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, 2012

A One-Sided Suicide Pact in Germany


Soeren Kern, writing for the Gatestone Institute in his November 16th article, "IslamNeeds a Fair Chance in Germany," reported a significant development in Germany that portends dire consequences for that benighted nation and for all of Europe: the city of Hamburg signed a "treaty" with organizations representing its Islamic population.

The "treaty" features a series of concessions, not by the Muslims to secular authority, but by the secular government of Hamburg to the Muslims. The "treaty," which requires ratification by the city's Parliament, grants Muslims "rights" and "privileges" enjoyed by no other religious group there.
The November 13 agreement, signed by Hamburg's Socialist Mayor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of four Muslim umbrella groups, is being praised by the proponents of multiculturalism for putting the northern port city's estimated 200,000 Muslims on an equal footing with Christian residents....

    The most controversial part of the accord involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg public school system. The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies.

    Moreover, Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and who will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools. In practice, this means that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam and that pupils will not be exposed to any critical perspectives about the religious, social and political ideology of Islam.

    Under the wide-ranging accord, Muslims in Hamburg will also have the right to take three Islamic holidays as days off from work. Up until now, it has been up to individual employers to decide whether or not to grant Muslim staff religious days off on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Muslim students will be exempt from attending school on Muslim holidays.

    The agreement also includes provisions for the construction of more mosques in Hamburg, the upkeep of cultural Islamic facilities, the authorization for Muslims to bury their dead without the use of coffins, as well as the counseling of patients and prison inmates by Muslim clerics.

Moreover, the "treaty" will guarantee "broadcast slots alongside Protestant and Catholic broadcasts on public and private radio and television, as well as broadcasting council seats for Muslims with the northern Germany NDR public broadcaster and Germany's federal ZDF television channel."

When has one ever heard of Muslims making concessions to the secular authority of a country they have settled in? "We will stop harassing, beating up, and shooting Jews. We will stop desecrating Jewish and Christian cemeteries. We will stop vandalizing churches and synagogues. We will stop preying on white non-Muslim women and raping them. We will stop demanding that people cease defaming, criticizing, and mocking Islam. We will stop subjecting our women to clitoral amputation. We will stop persecuting gays and apostates. We will stop murdering, maiming, or disfiguring Muslim women who refuse to wear any kind of head covering or veils or any other kind of effacing clothing. We will stop forcing our women into arranged marriages. We will stop the brutal butchering of animals by bleeding them to death while they are still conscious. We will stop demanding that infidels and non-believers respect and observe our holidays. We will stop...."

Well, no, they won't. Why should they? They've got the tiger by the tail, and the tiger is a toothless polecat.


The edifice of marriage is always worth repairing

Wedded bliss doesn't exist - but a deeper passion does happen.  Comment from Britain

There are innumerable reasons to admire our monarch, but 65 years of conjugal accord comes close to topping the list. Note that I do not use the trite expression "wedded bliss". I have yet to meet any long-hitched couple who've been skipping around in a permanent state of ecstasy for multiple decades. Most lengthy relationships are only one part romance to two parts endurance test. Many people claim they're never bored in their marriage, when what they really mean is they are yoked to someone who takes eccentricity and intransigence to new heights of bloody-mindedness.

Even when you do have the great good fortune to be married to someone interesting, they can't be riveting over the cornflakes every day for 50 years. My own husband is a walking compendium of intriguing facts, but I still want to sink an axe into his skull every time he mentions local planning regs. It's no wonder that when the late Anne Bancroft was asked the secret of her 41-year marriage to Mel Brooks, she growled, "Just working hard." I bet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would concur with that: not only have they had to head up "the Firm" for 65 gruelling years, they have also had to support three of their children through equally testing matrimonial disappointments.

I couldn't help but imagine the Duke sending a salute across the ether to retired Navy officer Nick Crews, whose excoriating email to his divorced children bemoaned their "copulation-driven" splits. I don't imagine Crews is any more prudish than most naval men of his ilk - more likely he believes it's weedy to abandon a decent spouse for the sake of erotic diversion. In the not-so-distant past, couples worked their way through such indiscretions in the same way they would tackle financial or medical problems: there may have been damage to the render and chimney pots, but nothing that troubled the whole stately edifice. But we Generation X types are too recreation-minded to bother with tedious repairs; it's no wonder we find the long-entwined so mesmerising, yet baffling.

I have had some fun imagining what Crews would say about the female banker who reportedly divorced her husband because of his "boring attitude" to sex. I imagine it would be something along the lines of, "Brace up woman! My generation didn't get to where we are today without enduring a spot of sexual tedium." As any marital veteran will tell you, you can cherish a passion for your spouse that's far deeper than mere sexual flames. However, you may have to stick in your marriage for a fair few decades to appreciate that wisdom.


Children must experience nature in order to learn that  it's worth saving

Britain's Greenie George gets practical

We don't have to disparage the indoor world, which has its own rich ecosystem, to lament children's disconnection from the outdoor world. But the experiences the two spheres offer are entirely different. There is no substitute for what takes place outdoors; not least because the greatest joys of nature are unscripted. The thought that most of our children will never swim among phosphorescent plankton at night, will never be startled by a salmon leaping, a dolphin breaching, the stoop of a peregrine, the rustle of a grass snake is almost as sad as the thought that their children might not have the opportunity.

The remarkable collapse of children's engagement with nature - which is even faster than the collapse of the natural world - is recorded in Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods, and in a report published recently by Britain's heritage conservation body, the National Trust. Since the 1970s the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90 per cent. In one generation the proportion of children regularly playing in wild places in Britain has fallen from more than half to fewer than one in 10. In the US, in just six years (1997-2003) children with particular outdoor hobbies fell by half. Eleven- to 15-year-olds in Britain now spend, on average, half their waking day in front of a screen.

There are several reasons for this collapse: parents' irrational fear of strangers and rational fear of traffic, the destruction of the fortifying commons where previous generations played, the quality of indoor entertainment, the structuring of children's time, the criminalisation of natural play. The great indoors, as a result, has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.

The rise of obesity, rickets and asthma and the decline in cardio-respiratory fitness are well documented. Louv also links the indoor life to an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental ill health. Research conducted at the University of Illinois suggests that playing among trees and grass is associated with a marked reduction in indications of ADHD, while playing indoors or on tarmac appears to increase them. The disorder, Louv suggests, "may be a set of symptoms aggravated by lack of exposure to nature". Perhaps it's the environment, not the child, that has gone wrong.

In her famous essay The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood, Edith Cobb proposed that contact with nature stimulates creativity. Reviewing the biographies of 300 "geniuses", she exposed a common theme: intense experiences of the natural world in the middle age of childhood (between five and 12). Animals and plants, she contended, are among "the figures of speech in the rhetoric of play . which the genius in particular of later life seems to recall".

Studies in several nations show that children's games are more creative in green places than in concrete playgrounds. Natural spaces encourage fantasy and roleplay, reasoning and observation. The social standing of children there depends less on physical dominance, more on inventiveness and language skills. Perhaps forcing children to study so much, rather than running wild in the woods and fields, is counter-productive.

And here we meet the other great loss. Most of those I know who fight for nature are people who spent their childhoods immersed in it. Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world, without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection. The fact that at least half the published articles on ash dieback have been illustrated with photos of beeches, sycamores or oaks seems to me to be highly suggestive.


Yet More Sexual Insanity

The architects of the sexual revolution have a lot to answer for. Part of the 60s counter-culture revolution, the sexual anarchists did all they could to remake society in their own sordid image. And sadly they have basically succeeded. The levels of sexual insanity seem to be at an all time high.

But scarier yet, there seems to be no end in sight to the perversion and degeneracy. Everywhere we look we see more bitter fruit from the 60s sex revolution. A day does not go by without more examples of how Western societies are committing sexual hara-kiri.

So let me offer you four more recent examples of this. Undoubtedly next week I will have another four or so for you. But these matters must be pointed out, if for no other reason that it might produce a backlash of common sense and moral revulsion. Who knows, maybe this can be turned around if enough folks wake up to this reality.

Let me begin in Europe. Consider this headline: "Sex therapists call for legalisation of `virtual' child porn to `relieve paedophiles' urges'." The article begins, "Two sex therapists have sparked outrage in the Netherlands by calling for `virtual' child porn to be legalised to relieve the urges of paedophiles.

"Amsterdam hospital sexologists Rik van Lunsen and Erik van Beek claim allowing perverts to view drawings or computer-generated images of children would `regulate their desires'. The Netherlands outlawed all sexual representation of children in 2002 as technology made imaginary images too realistic.

"But Mr Van Beek told the Dutch media:'I think that repressing you fantasies can lead to frustration and ultimately, for some types of paedophile, to a greater likelihood of doing something wrong. `If you make virtual child pornography under strict government control with a label explaining that no child was abused, you can give paedophiles a way of regulating their sexual urges.'

"Mr van Lunsen added: `We don't make enough of a distinction in public debate between "healthy" paedophiles, people who are not paedosexually active, and delinquent paedosexuals. We're not responsible for our thoughts or our fantasies, we're only responsible for one thing - our actions'."

There you go folks - according to these two sexperts, there are "healthy" paedophiles, and we cannot control what we think about. Yeah right. What planet is this pair living on? But wait, there's more. Things are not a whole lot better in Britain.

Check out this headline: "Primary school teachers `could face sack' for refusing to promote gay marriage". As the news item reports: "Liz Truss, an education minister, refused to rule out the possibility that teachers, even in faith schools, could face disciplinary action for objecting on grounds of conscience.

"Miss Truss said simply that it was impossible to know what the impact of the legislation would be at this stage. Her admission came in a letter to a fellow Conservative MP, David Burrowes, last month. Mr Burrowes, a practising Christian, originally wrote to Maria Miller, the equalities minister, raising concerns about the impact on schools of the Coalition's plans to change the marriage laws.

"It followed the publication of a legal opinion by Aidan O'Neill QC, a barrister in the same London chambers as Cherie Blair, commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage, which campaigns against same-sex unions. Mr O'Neill, an expert on human rights, was asked to advise on the impact redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could have on schools, churches, hospitals, foster carers and public buildings.

"Among his conclusions was that schools could be within their statutory rights to dismiss staff who wilfully fail to use stories or textbooks promoting same-sex weddings. Parents who object to gay marriage being taught to their children would also have no right to withdraw their child from lessons, he argued. And, in theory, the fact that a school was a faith school would make no difference, he added."

In America things are just as bad it seems. From Washington we get this scary story: "Washington College OK's Exposure of Young Girls to Transgender Male in Locker Room". The story goes as follows: "College officials at Washington's Evergreen College gave approval to a transgender male to expose himself to young girls in the locker room. The college told the young girls to dress behind a curtain if they don't like it.

"Alliance Defending Freedom reported: Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Washington's Evergreen State College Thursday after college officials claimed that its non-discrimination policy doesn't allow the school to stop a man from exposing himself to girls as young as six years old in a women's locker room. A local district attorney has also stated that he doesn't plan to enforce the state's indecent exposure statute to protect the girls.

"The 45-year-old male student, who dresses as a woman and goes by the name Colleen Francis, undressed and exposed his male genitalia on several occasions in the presence of young girls who use the college's locker rooms. Students from Olympia High School and children in the Evergreen Swim Club and Aquatics Academy share use of the locker rooms with the college. Rather than prevent the man from using the locker room, the school has installed curtains and asked the girls to change behind them.

"`Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period. A college's notions about "non-discrimination" don't change that,' said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. `The idea that the college and the local district attorney will not act to protect young girls is appalling. What Americans are seeing here is the poisoned fruit of so-called "non-discrimination" laws and policies. Placing this man's proclivities ahead of protecting little girls is beyond unacceptable'."

And in Maine we learn about this: "Middle Schoolers Subjected To Graphic Gay Indoctrination". The report states: "Shortly before Maine became one of the first states to approve gay marriage at the ballot box, a school district in the state was ahead of the curve with a presentation of graphic gay sex acts.

"Promoted as part of the school's `Diversity Day', 25 students in a middle school class were subjected to the filth by a group called Proud Rainbow Youth of Southern Maine. The reprehensible display included advising students about safe homosexual sex acts and suggesting the use of saran wrap during oral sex if a dental dam is not available.

"The mother of one 13-year-old upset by the presentation told the media that the PRYSM speaker also used profanity when spreading the gay-centric message. `I've had to let him know that no matter what situation he gets in, my suggestion is not saran wrap. My suggestion is to abstain altogether,' she said.

"School curricula regularly operates outside of parents' influence, and most children are taught to respect and obey their teachers. It must be incredibly frustrating for the millions of students who hear one view at home and a starkly different opinion in class.

"A spokesperson for Protect Marriage Maine weighed in on the controversial incident, saying this is likely just the tip of the iceberg. `If there was any doubt that gay marriage would be taught to young children in Maine schools just as it is in Massachusetts and Canada, that doubt should be removed now,' he said, adding activists will likely `force gay marriage instruction of young children' now that the state allows such unions."

Talk about bitter fruit. We have had a half century of the sexual revolution and things are looking pretty ugly. But sadly things have likely not bottomed out yet. Hopefully enough concerned parents and others will stand up and be counted here before the West goes the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.



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

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

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


29 November, 2012

The Left will never learn

The Laffer curve has been well-known since the says of Ronald Reagan and even JFK knew of it, though not by that name:  Beyond a certain point, higher taxes will DECREASE government revenue

Around two thirds of Britain's highest earners deserted the UK after the 50p top rate of tax was introduced, according to figures.

While some 16,000 workers declared an income in excess of £1million in the 2009/10 tax year to HM Revenue and Customs, that number dropped to just 6,000 after then Prime Minister Gordon Brown brought in the new tax rules.

Tax paid by the top earners fell from £13.4billion before the top tax rate came in to £6.5billion in 2010/11.

It is thought that many of the highest earners moved abroad or reduced their taxable incomes to avoid paying the new levy.  Many are said to have avoided paying the new rate either by bringing forward payments or delaying them, by moving earnings abroad or by choosing to work less.

Many now appear to be returning to the UK, with the number of £1million plus earners rising again to 10,000 since Chancellor George Osborne announced that the top tax rate would be reduced to 45p from next April as part of the Budget earlier this year.

But while Conservatives used the figures to claim that Labour's decision to increase the highest rate of tax actually lost Government revenue, Ed Miliband highlighted separate figures to accuse ministers of handing Britain’s rich a tax break worth more than £100,000 yesterday.

Mr Miliband claimed that new figures showed that 8,000 people earning more than £1 million this year would gain an average £107,000 each as a result of George Osborne’s budget decision to cut the top rate to 45p for those earning more than £150,000.

Addressing workers at a sheet metal factory in Stevenage ahead of next week’s autumn statement on the economy, Mr Miliband said they were paying the price for the Government’s decision to stand up for the 'wrong people'.  ‘David Cameron and George Osborne believe the only way to persuade millionaires to make work harder is to give them more money.

But they also seem to believe that the only way to make you work harder is to take money away,’ he said.  ‘Cut your tax credits, squeeze your living standards, get rid of some of the services on which you rely, and put up VAT. That’s where the money is coming from for the millionaires’ tax cut.’

Mr Miliband faced embarrassment earlier this year after wrongly claiming that all millionaires would receive a £40,000 tax cut.

In fact the tax cut relates to earnings, not wealth - and critics pointed out that the Labour leader has assets worth well over £1 million.

Tory sources hit back strongly at Mr Miliband’s latest claim, suggesting that the introduction of the 50p rate was an ‘ideological move’, which had cost the country billions of pounds.

Tory MP Harriet Baldwin, who uncovered the figures suggesting that the 50p tax rate had seen the number of those claiming to earn more than £1million drop, said: ‘Labour’s ideological tax hike led to a tax cull of millionaires. Far from raising funds, it actually cost the UK £7 billion in lost tax revenue.

‘We have taken tough action to clamp down on tax avoidance and make sure those with the broadest shoulders bear the biggest burden.

'That’s why in every single year of this Government the rich will pay a greater share of our nation’s tax revenues than in any one of the 13 years that Labour were in office.’

An HMRC report into the tax concluded there was ‘a considerable behavioural response to the rate change, including a substantial amount of forestalling (deferring income to avoid the tax).’

Mr Osborne insisted on slashing the 50p rate, arguing that it made Britain uncompetitive and deterred entrepreneurs from coming to the UK.

He had wanted to scrap the top rate entirely for anyone earning more than £150,000 a year, but that move was blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

Many Tories believe the cut will lead to higher tax receipts in future, arguing that the wealthy will have less incentive to avoid the lower rate.

The Lib Dems also blocked his plan to reduce the top tax rate to its previous level of 40p, claiming that it would send out the wrong signal at a time when the less well off were being asked to contribute more to paying off the deficit.

Labour will hold a Parliamentry debate today to criticise the reduction of the top rate with senior coalition figures thrashing out next week's Autumn Statement which sets out Government tax policy for next year.


Call a truce, before centuries of free speech are brought to an end

With MPs eager to take power over the press, the Prime Minister must lead them back from the cliff edge

For years, Britain's politicians have wanted to pass judgment on whether the press has been abusing its freedom, but they have encountered a basic constitutional obstacle: the newspapers are not theirs to control, and haven't been since the Licensing Act lapsed in 1695. In the intervening centuries, our country has developed a raucous, hugely popular and uniquely disrespectful press. Jeremy Paxman tells how he was drawn into the trade after being told that the relationship between a journalist and politician should be that between a dog and lamp post. For generations, the lamp post has put up with this. Now it wants its revenge.

In America, free speech is protected under the first amendment to the constitution. In Britain, our liberties have been protected by convention - but they are being heavily undermined. Once, we would have deplored the Bahraini state's actions and asked what kind of regime imprisons people for what they say, as opposed to what they do. Today, we know the answer - as does the teenager recently arrested by Kent police for posting a picture on Armistice Day of a burning poppy; as does Petra Mills, found guilty of racial abuse for calling her neighbour a "stupid, fat Australian". An American is free to say what he pleases. A Briton is not.

Given that the state is busily arresting bloggers and Twitterers - and even disputatious neighbours - freedom of the press all of a sudden starts to look rather anomalous. And when Lord Justice Leveson produces what is likely to be a 200-page J'accuse against our newspapers next week, dozens of Tory MPs have decided what they want the consequence to be. About 70 - including 42 who signed a letter to the Guardian - are pushing the Government to impose a statutory remedy, and No 10 is now briefing that poor David Cameron may have no option. Unless he regulates the press - or, ahem, "protects" press freedom by defining its parameters - then his MPs will rebel.

It is not quite clear at what stage Conservatives stopped thinking that freedom of speech is important, but we have a useful point of comparison. Five years ago, the then Labour-dominated Culture, Media & Sport Committee made a powerful declaration in a report. "Statutory regulation of the press," it concluded, "is a hallmark of authoritarianism and risks undermining democracy." This was a point of principle: you can't have a little bit of state control, any more than you can be a little bit pregnant. Either the press is free, or it must operate within parameters defined by the state.

Inside Downing Street, there is a suspicion that the press are simply hysterical. "Some journalists say their parents fled the Nazis to get away from the kind of press regulation we're looking at," says one No 10 insider. There is genuine bafflement. The Leveson report will not propose that politicians dictate the terms of debate, but may suggest government "underwrites" some new system of regulation designed to protect victims. And everyone, journalists included, must obey libel and other laws anyway. Where is the problem in adding some more?

Lord Justice Leveson famously assured Michael Gove that he does not "need to be told about the importance of free speech". But when the Education Secretary mocked the judge this week for his "truth-telling" skills, he made a deadly serious point. Throughout the inquiry, the judge seemed not to grasp a very important principle: that for a government to prescribe regulation for the press establishes a hierarchy of power - it puts the politicians in charge. It also creates a tool of political control, which can be ratcheted up later. MPs might speak softly, but they would be carrying a very big stick.

Some won't even wait for Leveson. In the past few weeks, as editor of The Spectator, I have been contacted by politicians wanting a quiet word about journalists who have displeased them. One Labour MP complained about something a writer said about him on Twitter. "Does The Spectator want to be associated with someone like that?" he asked. His implication - that the journalist should face sanction for annoying an MP - was repugnant. A week later, a Tory minister called asking me to take down an online article which criticised him. Did it contain any factual errors? No. But I might like to consider whether it was "over the top".

Telephone calls like these simply didn't happen a year ago. Now, our MPs are warming up for an era in which they feel they will - at long last - be the judges of what the press ought to be doing. Fleet Street ought to be outraged at the very idea. But, depressingly, some journalists say they could quite happily live with this set-up, as long as it hurts their rivals more.

Having spoken to some of the Tory MPs who signed the Guardian letter, I am struck by how little thought they have put into the matter. One fact: abuses such as phone hacking are already illegal, which explains why so many journalists will be standing in the dock over coming months. "But it is very Conservative to stand up to power, and the press is too powerful," one Tory told me. A second fact: the press has never been less powerful, which is partly why it's in this mess. When Margaret Thatcher was elected, three quarters of Britons read a national daily newspaper. That's power. Today, just a third of us do. That's a crisis.

If the press really annoys our MPs, they should just be patient. Should David Cameron win a third term - though a second may seem a stretch - there could be no more than a handful of newspapers left to hurl the brickbats or bouquets. On current trends, neither the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Daily Express or the Independent will last until the end of the decade. Their digital-only rivals will be even harder to regulate, especially those headquartered abroad.

And what about publications only put out on iPad? And given that no one even had an iPad three years ago, how do you regulate whatever comes in five years' time?

As so often, it is the Mayor of London who best puts things in perspective. Picking up a gong at The Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year awards on Wednesday, Boris Johnson appealed for a ceasefire. The battle started, he said, with The Daily Telegraph's investigation into MPs' expenses and now looks like it may escalate into MPs ending Britain's 317-year tradition of press freedom. Michael Gove, looking on, applauded warmly. The MPs who I saw at the Savoy Hotel bar afterwards said that they, too, wanted a truce - but how to calm down the others? Only one man is capable of doing so. This time, there really is no substitute for prime ministerial leadership.


Swedish toy firm drops gender roles for Xmas

Sweden's largest toy chain said Friday that its toys are "gender neutral" after picturing boys holding baby dolls and banishing girls from the dolls pages of its Christmas catalogue.

"We have produced the catalogues for both BR and Toys R Us in a completely different way this year," Jan Nyberg, director of sales at Top Toy, franchise-holder for US toy chain Toys R Us, told the TT news agency Friday.

"With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It's not a boy or a girl thing, it's a toy for children."

The country's advertising watchdog (Reklamombudsmannen - RO) reprimanded the company for gender discrimination three years ago following complaints over outdated gender roles in the 2008 Christmas catalogue, which featured boys dressed as superheroes and girls playing princess.

"For several years, we have found that the gender debate has grown so strong in the Swedish market that we ... have had to adjust," Nyberg said.

A comparison between this year's Toys R Us catalogues in Sweden and Denmark, where Top Toy is also the franchisee, showed that a boy wielding a toy machine gun in the Danish edition had been replaced by a girl in Sweden.

Elsewhere, a girl was Photoshopped out of the "Hello Kitty" page, a girl holding a baby doll was replaced by a boy, and, in sister chain BR's catalogue, a young girl's pink T-shirt was turned light blue.

Top Toy, Sweden's largest toy retailer by number of stores, said it had received "training and guidance" from the Swedish advertising watchdog, which is a self-regulatory agency.


A feminist revolution that cruelly backfired - and why Amsterdam's legal brothels are a brutal lesson for Britain about telling the truth on sex gangs and race

Seven girls laugh together at the supper table. One talks of her sister, a fashion model signed with a famous London agency. Another mentions her married brother, an artist in the north of England. A third - 17 with blonde hair tucked under an Alice band - says she plans to become a beautician on a cruise ship.

At the small house, the blinds are closed so no one can peep in. Two terriers and a bull mastiff bark ferociously if there is a footstep outside the bolted front door.

For these middle-class girls, groomed into sex slavery by street gangs, have been rescued and are living in a safe house a few miles from De Wallen, the notorious red-light area of Holland's capital, Amsterdam.

They are the lucky ones. Thousands of other young Dutch girls, some only 11 or 12 years old, are still in the power of the prowling gangs after a controversial social experiment to legalise brothels.

In a chilling parallel to the scandal sweeping Britain's towns and cities, where a multitude of girls have been lured into sex-for-sale rings run by gangs, the Dutch pimps search out girls at school gates and in cafes, posing as `boyfriends' promising romance, fast car rides and restaurant meals.

The men ply their victims with vodka and drugs. They tell them lies: that they love them and their families don't care for them. Then, the trap set, they rape them with other gang members, often taking photos of the attack to blackmail the girl into submission.

Befuddled, frightened, and too ashamed to tell parents or teachers, the girls are cynically isolated from their old lives and swept into prostitution. 

So dangerous are the gangs that the girls at the safe house never venture out alone, and when they have a coffee together in the back garden they are not allowed to talk about their past in case neighbours overhear.

`You never know who has big ears,' says Anita de Wit, 48, the mother of three who set up the safe house last month. It is thought to be the first of its kind in the world. `The gangs can kill, and will try to get these girls back because they earn them money. We do not want them coming here to harm them. '

Anything-goes Amsterdam has long been hailed as a sex mecca. The red-light district attracts thousands of customers, many of them tourists, who walk through alleys where half-naked prostitutes prance in the windows of some 300 brothels illuminated with scarlet bulbs.

A century ago, the brothels were banned to stop the exploitation of women by criminal gangs of Dutch men. But gradually the sex establishments crept back, with the authorities turning a blind eye.

In 2000, after pressure from prostitutes (demanding recognition as sex workers with employment rights) and Holland's liberal intelligentsia (championing the choice of women to do what they wished with their bodies), the brothels were legalised. The working girls got permits, medical care, and now there are 5,000 in the red-light district.

But things went badly wrong. Holland's newly legal sex industry was quickly infiltrated by street-grooming gangs with one target: the under-age girl virgin who can be sold for sex.

The men in the gangs are dubbed - incongruously - `lover boys', because of their distinct modus operandi of making girls fall in love with them before forcing them into prostitution at private flats or houses all over Holland, and in the window brothels. The lover boy phenomenon has appalled Dutch society, not least because of the sheer numbers of girls involved.

As Lodewijk Asscher, 38, a leading politician, says: `Hard-line criminal behaviour is happening behind those windows. Girls are physically abused if they don't work hard enough. It is slavery, which was abolished a long time ago in the Netherlands.'

He has championed new rules in Amsterdam's red-light district from January. Prostitutes will sign a register and the minimum age for sex workers will be raised from 18 to 21, to try to stop girls being forced to work by the gangs.

Holland hopes the rot will be halted. Last year, 242 lover boy crimes were investigated by police, half of them involving the forced prostitution of girls under 18. Campaigner Anita de Wit says this is a fraction - `one per cent' - of the true number. `There are thousands of girls being preyed on by male gangs in Holland,' she says.

Anita visits schools to warn girls exactly what a lover boy looks like, and makes no bones of the fact that most of the gangs are operated by Dutch-born Moroccan and Turkish men.

`I am not politically correct. I am not afraid of being called a racist, which would be untrue. I tell the girls that lover boys are young, dark-skinned and very good looking. They will have lots of money and bling as well as a big car. They will give out cigarettes and vodka. They will tell a girl that she is beautiful.

`The gangs know who to pick out: the girl with the confidence problems, with the glasses, or who looks overweight. They flatter her and seem like the "knight in shining armour". She is drawn to her new boyfriend like a magnet.'

Anita's bluntness is a far cry from the approach in Britain, where political correctness has stopped police and social workers telling girls the same home truths: that in many towns, particularly in the north of England, the handsome men chatting them up at the school gate are very likely to be of Pakistani descent. They, too, ply the girls with alcohol and gifts, pretending to be genuine boyfriends.

This week a report into our own sex gangs - by Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children's Commissioner for England - was criticised (by the NSPCC, among others) for discounting the evident link between Asian gangs and the sexual exploitation of white and mixed race girls. Berelowitz chose to downplay the race factor, despite official figures showing a worrying percentage of men involved in this type of sex crime are of this heritage.

Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Lancashire-based Ramadhan Foundation, a charity working for ethnic harmony, has just visited Holland to see the work of Anita de Wit and her charity `Say No to Lover Boys Now', which believes that girls should be warned where the danger lies - for their own sakes.

He has complained that the British authorities treat the subject as taboo because of fears of being branded racist. `That is wrong. These gangs of men should be treated as criminals whatever their race,' he says.

In Holland, as in Britain, the abusers are drawn from a tiny minority of their communities - which are appalled by their crimes. But the lover boys seem to see white girls as worthless, to be abused without a second thought.

Anita began her campaign when her own daughter, Angelique, then aged 15, was lured into a sex gang after meeting a 21-year-old Moroccan boy at a coffee bar near her school.

Anita was divorced and running a restaurant in a village outside Amsterdam when it all began. It was eight in the evening and Angelique came into the restaurant with three male friends. She said one of them was her new boyfriend, Mohammed. `He had long curly hair, was very handsome and polite to me,' remembers Anita.

`Angelique asked if she could take the three boys back home for a coffee, and I said yes. I was due back at eleven that night and I thought my other two children - Angelique's younger brother, who was 13, and her older sister - would be there.'

But when Anita got home, she found that every bottle in the drinks cabinet was empty. Angelique was lying in bed drunk. Mohammed and his two pals had disappeared. Although Anita did not know it then, Angelique had been raped by two of the men. The other man had taken her son to play football in the park to get him out of the house. Angelique's older sister was, in fact, staying with friends.

`I was horrified,' says Anita. `Angelique lied, saying she had just had too much to drink. I was annoyed she had been drinking at all. I said I did not want Mohammed at my house ever again. We had a row. But that is the classic technique used by the lover boys - they deliberately engineer a rift between the girl and her parents.'

From then on, Angelique's behaviour changed. She went missing from school. If she did go to class, Mohammed and the lover boys would be waiting to pick her up in a big car with dark windows and false number plates. Her teachers complained to Anita, but Angelique was in love with Mohammed and at war with the teachers and her mother.

She would disappear from home for hours, often coming back only late at night. Sometimes, she would go missing for days, saying she had been with friends.

In fact, Angelique had been sleeping with a host of Moroccan men and earning money for her `boyfriend', Mohammed. `Her mobile phone would ring continuously, all day and through the night, too. She would even take it into the loo with her.

`When I looked at it later, there were violent texts saying: "If you don't come out now, you are for it and your family, too,"' recalls Anita today.

After several months, Anita rang the police for help. Her daughter was taken to the family court where a judge placed her under a curfew at home. She had to report to her mother every two hours. `Angelique would come in say hello, and then run out of the house again,' says Anita. `The judge said she had to leave her mobile phone downstairs at night. But the gang just gave her another one, and the men kept ringing her. They gave her cannabis and she became dependent on them for it.'

The judge, in desperation, sent Angelique to a youth prison where, for 11 months, she used her phone card to keep in touch with Mohammed, but gradually the relationship fizzled out. 

When, at last, she was moved to an open centre for troubled youngsters, Anita hoped for the best. But her daughter met another lover boy there. He was called Rashid and was a stooge planted to recruit girls by the gangs. He persuaded her to escape from the centre and together they hitch-hiked to Rotterdam.

There, Angelique found that Rashid was also part of a sex gang. She was put in a seedy house and again made to work as a prostitute.

`She was forced to swallow 14 ecstasy tablets a day and take the date-rape drug, GHB. The gang beat her with a baseball bat if she refused to sleep with the men who were brought to her. They dyed her brown hair with kitchen bleach because they said men would pay more for blondes. She's never told me how many men she had to go with,' says Anita. After six weeks, Angelique escaped. She ran to a shop and called her mother, who brought her home.

Yet - incredibly enough - even then the lover boys came after her. She visited the city centre with a girlfriend and a stranger, a young Moroccan, asked her out for a date. He promised Angelique that he was a proper boyfriend, that he loved her: but he was grooming her, too.

The Moroccan plied her with drugs, and asked her to live with him in a flat near the red-light district. When Angelique, by now 18, agreed, he said he was in debt and put her to work in the De Wallen window brothels.

`I went to see her in the windows,' says Anita. `I had to keep in touch with my daughter. It was only in January of last year that she realised she had been exploited by the gang and returned home at last.'

Angelique's story is terrifying. But, at the safe house, there are equally disturbing tales. There is Eline, who was an 18-year-old virgin when she met a Turkish lover boy at a New Year party at her local youth club.

Eline thought she was in love with him, but within a few weeks the rest of his group had gang-raped her on a patch of waste land, photographed their crime, and were threatening to tell her parents if she did not sleep with other men to earn them money. 

I hear about Beatrice, who met her lover boy as she rode her bike to a new school. She was 12 years old. He was leaning against his car outside; with a big gold chain round his neck, he looked like an actor in a rap video.

He was back a few days later, and told her she was pretty. The fourth time they met, she agreed to go for a drive. He took her to a house where he raped her. He told her she was now his prostitute, his property, and that their relationship was perfectly normal.

By 14, Beatrice had slept with dozens of men and, unbeknown to her civil servant parents, was even coerced into acting as an agent for her lover boy's gang by introducing them to other girls.

The girls in the safe house, who are aged between 15 and 25, have now escaped from the horrors of their past. They are learning to live again. And with the new minimum age and register of prostitutes, the winds of change are blowing in Amsterdam's red-light industry.

But Eline shakes her head a little sadly as she says: `The lover boys are always one step ahead. They are making a fortune from these young girls. It is everyone's duty to tell the truth about what is happening - particularly to potential victims.'

It is a sobering lesson not only that political correctness must not prevent people voicing their fears about grooming gangs, but also that Holland's liberal approach to sex has backfired disastrously on many of these damaged 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


28 November, 2012

Scrap law on 'insulting words and behaviour' that censors free speech, British MPs urge

Controversial legislation that criminalises ‘insulting’ words and behaviour should be scrapped, MPs and peers urged yesterday.

