include a photo and driver identification number, but not a name.

The government printed ID cards with full names for the Toowoomba roll-out earlier this year, but reissued new licences without names due to privacy and cultural concerns.

brisbanetimes.com.au understands during the Toowoomba roll-out in June, some drivers with names such as Muhammad were the target of racial abuse and harassment from customers.

"The taxi council made representations on behalf of their members to remove drivers' names from the Authorised Queensland Taxi Driver Display Card," a statement from Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk read. "This decision was made for privacy and cultural reasons. This is consistent with other states."

The cultural issue of what name was used on the card was also a stumbling block for the program, with drivers unhappy their preferred common name, or anglicised name, was not displayed.

Taxi Council of Queensland chief executive Blair Davies, who flagged privacy concerns with the identification program with brisbanetimes.com.au last year, said there had been an issue with what names were being transferred across from government records to the licences.

"The average person born in Australia has a first name and surname but depending on where you come from sometimes the first name is your family name, so it can get complicated, particularly in some cultures," he said.

"So we were seeing some quite strange results coming out on these cards. "They were typically using the first name and that can produce some quite inconsistent results. "But for some drivers their whole names were to be printed on the IDs."

Mr Davies said the IDs would provide an extra level of reassurance for passengers who would be able to match a driver with their photo, as well as use the identification number to report any issues.

But he indicated the current security system for cab drivers was better than those used in others states, with all Queensland drivers being required to enter a pin on dispatch to log on for their shift. Mr Davies said Queensland was the only state using this system.

The licence introduction is part of a raft of reforms introduced under the Queensland Taxi Strategic Plan, 2010-2015.

Ms Palaszczuk said the plan's implementation was progressing well, with the introduction of national training standards for taxi drivers improving customer service and passenger safety. "These standards raised the bar for taxi drivers across driving skills, geographical knowledge, customer service and safety issues," she said.



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

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

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


13 November, 2011

"Britain's FBI" is just another useless bureaucracy

The elite unit set up by Labour to fight major criminals has failed to catch crime bosses because it is ‘too difficult’ and may even have been infiltrated by the underworld, says a whistleblower.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is supposed to be Britain’s answer to the FBI. When it was launched, Tony Blair pledged the organisation would ‘make life hell’ for the country’s ‘Mr Bigs’. It recruited from the cream of the police, immigration, customs and MI5 and had more than 4,000 staff in offices all over the world.

But Tim Lee, a former intelligence officer with SOCA, claims the agency has been blighted by corruption and bureaucracy. Mr Lee, 58, who joined SOCA in Nottingham when it was formed in 2006, paints a damning picture of his five years in the organisation. He claims:

* An investigation into a crime boss was mysteriously dropped when a SOCA officer with alleged links to the suspect took over the running of the case.

* Allegations of serious sexual misconduct made by a female SOCA worker against a male colleague were covered up.

* Hostility arose between police, customs and immigration officers when operational units were first formed in 2006.

* SOCA officers were criticised for spending weeks driving around Europe while following a drug smuggling trail.

* In a recruitment exercise, a white actor ‘blacked up’ as the suspect, generating a flood of complaints about offensive stereotyping and poor taste.

* SOCA recruits were abused in a surveillance selection course.

* A major case collapsed because of failures to follow normal legal disclosure rules.

Mr Lee, who is bringing claims for disability discrimination and constructive dismissal against SOCA, worked at a regional office.

He says: ‘When SOCA opened for business the directors made bold statements about how they were going to tackle a “list” of top crime barons.

‘In my time, they went after three who weren’t even on the top tier and gave up on all of them because they fell into the “too difficult” box. All three had been unsuccessfully targeted previously by the National Crime Squad.’

Mr Lee believes there may be more serious reasons why SOCA has failed to penetrate some of the big crime gangs.

In an allegation of corruption he made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission earlier this year, Mr Lee claims that an investigation into a suspected Nottingham crime boss in 2007 was halted because the suspect may have had contacts inside SOCA.

The alleged criminal was named in a tape played at an inquest of a murdered man who alleged that the businessman had used his contacts in the police to run a drug-dealing empire.

Mr Lee alleges that the suspect and a senior SOCA officer investigating the case used the services of the same plasterer to decorate their homes. The officer, who owns properties in Nottingham, has since left SOCA and is now believed to be in Africa.

In his disclosure to the IPCC, Mr Lee alleges that the security of the operation may have been breached. He says: ‘Security was always an issue. Eventually, the operation was passed to a senior intelligence officer (SIO).’

He claims that the officer ‘was understood to have employed tradesmen also used by the subject of the operation’ and that the SIO ‘fought hard to take charge of the investigation’.

He adds: ‘Within a short time of the appointment of this SIO and despite a wealth of intelligence, active connections to very serious criminals and the corruption concerns, the operation was wound up.’

Mr Lee claims in the complaint that the deputy SIO in the case told him the subject of the investigation was ‘just a businessman now’.

He also alleges that because of SOCA failures to follow disclosure rules, one major case has been abandoned. In a case currently before the courts, Mr Lee says a SOCA officer is being treated by the Crown Prosecution Service as a ‘hostile witness’ because she has disclosed documents which suggest other members of the team have failed to surrender material that might aid the defence.

SOCA’s intelligence operations were hindered by red tape, says Mr Lee, who claims that surveillance operations were run ‘by committee’ so that authorisation took too long and opportunities to catch criminals were missed.

‘If you needed to run any surveillance, it went to a committee where they talked and discussed the purpose but nothing was ever decided in time,’ he claims.

But from the first day that SOCA opened its doors in 2006, there were cultural problems between the mix of police officers, immigration officers and customs officials, Mr Lee alleges.

‘The attitude of police officers and other National Crime Squad staff towards immigration staff ranged from welcoming through ambivalence to openly hostile,’ he claims.

There were also disturbing allegations of bullying, sexual misconduct and abuse which were covered up, says Mr Lee. In one case, a female SOCA officer made an allegation of serious sexual misconduct against a male colleague who went to her home as part of a welfare visit.

Mr Lee says that when the female officer complained of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’, she was permanently transferred to another SOCA directorate. He also alleges that the case was not properly investigated. Bullying and abuse claims were not properly investigated, and when officers spoke out they were victimised, he alleges.


Queer Britain again

Outrage as supermarket chain backs gay festival... but drops support for cancer charity event

Tesco has triggered outrage by ending its support for the Cancer Research ‘Race for Life’ while deciding to sponsor Britain’s largest gay festival. Some religious commentators and groups have condemned the decision and are calling for a boycott of the supermarket chain.

Tesco has worked with Cancer Research for more than ten years, raising hundreds of millions of pounds to help combat an illness that will affect one in three of the population.

The chain’s main contribution was support for the annual fundraising Race for Life, the UK’s largest women-only charity event, which has raised more than £400million for the fight against cancer since it began in 1994. But shortly after Tesco announced the partnership would end, the firm said it would be a headline sponsor of Pride London.

This is Britain’s largest gay pride event, and will be adding a second day next year when it hosts the global WorldPride 2012 festival in July. Tesco’s chief executive of retailing services, Andrew Higginson, said: ‘Our “Out at Tesco” team will be working closely with Pride London to ensure next year’s event is even more fun.’

Francis Phillips, a commentator at The Catholic Herald, condemned the shift, saying: ‘Tesco is a supermarket. Its remit has been to sell good-quality food and other items at very reasonable prices, and in this it has been hugely successful. Why has it now aligned itself with an aggressive political organisation such as Pride London? ‘Why has it given up its sponsorship of Cancer Research? Or at least…why hasn’t it taken up with another mainstream charity such as the British Legion or Age UK?

‘There are thousands of ex-servicemen and wounded soldiers needing help in this country, and millions of elderly people in danger of neglect. They are a fundamental part of the fabric of our society – the kind of fabric that Tesco should be reflecting.’

David Skinner of the Anglican Mainstream organisation, which supports traditional marriage and family life, has written to complain to Mr Higginson and Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke.

He wrote: ‘For Tesco to sponsor a tiny homosexual minority – according to the Office for National Statistics, that amounts to little more than 1 per cent of the population – will be showing the utmost contempt for a large proportion of British society that still adheres, more or less, to the morality and values of the Ten Commandments.’

Both Mrs Phillips and Mr Skinner are calling on consumers to boycott Tesco. ‘Let’s send Tesco a message: stick to groceries and stop dabbling in dubious fringe political movements,’ said Mrs Phillips.

Catholic campaign website Protect the Pope said Tesco’s decision was ‘a sign of how out of touch they have become from ordinary families’.

Cancer Research UK, which gave no sign of disappointment about losing Tesco’s support, is looking for a new partner for the Race for Life. Emma Gilbert, who organises the event, said the partnership ‘came to a natural end’ for both parties. But she added: ‘Tesco employees have taken part in events across the UK, raising over £7million for our life-saving research, and we hope they will continue to take part in the events.’

Tesco said it was in talks with the charity to support its work in other ways and would encourage staff to continue taking part in the Race for Life.

A spokesman said the decision to drop its support ‘is not connected to our £30,000 sponsorship for Pride, which is one of hundreds of community and charitable events that we will be supporting next year’.

Pride London chairman Paul Birrell said: ‘Whilst Pride is organised entirely by volunteers, it costs in excess of £800,000 to run each year. ‘We are proud that Pride London remains a free event, but this is only possible because of companies like Tesco and their generous support.’ He added that Tesco’s contribution would be used to run an entertainment area for families and children at next year’s festival.


White male Swedish firefighter wins compensation for being discriminated against by racist Fire Dept.

A Swedish firefighter who filed a discrimination lawsuit after being denied a job because he had the "wrong" gender and ethnicity has been awarded 100,000 kronor ($16,000) in compensation.

“This is literally speaking a 100 percent victory,” Clarence Crafoord, head of the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa), in a statement.

Crafoord represented firefighter Simon Wallmark in his case against the Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund (SBFF), a fire department responsible for a number of Stockholm's southern suburbs.

Wallmar sued the fire department in July 2011 after being denied a position as a summer trainee, despite having the required vocational training as well as previous work experience.

He was told that he “wasn't qualified” because the jobs were “reserved for women and people with foreign backgrounds”.

Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, ten lacked the relevant education for the job.

At the time, the fire department defended its decision not to hire Wallmark by arguing it was making a conscious effort to recruit women and minorities.

But after several hours of pre-trial negotiations overseen by a judge at the Södertörn District Court on Wednesday, the fire department decided to settle the case for the full 100,000 kronor demanded by Wallmark.

“This is an important signal that it's illegal to give people special treatment due to their gender or ethnic background,” said Crafoord.

In a statement issued following the settlement, the fire department explained that settling the case, rather than pursuing a court hearing scheduled for May 2012, was in the best interests of the department. “It's important for Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund to put this matter behind us before the next recruitment period, which is set to start soon,” the department said.

However, it added that it would continue its efforts to “increase diversity and equality” in order to “better reflect society”.

The fire department also maintained that the skills and competence of the candidates hired fit with the requirments of the job.


Montana Mental Health Worker Who Reported Child Pornography Fired

An employee of a Missoula mental health center who told police about a client's computer search for child pornography was fired, in part for making the report, according to court records.

The client, John Gribble, has been charged with sexually abusing a child after a DVD with photos of nude children was found at his house, the Missoulian reported Wednesday.

An employee of Three Rivers Mental Health Solutions contacted police about Gribble on Oct. 17 after seeing the words "female child nude" and "preteen nude girls by themselves" in the browser window of Gribble's computer.

The employee first told her supervisors, who told her not to report Gribble because her concerns did not meet the criteria for notifying authorities, according to an affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks.

Three Rivers administrator Shea Hennelly said reports that break medical confidentiality must include the names and address of the child involved, the names of the child's parents and others responsible and the nature and extent of the child's injuries.

"In order to provide mental health services, we can't engage in dual roles," he said.

Under state law, health care professionals must report to the Department of Public Health and Human Services when they "know or have reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone ..."

"She didn't witness someone abusing a child," Hennelly. "What this woman reported to this office was she saw the tab of Web browsers that said teenage girls. That's a lot different." He said there was no way to identify potential victims.

The affidavit said the woman was concerned about the young daughters of two single mothers for whom Gribble babysit. She relayed those concerns to supervisors, "but the employee couldn't tell me any names," Hennelly said. "In the past, this gentleman babysit kids and we were able to identify the mother and were able to carry out our duty to warn."

Hennelly said there were several reasons the woman was fired, and making the report after being told not to was one of them.



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 November, 2011

Nearly 200 suspected English Defence League supporters arrested near the Cenotaph AFTER Remembrance service

So why were they rounded up? -- Just for being there? There is no claim that they disrupted anything. Being arrested for what they MIGHT do is a very slippery slope

More than 170 far-right protesters were arrested near the Cenotaph yesterday in further evidence of a tough line on disruptive demonstrations.

Police surrounded a pub packed with English Defence League supporters two hours after wreaths were laid at the nearby Whitehall monument. Scores of young men were arrested on suspicion of breaching the peace.

Senior officers were determined to ‘preserve the dignity’ of memorial events and had warned trouble would be ‘dealt with robustly’. They said anyone seen insulting the memory of the war dead would be seen as a threat to public order and detained.

Ministers have already signalled their desire to protect the dignity of memorial events by outlawing Muslims Against Crusades. The Islamic fundamentalist group disrupted the two-minute silence last year by burning poppies, chanting inflammatory slogans and clashing with the EDL.

But there was no sign of its leader Anjem Choudary after counter-terrorism police raided his home and an Islamic centre overnight. The Armistice Day police operation came just two days after the Met refused to allow a camp get a foothold in Trafalgar Square during a student march. No-nonsense Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe is keen to avoid being caught out by street protests or bogged down in stand-offs such as the St Paul’s camp.

Hundreds of officers surrounded the Red Lion pub, which is opposite Downing Street, as tensions rose yesterday afternoon. Police had corralled EDL supporters into the pub at around 11am after fears they would target the camp outside St Paul’s.

But trouble soon flared inside as foreign staff were abused. Police forced the EDL supporters outside where they were ‘kettled’ against the building and many arrested.

One EDL supporter claimed on an internet message board that the group was armed with guns and threatened to take Britain ‘back into our own hands’. The official EDL website had ordered members to conduct themselves ‘respectfully and responsibly’.

The Met made its position clear with a series of messages on Twitter. One said: ‘Individuals seeking to disrupt the two-minute silence will be dealt with robustly. If the memory of dead soldiers is insulted where people have gathered to honour those soldiers there is clearly a threat to public order.'


Confusing: Now it's racist not to be racist!

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of 'cultural cleansing' and 'hijacking' a conference for black schoolchildren.

Protesters will gather outside the event in London which has in the past been called the London Schools and the Black Child conference. It has previously been organised by shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott. But this year it is claimed the Mayoral office has dropped the word “black” out of the title to the fury of protesters.

It will now be called the ‘London Schools and our Children Conference.

It is also understood that Diane Abott pulled out of the event but Boris Johnson’s office last night claimed she had left the project unexpectedly and before it was renamed.

But furious campaigners also accused Boris Johnson of inviting only Right Wing speakers to air their views at the conference which is being held at London’s Institute of Education.

Campaigner Lee Jasper said: 'This is part of the mayor’s plan to culturally-cleanse London of all race-specific initiatives.

'The entire platform of speakers is of the view that institutional racism does not exist. 'This is the typical response of those on the Right who seek to dismiss the reality of racism and place the blame on the victims.'

Fellow campaigner Lester Holloway added: 'LSBC has always given a platform to a range of views about how to raise achievement of black children and tackle the barriers that hold them back.

'This year’s panel has been picked to echo the mayor’s own opinions, which has no credibility in the community.”

But last night Boris Johnson’s office hit back said that Diane Abbott had pulled out of the event at the “last minute” and organisers wanted to keep the conference going. A spokeswoman said: 'We had to rename the conference because Diane of her own accord pulled out and that name was associated with her. 'We wanted to carry on this important event despite the timing of her pulling out and so we have gone ahead under a slightly different name.'


Big Brother alert over surge in 'citizen spies' as thousands more volunteer to snoop on neighbours

This is all very regrettable but with the collapse of behaviour standards in Britain it may be necessary

Councils across the country have recruited thousands of ‘citizen snoopers’ to report ‘environmental crime’. They target dog foulers, litter louts and neighbours who fail to sort their rubbish properly.

The volunteers act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of their neighbourhoods and are encouraged to take photos of ‘environmental crime’ and send them in with location details for a rapid response. They are given hand-held GPS computers for the task or phone cards to cover the cost of using their own devices. Evidence gathered this way is sometimes used in criminal prosecutions.

There are already 9,831 snoopers signed up – a 17 per cent increase on the number two years ago – and a further 1,310 are set to be recruited and trained as part of schemes run by 18 councils.

Volunteers often apply to become ‘street champions’ through council websites, but many have also been lured by recruitment drives in local newspapers.

Critics said yesterday the trend to create an army of neighbourhood detectives was leading to a Big Brother society and a culture where prying on neighbours was considered the norm.

Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It should be deeply troubling for us all that councils seem not content with their own snooping and are now recruiting members of the public to assist them. ‘If a crime is committed, it is the police who should be involved, not local residents given hi-tech gadgets by councils, many of whom rarely pass up an opportunity to invade our privacy or hand out spurious fines.

‘These individuals operate with little or no training, and there is no evidence to suggest it helps combat environmental crime. ‘Councils seem to be unable to tell the difference between asking the public for help and getting the public to do their snooping for them.’

But David Parsons, chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment board, said: ‘Environmental crimes like dog fouling, fly-tipping and littering blight local areas and are a source of huge frustration.

‘People hate seeing this sort of vandalism on their doorsteps. Schemes like street champions put people in charge of their own areas and help residents take a stand against the inconsiderate few who spoil them.’

Hillingdon Council in London boasts the biggest street champions scheme with 4,850 volunteers, who record an average of 1,000 incidents a month.

By contrast Charnwood Borough Council, in the East Midlands, has 15 ‘community champions’ using handheld computers supplied by waste contractor Serco.

Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Councils shouldn’t be asking people to spy on their neighbours…it could breed resentment within communities.’


Insane murderer free to drive a Melbourne taxi

All on the basis of a prophecy. It is a disgrace to Victoria's legal system that a man who spent six years in the nuthouse for murder is considered safe to drive a taxi. They say his insanity is unlikely to recur. How do they know? Do they have the gift of prophecy? I am a qualified psychologist and I am sure that I could not give such an assurance. I would in fact say that the past is the best guide to the future.

It's that insane VCAT again. It was VCAT who penalized two Christian pastors for laughing at the Koran. They should be disbanded. The murderous taxi-driver is an African. That alone would explain the VCAT decision. They are enforcers of political correctness, not any sort of an impartial tribunal. And, sadly, the Court of Appeal has backed them up.

Hopefully no taxi company will hire the murderer. But in the meanwhile, would you take a cab in Melbourne? I wouldn't -- unless I had a long sharp knife on me for self-defence. Or maybe VCAT wants us to avoid getting into cabs driven by Africans. That would be the sort of "unintended" consequence of this biased and irresponsible decision

THE Transport Department has abandoned its long-running legal battle to prevent a killer taxi driver from getting back behind the wheel. The deadline for a last-ditch appeal to the High Court to stop the man, known only as XFJ, from regaining his taxi licence expired this week.

The decision clears the way for the former refugee, who butchered his wife in a fit of insanity 21 years ago, to hit the road.

Last month the Court of Appeal rejected a bid by the Director of Public Transport to overturn an earlier VCAT decision granting the man the right to drive taxis. The department said it would consider an appeal to the High Court.

After already spending more than $500,000 on the four-year legal fight, a department spokesman confirmed authorities would not pursue the matter. "Having examined the Court of Appeal decision carefully, it was apparent there were no grounds on which to seek special leave to appeal to the High Court and, accordingly, the Department of Transport did not seek special leave," spokesman David Stockman said.

Victoria's taxi industry watchdog has refused to confirm if the cabbie has already applied to regain his licence or embarked on a training course. Victorian Taxi Directorate spokesman Bob Nielson said: "We suggest you contact XFJ's legal representative, as disclosure of whether or not he is accredited is a matter for XFJ." The cabbie's lawyer, Barbara Shalit, of the Victorian Mental Health Legal Centre, declined to comment.