The law – which has been used to arrest a Christian preacher, a critic of Scientology and a student who made a joke – has a ‘disproportionate impact on freedom of expression’, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said.

In a report, it recommended that ministers accept an amendment which would remove the ‘insulting’ offence from the Public Order Act.

Section 5 of the 1986 Act says someone is guilty for just using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the sight or earshot of a person ‘likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress’.

Critics say the law is a catch-all which censors innocent remarks and leaves it to police and courts to decide what constitutes ‘insulting’ words or behaviour.

Home Secretary Theresa May began a consultation on scrapping the offence last year but the Government has not yet responded.

The joint committee said: ‘We understand the sensitivities within certain communities on this issue, but we nonetheless support an amendment to the Bill.’

An amendment could be debated during the House of Lords report stage of the Crime and Courts Bill today.


Britain waltzes further down the East German path

The oddest thing happened this morning.  Sitting at my desk, some woman just wandered in through our warehouse and asked to talk to a director. I replied that I'm one so how can I help. She tersely declared that she works for HMRC and demanded a payment of £15,000 for overdue corporation tax.

I was taken aback for a moment as she looked about 60 and was dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt - it's not the kind of thing one would expect her to come out with.

As it happened, the people who deal with our accounts were both at a funeral at the time, so I said I'd have to talk to them first. She, however, insisted that as I was a director I would be able to sign a cheque right there and then. Of course I could, but there was no way I would even consider doing that, especially for someone who just breezes in arrogantly from the street.

She fixed me with a surprised glare (perhaps for not shitting myself when faced with a rep of the government, I dunno), before handing me her card and telling me all the nasty things that might happen if it's not paid in the next week. Now, I've often said that tax is effectively extortion with menaces, but I've never seen it illustrated in such a blatant manner.

On later talking to our credit controller, she said that we'd paid a huge amount up front and were just waiting for some communication of the balance due before settling it - that's what one would expect from a government agency, after all. However, we'd not received a single letter or phone call to tell us what we were supposed to pay. Wouldn't it have been much more professional - and less costly in time and, therefore, money - to ring or write rather than sending some late middle-ager round to ask for a cheque out of the blue?

And when did employing similar intimidatory methods to 1930s mafia protection racketeers become an acceptable state policy?


Another example of little men in Britain with their ego-driven  bureaucratic pettiness

Only media exposure produced a belated twitch of decency in the matter

A 90-year-old war hero, who risked life and limb for his country during World War Two, was slapped with a £70 parking fine as he attended a Remembrance Day service - because his blue badge was upside down.

Disabled George Roberts, who served as a gunner and a driver transporting artillery across Africa, has hit out at jobsworth traffic wardens who gave him the ticket while he paid his respects to fallen comrades in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

The wheelchair-bound veteran was driven to the service at St Chad's Church by his son Michael, 43, who parked in a nearby disabled bay.

But when Mr Roberts, who has also survived a stroke and four heart bypass operations, and Michael returned to the car after the emotional service, they were shocked to find a parking ticket on the windscreen.

Attempts to reason with a traffic warden fell on deaf ears as the pair were told they would have to contact the local council.

The warden even echoed the chilling excuse of some of Hitler's men when he claimed he had issued the ticket because he was 'following orders'.

Mr Roberts served in the Royal Artillery Regiment in World War Two and attends the Remembrance Day procession and service every year.

Earlier this year he was forced to stop driving but still qualifies for a blue disabled badge because son Michael is his dedicated carer and driver.

George, who has four grown-up children, 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, said: 'I was struggling to get out of my car and I must have disturbed my blue badge.

'Many millions of men never came back from the war, and I went through it all without a bullet - only to get shot by this.

Red-faced bosses at Shropshire Council today apologised to George, and promised to cancel the ticket.


Unmarried parenthood in Sweden is different

We're all well aware of Polly Toynbee's mantra that "We should be more like Sweden". I'm sure at least some of you will be aware of the various times I've made fun of that very mantra. What, you mean we should privatise the fire and ambulance brigades? Have a pure school voucher system? Charge people a (nominal) sum for a doctor's visit? Have a state financed and multiple providers health care system? Switch the national dish from roast beef to meatballs?

While I do have fun with making such japes there is an important underlying and usually unacknowledged point to be made. Sure, we can look at Swedish childcare and say that's not so bad (or is, to taste). Or births outside marriage and see that they don't cause the fall of civilisation. But looking at only such things andnot at the deeper structure of the society can make that a very dangerous method of comparison. As one of my favourite up and coming economists points out here:

In a responce to Ross Douthats thoughtful column, Krugman writes “In Sweden, more than half of children are born out of wedlock — but they don’t seem to suffer much as a result, perhaps because the welfare state is so strong. Maybe we’ll go that way too. So?” This is highly misleading. In secular Sweden, family traditions differ from those of the United States. Cohabitation (“samboförhållande”) is formally recognized and treated by the law as virtually identical to marriage. Swedish couples typically cohabitate, get children and only then get marry.

Statistics Sweden explains: “Living together without being married has long been common and majority of the children born in Sweden are born out of wedlock, but usually cohabiting, parents. Cohabitation can in many respects equated with being married, and young adults has been widely accepting of couples with children remaining unmarried. Despite this, most couples choose to get married eventually.

Of the couples that are followed in this report and still lived together at the end of 2010, 73 percent married, while 27 percent were still cohabitating….About 10 percent of couples did not live together when the child was born, but most of these couples have lived together before or after birth. Approximately 3 percent of all couples never lived together and had a child outside of a relationship.”

There's a very large difference between couples living together and having children without a church or state sanctioned piece of paper and people being single parents from the get go. A society in which that true single parenthood is rare will be different from one where it is common. And this isn't to say that that true single parenthood is either good or bad: only that it is indeed different from non-married coupledom.

The point being that we cannot look at a socially extremely conservative country like Sweden and then import a system wholesale into a much more socially liberal one like the UK. Well, we can of course and to some extent that's what a large number of people are campaigning for. But it's not going to work the same way at all: because the underlying attitudes are different. And this doesn't just apply to the UK and Sweden either. We can't, wouldn't, import the US attitude to guns, imprisonment or race either.

Another way to put this is that sure, many systems to do many things work in many other countries. But the important thing to work out, before trying to adopt them, is why do they work in those societies? Only once we've done that can we even attempt to work out whether they would work in our own, rather different one. As an example I offer you this thought: Britain, and certainly England, has always been rather more individualistic than much of the rest of Europe. So why does anyone think that simply importing a foreign communalism will work here?



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

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

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


27 November, 2012

New rights for British householders who attack burglars to be unveiled

A big step forward for Britain, where vindictive police have virtually criminalized self-defence

Changes to the law to ensure householders who attack burglars will not be prosecuted unless they use "grossly disproportionate" force are to be introduced.

In a major victory for a campaign run by The Sunday Telegraph, the Department for Justice will move to amend the existing law which says only "proportionate" and "reasonable" force can be used by home owners and tenants who confront criminals.

Ahead of the changes being introduced in the House of Lords this week, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, declared today that the changes will give householders the protection that they need - the confidence that the law will be on their side".

He adds: "Now the deal will be this: if you are confronted by a burglar in your own home and you fear for your safety, or the safety of others, and in the heat of the moment use force that is reasonable in the circumstances, but in the cold light of day seems disproportionate, you will not be deemed guilty of an offence."

The move follows a string of high-profile cases in which home owners who have confronted burglars have been arrested.

In the most recent, in September, Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey were held in police custody for almost three days after two burglars were shot in their house near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

This newspaper has campaigned under the slogan "The Right To Defend Yourself" for greater legal protection for householders who deal with intruders.   The campaign won the support of many politicians and senior criminal justice figures - and its proposed changes regularly win overwhelming public backing in opinion polls.

On two occasions - in 2004 and 2005 - MPs have made unsuccessful attempts to change the law using private members' bills while there have been two "clarifications" to the criminal law on self defence - in 2008 under Labour, and last year under the coalition.

Until this week, however, the law has remained rooted in the "reasonable" force test, which campaigners say does not offer enough protection to householders and which the Conservatives promised to change in 2009 when the party was in opposition.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP whose Private Members' Bill on the issue in 2004 failed after not getting the support of the then Labour government, said: "This has been a very long time coming. At last my constituents and very householder will be properly protected against intruders.   Even habitual criminals tell me that this will deter them. There can be no better reason for these ideas to be turned into law."

Mr Grayling writes in an article for telegraph.co.uk: "The public should be in no doubt that in such circumstances that the law really is on their side. We need to get rid of doubts in this area once and for all. This isn't about encouraging vigilantism, or taking the law into your own hands. Of course, you should always in the first instance see if there's a way to get to safety.  "But there should be no doubt that people who act instinctively and honestly in self defence are victims of crime, and should be treated that way."

"I want people in these unfortunate circumstances to be interviewed as witnesses, and not interrogated as criminals.

"Only if it emerges that they have acted in a way that is clearly unacceptably over the top - like stabbing a burglar who is already out cold on the floor - should the question of prosecution even arise."


Victims of the thought police: Snatched foster children are 'traumatised' say loving couple branded racist for supporting UKIP

The parents in the UKIP fostering row last night appealed for the return of the children they love.

The three Eastern European youngsters were taken away after social services discovered the couple were members of the political party. The astonishing decision by Labour-controlled Rotherham Council has been attacked by MPs from all sides.

And it has left fostering teams open to claims they are acting like ‘Thought Police’. Council chiefs will today receive the findings of an internal inquiry into the handling of the case.

Asked whether he and his wife would welcome the children’s return, the foster father told the Mail: ‘Of course. We love those children.’

But he said the priority was the welfare of the ‘completely traumatised’ baby girl, boy and older girl, who came to them in September. ‘They have been passed from pillar to post,’ he added.

Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the decision was guided by ‘politically correct mumbo jumbo’.  ‘It’s bonkers, it’s deeply misguided, this decision that’s been made, and it’s political correctness gone mad,’ the Tory MP told the BBC’s Sunday Politics:

‘We need to be doing what’s in the best interests of the children; political correctness has no part in all of this.  ‘The most important thing is were those foster parents providing a safe, loving family placement for those children, and if they were and they continue to do so, then they should stay there.’

The couple in their 50s are former Labour voters who live in a village near Rotherham. They have looked after a dozen children over the past seven years.

Their nightmare began earlier this month following an anonymous tip-off to the council that they supported the UK Independence Party. This was followed by a home visit on November 12.

The three children, who are understood to be from Eastern Europe, were placed with them in September and stayed for eight weeks.

The baby gained weight and the girl began calling them ‘mum and dad’.

But the wife said they started to feel like ‘criminals’ when the children’s social worker told them about the tip-off.

She said the official said: ‘We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of UKIP because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.’

The couple insist they were meeting the children’s cultural needs by learning their language, singing their folk songs and choosing an appropriate school for their religion.


'We, too, know what it's like to face the great PC inquisition': The scrutiny endured by one family to become foster parents

Alex and Dominic Bemrose know exactly what it’s like to face the care ‘thought police’.

They had to jump through hoops to prove to their local authority they could offer a child from a different culture and race a loving, nurturing home.

Before being approved as adoptive parents, they had to endure nine, three-hour interviews by a social worker and every aspect of their lives went under the microscope.

Their finances were examined with a fine-tooth comb. Their moral, religious and personal beliefs were scrutinised and even their sex lives were picked over. Family, friends and ex-partners were also interviewed.

‘Short of asking for inside leg measurements, absolutely everything was questioned which at times I found ludicrous and far more intrusive than necessary,’ says Alex, 50, from Middlesex.

‘At the end of the whole questioning process, which took three months, I think the social worker knew more about me and my life than my own mother.’

When Alex said she was Roman Catholic she was asked by the social worker to go away and write an essay on what it meant to her, as if it were some kind of cult instead of a mainstream religion.

Indeed, the couple had to do a lot of written homework whenever an ‘issue’ from their past surfaced - such as bullying at school, or the time Alex had a miscarriage.

A great deal of the questioning, it seemed to Alex, was designed to help the local authority decide how ‘politically correct’ the couple were in their attitudes to racism, homosexuality and private education.

‘They seemed very concerned about the fact we’d both been to boarding school, which was discussed at length, asking how we’d felt about this “rejection” by our parents. I rather resented the question because neither of us had felt rejected in the slightest,’ she said.

‘They wanted assurances from us we would not send an adoptive child to boarding school, which we were happy to give because it wouldn’t have been appropriate and we couldn’t afford it anyway.

‘I have no issue with local authorities being very thorough and I’m sure they would say they are trying to build up a complete picture about you, but are your political beliefs really relevant? As for taking children away from foster parents because they belong to a political party, that on the face of it, seems crazy.’

Alex, now a campaigner for other parents fighting their way through the adoption system, says the Rotherham case is deeply disturbing.

‘People can be members of political parties and perhaps not agree with 100 per cent of every single policy. Does being a member of UKIP or believing in immigration controls even make you racist?

‘Surely if you were racist you wouldn’t open your home to a child of different ethnicity in the first place. On the one hand they are crying out for more foster families and then on the other taking away children from would appear to be, on the face of it, perfectly good homes.

‘What really matters is whether the parents involved can provide a loving home to a child who would otherwise remain in care, and to be rejected because your waistline is too big or you belong to a particular political party seems to me ridiculous.’


It’s not this family who are bigots — it’s the multicultural
thought police

Melanie Phillips points to the hate-filled neo-Marxist training of British social workers

The story sounds just too idiotic and outrageous to be true. A Rotherham couple, by all accounts exemplary foster parents for nearly seven years, took on two children and a baby in an emergency placement.

Eight weeks later, social workers came and took the children away — despite the fact that they were thriving — on the grounds that because the couple belonged to the UK Independence Party this was not ‘the right cultural match’.

Astonishingly, the official in charge is still unrepentant. Joyce Thacker, the council’s director of children and young people’s services, has said that the children, who were from ‘EU migrant backgrounds’, had been removed to protect their ‘cultural and ethnic needs’ from UKIP’s ‘strong views’ and apparent ‘opposition to multiculturalism’.

This is as ludicrous and illogical as it is sinister.

This apparently splendid couple have been treated as criminals merely because social workers disapproved of their political views — which happen to be shared, incidentally, by millions of fellow citizens. This is the kind of behaviour we associate with a totalitarian state.

The clear implication is that they were racists. But there is nothing racist about opposing multiculturalism. Indeed, many immigrants themselves oppose it. To damn this couple in this way is an appalling smear.

In any event, this was merely a short-term emergency foster placement. These children clearly needed as a matter of urgency a safe and loving environment — which by all accounts this couple gave them.

Ms Thacker said: ‘I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children.’ Is this woman for real? Clearly, she is actually doing them harm by putting ideological dogma above the children’s own needs.

The whole thing sounds beyond parody. But, alas, this goes far wider and deeper than this one incident.

In the early Nineties, I unearthed what, it is no exaggeration to say, was a climate of totalitarianism in social-work training.

Anti-racist zealots had captured the social workers’ training body, and built into the social-work diploma the explicit assumption that society was fundamentally racist and oppressive.

What followed was an utterly chilling degree of intimidation and thought control. Blameless social work students were forced in tears to ‘confess’ to their own racism; some failed to qualify unless they identified racist attitudes even where none existed.

These and other politically correct dogma, and the requirement to enforce them, remain stamped into social-work culture like the name of Blackpool in a stick of rock.

As a result, the needs of vulnerable children and other social-work clients have been junked in favour of the overriding requirement to impose an ideological view of the world in which minorities can do no wrong while the majority can do no right.

Over the years, this has given rise to one horror story after another. Twelve years ago, an eight-year-old Ivorian child, Victoria Climbié, was tortured and murdered by her guardians under the noses of social workers who believed such behaviour had to be respected as part of African culture.

In the early Nineties, Islington council was revealed to have ignored the systematic sexual abuse and prostitution of children in its care because it was terrified of being called racist or homophobic if it disciplined black or gay staff perpetrating such crimes.

In Rotherham itself, the sickening sexual enslavement of under-age white girls by organised prostitution and pimping rings was largely ignored for more than two decades, in part because the abusers came overwhelmingly from Pakistani Muslim backgrounds.

And for years, would-be adoptive parents have been turned down by social workers because they are deemed to be too white, too middle class or in some other way fall foul of the politically correct inquisition.

All this goes far wider and deeper even than the failings of public sector professionals.

The grip of the Left on our culture has meant not just that many perfectly reasonable things are now deemed to be unsayable in civilised society.

Worse still, since political correctness stands truth and lies on their heads, people are vilified as extremists or bigots simply for telling the truth, connecting to reality or standing up for right over wrong.

Let us be clear: the claim that it is racist to oppose multiculturalism is the opposite of the truth. This is because multiculturalism does not, as is so often mistakenly believed, mean being tolerant of other cultures. It is a creed which holds instead that no one culture can trump any other.

That means you can’t uphold human rights, equality for women or freedom of religious belief over cultures that don’t uphold these values.

So multiculturalism inescapably involves abandoning certain ethnic minorities to violence, inequality and persecution. And that is truly racist.


Why is Welsh racism allowed?

Some racisms are more equal than others, it appears

By Roger Lewis

Half a century ago, I was born in Caerphilly Miners' Hospital and raised across the sludge of the Rhymney River in Bedwas, Monmouthshire, where my family owned the village butcher's shop, which had been in operation since 1868 but has since closed.

I was a Mixed Infant at primary school locally, and the Eleven Plus having been abolished, I was then a pupil at the comprehensive in Bassaleg, near Newport.

I am therefore Welsh - and very proudly Welsh. But I've never spoken the Welsh language, except for the odd untrans- latable word like 'cwtch', which means 'cuddle', 'cosy', 'safe' or 'hidden', and 'mochyn', which though it means 'pig' is nevertheless always affectionately meant, when you are called it, like 'rascal' or scallywag'. I also know that 'Popty-Ping' is the word for microwave.

In South Wales, where I am from, there was never any tradition of Welsh speaking. And at the turn of the last century, though my great-grandparents spoke Welsh to each other, they deliberately didn't impart the Welsh to their 11 children, because they wanted them to be able to get on in life.

Rightly or wrongly, English was seen as the language of the future, Welsh as the sign of regional backwardness.

In some respects, I rather fancy knowing more Welsh. It would appeal to my hankering after lost things, like steam trains or gas chandeliers.

But that surely doesn't mean the Welsh language should be imposed on people living in Wales today.

For Welsh has become a political and divisive weapon in the principality - and the stories one hears are like those tales of oppression that used to seep out from behind the Iron Curtain.

Now, we learn that at one school in  Ceredigion - which used to be quite happily  Cardiganshire when I was a lad - the children are not allowed to use  the toilet unless they ask the teacher in Welsh.

Furthermore, one mother is said to have been urged not to read her child English bedtime books, and at another school, a child was admonished for speaking English in the playground.

Some children are, it seems, too frightened to speak English, even at home. This sort of thing would have done the Warsaw Pact proud. It is despicable.

But what can be done about a place that now states, on job applications, 'Welsh speaker preferred'? Unless you are willing to go to classes and learn Welsh, what such xenophobia means in practice is that third-rate local people get the posts - as doctors, teachers, psychologists, architects, and so forth. The Welsh language becomes a trade union ticket for employment.

One architect told me that he can't get his plans through unless he submits them in Welsh.

Yet those youngsters being educated exclusively in Welsh are also going to be a bit stuck. Where else can they go but Wales? Patagonia? They are ill-equipped for anywhere else the other side of the Severn Bridge.  Even Bristol will be abroad. How can you teach French in Welsh to children who think in English? It creates a maze of confusion.

I have been told that English-sounding announcers on Radio Wales have been purged; that the Welsh Arts Council turned their back on the great artist Sir Kyffin Williams because he had a posh accent and a moustache; and that Sir Anthony Hopkins and comedian Rob Brydon would never land an acting role on BBC Wales in 2012 because they don't speak the old lingo.

There's an outfit in Cardiff - a writers' society - now calling itself The Welsh Academy, which though I'd never heard of it, tried to elect me: I resigned immediately because they spelt it 'academi', which got my goat for some reason.

The fact is that the Welshifying of Wales is a mad nonsense. It has nothing to do with history. So, how has it all happened?

I asked a former colleague of mine at Oxford, whose speciality was changing speech habits in the United Kingdom from 1800 to 1914.

He explained that an analysis of the late 19th-century census data revealed that Welsh-speaking was in steep decline and that, left to its own devices, the language would have 'died of inanition because Welsh people themselves were casting it off as a mark of backwardness'.  This was the view of my great-grandparents in Bedwas. 'English was embraced for reasons of social and economic advancement.'

This is what those teachers in  Ceredigion - and those who support them - can't accept: what my friend at Oxford called 'the evident cultural superiority of English', i.e. that  English has, for example, a richer  literature, going right across  the world, from Irish writers such  as Shaw or Wilde to everyone  in America.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as of yet there isn't a Welsh Shakespeare.

However, Welsh has survived - initially because of a political deal done in Whitehall when the Liberal Government in 1907 created a  Welsh Department of the Board of Education, which 'captured state resources' i.e. taxpayers' loot, and allowed Welsh to be taught in the schools and artificially revived.

Allowed to be taught - not made obligatory, please note. Out of the 1,000 pupils at my school in Bassaleg in the Seventies, Welsh O-level was taken by two in seven years.

One failed and the other got a grade C in the re-sit. But the chief problem has been the perversion of the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which stated that Welsh and English should be 'treated on the basis of equality', that there should be an 'equality of treatment', 'equal validity', and so forth, in matters dealing with public administration.

Equality, however, has not been in evidence. The first thing that happened was a pressure group called the Welsh Language Society - a mob that could teach the Taliban a thing or two - went round vandalising the English road signs.

Tenby was always Tenby, for example, until a few years ago when it suddenly became  Dynbych-y-Pysgod - a bit of nonsense about 'bay of the little fishes'. Millions were spent printing official communications in two  languages.

One thing led to another and now children are wetting themselves because they are not allowed to go to the loo.

It doesn't end there. Because a taxi in Bangor didn't have the Welsh spelling 'tacsi' on it, a man preferred to walk home.

Even though it is true that there is no letter 'x' in Welsh, this is 'twp' (daft). No doubt the Welsh Language Society chieftains, not renowned for a sense of humour, would rather drop dead than get into an ambulance instead of an 'ambiwlans', and refuse pudding if it's not 'pwddin'.

I'm sorry, but proud Welshman that I am, I find all the anti-English stance of the ethnic cultists vicious and stupid in equal measure - particularly as it is English taxes that keep the Welsh language going.



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

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

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


26 November, 2012

The Crews missile

A British father, retired nuclear submarine captain Nick Crews, has recently got a lot of publicity by sending his three children a critical email, somehow made public.  You can read it here.

Two of his children have become what American sociologists call "skidders", people who have dropped down into a lower social class ("station in life", to use the British euphemism) than their parents -- and the third is unhappily living in France, married to a French dentist.

The father is greatly disappointed by all that and finally let his feelings be known in the email.  He gave his children the very considerable advantage (in Britain) of a private school education and feels that they have squandered their opportunities in life.

Responses to his email have been very mixed, with people both approving and disapproving of it.  But what I want to point out is that there is an extent to which the email is not personal.  It is an intergenerational email and marks a large transition in British values over recent decades.  The views of Capt. Crews RN are probably still the dominant values in Britain but not by a big margin.  Younger Brits are notably more libertine and morally unanchored.  The old British values of duty, hard work, patience  and self-restraint are fading.

I suppose I stand somewhere in the middle on all that.  I have been married four times so am no exemplar of the old values.  Yet I put in a lot of effort in my earlier years that has seen me comfortably situated economically and also given me cordial personal relationships generally.  And that includes relationships with my son and three stepchildren.  And my stepson, with whom I get on exceptionally well, is actually a bankrupt!

So were the children of Capt. Crews RN my children I would certainly be disappointed that they were living unflourishing lives but would not be at all critical of their financial or social situations.  I would offer what advice I could but would draw the line -- as he has -- at becoming a listening ear for a torrent of whining.  "Making something of oneself" does not really figure in my scale of values.  There are many paths to a happy life.

More than 150,000 parasites forced off the British welfare teat

More than 150,000 jobless people have been stripped of benefits after refusing to accept help to get back into work.

One in ten long-term unemployed on the Government’s flagship back-to-work programme opted to go without benefit rather than accept help to get them a job.

And thousands more voluntarily stop claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as soon as they are referred to the Work Programme.

Reports last night claimed that results to be published this week would reveal that fewer than one in 20 on the scheme had so far found a permanent job.

Welfare critics will hail this as proof that many benefit claimants are ‘dole cheats’ who are secretly working on the side.

But there are also suspicions the figures may have been released to distract from the Work Programme’s wider performance.

The Work Programme, launched in June 2011 with a £5 billion budget, pays private firms and voluntary bodies to retrain the long-term unemployed for the jobs market.

Those who refuse to participate can have their unemployment benefit docked for three months in the first instance and six months for a second refusal.  Anyone who refuses three times in the same 12 months can lose benefits for up to three years.

Last night, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that up to April this year, 73,260 of these sanctions had been handed out – accounting for roughly one in ten potential participants. By September, the figure was on course to rise beyond 150,000.  The Mail on Sunday understands that sanctions are now running at about 15,000 a month.

Last night, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: ‘Sadly, some people are clearly very determined to avoid getting a job at all.

'But we are very clear – sitting at home on benefits is not an option for those who are fit and capable of work.

'Through the Work Programme, we are offering the hardest-to-help claimants extensive support in order for them to take control of their lives and return to work.  ‘They need to do their bit to find a job but we’ll be there to help them.’

But in an interview yesterday, Mr Hoban admitted that returning people to work was ‘proving difficult’ and called on the firms running the programme to ‘get their act together’.

Earlier this month, Labour welfare spokesman Liam Byrne claimed that referrals to the scheme were plunging as Jobcentre staff lost faith in it.  He said: ‘The Government’s back-to-work schemes are descending into a chaotic mess.’


'I need more staff but they'd rather live off benefits': Bakery boss blasts claimants - and the system that rewards idleness

When orders for their award-winning pies took off, a family bakery business urgently tried to recruit more staff.

They offered decent pay rates and a permanent job. The only skills boss Roger Topping asked for were ‘common sense and a work ethic’.

But what followed has left Mr Topping ‘frustrated, bewildered and shocked’ and more convinced than ever that reforms to the benefits system can’t come soon enough.

For it soon became clear that the recruits who turned up at the Topping Pie Company in Doncaster weren’t interested in a job.

Ministers plan to bring in a Universal Credit payment to simplify the benefits system to ensure those who take a job don’t lose out financially.

Last night Mr Topping criticised the way the current system rewards the workshy. ‘They don’t want to work and more to the point they don’t have to work,’ he said.  One young man lasted just two minutes into his first shift before he walked out.

The company gave another 22-year-old, who had been to prison, the chance to turn his life around. But after two weeks doing a packing job, he stopped coming in and decided ‘he couldn’t cope with working’.

Another applicant was a middle-aged man who put on his CV that he had just served a long prison term for aggravated burglary, was a member of the BNP and suffered from a bad back.

‘I assume he put all that down to make sure he didn’t get a job,’ said Mr Topping, 64. The pie company has seen its order book almost double in value since the spring.  Their freshly-made pies are sold in supermarkets across the country, as well as Selfridges, Fenwicks and numerous upmarket delis and farm shops.

Yet despite a recruitment drive, their 34-strong permanent workforce is slightly down on what is was six months ago.

The only way the company has been able to fulfil its orders is by overworked staff doing even more hours than before.

Management want to hire ten workers in the bakery and packing departments, but it is proving an almost impossible task.  The unemployed of Doncaster – of which there are officially 18,100 – don’t seem up for the job.

Mr Topping, whose father started the company as a butcher’s in 1960, said: ‘I don’t think this is a local problem, it’s a national problem. We all know the system is wrong.

‘It would appear to be too easy not to have to go to work to earn a living and to pay the bills. How are they paying their bills?

‘From an employer’s situation it’s extremely frustrating. The work ethic is sadly lacking.’ Mr Topping said he used local agencies to hire staff, who are given a pay rise and taken on permanently if all goes well after a short trial period.

‘I don’t care what background they come from I just want good, honest hard-workers,’ he said.

‘We are a family business and our staff are not just numbers, they are people. If the company is successful, they keep a job and we all prosper.’

However, Wendy McMahon, the supervisor who sifted through dozens of CVs, said usually the raw recruits complain after a few days about having to do proper work hours. ‘They always seem keen and committed to the job and then we start getting excuses. All they need is to be willing to learn and do a hard day’s work.

‘We tell them they have a future here and can move up the ladder, they just don’t seem interested.’

It’s not the first time the business has faced recruitment problems. Mr Topping took on six Poles several years ago because vacancies were left empty and has been delighted with their work ethic. ‘The problem seems to be with the long-term unemployed,’ he said.


Investigation launched into why couple's foster children were taken from them 'after they joined Ukip'

A council that broke up a foster family because the parents were members of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) was strongly criticised by the Education Secretary today for its 'indefensible' decision.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said social workers at the council had made 'the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons' and that he would be personally investigating and exploring steps to 'deal with' the situation.

The married couple claimed they had their foster children taken away from them for joining the political party by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

By the council's own admission the youngsters were happy and there was no question mark over the foster parents' provision of care.

The council has also launched an investigation into why the three youngsters were removed.

Mr Gove, who heads the Government department responsible for children's services and who was himself adopted as a child, accused Rotherham of sending out a 'dreadful signal'.

'Rotherham council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons,' he said.  'Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible.

'The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster, and many more to adopt.

'Any council which decides that supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need.  'I will be investigating just how this decision came to be made and what steps we need to take to deal with this situation.'

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, today said 'We are going to investigate to make sure everything has been done professionally. If the professionals give advice, we take it.

'We are going to investigate - we always would if somebody complains. We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made. There is no policy, as has been implied, that if you are a British National Party member you can't foster children.'

Social workers told the couple, who were caring for three children from ethnic minorities, that the party had ‘racist’ policies and that their membership of it made them unsuitable carers.

The foster parents, who have been caring for children for nearly seven years and had been described as ‘exemplary’, said they were left feeling ‘stigmatised and slandered’.

The case has provoked outrage from across the political spectrum with Labour leader Ed Miliband saying: 'Being a member of Ukip should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children. 'We need an urgent investigation by Rotherham Council into the circumstances of this case.

'I don't know all the facts of this case but I am clear, what matters is children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like Ukip should not be a bar to fostering children.  'We need to find out the facts and the council urgently needs to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

'The couple concerned are making extremely serious claims, very disturbing claims.

'Right-thinking people across the country will think there are thousands of children who need to be looked after, who need fostering, we shouldn't have the situation where membership of a party like Ukip excludes you from doing that.

'We need loving homes for children across the country. That can come in different forms, it's not about what political party you are a member of.'

The couple are worried they will be stopped from fostering again because of their membership of the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU.

Around a dozen children have been cared for by the couple, who do not want to be named.

The three latest children, a baby girl, boy and an older girl from a troubled family, came to them in September on an emergency placement. But just eight weeks later, two staff from the Labour-run Rotherham council – the nearest to their village home in South Yorkshire – arrived and announced the local safeguarding children team had been told they were Ukip members in an anonymous tip.

The wife told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, “What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?”

‘Then one of them said, “Well, Ukip have got racist policies”. The implication was that we were racist.

'[The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries.

‘I’m sat there and I’m thinking, “What the hell is going off here?” because I wouldn’t have joined Ukip if they thought that. I’ve got mixed race in my family.’

She claimed the social worker said: ‘We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of Ukip because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.’

The children were all removed by the end of the week, leaving the couple ‘bereft’. The wife said that the children had been loved like they were the couple's own.  The wife said: ‘We felt like we were criminals. From having a little baby in my arms, suddenly there was an empty cot.’



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

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

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


25 November, 2012

British social workers hang on to their control: Seven out of eight couples who try to adopt children are rejected

Only one in eight of the couples and individuals who try to adopt children are approved by social workers, official figures revealed yesterday.

The shocking statistics mean that more than 22,000 would-be adoptive parents vanish from the system every year.

The figures were made public for the first time by the schools and children inspectorate Ofsted. They were released just three weeks after the government-sponsored National Adoption Week called for thousands more people to come forward to adopt.

The Ofsted count showed that in the year which ended in March, 25,380 couples and individuals made inquiries about adopting a child.  Of these, only 4,145 (16 per cent) went on to make applications to adopt a child. Even fewer - 3,048 - were actually approved as prospective parents by council or agency social workers.

The drop-out rate has been revealed at a time when ministers have promised to sweep away the barriers to adoption put up by social workers over the past three decades.

Parents have been regularly turned down because social workers insist on precise racial matches, and white parents are routinely rejected as adopters of black or Asian children. Potential parents are also turned down because they smoke, or are too old, or social workers say their health is not good enough.

The Ofsted breakdown, based on returns from councils and  voluntary adoption agencies, gave the same figure as Whitehall for the number of children adopted from the care system last year – 3,450.

About 65,000 children live in state care, either in children’s homes or with frequently changing foster families.  Children who grow up in care are likely to grow up with poor education and have a high chance of falling into drug abuse, crime or early pregnancy.

Despite regular warnings that adoption placements often break up, the Ofsted figures showed that there were only 115 ‘unplanned endings’ of adoption placements during the year.

The disappearance of the great majority of people who hoped to adopt a child provoked demands for explanations yesterday.  Adoption researcher Patricia Morgan said: ‘How are you going to recruit people to adopt children if nobody knows why people are dropping out?