XFJ repeatedly stabbed his wife in 1990. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Crime Victims Support Association chief Noel McNamara said the public had a right to know if a violent killer was driving them home. The public should not only be told when XFJ hit the streets as a cabbie, but also know what he looked like. "It was a horrendous crime," Mr McNamara said.

Taxi Association spokesman David Samuel indicated Melbourne's cabbies might not welcome XFJ back. "The safety of drivers and passengers is important," he said.



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

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

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


11 November, 2011

Political Correctness is the Substance of Darkness

My recent encounter with the booklet THOUGHT PRISON by Bruce Charlton was thought provoking enough and eye opening enough to challenge me to gather in to one place my thoughts on the nature of modernism, liberalism, leftwingism, socialism, materialism, pseudo-Darwinism, deconstructionism, and all the other ‘isms’ grouped under the general umbrella of Progressive thought. As Mr Charlton did, rather than struggle to find a word to define a cloud of thought its partisans take great pains to make undefined, I will here call all these streams of Progressive thought ‘Political Correctness’ or PC.

I recommend the book. My one reservation is that Mr Charlton sees no hope for the overthrow of PC. Because he writes in an aphoristic style, I do not know what reasoning or evidence convinced him of the point, so I cannot argue against it. I will, despite my general agreement and great admiration for his work

My opinion is that to define PC is tantamount to destroying it.
That is precisely why PC folk take such steps to obscure their meaning, goals, and means. That is why they will not be ‘labeled’ and why they dismiss those of us who label them as thinking in a way that is ‘too black and white’ i.e. too simplistic. Their thinking is to say ‘black is white’ i.e. inversion, paradox, falsehood.

When you say nonsense clearly, it has no persuasive force: you raise a smile rather than raise an army. But when you utter nonsense obscurely, ah, then you are like unto a spirit of the kingdom of darkness, and no one can see you, no one grapple you, no one smite you with his sword. The mission of PC is sabotage, not melee: and saboteurs do not like banners and uniforms to identify them no more than PC likes definitions, labels, reason.
Like Rumpelstiltskin, you need but call them by their right name to watch them rip themselves in half in fury.

The modernists of PC gained their predominance by persuading people not that PC was true (for they do not believe it true) but that it is nice, and that we, to be nice, must also pretend to be nice. Any opposition of the undefined niceness is defined as not nice.

Their gains were rapid, but it took them a century or more to gain them, and, by the nature of PC, the gains cannot be permanent. Let their losses begin today, and now, even if it takes ten centuries, or longer. I need but convince one mind to turn away from political correctness toward factual correctness, and their armies are forever one man shy. He need but convince two, and so forth. They did not win all at one dramatic stroke, nor shall we.

Usually we conservatives are so taken aback by farragoes of vicious nonsense that we can think of nothing polite to say in reply. The sheer insolence of the denial of reality, the sheer nonsense of the illogic, leaves the conservative mind, which is to say, the rational mind, dumbfounded. We continue to be so amazed at the sheer effrontery of the falsehood, and unparalleled silliness of the denial, that our all too human reason is left with no traction, no means to construct an argument.

You cannot argue against Jabberwocky. If someone says you are a mimsy borogrove or a frumious Bandersnatch, what is one to say back? You cannot reason with a man whose denial of reality is absolute. Once the opposition has established that evidence simply does not matter, what evidence can you present to show that it does?

Facts mean nothing, evidence means nothing, and as long as the pose of Political Correctness is utterly shameless, never cracking a smile or looking embarrassed, it can withstand any fact, any evidence, any logic, any proof, merely by going, “What? Who? Where? When?” ad nauseam.

Socialism has failed, and failed spectacularly, every place it has been tried. It does not work in practice, and, despite what they told you in school, dear reader, it does not make any sense in theory. So these folks and their dreams and schemes are not only evil, they are also wrong.

What about all those tens of millions and hundreds of millions of people who were butchered, killed, starved, terrified, persecuted, dehumanized, harassed, enslaved, prodded, poked, annoyed, burdened, robbed, humiliated, annoyed, imposed upon, and lied to during this, the most violent era in human history?

Leaving aside the genocides of the violent strain of Eastern European socialism, what about the inhumanity and Nanny-totalitarianism of the mild Western European version, not to mention the waste, the unhappiness, the loss of dignity, freedom, meaning, treasure? What about the sheer, mind-boggling ugliness of your postmodern, postrational, postchristian world?

What about the divorce rate, the venereal disease rate, the abortion rate, the euthanasia rate and your general fascination, admiration, and love of death? What about the utter abandonment of decency in the moral sphere and reason in the mental sphere? Aren’t you even ashamed?

Such is my question for the gray and establishment-maintaining radicals. I expect no answer. They are machines programmed only to respond with personal attack. They cannot engage the issue or admit anything is their fault: they do not even believe in cause and effect, really.

It is now the dominant paradigm: even conservative presidential candidates routinely use phrases like “he or she” where “he” is called for, or use “African American” to refer to black people from countries not in Africa nor in America.

Except within an ever-shrinking circle of Conservative commentators, and all arguments about philosophy or policy start and finish from the unquestioned and axiomatic idea the life is meaningless save for what meaning the isolated individual arbitrarily chooses to impart to it; that the arbitrary choice has no higher authority to answer nor standard to consult; that all ‘values’ are relative; that all cultures are the same; that human life has no intrinsic worth whereas aborticide and euthanasia are expressions of dignity and liberty; that neither matrimony, nor anything else, is sacred. All arguments start and finish with the assumption that reason is unreasonable and reality is not really real.

The motto of the United States is no longer E pluribus Unum: it is now Sensitivity in Diversity.

They have won. But they are weak and absurd and nonsensical, not to mention vulgar and boring. And yet this, this, is the dominant paradigm and the Spirit of the Age.

But it is a spirit as craven as a naked rat, sniveling, shrill as a spoiled child, petulant, violent, and unutterably stupid and petty and small. We conservatives walk through the wreckage of vanquished walled towns and cathedrals, seeing the litter of statues of breathtaking glory trampled and broken underfoot, proud armies with shield and spear thrown down fleeing blindly into bogs, or laying motionless by muddy roads, a feast for murders of crows and packs of feral dogs: and everywhere all the signs of civilization torn, battered, demeaned, cast down. And at the far end of the cratered landscape, beneath skies black with the smoke of vanished empires, instead of a titan who wears the constellations for a crown, we find nothing more than a limp blob of an overweight and hairless brat, retarded of mind and obscene of taste and morals, lying in a puddle of his own offal, playing with his penis and puking.

This blot is the enemy, who who is so frail he cannot stand to be called liberal or socialist or progressive or leftist. This the Political Correctness, a being too toothless and shapeless even to admit to his own name, and yet this is what trampled Christendom.
And the wormy blotch claims to be both sage and saint, superior to us in wisdom as well as in morals.

His warrant for great wisdom is that he says all intellect is vain, merely the by-product of matter in motion, or the psychological side effect of childhood trauma. His warrant for moral superiority is that he adores a sexual license and sexual perversion, that he is incapable of simplest moral judgments, and that he promotes and fathers all fashions of cowardice, intemperance, imprudence, and injustice.

Modern PC is one and the same with those radicals, back in the day, who in the name of freedom of speech and artistic authenticity abolished all censorship or public checks on lewd, crude, scatological, blasphemous or prurient language. I hope I am not the only one old enough to remember the campus rioters shouting obscenities at the top amplification of electronic bullhorns in order to provoke the campus officers (or, later, the police) to using force to stop them.

That they would then turn on the Conservatives and upbraid us for being uncivil and indelicate in language shows an ability to form airtight compartments in the mind where two mutually exclusive and logically contradictory outlooks on life can be stored until needed, each blissfully unaware of the other, not to mention an unsurpassable degree of shamelessness.

Here is the core of the secret of success of PC, and why we Conservatives have so utterly failed to rout it, or defeat it, or check its rate of victory, or even to engage it.

Political Correctness, and, indeed, the whole Liberal, Socialist, Progressive agenda is actually, fundamentally, and ultimately about …. Nothing.

It is nothingness to its core. Political Correctness is nihilist.
It calls evil whatever might be at hand to call evil this season. It is whatever institution of the Western world, whatever aspect of Christendom, folly or convenience or whim or tactical advantage have decided to attack. It calls nothing good aside from airy abstractions, a fluff of words that have emotional connotations, but no denotations, no meaning, no definition.

The whole structure of PC thought rests on make-believe, that is, on the vehement (often violent) denial of reality, and the replacement of reality of by verbal formulae of Approved Thought, formulae justly famed for their zen-koan-like detachment from reason, and their mystical tripping-hippy-like detachment from reality.


US Commission: Pakistan Schools Teach Hatred

A new government study released Wednesday reveals Pakistan's educational system encourages radical Islam.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said the country's textbooks and teachers are biased against non-Muslims and foster "prejudice and intolerance" of Hindus and Christians.

"Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security," Commission Chairman Leonard Leo said.

The report specifically said Pakistani teachers view religious minorities, especially Hindus and to a lesser extent, Christians, as "enemies of Islam."

It said that it's likely that violent religious extremism will continue to grow in Pakistan.

"Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful," the report said.

The study reviewed more than 100 textbooks from first through 10th grade from Pakistan's four provinces.

Researchers also visited public schools and madrases where they interviewed teachers and students.


Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form: 200,000 got handouts last year without face-to-face interview

Another British bureaucracy that is totally incompetent

Almost 200,000 people were granted a disability benefit last year without ever having a face-to-face assessment. A staggering 94 per cent of new claimants for Disability Living Allowance started receiving their payments after only filling out paperwork.

Official figures released last night revealed that 16 per cent of new claimants received the benefit – worth £70 a week – after merely filling out a claim form. A further 36 per cent provided supporting evidence, while another 42 per cent provided a GP report, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. In total they were paid more than £300million last year.

The figures mean only 6 per cent of new claimants got their money after a face-to-face assessment. Critics warned that thousands of benefits cheats were being allowed to ‘slip through the net’ while changes to the system come into force.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said it was wrong that so many people who are paid the benefit were not asked for any evidence to support their claim beyond sending some paperwork in the post – and then get to keep it for years without being reassessed.

Ministers are replacing DLA with a Personal Independence Payment. Under the new system, every case will have to be assessed by a health care professional, usually in person. But the new system does not come into force until 2013/14.

DLA is currently paid to 3.2million at an annual cost of £12billion – the same as the Department of Transport’s entire budget for 2010/11. It is designed to help those who have specific mobility or care needs, and cannot do things like walk or wash and dress themselves. It is paid most often for arthritis, learning difficulties, psychosis and back pain.

This makes it different from Incapacity Benefit – now renamed Employment and Support Allowance – which is paid to people because they are not well enough to work.

The number of people claiming DLA has soared by more than two million from 1.1million in 1992. More than 70 per cent of existing claimants are on DLA for life without facing any regular checks. Fraud and error statistics show that £600million is currently wasted on DLA in overpayments.

There is increasing political controversy over Mr Duncan Smith’s pledge to slash £2.17billion from the vast annual bill for DLA by 2015. Cuts to DLA are increasingly being criticised by charities and opposition MPs. Disability campaigners have warned that the new testing regime is flawed and has prompted fear and anxiety among the most vulnerable people in society.

But ministers say face-to-face assessments are essential to make sure the benefit is going to those with the greatest need. Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘At the moment, hundreds of millions of pounds are paid out in disability benefits to people who have simply filled out a form. ‘We are introducing the Personal Independence Payment with a new objective assessment and regular reviews to make sure people are getting the right levels of support.

‘The face-to-face assessment will also give people the chance to meet with a healthcare professional and discuss their condition, rather than trying to self-assess.’

Evidence suggests that only a very small proportion of DLA claimants will get the benefit under the new testing regime.

Ministers have already switched to more stringent assessments for the replacement for Incapacity Benefit – and found that only 7 per cent of new claimants are sick enough to receive the handout. Thirty-nine per cent of first-time claimants for the new Employment and Support Allowance were deemed fit enough to work.

A third dropped their application before it was completed, while a further 17 per cent were judged able to do some form of work with the right help and support.

Emma Boon, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance pressure group, said: ‘The Coalition is bringing in changes to welfare that will mean fewer people can abuse taxpayers’ money by wrongly claiming DLA. However, whilst we wait for these changes to come fully into effect there is a chance that more cheats have slipped through the net.’

But Labour councillor Neil Coyle, of the Disability Alliance, which represents 250 disability charities, said face-to-face tests would cost £675million.


The "disabled" in Australia: Many could work

Fewer than half of all Australians with a disability are employed and more than 800,000 disabled people are on the Disability Support Pension.

Only 1% of this group leave the pension to take up employment each year. Around two-thirds say they have a mild or ‘less than mild’ impairment but continue to take advantage of the full pension.

Our income support system channels people with a disability onto the pension and away from work even if they have worked before and think they can work again. Once they are on the pension, there is little incentive – and certainly no compulsion – to look for a job.

Yet we know that given the right help, many people with very serious disabilities can work.

Organisations such as JobSupport say getting people with disabilities into jobs is realistic.

JobSupport puts 50 to 60 school leavers with moderate intellectual disabilities through their ‘Transitions to Work’ program every year. Around 70% go on to work in jobs in the open employment market.

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance in NSW takes high school kids with cerebral palsy on ski trips to show them they can be independent and take risks. They place young disabled adults in mentoring programs with some of Australia’s biggest corporations.

The work of these organisations proves that with the right attitude and the right support, almost anyone can be employed in paid work.

We should stop telling people with disabilities that they can’t work and can’t become self-sufficient.

A life on welfare is not the best they can do or we can do for them.

In a wealthy, fully employed country of opportunity like Australia, the most damaging kind of poverty is not lack of income but lack of aspiration.



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 November, 2011

Hoteliers seek to retain ban on homosexuals

DEVOUT Christian hotel owners who refused to allow a gay couple to share a double room have insisted at an appeal court that they should have been allowed to impose the ban.

Peter Bull, 72, and Hazel Bull, 67, refused to allow Martyn Hall and his civil partner, Steven Preddy, to stay in a double room at their Cornwall hotel. This year a judge at Bristol County Court ruled the Bulls had acted unlawfully and ordered them to pay £3600 compensation.

Challenging the ruling at the appeal court in London, the Bulls argued they did not wish to undermine or disrespect Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, who are from Bristol. James Dingemans, QC, for the Bulls, told three appeal judges that Judge Andrew Rutherford at Bristol "erred in failing to balance the respective rights in this case".

He said the Bulls believed that "unmarried sexual behaviour was wrong" but were not prejudiced against gay people.

Mr Dingemans said the law should be capable of accommodating Mr Hall and Mr Preddy's rights under equality legislation and the Bulls' rights to beliefs about sex before marriage.

He said: "[Their] beliefs may be considered outdated, uneconomic for those operating a private hotel, but, we respectfully submit, they are entitled to manifest those beliefs."

He said the Bulls had an "absolute right" to believe that "unmarried sexual behaviour is wrong" and a "qualified right" to "manifest that belief".

"If human rights is to have any value at all, it must be respecting of all rights," he said.

The website to the couple's hotel, Chymorvah, features a note: "We have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double-bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples. Thank you."

The hearing continues.


Are Britain's Olympics chiefs ashamed of Britain's proud naval history? In the days before Remembrance Sunday the HMS Belfast is airbrushed from poster

She is one of the most famous ships ever to sail in the British Navy. Assisting allies in World War II and fighting enemies in Korea she then retired to a permanent mooring on the River Thames as a museum.

However Olympic chiefs seem to be unconcerned with the illustrious history of HMS Belfast if the latest advertisement for next year's event is anything to go by. The warship has been airbrushed from the Thames in this poster to advertise the Festival that will accompany the Games.

It was spotted yesterday on a Northern Line platform at Camden Town London Underground station just days before Remembrance Sunday.

Veterans from the Navy, some of whom may have served on HMS Belfast during the 1940s, will attend the annual service at the Cenotaph just a short distance away this coming Sunday.

The poster above is advertising the London Festival, which hopes to bring more than 10million opportunities to see 1,000 performances and events in London ahead of the Olympics.

HMS Belfast meanwhile is one of Britain's most well known vessels and attracts around 250,000 visitors a year. It has been moored on the Thames since 1971 and became part of the Imperial War Museum in 1978. The ship was built in 1936/7 before it entered reserve in 1963.

Today visitors can explore its nine decks and experience what it was like to be in the gun turret during the middle of a Second World War battle.


'They're trying to create a template for all aspects of life': Newest British Supreme Court judge slams human rights rulings

The newest Supreme Court judge yesterday accused the European Court of Human Rights of riding roughshod over democracy.

Jonathan Sumption QC said the Strasbourg human rights judges had tried through their rulings to set down ‘a template for most aspects of human life.’ He warned that the democratic ‘consensus necessary to support it at this level of detail does not exist.’

And Mr Sumption, who is shortly to be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge, said it was wrong for Strasbourg to treat Britain, a democratic country with high constitutional standards, in the same way as Romania, Russia or Turkey.

His scathing speech – which also accused British judges of becoming too political and stealing the democratic rights of ministers – made Mr Sumption the latest in a string of senior figures in the law to make public their unhappiness with the Court of Human Rights and its rulings.

Among them is Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, who said last month that in arguments between the European judges and Britain ‘maybe Strasbourg shouldn’t win.’

Mr Sumption became the first practicing barrister to be appointed to the Supreme Court in May. He attracted some criticism in the legal profession both because he has never served as a judge and because he has delayed taking up his post to represent Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in his protracted court battle against former friend Boris Berezovsky.

Mr Sumption, who is thought to have been earning well in excess of £1 million a year throughout the past decade, will be sworn in to the Supreme Court when the Abramovich case is over.

He said in a speech to fellow lawyers that the problem with human rights was not the general principles but the way the Strasbourg court has produced ‘a very large number of derivative sub-principles and rules. ‘Many of these sub-principles and rules go well beyond what is required to vindicate the rights expressly conferred by the Convention,’ Mr Sumption said.

'In addition, the Strasbourg court has taken it upon itself to decide not only whether states had proper institutional safeguards for the protection of human rights, but whether it agreed with the outcome.’

Mr Sumption said the court had made its landmark ruling in 1995 that three IRA terrorists shot by the SAS in Gibraltar were wrongly killed not because human rights rules were broken but because it disagreed with the findings of an inquest.

He said: ‘The Strasbourg court has treated the Convention not just as a safeguard against arbitrary and despotic exercises of state power but as a template for most aspects of human life. ‘These include many matters where are governed by no compelling moral considerations one way or the other. The consensus necessary to support it at this level of detail does not exist.’

Mr Sumption said that Britain had a strong public service tradition, a functioning democracy and an independent judiciary and ‘there is no reason why the protection of Convention rights should necessarily require the same measures in a country like the United Kingdom as they do in countries like, say, Romania, Russia or Turkey.’

He said that judges should stay out of making political decisions in what they considered to be the public interest. This, he sad, is a matter for politicians and ‘has no legitimate basis in public consent, because judges are quite rightly not accountable to the public for their decisions.’ He warned that if judges continue to take political decisions, they will be vulnerable to pressure for the public for an elected judiciary.


Universal media decoder for the Middle East

Aggression: Killing people who are trying to kill you.

Al Qaeda: the terrorist group that, according to American security sources, embodies the world-wide Islamist movement, and that is either “significantly degraded” or is still “extremely dangerous,” depending on which government official is doing the talking.

Apartheid: The political/social system of the one and only country in the Middle East that integrates Jews, Beduins, Arabs, whites, blacks, Muslems, Ethiopians, Russians, Christians, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Bahai, et al.

“Apes & Pigs”: See “Jew” below.

Arab Emir: Military dictator.

Arab King: Military dictator.

Arab President: Military dictator.

Arab Prime Minister: Military dictator.

Arab Spring: Replacement of one dictatorship with another, with the help of Western money and media cheerleading.