‘We are not being told whether people are being turned down or put off. We do not know what criteria are used to approve or reject people.  We do not know to what extent the decisions are made on grounds of race, age, health or people’s opinions. We need to know.’

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We are making the adoption system as welcoming and helpful as possible so that those who want to adopt are supported and encouraged.

‘We are setting up a new national information service, called a gateway, for prospective adopters.  ‘With a website and helpline from early next year, it will give a consistent service across the country.  'The Government is reforming adoption to make the process swifter and place children in care with loving families.’

Ministers have promised to sweep away barriers to adoptive parents over recent months, and in particular they have said race rules will go.

The barriers to adoption have helped push down the number of children who find new families from 20,000 a year in the 1970s to few more than 3,000 now.

The Ofsted figures showed that 92 per cent of people approved to adopt were white, while 78 per cent of children in care and 85 per cent of children who are adopted are white.


Broke Britain:  Supermarket chain forced to put lamb and even cheese in anti-theft security boxes

Decades of the welfare State bear fruit

Cheese and meat joints have been locked away in security-sealed boxes by a crime-hit supermarket in a bid to thwart hungry thieves.  Crime-hit supermarket chain Iceland has resorted to using the 'lamb saver boxes', normally used to protect more expensive goods such as CDs, games and DVDs, which trigger an alarm if a shoplifter attempts to leave the store with meat products without paying.

The security tactic has been employed in hundreds of the chain's stores across the UK.  Checkout assistants at the stores have told customers the supermarket chain also plans to fix security tags to its cheese - or lock the dairy goods away from reach.

Iceland bosses said they had been forced into the 'defence mechanisms' to stop a growing number of hungry thieves pinching its stock.

But customers hit out at the precaution, while food charities interpreted the measure as 'inevitable' with many families struggling to make ends meet.

Shopper Simon Wightman said he was 'saddened' to to find the leg-of-lamb contained in security tagged boxes when he was doing a weekly shop.

The motorcycle store manager and father-of-three from Herne Bay, Kent, said: 'I just think it is sad that people feel they have to steal from Iceland to survive.  'What is the world coming to? When I saw them I couldn’t believe it.

'Someone trying to swipe something expensive from Marks & Spencer you can almost understand, but pinching meat from Iceland?  'What will they do next, an electric fence around the fish fingers?

'When I laughed at the boxes, the woman at the check out even said they were planning to security tag cheese.  'Apparently so many people steal it, they stuff it into their trousers and run out - its ridiculous.

'You can understand them wanting the boxes because even when their security guards catch someone they can’t sell the food if its been stuffed down someone’s pants.'

Iceland, which like most food stores already fixes security tags to luxury items, such as expensive spirits, said its new measures were needed to maximise 'availability.'

Spokeswoman for the chain Amy Globe, said: 'The lamb saver boxes are used in several hundred Iceland stores and are designed to enhance the availability of the product for customers.  'The boxes are designed to serve as a defence mechanism to reduce theft and thereby ensure there is maximum availability for customers.

She confirmed that the chain had been 'trialing' security boxes for bacon and cheese in some of their UK stores.  She said: 'The trial was run across some of our UK stores but didn’t prove as effective as the lamb saver boxes.  'Lamb was our most targeted item as it is one of the most costly and popular items in store.

'Therefore we have seen a dramatic reduction in theft since the boxes have been introduced.

'The security boxes weren’t as noticibly effective on lesser items such as bacon and cheese therefore we are unable to confirm they will remain a permanent fixture in stores.'

Food charities said they had seen the need for food banks in certain areas of Britain double in the last year.

The Trussell Trust, part of the UK food bank network, said they weren’t shocked to see a rise in theft from the Iceland store, claiming some families are 'desperate' for food.

Some of the charity’s individual branches have reported more than a 30 per cent increase in people using food banks since the UK was hit by recession in 2009. More than 200,000 people across Britain are now known to be signed-up to food banks to feed their families.

Trussell Trust spokeswoman Molly Hodson said: 'Parents will often go days without eating so they can feed their children but when they are faced with not being able to feed their two-year-old of course they turn to desperate measures.

'Food banks are based in towns and cities across the country but we still don’t have enough and that is the worrying thing.  'Families in the UK are struggling - the food banks are here to help and hopefully there for people so they don’t have to resort to stealing.'


British PM: Eurocrats must accept cuts to pay and perks

That will be the day ....

David Cameron is targeting European Union bureaucrats and their perks for the financial cuts that could clinch a budget deal in Brussels.

EU funding for new telecoms and energy networks could also be cut to find money for the farm subsidies that could persuade France to back a budget deal

The Prime Minister and other EU leaders are in Brussels trying to agree a European budget for the seven years from 2014.

Mr Cameron wants spending to be frozen, and has promised to defend Britain's annual budget rebate.  He is facing resistance from France, which is worried his plans could reduce spending on the Common Agricultural Policy.  [i.e. heavily subsidized French farmers]

After his first meeting with senior officials at the budget summit, David Cameron has warned there is a "long way to go" to protect Britain's rebate and limit EU spending.

The Prime Minister said the EU's current proposals for spending cuts "do not go far enough", after a meeting this morning with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jos‚ Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission.

He also made it clear to the Brussels officials that Britain would not accept any reduction to its £3 billion a year rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher to compensate for France's agricultural subsidies.

Diplomats said the key issue for the summit is reconciling Mr Cameron's insistence that the rebate remain unchanged with the French demand to preserve the CAP.  One possible compromise would effectively see money taken from both EU's administration budget and the "Connecting Europe" fund which is meant to pay for new telecoms, transport and energy networks.   The European Commission's administration budget for 2014 - 2020 is currently due to rise from Euro 56 billion to Euro 62.6 billion.

In Brussels, Britain is pushing for a smaller increase in Commission spending, suggesting that savings could be found by reducing the perks of EU staff.   Mr Cameron is understood to have strong support from Germany and the Netherlands for cutting bureaucrats' pay and allowances.

A particular target could be the "expat allowance" paid to non-Belgian staff based in Brussels. It adds 16 per cent to their tax free salaries, and is estimated to cost European taxpayers up to Euro 2 billion.

Mr Cameron believes the retirement age for European civil servants should be raised from 63 to 68 for staff under 58 years old, saving 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn) over the seven years of the proposed budget, a Government spokesman said.

The pay bill should be trimmed by 10 per cent, saving three billion euros (£2.4bn), and pensions should be capped at 60 per cent of final salary, down from 60 per cent - saving of 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn)

A Government spokesman said: ""These are not dramatic changes.   The Commission (and other institutions) are telling the Greeks, Italians and others that they should put the retirement age up to 68.   "In the UK, we have cut pensions to career-salary average.

"They (Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso) argued it was very difficult legally to change people's terms and conditions (in the EU civil service) - but we have managed it in the UK."

British officials also suggested that cuts could be found in the Connecting Europe fund, which is is due to rise from Euro 8 billion to Euro 36 billion.   British officials suggested that at least Euro 20 billion of that planned increase could be cut.

Cutting the fund could cause a backlash from Baltic states and Finland. It could also prompt accusations that the EU is choosing to spend money cosseting uncompetitive French farmers instead of investing in the infrastructure that could help the European economy compete in the 21st century.

Elio Di Rupo, the Belgian Prime Minister, used his arrival to attack Mr Cameron for his cuts calls.   "We want an ambitious European budget," he said. "It's a shame that for the British, Europe is primarily a single market. For me, for Belgium, Europe is more solidarity and prosperity for all Europeans, so I will plead with somebody such as David Cameron for more an ambitious budget."

However, after his first meeting this morning with Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso, the Prime Minister's office said the current proposals for cutting spending do not go far enough.   "The Prime Minister set out our position that while the latest proposals were a step in the right direction they did not go far enough and that we think more can be done to rein in spending," a Downing Street spokesman said. "He also set out the UK's position on the rebate that it was fully justified and we did not support any changes.

"It was clear that there was a long way to go before we had a deal that reflected the difficult decisions being taken by member states.   "As the Prime Minister said this morning, we are going to be negotiating very hard for a good deal for Britain's taxpayers and Europe's taxpayers and to keep the British rebate." 

Mr Van Rompuy is proposing a deal that would cut the overall budget, but reduce the value of Britain's annual rebate.  However, the Prime Minister has rejected this idea and said it is "quite wrong" for the European Commission to propose increased Brussels budgets at a time of national austerity.

Speaking as he arrived in Brussels this morning, the Prime Minister said: "These are very important negotiations. Clearly at a time when we are making difficult decisions at home over public spending it would be quite wrong - it is quite wrong - for there to be proposals for this increased extra spending in the EU.


Husband and wife's foster children from ethnic minorities 'taken away because couple joined Ukip'

UKIP stands for independence from the EU.  The EU is not a race

A married couple claimed yesterday they had their foster children taken away from them for being  members of Ukip.

Social workers told the couple, who were caring for three children from ethnic minorities, that the party had ‘racist’ policies and that their membership of it made them unsuitable carers, it was reported last night.

The foster parents, who have been caring for children for nearly seven years and had been described as ‘exemplary’, said they were left feeling ‘stigmatised and slandered’.

The couple are worried they will be stopped from fostering again because of their membership of the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU.

The three latest children, a baby girl, boy and an older girl from a troubled family, came to them in September on an emergency placement. But just eight weeks later, two staff from the Labour-run Rotherham council – the nearest to their village home in South Yorkshire – arrived and announced the local safeguarding children team had been told they were Ukip members in an anonymous tip.

The wife told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, “What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?”

‘Then one of them said, “Well, Ukip have got racist policies”. The implication was that we were racist.  '[The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries.

‘I’m sat there and I’m thinking, “What the hell is going off here?” because I wouldn’t have joined Ukip if they thought that. I’ve got mixed race in my family.’

She claimed the social worker said: ‘We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of Ukip because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.’

The children were all removed by the end of the week, leaving the couple ‘bereft’. The wife said: ‘We felt like we were criminals. From having a little baby in my arms, suddenly there was an empty cot.’

The couple are in their late 50s and are former Labour voters. The husband works with disabled people and was a Royal Navy reservist for more than 30 years. The wife is a qualified nursery nurse.

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the actions of the council as ‘a bloody outrage’ and ‘political prejudice of the very worst kind’.

Rotherham council was unavailable for comment last night.



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

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

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


23 November, 2012

Secret courts plan in chaos: Lords reject closed hearings by crushing majority

It must confound the Leftists but the House of Lords has long been the major bulwark against Fascist government in Britain

Plans for secret courts were left in tatters last night by the House of Lords.  Peers voted by crushing majorities for fundamental changes to the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow civil cases involving national security to be conducted in secret.

By margins of over 100 votes, peers voted to remove ministers’ exclusive right to apply for secret hearings and to give judges ultimate discretion in deciding whether or not they should be held behind closed doors.

As the legislation was introduced in the Lords, the Government’s plans came under devastating attack from several of Britain’s most senior retired judges and politicians.

The defeats suggest ministers will have to return to the drawing board and accept a series of amendments – or risk seeing the entire piece of legislation thrown out.

Critics say the Government’s proposals will seriously threaten Britain’s reputation for open and fair justice.

The Daily Mail has led criticism of the plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.

Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, or know or challenge the case against them, and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.

Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.

The legislation has been drafted in close co-operation with the security services, which have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.

But crossbencher Lord Pannick, a leading lawyer, described the measures as a ‘radical departure from the principles of common law’.  Leading a series of amendments to the plans, he said: ‘This is a departure from the principle of transparent justice. We should be very careful in that a CMP is inherently damaging to the integrity of the judicial process.

‘Judicial decisions are respected precisely because all the evidence is heard in open court subject to acceptance and judges give a reasoned judgment which explains their decision.’

Former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller said secret court hearings should be introduced so British spies can defend themselves against allegations of torture.  She said: ‘It is deeply distressing to me and to my former colleagues to be accused of inequities in cases of torture and maltreatment. We have not been able to defend ourselves.’

She claimed that presenting classified information in open court would put the lives of secret agents at risk.

But Tory peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said the new legislation failed the ‘smell test’. He warned that closed hearings could begin as a ‘rare event but will over time morph into the default position’.

Lord Macdonald, QC, the former director of public prosecutions, accused the Government of reneging on a pledge to allow judges to have the final say on whether there should be a secret court hearing.  ‘These amendments would give judges appropriate discretion to balance the interests of national security with justice,’ he said.

Historian Lord Morgan, a Labour peer, opposed the expansion of secret courts because it would mean a ‘tilting of the balance away from the free individual towards the interest of the state’.

Labour justice spokesman Lord Beecham backed a string of proposed changes to the legislation, saying the Government’s proposals constituted a ‘radical departure from the cornerstone of our legal system – the right of a party to know and to challenge his opponent’s case’.  He said: ‘These amendments place the judge firmly in control of the process with the means to balance the interests of justice and security, protecting from disclosure what is essential not to be made public.’

Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness, replying for the Government, said that at present people assumed the Government settled controversial cases because there had been ‘some wrongdoing’ whereas in fact it was often that relevant material could not be put before the court.

He said there were currently 20 civil damages cases where material ‘relating to national security would be central’.

Donald Campbell, of the human rights group Reprieve, said: ‘These amendments are a small step in the right direction, but the reality is that secret courts in any form are deeply dangerous.   'The only way to protect our centuries-old tradition of open and equal justice is for Parliament to reject plans for secret courts altogether.’


More anti-Israel lies from the BBC

A BBC war reporter made a shocking blunder by tweeting a photograph of an injured child from Syria but indicating she was from Gaza.

Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison added 'Heartbreaking' to the front of a message he retweeted from a Palestinian 'journalist and social activist' named Hazem Balousha.

Balousha had posted a picture of a young girl lying on a hospital bed with bloodied clothes, along with the words 'Pain in #Gaza'.

Donnison's tweet went out to his 7,971 followers on the social networking site and he was soon hit with a barrage of outraged responses highlighting the mistake.

The website bbcwatch.org highlighted the error and wrote: 'Up to now, it may have been possible to put down Jon Donnison’s frequently problematic reporting to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the region.

'However, his decision to promote deliberate misinformation – either knowingly or as a result of a complete failure to check facts – indicates that he is not merely naive.  'Donnison has rendered himself no longer fit for the purpose of accurate and impartial reporting from the Middle East in accordance with the BBC’s legal obligations.'

Donnison apologised for the gaffe, tweeting: 'A photo I retweeted from another journo showing children injured was not in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.'

A BBC News spokesperson said: 'Jon Donnison retweeted the photograph in good faith. He issued a correction and apologised as soon as he learned that the picture was not from Gaza.'

This is the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents for the BBC, in which the most high-profile has been the Lord McAlpine Newsnight scandal.


Another of the frequent false rape claims from Britain

At least the Brits jail the liars.  But it doesn't seem to have much effect.  British embarrassment regularly trumps the truth
A 'scorned' nanny was jailed for two years for claiming her wealthy boss had raped her after he shunned her following a one-night stand.

Divorcee Tina Greenland, 49, shared a night of passion with insurance broker Nicholas Mouna, 55, after he employed her to care for his disabled daughter.

The mother of three texted him the next day saying she 'had a lovely night' and that she hoped he did not think she was 'some kind of tart', Canterbury Crown Court heard.

When Mr Mouna gave a 'half-hearted' response making it clear he did not want a relationship, she accused him of 'using' her.  She then phoned Kent Police and claimed she had been raped after her drink had been spiked.

Mr Mouna was arrested and suspended from his job, which he later lost - despite never being charged for the crime.

When detectives examined messages exchanged between the pair, they discovered Greenland's rape claims were fabricated.

Jailing her for two years, Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl - quoting from poet William Congreve - said 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'.  He said: 'You have been found guilty on the clearest of evidence of making false allegations.  'But this is serious because people who make false allegations make it harder for real victims to be believed.'

Greenland, of Folkstone, Kent, screamed, 'Oh no, my God no', as the sentence was passed.

She maintained her innocence throughout her trial, but her account of what happened on the night in December last year was rejected by the jury.

The child carer, who had been employed by Mr Mouna through an agency, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Jurors were told how Greenland pursued Mr Mouna - who has three children with his ex-wife - and sent him text messages asking him to go for a drink.

John Traversi, prosecuting, said: 'In 2011, Greenland began caring for the girl and after a while she began asking Mr Mouna if he would like to go to a country club for a drink and she began sending him texts.  'These texts intrigued him and flattered him and they agreed to go out in December.'

In December, the divorcee arrived at his home carrying a bottle of vodka after being 'dropped off' by her daughter and the pair shared a kiss.

Mr Traversi said: 'They had some drinks and they sat on the sofa and put her arms around him and kissed again and had some more drinks.'

He added that during the evening Greenland felt dizzy and she became 'hot and sweaty'.  Greenland went upstairs and was sick, but returned later to watch TV until 'he felt tired'.

The prosecutor added: 'Both of them went upstairs and Greenland said: "Which room?". He said: "The big one... if you want."  'The two then got into bed where they had sexual intercourse and engaged in other sexual activity during the course of the night.'

The court heard the following morning they woke up at 11am and had breakfast together before leaving.

Mr Traversi said: 'On the way home she asked if they would be seeing each other again... and he gave a half-hearted response.'

Later in the day, Greenland texted him saying: 'Hi Nick, just to say had a lovely night. Sorry about the sick and I do hope that you do not think that I am some kind of tart for sleeping with you.  'I would like to see you again and really do hope you do me. But if you don’t want to I won’t mind. Of course, it would be nice...'

Mr Mouna replied that he 'quite liked my single life', adding, 'I am quite happy to meet up with you and do it again with you'.

She replied: 'No, thanks for all that. I have just been used. Thanks a lot.'

Hours later, Greenland took an overdose of tablets and vodka and was rushed to hospital.

She had texted Mr Traversi saying: 'Well I hope you sort your life out because at the moment I feel like ending mine. I have got vodka and pills I just hope I don’t wake up.'

Paul Hogben, defending, said Greenland 'couldn’t cope with rejection.'

Mr Hogben said after the verdict that the text that Greenland received 'would have hurt anyone' and was read as 'I don’t want to see you anymore'.

He said: 'She reacted in the wrong way and she did make some effort to try to stop the ball from rolling but the consequences were that Mr Mouna was investigated for rape.

'She is not a bad person, but by the jury’s verdict she did a bad thing. She made a terrible mistake in circumstances when she couldn’t cope with rejection.'


Church seems 'wilfully blind' on women bishops says Cantuar

It is Cantuar who is wilfully blind to the teachings of the Bible

The Church of England has "a lot of explaining to do" to the church and to wider society after its rejection of legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops, the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a strongly worded speech to the General Synod on Wednesday, Rowan Williams warned that the failure of the vote in the house of laity on Tuesday had made the church's governing body appear "wilfully blind" to the priorities of secular society.

"We have – to put it very bluntly – a lot of explaining to do," he said. "Whatever the motivations for voting ... the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society."

Archbishop Williams, who will be succeeded as head of the church by Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, next year, said the church had "undoubtedly" lost credibility due to the move. That was why the issue of female bishops could not simply be "parked" but had to be worked on further with urgency.

"We have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society," he said.

"After all the effort that's gone into this process over the last few years, after the intense frustration that has been experienced in recent years ... it would be tempting to conclude that it's too difficult, that perhaps the issue should be parked for a while. I do not believe that is possible because of ... the sense of credibility in the wider society.

"Every day that we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction ... is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish."

The church, he added, had to take that seriously, "however uncomfortable that message may be". "We can't afford to hang about. We can't ... indefinitely go on living simply theologically with the anomaly of women priests who cannot be considered bishops," he said.

The church is reeling from Tuesday's vote, in which legislation that had been worked on for 12 years in synod was rejected by six votes in the house of laity. In the houses of bishops and clergy, the measure that could have seen the first woman consecrated to the episcopate in 2014 was passed with comfortable majorities.

Archbishop Williams said the nature of the vote meant that the church needed to explain why it insisted on such high margins – two-thirds approval – for important measures to pass.

Warning of the risks, he noted, "[Synod process] is not simply to be seen as a holding to hostage by certain groups."

Condemning the "unrealism" of those who had voted the legislation down out of the hope they could find a better solution, Archbishop Williams said: "The idea that there is a readily available formula just around the corner is in my view an illusion. There is no short cut here; there is no simple God-given, dare I say, solution to a problem which brings people's deepest convictions into conflict in the way in which they have come into conflict in the synod and previously."



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

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

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


22 November, 2012

Church of England gives women bishops the thumbs down - again

The Church of England has again voted down the introduction of women bishops, after a long and divisive debate including over 100 speeches.  The measure had majority support but did not win the two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod that was needed for it to pass. It was lost in the House of Laity by just six votes.

The result will embitter and embarrass supporters of modernisation, with many tweeting that they were “ashamed” of the church's decision.

Among existing bishops, 44 voted for women to join their ranks, three voted against and two abstained. Among priests, 148 were in favour and 45 against. Of the laity, 132 were in favour and 74 were against. Forty-two of the church's 42 dioceses have previously backed women as bishops.

The church will not vote on the issue again for at least five years. But there has been speculation that women priests might turn to civil law for redress, asking that the church be stripped of its exemption to obey equal-employment laws.

Before the vote, Sally Muggeridge of Canterbury asked who would go to see the Queen, a woman, and “tell her that we've failed her?”

Canon Jane Charman of Salisbury described the debate as “one of the most inward looking… I can remember”, saying a spin doctor did not exist who could make excluding women sound like good news to the outside world: “Synod, we need to pass this legislation.”

But speakers opposing the measure cited scripture as the basis for their refusal of “female headship”.  [Citing scripture!  How crass!  What's scripture got to do with it?  1 Timothy 2:11–12 or 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 are just silly old-fashioned stuff not nearly wise as today's politicians, apparently -- JR]

The synod was voting on a compromise measure that would have allowed women bishops but left wriggle room for conservative evangelicals, with women bishops able to “delegate” authority to a male bishop if their parish requested it. The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the compromise was “as good as we can get”.

But Edward Armitstead of Bath said the measure was unsatisfactory and that opponents of female bishops had not really been listened to: “The measure as it stands is discriminatory and does not offer reassurance to the almost a third of members who cannot accept female headship.”

Bishop Peter Forster of Chester said he was uncomfortable with the ordination of women as bishops even though he gladly ordained female priests. The proposed change would allow parishes to choose their own bishops and would mean bishops “will not be in Eucharistic communion with one another”.

Women spoke against the measure too. Rosemary Lyon said she was not a misogynist but “we need to stick with scripture.”  “Please vote against this. There is a better way,” she said.

Canon Rebecca Swyer of Chichester said she felt the church did not have the authority to make this decision.

Rod Thomas of Exeter said the compromise would still mean recognising the authority of female bishops, something he believed was not accepted in scripture.

But Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams asked how long the church could sustain a system in which some priests are blocked from being bishops. He said he wanted the church to “liberate itself” from the issue so that no more time and energy would be spent on it.


Anger as British sex abuse report 'turns blind eye to Pakistani gangs' despite admitting that they account for a QUARTER of all cases

A report into gang sex abuse came under fire yesterday for concluding there was no particular problem among Asian groups.

The study by deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz came to the controversial conclusion, despite figures in her own report revealing that more than a quarter of perpetrators of gang-based child abuse known to the authorities are Asian.

But she said this was not enough to conclude that there was a particular issue with Asian gangs.  Instead, her report says simply that abuse is carried out by men of all backgrounds.

Miss Berelowitz said the ‘model’ of Asian men targeting white girls was just one of ‘a number of models’, and warned that if investigators concentrated on those patterns, victims could fall through the net.

Last night a Government source said it was ‘difficult to overstate the contempt’ with which ministers viewed the report’s conclusions.  And the NSPCC said the report exposed the danger of ‘turning a blind eye’ to the ethnicity of abusers.

In May, nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 in Rochdale with drink and drugs were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Gerald Clifton told them one of the reasons they targeted their victims was because they were not part of their community or religion.

Last year Abid Saddique was jailed for his role as ringleader of a Derby gang that cruised streets for girls as young as 12 who were plied with vodka and cocaine before being raped or abused.

Saddique, who is of Pakistani origin, took the vulnerable young girls to ‘parties’ in hotels or flats with other gang members.

Two months ago, documents emerged which allegedly showed agencies in Rotherham were aware of allegations of widespread targeted abuse of teenage girls in the town by groups of Asian men – but did nothing for fear of looking racist.

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: ‘If there is a problem with one community in a particular area we must be bold enough to address it and not just turn a blind eye.’

A Government source said: ‘It is difficult to overstate the contempt the Government has for the methodology and analysis in this report. The whole thing is half-baked.’

Figures in the report state that out of 1,514 perpetrators identified, some 415 were Asian.  This is 27 per cent of the total, far in excess of the proportion of Asian people in the community at large, which is 6 per cent.  Some 545 are described as white, 244 as black, 49 as mixed, while the rest were undisclosed.

But Miss Berelowitz’s report said: ‘Different models of exploitation have been identified. The evidence is clear that perpetrators come from all ethnic groups and so do their victims – contrary to what some may wish to believe.’

The report suggested the proportion of Asian perpetrators in the figures may be higher than whites because the authorities were targeting non-whites. It even concluded that the data on ethnicity was ‘unreliable’ because victims sometimes changed their description of their abuser.

A Whitehall source said last week: ‘It’s important we don’t take a politically correct approach and pretend there is not a real problem here.  'Obviously abuse has been carried out by men from all sorts of ethnic background. But that doesn’t mean we cannot say there is an issue about groups of Pakistani men systematically targeting young white girls.’

Tory MP Margot James said: ‘On the face of it, this is an issue for all ethnicities, but there is a specific problem in certain Asian communities – specifically the Pakistani community – in too many cities to ignore the phenomenon.  ‘Unless we recognise the problem, we won’t be able to devise a strategy for tackling it.

'It is very disappointing that this report has shied away from it, given the fact that some leadership is coming from within the Asian community. They need support.’


Homosexual marriage is losing Tories votes: Poll contradicts claims of British PM

Voters are turning away from the Tories because of David Cameron’s support for gay marriage, according to a poll.  The finding casts doubt on the Prime Minister and George Osborne’s claims that backing same-sex weddings will boost Conservative chances of securing a majority at the next election.

A ComRes survey published today found that 62 per cent of voters and 68 per cent of Tories believe marriage should continue to be defined as a ‘life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’.

In a further blow for the PM, 65 per cent agree that his plans to legalise gay marriage are ‘more to do with trying to make the Conservative Party look trendy and modern’ than a matter of conviction.

One in four voters says gay marriage could sway their vote at the next election. But while 7 per cent say they are more likely to vote Tory, 18 per cent – more than twice as many – say they are less likely.

More significantly, the effect is dramatically magnified among those who voted Conservative in 2010 but say they may not do so at the next election.

Only 4 per cent of this group say they are more likely to vote Tory over gay marriage, while 36 per cent say they are less likely.

That eightfold margin has increased as public discussion of the issue has intensified in recent months. In April the margin was just three to one.

The poll comes after the Chancellor wrote a newspaper article earlier this month arguing that the Conservative Party would be wrong to drop its support for gay marriage.

Only 23 per cent of all voters agree with the Tory leadership that gay marriage will help them win the next election, while 40 per cent disagree. Of those who have turned away from the Tories since 2010, 17 per cent agree and 56 disagree.

The poll of more than 2,000 voters conducted over the past week also found that 63 per cent believe many of those opposed to gay marriage are reluctant to say so ‘for fear of being called a bigot’.  By a margin of 45 to 38 per cent, voters do not think opponents of gay marriage are bigots who should be ignored.

In another result that piles pressure on Mr Cameron, 71 per cent say ‘marriage is important to society and should be promoted by the state’.

That will embolden Cabinet ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith who are telling Mr Cameron he must honour his long-standing pledge to recognise marriage in the tax system at the next Budget, rather than waiting until 2015 as the Chancellor would prefer.

Another huge majority – 69 per cent – believes children should be raised by a father and a mother in a committed permanent relationship.

There is some solace for gay rights campaigners. Two thirds of voters back civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

And by a margin of 44 to 38, voters say legalising gay marriage is important because maintaining the distinction between civil partnerships and marriage ‘worsens public attitudes towards gay people’.

Gay marriage is not part of the Government’s current legislative programme but all three party leaders have said they will support its introduction before the next election.

Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage pressure group, said: ‘This poll is the latest blow to a profoundly undemocratic plan that day by day is falling apart before our eyes.  ‘[Mr Osborne] should concentrate on fixing Britain’s broken economy instead of trying to rip up the centuries-old definition of marriage in a desperate bid to appear progressive and trendy.’


Muslim-critic wins control of France's conservative opposition

A right-winger described as ‘Sarkozy Light’ was last night elected leader of France’s conservative opposition.

Jean-Francois Cope’s victory sets him up to be President of France in 2017, when he is likely to go head-to-head with Francois Hollande, the current Socialist head of state.

Cope, 48, beat his far more moderate opponent Francois Fillon by 50.03 per cent in a bitter election involving 300,000 members of the UMP party.

Its former President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was defeated by Hollande in May and on Thursday is set to appear before a judge in Bordeaux to answer corruption allegations.

Sarkozy became notorious for pursuing the votes of far right National Front supporters at the end of his five year term – a move which Cope is set to continue.

In his Manifesto for an Uninhibited Right, published last month, Cope argued that France's immigrant suburbs were brimming with ‘anti-white racism’.

He then shocked moderates by complaining about a boy who had his chocolate pastry snatched from him by Muslim ‘thugs’ during Ramadan.  ‘I am the tenant of a right which does not have hang-ups, which tells the truth and is comfortable with itself,’ said Cope.

He also played a prominent role in the UMP’s campaign to ban the full-face Islamic veil and hold a controversial debate on national identity.

The election came as Mr Hollande languishes in the polls as he struggles to rein in a huge budget deficit and cut record unemployment.  Only 36 per cent of French people expressed confidence in him in November, according to one poll.

During the two elections, Cope supporters in the Alpes Maritimes department claimed ‘irregularities’ - an allegation dismissed as ‘insulting’ by supporters of Mr Fillon who, in turn, claimed fraud in other constituencies.

The electoral farce has now ended with a slight victory for the right wing of the party, who were just 98 votes ahead.

Mr Sarkozy could soon be placed under investigation as part of a probe into illegal party funding from France’s richest woman, the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Mr Fillon was Mr Sarkozy's prime minister for his entire five-year term, and is a bitter enemy of Cope’s.



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

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

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


21 November, 2012

France: Protests continue against homosexual marriage bill

Tens of thousands of people have protested in France against plans to legalise same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.

Police said at least 70,000 took to the streets in Paris; there were other demonstrations in the cities of Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille. They included Catholic groups and other backers of traditional family rights.

President Francois Hollande has promised to change French law so that gay and lesbian couples can marry.

Despite opposition from more than 1,000 mayors and the Catholic Church, his socialist government approved a bill on the issue earlier this month which will be debated by parliament in January.

France already allows civil unions between same-sex couples, but extending their rights was a campaign pledge of Mr Hollande before he was elected in May.

"A child needs a father and a mother, he needs the paternal and the maternal side and with this bill that might not be possible any more," said one protestor, Marthe Vignault.  "That's the way it is and we can't go against nature."

Saturday also saw counter-rallies in support of same-sex marriage.

The issue is one of the most divisive Mr Hollande has faced, correspondents say. The head of the French Council of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, recently described gay marriage as "the ultimate deceit".

At present only married couples - not civil union partners - can adopt in France.

A number of European nations, including Sweden and the UK, already allow gay adoption.


British PM  promises to end 'bureaucratic nonsense' over equality

David Cameron has promised to end the "reams of bureaucratic nonsense" forcing civil servants to check every decision to see whether it is fair to women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

In a speech to the CBI, the Prime Minister declared war on pointless checks, consultations and reviews that hold up Government decision-making.  He said "equality assessments" will be scrapped and policies will no longer automatically be put out to consultation for three months - a process which allows people to raise concerns about Government decisions. Ministers will now get to decide how long a consultation is needed and whether it is required at all.

Mr Cameron also swept away the right to mount multiple legal challenges over planning, raising fears that local communities will be unable to fight unwanted developments in their areas.

Applicants will be charged more to launch a judicial review of Government decisions and the number of appeals will be cut from two to four in an effort to stop "time-wasters" holding up major projects.

Speaking to business leaders, Mr Cameron said Britain must fight the battle to get the economy growing like a war.  He promised the Government will be much faster at making decisions, allowing new railways, roads and energy infrastructure to be built quickly.

"You know the story," he said. "The minister stands on a platform like this and announces a plan, then that plan goes through a three month consultation period, there are impact assessments along the way and probably some judicial reviews to clog things up further.   "By the time the machinery of government has finally wheezed into action, the moment's probably passed.   Government has been like someone endlessly writing a `pros and cons' list as an excuse not to do anything at all."

Mr Cameron also attacked "risk averse" civil servants and the "bureaucratic rubbish" imposed by Whitehall on businesses.

The Prime Minister has been accused by campaign groups of designing policies that hit women harder than men. However, he promised scrapping equality assessments would not mean any discrimination.   "I care about making sure that Government policy never marginalises or discriminates," he said. "I care about making sure we treat people equally. But let's have the courage to say it - caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense.

His plans were welcomed by businesses but may spark fears it will be more difficult to hold the Government to account.  

Dan McLean, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has warned the planning changes could curb a fundamental democratic right to challenge decisions affecting their homes and lives.   He said: "Putting this option further out of reach for many people will only make it even harder for local people to take a democratic role in planning decisions where they live."

Mr Cameron will make the assault on planning laws only months after the Coalition concluded what ministers said was a far-reaching reform of the planning rules.

The introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework led to major protests from campaign groups, which warned that it would lead to unrestrained building on rural land. In the face of protests - including The Daily Telegraph's Hands Off Our Land campaign - Mr Cameron rethought the policy.