Arab Street: Enraged mobs chanting and screaming their hatred, determined to annihilate Israel and the Jews. They can often be seen burning American and Israeli flags, passing out candies and firing guns into the air in response to successful murders of Westerners (closely related to):

Arab Humiliation: The pervasive feeling on the Arab street generated by their failure to annihilate Israel and the Jews in several wars. Many opinion-makers, Middle East experts and op-ed writers argue that Arab humiliation is at the root of the Middle East conflict; i.e., “If only the Jews would let themselves be destroyed, the Arab street would feel better about themselves, and then there would be peace.”

Ayatola: Persian dictator. Spiritual leader of that faith that desires to ignite nuclear holocaust in order to bring about the arrival of the Mahdi. (See “Mahdi” below.)

Bias: An expression of support for the existence of Israel.

Caliphate: The unification of lands ruled in the name of Islam, ruled by a Caliph. (See “Arab King,” “Arab President,” etc. above.)

Compromise: To give something palpable, such as land, in return for a promise not to keep on trying to annihilate you.

Developing Country: A country that is not developing.

Disproportionate Response: Winning.

Diversity: The condition in which all cultures are viewed as equally and inherently virtuous, except for the culture of the West, which is viewed as evil by virtue of imperialism, colonialism and endemic racism (see “Racist” below).

Emergency Laws: The law.

Father of the Palestinian People: An Egyptian man, raised by his uncle, Hitler’s buddy, and one of the world’s most successful kleptocrats. (See “PLO” below.)

Fatwa: A pronouncement of a mullah that sanctions murder, but only of disagreeable people, like inadequately covered women, Salman Rushdie, etc.

Female Genital Mutilation: That ritual of which Western feminist organizations seem, by virtue of their silence, to approve.

Hamas: The democratically elected government of Gaza whose founding charter calls for genocide.

Hezbollah: The democratic group whose purpose is saving Lebanon from Israeli aggression, and whose founding charter calls for genocide.

History: Having nothing whatsoever to do with what has actually happened, but rather being what has come to be called “narrative,” i.e., “storytelling.” For one example, allusions to the “Ancient Nation of Palestine;” and for another, almost all the Muslem accomplishments President Obama enumerated in his momentous Cairo speech (also see “Rewriting History” below).

Holocaust: That genocide that did not happen, but that the Jews orchestrated in order to steal Arab land, and that of which the Jewish presence in Palestine is worse than.

Honor Killings: The cultural imperative to murder one’s daughter/sister/niece for humiliating male members…(see “Shariah” below).

Human Rights: The credo by which murder committed by a person from a country which used to be called “Third World” (now considered racist terminology) is good (see “Resistance” below); retaliatory killing by a person who is either from a developed country, a white person or most especially a Jew, is bad (see “Agression” above).

Human Shields: Integral part of Hamas & Hezbollah military strategy.

Islamic Republic: Military dictatorship.

Israel: Occupied territory (see “Zionist Entity” below).

Israeli Prime Minister: Hawkish, right-winger, hard-liner.

Jerusalem: City holy to Islam in which the Jews have no history.

Jew: The source of all decadence and evil in the world; descendent of apes and pigs.

Jihad: The inner spiritual struggle for self-purification or the bloody military struggle for world domination depending on to which journalist and in what language one is speaking.

Judeo-Christian Values: The credo of that civilization which has lost all its values, except for that racism is bad, and diversity is good.

Koran: The book that was revealed word-for-word to the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) by the Angel Gabriel…or not.

Leftist: Supporter of PLO (see “PLO” below) and Hamas (see “Hamas” above) and Muslem Brotherhood (see “Muslem Brotherhood” below).

Mahdi: The Shia Messiah who has been hiding for centuries at the bottom of a well.

Martyr: Someone who kills someone else while killing himself, said to be rewarded for his martyrdom by the acquisition of 72 virgins upon his arrival in Paradise, at least according to what the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) said the Angel Gabriel told him (see “Koran” above).

Militant, Assailant, Gunman, Activist: terrorist.

Moderate Palestinian Leader: Former KGB operative, Holocaust denier, and financier of Munich Olympic massacre.

Mosque: A place for the storage of armaments.

Muslem Brotherhood: A mostly secular and non-violent political party in Egypt.

Occupation: Jewish presence in disputed territory. (See “Israel” above.)

Peace: War of attrition.

Peace Process: The dismantling of Israel.

Peace Talks: The avoidance of peace.

PLO: Organization created in 1964 to end the 1967 occupation.

Palestinian Authority: The world’s most successful kleptocracy.

Palestinian Hero: Murderer of children.

Palestinian Prime Minister: Moderate, bold (see “Arab Prime Minister” above).

Protocols of the Elders of Zion: The authentic Jewish playbook for world domination.

Racist: A person who disagrees with or does not like or does not support the reelection of President Obama.

Radical Islamic Movement: A group whose stated official goal is genocide (see “Hamas” and “Hezbollah” above).

Recognition: A truce until the next time.

Refugee: Someone who has refused to take refuge, or who has not been allowed to take refuge.

“Religion of Peace”: That civilization with which the Judeo-Christian civilization is locked in a war to the death.

Resistance: Randomly killing civilians, especially children.

Rewriting History: See “History” above.

Right: Demand to live in Israel by people who hate it and wish to destroy it.

of Return: By people very, very few of whom have ever actually been there.

Settlement: An illegal community made up of settlers. (See “Settler” below.)

Settler: Someone who builds his house in order to thwart any chance at making peace between Jews and Palestinians.

Shariah: The Islamic system of jurisprudence which codifies and dignifies rape, child marriage, specific classes of murder such as honor killings (see “Honor Killings” above), etc.

Shia: People who are certain that Sunnis are not real Muslems, and are in fact infidels, and should therefore be slaughtered.

Sunni: People who are certain that Shia are not real Muslems, and are in fact infidels, and should therefore be slaughtered.

War Crime: Retaliation and defense. Any action whose intent is victory.

War on Terror: Pretense that the enemy of the West is made up of small, shadowy groups motivated by childhood poverty (see “Al Qaeda” above). (“We’re depraved on account of we’re deprived” — apologies to S. Sondheim.)

Zionism: The ideology of the Jews who aspire to control, dominate and take over the world.

Zionist: Someone who is worse than a Nazi.

Zionist Entity: That place that does not exist, as on Arab maps, but that must be destroyed.



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 November, 2011

Europe's most "incorrect" Prime Minister finally falls

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly set to resign after passing financial reforms promised to EU

ITALIAN Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has become the biggest victim yet of Europe's economic crisis after surviving a career-killing run of gaffes and raunchy sex scandals.

The 75-year-old billionaire, who has led Italy for half of the past 17 years, is the longest serving Italian leader since Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

He has been dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption and currently faces three criminal trials - including paying for sex with an underage prostitute and nightclub belly dancer known as Ruby the Heart-Stealer.

He promoted several long-legged beauties to high political positions and has been accused by critics of tainting Italy's image abroad. He recently admitted he was "no saint". Without him, there would be no "Bunga bunga".

Here are the top Berlsuconi gaffes:

1. In 2003, Berlusconi asks US investors to relocate to Italy because Italian secretaries are better looking than US ones. "Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."

2. The same year he refers to German MEP Martin Schulz as a concentration camp guard.
"I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps - I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (a guard chosen from among the prisoners) - you would be perfect."

3. Italy suffered its biggest earthquake in 30 years in 2009, leaving 17,000 people homeless. On a tour of the tent sites around the quake site, Berlusconi said the victims should see it as a camping trip: "Of course their current lodgings are a bit temporary but they should see it like a weekend of camping."

4. Berlusconi misses a Nato ceremony for fallen soldiers the same year because he was too busy talking on his mobile.

5. At the G20 photo shoot in London in 2009 he yells at US President Barack Obama, earning a rebuke from the Queen: "What is it? Why does he have to shout so loud?"

6. Still with Obama at the G20. Berlusconi tells the world his response to the global economic crisis differs from the president's because "I'm paler". "I’m paler because it's been so long since I went sunbathing. He's more handsome, younger and taller." The year before he calss Obama "handsome, young and also suntanned".

7. In 2006 he manages to offend China: "Read the black book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields."

8. The year before it was the turn of the Fins. Berlusconi said he had to “dust off my playboy charms” to convince Finland’s female PM to set up the EU Food Safety Authority in Parma.

9. Just last week Berlusconi defied the world'as opinion of Italy’s economy . "Life in Italy is life in a prosperous country. We see that on every occasion, consumption has not gone down, the restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on aeroplanes, holiday areas are totally booked out on long weekends. I don’t think that if you went to live in Italy that Italy is feeling anything that could resemble a serious crisis."

10. A wiretap catches Berlusconi bragging about his male prowess. He says he was "doing only eight girls, because I couldn’t do more".


Welcome to the era of the post-moral panic

In our morally unanchored society, elite fearmongers prefer to use so-called science rather than moralism to reshape our behaviour

One question we should ask ourselves is whether it’s possible to have a moral panic at a time when there is no moral consensus. At a time when traditional values are going down the toilet, and when traditional morality no longer holds sway, is it possible to have a panic about ‘folk devils’ who allegedly pose a threat to the moral fabric?

I don’t think it is. Because in order to have a proper moral panic, you need to have some proper morality. You need to have a generally agreed-upon set of moral values that people can be accused of transgressing. And we just don’t have that today. In our era of moral relativism, it is actually increasingly difficult to have an old-fashioned moral panic.

That might sound like good news. No one is really in favour of moral panics, except maybe the Daily Mail. But the tragedy is that moral panics have been replaced by something even worse – by panics underpinned by science rather than by morality. And these new, post-moral panics are having a seriously detrimental impact on society.

What we have seen over the past few years is a massive rupture between panic and morality, a massive dissociation of the politics of fear from any system of moral meaning. These days, panics are not motored by moral sensibilities – they’re motored by scientific claims or health advice or what are presented to us as objective facts.

Consider the panics about young people. In the past, there were moral panics about young people drinking too much, fornicating and being generally depraved. These randy, alcoholic youth were accused of sinning against the natural moral order.

Today, there are still panics about young people’s behaviour, but they’re presented as health advice. So young people are warned off underage sex and sex outside of a committed relationship through adverts telling them they will get chlamydia or gonorrhoea. They’re warned off boozing with graphic photographs of what too much drink might do to their livers.

A society that has no clear moral line on marriage or sex or hedonism is forced to fall back on a grisly, bovine form of moral pressure. Incapable of telling young people what is right and what is wrong, our society prefers to spread panic about physical decay and physical ailments. It appeals to us to modify our behaviour, not in the name of morality and decency, but in the name of protecting our own livers and genitalia from disease.

Often, what we have today is the rehabilitation of old forms of moral disgust in a new pseudo-scientific language. So one of the most unhinged panics of modern times – the panic about the so-called obesity epidemic – is really just the resurrection of the sins of gluttony and sloth. But because society lacks the moral resources to lecture people about being gluttonous and slothful, which would involve making moral judgements and behaving with explicit superiority, it instead spreads all sorts of nonsense about Body Mass Index, calorie counting, and so on.

Even the moral panic about football hooligans, one of the great mad panics of the 1970s and 1980s, has been put through the de-moralisation process and turned into a pseudo-scientific issue. So recently, Cardiff University published a report arguing that gatherings of 70,000 or more football fans are a threat to the environment. Apparently such gatherings leave an eco-footprint 3,000 times the size of the pitch at Wembley. This eco-unfriendly mass of people leaves behind it 37 tonnes of glass and eight tonnes of paper.

It reveals a lot about the moral disarray of today’s cultural elite that even one of their favourite, easiest moral panics, even their disgust with working-class football fans, now has to be swaddled in a kind of neutral academic lingo.

The rise and rise of these post-moral panics has led to some extraordinary double standards in the arena of the politics of fear. Because the new post-moral panic-mongers are often the people who are most sniffy about old-fashioned moral panics promoted by the likes of the Daily Mail.

So the broadsheet journalists who criticise right-wing tabloids and politicians for spreading panic about terrorism are the same ones who argue that actually global warming is going to burn us all to death and it’s all the fault of unthinking people taking too many cheap flights. The people who argue that the working classes are making themselves sick by eating Turkey Twizzlers are the same ones who balk when the Daily Mail says that chavs undermine moral decency.

This double standard was really brought home at the end of October. After the Lib-Con government published its report on the August rioting in England, which revealed that 42 per cent of the rioters had received free school meals, some clever members of the Twitterati started tweeting: ‘Oh I bet I know what the Daily Mail’s headline will be. It will be “Free School Meals Cause Riots”.’ Hilarious, right? But what these Twits forgot is that actually that panic has already been done. Over the past few years, respectable publications like the Times Higher Education have published articles with headlines like ‘Unhealthy school dinners linked to anti-social behaviour’, a fancier way of saying ‘School meals cause rioting’.

So the moralists at the Daily Mail can be slated for even thinking about pursuing a panic that had already been done by others, in post-moral, respectable language, of course. Today, there is no real constituency for traditionalist moral panics – it’s the new post-moral, pseudo-scientific panics that make a big impact.

The post-moral panic-mongers have developed their own language to try to distinguish themselves from their forebears. So where they accuse right-wingers of ‘playing the fear card’, they claim that they are simply trying to ‘raise awareness’. They’re always ‘raising awareness’, whether it’s about the imminent collapse of the biosphere or the gastronomical depravity of the working classes. Where they accuse old-style moral panickers of using shame and stigma, they claim only to be interested in ‘modifying behaviour’. Through such terminology, they seek to make their own playing of the fear card and their moral fury with the little people appear good, decent, driven by expertise rather than moral judgementalism.

There is one really key difference between old moral panics and the new post-moral panics. Where the old moral panics were attempts to express or enforce an already-existing moral outlook, the new post-moral panics are a substitute for any coherent moral outlook. Today, fear is used not as a complement to morality but as a stand-in for morality. We have a situation today where society tries to reconstruct something approaching a moral outlook through fearmongering. This is quite new, and it is giving rise to a situation where basically we have constant panic – one fleeting scare after another, as our superiors try to magic up some behavioural norms and behavioural barriers in our morally bereft society.

As to what impact post-moral panics have on the public – it is a bit weird and contradictory. On one hand, precisely because the new fearmongering is detached from any bigger moral picture it doesn’t have the purchase that the old moral panics had. It doesn’t connect with the public in the same way. The politics of fear is no longer experienced collectively, as it was when we were all told to be scared of the prospect of Hell, but rather is experienced in a super-individuated way, as people are encouraged to panic about their own livers or hearts or waistlines.

But on the other hand, because there are so many post-moral panics, there is a cumulative effect. The fleeting scares build on each other to create a kind of free-floating sense of unease and dread – and often unease and dread about the most mundane things, such as eating and socialising and having half a glass of wine.

Even the moralistic panic-merchants of old never achieved something as destructive as what we have today, courtesy of the pseudo-scientific scaremongering lobby: a kind of everyday, run-of-the-mill doom.


British Government Orders YouTube To Censor Protest Videos

In a frightening example of how the state is tightening its grip around the free Internet, it has emerged that You Tube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.

The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.

Peake was ruling on a case involving Roger Hayes, former member of UKIP, who has refused to pay council tax, both as a protest against the government’s treasonous activities in sacrificing Britain to globalist interests and as a result of Hayes clearly proving that council tax is illegal.

Hayes has embarked on an effort to legally prove that the enforced collection of council tax by government is unlawful because no contract has been agreed between the individual and the state. His argument is based on the sound legal principle that just like the council, Hayes can represent himself as a third party in court and that “Roger Hayes” is a corporation and must be treated as one in the eyes of the law.

The British government doesn’t want this kind of information going viral in the public domain because it is scared stiff of a repeat of the infamous poll tax riots of 1990, a massive tax revolt in the UK that forced the Thatcher government to scrap the poll tax altogether because of mass civil disobedience and refusal to pay.

When viewers in the UK attempt to watch videos of the protest, they are met with the message, “This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.”

We then click through to learn that, “YouTube occasionally receives requests from governments around the world to remove content from our site, and as a result, YouTube may block specific content in order to comply with local laws in certain countries.”

You can also search by country to discover that Google, the owner of You Tube, has complied with the majority of requests from governments, particularly in the United States and the UK, not only to remove You Tube videos, but also specific web search terms and thousands of “data requests,” meaning demands for information that would reveal the true identity of a You Tube user. Google claims that the information sent to governments is “needed for legitimate criminal investigations,” but whether these “data requests” have been backed up by warrants is not divulged by the company.

“Between July 1 and Dec. 31 (2009), Google received 3,580 requests for user data from U.S. government agencies, slightly less than the 3,663 originating from Brazil,” reports PC World. “The United Kingdom and India sent more than 1,000 requests each, and smaller numbers originated from various other countries.”

With regard to search terms, one struggles to understand how a specific combination of words in a Google search can be considered a violation of any law. This is about government and Google working hand in hand to manipulate search results in order to censor inconvenient information, something which Google now freely admits to doing.

You Tube’s behavior is more despicable than the Communist Chinese, who are at least open about their censorship policies, whereas You Tube hides behind a blanket excuse and doesn’t even say what law has been broken.

Anyone who swallows the explanation that the videos were censored in this case because the government was justifiably enforcing a law that says scenes from inside a court room cannot be filmed is beyond naive. Court was not even in session in the protest footage that was removed, and the judge had already left the courtroom.

The real reason for the removal is the fact that the British government is obviously petrified of seeing a group of focused and educated citizens, black, white, old and young, male and female, go head to head with the corrupt system on its own stomping ground.

In their efforts to keep a lid on the growing populist fury that has arrived in response to rampant and growing financial and political tyranny in every sector of society, governments in the west are now mimicking Communist Chinese-style Internet censorship policies in a bid to neutralize protest movements, while hypocritically lecturing the rest of the world on maintaining web freedom.

Via a combination of cybersecurity legislation and policy that is hastily introduced with no real oversight, governments and large Internet corporations are crafting an environment where the state can simply demand information be removed on a whim with total disregard for freedom of speech protections.


Poppy ban on England football stars is an outrage, says PM

Banning England's footballers from wearing a poppy on their shirts is an outrage, David Cameron said yesterday. The Prime Minister told the sport's ruling body to reverse its 'absurd' ruling against 'political' symbols.

Fifa is thought to have made the decision to avoid offence being given to German players and fans. Team chiefs in Berlin insisted however they could not understand the decision, which was revealed in the Daily Mail last weekend.

Mr Cameron said: 'This seems outrageous. The idea that wearing a poppy to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom is a political act is absurd. 'Wearing a poppy is an act of huge respect and national pride. I hope that Fifa will reconsider.'

His intervention increases the pressure for the ruling to be overturned in time for England's friendly against Spain on Saturday.

Fifa bosses apparently feared problems if England ever faced Germany in a fixture around Remembrance Day. They worried that the poppies could cause tensions between the sportsmen of two nations who have twice fought world wars.

That argument lay in tatters after Wolfgang Niersbach, general secretary of the German Football Federation, said he fully backed England's move to have the symbols stitched on to their shirts. 'I am totally surprised [by the suggestion German people may be offended], because it just hasn't been mentioned here,' he said. 'To my mind, this is a decision for England to make, and we would be happy for them to make it. 'The Federation has not heard of, or been involved in, any discussions about poppies and whether England should be allowed to wear them on Saturday.

'I cannot imagine we would have any objection to the idea of England's players having poppies on their shirts. It just wouldn't be a problem.' He said his federation had not even been contacted by Swiss-based Fifa over the issue.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson yesterday wrote to Fifa asking it to reconsider allowing England and Wales to wear the poppy emblem this Saturday. In a letter to Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary, he said: 'The British public feel very strongly about this issue which is seen as an act of national remembrance to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

'It is not religious or political in any way. Wearing a poppy is a display of national pride, just like wearing your country's football shirt.'

But a Fifa spokesman insisted: 'Such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football.' The governing body decrees that shirts should not carry political, religious or commercial messages.

Instead, it has allowed a period of silence to be held before Wembley's England friendly, which comes the day before Remembrance Sunday.

England midfielder Jack Wilshere wrote on social networking website Twitter: 'My great granddad fought for this country in WW2 and I'm sure a lot of peoples grandparents did. 'England team should wear poppies on Saturday. It's the nation's tradition and it would be disrespectful not to.' Midfielder Frank Lampard and other players in the team are also deeply unhappy.

The Poppy Appeal is in its 90th year and is run by the Royal British Legion to raise money to help thousands of serving and ex-servicemen and women and their families.

Last year it raised £36million. Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer and Tory MP, said: 'It is telling that our former foe is happy to honour those who have laid down their lives for peace. They are riding to our rescue. It is absolutely tremendous news.

'Again it shows the extent to which Fifa have taken their eye off the ball. There is nothing political, religious or xenophobic about the poppy. It symbolises sacrifice which is something Germany understands. It is a disgrace Fifa apparently does not.'

Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said: 'This symbol does not seek to perpetuate historic animosities nor to glorify war.'



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 November, 2011

St Paul's cathedral staff have to clean up human waste INSIDE the cathedral as "occupiers" use it as a latrine

Staff at St Paul's have been forced to clear up human waste inside the cathedral, it emerged today. They have made several trips with mops to remove the mess found on a carpet inside the church near the West Steps - just yards from the anti-capitalist protest camp.

One cleric furious at the use of the building 'as a latrine' said: ' This is desecration of a very holy place. it hurts me and it hurts the staff.' The cathedral workers have met senior clergy to vent their feelings over the clean-up.

St Paul's has blamed 'hangers on' and not protesters at the tented camp which closed one of London's most iconic attractions for a number of days last month.

Cathedral spokesman, The Rev Rob Marshall, told the Sunday Times: 'We are aware of these kind of problems and raising them in our daily talks with camp members who we are not presuming at all are responsible.'

Two senior clerics have quit since the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp was set up on October 15 as part of a global campaign against corporate greed. The cathedral was shut on health and safety grounds, but reopened on October 27.

Today shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said the cathedral was wrong to shut its doors. He claimed the job of the church was not just to 'comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable.' Speaking to Jeremy Vine, on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Alexander said the demonstrators were speaking to a 'general unease' in the country.

Meanwhile, vandals have spray painted '666' next to the main entrance.The provocative 'number of the beast' was daubed in silver paint on a wall to the left-hand side of the Christopher Wren masterpiece. It was painted at head height in the middle of a silver painted heart near to the entrance and tagged LCDG! with an anarchist logo.

Protesters were pictured trying to scrub off the paint but were told to stop in case they damaged the building.

Worshippers and visitors to the historic place of worship, outside where anti-capitalist protesters are camping, reacted with outrage. June Burton, who has been worshipping at the Cathedral since she began working in the City in the 1970s, said: 'It's absolutely disgusting. There are no words really to say, just disgusting.'

Referring to the protest camp, the 69-year-old, from Essex, added: 'The whole thing is unbelievable. 'Where is it going to end? It's an absolute eyesore.'

Tourist Ian Tomson, 59, from Melbourne in Australia, said: 'I am not a Christian, but I find it horrendous - the devil's number on the church.'

Photographer Will Hilton, 26 from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, who is camping with and documenting the protest, said: 'I don't like it. 'We should be respectful to the Cathedral. I think most people are. But there are always people that take it too far.'

Annabel Watson, 75, from Devon, said: 'It's terrible, but I feel people are doing it to discredit these people.

One of the protest organisers Charles, 22 from the Isle of Wright, who has camped out for two weeks, said: 'We condemn this. 'We are trying to work with the Church as much as we can, but I can't imagine its from us as there are no spray cans on site.'

Reverend Bob Marshall, speaking for the Cathedral, said: 'It is abhorrent that anybody will do this. 'We condemn those who deface the Cathedral in this way. 'We have no evidence who is responsible for this until our security guys look into it. There are cameras around.

'We just have to investigate. It's not the first damage that's been caused to the Cathedral since this whole story began. We are investigating each case and we are logging them. 'But there is some evidence people are doing this because of our relationship with the protesters.'


Arrested and strip-searched for a 'crime' she knew nothing about -- under unjust European law

A British woman was seized, strip-searched and jailed under the controversial European Arrest Warrant for an alleged crime committed by her then boyfriend 12 years before.

Tracey Molamphy, a 40-year-old secretary from Lancashire, was held while changing planes at Munich airport on charges she had no idea even existed. Told she would be extradited to Portugal, she spent two weeks in a cell and paid more than £20,000 ($30,000) in legal fees before the case was dropped.

Ms Molamphy is now suing the Portuguese authorities for wrongful imprisonment and mental anguish. The action, which begins this week in Lisbon, will be an important test of the EAW, under which anyone in Britain can be arrested, jailed and extradited on demand by any EU country without any requirement to produce evidence.

Ms Molamphy told London's The Sunday Telegraph: "I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. Even the German police officer who took me to prison said it was ridiculous." After a full body search, Ms Molamphy was forced to change into a prison uniform. She spent the next 14 days in a small cell, shared with a heroin addict, in which she was locked for 22 1/2 hours a day.

"Nobody told me anything," she said. "I've never been in trouble with the police apart from this and I didn't have any idea what it was about at first."

Her detention, she learned, turned out to relate to an incident involving her then partner, Lee Chapman, while the couple were on holiday in Portugal in 1996. Unwittingly, she insists, Mr Chapman was in possession of about £120 of forged British currency. "He didn't realise it was counterfeit," she said. "When he tried to change it to Portuguese money, both of us were arrested."

The couple were held in custody for 24 hours but were then released, as they believed, without charge.

"We weren't allowed to make any phone calls or speak to a lawyer," Ms Molamphy said. "We went to a hearing which was all in Portuguese with no translation and after that we were told to leave the country on the next plane."

Ms Molamphy and Mr Chapman travelled freely throughout Europe and the world without incident for the next 12 years until they were changing planes at Munich airport in spring, 2008.

"They typed our names into the computer, and asked us to come with them," she said. "We waited 30 minutes, and they came back and said they were sorry, they were going to have to arrest me."

Entirely unknown to her, she says, the Portuguese had charged her with being an accessory to forgery and issued an EAW for her arrest. Mr Chapman was not the subject of a warrant, apparently because the Portuguese authorities did not have an address for him, and so he was not arrested. "When we found out what it was about he told the Germans it should be him in custody, not me, but they took no notice," she said.

During her detention, Ms Molamphy was forced to hire three sets of lawyers - in Germany, England and Portugal - and was within hours of extradition to Portugal, where she faced months in custody awaiting trial and up to five years' imprisonment if convicted. Her Portuguese lawyer secured her release on bail and, eventually, the dropping of the charges.

"It was horrible," she said. "It's really affected me. It's knocked my confidence and I was really down about it for a long time. We spent a lot of our savings on legal fees. We worked hard for that money, and it was really hard to lose it."

The couple's relationship ended 18 months after the arrest. "It was due to a lot of things, but this didn't help," she said. The Molamphy case is the latest controversy involving the European Arrest Warrant, introduced in 2003 as a "fast-track" extradition system between EU countries.

Under the EAW, previous requirements for prima facie evidence were dropped and British courts have been stripped of most powers to resist extradition. Thousands of people in Britain have been seized by police, imprisoned here and eventually extradited, many for crimes that would never be prosecuted in this country and might not even be criminal offences at all in British law.

The Sunday Telegraph has campaigned for reform after highlighting victims of the system, including a British motorist who spent months in custody fighting extradition to Poland on charges of having a forged car insurance certificate, and others seized on charges of failing to pay their credit card bills.

Last week, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, lost his appeal against an EAW extradition from Britain to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him on allegations of sexual assault. Mr Assange told supporters: "I have not been charged with any crime in any country. The EAW is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case."

Jago Russell, the chief executive of the charity Fair Trials International, which helps those faced with unfair foreign criminal proceedings, said: "Tracey is the victim of a fast-track extradition system which is being used for the most petty crimes and years after the alleged offence.

"Her case is just the tip of the iceberg: last year alone over 1000 people were extradited from the UK under these laws. Until they are reformed, many more are going to suffer this kind of terrifying ordeal."

Despite a string of controversial cases, however, a recent British Government review, conducted by a retired judge, ruled the EAW was not unfair.


Firebombing Freedom of Speech

There have been numerous fine articles condemning the November 2nd firebombing of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper in Paris that dared mock Islam and front-paged a cartoon of Mohammad with the balloon caption, “One hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing.” Needless to say, this act of terrorism is just another instance of censorship by force.
Robert Spencer drew my attention to a November 2nd Time Magazine article by Bruce Crumley, “Firebombed French Paper is No Free Speech Martyr.” Crumley is Time’s Paris bureau chief. Spencer handily rebuts many of Crumley’s statements in that article in his FrontPage article of November 3rd, “Firebombing Free Speech in Paris,” and I won’t repeat them here.
Crumley, unfortunately, is merely indicative of the problem with the American press; in fact, with most of the Western press. Aside from its unabashed multiculturalist liberal-leftism and wholesome political correctness, and penchant for endorsing every welfare state piece of legislation, proposed or enacted, it has gravitated inevitably and obtusely into an ideological détente with that other major totalitarian contender, Islam. Before correcting Crumley’s dhimmitudal ramblings, however, there are precedents to revisit – numerous precedents – of that meek halal journalism and publishing behavior. Here are a few of them.
In October 2008 the offices of Gibson Square Books, a British publisher, were firebombed, causing the publisher to “suspend” publication of Sherry Jones’s The Jewel of Medina, a novel about Mohammad’s wife, Aisha. This was after Random House in New York scuttled plans to publish it in the U.S. after a University of Texas professor, Denise Spellberg, bird-dogged the novel, citing possible offense to Muslims, saying that it turned “sacred history” into “soft pornography.”
Random House then sent the manuscript to three Muslim scholars. Two said the subject matter could offend some Muslims. On May 21, Random pulled the plug.
So, on the basis of potential offense and imagined reprisals, Random House caved. Beaufort Books in the U.S. picked it up. The novel itself is of marginal literary value. Sequels to it are planned. One may as well have written a fictional account of the romantic life of Adolf Hitler and how he met Eva Braun. For the whole sorry history of the novel, see the Wikipedia entry here.
On November 2nd, Tom A. Peter, writing for The Christian Science Monitor, after a brief report on the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo, reprised three other “violence-provoking” incidents involving images of Mohammad. The article is interesting only because it goes to great pains to be “balanced” in its assessment of the value of the images as instances of freedom of speech, mentioning the advocates of freedom of speech but insinuating caution concerning the “sensibilities” of Muslims to such images. Recounting the reactions to the Danish Mohammad cartoons in 2005, Geert Wilders’s trial over his 2008 film Fitna, and the “Everybody draw Mohammad Day” imbroglio instigated in April 2010 by cartoonist Molly Norris (who has since vanished into the purgatory of unpersonhood on the recommendation of the FBI) over the South Park Mohammad in a bear suit episode, Peter thought it necessary to end each narrative with a “balancing” proviso. After the Danish cartoon story, he writes:
In an article explaining Muslim outrage over the cartoon, the BBC wrote that the cartoons fueled the “widespread perception among Muslims across the world that many in the West harbour a hostility towards – or fear of – Islam and Muslims.”
Ad libbing a line from Crumley’s article, one is tempted to say, “Well…yeah,” there is a hostility towards Islam and Muslims, and even a fear. After all, in whose name have 99.99% of the terrorist attacks over the last thirty years been made, but Mohammad’s and Islam’s?
At the end of his recounting of the Geert Wilders story, he felt it necessary to add,
In 2010 the far-right politician was put on trial for inciting hatred against Muslims in the Netherlands. In June of 2011, Wilders was acquitted. A Dutch court noted that his speech was legitimate political debate, but walked a fine line.
That “fine line” is drawn by whom? The Dutch judiciary, or by “radical” Muslims? And at the end of his squib about “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day,” he noted:
The stunt had a number of outspoken critics in the West who said the day was not part of a constructive discourse. “The problem with the ‘in-your-face message’ of ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others – Muslims – as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders,” wrote James Taranto in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
James Taranto made several other statements in that April 26, 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Everybody Burn the Flag,” that reveal the tenuous state of journalism’s regard for the First Amendment. In the op-ed, he quotes Ann Althouse, a University of Wisconsin Law School professor:
Our reflexive response to "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day"--which we too thought was serious, not having seen Norris's cartoon or her disclaimer--was sympathetic. But Althouse prompted us to reconsider. Here is her objection:
“Depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats. In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren't doing anything. . .I don't like the in-your-face message that we don't care about what other people hold sacred.”
If depictions of Mohammad offend millions of Muslims, why? Because they look at them. Has anyone forced them to look at them? Or to read Sherry Jones’s novel? Or to watch Geert Wilders’s film? No. The issue here is not whether or not such things offend Muslims. The issue is that most Muslims lead such pitifully insular lives that neither the cartoons, the novel, or the film would have been noticed by them had not their “champions,” such as CAIR and university professors and dhimmified media brought the offending actions to the attention of these pious folk.
As noted above, Taranto ends his article with:
The problem with the "in-your-face message" of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others--Muslims--as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders. It is an unwise message to send, assuming that one does not wish to make an enemy of the entire Muslim world.
Is not Taranto aware of the fact that America is already an enemy of the entire Muslim world, that the United States is Dar al-Harb, or the “Land of War”?
Yes, Islam and Muslims are outside American culture, which Taranto does not define, but which I will: it is the culture of individualism, of capitalism, of self-reliance, of being responsible for one’s own life and actions, of being left alone by state and religion – anyone’s religion. Islam reflects none of these qualities. Muslims who flaunt their “Muslim-ness” in dress and behavior in public do not reflect that culture. They are alien to it, and hostile to it, and I will say here and now that I am hostile to Islam and to anyone who submits to it or apologizes or defends it. Islam is anti-individual, and anti-mind. I stand with Jefferson who swore “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Islam is demonstrably an enemy of the mind. See my review of Robert R. Reilly’s excellent disquisition on the nature of Islam, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, about why Islam necessarily must suborn and sabotage independent minds.

Back to Bruce Crumley’s sniveling prudery. Robert Spencer, in a Jihad Watch article on the Charlie Hebdo firebombing, made a number of observations.
So Crumley's argument boils down to saying that we should capitulate in the face of violent intimidation. This is not really about being sensitive. It is about doing what the thugs want so they won't hurt us again.
Or even a first time, as Spencer experienced, together with Pamela Geller, when the Hyatt Palace Hotel in Houston and the Hutton Hotel in Nashville cancelled their talks about the perils of Sharia law in this country after the hotels received threatening calls objecting to their appearances.
Spencer later in the Jihad Watch piece scores Crumley for his suggestion that Muslims should be patronized and protected from “hate speech” or offensive cartoons because they haven’t the mental equipment to understand some basic principles:
There are millions of Christians in France even now. And their religion is routinely insulted and mocked on comedy shows, in movies, etc. Do they riot? Do they firebomb? They do not. And why not? Because they understand what civil liberty means. How ethnocentric of Crumley to expect that Muslims will never be able to grasp this point, and call for us to lower our expectations for them.
I must qualify my agreement with Spencer on this point. Frankly, my own expectations are low, not for any “ethnocentric” reasons, but because of the mind-altering drug of Islamic ideology, instilled in Muslim children at a very early age and administered to them in increasing dosages as they mature into adolescents and adults.
How else to explain second and third generation Muslims who never left France or Britain or the Netherlands but became “radicalized” “extremists”? Who was responsible for their “addiction” to Islam? All those humble Muslims one never hears about, “a lot of people who aren't doing anything,” as Ann Althouse put it. The parents and relatives and teachers of those “extremists,” firebombers, and other “radicals.” In lieu of forming rape gangs in Britain and the Netherlands, terrorizing Jews in Malmo, or taking over public streets in France for mass pray-ins, that is what those anonymous Muslim manqués do: turn their children into post-conceptual savages by having nothing to say about the violence of their ideological brethren. The creed forbids it. Submitting to Islam entails the Faustian bargain of self-censorship, and if such a bargain stigmatizes Muslims, so be it.
On the other hand, it would be fair to stigmatize Bruce Crumley as a dhimmi. Observe the wholly locker-room rap-session manner with which he begins his Time article:
Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren't going to tell “us” what can and can't be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?
First of all, the “antics” of Charlie Hebdo are not “Islamophobic,” not in the sense that Crumley means. Expressing one’s satirical or even damning view of Islam is exercising one’s freedom of speech. The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, did just that, and in a country that is experiencing an inexorable conquest by Muslims. Crumley ought to know that, being Time’s Paris bureau chief and being a first-hand witness to that conquest. Charbonnier fears the Islamization of France. He does not equate Islam with freedom of any kind. That is not a “phobia,” but a justifiable worry. His way of expressing his objection to his country’s Islamization is satire. Mine is the written word. Our means differ, but our goals are the same: to expose Islam for what it is, a killer of freedom.
But Crumley would rather no one cause “division and anger” and tempt “belligerent reaction.” France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, even the United States, should just expire quietly without making a ruckus and concede a caliphate. Those who value their freedom had better be divisive and angry. Muslims don’t have a monopoly on them.
As Spencer points out in his Jihad Watch and FrontPage articles, Crumley blames the victim for the violence. Just as Islamic terrorist groups and Muslim clerics and Muslim thugs do when non-veiled women are raped, Jews murdered, and hotels threatened when they don’t comply with the Islamic world-view of how things and people should be.
Crumley sticks out his tongue and chides the editor of Charlie Hebdo:
But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.
Not exactly adult behavior, is it? No camaraderie or journalist brotherhood or support in evidence there. Just nasty spitefulness. Crumley charges Charbonnier with wanting to provoke Muslims with the “Mohammad-edited” edition of Charlie Hebdo. Probably not. Charbonnier was exercising his freedom of speech. Crumley didn’t like the way he exercised it. Neither did the firebombers. An appropriate kinship.
Crumley isn’t satisfied with holding Charbonnier’s feet to the fire for having shown what he thinks of Islam. The Paris bureau chief is soured on France’s pathetic, draconian gestures of defiance against the Islamic occupation of the country. To him it’s an “over-heated issue” that can only drive Muslims crazy and make them feel alienated and “outside the culture.”
Because like France's 2010 law banning the burqa in public (and earlier legislation prohibiting the hijab in public schools), the nation's government-sponsored debates on Islam's place in French society all reflected very real Islamophobic attitudes spreading throughout society. Indeed, such perceived anti-Muslim action has made France a point of focus for Islamist radicals at home and abroad looking to harp on new signs of aggression against Islam. It has also left France's estimated five million Muslims feeling stigmatized and singled out for discriminatory treatment—a resentment that can't be have been diminished by seeing Charlie Hebdo's mockery of Islam “just for fun” defended as a hallowed example of civil liberty by French pols.
So, it’s better to not talk about growing Muslim arrogance, of the Sharia-governed, crime-riddenbanuilesno longer under French law, of the reduction of non-Muslims to the status of second-class citizens in their own country for fear of inculcating division and anger. Crumley’s sarcasm makes one wonder whose side he would’ve been on during the Nazi occupation of France. What was the Noël Coward song? Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans?