But the Prime Minister has reopened the battle amid continued concern about the economy and under intense pressure from the Treasury.

The country emerged from recession last month, but the Bank of England has warned that the economy could shrink again this year, and faces several years of dismal growth.


Finally, the BBC's pro-Palestinian propaganda machine has swung into action

By the Rev Dr Peter Mullen,  a priest of the Church of England

The BBC has been slipping up recently. No - I don't mean to refer to unpleasant recollections of Savilegate and McAlpinegate. Let us just leave them conveniently on the Corporation's CV. Instead I am wondering why it took the BBC so long to get into its full propaganda mode in its reporting of the war between Israel and Hamas. I don't say there was ever anything distantly approaching even-handedness. You never get that with an ideological pressure group as committed to its own unassailable self-righteousness as the BBC. But at least for the first few days of the war there was the pretence of objectivity.

But true colours will inevitably show themselves and, sure enough, over the weekend the Corporation began to screen its horrific and heart-breaking accounts (with pictures, of course) of the Gazan children slaughtered by the nasty Israelis. What is never explained - because propaganda aims not to explain but to seduce - is the fact that Hamas stores its rockets and high explosives in schools and hospitals, and those leaders who are not so far up the pay scale that they are allotted their personal bunkers are obliged to live in their own houses with their families. And even the most meticulously targeted airstrike cannot distinguish between a terrorist and his three-year-old son when they are sitting in the same front room.

The BBC loves to announce the casualty figures which invariably show that Palestinians have suffered many more deaths and injuries than the Israelis. This is entirely a matter of chance - but a distinction needs to be made. The Israeli forces do not target non-combatants or children. In fact they go to great pains to avoid killing innocent bystanders. By contrast, Hamas deliberately targets innocent women and children in Israel. That is the sole purpose of their rocket attacks. Let me spell it out: what terrorists do is propagate terror. It is simply a matter of good fortune, aided by the Iron Dome defence system, that more Israeli civilians have not been killed. More than 750 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six days, including long-distance projectiles made in Iran.

Now the conflict is entering a new and much more dangerous phase. The attacks from Gaza may be subdued, but other threats are rapidly emerging. To the east, Jordan is unstable, the crowds demonstrating for the sacking of the government and their own version of the Arab Spring. To the west, post-Mubarak Egypt is not the steadying influence on the region that it was for so long. But the most terrifying scenario is the prospect from the north, from the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon who are even now waiting eagerly for the ragbag rebel Syrian army to take possession of Assad's copious stores of chemical weapons. There is an extreme likelihood that these would be used against the civilian population in Israel.

I learned of this real and present danger from Sky, by the way, not from the BBC.


Church of England under immense political pressure to allow   women bishops

The Church of England will face a battle in Parliament and the prospect of legal challenges if it fails to approve women bishops on Tuesday, MPs said on Monday. Special legal privileges and even its position as the established Church could be called into question if the General Synod rejected the plan, they warned.

The Synod will vote on whether to admit women to the episcopacy at a special sitting in London. Despite strong support throughout the Church for the move, the outcome was described as on a "knife-edge" because of the need to secure two thirds support in all three of its branches: bishops, clergy and laity.

The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is pinning hopes for his legacy on the success of the vote. His successor, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, is also due to make an impassioned plea in favour during the debate.

The outcome could hang on a handful of votes among the laity, with a number thought to be still undecided.

Under the current plans, traditionalists in the Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical strands of the Church, who object to women bishops on theological grounds, would be able to opt out of the authority of a woman bishop. An alternative male bishop would be chosen "in a manner which respects" their beliefs. The option is likely to be taken up by about 900 of the Church's 13,000 parishes.

Opponents say the compromise does not offer them enough safeguards but calls were growing for them to abstain rather than vote against in order to allow the measure to go forward, ending a tortuous, 12-year process.

MPs, who must approve any Synod decision before it receives Royal Assent, warned that a failure to approve the proposal could undermine the Church of England's position as the established Church. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and a former Anglican priest, said the legislation would face a "rough ride" in Parliament if there were any further concessions to traditionalists. "If the legislation leans too far towards the traditionalist that won't please the Commons and the legislation would have trouble," he said.

"There are quite a few of us who think that the way this is leaning is entrenching forever a religious apartheid within the Church of England."   He added that a rejection would "undoubtedly undermine" support for aspects of establishment, including bishops in the Lords and the role of Parliament approving Church laws.

Frank Field, a former Labour minister who sits on the parliamentary ecclesiastical committee, said that in the event of a no vote, he would table a motion to remove the Church's special exemptions from equality laws. "It would mean that they couldn't continue to discriminate against women," he said.

Susie Leafe, of the campaign group "Proper Provision" that represents women opposed to women bishops, said a failure to include robust safeguards for traditionalists would lead to a slow haemorrhaging of evangelicals. "It won't be the death of Christianity," she said. "The Church will grow, it just won't be the Church of England."



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

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

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


20 November, 2012

US appeals court: Constitution requires race, sex discrimination

Strange logic

A federal appeals court on Thursday narrowly struck down Michigan's 6-year-old ban on considering race and gender in college admissions, a ruling that the state intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-7 that the affirmative action ban, which Michigan voters passed in a 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection laws.  [I would have thought that it ENFORCED equal protection -- JR]

The ruling is the latest step in a years-long legal battle over whether the state's colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing which students to admit. The ban's opponents say the case could help strike down anti-affirmative-action policies in other states if it goes to the Supreme Court.

"We think this is a tremendous victory for the tens and hundreds of thousands of students who fought for affirmative action for decades," said Michigan attorney George Washington, who represents the By Any Means Necessary coalition that sued to overturn the ban.  "This is a tremendous day for black and Latino students in the entire country," Washington said.

The ruling might take a while to go into effect, if ever. The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is defending the ban, says the court's rulings take effect only when it issues a mandate, usually weeks later.

But Schuette intends to inform the court that he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and will ask the appeals court to stay its ruling until the high court can review the case, Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.  Schuette plans to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court within 90 days, his office said.

"(The ban) embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law," Schuette said in a news release Thursday. "Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit."

A three-judge panel from the same court made a similar ruling on the ban last year, 2-1. Schuette then asked the full court to consider the case, leading to Thursday's ruling.

The ban was passed in a 2006 referendum, with 58% voting yes. It was added to the state's constitution, barring publicly funded colleges from granting "preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."

That prompted a series of lawsuits and appeals from various groups.

In Thursday's ruling, Judge R. Guy Cole wrote that the ban illegally gives minorities fewer ways to persuade colleges to adopt a "race-conscious admissions policy" than people have to influence colleges on other aspects of admissions.

"A black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy ... could do only one thing to effect change: She could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution -- a lengthy, expensive and arduous process -- to repeal the consequences" of the ban, Cole wrote.

On the other hand, a student could do several other things to persuade a college to alter its admissions policy to favor applicants' alumni connections, including lobbying the admissions committee or petitioning the university's leaders, Cole wrote.

"The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change," Cole wrote.

Michigan voters approved the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that while Michigan universities could use race as a factor in choosing which students to admit, they could not make race the determining factor in deciding whether applicants are accepted

The referendum effort was led by Jennifer Gratz, who was at the center of the high court case. As a white student, she was put on the waiting list for undergraduate admission to the state's largest university. She eventually attended another school, and became the lead plaintiff in a subsequent reverse discrimination lawsuit.

After the Supreme Court's 2003 decision, she began a public campaign to end racial preferences in admissions.


Boise’s proposed Thoughtcrime ordinance

Ordinance O-36-12, a proposed municipal "anti-discrimination" measure being considered by the Boise City Council, would do nothing to protect people from acts of criminal violence. Instead, it would mandate the use of state-sanctioned aggression against business owners who refuse the commercial patronage of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.

If government has no authority to criminalize private behavior between consenting adults, by what supposed authority can it punish people who withhold their consent from a commercial transaction? Proponents of the ordinance intend to bury that question beneath a blizzard of bromides about tolerance and respect.

About a year ago, City Council President Maryanne Jordan was approached by two Boise residents who claimed to have been assaulted because they were gay. They also claimed that they were afraid to report the crime out of fear that they might suffer repercussions if they went public about their lifestyle. Jordan says this prompted her to devise a measure that would ban discrimination based on "sexual orientation and gender identity or expression" in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Jordan didn’t disclose any of the details of the alleged assault during the November 13 City Council hearing on the proposed ordinance. In this sense the story told by Jordan is typical of what the Boise Weekly calls "anecdotal reports" that "suggest a recent increase in hate-based crime" against gays and lesbians. Those unconfirmed reports have allegedly grown in number since the last time the state legislature refused to add the category of "sexual orientation" to the state anti-discrimination ordinance.

This suggests one of two possibilities: Either Idaho has a sub-population of violent bigots who are oddly fastidious about following the state anti-discrimination law, or the people who are seeking to change the state law aren’t terribly fastidious about telling the truth.

Idaho was among the first states to enact a "hate crimes" law. According to the most recent official tally, hate crimes – a category that includes rude comments – are all but nonexistent in Idaho. This offers a powerful argument on behalf of the second of the possibilities listed above. That argument was augmented by the turnout at the November 13 Boise City Council meeting.

According to Boise’s NBC affiliate, "There was a line out the door, and also an overflow room for those who came for the reading [of the measure]." Literally hundreds of gay and lesbian people came to offer testimony and public support on behalf of a measure they claimed was necessary because they were paralyzed with fear over the public disclosure of their sexual identity.

"I think what you are seeing is a group of people who are finally getting the chance to stand in front of an elected body and tell their story," insisted Mistie Tolman, co-founder of the Add the Words Campaign (which has lobbied to change the state anti-discrimination law). "So they are coming out in droves to tell them what it’s like not to have those protections."

Those who testified on behalf of the anti-discrimination measure weren’t boldly confronting a hostile Sanhedrin. Every public official at the event expressed support for the proposed ordinance. Boise Mayor David Bieter, who later said he was "honored" to take part in the hearing, made a point of letting the audience know that its input wasn’t necessary, and that the proposed change could be made without public testimony.

Two more public meetings on the measure are scheduled, but the outcome of this process is as predictable a Jay Leno punchline.

What happened on November 13 at Boise City Hall was not a deliberative political function. It was a peculiar kind of revival meeting in which the faithful gathered to declaim against the sin of discrimination – a form of iniquity they seek to eradicate through the righteous and compassionate exercise of official coercion.

As the term is commonly used, discrimination could sometimes be considered sinful. There are situations in which it may constitute a tort. It is never a crime – that is, an act of fraud or violence that injures the property rights of another human being.

A political government may issue edicts against discrimination, and enforce them through the application of aggressive violence. But no government has the power to turn it into an actual crime, any more than it can alter the law of gravity by an official edict.

The only legitimate function of political government, assuming that one exists, is the protection of property rights. Boise’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance is rooted in the denial of property rights, which – when exercised by insufficiently progressive people – are believed to undermine "fair and equal treatment" of sexual minorities and the "city’s economic well-being."

According to Mayor Bieter, the anti-discrimination ordinance "makes good business sense, because as we look to attract new jobs and businesses, we must demonstrate that Boise offers the same protection as other cities. In short, discrimination is bad for business and counter to our shared ideals."

Like nearly everybody else in the political class, Bieter neither understands, nor cares to learn, how the market functions. If discrimination is truly "bad for business," then profit-minded businessmen won’t discriminate – and the market will reward them.

Nearly every public figure who has endorsed the anti-discrimination measure has taken refuge in a bizarre dialect that is equal parts civic boosterism and cultural bolshevism. Boise is a great and wonderful city, they insist, but it will reach its potential only if its economy is artfully managed by the wise and visionary people who rule it. This will mean, among other things, using government power to identify those who harbor views at odds with the new cultural consensus, and catechizing them at gunpoint until they recant their political heresies.

A year ago, the same civic savants who are promoting the "business-friendly" anti-discrimination ordinance imposed a ban on smoking in both public bars and private clubs. That prohibition, which was also advertised as a way of improving Boise’s business climate, had the predictable effect of driving many club owners into financial ruin.

Individuals who violate the smoking ban face a $69 fine for each infraction – a much milder penalty than the one prescribed for business owners who are accused of violating the anti-discrimination act.

The ordinance would apply to housing, employment, and "public accommodations." An employer, landlord, or businessman could be found in violation of measure without committing an overt act. All that would be necessary is a complaint filed by someone who takes offense over another person’s refusal to engage in commerce.

One illustration of how this would work is offered by the case of New Mexico resident Elaine Hugenin.

In 2006, Hugenin, a wedding photographer, was approached by a woman named Vanessa Wilcock, who wanted to hire her for a "commitment ceremony" with her same-sex partner. Hugenin declined, politely explaining that she was willing to forgo that business opportunity in order to be faithful to her religious commitments.

Where the natural law is concerned, the matter ended there. Nobody’s rights were injured, and Wilcock was free to solicit the services of another photographer. Rather than doing so, she and her partner decided to enlist the state to punish Hugenin for her thought crimes. They filed a discrimination complaint with the state’s "Human Rights Commission," which ruled in their favor and imposed a $6,600 fine on the photographer because she had declined to engage in what should have been a voluntary commercial transaction. (It’s worth noting that New Mexico, like Idaho, does not formally recognize "same-sex marriage," which means that the state engages in the same form of discrimination for which Hugenin was punished.)

The Hugenin case is headed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which means that it is and will continue to be a huge financial drain on the very limited resources of a small business owner.

Mayor Bieter and the architects of Boise’s anti-discrimination measure would probably reply that the victim was to blame for her plight, and that people who run afoul of the Boise ordinance would be able to avoid serious punishment if they would simply submit to re-education.

Boise residents found guilty of discrimination would face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 – unless they agreed to government-imposed "sensitivity training," in which case they would be subject to a $100 penalty and be required to sign an agreement "to not engage in discriminatory practices in the future."

Significantly, section 6-02-05 of the draft ordinance stipulates that "There shall be no right to a trial by jury for an infraction citation or complaint." This provision is facially incompatible with Article I, section 7 of the Idaho Constitution, which dictates that "The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate" in all criminal cases.

It’s also worth noting that under Boise’s municipal code, sexual orientation discrimination would be treated as an offense as serious as an act of physical assault. What this means is that a landlord who declined to rent a home to a same-sex couple could spend as much time behind bars as an assailant who actually committed an act of physical violence against them.

Thomas Jefferson famously said that his neighbor’s religious beliefs didn’t matter to him because they neither picked his pocket nor broke his leg. To be a crime, an act must involve aggression against the person or property of another human being – that is, it must entail either pocket-picking or leg-breaking.

Boise’s proposed anti-discrimination measure, like similar enactments elsewhere, would empower uniformed leg-breakers to pick the pockets – and incarcerate the persons – of residents whose only offense would be to conduct their business and private affairs peacefully in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs.

Discrimination isn’t a crime. However, seeking to punish it certainly is.


House of Lords threat to derail plans for secret courts

Ministers are heading for defeat today over plans to create secret courts that have been denounced as an affront to justice.

Labour, Lib Dem and crossbench peers are expected to unite in the House of Lords to water down the proposals and give greater powers to judges to resist demands from ministers to hold sensitive cases in private.

Senior Labour sources revealed last night they will work with Lib Dem rebels when the Justice and Security Bill reaches its report stage in the Lords today.

They will back an amendment giving judges the right to ignore government demands for secret justice if it is in the public interest.

A second amendment would demand that secret courts could only be used as a very last resort.

If those measures are not passed, Labour will vote to strip all references to such ‘closed material proceedings’ from the Bill – potentially killing the plans stone dead.

The Government faces the prospect of defeat in the Lords both today and on Wednesday.

Sources close to Ken Clarke, the minister without portfolio who has piloted the plans, hinted there could be further concessions, saying: ‘We want to hear what people have to say this week.’

The Daily Mail has led criticism of plans to allow secret courts, under which civil cases would be conducted entirely in private. Ministers claim they need to hold some cases behind closed doors so that judges can hear evidence on intelligence matters.

The Government has paid millions of pounds to terror suspects who accuse it of complicity in torture and rendition, after ministers said it was impossible to defend such claims without releasing secret material.

Critics argued the Bill will help ministers cover up abuses by the security services.

Shami Chakrabarti, of human rights group Liberty, said: ‘This odious Bill turns British civil courts into Soviet-style secret commissions.’

Amnesty International said: ‘The Bill seems designed to allow the Government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing.’
Daily Mail's campaign against secret courts

A spokesman for Labour leader Ed Miliband said: ‘We don’t think there are nearly enough safeguards in the Bill.’

Mr Clarke last night told the Mail that, currently, the ‘finest, wisest judges in the world’ were barred from taking into account some evidence at the heart of important civil cases because of the problems with releasing secret material.

Defending his proposals, he added: ‘I have ensured that under the Bill a closed material procedure could only be used to hear evidence which a judge has found is genuinely national security sensitive.  ‘They will never be available in inquests or criminal trials.’ [Hah!]


Poll shows little support in Britain for state regulation of the press

 Rules governing the press must be more stringently enforced, according to a poll released ahead of the publication of the Leveson report – but the public do not believe any new legislation is required.

 Almost three quarters of those polled (71 per cent) said that the main focus in stopping bad practice in the media should be tougher application of existing laws, with only 24 per cent saying new legislation and regulations were necessary.

 The survey comes as Lord Justice Leveson is preparing to publish the results of his inquiry into press standards, which was sparked by the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World.

 The judge is expected to call for an overhaul in the way newspapers are regulated, with some campaigners urging him to advocate a system of state regulation, which they say would ensure the industry abides by high standards of journalism and of ethics.

 However, others have warned that such a system – even if “light touch” – will lead to politicians and the powerful being able to prevent publication of material embarrassing to them. Rather, they argue that abuses, such as those exposed at the News of the World, can be, and should have been, tackled by existing laws.

 The new poll was carried out by the Free Speech Network, an organisation set up to by the publishers of several newspapers, including The Sunday Telegraph, to make the case against state regulation. It has called for “independent self regulation”, enforced by a non-statutory body that would rely on civil law contracts, have investigative powers and the ability to fine publishers up to £1 million.

 Bob Satchwell, chairman of the Society of Editors – which is a member of the network – said: “The British people are clear that they want a free press and free speech. We agree. This is why the industry supports a new system, independent of both government and the newspaper industry to ensure the highest standards in the press without undermining its capacity to hold people such as politicians to account.

 “We have established a free press in this country over 300 years – we don’t want to reverse this trend. It would send a terrible signal to emerging democracies around the world if this were to end. How can we encourage the freedom of the press and free speech abroad, if we are threatening it at home?”

 The study examined public opinion on a wide range of issues raised by the Leveson inquiry.

 It appeared to show little appetite for statutory regulation, or greater controls on press practices and widespread support for a free press.

 Nine out of ten respondents (91 per cent) said people should be free to say and write whatever they think on matters of public debate, as long as they do not make false statements that damage people’s reputations.

 A similar proportion (94 per cent) said that apart from already illegal practices such as phone hacking, computer hacking and making payments to public officials, there was no need to outlaw or regulate additional press practices. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) said they were proud that the UK was regarded as a model of press freedom and freedom of speech.

 The public were also asked for their opinions about cases of investigative journalism which sometimes involves the obtaining and publishing of confidential information. They were given two examples - the Telegraph’s exposé of MPs’ expenses, as well as the hacking of phones by the News of the World.

 Sixty two per cent believed editors should be able to make a judgement as to whether such methods are in the public interest and that this should be taken into account if any legal action is taken against them. By contrast, 31 per cent thought that journalists obtaining such information should always be prosecuted.

 In a further argument against state intervention in the press, half of respondents thought a new system of regulation should be introduced within a year, while 28 per cent wanted it in force within four months.

 Opponents of state regulation claim it would take longer than a year to implement such an option, whereas an enhanced form of self regulation could be put in place more swiftly.

 The issue of press regulation also ranked low in a list of issues that the public thought their MPs should be concerning themselves with.

 Presented with a list of 20 topics, from unemployment and the economy to foreign affairs and illegal drugs, the issue of press regulation was ranked as the second least important. The only subject that people thought their MPs should find less pressing was constitutional reform. Just one in 200 (0.5 per cent) thought regulation of the press should be the top priority for politicians.

 The phone hacking scandal also ranked behind allegations of a BBC cover-up of Jimmy Savile’s sex attacks on children, and accusations of police and public officials being paid by journalists, in terms of the issues which most concerned people.

 Fifty five per cent ranked the BBC scandal the most concerning, followed by 32 per cent for alleged corrupt payments and just 13 per cent for the phone hacking controversy.

 That scandal started with accusations that the mobile phone of Milly Dowler, the murder victim, had been hacked into by the News of the World and messages deleted. However, the subsequent Leveson inquiry has looked into not only wider press practices, but also the conduct of police and politicians.

 More than half of those questioned (55 per cent), said the biggest failure the phone hacking scandal had uncovered was journalists not adhering to their own codes of practice, while just under a third (31 per cent) said it was the police not adequately investigating wrongdoing in the press and 14 per cent said it was the politicians for not doing enough to regulate the press.

 One of the key issues facing Lord Leveson has been the extent to which any new system of regulation should cover just newspapers and their websites, or whether it should also apply to bloggers and even individuals writing on websites such as Twitter.

 The issue was highlighted last week when a number of individuals, including George Monbiot, a Guardian journalist, and Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons Speaker, used their Twitter feeds to wrongly suggest that Lord McAlpine, the former Conservative Party treasurer, was a paedophile.

 When asked who should be covered by a new, tougher system of regulation, 41 per cent said it should apply to bloggers and Twitter users, as well as newspaper journalists. By contrast, 35 per cent said it should only cover newspaper journalists.

 The poll also showed support for the argument that a new regulatory system which applies only to newspapers and their websites, will be flawed because there will be no controls over other websites.

 More than half of those questioned (55 per cent) said they would turn to the internet to find out about a particular story, if they knew that it was not being published by newspapers because it contravened new laws.

 The same proportion (55 per cent) said they would access American websites to read about a story that the UK authorities had decided should not be published here.

 The public were also asked their opinions on how any new press industry body should be paid for and whether a new system of regulation should help to make libel actions to be settled more quickly and cheaply. Critics argue that the current system can be too expensive for all but the wealthiest complainants.

 Sixty eight per cent wanted a cheaper and quicker system, which was opposed by only nine per cent.

 Eighty six per cent said that any new organisation to regulate the press and deal with complaints should be paid for by the newspaper industry, while eight per cent said the taxpayer should support the cost, and six per cent said complainants should support the costs of the new body.

 The poll, carried out by Survation, was of 1,000 people from a representative cross section of the population.



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

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

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


19 November, 2012

So much for Christian charity! British church loses battle for tax relief because 'they're doing no public good'

MPs are demanding an inquiry into the Charity Commission after the watchdog banned a Christian group from charitable status on the grounds that religion is not always for ‘public benefit’.

More than 50 MPs from all the main parties have signed a Commons motion calling on the charity regulator to think again, amid fears that hundreds of religious groups could be stripped of their tax-exempt status, threatening their very existence.

They accuse the Charity Commission of ‘politically correct bias’ against faith groups after it ruled that the Preston Down Trust of the Plymouth Brethren Church – which has 16,000 members across Britain – is not entitled to charitable status because it does not do enough good works in the community.

MPs say the ruling is ‘outrageous’ because it ignored the way the group, which has enjoyed charitable status for 50 years, runs soup kitchens for the poor and hospital visits for the sick.

Tory MP Robert Halfon said: ‘There is something rotten in the Charity Commission. I cannot understand why the Brethren, good people who do so much in their communities, have been singled out.

‘I believe an inquiry is needed into the role of the Charity Commission, to consider how it came to make the decision. What has happened is unjust and is creating fear in many churches across the country.’

Garth Christie, an elder in the Plymouth Brethren, described the decision as ‘a bolt from the blue’.

He said that he and the other members had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to prove their charitable status, and they would appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary.

The group has already appealed to the Charity Tribunal in what is seen as a test case that could threaten the charitable status of hundreds of small religious groups.

Several MPs are threatening to table amendments to the Small Charitable Donations Bill before Parliament later this month in a bid to protect faith groups.
Enlarge   The church that keeps itself in an evil world

That would seek to overturn measures in the 2006 Charities Act which removed the presumption for charities that education, religion, or poverty relief are for the public benefit.

In a ruling that sent shockwaves through even the established church, the Charity Commission ruled that its decision ‘makes it clear that there was no presumption that religion generally, or at any more specific level, is for the public benefit, even in the case of Christianity or the Church of England’.

The commission’s decision will have a huge impact on the Brethren’s tax relief.

Some 53 MPs have signed a motion which ‘calls on the Government and all parliamentarians to express their belief to the Charities Commission that Christian groups who are serving the community have the right to charitable status and should not be subject to politically correct bias’.

The motion has been signed by Tory, Labour and Lib Dem MPs, the Scottish nationalists and MPs from the DUP, SDLP and Alliance Party from Northern Ireland.

MPs say the Plymouth Brethren have been discriminated against because they are a highly private group who prefer not to talk publicly about their good works.

The MPs spoke out after Lord Carey, the former  Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was  ‘very concerned’ about the warning to Christian groups and called for a ‘strong fight’ to resist the secular drift of rulings from the Charity Commission.

A commission spokesman said: ‘We received an application for registration from the Preston Down Trust, a Brethren meeting hall.

‘The application from the Trust could not be accepted based on the information we received at the time, as we were unable to conclude that the organisation is established for the advancement of religion for public benefit within the relevant charity law.

‘We can’t speculate further about this matter while it is subject to an appeal.’


'Taken to task for doing nothing wrong': worker demoted for opposing gay marriage was unlawfully punished, British judge rules

 Adrian Smith lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40%, and was given a final written warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after posting that hosting gay weddings in churches were "an equality too far".

 The comments were not visible to the general public, and were posted outside work time, but the trust said he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.

 Mr Smith brought breach of contract proceedings, saying the trust acted unlawfully in demoting him.

 Today Mr Justice Briggs ruled in his favour at London's High Court, in a case which will set a precedent for employees' rights to free speech in the workplace.

 The dispute began in February 2011 when Mr Smith saw an article on the BBC News website headed "Gay church marriages get go ahead".

 He linked to it on his personal Facebook page, which can only be viewed by friends, and friends of friends, and added the comment: "An equality too far".

 Two colleagues read the remark and one of them posted a response asking Mr Smith to explain what he meant.

 The next evening he posted: "I don't understand why people who have no faith and don't believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church.    "The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the state wants to offer civil marriage to the same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn't impose its rules on places of faith and conscience."

 The judge said that the trust did not have a right to demote Mr Smith as his Facebook postings did not amount to misconduct, and the demotion imposed by way of purported disciplinary sanction constituted a breach of contract.

 He said that the "very modest" damages due to Mr Smith was the very small difference between his contractual salary and the amount actually paid to him during the 12 weeks following his assumption of his new, but reduced, role.

 The judge said the damages awarded to Mr Smith were insufficient for the "serious" nature of the trust's conduct, and he could have received substantially more in another court.  He added: "I must admit to real disquiet about the financial outcome of this case.

 "Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary.  "The breach of contract which the trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory.

 "A conclusion that his damages are limited to less than £100 leaves the uncomfortable feeling that justice has not been done to him in the circumstances."

 He added that if Mr Smith had commenced proceedings for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal, rather than starting an action for breach of contract in the county court, there was every reason to suppose that the tribunal would have been able - if it thought fit - to award him substantial compensation for the unfair way he was treated.

 If financial stringency made it practically impossible for Mr Smith to bring such proceedings, then the injustice he had suffered, although very real, was something the court was unable to alleviate by a substantial award.

 Mr Smith said in a statement: "I'm pleased to have won my case for breach of contract today. The judge exonerated me and made clear that my comments about marriage were in no way 'misconduct'.

 "My award of damages has been limited to less than £100 - but that is for technical legal reasons and the judge made it clear he was not able to award me a much larger sum.   "But I didn't do this for the money. I did this because there is an important principle at stake.

 "Britain is a free country where people have freedom of speech, and I am pleased that the judge's ruling underlines that important principle.

 "But this sad case should never have got this far. Long ago, Trafford Housing Trust should have held their hands up and admitted they made a terrible mistake. Had they done this then my life would not have been turned upside down and my family and I would not have had to endure a living nightmare.  "However, to the bitter end, they claimed I had broken equality policies and brought the Trust into disrepute - all because, like millions of people, I support traditional marriage.

 "Something has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain, where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage."

 He called on the Prime Minister to "think very carefully" before before changing the law on gay marriage because people who share his views could be "treated as outcasts".

 Matthew Gardiner, chief executive at Trafford Housing Trust said: "We fully accept the court's decision and I have made a full and sincere apology to Adrian. At the time we believed we were taking the appropriate action following discussions with our employment solicitors and taking into account his previous disciplinary record.

 "We have always vigorously denied allegations that the Trust had breached an employee's rights to freedom of religious expression under Human Rights and Equalities legislation and, in a written judgment handed down on 21st March 2012, a district judge agreed that these matters should be struck out."   "This has been a case about the interpretation of our code of conduct and the use of social media by our managers."

 He said the Trust had "little option" but to defend the case in court and they had offered to settle with Mr Smith out of court.


Well-known British chefess  causes outrage after condemning Muslim Leicester as a 'ghetto'

Her popularity allows her to speak out

 When Clarissa Dickson Wright embarked on a tour of the country, she was hoping to savour the culinary delights of every region.  But her visit to one particular city, it would seem, left a bitter taste.

 The television chef has caused outrage by saying that her visit to a Muslim area of Leicester was “the most frightening experience of my life”, and claiming that it left her feeling like a “pariah” in her own country.

 Dickson Wright, 65, who reached fame as one half of the Two Fat Ladies, said visiting the city made her feel like a “complete outcast” and she described the area as a “ghetto”.

 When asked to explain the comments, made in her new book, she said she was “surprised any of the people who might object could read what I wrote as it is written in English”.

 She added that she has “never believed that political correctness was a reason not to say what I have experienced”.

 The chef was criticised for her “hurtful” comments, with the city’s mayor accusing her of “breezing in from outside” and making “cheap” generalisations to sell books.

 Dickson Wright has dedicated one chapter of Clarissa’s England: A Gamely Gallop Through the English Counties to every county, discussing the culinary, cultural and historical merits of each.

 On Leicestershire, she writes of the “ghetto” of its city, saying that it demonstrates how multiculturalism has failed.

 Describing how she got lost after coming off the ring road to escape a traffic jam, she writes: “I found myself in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas and walking slightly behind them.

 “None of the men would talk to me when I tried to find out where I was and how to get out of there because I was an English female and they don’t talk to females they don’t know, while if the women could speak English they weren’t about to show it by having a word with me. I have many good acquaintances and even some friends among the Muslim community, yet here I was, in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah. If multiculturalism works, which I have always been rather dubious of, surely it must be multicultural and not monocultural.

 “However, everything has an upside and one of the results of this is that Leicester has a very good selection of Asian restaurants. I can only hope that in generations to come there will be a merging of the cultures and not the exclusion zone that is the ghetto.”

 Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, and a city imam, said: “How can she judge an entire community on her one-off rare time of getting lost in Leicester?

 “It showed a complete lack of appreciation of the fact we are almost two million in this country, doing our bit for our country. When she says that she was in the centre of a city in the centre of her own country, I take objection. This is also my country and this is also my city.

 “I would like to call on Leicester people to be even more welcoming and hospitable than we’ve been so far.”

 Sir Peter Soulsby, the mayor and former Labour MP, said: “That is the sort of thing that makes me very angry — when someone breezes in from outside and paints a picture of Leicester that does not have any foundation in reality. It may help sell books, but it is cheap.”

 When contacted by the Leicester Mercury, Dickson Wright, who was born in London and lives in Edinburgh, said: “I’m surprised any of the people who might object could read what I wrote as it is written in English.

 “Visiting Leicester scared me and I am not scared easily. It frightened me because it was part of my country that I was born in and there are a lot of radical Muslim preachers in this country.

 “I was in London when the July 7 bomb attacks happened and this to me was proof for those people who have been saying we’re getting ghettoisation of Muslim areas.”


Sex gangs report 'will play down threat of Pakistani men targeting white girls'

An official inquiry into child sex gangs will fail to highlight the targeting of white girls by Pakistani men.

Instead the year-long Government-backed investigation will say that child sex abuse is a problem caused by men of all backgrounds in towns and cities across the country.

The findings of the inquiry by Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children's Commissioner for England, are likely to anger ministers and provoke disbelief among those who have observed and investigated cases of abuse of teenage girls in towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The inquiry into child sexual exploitation by gangs was launched more than a year ago, but its investigations became more urgent this summer following the convictions of nine men in Rochdale for their roles in a child sex ring which groomed young white girls for sex.

The men, eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan, received jail sentences of between four and 19 years.

In September, police documents revealed that in Rotherham officers ignored evidence of large-scale sex crime by 'networks of Asian males exploiting young white females' which dated back more than a decade.

As long ago as 2002, Home Office inquiries suggested that police were failing to question or investigate Asian abusers while treating their victims as 'deviant and promiscuous'.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said in May that Miss Berelowitz should not let her inquiries be swayed by questions of prejudice and should instead 'ask tough questions about cultural background'.

However her first report, to be published next week, will argue that the problem lies with men from all ethnic backgrounds.

The findings are expected to reflect opinions that were given by Miss Berelowitz to MPs this summer, when she said child sexual exploitation was happening across the country.

Her report has met an unenthusiastic response in Whitehall, where one source said: 'It is important we don't take a politically correct approach and pretend there is not a real problem here. Obviously abuse has been carried out by men from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds.

'But that doesn't mean we cannot say there is an issue about groups of Pakistani men systematically targeting young white girls.'