After an obligatory chastising memo to Muslims that they mustn’t let things like Charlie Hebdo get their goat and cause them to misbehave, Crumley pimps for censorship:
But it's just evident members of those same free societies have to exercise a minimum of intelligence, calculation, civility and decency in practicing their rights and liberties—and that isn't happening when a newspaper decides to mock an entire faith on the logic that it can claim to make a politically noble statement by gratuitously pissing people off.
Other Frenchmen might want to mock Islam and Muslims, too, you see, because intelligence, calculation, civility and decency have failed to stop Muslims from wanting to take over France.
Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn't bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it's pointlessly all about you.
It wasn’t “moderate” Muslims who firebombed Charlie Hebdo, those “silent majority” manqués who have nothing to say about their more consistent colleagues. Crumley earlier mentions that “Muslim leaders in France and abroad also stepped up to condemn the action,” but apparently he has never heard of taqiyya, the art of Muslim double-speak. (Demonstration: Muslim cleric says to your face in English, French, Dutch, German, pick your language: “We condemn violence, we are for human rights!” Cleric turns to his companions: “He is an ape, a pig, a dog and not human. When the time comes, we’ll clean his clock, take his daughter, his wallet, his property, and his head, just as Mohammad did and said we must do, blessings and peace be upon him!”)
So, yeah, the violence inflicted upon Charlie Hebdo was outrageous, unacceptable, condemnable, and illegal. But apart from the “illegal” bit, Charlie Hebdo's current edition is all of the above, too.
I’ve read better journalism in The Rolling Stone. You expect to encounter this level of semi-literate smarminess and ignorance in the denizens of Occupy Wall Street, not in a national news magazine. And, as Robert Spencer emphasizes, what Crumley’s article boils down to is a call for censorship, for “responsible” discourse that won’t encourage Muslims to carry Molotov cocktails or bombs or knives to the debate. This kind of gagging will be accompanied by unspecified penalties for “risking” any kind of violence with words.
Crumley made a point in his article of asserting that one doesn’t have a right to shout “Fire!” in the “increasingly over-heated theater.” But suppose the heat is caused by actual fire, a conflagration set by Muslim arsonists? This scenario Crumley refuses to imagine. And if hot-headed Muslims did set the fire, he asks, who can blame them?
Crumley shouldn’t worry much about it, however. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Muslim Brotherhood, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are all working assiduously but secretly to bring about the criminalization of freedom of speech. Words, images, and attitudes, after all, they claim, can be just as hurtful and injurious as bombs, fire, and knives at one’s throat.


Checks fail in Australia: Sex offenders cleared to work with kids

Government regulation gives a false sense of security. Its irresponsibility and lack of effective accountability makes it very unreliable

CHILD sex offenders, drug traffickers and kidnappers are among criminals who have reportedly slipped through the net and been allowed to work with children in Victoria.

The Herald Sun says Freedom of Information documents show that three out of four ex-criminals who apply to work with children in Victoria get the go-ahead.

The paper found that the state government vetting process designed to stop dangerous or unsuitable offenders working with children has permitted more than 2700 criminals through the net.

Of those, 43 people convicted of child sex crimes have been allowed to work with kids, despite the Department of Justice's efforts to stop them.

Since 2006 when vetting began, the department has stopped 765 criminals.

Of those who had sought permission, 189 were child sex offenders, billed as the most serious Category One.

But an analysis of the Working With Children Check process reveals 689 Category Two offenders - who include stalkers, kidnappers and drug traffickers to kids - were cleared.

The paper says it is understood the government is looking at ways to tighten the Working With Children Check, which costs $15 million a year to administer.



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 November, 2011

Florida town blocks Muslim sacrifice of goats and lambs

Which would almost certainly be protected by the 1st Amendment. Such sacrifices are actually commanded in the Old Testament but Jews today are no longer the Israelites of old

Disturbed by the prospect of lambs and goats being slaughtered in her city, Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu single-handedly blocked a Muslim religious ceremony set to take place on Sunday.

"Yes, I was trying to stop it," Alu said on Wednesday. "It's shut down. I'm trying to protect innocent animals. This is not an appropriate setting for the slaughtering of animals in an open field in a city that's as populated as Sunrise. Usually these religious ceremonies take place in a rural area."

The news did not sit well with Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations based in Pembroke Pines.

"Wow," Hamze said. "That is very upsetting. We'll find another venue. But that's very disturbing. I'm very disappointed in that. We asked for permission and went through the proper channels and now it's off because a commissioner has a problem with it."

Muslims from local mosques had planned to gather at a 45-acre farm on Hiatus Road in Sunrise to celebrate the Eid ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, Hamze said. The holiday honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, before God provided a sacrificial lamb instead. The day also marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are urged to make at least once in their lifetime.

"The meat is sacrificed according to state and Islamic law," Hamze said. "There is no bloodbath. It's very humane. It's a slit on the throat real quick. And they bleed out in a couple seconds. The animals do not suffer."

The Florida Humane Slaughter Act governs the handling and killing of livestock, and a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision stemming from a case in Miami-Dade County upheld the right for animal sacrifices for religious purposes. That decision grew out of a lawsuit filed by the Lukumi Babalu Aye church charging the city of Hialeah with illegally enacting ordinances designed to persecute Santeria practitioners.

That means animal sacrifices for religious purposes enjoy protection from government interference, said Derek Newton, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

"If [Alu] was acting on her own, it becomes a question of politics rather than a legal argument," Newton said. "If she called from her office and said she was commissioner so and so, that might be a problem."

Alu said she called as a resident, not a commissioner. "I have no ill will toward the Muslim faith," she said. "I'm just an animal lover."

After learning that there were no legal grounds for blocking the ceremony, Alu said she contacted a man who works for the owners to verify that they were allowing the ceremony. She said he told her they were not aware the event was taking place on their property and that the caretaker had improperly given permission for the ceremony.

Wednesday evening, Hamze said the caretaker called to cancel. The ceremony, however, will take place at a new, undisclosed location. "We found another venue," Hamze said, "but it will be kept private."

He also said he had spoken with Alu. "I truly believe she's just a big animal lover," he said, "and I don't believe she meant any malice toward the Muslim community."


The British Empire -- Vindicated

As many Americans no longer believe in American exceptionalism and others believe America's greatness is guaranteed to extend perpetually, we could all benefit by reviewing the history of the British Empire, the realm from which we sprung and acquired so much.

By the time most baby boomers were born, the British Empire had declined. The Nazis and Japanese had been defeated in World War II, and two major military powers -- the United States and the Soviet Union -- were faced off at the beginning of a nearly half-century-long struggle we call the Cold War.

The great British Empire, which dominated the world mere decades before, was rarely in our current events radar, and it got little better treatment in our history courses, except as the villain we had to defeat in two wars to attain our independence and as the waning world power whose chestnuts we had saved from Adolf Hitler's fire. Oh, how much we missed, not just of British history but of our own, because we can't fully appreciate our greatness without understanding much more about our immediate ancestor.

But there's an easy way to make up for all that lost time, a way to fill in the gaps and much more. My friend Harry Crocker's "Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire" has just been released, and it's a one-stop shop for telling us all we should have learned about that empire and precisely how much we owe it.

We remain in awe of the enormity and dominance of the Roman Empire -- and rightly so -- but did you realize that at its height, the British Empire was the largest empire ever, covering a quarter of the world -- even half, if you consider its control of the oceans -- and governing a quarter of the people on the planet?

Though it is de rigueur today to condemn British colonialism, Harry not only defends the Brits' colonial achievements but also unashamedly champions them. "The empire," he writes, "was incontestably a good thing. The fact that it is controversial to say so is why this book had to be written. In the groves of academe, colonialism and imperialism are dirty words, the fons et origo of Western expansion with all its alleged sins of racism, capitalism, and ignorant, judgmental, hypocritical Christian moralism."

In keeping with the book's title, Harry rejects this politically correct view. To him, "to hate the British Empire is to hate ourselves, for the United States would not exist if not for the British Empire." Harry means that the British not only established our chartered colonies but also largely populated those settlements and gave us our language, culture, government and, most importantly, our ideas of liberty and the rule of law, including our critically important common law heritage.

The empire has far from a perfect record, and Harry doesn't hide the blemishes, but he also gives us the other side -- finally -- and that other side is impressive.

Long before continental Europe went through its turbulent revolutionary period, which ultimately led to republican government, the British had firmly established the roots of free institutions, limited government and impartial justice. And if not for the British command of the high seas and its fierce resistance to French imperialism -- a wholly different kind of imperialism from the British variety -- Napoleon Bonaparte might have completed his world conquest and we could be speaking French today -- a circumstance that many of our liberal elites would undoubtedly welcome.

Moreover, despite America's essential intervention in World War II, there was a point in that war in which Britain, led by the extraordinary statesman Winston Churchill, stood alone against Hitler's Third Reich, which was backed by the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini's Italy and Imperial Japan. Had Britain lacked just a little bit of resolve, the war might have been over before we entered. I shudder to think what might have happened, how different our own history would have been.

There is also no question that Britain did more to abolish the slave trade (1807) and slavery itself (1833) than any other nation or empire. It also led the pack in the Industrial Revolution, which did more to accelerate the advance to modernity than the advent of democracy in continental Europe.

We read a lot about the evils of British colonialism, but it's time to look at the other side of the coin. There's no doubt that in their colonial expansion, the British were partially (and justifiably) guided by their self-interest -- pride, profit and patriotism -- but the ultimate justification for retaining the empire was the benefits it brought to the governed.


Moral Abdication

My high school sophomore son was grumbling as he read his world history textbook. He pointed me to this paragraph about the encounter between European and Mesoamerican civilizations.

"The American Indian societies had many religious ideas and practices that shocked Christian observers, and aspects of their social and familial arrangements clashed with European sensibilities . . ."

The text, "World Civilizations: The Global Experience" by Peter N. Stearns et al, was a little oblique about the nature of those ideas and practices. It mentioned human sacrifice but then rushed to add that "Many of those who most condemned human sacrifice, polygamy or the despotism of Indian rulers were also those who tried to justify European conquest and control, mass violence, and theft on a continental scale."

The authors clearly wish to avoid the unpleasant details of Indian practices in their rush to condemn European depredations. A curious student would have to discover on his own that the Aztecs themselves claimed to have ritually sacrificed 80,400 people over the course of four days at the rededication of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487.

While this was probably bragging, historian Victor Davis Hansen estimates that at least 20,000 victims were sacrificed yearly. Most were slaves, criminals, debtors, children and prisoners of war (the Aztecs fought to capture, not kill, so as to provide a steady stream of sacrifices). The affair was a bloody and brutal mess, and it consisted of slicing open the chest and pulling the still beating heart from the person's body.

When the topic of human sacrifice was broached in the classroom, my son reported that not one of his classmates was comfortable condemning the practice as immoral. "It was their culture," his classmates said. And it's wrong to impose your values on someone else's culture.

This is not a fluke. In "Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood," Christian Smith and his co-authors recount the results of their decade-long study of a representative sample of Americans aged 18-23. Through in-depth interviews, they examined their subjects' lives and concluded that an alarming percentage of young people are highly materialistic, commitment averse, disengaged from political and civic life, sexually irresponsible, often heavily intoxicated and morally confused. In fact, the authors contend, they lack even the vocabulary to think in moral terms.

The products of a culture that dares not condemn even human sacrifice for fear of transgressing multicultural taboos, these young people are morally adrift.

Six out of 10 told the authors that morality is a "personal choice," like preferring long or short hair. "Moral rights and wrongs are essentially matters of individual opinion." One young woman, a student at an Ivy League college, explained that while she doesn't cheat, she is loath to judge others who do. "I guess that's a decision that everyone is entitled to make for themselves. I'm sort of a proponent of not telling other people what to do." A young man offered that " . . . a lot of the time it's personal. It changes from person to person. What you may think is right may not necessarily be right for me, understand? So it's all individual." Forty-seven percent of the cohort agreed that "morals are relative, there are not definite rights and wrongs for everybody."

It goes beyond cheating or failing to give to charity. One young man who stressed "everyone's right to choose," was pressed about whether murder would be such a choice? He wasn't sure. "I mean, in today's society, sure, like to murder someone is just ridiculous. I don't know. In some societies, back in time, maybe it's a good thing."

The irony is that this supposed reluctance to make moral judgments is itself a moral posture. The young people in the study, like the authors of my son's textbook, and much of the American establishment, believe that it is (set ital) morally wrong (end ital) to judge people harshly. (Except, perhaps, if it's Western civilization you're condemning.)

My son was most exasperated by the textbook's suggestion that Western civilization's response to other cultures was "complex" and that this was probably just as true of Chinese, Persians and others. No, he protested, the only civilization that is self-critical -- at all -- is our own. Other world civilizations continue to express pride and even arrogance about their own histories.

Those who resist the self-flagellation that travels under the name multiculturalism are accused of chauvinism. But the withdrawal from any kind of judgment is yielding a generation of moral cripples.


God may be first casualty as Australian Girl Guides look for a fresh start

Lessons in condom use will be next. More decay of standards just when kids need them most

"I promise that I will do my best: to do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country; to help other people; and to keep the Guide law.

THESE are the first words a little girl utters when she becomes a Girl Guide and they haven't changed in more than 40 years.

But now the Girl Guide promise is being reviewed to bring the 100-year-old organisation into the 21st century - and God and the Queen could be casualties of the modernisation.
Advertisement: Story continues below

The word "obedient" as a girl guide law is also under review.

The Board of Girl Guides Australia is asking its 30,000 members to suggest how the Guide promise and law could be made more relevant to their lives today.

The Australian Guides are trying to shed their old-fashioned folksy image to appeal to a wider group from different faiths and cultures. "We're seen as outdated, yet the programs we run are far from outdated," the NSW Guides Commissioner, Belinda Allen, said.

They introduced new uniforms last year, run modern leadership and personal development programs alongside their traditional outdoor activities, and now want to overhaul the promise and law, last updated in 1969.

"We feel it's time it was in language that is appropriate to girls of the 21st century, and to Australia, because the nature and composition of the Australian community has changed dramatically since 1969," Ms Allen said.

The Australian promise - a code of living that Guides strive for - is nearly identical to the promise made by the British Guides.

But Canadian Guides don't mention God or the Queen in their promise. After reviewing their wording last year, they now pledge "to be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada". [i.e. nothing]

Ms Allen is reluctant to publicly single out which parts of the promise and law are likely to change, lest she pre-empt the survey responses of Guides. But it is believed that the references to God and the Queen are key elements up for review. It became optional last year for Australian Guides to promise to serve the Queen.

Guides in the Netherlands and Switzerland can omit the words "with the help of God", while Guides in Britain and the US can substitute their preferred spiritual deity for God.

When it comes to the Guide law Ms Allen has a "big problem" with the sixth law which states "A Guide is obedient". "It is totally out of step with girls in this day and age," she said. "In a time of gender equality it's very important that girls are empowered to think for themselves and make good decisions. I think the word we'd like to use is respect, as opposed to obedience."

After declining during the '80s and '90s, Guides membership has stabilised and is now growing again.

Ms Allen hopes a new, more inclusive promise and law will encourage more girls to join the Guides. "I hope we'll broaden our appeal," she said. "I'm sure there have been cases in the past where girls felt [excluded]."

Ms Allen doubts many Guides will be alienated by any changes to the promise and law. "Anything is controversial where you are looking to change," she said. "With any change do you please everyone? We are listening to our membership."

A new promise and law are likely to be unveiled next March.



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 November, 2011

Oxford Tories' nights of port and "Nazi" songs

The "Nazi" song is no such thing. It is one of the many instances of well-known songs being reworded with "naughty" words. It is in fact a sendup of "Jingle Bells". I give below the usual first lines:

"Riding through the Reich, in a big Mercedes Benz
Shooting lots of kikes, making lots of friends"

It is just satire. Singing it was of course unwise but it does not indicate Nazi sympathies. It is just "mucking up" in the time-honoured student way -- as is of course the excessive consumption of alcohol and the follies that flow from that

And in the context of the deplorable descent into alcohol abuse by British youth generally in recent years, consuming a third of a bottle of port in a night could in fact be seen as moderate

With two prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers among its alumni, the Oxford University Conservative Association has become a conveyor belt for future leaders since it was founded in 1924.

But the student body, whose patron is Baroness Thatcher, is facing potentially the biggest crisis in its history after its own officers accused members of anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery at its alcohol-fuelled meetings.

Four of the Association’s most senior members have announced they will be resigning after members allegedly sang a Nazi-themed song, while others complained that members from working-class backgrounds were ridiculed by a clique of former public schoolboys.

Students are now facing possible disciplinary action by both the University and the Conservative Party, both of which have launched investigations.

OUCA, whose honorary president is William Hague, uses its website to promote a public image of studious debate, with recent guest speakers including Sir John Major and Iain Duncan Smith.

At its weekly “port and policy” meetings, however, drunkenness and discrimination have been the main items on the agenda, according to some disillusioned members.

One officer claimed that members regularly sang a song which includes the words: “Dashing through the Reich…killing lots of kike (Jews).”

The Daily Telegraph has been shown a video of one of the members reciting the first line of the song before a friend silences him, saying, “No, no!”

Matters came to a head this week after a series of emails in which senior members express concerns about the “absolutely disgraceful” behaviour at meetings were leaked to The Oxford Student newspaper.

One officer told the newspaper that “lots of people were singing (the song) that night, and indeed on many other nights”.

Joe Cooke, who was president of OUCA during this year’s spring term, is one of the senior members who have decided to resign.

He told The Daily Telegraph he was quitting “because of the extent of the debauchery” at meetings, where the annual bill for port runs to £10,000, the equivalent of a third of a bottle per person per meeting.

“It has become more like a pub than a political association,” he said, likening the meetings to those of the Bullingdon Club, the drinking club once frequented by David Cameron.

“I am committed to the Conservative Party but this association has come to represent everything we’re supposed to stand against,” he added.

The students’ antics are a far cry from the days when the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath and Theresa May were members.

At one recent event, OUCA’s returning officer, Tom Hendriks, was photographed pouring alcohol into a pith helmet as another student drank through a hole in the top.

Another picture shows a fancy dress party in which one student is dressed as Baroness Thatcher, while another is dressed as a miner and a third is holding a sign saying “miners love shafting”.

Mr Cooke, 21, who is a former comprehensive school pupil from Barnsley, added that when he spoke at meetings after he first joined the Association “I was ridiculed for my accent…they would say things like ‘ee bah gum’ and create a culture of intimidation”.

OUCA has faced repeated accusations of racism in the past. In 2000 four members were expelled for making Nazi-style salutes and in 2009 Oxford University temporarily banned OUCA from using “Oxford University” in its name after two candidates made racist jokes at a hustings meeting.

James Lawson, a student at St Edmund Hall college and president of OUCA, said: “I haven't seen the video yet and we are investigating to find out whether this was a member of the Association.

"If it turns out this person is a member we will take immediate action to expel them from the Association. Racism has no place in the Association or our society.”

OUCA is the biggest single organisation within Conservative Future, the body for young Tories which is run from the party’s London headquarters.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “Racism of any kind has absolutely no place in the Conservative Party, and we will look into any allegation against a party member as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesman for Oxford University said: “The University Proctors, who are responsible for discipline, have been made aware of the article and will be considering whether there are grounds for further investigation.”


The coming church-state wars

By Pat Buchanan

Appearing the other night on the Catholic network EWTN, I was asked by Raymond Arroyo what should be done about Muslim students at Catholic University demanding that the school provide them with prayer rooms, from which crucifixes and all other Catholic symbols that they found offensive had been removed.

After a nanosecond I replied, 'Kick 'em out!" Let them go to George Washington, the university on the other side of town.

Indeed, had Muslim students shown so little loyalty to a school that welcomed them, and of whose Catholicism they were aware when they entered, expulsion would have been justified. Looking further into the matter, that was a rush to judgment.

For it seems that not a single Muslim student at CUA had gone to the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights to file a complaint.

That complaint was the work of John Banzhaf, a professor at GW, perennial litigant, and longtime contender for the title of National Pest.

In provocative language, Banzhaf told Fox News, 'It shouldn't be too difficult to set aside a small room where Muslims can pray without having to stare up and be looked down upon by a cross of Jesus.

'They do have to pray five times a day, and to be sitting there trying to do Muslim prayers with a big cross looking down or a picture or Jesus or a picture of the pope is not very conducive to their religion."

Banzhaf claimed Muslim students had been offended by a suggestion that they meditate in campus chapels 'and at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus -- the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception."

Yet it is Banzhaf who appears to be the one with a real problem with Jesus, the shrine and Catholicism, not the Muslim students whose numbers at CUA have doubled in five years.

Moreover, Muslims, while disbelieving that Jesus is the son of God, regard him as the greatest of the prophets before Muhammad, and they revere Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Banzhaf has also filed a complaint with the Office of Human Rights that Catholic University discriminates against women.

How so? CUA President John Garvey had decided to put men and women students into separate dormitories, a crime against humanity.

The Office of Human rights has said that its investigation of Banzhaf's complaints will require six months.

What does this episode tell us?

That there are anti-Catholic bigots whose stock-in-trade is exploiting civil rights laws to smear the church and her institutions, and drive wedges between Catholics and other faiths.

Second, if the Office of Human Rights has nothing better to do than spending six months investigating these nonsensical charges, it ought to be abolished. Give the taxpayers back the money these bureaucrats are wasting, and let them go and, as Ronald Reagan used to say, 'test the magic of the marketplace."

Catholic University, after all, is a private religious institution that, under the First Amendment, is as free to pick its students and set its rules as is Bob Jones University in South Carolina or Yeshiva in New York or Brigham Young in Utah.

The episode also reveals how the cause of civil rights has been trivialized and exploited.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed segregation by restaurants and corporations. The 1965 Voting Rights Act struck down state impediments to black access to the ballot. The 1968 act forbade discrimination in the purchase and sale of housing.

While these laws restricted the freedom of state officials, restaurateurs, bar owners, hotel operators and homeowners, that was the price we as a people agreed to pay to end segregation. But civil rights and human rights laws are today being used to compel Christian institutions to conform to anti-Christian agendas that violate their basic principles.

In the district, a new law ordering all city contractors to recognize gay marriages impelled the archdiocese to terminate its 80-year foster-care program, rather than let children be adopted by homosexuals. And the people of Washington were denied a vote on homosexual marriage by a District of Columbia judge who ruled that permitting a referendum on gay marriage would violate the district's Human Rights Act.

Nationally, the church is resisting an Obamacare mandate that forces Catholic hospitals to provide patients with abortifacients such as the FDA-approved Ella and Plan B, the morning-after pill.

Dr. Ron Crews, executive director of the 2,000-member Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, has denounced a Pentagon decision to permit military chapels to be used for homosexual marriages, a violation, says Crews, of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

'By dishonestly sanctioning the use of federal facilities for 'counterfeit marriages,' that federal law and the vast majority of Americans have rejected, the Pentagon has launched a direct assault on the fundamental unit of society -- husband and wife."

Culture wars, rooted in irreconcilable conflicts about God and man, right and wrong, are disintegrating the moral community we once were -- and will likely never be again.


Air Force Academy Bosses Backtrack on Christmas Toy Drive Because It’s Too Christian

The U.S. Air Force Academy has pulled out of a Christian-sponsored children’s toy drive after commanders were accused of religious intolerance.

Mike Weinstein, an academy graduate who runs the [Anti-Christian] "Military Religious Freedom Foundation", said the academy’s participation in Operation Christmas Child is inappropriate because of its evangelical Christian roots.

Operation Christmas Child is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham — the son of evangelist Billy Graham. It packs toys and other items into shoe boxes and sends them to needy children around the world, along with a Christian message in each gift.

“This is arrogance beyond measure,” Weinstein told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Weinstein said he took issue with an announcement about the drive made to cadets in the dining hall, followed up with an email appealing for donations.

“PLEASE, PLEASE CONSIDER SPENDING SOME OF YOUR VALUABLE TIME AND MONEY TO LOVE ON A KID AROUND THE WORLD!!,” the email said. It was sent by a cadet after approval from a cadet leader, the newspaper reported.

According to Fox News, Weinstein was first alerted to the drive this week when he received a complaint from a cadet who was offended. “The cadet sent an e-mail saying, ‘This just shows how our military is supporting one religion – which is Christianity,’” Weinstein said.

The academy initially stood by the decision to participate in the program, but reversed course Thursday. A new email to cadets retracted the earlier appeal for donations. “We agree that it was inappropriate,” academy spokesman Lt. Col John Bryan told the Gazette. Instead, the academy’s chaplains — who are permitted to take part in and support religious projects — have taken over the drive.

Operation Christmas Child makes no attempt to hide its religious affiliation, stating on its website, “The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

The academy never denied the religious aspect of the charity, but said at first there was nothing wrong with the school’s participation. The cadets would donate toys and other items, but wouldn’t have anything to do with the religious message included with the gifts when they’re delivered, academy spokesman John Van Winkle originally said. “It doesn’t promote a particular faith, it promotes a charity event,” he said.

Weinstein said he wouldn’t have a problem with the academy participating in a secular toy drive, or the new plan to have academy chaplains promote the religious charity. It was cadet leaders appearing to back Christian evangelism that crossed the line, he said.

“We got this one fixed,” he said. Weinstein said he’s not trying to take away toys from children in need. “We are not trying to take shoe boxes of toys and candy away from kids,” he told Fox. “But this is clearly an egregious Constitutional mistake.” [Rubbish! A toy drive is not establishing a church]


Bus Drivers Refuse To Work in black Detroit: ‘They’re Scared For Their Lives’

People who catch the bus in Detroit may be waiting a while Friday morning. About 100 Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers are at work, but are refusing to drive theirbuses.

WWJ’s Scott Ryan spoke with Henry Gaffney, spokesman for the D-DOT bus drivers union AFL-CIO Local 26, who saidthis was not an organized maneuver by the union. Gaffney said it’s a matter of bus drivers fearing for their safety,citing an incident that happened Thursday afternoon.

“Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

Speaking live on WWJ, Mayor Dave Bing spokesman Stephen Serkaian said they are working hard to resolve the matter and get drivers back on the road.

“We’re working diligently to work with the union and encouraging the drivers to get back on the buses and get on the street,” said Serkaian.

Gaffney said bus safety is an ongoing problem.

“If it’s to the point where if the driver is not safe on the bus, then the passengers are not safe, then the citizens are not safe. You know, what about them too? We have no security, you can’t get the police, nobody is doing anything to protect us. And I’ve been begging the mayor and the council for two years to do something to help us,” said Gaffney.

But, Serkaian said there are discussions in the city right now to improve bus safety.

“It is a concern. We want to protect drivers and passengers alike. We used to have police presence on the buses.We’re talking about the prospect of perhaps trailing buses with police cars. Nothing has been decided, it’s all in discussion right now,” said Serkaian. “It’s a short-term and a long-term matter… It’s all about money and it’s all about funding, and our transportation system is already stretched to the max.” [not about social engineering failures? ]

WWJ’s Vickie Thomas was at a deserted Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit, which is typically booming with passengers and buses alike.

Saharah X. was waiting at the center for 30 minutes before flagging down a cab.

“They just try to find a way not to do their job. And then they got innocent old people, there an old lady on a cane sitting outside over there, that’s dangerous. And she got to walk? Wow. I mean, what is the world coming to? No love, no nothing. Everybody’s just thinking about themselves. Think about other people some,” she said.

Richard Moses, who rides the bus every day, was waiting a bus stop along Woodward Avenue when a D-DOT supervisor rolled up in anSUV and basically told him to find another form of transportation Friday morning.

“They said there’s no D-DOT buses running at this time and they don’t know when any will be starting back up. I just got off work, I work midnights. Luckily, I got dropped off right here or else I would have been sitting on 8 Mile and Woodward, and I’ve got to go all the way to Livernois and Warren,” said Moses.

Serkaian said they’re asking stranded riders who are waiting for the bus to get to school and work to hang on and be patient.

“We understand their frustration, we feel their pain. We simply have to ask folks to be a little bit more patient while we try to resolve this matter,” he said.

Detroit Public Schools has issued a letter to parents informing them of the situation, saying it doesn’t affect DPS yellow buses, which are running normally. They also said DPS Police Dept. personnel will provide additional watch near bus stops where children may be congregated.

A recording on the D-DOT customer service line said the department “sincerely apologizes for extreme delays in service.”



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 November, 2011

Do British fathers no longer have ANY rights at all?

Fathers denied legal rights to see their children after a break-up. Grandparents dismissed as causing ‘damage’ to their grandchildren when they ‘interfere’ in divorces.

The reforms to family law proposed by the Government’s adviser on families reads like some poisonous feminist tract from the Sixties.

David Norgrove’s Family Justice Review is a misguided piece of outdated, sexist nonsense which enshrines in law a mother’s unassailable right to raise her children — alone.

Mr Norgrove decrees that fathers should have no legal right to enjoy time with their children when a relationship ends. He even says that for a father to have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with his children after his marriage breaks down can do ‘more harm than good’.

He claims his review is all based on what’s ‘best for the child’.
Yet he ignores decades of research that shows children from broken homes benefit from maintaining a stable, constant relationship with their mothers and their fathers, as well as with their extended family.

As Iain Duncan Smith says — and countless parents who’ve been through the agony of a divorce know — these reforms would ‘fuel the epidemic of fatherless families’.

And there is a terrible irony here: successive governments have, quite rightly, gone to huge efforts to ensure fathers from broken relationships support their children financially. Now they are being told that, despite that support, they will have no legal right to any access.

Few of us have been untouched by the break-up of a family, whether our own, our children’s or a friend’s.

I’m not saying all fathers are paragons — the sad truth is that both mothers and fathers use their children as pawns for maximum leverage in divorce negotiations. It’s just that the law as it stands gives women the upper hand.

In the bitterness of a divorce, some women use every dirty trick in the book to deny decent men access to their own children. I have even known normally sensible women, egged on by their divorce lawyers, to claim falsely that their husbands abused them, so as to deny them access to the children.

I’ve seen successful career women claiming poverty or even quitting work to screw every penny out of their children’s father, yet still deny him access.

Guilty till proved innocent is the dictum for dads in the Family Law Courts.
David Cameron has long promised his will be the most family-friendly government in history. He can prove it by condemning Mr Norgrove’s unjust Anti-Family Review and enshrining in law the right of every decent father to a fair share in the raising of his children.


Diversity's compulsory conformity

By George Will

Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure "diversity of thought and opinion" we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university's policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity.

Last year, after a Christian fraternity allegedly expelled a gay undergraduate because of his sexual practices, Vanderbilt redoubled its efforts to make the more than 300 student organizations comply with its "long-standing nondiscrimination policy."

That policy, says a university official, does not allow the Christian Legal Society "to preclude someone from a leadership position based on religious belief." So an organization formed to express religious beliefs, including the belief that homosexual activity is biblically forbidden, is itself effectively forbidden.

There is much pertinent history.

In 1995, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the private group that organized Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade to bar participation by a group of Irish-American gays, lesbians and bisexuals eager to express pride in their sexual orientations. The court said the parade was an expressive event, so the First Amendment protected it from being compelled by state anti-discrimination law to transmit an ideological message its organizers did not wish to express.

In 2000, the court overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court's ruling that the state law forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation required the Boy Scouts to accept a gay scoutmaster. The Scouts' First Amendment right of "expressive association" trumped New Jersey's law.

Unfortunately, in 2010 the court held, 5-4, that a public law school in California did not abridge First Amendment rights when it denied the privileges associated with official recognition to just one student group -- the Christian Legal Society chapter, because it limited voting membership and leadership positions to Christians who disavow "sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman." Dissenting, Justice Samuel Alito said the court was embracing the principle that the right of expressive association is unprotected if the association departs from officially sanctioned orthodoxy.

In wiser moments, the court has held that "this freedom to gather in association ... necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitute the association and to limit the association to those people only." In 1984, William Brennan, the court's leading liberal of the last half-century, said:

"There can be no clearer example of an intrusion into the internal structure or affairs of an association than a regulation that forces the group to accept members it does not desire. Such a regulation may impair the ability of the original members to express only those views that brought them together. Freedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate."

As professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School says, "Not everything the government chooses to call discrimination is invidious; some of it is constitutionally protected First Amendment activity." Whereas it is wrong for government to prefer one religion over another, when private persons and religious groups do so, this is the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion. So, McConnell says, "Preventing private groups from discriminating on the basis of shared beliefs is not only not a compelling governmental interest; it is not even a legitimate governmental interest."

Here, however, is how progressivism limits freedom by abolishing the public-private distinction: First, a human right -- to, say, engage in homosexual practices -- is deemed so personal that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Next, this right breeds another right, to the support or approval of others. Finally, those who disapprove of it must be coerced.

Sound familiar? It should. First, abortion should be an individual's choice. Then, abortion should be subsidized by government. Next, pro-life pharmacists who object to prescribing abortifacients should lose their licenses. Thus do rights shrink to privileges reserved for those with government-approved opinions.

The question, at Vanderbilt and elsewhere, should not be whether a particular viewpoint is right but whether an expressive association has a right to espouse it. Unfortunately, in the name of tolerance, what is tolerable is being defined ever more narrowly.

Although Vanderbilt is a private institution, its policy is congruent with "progressive" public policy, under which society shall be made to progress up from a multiplicity of viewpoints to a government-supervised harmony. Vanderbilt's policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives' struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.


“Moderate Islamism?” Does It Exist?

By Barry Rubin

Suddenly, a new term is foisted on us without serious debate or proof and we are supposed to rejoice at the triumphs of those now called “moderate Islamists.” The problem here is not just that I don’t believe such a thing exists but that no case can be made that it does. The tactics of some Islamists (participate in elections, advance slowly) are being confused with principles (impose Sharia law, overthrow all non-Islamist governments, defeat the infidels).

This is no abstract argument. In effect, we are being told to rejoice as the West’s worst enemies take power. We are being told about the alleged virtues of forces intent on repressing their own people; destroying women’s rights; trampling on non-Muslim, non-Arab minorities; genocide against Israel; overthrow all non-Islamist governments, and demolish Western interests. And on what grounds? Because in some statements, which must be cherry-picked from a sea of extremist expresions, they claim to be moderate.

Where are the academics and mainstream journalists laying out a persuasive case that Moderate Islamism exists, rather than just assuming it does? Where is an honest presentation of the “Moderate Islamists” many radical statements? Where is even an even-handed discussion based on a fair hearing for the doubters?

Where has this new “movement” suddenly come from? Remember, up until now the debate has been over defining “Moderate Muslims,” but now the most radical sector of Muslim politics–the enemy of Muslims who are moderate–is declared worthy of that designation. Yet the whole case for “Moderate Muslims” was based on saying that these people weren’t Islamists and indeed that they were fighting against Islamism.

Up until now, the only important group that might conceivably have been called “moderate Islamists” has been the Turkish Justice and Development Party. Yet examining that party’s views and behavior disproves the idea of any “Moderate Islamist” movement.

First, party leaders consistently denied they were Islamists, knowing any such admission would be political disaster because most Turks–even most of the party’s voters–don’t believe in “Moderate Islamism.” The party defined itself as center-right

Second, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the party’s leader, has publicly said that there was no such thing as moderate Islam but only Islam; that the minarets of mosques are the bayonets of the revolution; and that democracy is like a trolley and you just get off when you want. Do you need him to draw you a picture?

Third, Erdogan has now gotten off the trolley, since repression in Turkey is increasing with, for example, hundreds of political prisoners and more added each day.

So the phrase “moderate Islamist” is like something out of George Orwell’s novel 1984, along with such phrases as war is peace and freedom is slavery.

How should we know if someone is a moderate Islamist? There should be some historical record of this species’ development. There should have been highly visible ideological battle. Where are the admissions of past mistakes, the explanations of Moderate Islamist philosophy, a reinterpretation of Muslim texts, a struggle between “moderate” and “traditional” Islamists in a group like the Muslim Brotherhood? There’s nothing, not the least hint.

Professor John Esposito, the leading advocate of the Moderate Islamist theory (the CIA is the leading advocate in government rightly points out that Muslim reformers, “are often initially perceived and received as a threat by religious institutions and more conservative religious leaders and believers.,” even being threatened with death. So if the Muslim Brotherhood now embodies such a huge reform in Islamist and Islamic thinking as to justify leading a government that would substitute votes for divine instruction, where is the angry rebellion against such treason by powerful forces? Where is the revolt, even split, within its ranks against such heresy?

The answer is that while a few–notably tiny and isolated al-Qaida–hold a different view of what should be done, almost everyone else sees this as a merely tactical shift. No heresy, just a different way of implementing the proper goals.

Thus, the “Moderate Islamists” speeches, statements and internal articles remain extremely radical and even bloodthirsty. And when moderate statements are made (usually in English, almost never in Arabic or Turkish), they assert only that democracy is a good idea for gaining power, not that it is a good idea.


Another triumph of multiculturalism in Australia

Australia has been giving asylum to African refugees for about 10 years now -- and is suffering the consequences. As with all African populations, the rate of violent crime is high

A FACE image of a suspect who allegedly attacked a woman in broad daylight on Melbourne Cup day has been made public.

Police have been told a 24-year-old woman was sexually assaulted as she left an accommodation facility on Peel Street, North Melbourne, just after 11am.

The woman saw a man on the corner of Peel and Market Streets who followed and verbally abused her.

But when she told him to go away there was an alleged confrontation.

Investigators have been told the man allegedly forced her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.

The victim, however, screamed and managed to kick the offender to the chin before he ran south through the Queen Victoria Market.

The man is described as having a slim build with a dark complexion and dark eyes.

He also had distinctive dark coloured dread locked hair with orange tips at the end. He was wearing a dark coloured zip front hooded jumper.



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 November, 2011

Poverty, Conscientiousness, and Broken Families

Right-wingers should spend a lot more time reading left-wing ethnography of the poor. It may seem strange, but when leftist social scientists actually talk to and observe the poor, they confirm the stereotypes of the harshest Victorian. Poverty isn't about money; it's a state of mind. That state of mind is low conscientiousness.

Case in point: Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas' Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage. The authors spent years interviewing poor single moms. Edin actually moved into their neighborhood to get closer to her subjects. One big conclusion:
Most social scientists who study poor families assume financial troubles are the cause of these breakups [between cohabitating parents]... Lack of money is certainly a contributing cause, as we will see, but rarely the only factor. It is usually the young father's criminal behavior, the spells of incarceration that so often follow, a pattern of intimate violence, his chronic infidelity, and an inability to leave drugs and alcohol alone that cause relationships to falter and die.

Conflicts over money do not usually erupt simply because the man cannot find a job or because he doesn't earn as much as someone with better skills or education. Money usually becomes an issue because he seems unwilling to keep at a job for any length of time, usually because of issues related to respect. Some of the jobs he can get don't pay enough to give him the self-respect he feels he needs, and others require him to get along with unpleasant customers and coworkers, and to maintain a submissive attitude toward the boss.

These passages focus on low male conscientiousness, but the rest of the book shows it's a two-way street. And even when Edin and Kefalas are talking about men, low female conscientiousness is implicit. After all, conscientious women wouldn't associate with habitually unemployed men in the first place - not to mention alcoholics, addicts, or criminals.


The War on Ladies’ Night

Let’s face it: If you’re the proprietor of a bar that caters to a predominantly heterosexual crowd, it’s in your financial interest to attract female customers. Not only will women spend money at your bar they might have spent elsewhere—men will spend more than they might have. Unless there’s a very interesting game on TV, your average male customer will generally prefer drinking in an establishment in which there’s at least a smattering of women.

And thus, once upon a time, bars began promoting ladies’ night discounts in hopes of becoming staple locales for Girls Night Out, that fabled feminine tradition that is the stuff that romantic comedies (and most Sex and the City episodes) are made on.

But ladies’ nights are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Richard Thomas Ford, author of Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality, explains how anti-discrimination laws are being used by civil liberties groups and men’s rights organizations to attack ladies’ discounts in the courts. Such efforts have thus far been largely successful, and many states now ban gender-based discounts.

In an excerpt of his book, published in Slate this week, Ford writes:
“Although the law in several states apparently prohibits ladies’ nights, popular opinion echoes the approval of Kool and the Gang: It’s ladies’ night, and the feeling’s right. After New Jersey banned ladies’ nights in 2004, then-Gov. James McGreevey condemned the decision as ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ that ‘reflects a complete lack of common sense and good judgment.’ (New Jersey later amended its civil rights laws to allow ladies’ nights.) A columnist in the National Review called the ruling ‘emblematic of the growing arrogance of a government caste that seeks to micromanage every aspect of American’s lives.’ [...]

Of course, read literally, without the mediating influence of good judgment or common sense, the laws that prohibit truly demeaning and invidious sex discrimination apply to ladies’ night promotions and the use of female sex as an expedient proxy for mothers in a Mother’s Day giveaway. Rights go wrong when propelled beyond the boundaries of good sense by abstract thinking.”