A spokesman for Miss Berelowitz said there would be no comment on the report until it is published next week. But a senior political figure with long experience of trying to combat sex gangs said there is a specific problem with groups of young Pakistani men, and that Miss Berelowitz would be wrong to ignore it.

Ann Cryer, who stood down as Labour MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire at the last election, played a central role in bringing a gang of abusers to justice in 2004.

'Abuse and sexual exploitation is a universal problem, especially with white men who groom targets through the internet,' she said. 'But there is another problem in some towns with Pakistani men.

'This is connected with parents in Lancashire and Yorkshire who have the intention of marrying young men to cousins from Pakistan whom they have never met.

'This means the men look for other partners. Older white women are not interested, because they know it is never going to end in wedding bells, and they dare not look for girls in their own community. So they look for young white girls.'

Mrs Cryer added: 'I believe there is a problem and the solution is for the elders of their community to take action.

'The point is not that they are being picked on because they are Muslim, but that the way they are behaving is un-Islamic.'



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

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

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


18 November, 2012

A little man misuses the little power given to him -- with a tragic outcome

It's all so British.  Britain is  such a frustrating place with its myriad of formal and informal rules and regulations  that anyone given any power or responsibility  -- whether in private business or in government -- will tend to boost his feelings of personal power by using even small powers given to him by his job  to hurt or inconvenience others. 

Getting the attention of a British shop assistant is a classic case.  When you walk in they treat you as invisible for as long as possible.  I had my own very unBritish way of dealing with that when I was in Britain.  I used to say in a loud voice: "I hate being invisible".  That was such a shock  -- no Briton would do it  -- that I immediately got very good if resentful attention.

So the train guard below was actually normal.  He just misjudged the effect of his little act of bastardry.  I have experienced  much the same from British train guards myself.  If you are slow to get on they just signal a departure anyway.  Fortunately I was not drunk so the only adverse effect was that I missed my train  -- no doubt to the quiet glee of the guard concerned

A railway guard found guilty of manslaughter following the death of a teenage girl who fell under a train was jailed for five years today.

Christopher McGee, 45, took a 'terrible risk' by giving the signal for the driver to depart as Georgia Varley, 16, was leaning against the carriage, a judge said.

The sixth-form college student, who was drunk on a night out in Liverpool with friends, fell between the train and the platform at the city’s James Street station in October last year as a result of McGee's 'appalling disregard for her safety', a court heard.

Georgia, who was leaning against the train when the railway guard gave the signal for it to leave, was seen to stagger and fall into the gap as it moved away from the platform.

McGee was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence following a two week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Jailing McGee for five years today, Mr Justice Holroyde said: 'You did not intend to kill or even injure her, but you displayed an appalling disregard for her safety and she paid for your criminal negligence with her life.'

Passing sentence, the judge said: 'In my judgement, the CCTV footage is unequivocal, Georgia Varley was not moving away and she was not showing any sign of moving away.  'She only moved when the movement of the train deprived her of support and caused her to lose balance and fall to her death.

'I am satisfied that you merely hoped and assumed she would get out of the way when the train began to move, and on that wholly inadequate basis you took a terrible risk,' he added.  'You must have known that a passenger who falls between the train and the platform is likely to be killed,' he told the defendant.

'As the guard of the train, you were in complete control of the movement of the train. That control carries with it the direct and personal responsibility for the safety of passengers.'

Georgia, from Moreton, Wirral, had gone into Liverpool for a night out with her friends when the incident happened on October 22 last year.  A blood analysis following her death showed she had 236mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her system - the legal driving limit is 80mg.  She also had 0.083mg of the drug mephedrone, or Mcat, in her system at the time of her death.

The jury was shown shocking CCTV footage of the teenager’s death.

Georgia was seen mistakenly getting off the train just before 11.30pm, and then turning around and leaning against the side as she realised her friends were still on board.

The Birkenhead Sixth Form College student was then seen to stagger and fall down the gap as the train moved off, before stopping after travelling around 30ft.

Mr Justice Holroyde told the defendant today: 'Much has been made on your behalf during this trial of how intoxicated Georgia was, but that did not relieve you of the duty of care which you owed to her.

'You alone determined whether the train remained stationary or began to move. Your decision and your action determined whether Georgia Varley was safe from risk.'

The judge, who pointed out that McGee had been 'repeatedly trained and instructed' in safety matters during his career with Merseyrail, described the suffering of Miss Varley's family in the wake of the tragedy.  'When a crime of homicide is committed, one life is ended but many more lives are damaged or destroyed,' he said.


Peer's revenge over Twitter slurs: McAlpine will sue internet gossips

Whether on Twitter or anywhere else, those who make defamatory allegations need to be able to show the truth of them

Lord McAlpine is taking landmark legal action against internet gossips who falsely branded him a paedophile.

Lawyers for the Tory peer warned Twitter users ‘we know who you are’ and urged them to come forward voluntarily or face being pursued through the courts.

His action is intended to stop so-called ‘trial by Twitter’ and, if successful, could radically change the way the internet is policed and make those using social networks more directly accountable for defamatory comments.

Lord McAlpine, the former Tory party treasurer wrongly accused of being a child abuser following a botched Newsnight report, yesterday agreed a £185,000 compensation settlement with the BBC – funded by licence-payers.

ITV’s This Morning and Sally Bercow, wife of the House of Commons Speaker and a prolific Twitter user, were next in the firing line.

Lord McAlpine’s lawyer Andrew Reid said those suspected of defaming the peer would receive a letter before action was taken telling them they had 48 hours to respond.  He said there was a ‘very long list’ of people to whom letters would be sent.

Lord McAlpine, 70, said no amount of compensation could repair the damage to his reputation from being branded a paedophile. He told the BBC: ‘There is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people.’

Describing his revulsion at the false accusations, the former Thatcher aide said: ‘It gets into your bones, it makes you angry. And it gets into your soul. You just think there’s something wrong with the world.’

The fiasco began on Twitter when Iain Overton, managing editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which jointly produced the Newsnight report, sent a Twitter message saying: ‘If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.’

The message prompted a maelstrom of internet speculation about the man’s identity, despite Newsnight’s decision not to broadcast a name that night, November 2.

On November 4, Mrs Bercow tweeted, ‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*’, a reference to the fact the peer’s name was being repeatedly mentioned on Twitter.

Mr Reid told Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘Very sadly, we are going to have to take action against a lot of people.  The next person on our list is in fact the This Morning programme, run by ITV, where Phillip Schofield managed to embarrass the Prime Minister... and then destroy my client’s reputation.’

Schofield confronted David Cameron with a supposed list of paedophiles live on air last week.

The Newsnight investigation into child sex allegations at the Bryn Estyn children’s home in North Wales in the 1970s was a joint project with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which is also being sued by Lord McAlpine.

Neither organisation contacted the peer to allow him to respond to allegations he was involved in the abuse.

BBC director general George Entwistle resigned over the fiasco and Mr Overton quit his job over his disastrous Twitter message.

Lord McAlpine’s lawyers said anyone who had made allegations on social media should contact them or face a legal battle.  Mr Reid said: ‘Let it be a lesson to everybody that trial by Twitter or trial by the internet is a very nasty way of hurting people unnecessarily and it will cost people a lot of money.’


Israel has every right to take action against the relentless terror meted out to its civilian population

By The Rev Dr Peter Mullen,  a priest of the Church of England

I have just been reading the latest bulletin from the Hamas Propaganda Bureau – sorry, I mean of course the BBC – who inform us that Israeli forces have killed “ … eleven Palestinians, mainly militants, but also children.” The general tone of the report makes it sound as if the Israel Defence Force set out wantonly to begin a new massacre of the innocents. Regrettably, children will be killed if they have to share their schools with rockets and stashes of high explosives. The truth is that Israel’s military strikes were belated retaliation for the Hamas bombardment by 800 rockets this year and 120 during the last week.

The entire population of southern Israel lives in constant terror. And if we’re talking about the suffering of children, imagine what it’s like to be a little boy or girl in small southern towns and villages such as Sderot, where they have half a minute’s warning to sprint to the air-raid shelters, and where the schools are closed for weeks at a time. I haven’t been to southern Israel, but I have visited the north, near the border with Lebanon, on days when Hizbollah were firing Katyusha rockets at the civilian population. To have to live under such a threat is to know the meaning of terror.

The recent increase in violence was provoked by the Israelis’ killing of Ahmed Said Khalil Jabari, military leader of Hamas: a man complicit in the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Shalit and responsible for most of the terrorist acts launched from Gaza over the last 10 years. He himself once boasted that the men under his control were responsible for the deaths of 569 Israeli civilians. Yesterday this dead terrorist was praised by the leaders of Hizbollah and declared a martyr by representatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

These recent eruptions of violence are of course only the latest in a long war of attrition which has been going on since the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. The country is surrounded by its enemies. Four times since 1948 these enemies have made war on Israel.

No doubt the Palestinians have legitimate grievances coupled with territorial aspirations. Israel has generally understood these grievances, and time and again tried to meet its opponents halfway. For instance, I remember the talks between Yasser Arafat and the Israeli prime minister brokered by the US in which the sides came close to a two-state solution to the problem. Arafat smiled agreeably, got on the plane back to the Middle East and immediately declared a second intifada, a violent uprising against Israel.

To be sure, this is a labyrinthine mess, but beyond the ceaseless argy-bargy there is one real and pressing question: wouldn’t any sovereign state take strong action in response to the relentless terror meted out to its civilian population?


Australia: Flight attendant awarded compensation for injuries sustained on day off

Individual  responsibility takes another hit.  Qantas was in no position to supervise the guy in his day off

A QANTAS flight attendant has won a legal case that could affect hundreds of airline employees and other workers who are injured while travelling for job-related reasons on days off.

John Kennerley was injured on March 10, 2010, after setting off from his Gold Coast home to spend the night in Brisbane, the day before he was due to fly to Sydney to renew his US visa.

Queensland's Industrial Court President David Hall last month ruled Mr Kennerley's traffic accident injuries were suffered in the course of his employment, even though he was on a day off.

Qantas required Mr Kennerley to renew his visa in his own time, it had booked his 8.45am consulate appointment and had paid for his 5am flight to Sydney on March 11, 2010, the court heard.

The airline's insurer, Qantas Airways Ltd, originally rejected his worker's compensation claim, and there were subsequent appeals to Q-Comp and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

But on October 18, the Industrial Court president found that Mr Kennerley's employment was "a significant contributing factor" to his injuries and he was entitled to compensation.

"It was the nature and terms of his employment together with decisions and initiatives of Qantas which caused Mr Kennerley to be riding his motorbike where and when he was injured," Mr Hall said.

The Industrial Court heard because he had such an early flight to his Sydney consulate appointment, Mr Kennerley decided to travel the day before and stay overnight with a friend in Brisbane.

While Qantas Airways Ltd tried to argue that he was spending the night with a Brisbane friend for social reasons, this was rejected by Mr Hall.

Mr Kennerley said he was unable to travel by train in time to meet his flight on March 11 and felt it was unsafe to make an early morning motorcycle journey to Brisbane in the dark.

Mr Kennerley's lawyer, Greg Black of Turner Freeman, said the decision was significant for hundreds of Queensland flight attendants and the Flight Attendants' Association had supported Mr Kennerley's appeal.

Mr Black said it also could protect "fly-in, fly-out" workers and other workers whose employers required them to travel in their own time to renew work-related licences or visas or meet job 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


16 November, 2012

In praise of limiting praise: when a little goes a long way

There are perfectly good reasons why I refuse to shower my children with compliments all the time.

"DO YOU like it?" asks my seven-year-old.

"What is it?"

"It's a pineapple," says the budding Cezanne.

"Then why is it orange?" I reply. He looks up from his drawing of a fruit bowl with a crestfallen expression.

I am, once again, pricked by guilt at my poor parenting. I know I am meant to compliment him, but I just can't bring myself to do so when his felt-tip on A4 effort lacks perspective, scale, or any skill.

His flurry of tries at the weekend's tag-rugby match were warmly applauded, his seven-letter effort while watching Countdown was high-fived. But to praise him for a dismal drawing, where the pear and the banana are indistinguishable from each other seems perverse.

I refuse to do so, even if it causes a sulk. But I am fighting a losing battle. A report this week provides more ammunition to those who would wreathe the world in a garland of compliments.

A team of Japanese researchers at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences has discovered that the more a person is complimented the more the striatum part of their brain is stimulated, and the better they perform a task.  "Compliments are as good as cash at making us work harder," ran the ensuing headline.

I am not convinced. Apart from the fact this is another "scientific study" with about as much rigour as an investigation into the nation's favourite dog food based on the droolings of 10 poodles, there is something fundamentally flawed about the conclusion.

Professor Sadato, our man in a lab coat who tested a grand total of 48 people, says: "There seems to be scientific validity behind the message 'praise to encourage improvement'. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom."

That is precisely the problem. Paying a compliment is easy. And we have done it all too often in the name of building self-esteem in children.

My children frequently come back with "Headteacher's Award" silver stickers on their primary-school jumpers. When I inquire what they have been given for - hoping to hear a stirring tale of how Fermat's theorem was cracked in break time - I hear the inevitable: "Oh, everyone in our class got one."

This is in sharp contrast to the school I attended. The headmaster was the formidable Dennis Silk, an old-fashioned, eagle-headed figure who equated the wearing of suede shoes with drug taking. However, he had charm and manners in spades and would dash off what were known as "silkograms", carefully constructed gushes of praise to his pupils. They were incredibly rare. You were lucky to receive one a year and they were only sent after some heroic act on the playing field or classroom. To see his scrawling black ink on an envelope was enough to make your heart jump with pride.

But it was the rarity, as unusual as a $100 note in a supermarket ATM, that made them so valuable.

Now, people expect to be complimented on a daily basis. One of my most awkward meals was at a disappointing French restaurant when the chef, with Napoleonic self-regard, toured the tables scouting for compliments at the end of the meal. I tried to slink further down in my seat in the hope he would bypass our table. But, no, like a potty-training baby, he wanted to be applauded for doing his job. I mumbled that, yes, the meal was nice. "But what did you like about it?" he pushed.

It is just not very British to offer compliments, especially when they are sought out by a needy supplicant.

Dr Jean Twenge, the psychologist and author of The Narcissism Epidemic, points out this culture of compliments "puts the cart before the horse". Surely, when we work hard and perform well at school or at our businesses we develop high self-esteem, not the other way around.

And when it comes to persuading me to stay late in the office, it is no contest whether a compliment or a pay rise, is likely to work. My editor knows where to find my bank account details.


Tories won't win if we don't back gay marriage, says Britain's Chancellor: But party Right urges him to focus on 'the issues that really matter

Osborne attended "public" (fee-paying) schools in his youth and one could perhaps note an old saying about British public schools:  "In British Public schools, homosexuality is not so much permitted as compulsory"

George Osborne launched an emphatic defence of gay marriage yesterday, saying the Tories will not win the next election unless they drop their opposition to it.  He urged the party to emulate US President Barack Obama  by appealing to young voters and women with a socially liberal message.

But the Chancellor's intervention provoked anger on the Tory Right, with campaigners claiming that proposals to legalise gay marriage could cost the Conservatives more than a million votes and 30 seats.

One MP said the 'social liberal values of Notting Hill don't translate well outside the M25', while a former Tory minister warned that Army chaplains could face the sack if they disagree with the plans.

Writing in The Times, Mr Osborne said most voters support gay marriage and politicians should 'reflect the modern societies they aspire to lead'.  He quoted Margaret Thatcher saying the Tories should respond to 'people and how they want to live their lives'.

The Coalition has pledged to legalise gay marriage before 2015, but it is not part the Government's current legislative programme.

However, Mr Osborne used  his article to argue that it is a  vital plank of Conservative re- election plans.  He said the party should heed the lessons of Mr Obama's election success despite poor economic conditions.

In a robust shot across the bows of the Tory Right, Mr Osborne said voters on both sides of the Atlantic want economic toughness and social liberalism.

He added that Mr Obama sealed victory once he started making the case that the deficit should be tackled and showed that he 'was on the side of ordinary, hard- working voters'.

But crucially, he said the Tories, like Mr Obama's opponent Mitt Romney, could lose supporters who agree with them on the economy if they are not in tune with them on social issues as well.

He wrote: 'President Obama's high-profile endorsement of equal marriage for gay couples enthused younger voters. But polls found that a majority of all Americans supported him on the issue and voted for it in all four states that held ballots.'

Mr Osborne continued: 'I wouldn't change the current abortion laws and I strongly support gay marriage on principle. I am proud to be part of a government that will introduce a Bill to allow gay marriage.

'It is worth reflecting that in Britain, as in America, a clear majority of the public support gay marriage, and an even bigger majority of women support it.

'That majority support is just as high in the North as it is the South, and it is equally high among all socio-economic groups.
Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth has warned the Ministry of Defence that military chaplains could be sacked if they oppose gay marriage

Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth has warned the Ministry of Defence that military chaplains could be sacked if they oppose gay marriage

'Successful political parties reflect the modern societies they aspire to lead. As Margaret Thatcher said in the first sentence of her introduction to the 1979 Conservative election manifesto: “The heart of politics is not political theory, it is people and how they want to live their lives”.'

The Coalition for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, dismissed Mr Osborne's claims and announced that it will campaign in tomorrow's Corby by-election against a redefinition of the institution. Colin Hart, the organisation's campaign director, said: 'The PM and the Chancellor must stop misleading the public. The polls actually show that a majority of voters do not support the redefinition of marriage.

'It's time for senior politicians – particularly Mr Cameron, Clegg and Osborne – to get a grip and start talking about the issues that really matter, like reviving the economy, not redefining marriage.'

He highlighted a poll by the research consultancy ComRes that found that redefining marriage could cost the Tories up to 30 parliamentary seats and 1.1million votes. 'Ordinary people in places like Corby want action on the economy and public services, not meddling with marriage,' he said.

Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson said: 'The focus should be less on these social liberal obsessions  of West London and more on  blue-collar issues like the cost of living, mortgages and reducing taxes for families.  'The social liberal values of Notting Hill don't translate well outside the M25.'

Former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth has written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warning that military chaplains face being disciplined if the Government forces through its plans.

He wrote: 'Under the Government's proposals if the definition of marriage is rewritten, then those chaplains who maintain their support for the traditional/biblical meaning could face disciplinary action and even dismissal.'

The former minister also dismisses recent assurances from the Government that it can protect churches from prosecution.

He said: 'The Government is keen to assert that no clergy declining to offer a marriage service to homosexuals will be subject to discrimination or penalty, an undertaking ministers are in no position to give since the interpretation of any new law will rest with the courts and, ultimately, the impertinent European Court of Human Rights.'


Why women expect too much from men in bed

Max Davidson

SOMEWHERE in Britain there is a very lucky man. The unnamed individual is, according to reports at the weekend, being divorced by his wife, a high-flying city banker, on the grounds, inter alia, that he is "boring" in bed and refuses to take part in the kind of bedroom antics popularised by the raunchy blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey.

Well done, that man! He is not only escaping what sounds like a miserable marriage ("Thank you for whipping me, darling, but you forgot the handcuffs"), but in doing so - he's admitting "unreasonable behaviour" for a quick divorce - he is striking a blow for his sex. Like Bradley Wiggins, like Mo Farah, he can go into any pub in the country and know that every man there would be happy to buy him a drink if only they knew his story.

Up to now, Fifty Shades has been no more than a bad literary joke, a triumph of marketing over substance. Millions have bought E.L. James' execrable novel about a sadomasochistic affair between a billionaire entrepreneur and a naive literature student, and millions have wished they had kept their money in their pocket.

But now that the book is being deployed as a weapon in the marital bedroom, with wives using James' saturnine billionaire as a benchmark against which to measure their husbands, the joking has to stop. This is war, with men in the firing line and common sense the first casualty.

Feminists are rightly quick to censure the kind of male-inspired pornography which pressures women into behaving like Swedish nymphomaniacs with pneumatic breasts. But isn't E.L. James guilty of much the same, peddling unattainable sexual fantasies, setting wife against husband, introducing the worm of dissatisfaction into solid, if unspectacular, relationships?

And it gets worse. You would assume that men of retirement age would not be feeling under the same pressure to perform in the bedroom as men who still have their own teeth and hair, but you would be wrong, judging by the latest women's "romantic" novel to shoot up the bestseller lists, confounding the pundits.

Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd features a sexually frustrated pensioner (married to a man who has given up on sex) who meets the man of her dreams while looking after her grandchildren in the park.

If Fifty Shades of Grey is "mummy porn" in marketing jargon, Thursdays in the Park is "gran-lit", a steamy tale of sex and sixtysomethings - the Kama Sutra meets Antiques Roadshow.

The novel sank without trace when it was published last year, but is now topping the charts in its ebook edition and outselling E. L. James. It is certainly an intriguing storyline and you can see why it has caught on with the public, even in our youth-obsessed times. With Charles Dance said to be in negotiations for a film version, Thursdays in the Park could spark the same kind of buying frenzy as Fifty Shades. You don't even have to go into a bookshop to purchase it: you can get your jollies by downloading the book in the privacy of your own home - perfect for retiring spinsters with vivid imaginations.

"Old people falling in love and having passionate relationships is not a story that's had much exposure before, but I'm in no doubt that the market's out there," says Boyd, a 62-year-old grandmother, adding: "All I can say is that sex in the park beats sex in the basement."

Who would argue with that? And in finding the sex lives of mature people far more interesting than those of teenagers, she is following a tradition as old as Antony and Cleopatra.

It is good, other things being equal, that women writers are producing novels of sexual exploration which challenge and subvert the works of their male counterparts. And it is good that older people are being presented in a positive, outgoing light, not portrayed as sexually extinct.

Jane Juska's bestselling 2003 memoir, A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, tapped into the same market. Its bittersweet account of a 66-year-old woman, seeking no-strings sex via an ad in the New York Review of Books, struck a chord with mothers and grandmothers who, after years of making sacrifices for their families, dreamt of putting the sex into sexagenarian.

But it is one thing to celebrate grey sex, another to encourage delusional attitudes, as Fifty Shades of Grey does. When the dividing line between daily life and escapist fiction becomes blurred, when women expect their partners to satisfy their most intimate needs as if it was as easy as unlocking handcuffs, we are all the losers. Shouldn't a book with a title like Fifty Shades of Grey alert readers to the fact that life is nuanced, and not perfect?

But, one way and another, it is going to be an uncomfortable time to be a male of the species. We don't mind trying our hands at this multi-tasking malarkey, but do we have to become proficient with handcuffs and find out how to give sexual satisfaction to women born when George VI was on the throne? Time to reach for the remote, I think.


Eyes are averted from indigenous abuse

Australian conservative  commentator Gerard Henderson on the Leftist  "blacks can do no wrong" gospel

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard's, decision to establish a royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has received overwhelmingly public support. We know, on the available evidence, that the wide-ranging and expensive inquiry will focus on past crimes and whether people in authority, in Gillard's terminology, "averted their eyes" with respect to abusers.

We also know, on the available evidence, that indigenous children in some Aboriginal communities are being sexually assaulted in 2012. Despite the efforts of Commonwealth, state and territory authorities, these crimes continue. Moreover, regrettably, there is scant public outrage about this contemporary abuse.

Sections of the media have focused on the Catholic Church's deplorable inability in the past century to stop the crimes of some priests and some brothers with respect to primarily male children.

However, as the Jesuit priest Frank Brennan said on Lateline, the Catholic Church reformed its handling of sex abuse allegations in 1996. Soon after Pell became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, he set up the Melbourne Response, which was aimed at confronting abuse of children by clerics and assisting victims.

The terms of reference for the royal commission will be announced before the end of the year. However, the Prime Minister has indicated the inquiry will not be limited to the Catholic Church or, indeed, other Christian churches. All religions will be covered, as will secular bodies. This approach is supported by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. On Tuesday, child migrant David Hill said "you won't hear only kids from Catholic institutions coming forward … I think it will go to all of the children's institutions over the last 40, 50 years".

The Gillard government faces a difficult task in drawing up appropriate terms of reference. If they are too limited, there will probably be accusations of a cover-up. If they are too wide, the financial costs could be huge and the inquiry might drag on for years with few if any recommendations of prosecutions.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney is a media target. Many journalists do not like Pell since he is a moral conservative who publicly upholds the Vatican's teachings on abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce.

Pell was interviewed by Geoff Thompson for the Four Corners "Unholy Silence" program which aired in July. The Cardinal made it emphatically clear that, as Archbishop of Sydney, he is only responsible for his own diocese and reports to the Vatican.

Four Corners not only failed to run Pell's comment. More seriously, it edited the extended interview (which is on the ABC's website) and deleted the Cardinal's comment about the extent of his authority. This reeks of censorship but the decision has been supported by ABC managing director Mark Scott.

The failure to understand the structure of the Catholic Church has led to confusion. In recent days there has been criticism of Pell on such programs as Lateline, Mornings with Linda Mottram, Radio National Breakfast and Paul Murray Live where suggestions have been made that he should resign or be sacked because of mishandling of sexual assaults in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. The journalists involved should be aware that Pell has nothing to do with, and is not responsible for, the Catholic Church in the Hunter region or anywhere else outside the Sydney archdiocese. He is the most senior Catholic in Australia but he is not managing director of the Australian Catholic Church.

The media would be well advised not to adopt double standards when dealing with child molestation. It is now accepted the late Sir Jimmy Savile was one of the worst paedophiles in British history.

Yet the media initially engaged in a cover-up. Freelance journalist Miles Goslett could not get his article linking the long-time BBC star with attacks on young girls published and had to rely on The Oldie, where his article was printed last March. As is now known, the BBC spiked a Newsnight program on Savile's criminality so as not to upset a program scheduled for Christmas 2011 praising the molester.

And then there is the case of the late Fairfax columnist Peter Roebuck. Roebuck's work for the ABC as a cricket commentator increased after he was convicted of common assault on two young African men. There are now claims that Roebuck was a sexual predator who targeted young black males.

Despite this, when Roebuck died last year he was lauded by journalists - particularly at Fairfax and the ABC. Even yesterday, sections of the media remembered the first anniversary of Roebuck's death but conveniently forgot that he was an offender.

The good news is that the proposed royal commission will cover all instances of child abuse and not just crimes committed by Catholic clergy. Tragically, it is not likely to stop attacks on young Aboriginal boys and girls.



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

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

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


15 November, 2012

British businessman who tackled burglar in his mother's home spends 18 HOURS in police custody for 'assaulting' intruder

A businessman who spent 18 hours in custody after he tackled a man who was raiding his mother's house says 'the law stinks.

Vaughan Jones, 39, from Bargoed, in Gwent, South Wales jumped into action when his widowed mother heard a thief burgling her family home.

He called police before dashing around to help his mother Eleanor, 65, and confronted the burglar in a hand-to-hand struggle.  But the dad-of-three was left shocked when officers arrived and arrested him for allegedly assaulting the thief.  He said: 'I couldn't believe it. I said to them: 'Are you real?'.

'I told them I was acting in self defence. When they took me to the police station, I said 'The law stinks'.

Ms Jones was roused by the burglar when a pebble was used to smash her patio doors. She called her son who found the burglar and grappled with him.  But he was amazed when police arrested both him and the burglar when they arrived a few minutes later.

Mr Jones was then escorted to hospital under police guard and treated for a hairline fracture to his hand caused during the struggle with the burglar.

The accounts manager was then put in a police cell where he spent the night in custody.

And he was only released when the Crown Prosecution Service advised police not to press charges.

Gwent Police confirmed Mr Jones was arrested following the incident.  A spokesman said: 'When officers attend a live, ongoing situation they often have to take quick and decisive action based on what they are faced with to defuse the situation, ensure the safety of all involved and to maximise opportunities to gather evidence.  'Further enquiries follow, enabling officers to establish a fuller picture of what has taken place.' [In other words, they've got the brains of fowls]

The incident comes after the Government unveiled plans to protect home-owners who are confronted by burglars.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said the 'public should be in no doubt' that the law is on their side during a break-in.

Police said a 29-year-old man from Caerphilly, South Wales, has been arrested and charged with burglary.


Justice Denied - Britain's  Worst Retreat since Dunkirk

In my Mail on Sunday column last Sunday (11th November) I promised a fuller account of the scandalous downgrading of serious crime by the authorities in England and Wales ( I have not made a similar analysis of Scotland, which has its own separate legal system, but suspect something similar will be under way there).  What was most distressing was to receive several personal confirmations of police uninterest in pursuing quite serious matters. The use of so-called ‘restorative justice’ to negotiate a supposed reconciliation between criminal (or in value-free jargon ’offender’) and victim is a growing part of this array of devices to reduce pressure on prisons, massage crime figures downwards and give the illusion of action.

Here is what I have found. 

This country has not seen such a retreat since Dunkirk. Prosecutors and Police are in headlong flight in the face of a flood of crime and disorder unseen in this country since the Victorian era.   And, just as at Dunkirk, skilled propagandists seek to portray the defeat as a triumph.

For some time, I have scoffed at official figures claiming that crime was falling. It is plain to anybody outside the elite cocoon of money and power that such a claim must be garbage of a high order. But as always, when the state has a monopoly of information, it was hard to show where the flaw was. Now, thanks to the brave and astute action of the Magistrates Association, some light has been shone on this dark place.

The story is enormous. In 2008 Magistrates began to suspect that a falling workload in the Magistrates’ Courts was a national rather than just a local phenomenon. The Magistrates’ Association tried to find out what was really happening. They were of course told there was a reduction in crime . The published statistics, of course,  supported that.  

Rather than accept what they were told (as so many people gullibly and acquiescently do) the Magistrates launched their own inquiry, using the Freedom of Information Act.

I regret that much of the information here is three years old or more, but it has (to my embarrassment and regret) taken me that long to get on to this story, which has been hiding in plain sight for anyone to pick up. My excuse is that at the time it first surfaced briefly, I was travelling abroad a great deal.  I suspect that more recent figures would be even worse. The rape total given in my article of 11th November (higher than the one shown below) results from figures obtained since this report was written.

Its origins lie deep in the Blair Government which in 2001 passed the Criminal Justice and Police Act, a gimmicky measure designed to give the illusion of action. Its effects - and, I would suspect, its purposes – were quite different. Suddenly the police no longer had to take cases to court if they thought them worthy of action. In return for an admission of guilt, they could deal with them through on-the-spot penalties, a gross break with English legal tradition and a direct contravention of the Bill of Rights of 1689, but then nobody’s heard of that nowadays.

I am not sure exactly when the increased use of so-called ‘cautions’ a form of letting off without trial,  and also with only a minor criminal record, was put into law. But that has also grown enormously

In practice, huge numbers of the informal penalties are never paid, so they end up being not very different from cautions(or the even weaker ‘cannabis warning’ introduced without Parliament’s permission discussed here many times) . But there’s another crucial detail. Once an offence has been disposed of in this way *it cannot be reopened*. The wrongdoer can own up to it (thus receiving a fine he probably won’t pay and a small mark on his criminal record. After that, it cannot be raised again.

We shall see why this is significant. For all of what follows I am indebted to Richard Monkhouse and the Magistrates’ Association, whose sceptical,  inquiring spirit and hard work have uncovered one of the most interesting stories of our time.

They actually managed to stop the previous government extending the scheme to even more offences, though I should expect the existing government or the Lab-Lib coalition which will be in office from May 2015 will be back for more in time. After all, if you can’t reduce the problem, you can at least reduce the statistics.

Their document refers to OCDs (this stands for ‘Out of Court Disposals’). At the time of the survey, these were used for just over half all offences  (54%) and thus of course make nonsense of official ‘sentencing guidelines’ which apply only to cases which come to court.

They include :     

o          Simple Caution

o          Street Warning for Cannabis use

o          Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN)

o          Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND)

o          Conditional Cautions

The document notes ‘…Magistrates were reporting serious concerns about the use of Out of Court Disposals (OCDs).  At the Annual General Meeting [of the Magistrates’ Association] in Nov 2008 the following proposal was unanimously agreed :

‘This Annual General Meeting opposes the inappropriate use of out of court disposals.  It contends that serious offences, including offences involving acts of violence, are being dealt with out of court to the detriment of the criminal justice system.  It calls for the use of out of court disposals to be scrutinised to ensure that justice is being done and it urges the government to gather and publish detailed evidence on both the scale and consistency of use of such disposals in all areas of England and Wales.’

I quote again : ‘Magistrates Courts are open to the public, sentences are recorded and can be appealed, there is full scrutiny of the process, yet such disposals are not subject to such stringent procedure.  In many cases there is a victim and they cannot receive compensation of a Caution, FPN or PND is administered - but they can in court.  In addition almost 54% of FPNs [Fixed Penalty Notices] and PNDs [Penalty Notices for Disorder]are not paid and so come to court – but the court cannot deal with the original offence even if is a serious one.  There is extra cost to the court system to administer the fine when the Home office has already had a budget for the process.  Further the police are now accrediting non police officers to administer FPNS and PNDs and the government plans to extend the use of such disposal to Careless Driving.   

The data indicates that the use of out of court disposals is neither consistent, transparent nor open to public scrutiny’

Remember, these are the words of Magistrates, responsible, concerned, sober, respectable people with no political axe to grind. I have seldom seen such strong feeling in a document from such a restrained group of people.


Plans for secret justice in Britain left in turmoil

Plans for a major extension of ‘secret justice’ are in fresh turmoil today as MPs and peers insist ministers have still failed to justify such a ‘serious departure’ from Britain’s constitutional traditions.

An influential cross-party committee said that despite a string of concessions, the Government has not made a convincing case for new powers to allow more court hearings to take place behind closed doors.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said all the evidence it had received - apart from that of the Government - suggested the proposals would mean a ‘radical departure’ from ancient principles of ‘open justice and fairness’.

In a report published today, it suggests the Government will have difficulty getting the legislation through the House of Lords and will lead to calls for it to be dropped altogether.

The report on the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow judges to listen to more civil cases in secret without claimants being able to hear the evidence against them, raised concerns about the potential for the reforms to be used by the state to avoid ‘embarrassing situations’.

Committee chairman Hywel Francis said: ‘We were disappointed that the Government failed to prove to us a pressing need to extend the use of secret evidence into civil proceedings generally.

‘The Bill represents a very significant shift away from historic common law principles and Parliament should only accept such a departure when the necessity for it has been properly and persuasively justified.’

The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.

Defendants or claimants will not allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.

Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has forced the Government to make a number of concessions, including abandoning the idea of extending secret justice to inquest hearings.

But critics say the proposals still represent a fundamental breach of traditional principles of open justice, and accuse the Government of allowing the security services to dictate the legislation.

Spy chiefs were deeply embarrassed by civil court claims against them by terror suspects, which had to be settled out of court rather than having sensitive intelligence material discussed in open hearings.

Ministers claim they are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on settling claims, some of which may have no merit, because it is unable to contest them as the evidence it would wish to produce is so secret that it cannot be revealed in an open court.

Sixteen terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, received payouts last November after they claimed they were mistreated by US and British security and intelligence officials.

But critics and civil rights campaigners say the proposed reforms will create a ‘secret justice system straight from the pages of a Kafka novel’.

The committee criticised Home Secretary Theresa May for refusing to allow even special advocates - security cleared lawyers who can work in secret courts - to have access to information so they could assess whether secret trials were necessary.

That would have provided the ‘best evidence’ available to Parliament about whether there ‘really exists a practical need for the provisions’, the report said.

MPs and peers said it was ‘unsatisfactory’ ministers had not told them how many civil damages claims involving sensitive national security information were pending.

They ‘remain unpersuaded’ the Government has shown there is a significant and growing number of cases in which a closed material procedure was ‘essential’, the report added.

The committee raised concerns about what information would be classified as ‘sensitive’, warning it could be used to avoid ‘difficult or embarrassing situations’.

It said only UK intelligence material that could reveal the identity or techniques of UK intelligence officers or foreign intelligence material provided by another country on a strict promise of confidentiality should be deemed sensitive.

The committee called on ministers to revise the Bill to give courts a ‘genuine discretion’ on whether a closed material application may be made and if a claim for public interest immunity could have been made.


Australian politicians make calls to end the secrecy of the Sacrament of Penance

The privacy of the confession is an ancient church canon and breaching it would largely destroy confessions.  Politicians can spout all they like but will have no influence on church canons.  Priests may not reveal what they have learned during confession to anyone, even under the threat of their own death or that of others.  The paedophile priests should be severely dealt with but attacking penance solves nothing.

The Catholics concerned below are just covering their behinds.  They are not faithful to the teachings of the church.  But, then again, nor are the paedophile priests.

And the references below to His Eminence as "Mr. Pell" seem  deliberately insulting.  Is "Cardinal Pell" too much to expect?

Senior federal Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has declared that priests should report child sex abuse crimes revealed in the confessional to police.

On Wednesday, Mr Pyne - who is a practising Catholic [He needs more practice] - said that as a member of Parliament, it would be wrong of him to advise citizens not to report crimes, particularly something as serious as child abuse.  "If a priest, or anyone else, is aware of the sexual abuse of children that is going on, I think there is an obligation on them to report it to the appropriate authorities," he told ABC Radio.

On Tuesday, in the wake of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a royal commission on child abuse, Cardinal George Pell said that the seal of confession was "inviolable".

Mr Pell said that if a priest knew what would be confessed prior to the confession, then they should refuse to hear it.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said on Wednesday that it was important that she did not have a position on particular issues that were going before the commission.

"We really want the commissioners appointed to be able to explore every issue that they feel they need to," she told ABC TV.

But she also said that the commission needed to look at institutional barriers to reporting child sexual abuse, noting that it was a crime.

"I think the whole community finds that idea [that priests would not report abuse] really abhorrent and we've been through these debates for mandatory reporting for doctors, teachers, for others that [are] meant to be in close relationships and nevertheless have been required to make reports, so I think we really need to look carefully, there aren't a different set of rules that apply."

Ms Roxon added that it wasn't just priests who didn't report but other adults in other school or institutional communities. "A lot of people knew and somehow the system still failed those children," she said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said that everyone has to obey the law when it comes to reporting child sex abuse, including priests.

"There are various requirements on people if they become aware of sexual offences against children," he told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.  "Those legal requirements must be adhered to."

In Australia, mandatory reporting requirements differ between states and territories. For example, in South Australia, the confessional is exempt from mandatory reporting. In the Northern Territory, "any person with reasonable grounds" must report.

Under the NSW Crimes Act, a person must disclose knowledge of a sexual assault or risk being charged with concealing a serious indictable offence, but priests are one of a small class of occupations that cannot be prosecuted unless the Attorney-General consents.

On ABC Radio, Ms Roxon cautioned that the royal commission would take "years, not weeks or months".

Ms Roxon said that when the terms of reference were set later this year, there should be "proper report-back", so the public could be updated along the way.

Cabinet Minister Bill Shorten has said the royal commission must address the controversial issue of whether priests should be legally compelled to report evidence of abuse they hear in the confessional.

Mr Shorten, who strongly urges a general system of mandatory reporting, said: "What immunity can you claim when it comes to the safety and protection of little children?  "When it comes to the abuse of children, that privilege, if it ever had validity, is well and truly exhausted."

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell, a Catholic, has also questioned confessional privilege. He said he struggled to understand how, "[If] a priest confesses to another priest that he has been involved in paedophile activities, that that information should not be brought to police."

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu supported mandatory reporting but said there had been "a separate issue" about the confessional. This would be looked at by the Victorian inquiry into abuse and he expected it would be raised through the commission.

Mr Shorten said Victoria police supported mandatory reporting and state law should be changed to bring it in. Police should not be obstructed by institutions failing to report matters, and it was important institutions understood that internal processes were no substitute for police investigation.

Mr Shorten said his own strong views had been influenced by the fact his family had for years attended the Sacred Heart parish in Oakleigh, served by notorious paedophile priest Kevin O'Donnell. He said thousands of Australians had been victims of sexual abuse, "and too many haven't received a real apology, atonement or recompense".



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

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

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


14 November, 2012

Was the BBC’s blind hatred of Thatcher to blame for disastrous McAlpine smear?

Andrew Marr, a leading light of our national broadcaster, was quoted in this newspaper in October 2006 as saying: ‘The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly-funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.’

If only the truth were so relatively harmless.  The appalling false paedophile smear against Lord McAlpine, sparked by Newsnight last week, is but the latest – and most grotesque – manifestation of an anti-Tory culture in certain parts of the BBC.

And in Lord McAlpine’s case it wasn’t just that he was a Tory that had some BBC journalists slavering. It was that – as Conservative treasurer for 15 years until 1990 – he had been a close associate of Lady Thatcher.

Little wonder Newsnight pursued what they mistakenly thought was an accurate story about the peer with such relish – for the BBC’s institutional leftism is invisible only to the deaf and the blind. Even its last-but-one director general, Mark Thompson, told the left-wing New Statesman magazine in 2010 of the ‘massive’ left-wing bias of the Corporation.

It had had a ‘struggle’ to achieve impartiality, he said. He was speaking weeks after the election of a Tory-led coalition, at a time when he might have felt it politic to atone for the BBC’s sins, not least those committed during the 13 preceding years of Labour rule.

But in that interview, Mr Thompson put his finger on the key to the problem. The Corporation had, he said, been ‘mystified’ by the early years of the Thatcher government. Unfortunately, 30 years later, its mystification – by which he really means an inability to understand or accept Conservative values – still stands in the way of objective broadcasting, of the sort the licence-payer has a statutory right to expect.

In the Sixties and Seventies, the BBC was at the forefront of a movement to tear down traditional establishment values. But never did such a frontal assault on a democratically-elected Government – and the values it was put in office to promote – occur as when Mrs Thatcher was in office.

There were rumblings from Tory Central Office about the BBC’s election coverage in 1983 giving Labour an easier ride, and about the reporting of the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

But what really toxified the atmosphere between the Government and the Corporation was a scandal with remarkable parallels to what has unfolded in recent days, and culminated in the resignation of director general George Entwistle.

A 1984 Panorama programme, Maggie’s Militant Tendency, accused some Tory MPs of having links to the far-right and displaying Nazi sympathies (its title was of course an ironic nod to Labour’s Militant Tendency).

The programme – which was utterly discredited – culminated in a successful libel case by two of the MPs in 1986, followed by the sacking of the then director general, Alasdair Milne.

The problem was that the BBC at the time simply could not comprehend that most voters supported Mrs Thatcher’s efforts to tame the unions and sell off the nationalised industries to make them more efficient.

Ever since, anything that besmirches the memory, reputation or philosophy of Thatcherism – such as one of its leading lights allegedly, but incorrectly being a paedophile – has been seized on by elements of the BBC in an attempt to rewrite history and damage Conservatism.

However, the Corporation’s institutional leftism runs more widely and deeply even than this. It is debate over some of the most important and divisive issues in our political life – including the EU, climate change and multiculturalism – that has provoked, with much justification, the greatest charges of BBC bias. Mark Thompson has admitted that the BBC’s coverage of Europe has been ‘weak and nervous’. If only that was all it was. For the truth is that for decades the BBC has systematically treated anyone of a Eurosceptic persuasion as if they should be in a lunatic asylum.

As Greece, Spain and Italy head for the knacker’s yard, do we hear any apology from the BBC for the catastrophic misguidedness of that former Euro fanaticism? In terms of the environment, the BBC’s orthodoxy is that man-made global warming is indisputable, and anyone who questions it must also be an imbecile. This was confirmed by the distinguished former newsreader Peter Sissons.

He described the Corporation as ‘a propaganda machine for climate change zealots’, and added that ‘I was treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent’. The Left supports the man-made climate change theory because it allows it to attack capitalist industries that are allegedly destroying the planet: hence its attraction for the BBC.

When it comes to spiritual matters, the Corporation enthusiastically attacks Christianity but not Islam – because it fears an aggressive response to criticism. Such was its apparently blase approach to Christianity that it screened the irrevent musical Jerry Springer: The Opera in 2005, which led to 55,000 complaints about blasphemy.

In stark contrast, it runs ‘diversity workshops’ for staff to ensure they do not inadvertently cause ‘offence’ to potentially fractious minorities.

Its commitment to multiculturalism – a policy that even the Equality Commission no longer endorses – is such that in a country with an eight per cent ethnic minority population, it employs over 12 per cent of its staff from those minorities.

So much for the complaint by the former director general, Greg Dyke, that the Corporation was once ‘hideously white’. As for the Corporation’s world view – it has occasionally proved a little skewed to say the least. The BBC has held inquiries, and apologised, for its leftist reporting of the Israel/Palestine conflict. It had to say sorry when Barbara Plett, one of its Middle East correspondents, told how she cried as the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was dying.

The BBC’s innate anti-America bias has lessened during the Obama years, but when George W Bush was president it was palpable, and noticed in the US. In 2006, Justin Webb, now a Today presenter, but then the US correspondent, was so worried about the perception of bias that he sought the assistance of the then BBC deputy director general, Mark Byford, to broadcast stories that would help put the US in a better light.

If we were discussing Channel 4 or even ITV, these issues might not matter so much. But the BBC – partly thanks to its massive state subsidy – still maintains a position of trust at the centre of our society.

That’s why, when Cameron became Tory leader, one of his colleagues told me Tory policy would be tailored to ensure the party got a fair hearing on the BBC. It was proof of the Conservative party’s sensitivity to, and helplessness in the face of, the institutional leftism of the BBC – and it explains the party’s recent obsession with overseas aid and gay marriage.

That institutional leftism made the McAlpine smear possible. It put politics before journalistic standards. It has gone on too long and has now done serious damage. Whatever other qualities the next DG will need, an ability to eradicate this bias once and for all must be foremost among them.


The British elite are shameless

These payments are disgraceful

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, came under increasing pressure last night as it emerged he approved a £1.32 million severance package for George Entwistle, the former director-general.

Mr Entwistle, who resigned on Saturday night after just 54 days in the job, leaves with a £450,000 lump sum on top of his £877,000 pension pot, which was described as "unjustifiable and unacceptable" by one MP.

The BBC Trust said Mr Entwistle had been given a year's salary, which amounts to £8,333 for every day he spent as director-general, to "reflect the fact that he will continue to help the BBC business" by giving evidence to a series of inquiries into the Jimmy Savile affair and "to effect a speedy resolution and allow the BBC to move on".

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said licence fee payers would be "surprised" that he was being given so much after such a short tenure, while Philip Davies MP, who also sits on the committee, said it was "yet another reason" Lord Patten should resign.

Mr Entwistle quit after Newsnight was forced to issue an "unreserved" apology to Lord McAlpine after it broadcast a report wrongly accusing a senior Conservative of paedophilia, which led to the Tory peer being named online.

Lord Patten admitted yesterday that the very existence of Newsnight, which was already in crisis after it cancelled a film last year that would have exposed Jimmy Savile as a paedophile, was open to question.

Up to six senior executives are expected to follow Mr Entwistle out of the door once the findings of a series of internal reviews are published, throwing the leadership of the BBC even further into chaos. One MP suggested that only a "clear out" of the Trust and senior management would restore the faith in the corporation, while Philip Hammond, the Cabinet minister, suggested there would be "questions" over the future of the licence fee if the BBC failed to regain the public's backing.

As the hunt for a new director-general began, David Dimbleby, the Question Time host, told The Daily Telegraph that the Trust must appoint an outsider who was not "pickled in the culture" of bureaucracy that had "throttled" the BBC in recent years.

Lord Patten insisted yesterday that he would not be resigning, but admitted his job would be on the line if he could not restore people's "huge trust" in the BBC.

He said: "I think there are big issues which need to be tackled involving the BBC and .?.?. that's what I want to give my attention to."

But Mr Davies suggested that Mr Patten's position had become "untenable". He said: "He has been asleep at the wheel while he has been doing the job, he spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence-fee money appointing George Entwistle and 54 days later he is gone.

"The fact that he has approved a £450,000 payoff for him means his position has become farcical.

"This pay-off is totally unjustifiable, it's unacceptable, it's extraordinary and I suspect it's been done to save Lord Patten's bacon."

Gerry Sutcliffe MP, another member of the culture, media and sport committee, said the package was "symptomatic of the problems around the BBC", adding: "He has not had time to make an impact and to get that amount of money is ridiculous."

He suggested Mr Entwistle should "think twice" before accepting the money because it would "tarnish the spirit of his resignation".

Downing Street said that Lord Patten retained the support of the Prime

Minister, but that position is likely to change if he is criticised by any of the three BBC internal inquiries due to report back in December on Savile and sexual harassment.

In the week that BBC News celebrates its 90th birthday, Lord Patten said that the future of Newsnight was "one of the things we will be discussing" with the acting director-general, Tim Davie.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the Newsnight programme of Nov 2, in which a former care home resident wrongly claimed to have been abused by a senior Tory, was approved for transmission by one of the more junior members of the BBC's 12-man management board.

Although the BBC refused to say who had given the go-ahead for the film, the Telegraph has established that it was one of four executives: Lucy Adams, director of human resources, Zarin Patel, chief financial officer, Peter Johnston, director of BBC Northern Ireland, or Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Wales.

Mr Whittingdale said the executive who approved the Newsnight show would have to quit. "If George Entwistle was unaware of the programme, which he says he was, then clearly somebody below him took the decision that it was right to broadcast it," he said. "So potentially it may require other people to resign."

Government sources said up to five other BBC executives might also have to resign when the findings of the BBC's internal inquiries were made public.

Helen Boaden, the head of news, her deputy Steve Mitchell, Peter Rippon, the editor of Newsnight, and David Jordan, the head of editorial policy and standards, have already been tainted by last month's Savile revelations, while Adrian van Klaveren, who approved last week's Newsnight film as acting head of news, is in the dock over the latest fiasco.

The early front-runners for director-general include Caroline Thomson, the BBC's former chief operating officer, and Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom.

Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor, calls for the creation of a new post of director-general in charge of journalism.

"What must not be allowed to happen is that a radical overhaul will produce more managers," he says. "Over-management has been a serious blight on the BBC since the 1980s."


Time for a thorough clean-out of the BBC

The resignation of George Entwistle should not be the end of the clean-up at the BBC. There has been more than one man involved in this affair.

It was bad enough for those of us who believe in the concept of public service broadcasting and who over the years have greatly admired much of the BBC's output of music, drama, humour and factual scientific programmes to see how the Eurocentric Left-of-centre Guardianstas established and entrenched their monoply over its political and current affairs output.

Then, as Thatcher dominated the political scene and to the fury of those Guardianistas won not only the Falklands War to liberate the islanders from the fascist junta but three general elections, their lofty disdain for conservatives began to turn int something much nastier. It became a visceral loathing and determination to see off not only Thatcher and her friends, but to exact a revenge upon both them and her.

Sometimes it is the small things that stick in one's mind about such things and I remember so well how the BBC initially refused to broadcast a party political broadcast unless I removed the subtitles which I had included for the benefit of the deaf. We could not be allowed to escape from the image they had created for us as hard unfeeling extremists. I simply told them that I would broadcast a blank tape, and they gave in.

Now, in the wake of the humiliation of a mangement exposed as having allowed Jimmy Savile to misuse the Corporation's premises, the BBC has been exposed in a scurrilous plan to smear the memory of Thatcher by smearing her confidant and Party Treasurer, implying that he was at the heart of a paedophile ring which extended to No. 10 .

Not only was the story totatly untrue. Anyone who knew Alistair MacAlpine would have known it to be untrue. But in a savage paroxysm of shame and rage they were in too much haste to check any of the allegations against him. Their professionalism was overwhelmed. They may have faled to report on what was going on just outside their office doors, but they were for sure not going to miss this story of Tory wickedness.

I should say that of course I knew that a number of people in the Conservative Party then, as now, who had easy access to No. 10 were not of my sexual orientation. Had I objected to that, or counselled the Prime Minister against it, I would have been labelled a bigot. Indeed I knew that one person had been the object of police enquiries which had failed to find grounds for any charge. Had I sought to exclude him I would certainly been the subject of a Guardianist BBC lynch mob, but I certainly made as sure as I could that nothing improper happened in Downing Street. Not that I think I need have worried whilst Dennis Thatcher was there.

In short, the BBC plot to smear Alistair and Margaret Thatcher was a disgrace that will lower the standingof the BBC until someone cleans out those responsible.

Perhaps the Chairman might restore his reputation and that of the BBC. Or perhaps not.


Brussels Bans ‘Offensive’ Christmas Tree For Muslims

The traditional Christmas tree will no longer be lit in downtown Brussels.  Government officials in Brussels, Belgium banned Wednesday a popular Christmas tree exhibit out of concerns that the local Muslim population found it “offensive.”

An “electronic winter tree,” will take the place of the traditional Christmas Tree and Nativity scene at the city center of Grand Place, reports Brussels News.

The electronic sculpture will stand 25 meters (82 feet) tall and consists of a set of television screens, reports Brussels Expat. “During the daytime you can climb to the top of the tree where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city,” the website explains. “As soon as it becomes dark the tree turns into a spectacle of light and sound. Every ten minutes an amazing show will unfold.”

City councilwoman Bianca Debaets believes a “misplaced argument” over religious sensitivities has moved Brussels to put up the light sculpture. She points to the fact that it display not be referred to “Christmas” in any way to make her point.

“I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor” in replacing the tree, she told reporters. “For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”

Many cities in Belgium have thriving Muslim populations. A 2008 study showed Muslims make up 25.5-percent of the population of Brussels, 3.9-percent of Flanders, and 4.0-percent of Wallonia.

Two Muslims elected to the Brussels city council last month have vowed to turn Belgium into a Muslim state based on Sharia law, as previously reported.

“Must a historic city like Brussels be sensitive to traditions? And should be a multi-religious city like Brussels not leave room for the individuality of every philosophy?,” Debaets asks.

Other city officials insists the move was not made to placate Muslims or other groups. Nicolas Dassonville, spokesman for Mayor Thielemans (PS), said the Nativity scene will remain at Grand Place

The tree’s sponsor, electricity generator Electrabel, made the move to put up the electronic sculpture this year, Dassonville said.



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

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

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


13 November, 2012

Football fans need free speech, too

A man has been jailed for singing a song that mocks a religious leader, yet liberty campaigners have said nothing

Imagine the scene: a young man is led away in handcuffs to begin a prison sentence as his mother is left crying in the courtroom. He is 19 years old, has a good job, has no previous convictions, and has never been in trouble before. These facts cut no ice with the judge, however, as the crime is judged so heinous that only a custodial sentence is deemed appropriate. The young man in question was found guilty of singing a song that mocked and ridiculed a religious leader and his followers.

So where might this shocking story originate? Was it Iran? Saudi Arabia? Afghanistan? Perhaps it was Russia, a variation of the Pussy Riot saga, without the worldwide publicity? No, the country in question is Scotland and the young man is a Rangers fan. He joined in with hundreds of his fellow football fans in singing ‘offensive songs’ which referred to the pope and the Vatican and called Celtic fans ‘Fenian bastards’.

Such songs are part and parcel of the time-honoured tradition of Rangers supporters. And I have yet to meet a Celtic fan who has been caused any harm or suffering by such colourful lyrics. Yet in sentencing Connor McGhie to three months in a young offenders’ institution, the judge stated that ‘the extent of the hatred [McGhie] showed took my breath away’. He went on: ‘Anybody who participates in this disgusting language must be stopped.’

Several things strike me about this court case. For a start, if Rangers fans singing rude songs about their arch rivals Celtic shocks this judge to the core, I can only assume he does not get out very much or knows little of life in Scotland. Not that his ignorance of football culture is a surprise - the chattering classes have always viewed football-related banter with contempt. But what is new about the current climate is that in Scotland, the middle-class distaste for the behaviour of football fans has become enshrined in law.

This new illiberal climate has created a situation where football supporters are increasingly viewed as a public-order incident waiting to happen. Tragically, young fans like Connor McGhie are now fair game because those in powerful positions don’t like what they sing. They have been demonised and criminalised for many years, a trend which reached its logical conclusion last year with the introduction by the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Act, which made it a criminal offence to shout or sing offensive slogans. The consequence is that to be a Celtic or Rangers fan today is to be watched over, regulated, censored and generally treated like a threat to society. There is no discrimination towards different groups of fans – all are treated equally badly. It was this time last year that I wrote on spiked about a dawn raid on the home of a 17-year-old Celtic fan, who was remanded in custody for allegedly singing a republican song the police objected to. In short, the civil liberties of Celtic and Rangers fans alike are now fair game to be trampled on.

What is also noticeable about the imprisonment of McGhie for singing songs is the response of civil-liberties activists and religious-freedom campaigners. Or rather, the lack of response. There has been complete silence. Where are all those who protested vehemently against the detention of Pussy Riot for making similarly profane statements in a Russian cathedral? Where are all those newspaper editorials howling in rage against the incarceration of this young Rangers fan? Perhaps if he stormed into St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, the spiritual headquarters of the Catholic Church in Scotland, and hurled obscenities at worshippers, he would attract more support.

The other thing that strikes me is how anti-Catholic prejudice seems to be tolerated when it comes from our ‘national treasures’, like Stephen Fry or Richard Dawkins, but not when it comes out of the mouths of football fans. When the pope visited Britain two years ago, liberal campaigners lined up to accuse him of everything from hatred of women to paedophilia. To my knowledge, none of these words were deemed offensive enough to the UK’s Catholic community to prompt arrests or detentions, yet when a Rangers fan shouts of his hatred for the pope, that fan is locked up.

Tolerance, it seems, exists for those safely ensconced in polite society but not for Rangers or Celtic supporters, the great majority of whom are just ordinary working-class guys who love their team and enjoy expressing their passion for 90 minutes a week. True, they are not observing polite dinner-party etiquette when at a football match, and those of a more delicate nature should perhaps avoid Celtic or Rangers games. But part of the ritual of supporting a team is to wind up your rivals and, for some, this involves being raucous and boorish and hurling the occasional insult.

At the time of writing, Connor McGhie has been released on bail pending an appeal. Young men like him need and deserve the support of people who claim to care about free speech and civil liberties. This support should not be reserved for nice, respectable people, and withheld from those deemed less respectable. Despite my fanatical support for Celtic and my deep loathing for Rangers, there are things that cut through football rivalry. The right to shout the slogans we choose during the game is one of them. 


Farewell to our warrior nation

Max Hastings on the decline of Britain

The Government is making huge cuts to the Army, Royal Navy and RAF in the mistaken belief that they no longer matter

Thirty years ago, I tramped across a soggy South Atlantic wilderness among 15,000 Royal Marines, paratroopers, Guardsmen and Gurkhas who fought that most surreal of campaigns, the 1982 Falklands war.

It was obvious at the time that Margaret Thatcher's South Atlantic adventure was a last imperial hurrah. But none of us would then have guessed that today, not merely the ships and planes, but the very Armed Forces which fought the war, would be on their way to the scrapyard. Soldiers are being made redundant. I do not mean merely those thousands of men and women who have lately been handed P45s as part of the Coalition Government's defence cuts. Britain's entire Armed Forces are shrinking towards a point where, like Alice's cat, soon only the smile will be left.

This represents a big cultural change. Yet despite all the public's enthusiasm for supporting soldiers through such charities as Help for Heroes, there is no sign that they have noticed the draconian implications of the defence cuts - or if they have, that they much care. Amid disillusionment following perceived military failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, the British people have lost enthusiasm for our traditional role as a warrior nation.

David Cameron's Government is cutting the regular Army to its lowest manpower strength for centuries: 82,000. When the downsizing is complete, more than 20 per cent of our soldiers will have gone. I must confess that I am profoundly sceptical whether it will prove possible to recruit the 30,000 reservists the Defence Secretary promised this week.

Soon, we shall be capable of deploying only a single battlegroup of 7,000-8,000 men for sustained operations overseas. Compare this tiny force to the 35,000 troops deployed in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles in the 1970s, or the 30,000 military personnel sent to the First Gulf War in 1991.

The message is plain: Britain has neither the means nor the will any longer to sustain a capability to commit large troop numbers abroad, in support of the national interest. The historic vision of the redcoat - holding the line at Blenheim, Waterloo, Balaclava; defending Rorke's Drift for that peerless movie Zulu; fighting to victory in two world wars and countless colonial "brushfire" campaigns - is to be laid to rest.

This momentous decision, with all that it means for our culture and heritage, has been a long time coming. And it raises an important question: what are soldiers for in the 21st century?

For thousands of years, nations required armies to defend their own territories and conquer those of others. From the 18th century, most of our military effort was deployed to secure our burgeoning empire. The public in those days did not love its soldiers as it did its sailors. Everybody knew that Britain recruited its warriors from the dross of society, men incapable of finding any other route to a living than to "take the King's Shilling". The Army preserved some respectability chiefly because the aristocracy liked fighting, and sent its younger sons to serve. Lords and honourables were often bereft of brains and unfit for their commands, as Wellington complained. But somehow a raw, brutal, bovine courage common to the leaders and the led, together with a few bright officers, enabled the relatively small regular army to achieve some remarkable things.

The First World War brought a huge expansion of the Army, first by volunteers, latterly by conscription. The same happened in 1939-45, when once again millions of young citizens experienced military life. Even when peace came, the Cold War and residual empire commitments sustained into the 1950s an Army of 750,000. Then, however, it was decided that conscription was more trouble and expense than it was worth. Though a minority of young men fought, most peeled potatoes or blancoed puttees at Aldershot or Rheindahlen. They learnt little that was useful, and the professionals had to devote most of their energies to training them.

The Army that followed in the 1960s and 1970s, volunteers to a man, became the best this country has ever had. But the end of the Cold War brought another radical upheaval. Inevitably, the government seized the opportunity to save money by cutting the Armed Forces. The Royal Navy secured a temporary reprieve thanks to the 1982 Argentine invasion of the Falklands. A short, sharp, decisive war enabled the British to show off their superiority over a third-class enemy. The prestige of all the services soared, and victory earned Margaret Thatcher her reputation as a warrior prime minister.

But she soon resumed her pursuit of a "peace dividend". Rhine Army's resources and training budgets were cut savagely. For the First Gulf War in 1992, it proved necessary to cannibalise the Army's entire armoured vehicle inventory in Germany to deploy a single weak division in the desert.

The Army was deeply apprehensive about its future when Tony Blair became prime minister in 1997. As far as action went, it need not have been.

New Labour's prime minister put British troops in harm's way, in pursuit of his supposed "moral foreign policy", more often than any other modern national leader including Mrs Thatcher. There was one important difficulty, however. While Blair was eager to use force to do good deeds in the world, he never wanted to pay the bills. In Iraq and later Afghanistan, British forces found themselves pursuing hugely ambitious objectives with wholly inadequate resources, and humiliatingly dependent on the Americans for equipment.

In the Blair era the Army shrank below 100,000 men, yet again and again accepted tasks that were properly beyond its means. The generals' traditional "can do" spirit contributed to grievous embarrassments and failures in Basra and Helmand province. They should have said "no" more often.

Today the public still embraces our Army - but as victims, lambs to the slaughter like the Light Brigade at Balaclava. Such an attitude greatly dismays thoughtful soldiers. They know that the Army has lost much of the prestige won by victories of the Falklands era, and the political clout it could wield when most politicians had served in uniform. David Cameron's Coalition sees only that it needs to save money, and soldiers are expensive.

It costs about $2 million a year to keep each American in Afghanistan. Manpower costs account for 40 per cent of Britain's defence spend. The Government is determined to fight no more foreign ground wars, once we escape from Helmand.

This hope or expectation is almost certainly unrealistic. Events have a way of taking charge. Who knows where Cameron, or his successors, may discern a "moral imperative", as he did in Libya and chafes also to do in Syria? Downing Street argues that air power and special forces can do the business, without having to commit thousands of troops. Technology may be expensive, but it seems to the politicians to deliver a bigger bang for their buck.

Yet "boots on the ground" offer flexibility and a disciplined and available national resource such as no other institution in the land can match. In 2012, the Government would have faced huge embarrassment had it not been able, at a month's notice, to deploy 3,000 soldiers for security at the London Olympics. After 2015, however, there will be pitifully few men for Olympic security or anything else.

Defence policy should always be rational, so no sensible person will lament the passing of Britain's redcoat tradition merely as a matter of sentiment. But I believe that our national interest and security will suffer from the drastic shrinkage of the Armed Forces. In future, we shall retain - at vast cost - a capacity to pulverise an identified foreign enemy with Trident nuclear missiles, though it is hard to conceive any credible scenario in which we would use them. We shall still have special forces, capable of storming buildings and fighting terrorists. But we shall have lost immense and important capability between the two.

When millions of people put on their Remembrance poppies tomorrow, they will commemorate not only the dead of our past wars, but the looming recession into history of the Armed Forces which have done so much to define our national culture. The politicians are consigning Britain's Army, Navy and RAF to the margin of national experience. As a matter of policy rather than sentiment, this seems a grievous error.


Should Churches Be Used as Polling Places? Atheists & Church-State Separatists Say ‘No’?

Church-state separatists — and, in particular, atheists — tend to complain about a wide variety of issues pertaining to religious influence in public life. But what about houses of worship doubling as polling locations, a topic that receives little coverage? While many Americans cast their electoral ballots inside schools and other public buildings, some are also required, should they choose to vote in person, to do so inside of church buildings.

This week, CNN took a look at the issue, recapping some perspectives that highlight the pros and cons associated with allowing (or, in some peoples’ words “forcing”) Americans to cast their votes inside houses of worship. While church-state separatists argue that holding official polling inside of these structures constitutes an improper intermixing of faith and governance, other dismiss such a notion.

On one hand, it could be argued that churches simply aren’t appropriate as polling stations. After all, depending on the denomination, associations with more liberal or conservative ideals may be embraced. One could claim that, even if it is rooted in the subconscience, houses of worship might cause voters to second-guess their views on specific issues at the polls.

Still, those supportive of using churches for this purpose would likely dismiss this view, while also highlighting societal roles that religious institutions have traditionally played. From feeding the poor to serving as  places of refuge, American houses of worship have a history of helping those in need and serving as community epicenters for change and the betterment of the public welfare.

If churches are so much a part of society — and the local community — that they regularly feed the poor and assist the downtrodden in times of trouble, why should they not also serve as hubs in the electoral process, these critics might ask.

Considering the policy views and political activity that some churches embrace and engage in, though, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is an opposing voice when it comes to answering whether churches should double as polling places.
Should Churches Be Used as Polling Places? | Elections

People wait outside Mt.Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, DC on November 6, 2012 as Americans headed to the polls Tuesday after a burst of last-minute campaigning by President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in a nail-biting contest unlikely to heal a deeply polarized nation. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

“All of this church-based political activity makes me uneasy about casting ballots in houses of worship, especially those festooned with political signs,” Lynn wrote in a recent CNN op-ed. “And yet today, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of churches around the country are being pressed into service as polling places.”

Lynn claims that his group receives regular complaints that churches are used when there is another location — a library, school or community center — that could easily act as a voting locality. Now, the church-state separatist’s concern over influence is certainly an interesting one. After all, consider the Colorado church that served as a polling place this year, while also choosing to leave up its anti-abortion display (an action that captivated headlines).

However, just as concerning as this anecdotal example may be, secular locations also have their problems (i.e. the pro-Obama mural present on the wall at a Philadelphia school). While one could argue that voting in a church may cause individuals to pause and reconsider their views on controversial social issues, wouldn’t voting in a school or library potentially impact voters’ perspective on budgets and funding for these localities (this may be a stretch, but you get the idea).