Ford’s perfectly right; and his argument extends well beyond the issue at hand. The war on ladies’ night is only a somewhat inconsequential example of what happens when well-intentioned legislation is used to limit business owners’ ability to improve their businesses and make their clientele happy. In this instance, banning gender-based promotions in the name of equality will most likely cause a few male-centric bars to lose out on the female crowd they might have gained with ladies’ night discounts. Which, of course, will make them lose out on expanding their male crowd, too—unless, again, there’s a very interesting game on the bars’ televisions.


The end of Britain's sink housing estates? Council to give more homes to those WITH jobs to help break the benefits culture

Council houses are to be set aside for people who work for a living under an initiative spreading across the country.

The aim is to stop the slide of social housing estates into benefit dependency and crime and restore their original status as decent places for respectable working families.

The latest scheme to save homes for workers announced yesterday will mean that one in five homes will be set aside for those with jobs in Southend in Essex. Similar schemes are being developed in at least two London boroughs.

Tory leaders in Southend said they wanted to give unemployed people the incentive to work and to improve conditions on sink estates. The council’s housing chief Lesley Salter said: ‘Children should be growing up in an area where they see adults going out to work each day and so develop the same mindset.’

Six out of ten homes rented by councils or state-subsidised housing associations are occupied by families where no-one works.
Putting brake on benefits. Numbers of social tenants who do not work have risen in some areas by 50 per cent over the past decade. Workless families are considered more likely to bring disorder and crime to their neighbourhoods.

The homes-for-workers scheme echoes the aim of local authorities in previous decades. Between 1945 and the 1960s council homes were in heavy demand by prosperous working people and mainly allocated through a waiting list system.

Council estates started to go downhill in the 1970s when houses began to be handed out on the basis of ‘need’. This meant that the homeless, those living in overcrowded conditions, people with medical or welfare needs, or those with a claim to live in a particular area took priority.

Efforts to save homes for working people have support from Tory ministers and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Southend’s council house waiting list contains 4,819 names hoping for one of 6,200 homes. Now one in five will be handed out according to a system whereby people get highest priority if they have a job. It follows similar initiatives in Tory-controlled Westminster and Labour-run Newham in London.

There are 860,000 council or housing association homes in England where the tenant has a full-time job, but 895,000 where the tenant is classed as ‘economically inactive’.

Some 352,000 tenants have part-time work, according to official figures. Another 323,000 are unemployed but looking for work; 46,000 are students; and 1.2million are retired.


Unrealistic child protection system in Australia

They couldn't be as bad as Britain but they're trying

In 2009, the Federal Parliament apologised to the forgotten Australians who were physically, sexually, and emotionally abused in state and charitable-run orphanages between the 1920s and '70s. The apology was accompanied by solemn pledges to never again allow child abuse to go unchecked.

It followed the closing in the 1980s and '90s of virtually all large-scale orphanages because of the detrimental impact of institutionalised care on children. Yet 30 years later, state governments are quietly re-opening institutions to house children who are again being abused by the system that should protect them.

In the past decade, the number of children unable to live safely with their parents and subsequently placed in ''residential'' out-of-home care has increased 56 per cent. Decades of decline have been reversed, with the number of children in residential facilities falling to 939 in 2004-05 and then doubling to more than 1800 in 2009-10.

Residential institutions are now generally smaller-scale group homes operated by state-funded charities where multiple, non-related children are cared for by paid staff. But they have a strong psychiatric care focus and include secure facilities.

The greater use of residential care is a result of the systemic problems besetting the child protection system, which is damaging thousands of children in the name of family preservation.

The standard policy and practice in all states is to keep vulnerable children with their families, and work with dysfunctional parents to try to fix problems such as substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. For many children, efforts to prevent maltreatment, including extensive contact with early intervention and other support services, does more harm than good because removal from the family home as a last resort occurs too late. Hence, most of the nearly 36,000 children in out-of-home care have serious emotional, psychological and behavioural problems.

Family preservation is also the reason the $1.7 billion out-of-home care system is increasingly costly and overwhelmed by demand. Rising numbers of children are lingering, often indefinitely, in temporary foster or kinship care while waiting for parents to be rehabilitated so reunions can be attempted. When finally returned home, unrealistic reunions break down and re-damaged children re-enter care after entrenched and hard-to-resolve parental problems re-emerge.

Foster placements involving ''difficult'' children are also more likely to break down. The instability experienced by those who bounce in and out of care, in and out of multiple placements and in and out of failed family reunions, is an additional cause of harm that exacerbates behavioural and other problems.

By adolescence, the children most severely damaged by abuse at home and unstable living arrangements are uncontrollable, violent and self-destructive. Due to their disruptive childhoods, they can no longer live safely with their biological parents or in normal foster homes, and the only suitable placement option is very high-cost residential facilities.

Residential care is absorbing an increasing and disproportionate amount of funding, between a third and up to half of total out-of-home care spending, in some states.

Policymakers should realise that a child welfare system that has to employ armies of taxpayer-funded psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counsellors to try to fix the children the system itself has helped damage, is a failed system.

A fundamental rethink is essential. The best way to protect children from dysfunctional parents who are demonstrably incapable of properly caring for them is early and permanent removal by means of adoption by suitable families.

Only 61 children were adopted by non-relatives and 53 by foster carers in 2009-10, despite almost 23,000 children being in care continuously for more than two years. Many of these children should have found permanent homes years ago, but for the official taboo placed on adoption by family preservation-obsessed child protection services, which are unwilling to take legal action to free children for adoption no matter how inadequate their parents.

Strong political leadership is needed to make the system function in the children's best interests. Until then, national apologies for past failings ring hollow. The tragic irony is that a new generation of forgotten children is being harmed, to whom a national apology will one day be owed.



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 November, 2011

Don't teach the 'Queen's English' to foreign language students, linguist urges

The guy below is off his head. He is right that English is used in many nations in a way that diverges from standard English -- but have you ever tried to understand (say) Indian English? It can get close to impossible. I have even seen signs up outside shops in Bombay saying "Indian English only spoken here". The Indians themselves know the difficulties concerned. If the aim is to communicate with other English-speakers, standard English must be taught, despite small differences between British and American usage.

The very idea of there being a standard English will no doubt arouse great huffing and puffing from the guy below but if there is no such thing, how come these comments written in Australia will be completely understood in the USA, the UK, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand -- places literally worlds apart?

Update: I suppose that the "linguist" below MAY simply have been speaking about the accent that is taught, though it does not appear so. Accents CAN indeed be a problem. A Northern English person who visited a shop in the South and asked for "booblegoom" (where "oo" is pronounced as in "look"), could well be not understood at all -- even if all he wanted was bubble gum.

But in practice that problem rarely arises. Most English learners outside Britain itself learn a generic version of American English pronunciation

People learning the English language around the world should not adopt the 'Queen's English', a linguist said today.

Dr Mario Saraceni, of the University of Portsmouth, called on native English speakers to 'give up their claim to be the guardians of the purest form of the language'.

He argued that the ways it has been used and changed by millions of people around the world are equally valid.
People learning the English language around the world should not adopt the 'Queen's English', a linguist said

A linguist thinks people learning the English language around the world should not adopt the 'Queen's English'

Writing in the latest issue of the journal Changing English, he suggests the way English is taught to non-native speakers, but whose mother tongue is English, needs a dramatic change. He said: 'It's important the psychological umbilical cord linking English to its arbitrary centre in England is cut. 'The English are not the only legitimate owners of the language.

'English is the most dominant language on the planet and though it is spoken widely in the western world, westerners are in the minority of English language speakers.

'For many around the world, the ability to speak English has become as important as knowing how to use a computer. 'But the myth of the idealised native speaker needs to be abandoned. 'How it is spoken by others should not be seen as second best.'

Dr Saraceni, of the School of Languages and Area Studies, said it was time English language teachers abroad took down posters of double-decker buses and Parliament Square from their classrooms and taught English in a purely local context.

He said: 'Critics might feel uncomfortable with what they see as a laissez-faire attitude but language use is not about getting closer to the 'home' of English, and it is not about bowing deferentially and self-consciously to the so-called superiority of the inner circle of the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Dr Saraceni, the widely-held view that English has spread around the world from its original birthplace in England can be challenged.

He said: 'The idea seems natural and unquestionable, but if you examine it closer it is patently untrue. 'It is impossible to identify any point in history or geography where the English language started - one can talk only of phases of development.

'The origins of English are not to be found in the idea of it spreading from the centre to the periphery, but in multiple, simultaneous origins. 'The concept of a single version of any language is always questionable.'

Dr Saraceni said that English had been 'reincarnated' throughout the world, including in Malaysia, India, China and Nigeria, and therefore England should not be seen as the linguistic 'garden of Eden' where the language was pure and perfect.

The de-Anglicisation of English needs to take place primarily in classrooms and the 'whole mystique of the native speaker and mother tongue should be quietly dropped from the linguist's set of myths about the language', he said.


Betrayal of the family: Despite all those Tory promises, fathers and grandparents will still be denied the right to see children after a divorce

Fathers and grandparents will not be given any legal right to see children after a break-up, under the biggest changes to family law in a generation.

In what was immediately denounced as a ‘betrayal’ of the family, a major report today rules against giving men shared or equal time with their children when a relationship ends.

It suggests fathers will even be denied the legal right to maintain a ‘meaningful relationship’ with their families, as this ‘would do more harm than good’.

The review also kicks into touch Coalition pledges to make it easier to maintain contact with grandchildren when parents separate, a problem that usually affects those on the father’s side.

The long-awaited Family Justice Review was branded a ‘monstrous sham’ that undermines David Cameron’s pledge to lead the most family-friendly government in history.

The independent report was commissioned by ministers to examine the case for reform of a family law system repeatedly accused of putting rights of mothers over those of fathers and grandparents.

But its proposals – likely to form the basis of future government family policy – sparked an immediate Cabinet revolt.

Allies of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would fight to ensure the Government’s response – due to be published in January – will do more for fathers and grandparents.

A source close to the Cabinet minister said that the findings were ‘absurd’, warning that they undermined attempts to tackle the generation of fatherless youths blamed for the summer’s riots.

But Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is expected to back the review, chaired by former civil servant and Marks & Spencer executive David Norgrove.

His report was commissioned by Labour and dismissed by the Tories in Opposition as inadequate but will now form the basis of Coalition legislation.

The review comes against a backdrop of soaring divorce rates and increasing numbers of children being born out of wedlock, often to co-habitees who are more likely to break up than married couples. Last year there were almost three million children aged under 16 living in a lone-parent household – or 24 per cent of the total.

Mr Norgrove’s findings fly in the face of studies showing that it is best for a child to have extensive access to both its father and mother. The report says: ‘No legislation should be introduced that creates or risks creating the perception that there is a parental right to substantially shared or equal time for both parents.’

Mr Norgrove has even watered down his own interim report, published in March, which said there should be a legal presumption that children should have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with both parents.

Mr Norgrove believes that enshrining such rights in law could slow down already lengthy and expensive custody cases. Instead, the courts will simply have to consider the benefits of a meaningful relationship when they decide where children should live and how often they should see each parent.

The final report flatly rejected claims by fathers’ rights groups that the current system is biased – despite figures showing that 93 per cent of custody battles are won by the mother.

Nadine O’Connor, of the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, said: ‘The review is a monstrous sham and a bureaucratic exercise in improving the efficiency of injustice. It will feed the epidemic of mass fatherlessness and lead to further social unrest. ‘This report condemns children to a life without fathers with catastrophic social consequences.’

The report also contradicts pledges by senior officials earlier this year that grandparents would be given far greater rights. Instead, they will still have to apply to court twice to see their grandchildren: once for the right to begin a case and then to seek access to their loved ones. The Norgrove panel merely issued a tepid recommendation that their role should be ‘emphasised’.

Instead of legal protections for fathers and grandparents, the Norgrove report laid out plans to encourage parents to settle disputes before they get to court.

All parents will be given advice on drawing up ‘parenting agreements’ to divide the care of their children.

James Deuchars, of Grandparents Apart UK, said: ‘The Tories said before the election that grandparents were going to have more rights. This is a betrayal of that promise. It was all a con and a gimmick. ‘This report is trying to do away with the traditional family. The result will be more bitter and disillusioned young boys who join gangs.’

A source close to Mr Cameron said the Government has ‘certainly not’ pledged to adopt all the report’s recommendations. But a source close to Mr Clarke described it as ‘an authoritative account of the problems and a thoughtful look at the solutions’.

The report also said no childcare case should last more than six months and recommended the creation of a Family Justice Service to focus the work of all agencies for the 500,000 children and adults caught up in the family courts each year.


Offices of French magazine torched after latest edition mocked Prophet Mohammed

Molotov cocktails were today used to burn down the headquarters of a leading French magazine because it mocked the Prophet Mohammed.

Arsonists struck shortly after 1am at the Paris offices of Charlie Hedbo, a Gallic version of Private Eye which prides itself on its mix of cutting satire and investigative journalism.

Its latest edition carries a cartoon image of a bearded Mohammed - something which is blasphemous under Islamic law - and pretends that it is being 'guest edited' by the Prophet. It is accompanied by the slogan '100 lashes if you don't die of laughter', and the magazine is renamed 'Sharia Hebdo', after Sharia law.

A source at the magazine, based in Boulevard Davout in the city's 20th arrondissement, said: 'Molotov cocktail petrol bombs were used to attack the offices first thing this morning. 'The attackers concentrated on the computer system, literally melting it. The offices were empty so nobody was injured, but thousands of euros worth of damage were caused.'

Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief, a cartoonist known only as Charb, said: 'We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed or has melted. 'We could not put a paper together today, but we will do everything possible to produce one next week. 'Whatever happens, we'll do it. There is no question of giving up.'

The magazine's website was also hacked, with messages appearing in English and Turkish denouncing its journalists for causing widespread offence.

Armed police were this morning surrounding the charred remains of the building, which is close to a number of housing estates where the occupants are predominantly Muslim.

Many regularly complain about discrimination in a country where racial and religious tensions often boil to the surface in riots.

Six years ago, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard provoked anger across the Islamic world when he published 12 satirical images of the Prophet in a Danish newspaper. The then editor of Charlie Hebdo was prosecuted in France for 'insulting Muslims' after he reproduced those images, but he was acquitted in 2007.

Despite this morning's attack, the special edition of Charlie Hebdo was still on newsstands this morning, complete with an editorial 'by the Prophet' on Hallal drinks.

There were also features on 'soft Sharia', concentrating on the emergence of Islamic parties in Tunisia and Libya following the Arab Spring revolutions.

It also has a women's section called 'Sharia Madame', which concentrates on Islamic veils, which were recently banned in France.

There are around six million Muslims living in France - the largest Muslim population in western Europe.

A Paris spokesman said there had been no arrests, but witnesses had seen the petrol bombs being thrown and two men fleeing the scene.


Architects make me thankful for Prince Charles

He may be a bit dotty but he does a good job of keeping architectural ugliness out of London. We need him in Australia too. Look at the scrappy thing below. It looks like some kid has been playing around with bits of string. I drive past the absurd thing frequently. It is just a jagged mess

THE striking Kurilpa Bridge [above] linking Brisbane's CBD with South Brisbane has wowed the judges at the World Architecture Festival awards.

Designed by local firm Cox Rayner, the pedestrian bridge has beaten stiff competition from the United Arab Emirates, China, Sweden, UK and the Netherlands to be named best World Transport Building.

The Brisbane structure - dubbed the fiddlesticks bridge by some - now goes into the running for the top award at the festival to be announced on Friday.

Costing $63.3 million to build, the bridge carries an estimated 50,000 pedestrians and cyclists each week.

It is the world's largest structure to be based upon the principles of 'tensegrity', the term coined by Richard Buckminster Fuller to describe a system of balanced compressive and tensile forces.

Stretching 360m across the Brisbane River, the Kurilpa bridge also connects to 1.5km of continuous pathway from South Brisbane, through the Arts precinct, across the river into the CBD and on to Roma Street parkland.



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 November, 2011

Homosexuals to be allowed to have church weddings in Britain

From a Biblical viewpoint it is sacrilege and a mockery of God

Homosexual couples will be able to take part in civil partnerships in church and other places of worship from next month, it will be announced.

Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, will say that the ban on the ceremonies in religious surroundings will be lifted on Dec 5. The move has been championed by David Cameron but is likely to be opposed by some church groups.

The scheme will be “voluntary” with no church compelled to offer same-sex services. However, it is likely that some campaigners will seek to push the matter further if churches refuse to open their doors to gay couples.

It is estimated that about 1,500 civil partnerships a year would take place in religious settings once the ban is lifted. There are currently about 5,500 civil partnerships taking place every year.

Liberal Jewish groups, Quakers and other minor Christian organisations have lobbied for the right to host civil partnerships with religious readings and hymns. However, the Church of England has warned that it would not bless same-sex couples. The speed at which the proposals are being introduced is likely to cause concern among Anglicans.

Although some in the state religion support same-sex unions, the official position remains that clergy are not allowed to bless the events.

When it was first proposed that the ceremonies could take place on religious premises, the Rt Rev David James, then the Bishop of Bradford, warned in the House of Lords that it would blur the distinction with marriage.

He also raised fears that what was first portrayed as an option would over time become an expectation and then a duty.

So the Church’s official response to the government Equalities Office consultation made it clear that the proposal must allow “unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own tradition”.

It said the system had to operate on an “opt-in” basis and that individual clergy could not ask councils to host civil partnerships in their parish churches without the “prior consent” of the whole denomination. In the case of the Church of England, this would require the approval of its governing body, the General Synod, which has spent years tied up in the bureaucratic process of allowing women to become bishops.

The Church said it thought the Government’s setting out of the legal position would mean “it would not be possible to bring a successful discrimination claim on the basis of religious premises not being available for the registration of civil partnerships”, but urged ministers to make this clear during debates.

The fear is that rogue vicars will either try to host the ceremonies without permission, or to embarrass the Church authorities by bringing grievances over their inability to bless same-sex unions.

Homosexual couples, who have scored legal victories over businesses that refused them service, could also use the Equality Act or the Human Rights Act to claim discrimination if they were not allowed to form a civil partnership in church. Pressure groups are likely to set up campaigns for the Church, which has been made to look old-fashioned and out of step with public opinion by the anti-capitalism camp on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, to change its stance.

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales also opposes the change but is likely to face fewer challenges as its clergy and congregations are more conservative than the Church of England.

Today’s move comes ahead of plans to give same-sex couples the right to marry, ending the legal definition of marriage as the union of a man and woman.


Another U.S. government attack on Freedom of Speech

The US House Judiciary Committee passed a bill earlier this month that — should it become law — could put me in jail for a joke I made years ago.

Back when I still had hair on my head, some friends and I loved Wednesday night at the Deer Park, a bar and restaurant in Newark, Delaware. Wednesday was Nacho Night, with half-priced nachos and Mexican beer. We were the unofficial nacho committee for local libertarians.

While grousing over the stupidity of the various forms of prohibition and victimless crimes, I realized that Mark, Brian, and I should fly to Amsterdam. Once at the airport there, my beer-soaked brain decided, the three of us should link arms and skip through the terminal as if the floor was made of yellow brick. But instead of singing about looking for some wizard, we would chant, “Hookers and pot; hookers and pot. We’re gonna get us some hookers and pot.”

It was pretty funny at the time. At least we thought so. Maybe you just had to be there.

Under this new bill, however, such a joke, would be a crime despite the fact that these activities are not criminal in Amsterdam, (unless skipping carries jail time there). They are illegal here in the land of the free, however, where people such as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), like to ignore the First Amendment and common sense.

H.R. 313 is the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011. According to Radley Balko’s article in the Huffington Post, H.R. 313 would make it a federal crime to “discuss or plan activities on foreign soil that, if carried out in the U.S., would violate the Controlled Substances Act — even if the planned activities are legal in the countries where they're carried out.” The basic charge would be conspiracy.

In developing the story, Balko spoke with Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

According to Piper, “Under this bill, if a young couple plans a wedding in Amsterdam, and as part of the wedding, they plan to buy the bridal party some marijuana, they would be subject to prosecution. The strange thing is that the purchase of and smoking the marijuana while you're there wouldn't be illegal. But this law would make planning the wedding from the U.S. a federal crime.”