Australian Labor Party gives up plan for internet censorship

LABOR has abandoned its controversial plan to introduce an internet filter, but is banning all websites related to child abuse.   The federal government will use its powers under the Telecommunications Act to block hundreds of child abuse websites already identified by Interpol, Fairfax reports.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said blocking these websites met "community expectations and fulfils the government's commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online".  "Given this successful outcome, the government has no need to proceed with mandatory filtering legislation," he said.

Kevin Rudd promised to introduce an internet filter when Labor won office at the 2007 election, but it was always a controversial policy.  Internet lobbyists argued against censorship and predicted a filter would be ineffective and would slow internet speeds.

Both the coalition and the Greens opposed the plan.

The internet filter would have required Australian internet service providers to block overseas-hosted "refused classification" material as identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The list of banned websites would have been based on public complaints to ACMA.

Fairfax said Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Lee welcomed the decision as "a positive step".

But the Australian Christian Lobby insisted a filter was needed because "it is important to prevent unwanted access to pornography".  "We must protect our children from forming unhealthy attitudes towards women and sex," lobby spokeswoman Wendy Francis said.



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

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

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


12 November, 2012

Crime in Britain ISN'T falling, it's just that we've given up trying to combat it

Peter Hitchens

Has anything been happening while much of our media have been obsessed with a foreign contest between two mediocrities for a post that isn’t as important as it looks?

Well, how about this blood-freezing statistic? More than 50 rapists have been let off with cautions, without ever facing a trial.

No doubt you thought that cautions were the sort of thing they gave to teenagers found drunk and flat on their faces in the street. But rape? Isn’t that important?

In fact, isn’t it – thanks to political correctness – one of the few crimes that everyone still takes seriously, even Guardian readers? And more than 50 rapists, who have admitted the offence, have been given cautions for it? Shouldn’t the Government have fallen?

You might expect the Tories  to make a fuss about this  but – now of course you remember – the Tories are in this  Government and, in fact, dominate it.

Actually, this is only a small part of a much bigger problem uncovered by the Magistrates’ Association, whose members had begun to wonder why business in their courts was getting so slack. Had crime stopped?

No, it hadn’t. Something else had happened. Criminals, the Government and the police were co-operating in a vast project which benefits everyone except the British public.

The police benefit because they look as if they’re doing something, when they’re not. The criminals benefit because they get let off so they can go and commit more crimes. And the Government benefits because it does not have to build the hundred or so huge new prisons that would be needed to house malefactors if we still took crime seriously.

Actually, it’s far worse than I can fully state here, a horrible catalogue of unpunished evil, under which severe violence, child cruelty, burglary and even blackmail have been dealt with through the law’s equivalent of a shrug.

I plan to put a much fuller version of this scandal on my blog in the next few days, drawn from the jaw-dropping report by the Magistrates’ Association which should by now have been on every newspaper front page in the country.

When you read – as you often do – that ‘crime is falling’, you must understand what this really means. It means that large numbers of wicked acts are no longer considered as crimes by the authorities. If we had the standards of 60 years ago, half the young people in the country would be locked up.

If the police and courts of that era had judged crime by our standards, their prisons would have been empty.

It is not crime that has fallen, it is partly our own moral standard, our expectation of good, considerate, honest behaviour from our neighbours that has fallen.

But it is also that the police and the Government, seeking a quiet life, have found it easier and cheaper to ignore wrongdoing until it gets out of control.

Like all appeasement of evil, this policy invites a reckoning in the future.


An SAS hero has been jailed for possessing a "war trophy" pistol presented to him by the Iraqi Army for outstanding service

A token of British gun hysteria

Sgt Danny Nightingale, a special forces sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military detention by a court martial last week.  His sentence was described last night as the "betrayal of a war hero", made worse because it was handed down in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

Sgt Nightingale had planned to fight the charge of illegally possessing the 9mm Glock.  But his lawyer said he pleaded guilty after being warned that he could otherwise face a five-year sentence.

The soldier had hoped for leniency given the circumstances. At the court martial, even the prosecution described him as a serviceman of exemplary character, who had served his country for 17 years, 11 in the special forces.

The court was told that he returned to Britain in a hurry after two friends were killed in Iraq, leaving his equipment - including the pistol - to be packed up by colleagues.

It accepted evidence from expert witnesses that he suffered severe memory loss due to a brain injury.

Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor, presiding over the court martial, could have spared the soldier prison by passing a suspended sentence. Instead he handed down the custodial term.

Sgt Nightingale and his family chose to waive the anonymity usually given to members of the special forces.  His wife, Sally, said her husband's sentence was a "disgrace". She called him a "hero who had been betrayed". She said she and the couple's two daughters, aged two and five, faced losing their home after his Army pay was stopped.

The soldier's former commanding officer and politicians have called for the sentence to be overturned.

Lt Col Richard Williams, who won a Military Cross in Afghanistan in 2001 and was Sgt Nightingale's commanding officer in Iraq, said the sentence "clearly needed to be overturned immediately".

He said: "His military career has been ruined and his wife and children face being evicted from their home - this is a total betrayal of a man who dedicated his life to the service of his country."

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP for Newark and a former infantry officer, said he planned to take up the case with the Defence Secretary. Simon McKay, Sgt Nightingale's lawyer, said: "On Remembrance Sunday, when the nation remembers its war heroes, my client - one of their number - is in a prison cell. "I consider the sentence to be excessive and the basis of the guilty plea unsafe. It is a gross miscarriage of justice and grounds of appeal are already being prepared."

In 2007, Sgt Nightingale was serving in Iraq as a member of Task Force Black, a covert counter-terrorist unit that conducted operations under orders to capture and kill members of al-Qaeda.  He also helped train members of a secret counter-terrorist force called the Apostles. At the end of the training he was presented with the Glock, which he planned to donate to his regiment as a war trophy.

But in November 2007, two of Sgt Nightingale's closest friends, Sgt John Battersby and Cpl Lee Fitzsimmons, were killed in a helicopter crash. He accompanied both bodies back to Britain and helped arrange the funerals.

In Iraq, his equipment was packed by colleagues, one of whom placed the pistol inside a container that was sent first to the SAS regimental headquarters in Hereford, then to his home where it remained unopened until 2010.

In 2009, Sgt Nightingale, now a member of the SAS selection staff, took part in a 200-mile fund-raising trek in Brazil. He collapsed after 30 miles and fell into a coma for three days.  He recovered but his memory was severely damaged, according to two expert witnesses, including Prof Michael Kopleman of King's College, London, an authority on memory loss.

In May, 2010, Sgt Nightingale was living in a house with another soldier close to the regiment's headquarters when he was posted to Afghanistan at short notice.

During the tour, his housemate's estranged wife claimed her husband had assaulted her and kept a stash of ammunition in the house. West Mercia Police raided the house and found the Glock, still in its container.

Sgt Nightingale's court martial did not dispute that the pistol had been a gift. It accepted statements from expert witnesses, including Dr Susan Young, a forensic psychologist also from King's College, London. She said that he probably had no recollection that he had the gun.

The court also accepted that Sgt Nightingale had suffered severe memory loss. But the judge did not believe that he had no recollection of being in possession of the weapon.


British Conservative group argues for independent press regulation

The "wets" are still around

Any new media regulator must be independent of the press, an influential group of Conservatives has argued.

Proposals advanced by the newspaper industry "risk being an unstable model destined to fail", the group argued in a letter signaling possible support for a limited form of statutory regulation.

Four former cabinet ministers were among those who signed it.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has suggested he opposes state regulation of the press, but some of his Tory party colleagues could be more open to it, their intervention indicates.

In their letter, which was published in the Guardian, 42 MPs and two peers said they "agree with the prime minister that obsessive argument about the principle of statutory regulation can cloud the debate".

But they add that forms of statutory regulation in broadcasting and other professions have been proven to work.

"The Jimmy Savile scandal was exposed by ITV and the Winterbourne View care home scandal was exposed by the BBC, both of which are regulated by the Broadcasting Act," they write. "While no one is suggesting similar laws for newspapers, it is not credible to suggest that broadcasters such as Sky News, ITV or the BBC have their agenda dictated by the government of the day."

They agreed that "no one wants our media controlled by the government" but stressed that in order to be credible, "any new regulator must be independent of the press as well as from politician."

They went on: "We are concerned that the current proposal put forward by the newspaper industry would lack independence and risks being an unstable model destined to fail, like previous initiatives over the past 60 years."

Signatories include the former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, two former party chairmen Caroline Spelman and Lord Fowler, and the former chief whip Lord Ryder.

According to one of the figures behind the letter, the intention was to break the so-called siege of Downing Street by the newspaper industry and enable Mr Cameron to engage with Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations.

It is also the first sign that the Conservatives will not respond with a universal opposition to legal regulation of the industry.

The findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards are due to be published at the end of this month.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said earlier this week that the Coalition should support the inquiry's findings as long as its proposals were "proportionate."

But Mr Cameron said earlier this month: "We must wait for what Lord Leveson says. I don't want to pre-judge it. We don't want heavy-handed state intervention. We've got to have a free press."

Senior Tories have also previously made it clear they have deep concerns about a move towards state regulation of the media, fearing it could hamper it from investigating wrongdoing.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, last week said ministers should be "very, very, very reluctant" to bring in new laws regulating the press after the Leveson inquiry.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has also opposed state-backed regulation of the press.


Under-used holiday homes should be bought up by councils, union argues


GMB, the campaigning union with 610,000 members, said second home owners should be forced to forgo properties they used for only a few weeks a year.

It argued that councils should have the power to levy taxation on underused holiday homes and empty properties.

Referring to recent figures which showed that more than 170,000 people owned a second home in Britain, the union suggested that those who used them for just a few weeks a year brought little value to local economies.

Instead of being allowed to languish, local authorities should be given powers for compulsory purchase in areas with acute housing need, it was claimed.

Paul Kenny, the general secretary of the GMB, said: "In many areas, urgent action is needed to ascertain if properties used as holiday homes are actually in use at all.

"A holiday home that is only used for a few weeks a year is very different to a holiday home that is occupied for most of the year in terms of its economic benefits to any locality.

"A holiday home that is used only a few weeks a year at a time when there are families in bed and breakfast accommodation gives rise to fundamental questions on the role and power of the local authority on the use of residential property in its area.

"We believe that under the Localism Act, local councils should have the power to levy taxation on under-used holiday homes and other empty properties.

"In areas with acute housing need, questions should be raised in the council chamber as to whether under-used houses should be subject to compulsory purchase."

More than 40,000 people have a holiday home in the South West of England. Another 30,000 people own a holiday home in Wales..

More than 10,000 people from outside Cornwall own a home in the county, while the figure for Gwynedd in North Wales was 7,700 and almost 5,000 in north Norfolk.

Sue Pittendrigh, owner of Second Home Services, said she believed it ought to be a human right for property owners to do what they like with their own homes.

"I think it's disgusting," she said of the proposal. "I would never support that."

"Holiday homes provide work for people and have benefits for tourism. People work hard to buy them, often as an investment, and many intend to retire to it later; they are already contributing to the local economy."

Dan Rogerson MP, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, has previously argued for a higher rate of council tax for second homes, saying owning a piece of his constituency then leaving it empty "helps nobody".

"There are now whole villages where the lights are off for all of the winter, which is heartbreaking for local communities and leaves a gaping hole in the local economy," he has said.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said new legislation had already given councils the flexibility to remove council tax relief for second or empty homes.

"The Government is also determined to pull out all the stops to get new homes built," he said.

"That's why to date the Government has sold enough formerly used surplus public sector land to deliver 33,000 new homes, why we're investing £19.5 billion public and private funding in a programme to deliver 170,000 affordable homes."



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

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

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


11 November, 2012

British judge hits out at wives who demand 'completely inappropriate' divorce payments

Large divorce payouts awarded by British judges in the past have made marriage in Britain not readily distinguishable from prostitution

The days of wives receiving multi-million pound divorce payouts from wealthy husbands could be numbered after one of the country's top family judges slammed such claims.

Lord Justice Thorpe said payouts in 'big money' divorces, where wives feel it is 'reasonable' to ask for millions to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to, should be consigned to history, adding: 'We only talk about "needs" when there isn't a lot to go round.'

The judge made the comments when presiding over a case in which multi-millionaire hotel boss Andrew Morris Davies, is battling to get a £2.75million divorce payout awarded to his ex-wife Debra Ann Davies cut.

Mr Davies was 'in love' with his business, The Cardiff Hotel, in exclusive Norfolk Square, Bayswater, West London, and described himself as 'a force of nature' to Judge Martin O'Dwyer who made the award to his ex-wife.

She helped run the hotel for 13 years before the couple split, and in August last year, Judge O'Dwyer recognised her contribution to the success of the business when he awarded her a £2.2million lump sum, plus the £550,000 former matrimonial home, in Friars Way, Acton.

Mr Davies reacted angrily to the award, insisting that - whilst his wife was 'the second best receptionist' he ever had - she should not get a share of the hotel's value because she was just a paid employee who 'simply did her duties'.

Today he asked Lord Justice Thorpe, Lord Rimer and Lord Justice Elias sitting in London's Appeal Court to slash her payout.

The court heard the hotel had been passed to Mr Davies and his two sisters by their parents, and Mr and Mrs Davies bought out his siblings' shares during their marriage.

Having heard that Judge O'Dwyer had assessed Mrs Davies' claim, 'in terms of pure need', at £1.55million and had then upped her payout to £2.7million because of her contribution to the success of the hotel, Lord Justice Thorpe said:

'Any mention of needs is completely inappropriate in a case of this scale. We only talk about needs when there isn't a lot to go round.  'In a case like this, which is loosely categorised as 'big money', needs should not make much of a contribution to judicial reasoning.

'The bigger the family fortune, the less relevant needs became. In big money cases, the wife will often get twice what she needs. I don't see what bearing needs have in this case.'

Lords Justice Thorpe, Rimer and Elias reserved their decision on Mr Davies' appeal, to be delivered at a later date.


The new Archbishop of Canterbury believes in God!

Rare in the Anglican episcopacy

His style is self-deprecating, his family background surprisingly colourful. The great unanswered question, though, is just why did oilman Justin Welby throw up his six-figure salary and executive lifestyle to become a priest?

Yesterday, 56-year-old Dr Welby — ordained barely 20 years ago and appointed Bishop of Durham only last autumn — was named the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England’s most senior post and spiritual head of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.

As Damascene conversions go, Dr Welby’s story must be classified as positively Biblical. The child of a broken home (his parents divorced when he was just three), he went to Eton and Cambridge, then spent years working in Paris and London, climbing the ladder in the tough but rewarding oil business.

Then in 1989, at the age of 33, he threw it all up to enter Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham, and by 1992 he was a curate. (Given his appointment this week, it is entertaining to note that the late Bishop of Kensington, John Hughes, when approached by Justin Welby, said: ‘There is no place for you in the Church of England. I have interviewed a thousand for ordination, and you don’t come in the top thousand.’)

At a Lambeth Palace press conference to announce his appointment yesterday, the Archbishop elect signalled the start of a battle with David Cameron over same-sex marriage, declaring his opposition to the Coalition’s plans to allow gay couples to marry.

His confirmation, in a single sentence, that he backs a strong line against gay marriage means an inevitable clash between the Church and the Government, though he went on to say: ‘I am always averse to the language of exclusion.’

His new role is affirmation of his meteoric rise, on the back of self-effacing observations such as ‘Let’s be clear, I’m one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England’; and, as he rose to make his maiden speech in the House of Lords last spring, a declaration that he was ‘astonished’ to be there at all.

As for his own vocation, his explanation for the fundamental switch in his life is simply to say: ‘I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling.’

There is a deep-seated tragedy which undoubtedly pulled him, and his wife Caroline, 55, a classics teacher, to prayer. This was the death in a car crash in France of their firstborn child, seven-month-old Johanna. The baby was in a carry cot in the car with Caroline, though Justin was not travelling with them.  ‘It was a very dark time for us, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God,’ he said recently.

That same year, the Welbys, who now have two sons and another three daughters (as well as Katherine, there is Tim, 28, Peter, 23, currently studying Arabic, Eleanor, 20, and Hannah, 17), moved back to England. Soon after, he accepted the senior position of group treasurer to an oil exploration group, Enterprise Oil in London.

Significantly, he also became a member of the congregation at the evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, which has been at the centre of the Alpha Course movement (a highly popular nationwide ten-week introduction to the faith).

But could there have been another reason why Justin Welby was motivated to pull away from Mammon and turn to God?

In Paris, he had worked as a finance project manager for the French oil company Elf Aquitaine (now part of the global giant Total) during a period when, it later emerged, some of the senior executives at its palatial offices near the Champs-Elysee were running fraud rackets involving corrupt African dictators, compliant members of the Gallic establishment, and a vast network of criminally minded middle men.

Secret dealings went on relentlessly in which executives effectively used the company as a private bank, with hundreds of millions spent on art, villas, women and political lobbying. One figure famously used company money to finance his multi-million-pound divorce.

It was one of France’s greatest scandals, summed up by investigating judge Eva Joly in these words: ‘I see so many resemblances, in France and abroad, between the corruption of the state and mafias of various sorts — the same networks, the same henchmen, the same banks, the same marble villas.’

A lawyer involved in the scandal says: ‘The effect on innocent young employees like Justin Welby when the truth emerged must have been enormous. No wonder he couldn’t get away fast enough from big business. No wonder he is a man who, it is quite obvious, wants to do good.’

So it is no surprise that Dr Welby has brought his anger over such greed into his ministry.  In the House of Lords, he has challenged the ‘sins’ of the big banks, and used that Old Testament word ‘usury’ to condemn the payday ‘loan sharks’ with their sky-high interest rates.

Not only does he understand the devious workings of the City, he has become the object of a wry joke in ecclesiastical circles, which goes: ‘How astonishing — an Archbishop of Canterbury who actually believes in God.’

His contemporaries at Eton included the Tory minister Oliver Letwin, and he is just a few months older than other notable Etonians such as Charles Moore and Dominic Lawson — former editors of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

While the Prime Minister — yet another OE, of course — will be sensitive to criticism that Bishop Welby’s appointment will only increase the school’s dominance of the Establishment, his down-to-earth likeability should allay Mr Cameron’s concerns.

He and Caroline — who met at Cambridge and have been married for 33 years — sent their five children to state schools. Meanwhile, the clergyman himself has plenty of experience of the real world, having shaken hands with warlords and been threatened at gunpoint during his ministry in Africa on behalf of a peace and reconciliation project based in Coventry.

Where the new head of the Church will find disagreement with the Prime Minister is on the thorny issue of gay marriage.  [The Prime Minister favours it.  His Grace does not]

So there will be battles ahead. But they will be fought with charm and good humour.

It may be a long way from the cloisters of Eton to the African badlands, but Justin Welby has trodden that path with empathy and courage.

Now, he must turn his considerable talents to the stewardship of the Church of England — a monumental challenge for any man.

The new Archbishop will replace Dr Rowan Williams who is to become Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge


Britain could leave European Court of Human Rights

Britain could leave the European Convention on Human Rights after rows over prisoner voting and the deportation of foreign criminals, the Justice Secretary has said.

Chris Grayling, who took over the job in September, said he has not ruled out an exit from European human rights laws, even though the Attorney General has told MPs there is "no question of the UK withdrawing from the convention".

Dominic Grieve, the Government's most senior lawyer, said in the House of Commons last month that Britain "strongly supports" the convention and it must be allowed to "continue its very good work".

But in an interview with the Conservative Home website, Mr Grayling said: "Well, again I'm not ruling it in and not ruling it out. I think it would be irresponsible at the start of a process.

"We've got to go through a process. We've got to deal with this issue, because people feel very strongly about it. I don't want to start with a conclusion."

Mr Grayling has previously said the Conservatives will go into the next election promising a new relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

He has made it clear that "no change is not an option" after the Strasbourg court ruled against the UK ban on prisoner voting and stalled the deportation of terror suspect Abu Qatada.

Many Conservatives MPs want a new relationship before 2015, arguing that the court is undermining the House of Commons right now.

They are worried about the court over-riding the sovereignty of parliament, after the court ruled Britain's blanket ban on prisoner suffrage is illegal.

David Cameron has said inmates will not be given the vote, as parliament already decided 18 months ago to keep the ban.

This has set Britain on a collision course with Strasbourg, as ministers try to find a way to work around the ruling.


Now Brussels takes aim at the Famous Five! Books portraying 'traditional' families could be barred

Books which portray ‘traditional’ images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work could be barred from schools under proposals from Brussels.

An EU report claims that ‘gender stereotyping’ in schools influences the perception of the way boys and girls should behave and damages women’s career opportunities in the future.

Critics said the proposals for ‘study materials’ to be amended so that men and women are no longer depicted in their traditional roles would mean the withdrawal of children’s classics, such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Paddington Bear or Peter Pan.

The document, prepared by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, also suggests EU-wide legislation is needed to tackle the way women are depicted in advertising during children’s television programmes.

It further complains about the number of women in EU parliaments, and floats the idea of fixed quotas on a minimum proportion of female MPs.

The report says: ‘Children are confronted with gender stereotypes at a very young age through television series, television advertisements, study materials and educational programmes, influencing their perception of how male and female characters should behave.

‘Special educational programmes and study materials should therefore be introduced in which men and women are no longer used in examples in their ‘traditional roles’, with the male as the breadwinner of the family and the female as the one who takes care of the children.’

The report adds: ‘With reference to media and advertisement, it must also be noted that unsupervised television viewing among children and youngsters starting at a very early age is on the rise.

‘Negative gender stereotypes can therefore have a significant influence on young women’s confidence and self-esteem, particularly on teenagers, resulting in a restriction of their aspirations, choices and possibilities for future career possibilities.’

Calling for EU ‘legislation’ to tackle the problem, the committee recommends: ‘Despite the EU’s commitment to equality between men and women, there is still a gap in legislation providing for non-discrimination against women and gender equality in the areas of social security, education and the media, emphasises the need for new legislation in these areas.’

The document calls on the European Commission to ‘take the issue of gender equality into account in all policy fields.’

Tim Aker, spokesman for Get Britain Out, a Eurosceptic campaign group, warned: ‘If the EU has its way, millions of youngster would be denied the pleasure of reading childhood classics such as Paddington Bear, Peter Pan or the Tiger Who Came to Tea because these books show mums and dads in so-called traditional roles.

‘The Eurozone is crumbling, millions are out of work and a generation of young Europeans face a bleak future. Yet the EU is spending its time concentrating on how to socially engineer our children. This politically correct report should be binned at once.’

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, also criticised the draft recommendations. ‘We must not confuse political issues with how we present the world to children. The fact is most women take the caring roles and most men want to go out to work,’ she said.

‘You only need to stand at the school gates to see this. Stereotypes are such because they reflect a majority situation. Children are not easily fooled - they see what they see and no amount of manipulation of images will change their thinking.’

The proposals in the committee’s report are unlikely to win support from Britain. Brussels has been forced to postpone an attempt to set a legal quota for the proportion of women on company boards last month following opposition from the UK and some other member states.

The policy, championed by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, would make it mandatory for all publicly traded companies to fill 40 per cent of seats on their boards with women by 2020 or face hefty fines.

But opposition from several countries meant a postponement of in a vote on the issue last month. Miss Reding has vowed that that she ‘will not give up’ on her crusade, however, insisting: ‘Europe has a lot to gain from more diverse corporate boards.’



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

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

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


9 November, 2012

Excessive "inclusiveness" kills a kid

It seems unlikely that this kid was bullied because of his homosexuality:  He said it had been happening all his life.  It seems clear that he was bullied because of effeminate behaviour.

Effeminate homosexuals can however be trained to behave in a more masculine way and some have been surprised and pleased at the boost in acceptance that they get out of that.  You can be homosexual without being effeminate. 

But you are not allowed these days to "reform" homosexuals in any way so the young man below presumably got no such training.  He might be alive today if he had

Some effeminate homosexuals can "change gear" without being formally taught.  I remember my son's music teacher being noticeably camp as he taught his pupils but when he saw my eye on him he abruptly became more normal  -- deeper voice etc.  Not all effeminate homosexuals can do that however.

Leftists will of course say that the problem is "intolerance" and they are right.  But some intolerances are inborn and railing against them is unlikely to achieve much.  It may in fact entrench the intolerance. Preaching at people is often counterproductive -- JR

The parents of a trainee teacher who killed himself because he had been bullied for years over his sexuality have published their son's suicide note in a local newspaper.

Tim Ribberink, who was training to become a history teacher, killed himself last Thursday following years of bullying.

But the decision by his parents Gerrit and Hetty Ribberink to publish their son's suicide note  has divided opinion in the Netherlands.

In the newspaper, the suicide note is published along with Tim's death notice and a large smiling picture of him.

It reads: 'Dear Mum and Dad, All my life I have been ridiculed, abused, bullied and excluded. You guys are fantastic. I hope you’re not angry. Until we meet again, Tim.'

His devastated parents, from Tilligte, east of Amsterdam, said they were not aware that there son was struggling to cope until he killed himself last Thursday.

According to Irish Times.com, his parents have now asked police to investigate his death and in particular, to look at two fake messages which were posted in his name online.

One of the messages dates back to 2010 with the second appearing last summer. It read: 'I am a loser and a homo'.  The parents are now hoping the police will be able to identify the bullies by investigating the fake messages.

The decision by Tim's parents to publish the suicide note led to a massive reaction on Twitter.  Despite some negative comments, the majority of posts supported the parents' decision to publish the note. Many called for tougher laws to deal with bulling.

Within hours of the story about Tim's death emerging, his photograph was shared more than 5,000 times. The Twitter hashtag #timribberink has also been trending in the Netherlands.

Last night, an emotional funeral took place at the Catholic church in Tilligte.  Hundreds of friends and family attended, with many still shocked and angry about his death.

A message from his parents was read to the congratulation from local pastor Marinus Van den Berg, which read: 'Tim was not weak or pathetic. He was strong. That is how we knew him, and that is how he would want the world to remember him.'

They also quote Winston Churchill by telling other people who are being bullied to never give up.

Tim's teacher training college in Windesheim and his former secondary school both said they did not know Tim was being bullied.


Our Deviant Society

 Walter E. Williams
Here's one usage of the term gentleman: The gentleman helped the fallen lady to her feet. Here's another, one we might hear from a newscaster or a police spokesman: Tonight we report on the arrest of two gentlemen who raped, sodomized and murdered an 80-year-old woman.
During earlier times, to be called a gentleman meant one was honest, brave, courteous and loyal. Today "gentleman" is used interchangeably in reference to decent people and the scum of the earth.

Much of today's language usage demonstrates a desire to be nonjudgmental. People used to shack up; now they cohabit or are living partners. Few young women of yesteryear would have felt comfortable to publicly declare they slept around. Unmarried women used to give birth to a bastard; later, this was upgraded to an illegitimate birth or a nonmarital birth. In many instances, unwed mothers proudly hold baby showers celebrating their illegitimate offspring, and the man, if known, who sired the baby is referred to as "my baby's daddy" or sometimes as "my baby daddy."

Homosexual marriages, which are not a basic human survival trait, were unheard of; today, in some jurisdictions, homosexual marriages have legal sanction. To be judgmental about modern codes of conduct is to risk being labeled a prude, racist, sexist or a homophobe. People ignore the fact that to accept another's right to engage in certain peaceable, voluntary behavior doesn't require moral acceptance or sanction.

Another measure of social deviancy is reflected by the excuses and apologies that are made for failures and how we make mascots out of social misfits, such as criminals and bums. The intellectual elite tell us that it's poverty or racism that produces criminals, as opposed to a moral defect. We call bums homeless people. That suggests a moral equivalency between people who have lost their homes in a fire or natural disaster and people who choose to be social parasites; therefore, neither group is to be blamed for its respective condition. People who are very productive members of our society, such as the rich, are often held up to ridicule and scorn.

Think back to former President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and the nation's response that "it was just about sex." Therefore, it was no big thing for the president and his men to become involved in witness tampering, perjury, obstruction of justice and a White House-organized attack on Kenneth Starr, an officer of the court. Most Americans thought removal from office was too harsh for Clinton's lawlessness.

That kind of lawlessness helped establish a precedent for lawless acts by President Barack Obama. His most recent was an executive order that suspended legal liability for young people who are brought to our country illegally by their parents. He also repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining "work" to include other things, such as going to classes on weight control. Then there are waivers from Obamacare for favored allies -- waivers that offend the principle of equality before the law.

Whether the president's actions were good or bad ideas or not is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether we want to establish a precedent whereby a president, who has no constitutional authority to repeal parts of congressional legislation, can grant special favors and rule by presidential decree like Third World tyrants.

I don't hold President Obama completely responsible for his unconstitutional actions. It's the American people who are to blame, for it is we who have lost our morality and our love, knowledge and respect for our Constitution, laying the foundation for Washington tyranny. It is all part and parcel of "defining deviancy down," which is the term former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined in 1993 to describe how we've switched from moral absolutes to situational morality and from strict constitutional interpretation to the Constitution's being a "living document." Constitutional principles that do not allow one American to live at the expense of another American are to be held in contempt. Today's Americans have betrayed the values that made us a great nation, and that does not bode well for future generations.


High Street left without Christmas lights for first time in 20 years after killjoy officials demand £4,000 for lamppost health and safety tests

Officials have banned Christmas lights from a busy High Street for the first time in 20 years unless traders fork out up to £4,000 to have lampposts tested for health and safety reasons.

Furious residents and local business owners have slammed a new rule which means the West Wickham Town Centre Association must pay for test certificates to ensure lampposts are strong enough to support Christmas lights.

The charge was introduced after the High Street was designated a red route, meaning it is managed by Transport for London (TfL) rather than Bromley Council.  As one of London’s major roads, the High Street carries up to 30 per cent of city traffic.

Secretary of the association Jane Avis manages the family-run shop Waterways, in the High Street, which has been running for more 30 years.  She said: 'We’ve had Christmas lights for over 20 years. My mum used to do it and then I took it over.  'It doesn’t make a massive difference to trade, it just gives a good community feeling.

'West Wickham High Street has been a red route for four or five years and they never asked for anything.  'But last year they said we need to comply with regulations which are different to Bromley Council’s.  'We’re going to fight them all the way. We won’t let them dampen our Christmas spirits.'

Resident Charles Sebestyen, a 70-year-old retired property executive who has lived in the area for around 35 years, said: 'It has killed the Christmas spirit in the West Wickham area.  'TfL is being ridiculous. I simply do not understand how something that has worked for a long time is now suddenly unsafe.'

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'With money tight councils don’t have a fortune to spend on Christmas lights.  'Bureaucrats shouldn't be making it more expensive to decorate town centres with some Christmas cheer. 'If traders and residents are willing to invest in their community’s festive celebrations then authorities should support that, not get in the way with needless red tape and bureaucracy.'

TfL director of roads Dana Skelley said: 'Safety on our road network is the top priority and any additional attachments to a lighting column on our road network have to be fully considered to ensure their weight or size does not have the potential to put the public at risk.

'That is why we have a clear licensing procedure in place to help ensure any applications for decorations can be assessed appropriately.  'Hundreds of these licences are issued for festive decorations across London every year however we are meeting with local traders tomorrow to discuss the matter, with a look to finding a workable solution.'

Councillor for renewal and recreation Peter Morgan said: 'The traders have worked extremely hard to gather funds together to decorate their High Street and we have supported them in this.

'We are now pressing TfL, who are responsible for this road as a red route, to see if anything can be done to rectify this situation in time for Christmas.'

A Transport for London spokesman said £4,000 was the maximum charge for the tests, which would cover a £75 admin fee plus any additional charges required to restrict traffic along the road to install or remove the decorations.  [Very generous of them!]


BBC bosses told Professor he couldn't listen to newly discovered planet 'in case aliens swore on live TV'

Control freaks

Professor Cox said BBC bosses told him he could not attempt to listen to a newly discovered planet

The quest to discover life on other planets knows no boundaries. Apart from BBC health and safety guidelines, that is.

Professor Brian Cox has told how corporation bosses blocked his plans to try to make contact with a newly discovered planet – just in case some aliens happened to answer back.

The physicist and TV host claimed they were worried the experiment, to be staged live on air during his hit BBC2 show Stargazing Live, might pick up a signal from ‘an alien civilisation’ – which is apparently a breach of corporation guidelines.

He had hoped to point a radio telescope at Threapleton Holmes B, the planet discovered by amateur stargazers during a project publicised on his show.  The telescope, based at Manchester University’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, picks up radio emission from planets.

But the experiment never went ahead for fear it would breach health and safety regulations, Prof Cox claimed yesterday in a radio interview on BBC6 Music.

‘We decided that we’d point the Jodrell Bank telescope at the planet that had been discovered by these two viewers and listen because no one had ever pointed a radio telescope at it and you never know,’ he recalled.

‘The BBC actually said, “But you can’t do that because we need to go through the regulations and health and safety and everything in case we discover a signal from an alien civilisation”.

‘(I said), “You mean we would discover the first hint that there is other intelligent life in the universe beyond Earth, live on air, and you’re worried about the health and safety of it?” It was incredible. They did have guidelines. Compliance.’

BBC6’s breakfast show host Shaun Keaveny was incredulous at his guest’s claim. ‘The idea that intelligent life could be discovered and it might swear and that’s why we wouldn’t broadcast it – it’s such a brilliant BBC thing, isn’t it?’ he said.

Prof Cox also said he had a second bizarre encounter with BBC bosses during the show when he suggested asking volunteers to scour pictures of Mars for signs of geological activity that computer scrutiny might have missed. ‘Someone from the BBC said to me, “Would there have to be a prize if someone discovered it?”

‘(I said), “What do you mean? You’re going to say to someone, you discovered the first evidence for alien life beyond Earth – and here’s a book voucher as well?  ‘“You think that’s going to make it better? You’re going to go down in history with a Nobel prize – book tokens or Nectar points?”’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘In making the series there were many light-hearted conversations, one of which was about how different organisations might react to the discovery of alien life.’

Stargazing Live, which explores astronomy and the night sky, saw record ratings this year, peaking at 3.8million. Threapleton Holmes B was discovered during the show in January by amateur scientists Chris Holmes and Lee Threapleton.

In what is believed to be only the third time British amateurs have found a new planet, they made their discovery by spotting changes in light patterns in an image from Nasa’s Kepler space telescope.



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

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

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


8 November, 2012

Feminist gets incoherent about pornography

Feminists mostly are.  They preach sexual liberation but don't like what it produces. Liberation for me but not for thee, seems to be their gospel.  They are prudes without moorings.  Just some excerpts below.  In the second last paragraph she says she has no problem with pornography  -- as long as it is "nice" pornography, apparently.  She'd make a good little Fascist:  Cheerfully intolerant of other people's choices and preferences.  Nobody forced her to buy a lads' magazine.  She is just a self-righteous busybody

By Clementine Ford

I’ve spent the past few weeks monitoring the hideous mess that is the Zoo Weekly Facebook page, a group which currently boasts more than 33,000 members.

As far as I can tell, the group’s updates seem to divide their time between two things. Firstly, inviting female fans to submit half naked photographs of themselves to be ‘liked’ and commented on by the group’s members, presumably with the purpose of being later featured in the magazine itself for the financial reimbursement of ‘Validation’. And secondly, to conduct a complicated game called ‘Left or Right’ in which members are presented with two images (mostly of women) and asked to choose which side they’d prefer. While the game seems to mostly preoccupy itself with the challenge of choosing between which of the attractive women in the pairings the members would most like to insert their penises into, the occasional inclusion of morbidly obese women seems designed to elicit sophisticated responses like this: “I’ve got a awesome pick up line for the one on the right.. I’d just roll up with “Geeze you don’t sweat much for a fat mole”” and I’ll smashing it all night..”

Ladies, form an orderly queue.

 Unfortunately, this isn't just about the antics of a bunch of perpetually juvenile men and their light-hearted fondness for female objectification. It's also part of a much broader attempt to limit the roles women are allowed to play - to offer a retro system of reward for those who play along, and punishment for those who don't. It explains why a handful of fans and commenters on Zoo Weekly's Facebook page are women, why so many of them send free photos of themselves in g-strings and disembodied poses, and why these things leap so jarringly off the page with the palpable desperation to be noticed by the discerning critics around them. The world is full of the kind of female chauvinist pigs that Ariel Levy wrote about in her polemic of the same name; women who prostrate themselves before a cavalcade of men, whose mutually shared view of their value is inherently tied up in female willingness to subjugate itself for approval.

 Let me be clear about one thing. I have no problem with sexting, pornographic photographs or women getting off on being looked at and sexually desired. But the mass objectification that takes place in a realm like Zoo Weekly is something different, and sits uncomfortably in any kind of dialogue trying to pass it off as empowered sexual expression. Getting off on being fantasised about is one thing. Facilitating a system that sees your ONLY value as being how much its male participants want to ‘smash you’ is another thing entirely.

 At the end of the day, we can talk all we like about empowered choice and sex positive feminism. These things have no currency in a model that thrives on offering women up on a platter to cater to the sexual fantasies men who will never respect them. It doesn’t matter how many enthusiastic endorsements a woman might get for how her bottom looks in a lacy g-string. At the end of the day, she’s still nothing more than a vagina that can't talk back or a torso that can't run away.


Bus driver who was fired for being in British anti-immigration party wins human rights case

The sacking of a bus driver for being a member of the far-right BNP was a breach of his human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.

The decision by judges in Strasbourg follows a long legal battle by Arthur Redfearn, 56, who was sacked in 2004 from his job in Bradford, West Yorkshire, driving mainly Asian adults and children with disabilities.

The court ruled the actions of Serco breached Article 11 – the freedom of assembly and association – because he was sacked only because of his membership of a political party. The seven judges reached their decision on a 4-3 majority.

The court said it was "struck by the fact that he had been summarily dismissed following complaints about problems which had never actually occurred, without any apparent consideration being given to the possibility of transferring him to a non-customer facing role".

It added: "In fact, prior to his political affiliation becoming public knowledge, neither service users nor colleagues had complained about Mr Redfearn, who was considered a 'first-class employee'."

It said the right to freedom of association "must apply not only to people or associations whose views are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those whose views offend, shock or disturb".

The judgment also criticised the fact Redfearn could not bring a case of unfair dismissal against Serco in 2004 because UK law said he had not worked long enough for the firm.   The driver was forced to claim race discrimination because no unfair dismissal claim was allowed within the first year of employment.

The court said the UK had to "take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect employees, including those with less than one year's service, from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation, either through the creation of a further exception to the one-year qualifying period under the 1996 Act or through a freestanding claim for unlawful discrimination on grounds of political opinion or affiliation".

The court heard how Redfearn worked for Serco as a driver from December 2003 until his dismissal on June 30, 2004.

In its judgment, the court said there had been no problems with his work but other employees and trade union complained after his BNP membership was revealed in a local paper.  He was summarily dismissed when he was elected as local councillor for the BNP.

In August 2004 he lodged a claim of race discrimination which was dismissed by an employment tribunal which found that any discrimination against him had been on health and safety grounds.

The tribunal found his continued employment could cause considerable anxiety among Serco's passengers and their carers and there was a risk vehicles could come under attack from opponents of the BNP.

In July 2005 Mr Redfearn successfully appealed against this decision after an appeal tribunal heard no consideration had been given to any alternatives to dismissal.

But, in May 2006, the court of appeal allowed Serco's appeal, finding that Mr Redfearn's complaint was of discrimination on political and not racial grounds, which fell outside anti-discrimination laws.  He was also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.


British council bans war veterans from marching through village because they had not completed extraordinary list of 'elf and safety demands

War veterans were banned from walking through a village to honour fallen comrades because they had not completed an extraordinary list of council ‘elf and safety demands.

For almost 80 years, a small group of former servicemen in Warton, North Warwickshire, has marched with pride along a road in their town to lay wreaths at a local war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

This year, however, the group’s seven remaining members were told they would have to use the pavement instead - because they had not provided an event plan, risk assessment forms, emergency contact details, marshals, event traffic management procedures, road closure applications, an evacuation plan and public liability insurance.

The staggering list of demands was eventually withdrawn after a campaign from outraged locals - but the British Legion veterans are still being made to fill in the ‘risk assessment’ forms before they can complete their five minute walk.

The men have now spoken of their ‘disgust’ at the way they have been treated.  They added that they never had to complete ‘health and safety’ forms when they fought for their country and would have marched on the road regardless of the council’s decision.

In previous years, two local councillors have briefly stopped traffic so members of the Warton Royal British Legion could perform their traditional walk.  This year, however, they were told it was unsafe to do so without applying for the road to be closed and marshalling the ‘event’ themselves.

‘With only seven active members, if we had acted as marshals there would be no-one left to march,’ said Terry Casey, a former Royal Air Force electrical mechanic who fixed Canberra bombers, Javelin Fighters and Lightnings.

‘It’s the first year we’ve had to do all this paper work. I didn’t deal with anything like that when I was in the RAF.’ Mr Casey, who is the branch secretary of the local British Legion, added: ‘I’m really angry and upset that this has happened.  ‘It is a less than five minutes march from the school to the memorial. Then we hold the Act of Remembrance, then it’s a short march to the church - ten minutes at the most.  ‘Normally we just notify the police that we are going to hold our parade and they say that’s fine, do you want us to come?’

Warton Royal British Legion membership secretary Alf Webber said: ‘We’re very pleased the council has finally seen sense.  The parade in Warton has been going on since the war memorial was put up and when we thought we wouldn’t be able to do it, we were disgusted.  ‘I wouldn’t have walked on the footpath, I’d have walked straight up the road regardless and placed my wreath on the memorial.’

A spokesman for the council said: ‘The Warton Parade will now go ahead this Sunday. We’ve spoken to the organiser and offered to help with his risk assessment.  ‘Marshalling will be provided by the Parish Council.’

A spokesman for Warwickshire Police added: ‘We have the highest regard for the Royal British Legion and all those involved in the organisation of the annual events and throughout Warwickshire officers will be joining them on November 11 to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives in conflict.’


British newsagent bans children from buying shooting magazines

The country's biggest newsagent WH Smith has banned children from buying shooting magazines, even though it is legal for them to hold a shotgun licence.

It is a sport enjoyed by thousands of children, and one which gained Britain a gold medal at the Olympics.

But children have been banned from buying shooting hobby magazines by Britain’s biggest newsagent - even though it is entirely legal for them to own a gun.

WH Smith, Britain’s biggest chain of newsagents, has banned youngsters from buying copies of country sports magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists.

The retailer, whose founding family owned a highly prized shoot in Buckinghamshire, says it has introduced an age limit on such magazines as Shooting Times because children are not allowed to obtain a firearms certificate until they are 14.

However, sports enthusiasts point out that this is wrong. There is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.

They question why the high street chain does not restrict the sale of motoring magazines such as TopGear to those old enough to drive.

“It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving,” said Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

“You can also buy numerous war magazines which depict the killing of people, yet WH Smith is concerned about children buying shooting magazines, a legal and an Olympic sport.  “They are also causing enormous offence to adult shooters who are stopped at auto-scan tills.”

Thousands of youngsters take part in the sport at shooting clubs across the country and with the Cadet corps and Scouts.

“At the recent party conferences, front-bench spokesmen and Government ministers sang the praises of shooting sports for the sense of responsibility and discipline that they encourage in the children who take them up,” Mr Graffius added.  “Yet WH Smith is trying to keep the magazines that encourage that approach out of children’s hands.”

British shooting achieved prominence at the Olympic Games when Peter Wilson won gold in the double trap, having begun shooting when he was still at school.

There are no legal restrictions on magazine purchasing. Legally acceptable pornographic magazines can be sold to customers of any age. Newsagents display them on the top shelf only by convention, so that children cannot reach them, while WH Smith voluntarily imposes a ban on them being bought by under-18s.

Earlier this year, Animal Aid, Britain’s largest animal rights organisation, published a report which claimed that the “lurid, pro-violence content” of country sports magazines could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds”.

The report, Gunning For Children: How the gun lobby recruits young blood, argued that titles promoting guns should be put on the top shelf alongside pornography and banned for sale to under-18s.

It claimed that the magazines showed pictures of young children holding up or standing over shot pheasants, rabbits, foxes and pigeons and “glorified” cruelty.

A WH Smith spokesman said: “As part of our commitment to operate our business responsibly, we have a till prompt on shooting titles.  "It asks our store teams to check that the customer is 14 years old or over, based on this being the legal age at which someone can possess a firearms certificate.”



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

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

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


7 November, 2012

Lonely leftists vs fantasy fascists

Why, when the far right is falling apart, do leftists keep on scaremongering about these ‘bloody nasty people’?  BOOK REVIEW of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right by  Daniel Trilling

In the conclusion to his book Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right, Daniel Trilling lists ‘10 myths about Britain’s far right’, and begins first and foremost with the ‘myth’ that ‘the threat has passed’. His attempt to puncture this myth is lame – the British National Party (BNP), he acknowledges, is now a ‘failed project’. It has been all but wiped out in elections and is riddled with internal divisions. All he can do is point to the English Defence League’s (EDL’s) declaration of support for the recently formed British Freedom Party (BFP) in April this year as evidence of a ‘new vehicle’ for the far right.
Unfortunately for Trilling, EDL leader Tommy Robinson has already quit the BFP and currently languishes in jail, accused of entering the US under a false identity. The EDL itself is now having problems mobilising more than a couple of hundred people for a demo and its central Facebook page, with its 79,000 ‘supporters’ that Trilling cites as evidence of its ascendancy, has shut down.

A reader of Trilling’s book may then be puzzled. Why is a left-wing journalist dedicating his time to writing a book subtitled ‘the rise of the far right’ at a time when the far right in Britain is in no way on the rise? The only way Trilling’s subtitle is accurate is if you see it as giving a historical account of the rise of the BNP following the collapse of the National Front. But Trilling is no historian. A far more interesting phenomenon to discuss at the moment would be the decline of far-right groups in the UK at present and their failure to gain significant purchase with the public.

But this is not the story Trilling wants to tell. It seems only too important to him that the spectre of the far right remains. Indeed, his use of the word ‘vehicle’ to describe the need for the emergence of the EDL after the collapse of the BNP is telling. Often in the book, he makes it sound like an evil fascist entity plagues Britain through the ages, continually changing form, looking for new host bodies through which to infect cultural and political life. ‘The EDL’, he says, in one revealing sentence, ‘is further evidence of how the far right has had to accommodate to the reality of modern Britain’. He writes repeatedly about how the EDL has strategic and tactical advantages over the BNP, as if its emergence was a manoeuvre by a great Lord of the Rings Sauron-like figure who has commanded the dark forces of Britain’s right-wing extremes since time immemorial.

From the outset of the book, however, Trilling fails to define his terms. He is nervous about using the term ‘fascism’ and opts instead for what he calls the more neutral catch-all term the ‘far right’. Where he does attempt to define fascism, he chooses a quote from US historian Robert Paxton, who said ‘fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline’.

According to this definition, then, the possibility of fascism lurks among any communities that are critical of liberal democracy. Wary of the idea of multiculturalism? Concerned about the intolerance of Tony Blair’s rallying call to ‘liberate Britain from the old class divisions, old structures, old prejudices, old ways of working and doing things that will not do in this world of change’? According to Trilling - who comes across as a great cheerleader for a New Labour-esque vision of multicultural Britain - to have such concerns is seemingly to be on the path towards fascism.

“Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left”

Despite noting that the EDL’s Tommy Robinson became disillusioned with the BNP because his black friends weren’t able to join, and that the EDL is a big supporter of Israel and had Asian spokespeople, Trilling is keen to highlight common threads between the two groups. He cites the findings of a survey of EDL sympathisers that reveals what he believes to be the tell-tale ‘familiar factors’ of far-right thinking. These sympathisers share ‘pessimism about the UK’s future, worries about immigration and joblessness… mixed by a proactive pride in Britain, British history and British values’.

The extent to which, during a double-dip recession, concerns about the future of the UK or joblessness might be perfectly legitimate isn’t explored. And any questioning of immigration policy is portrayed as sign of wrongheadedness. It seems that Trilling would have been right alongside Gordon Brown when, in the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election, he generated a furore by branding Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’ for raising issues of immigration and joblessness. If we accept Trilling’s understanding of far-right thinking, Duffy must have been infected by fascism. Certainly he is keen to bash historian David Starkey for ‘willingly repeating’ on the BBC’s Newsnight the BNP’s ‘mainline of propaganda – that Britain was being undermined from within by racial mixing and an undeserving poor’.

For someone adept at making the most tenuous links to fascism, however, Trilling seems blind to the more authoritarian tendencies of left-wing activists and the state. He has no words of criticism for the erosion of free speech that comes with ‘no platform’ policies, or the censorious nature of campaigners who tried to prevent the BBC from airing an edition of its topical debate programme Question Time featuring BNP leader Nick Griffin in 2009 - despite the fact that Griffin was an elected member of the European Parliament (MEP).

In a bizarre, Orwellian moment, Trilling attempts to rewrite history to suggest that the EDL was prevented from protesting outside a mosque in Tower Hamlets last year due to the actions of Unite Against Fascism activists ‘blocking the road, joined by several thousand local residents’. More importantly, the UK Home Office had slapped a ban on the EDL marching in the borough, enforced by an almost-unprecedented mobilisation of police officers from across the country who significantly outnumbered the EDL’s marchers (see The Battle of Cable Street it wasn’t). No matter how you spin it, these ‘jubilant’ anti-fascist protesters were in reality cheering the actions of the state clamping down on the freedom to assemble – the only way they were responsible for preventing the EDL march was to the extent that they lobbied the state to ban the demonstration beforehand.

Trilling’s blinkered account of the triumph of the anti-fascist left over the far right, coupled with his continual refrain - against all the evidence - that the far right is still in the ascendancy, reveals far more about his own outlook than about reality. Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left. Devoid of any sense of what they are for, left-wing campaigners seek to gain a sense of purpose by saying what they are against: cuts, naturally, but more than anything, fascists.

After the resounding electoral defeats of the BNP, the emergence of the EDL was a wet dream for directionless lefties. Now the EDL is on the wane, all left-wing activists can cling to is the idea of the persistence of an amorphous blob of ‘bloody nasty people’, who will flock to the dark forces of fascism should the correct ‘vehicle’ appear. You would have to be a Bloody Naive Person to believe such baseless scaremongering.


Police tell Morris Dancers to down sticks and hankies after complaints the traditional routine was 'offensive'

A group of Morris Dancers were ordered to stop performing in the middle of a routine after police received a complaint that their dancing was ‘offensive’.

The 15-strong group of English folk dancers from the respected Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris troupe were told to ‘stop making a din’ during a performance outside The White Lion pub in Warlingham, Surrey.

The folk dancers were performing in spooky costumes for a free Halloween show outside the 15th century pub to an audience of around 30 customers, but were cut short after just six dances.

The group had planned at least 10 other dances, but were interrupted by two police officers who told them to ‘down’ their handkerchiefs and sticks and ‘move on’ as they were causing a noise nuisance.

Despite pleading with the officers to continue their routine - which includes songs like Thor’s Hammer, Maiden Castle and Half a Farthing Candle, they were told to leave in the ‘interest of community relations’ last Tuesday.

Morris dancer David Young, who has been dancing with the troupe for the past seven years, said he was disgusted that folk dancers were treated ‘like yobs’.  The 69-year-old said: 'We did six dances and then, at about 9pm, we went in to have a drink before going back out to perform again.  'The next thing we know, two policemen arrived. They said, in the interest of "community relations", we think you should stop dancing.'

He told the Croydon Advertiser newspaper: 'You would think the police would have let us carry on.  'It’s the first time we’ve encountered anything like it.  'We felt treated like yobs. But we’ve got ex-oil executives, business owners and a school secretary in our group.

'We just feel aggrieved that something that has such a long history in the country, at a time when it is hard to keep the old traditions alive, should not be allowed.'

The respected troupe, which perform in masks and flamboyant costumes, performed at the Tower of London’s Ceremony of the Keys - a 700-year-old tradition in which the tower is locked up for the night - in September this year to celebrate the group’s 21st anniversary.

Martin Saunders, 54, who was watching the dancing last Tuesday, said he was ‘appalled’ when they were ordered to stop.  He said: 'The police came along while the Morris dancers were on a break and told them to move on as they were upsetting neighbours with their offensive dance routine.

'The police officers were a little shame-faced about it all, but really they should have just ignored it and let the dancing continue - it was only just after 9pm.'

One pub worker, who asked not to be named, said: 'The police came because they got a complaint from a neighbour.  'I think everyone was a bit surprised really. Morris dancers have been dancing around in the area for years.'

A Surrey Police spokesman said: 'We received a report from a member of the public about noisy revellers outside the White Lion pub in Warlingham.  'A neighbourhood police officer attended and spoke to a group.

'The noise had already stopped and no formal allegations were made and the group left the area without incident.'

In August last year a group of Morris dancers from the Slubbing Billys troupe were booted out of the Swan and Three Cygnets pub in Durham after a barmaid said the bells on their shoes broke the bar’s music ban.


British parish council scraps Christmas lights switch on over health and safety fears villagers may overcrowd the green

Parish councillors have pulled the plug on a Christmas lights switch on ceremony in a decision described as ‘health and safety gone berserk’.  The event, which usually attracts several hundred people every year, was axed by councillors in Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire who feared the village green would become overcrowded.  Instead, the lights will be quietly switched without fanfare.

Peter Badham, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was ‘health and safety gone berserk’.  He said: ‘We’re talking about responsible adults bringing children to a community event and nothing more than that. I think it’s a perfect location.

‘In terms of space, we’ve looked at it and we think there’s more than enough room for everybody to come and have a great time.   ‘There is nowhere else to go now. The parish council has really let the community down.’

In previous years, the ceremony has been held in a local supermarket car park with Santa’s grotto inside the community centre but this year the Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Council withdrew permission for the use of the centre because organisers failed to ‘sign in’ everyone who entered the building.

To resolve the issue, the chamber, which has organised the switch on for the last 11 years, suggested the event be held on the village green.  But the parish council blocked those plans on health and safety grounds.

Chair of the parish council, Peter Lightfoot said: ‘The plans we voted against were using our little green area. The key reason for that is it’s quite a small area and normally we get hundreds to the light switch on.

‘I think the problem is that they approached us with about four weeks to go and essentially held a gun to our head and said “either you let us use the green or it won’t happen”.

‘We just can’t see how they could fit it on that particular piece of land.  ‘We’re in favour of the lights. We’re just not in favour of holding it on the parish green.’

Concerns were also raised about event licences, the lack of stewards, the weight of the fairground roundabout, notices for road closures, adequate risk assessment and insurance to parish council property.

Mr Lightfoot said of the plans: ‘We are concerned as we have dry-stone walls, a fountain and a rockery and an adjacent main road. Our concern is that it is just totally unsafe and unsuitable.

Mr Badham said: ‘If the parish council doesn’t want to co-operate, then we will just turn the lights on without the event.

‘The council is supposed to be working with the community, not having all this in-fighting. ‘They have also given us nothing in terms of cash.

‘It’s truly a highlight of the year in the village - it’s a delightful event.  ‘It’s all about the community, it’s all about the children and for those children who come, it’s absolutely wonderful and marks the start of Christmas.’

Health and safety guidelines for public events state that organisers need to have crowd management, planning for emergencies and event stewards.



Foolish woman gives a painfully honest account of how she came to be living alone in middle-age

Women who are looking for Mr Perfect often fail to consider whether they are Miss Perfect from a man's point of view.  The woman below would seem to be someone who has overlooked that.  A big ego is not attractive -- JR

Like everyone, I think and worry about the future and wonder where I’ll be in the final decade or so of my life.

With at least another 20 years of work ahead of me, I don’t know whether I’ll be comfortably off or stony broke, and I hope that the good health I’ve enjoyed so far won’t desert me later on.

One thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that I’ll be on my own, with no spouse to look out for me or children to visit.

At the age of 46, I accept that my opportunity to have a family has gone and the chances  of meeting a decent man aren’t looking too rosy either.

Not exactly a cheery thought, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that, in one sense at least, I will be far from alone — because today, in the UK, there are record numbers of us middle-aged singletons. Figures released last week by the Office of National Statistics showed that there are now 7.6 million people living alone in the UK.

And the fastest rising group of ‘aloners’ — 2.5 million — are people like me, who fall between the ages of 45 and 64 and live alone in our own properties with no spouse, partner or children.

The figure represents a mind-blowing 50 per cent increase since the mid-Nineties. Materially well-off but emotionally bereft, we represent the loneliest generation ever known — and as a member of this fast-growing club, I have to say, it’s not a membership I look forward to renewing annually.

For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.

I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.

When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.

What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.

When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us.

Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.

I grew up in Sussex then moved to London to pursue my job as a journalist, where I threw myself into a heady social life. By the age of 29, I was earning enough to buy my first home — a three bedroom property that I lived in alone, and still do.

‘Why three bedrooms when it’s just you?’ I was often asked.

‘Because I can!’ I’d tell them, cockily.

I loved having so much space to myself, and the fact I could decorate just how I wanted. I can’t imagine many men would agree to the turquoise wallpaper with parrots that I have in my hall, or the huge chandeliers in my bedroom.

Back then, I’d shudder at the thought of a living room clogged up with toys. I loved being out until the early hours, and then coming home to a clean, peaceful home with everything just so.

When I had boyfriends and they stayed over, I was always relieved when they went home. None of them was allowed to leave a toothbrush or clean shirt for convenience: it was my flat for my stuff.

My 20s slipped into my 30s and I watched my friends marrying off. Still, I never envied them — or not for very long anyway. The only inconvenience was the pool of single girls on whom I could rely to keep me amused into the early hours starting to diminish.

When I first bought my home, I used to go out five nights a week. Now, I typically only have one night out a week, and the time alone that used to be an occasional occurrence now accounts for the best part of my week.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I’m glad to be on my own. One of my great pleasures is still to curl up on the sofa with a takeaway and watch one of my favourite TV shows in blissful solace.

I’ve always agreed with the old saying that if you can’t enjoy your own company, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to. But just as you’d get bored with seeing the same old person night after night, you can also get bored with your own company.

On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself thinking that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, after all, to have someone to cook for, discuss the plot of Homeland with, or just offload to after a particularly bad day.

Then there are the practicalities of finding someone who can shift a heavy piece of furniture or jump-start a car. If my married sister needs something done, she asks her husband. But when I need help, I have to pay someone £200 or more.

In the Nineties, we professional, single women conducted our love-lives according to a best-selling book called The Rules — a dating bible that dictated that we should be aloof and hard to get, that we should not return phone calls, and we should always make a man pay on dates. Any man who didn’t conform was to be kicked to the curb until the next poor sap came along.

What I never considered, though, was that one day they’d stop coming along altogether. I really wish I’d known that once you’re in your late 30s, men are pretty thin on the ground. And once you’re in your 40s, it’s as though they’ve been wiped off the face of the Earth.

A woman over 45 on an internet dating site is made to feel as welcome as a parking ticket. The sites may be full of single men in their 40s, but they sure aren’t looking to meet women of the same age!

Then, of course, there is the matter of children. In my 30s, I really didn’t want them. It’s only now, as the choice is removed, that I begin to wonder what my life would be like with a family.

Last year, author Lori Gottlieb caused a sensation when she published her book Marry Him — The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough. Gottlieb argued that too many women are ending up lonely and unfulfilled because they are brainwashed into believing only Mr Perfect will do. She stated that any well-educated, ambitious woman who was single after 35 was on her own because she was too picky — shopping for a husband with a ridiculously unrealistic checklist.

I think she’s right. I also think it’s an uncomfortable truth that the sort of high-flying alpha males we were all holding out for didn’t want women like us. All the successful men I know have married sweet, uncomplicated women who are happy to forfeit their careers to support their husbands.

It’s not all bad news, though, and I try not to waste too many nights crying big lonely tears into my cosmopolitan cocktail. Being single still has some incredible upsides — the biggest being the disposable income and the freedom to self-indulge.

If I had a family, I wouldn’t have been able to spend a month in Australia earlier this year, or a weekend shopping in Milan, and I would probably have felt too guilty ever to spend £3,000 on a rug (as I have just done).

And yes, we may be occupying homes that are too big for us, but at least we’re spending money and helping to keep the economy going — and putting enough in the pot to cover everyone else’s tax credits.

The brutal reality remains, however, that Carrie Bradshaw and Bridget Jones — our fictional, singleton poster girls — ended up living happily ever after. Even the writers behind those characters couldn’t accept that they’d be happy to stay single for ever — which does make me feel a little cheated.

Carrie and Bridget were lucky. The same can’t be said for the millions of women, like me, who were so inspired by them.

As women continue to match men on the salary front, and no longer need a partner to provide for them, I predict the numbers of middle-aged single women will continue to increase.

So, as all the sassy, single 30-somethings out there recover from a weekend of excess, drinking cocktails and dancing defiantly to I Will Survive and Single Ladies (both performed by happily married women, incidentally), I’d urge them to continue having the time of their life … but also, perhaps, to keep one eye on the lonely middle-age that is waiting to knock on their door.



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

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

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


6 November, 2012

UK government told anti-Islam film incites terrorism

There is a clear threat of violence below.  I wonder how that comports with British hate-speech law?

Britain’s Counter-terrorism Command Unit and Specialist Internet Bureau have taken notice of a representation made by an influential Muslim organisation which is asking the government to ban the blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims” for posing danger to UK’s national security.

The Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat UK, which claims to represent the majority of Muslims in Britain, has approached the home secretary and police forces around the country requesting that the movie be removed from YouTube on the grounds that it incites racial and religious hate crimes and openly encourages violence in the name of faith.

The group didn’t request that the film, which caused outrage among Muslims across the world, be banned for being offensive, nor that it will incite hatred against the Muslims but rather that it would encourage violence by Muslims to non-believers.

Raja Zahid Nawaz confirmed to The News that his organisation had been contacted by the security officials with assurance that the contents of the letter were being studied and all the activity around the film online and otherwise was being monitored.

Ghulam Rabanni, Secretary General of the organisation, told The News that the blasphemous film is not about the “freedom of speech”. “This film is aimed at inciting religious and racial hatred. It incites extremism and terrorism and will lead to the radicalisation of young Muslims in the UK. It encourages physical and violent attacks on non-Muslim communities around the world. It encourages child abuse. It will damage the fabric of a multi racial and multi faith society and it will lead to tensions and disturbances within the UK and in particular in inner city areas. We have asked the government to ban the film on YouTube.”


Outrage at BBC scandal conceals the fact that British culture encourages paedophilia. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about

By James Rhodes

Yet another bloody article about Jimmy Savile. We read more and more about the horrors that went on and the now incontestable fact that others knew it was happening, and we get all shouty and indignant. It reveals the irksome, irritating side of Twitter, the tabloid press, self-published blogs and the loud, chatty guy in the pub. The moral high ground. The furious bleating and self-righteousness of the whiter-than-white populace.

The outcry will not do any good at all. How many times since "Never again" has it happened again? Using words like "molest" and "abuse" runs utterly counter to the horror of child rape. As do the prison sentences handed down upon conviction. You can serve longer in prison for saying "I'm going to kill you" (maximum sentence 10 years) than you can for having sex with your three-year-old daughter (maximum sentence seven years). Newspapers happily show pictures of 14-year-old girls sunbathing and use sexual language to describe them while at the same time appearing indignant and appalled at the crimes of Savile, Glitter et al.

The culture of celebrity has the same shroud of secrecy, power and authority as the Church. Why on earth should we be surprised at sexual abuse going on in those circles? The only thing that surprises me is that people actually seem surprised. In any environment where there is power, there will be an abuse of that power.

When I was at school I was sexually abused. Let me clarify: I was serially raped when I was a child, between the ages of five and 10. At least one other teacher knew it was happening and even after voicing their concerns to the relevant authorities within the school, nothing was done and the horrors continued. (Over two decades later, and only after a statement from both me and another teacher, did the police arrest and charge the rapist with 10 counts of buggery – at the time of arrest he was a part-time boxing coach for boys under 10.)

We read about things like this and we think "how awful" and then get on with eating our cornflakes, but no one really wants to look beneath the surface. The physical act of rape is just the beginning – each time it happened I seemed to leave a little bit of myself behind with him until it felt like there was pretty much nothing left of me that was real. And those bits do not seem to come back over time. What goes too often unreported and unexamined and unacknowledged is the legacy that is left with the victim.

Self-harm. Depression. Drug and alcohol abuse. Reparative surgery. OCD. Dissociation. Inability to maintain functional relationships. Marital breakdowns. Being forcefully institutionalised. Hallucinations (auditory and visual). Hypervigilance. PTSD. Sexual shame and confusion. Anorexia and other eating disorders. These are just a few of my symptoms (for want of a better word) of chronic sexual abuse. They have all been a part of my life in the very recent past and the abuse I went through was 30 years ago. I am not saying that these things are the inevitable result of my experience; I imagine that some people can go through similar experiences and emerge largely unscathed. What I am saying is that if living life is the equivalent of running a marathon, then sexual abuse in childhood has the net effect of removing one of your legs and adding a backpack of bricks on the starting line.

I don't want to be writing about things like this. I don't want to deal with the inevitable feelings of shame and exposure that will come from it. And I don't want to deal with the accusations of using my back story to flog albums, being full of self-pity, attention-seeking or whatever other madness will no doubt end up in the comments below. But neither do I want to have to keep quiet, or even worse, feel as if I should keep quiet, when there is so much about our culture (which is in many ways so incredibly evolved) that allows, endorses, encourages and revels in the sexual abuse of children. Paedophilia has acquired a grim, vaguely titillating, car-crash fascination that the press have jumped all over.

We simply cannot on the one hand have sexualised images of children on billboards and magazines, underwear for six-year-olds with pictures of cherries on them, "school disco" themed nights at bars and community service sentences for downloading "indecent" images (indecent? Saying "shit" in church is indecent – this is abominable), and on the other hand regard the Savile story with abject horror. It just does not equate. This is not about censoring what the press can write (typical example from one tabloid: "She’s still only 15, but Chloë Moretz … The strawberry blonde stepped out with a male friend in a cute Fifties-style powder blue sleeveless collared shirt which she tied at her waist – revealing just a hint of her midriff"). or what pictures they can publish. It is about protecting minors who do not have a voice, who are not capable of understanding certain matters and who cannot protect themselves.

This has all been said before. And nothing has really changed. We forget (who would want to remember this stuff?), we think shouting loudly will absolve our collective guilt and change things for the better, we point fingers and form lynch mobs. We paint "paedo scum" on convicted (or suspected) paedophiles' homes. And yet what we need to do is open our eyes fully and simply not tolerate this, rather like we've done and continue to do so effectively with homophobia and racism. We need to look at providing more visible therapy for both victims, perpetrators and those who have urges that threaten to make them perpetrators. We need to overhaul sentencing guidelines and start tackling the issues with more clarity and integrity. Whatever it takes for as long as it takes needs to be the guiding principle here, because otherwise we will, to use a well-worn but apposite phrase, simply continue the cycle of abuse.


London Police 'could be sued over plan to give top jobs to black people and women'

Britain’s biggest police force is to become the first public body to adopt a policy that gives priority for top jobs to black people and women.

The Metropolitan Police will  recruit senior officers and promote civilian staff from minority groups  in ‘tie-break’ situations where they are just as qualified as