H.R. 313 is another example of the constant and pervasive government creep of intrusion into the everyday lives of people, trespassing on our liberties. Let’s not blame just the Republicans for such a bill. The Senate version, S. 1672, is sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad.

One of the bill’s opponents, civil-libertarian attorney Harvey Silverglate, calls H.R. 313 “an abomination.”

First, there's no intuitive reason for an American to think that planning an activity that's perfectly legal in another country would have any effect on America. So we're getting further away from the common law tradition that laws should be intuitive, and should include a mens rea component. Second, this is just an act of shameless cultural and legal imperialism. It's just outrageous.

Nothing good can come of this law. It goes beyond limiting attempts at humor. It will create more enemies for the United States. As Silverglate said, “I don't see any interest other than to a desire to impose our moral and cultural preferences on the rest of the world.”

Just as a fence helps prevent trespass onto another’s property, the Constitution was to have been a fence between the people and the government to prevent government encroachment into the rights and everyday affairs of a free people. Yet it seems the Constitution itself needs a fence to protect it from government encroachment as well.

A fence around the Constitution could take several forms, but one that would really tick off politicians is a reading test. There would only be one question: What part of “Congress shall make no law” don’t you understand?


Future gang members 'can be spotted at age three'

African features alone would be a powerful predictor -- getting it right in at least a third of cases

Children as young as three can be identified as violent gang members of the future, according to a new Government report.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans to cut off gang violence at the root by intervening in “problem families” from the moment children are born.

A new Home Office report said the beginnings of teenage violence lie in the “very earliest childhood experience”. It found warning signs are “already clear” by the time a child enters primary school, including neglect, aggression, absence from class and slow development.

Children identified as "at risk" by the age of three are more than twice as likely to have criminal convictions by the age of 21, the report said.

“Early intervention is absolutely key,” Mrs May said. “That may need to come at a very early age indeed, with toddlers, ensuring they just don’t go down that road.”

No new money will be available for prevention of gang violence, since riots involving hundreds of gang members blighted London and other UK cities over the summer. However, the Government had previously promised around £10 million will be re-directed from other areas of the Home Office next year to tackle the problem in general.

Mrs May insisted that “very often the effective intervention is not the expensive intervention”. She said hundreds of thousands of pounds can be spent on a single “problem family”, but often the money is not spent in the right way.

Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, estimated that around £12,000 was needed to “turn a family around” Improving “dysfunctional” communication between hospitals, social workers and police is crucial, he said.

Mr Duncan-Smith wants these organisations to “map” the family life of youths who are at risk of joining gangs or already members.

As part of a package of measures, the Government also wants to re-house gang members and their families if they show willingness to leave behind their lives of crime.

It is also planning to bring in injunctions for children as young as 14 to stop them socialising with gang members or going into certain problem areas. Around 100 experts in youth violence will be hired to tackle areas with particular problems.

Violence against girls connected to gangs was another key problem identified in the report. Mrs May said it was a “chilling” development that girls are being raped during disputes between rival gangs.

“They would be the partners of gang members,” the Home Secretary said. “They would find themselves being abused and sometimes being used as weapons - raping a rival gang leader's girlfriend to get back at that gang.”

She said the Home Office would provide £1.2 million of extra funding for an estimated 10,000 victims of sexual violence by gangs.

As many as 200 gangs cause fear in communities across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and other UK cities.

The Government's goal is to cut youth violence by the end of this parliament. However, Mrs May's critics said she had failed to address the impact of spending cuts on local authorities, police forces and charities who work to reduce the problem.

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, said she applauded the aims of reducing gang violence, but “it sits badly with 20pc cuts to Sure Start and well over 20pc of cuts to the youth service.”

Mehboob Khan, of Local Government Association, welcomed the recognition that “violence on the streets often starts with trouble in the home”.

But he said councils, not central government or agencies, should be at the forefront of work to tackle gangs and called for the next year’s £10 million of funding to be directed straight to local areas.


Call off this culture war against “the poor”

In a speech for the Liberty League in London, Brendan O’Neill denounced the dictatorship of do-gooders colonising poor communities

I think we should always be very sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the poor’. And we should be super-sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the underclass’.

Because I can guarantee you that every time you hear those phrases, you will discover far more about the person doing the talking than you will about the people being talked about. You will discover far more about the speaker’s own fears and prejudices than you will about the lived experiences or morality of those cash-strapped sections of society.

In no other area of public life does anecdotage trump evidence as fantastically as it does in discussions about ‘the poor’. In no other area of political debate is it so acceptable to marshal rumour and hearsay to your cause as it is in debates about the underclass or the residuum or whatever we’re calling it these days.

Indeed, I would argue that ‘the underclass’ is not an objective social phenomenon – it is more like a moral phantasm, magicked into existence by the subjective panicking of people at the top of society. The underclass is an imaginary category, whose existence is not proved by graphs or hard-hitting investigations but rather by the fireside storytelling of journalists and academics who claim to have encountered this strange tribal group.

This was brilliantly captured in a comment piece in the Independent published in November 2008, which contained the following sentence: ‘A friend of mine has worked in child protection for 20 years and she says that, yes, there is a definite underclass.’ Well, there you have it – you can’t really argue with such searing social evidence.

Of course, there is such a thing as ‘poor people’ – people who have less money than you. But there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the poor’, meaning a whole swathe of society who allegedly share the same degraded morality and who are all promiscuous and fond of booze and so on. I think the service that ‘the poor’ provide for the political and chattering classes today is as a kind of fodder for moralism, a kind of endless pit of anecdotes and horror stories that are used to motor moralistic campaigns and moralistic commentary.

What we have today is a situation where all sorts of activists and thinkers basically go fishing for anecdotes in ‘underclass’ communities and then use those anecdotes to justify their own Victorian-style campaigns of pity or condemnation. This means that everyone has a tendency to see in ‘the poor’ what they want to see, what is most useful for them and for the promotion of their pet projects.

So for example, child-protection charities, or the child-protection racket as it ought to be called, see widespread depraved child abuse in poor communities. They always exaggerate it, of course, by lumping together everything from a child being slapped to a child being killed as examples of child abuse – because the more abuse there is, the more these charities can continue to justify their own miserable existences.

Likewise, domestic-violence charities imagine that wife-beating is rife on council estates and in poor communities, especially after tense football matches and during times of recession. That is why in 2009 the New Labour government, with the backing of domestic-violence campaigners, published a pamphlet advising women how to cope with ‘recession-related domestic violence’ – because it fantasises that poor men are naturally violent and that they therefore become more violent as they become more poor.

Campaigners concerned with food fantasise that ‘the poor’ spend all day eating so-called junk food. This means someone like Jamie Oliver can make utterly unfounded statements about the gastronomical depravity of poor people and nobody challenges him. He claims that in some ‘white trash’ communities – his words – children are eating such bad food that they are now vomiting up their faeces. This is complete nonsense, of course, a physical impossibility. Once again, it reveals far more about the base, scatological mindset of certain sections of the chattering classes than it does about life or dinnertime in less well-off communities.

Animal-welfare charities imagine that poor people are always mistreating their pets, especially their so-called dangerous dogs. This means that someone like Jon Snow, liberal London’s favourite newsreader, can say about dangerous dogs: these ‘violent uncontrollable animals… these beasts fulfil some animal instinct [within their owners]’.

Meanwhile, right-wing commentators concerned about the decline of manners and morality see in ‘the poor’ a tidal wave of foul language and disrespect. Christian groups worried about the state of the institution of marriage see in ‘the underclass’ too much fornication and too many single mums. Left-wing academics who find materialism distasteful see a rising tide of mental illness – or what they call ‘affluenza’ – amongst less well-off people who are only interested in acquiring more ‘stuff’ rather than becoming better people. And so on and so on.

Time and again, across the political spectrum, from the conservative right to the radical left, people cite ‘the poor’ and their depraved antics as a way of promoting their own prejudices. ‘The poor’ have become a kind of vast political library for politicians and opinion-formers, who go in, borrow an anecdote or a horrible image, and then use it to push their narrow political agendas.

The unreliability of this library, the fact that it is little more than a gallery of imaginary horrors that the chattering classes pilfer from, was brilliantly summed up in a recent Conservative Party report which claimed the following: ‘In the most deprived areas of England, 54 per cent are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18.’ Actually, it’s not 54 per cent but 5.4 per cent. But decimal points don’t matter when your aim is simply to paint a picture of doom designed to make you look morally upstanding in contrast to the immoral poor.

The problem with all this stuff is not only that it is ill-informed and snobbish and annoying, although it is all of those things. The real problem is that this orgy of moralism towards ‘the poor’ increases and exacerbates the very thing that is actually denigrating poor communities today: external intervention.

The demand of all these underclass-obsessed agents of doom is always more state or political or charity intervention into poor people’s lives, whether it is more tough policing or what they call ‘tough love’. More CCTV cameras or more charity assistance. More cops on the street or more welfare handouts. More parenting classes, more relationship education, more psychological analysis, more food advice, more dog-training expertise… all of this and more is now offered to ‘the poor’, as every area of their lives becomes fair game for the meddling of experts and emissaries from the welfare state.

From the right to the left, there’s now a desire to lift ‘the poor’ out of their moral and economic squalor by re-educating them or wrapping the welfare safety net more tightly around them. This is a disaster, because the problem facing ‘the poor’ today is not their own moral turpitude or some natural propensity to violence and gluttony – it is the dictatorship of do-gooders that wants to colonise their lives. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that weakens community bonds by inviting poor people to become more reliant on the state than they are on each other. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that ruptures family ties by communicating to children the message that there are experts out there who are better at bringing them up than their own parents are. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that undermines free-spiritedness and aspiration in less well-off communities by welfarising every aspect of their existences.

It is fashionable these days to talk about balancing freedom and responsibility, as if there is a contradiction between these two things. But there is no contradiction. Indeed, it is only through being free that you can become a morally responsible being. It is only through exercising freedom of thought and speech and choice that you can become morally autonomous and properly responsible for your life and its direction. As John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty, ‘The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity and even moral preference are exercised only in making a choice. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are only improved by being used.’

Today, people’s mental and moral powers are being decommissioned, weakened, undermined, put out to pasture by the relentless intervention of the welfare, nanny and psychological states into their lives, constantly telling them how to parent, how to eat, even how to think about themselves and their futures. So next time one of those snobs obsessed with rescuing ‘the underclass’, and its children and its pets, wonders out loud why there seems to be a lack of spirit and drive in some poor communities, you should tell them: ‘It’s your fault. Get out.’



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 November, 2011

A far-Left Archbishop runs true to form

Two weeks after the invasion of St Paul's, the Archbishop finally speaks - and backs protesters

The Archbishop of Canterbury last night broke his silence on the protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral, saying he sympathised with the 'urgent larger issues' they raised.

In a sign of the panic within the Church of England high command since the arrival of the activists, Dr Rowan Williams intervened yesterday after the dean of the cathedral became the third member of staff to resign.

Indicating his support for the anti-capitalists' aims, the Archbishop said: 'The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul's remain very much on the table. 'We need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.'

The Archbishop's intervention was sparked by the resignation yesterday of the Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles. The dean caused controversy when he closed the historic building's doors last month for the first time since the Second World War, citing 'health and safety concerns' over the tents.

The cathedral reopened last week but the dean said yesterday his position had become 'untenable' amid the ongoing row.

The Archbishop's endorsement of the right of the protesters to campaign showed just how confused the Church of England remains in its response to the encampment on its doorstep.

His remarks came as the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, confirmed yesterday that legal efforts to persuade the activists to leave have begun. The bishop stressed that cathedral officials did not want a violent eviction.

The dean's departure followed Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, Giles Fraser – who had told police to leave the activists alone after their arrival on October 15 – and part-time chaplain Fraser Dyer.

The Occupy London protesters were showing no signs of leaving despite the cathedral's requests. They were understood to have been served official notice from the City of London Corporation yesterday afternoon, giving them 48 hours to remove their tents and equipment before they face eviction.

Dr Williams said the dean's departure was 'very sad news'.

He added: 'The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences, and the clergy of St Paul's deserve our understanding. Graeme Knowles will be much missed.'

Yesterday a significant protester splinter group refused even to support the cathedral's requests for drink, drugs and loud music to be banned from the protest camp.

They appeared largely bemused by the resignation of the dean – which he had to yesterday submit to the Queen, since his job is a crown appointment.

Their reluctance to leave was indicated by placards saying 'Hell no we won't go' and 'Jesus did not quit – he drove the money lenders from the temple'.

In a statement Mr Knowles, the dean for four years, said: 'Since the arrival of the protesters' camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues.

'It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as dean of St Paul's was becoming untenable.

'In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised.'

St Paul's spokesman the Right Reverend Michael Colclough said: 'We are committed to doing all we can to find a way ahead that ensures the main message of the protest is not only heard but properly attended to, and in such a way that people in the local community, as well as our own team, can do their work peacefully for the good of everyone.'

The Bishop of London explained that due to the 'great mystery' of the Church of England's organisation, the cathedral made its own decisions without control from him. But he said St Paul's officials had asked him to help out in the protesters' row. He went on: 'There are many diverse voices in the camp outside St Paul's, but among them, serious issues are being articulated which the cathedral has always sought to address.'

The bishop stressed that all in the church wanted a peaceful resolution, but added said that any responsible organisation had to investigate its legal powers.

Outside, the camp still numbers about 200 tents – but barely 50 protesters attended a meeting yesterday afternoon to decide tactics. About a quarter of those present indicated that they were reluctant to accept basic requests from the cathedral for drink and drugs to be barred from the site and the camp to be kept tidy.

In a statement, the group, whose official name is Occupy London Stock Exchange, said: 'The management of St Paul's Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause – but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral.' The real issue was 'challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few', it added.


Named and shamed, the control-freak British social workers who leave children languishing in care rather than finding them new homes

The councils that leave children languishing in care homes rather than find them new families through adoption have been named and shamed.

The new breakdown released as part of David Cameron’s drive to increase the number of children adopted said the worst-performing social workers, in an East London borough, failed to find new families within a year for more than half its children destined for adoption. But the best, in York, found new homes for all the children in their care who were prepared for adoption.

The major gap between the most and least successful local authorities in finding adoptive homes for children in care came as the Prime Minister launched an appeal for more would-be parents to come forward to give children new homes.

Mr Cameron’s campaign follows attempts by Education Secretary Michael Gove to push councils into speeding up their adoption rates – and figures released last month that show how social workers have failed to respond.

‘It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only 60 were adopted last year,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘We will publish data on how very local authority is performing to ensure they are working quickly enough to provide the safe and secure family environment every child deserves.’

Hackney, in London, came bottom of the table with just 43 per cent of children being placed with adoptive parents within 12 months.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: ‘I want local authorities to be free to develop services to reflect the needs of their local population, but with that freedom comes responsibility.

‘Areas like York, Oxfordshire, and North Yorkshire are thinking creatively and making good progress on adoption. Other authorities need to follow their lead. Many social workers are doing an excellent job for the children and families they work with, but there is no excuse for the poor performance we are seeing laid bare today.

Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption adviser, called for abused and neglected children to be identified and removed from their homes more quickly.

‘Adoption transforms the lives of some of the most neglected and abused children in the UK,’ he said. ‘We need earlier identification of neglect and removal of children from that neglect. We need early identification of adoption - when it is clearly best for the child - and an administrative and legal system which completes the adoption much more quickly than at present.

'Finally, we need an assessment process for prospective adopters which is welcoming, efficient, and which balances the quite proper warnings about the challenges of adoption with a little more about the joy it so often brings.’

But the Local Government Association that represents councils cautioned against pushing too hard for permanent new families for children taken into care because of neglect or abuse.

Its children’s spokesman David Simmonds said: ‘A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right solution for some children. Adoption is right for some but for others long-term stability might best be found with friends and family through special guardianship. Councils will continue to work hard to press for much greater freedom for social work professionals to be able to use their judgment.’

Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: ‘I’m very concerned that Hackney is bottom of this league table. We need to know if the cause is inefficiency or if there are other reasons why Hackney is taking longer to place children with adoptive parents.

‘Poor boroughs like Hackney face difficulties in obtaining adopters. Families may be willing but housing conditions and the size of property may be an issue. That’s why we need to find out exactly what is going wrong. It can be very sad for children in care indefinitely, when they do not know what the future is.’


Marines returning from Afghanistan honoured with parade through London

BritGov does the right thing, for a change

Heroes returning from Afghanistan have been welcomed home with a parade through the streets of London and a Parliamentary reception.

A total of 120 servicemen and women took part in the parade from Wellington Barracks to the House of Commons. The troops, who have all recently returned from a six-month tour, were accompanied by The Plymouth Band of the Royal Marines.

Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando, said: ‘This gives the guys an opportunity to understand that our efforts of the six hard months we have had in Afghanistan are recognised nationally, because this is the House of Commons.

‘But it also gives the people here in London an opportunity to talk to the guys who have spent six months in Afghanistan and understand the challenges they have been facing.’ He admitted that it was ‘surreal’ to be in such grand surroundings as the House of Commons having been in Afghanistan so recently.

Lt Col Murchison added: ‘It's hugely uplifting to come back. There has been a huge amount of support which has been a great source of encouragement for us, especially in the dark days we have had.’

There were 19 fatalities during the tour and several of those taking part in today's parade had been injured.

Lance Corporal Ash Swinard, of 42 Commando, was on his third tour when he was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in July, and had his right leg amputated below the knee. The 26-year-old, from Sheffield, who has had a prosthetic leg fitted, said: ‘It feels amazing to be back home and back on my own two feet. ‘This is the goal I was working towards when I was in hospital.’

He admitted it had been a ‘tough time’ for his family, including his fiancee, but that he is now looking forward to his wedding next May.

Marine Harry Butcher, of 42 Commando, also returned injured, having been hit by a rocket. The 24-year-old from Manchester, who has undergone reconstructive surgery on his leg, said: ‘It's good being back with all the lads, seeing them and knowing that near enough everyone has come back. It's a lot of weight off your shoulders.’

He said it was ‘great’ to have public support, and added: ‘It's like a big “well done”, and it's nice knowing people recognise what you've done.’

Those taking part in the parade had all served on Operation Herrick 14 and included 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, 45 Commando Royal Marines, 42 Commando Royal Marines, 30 Commando IX Group Royal Marines, 29 Commando Royal Artillery, Commando Logistics Regiment Royal Marines, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment Royal Marines, Med Group & 101 Engineer Regiment.

Brigadier Ed Davis, Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, said: ‘It has been humbling to see the sacrifice and the professionalism of our people.

‘Their humanity and their desire to reach out to the people of Helmand and their insatiable desire to make a difference has been inspiring.’


Media censorship on the agenda in Australia again

NEWSPAPERS and magazines could be fined up to $30,000 for "exceptionally grave" or persistent breaches of media standards.

In a submission to Julia Gillard's media inquiry, the Press Council has also raised the prospect of securing government funding to expand its coverage to online news and "blog" websites.

And it suggests newspapers could be censured or reprimanded "where appropriate" under sanctions to boost public confidence in the media.

The Press Council part-funded by News Limited has fired the opening shots in the Government's media inquiry with a series of options to beef-up public sanctions against sloppy journalism.

These include a new panel, headed by a retired judge, with the power to impose fines against newspapers or magazines of up to $30,000.

In a letter to the media inquiry, chair Julian Disney said the Press Council was "currently considering" such a process but also raised concerns it could become "legalistic and time-consuming".

The first trickle of submissions were published yesterday by the media inquiry which was established by the Gillard Government following pressure from the Greens.

Retired Federal Court judge Ray Finklestein has been asked to report back to Government by February, including on the effectiveness of the Press Council considered a "toothless tiger" by its critics.

Mr Disney, who is overseas and could not be contacted last night, has put forward a number of options to beef-up the body and expand its coverage over emerging online media.

Raising the issue of government funding will be controversial. Mr Disney has suggested it as an option "to help expand membership amongst online publishers".

But he added it was "essential" funding from government or external sources was given without "conditions".



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds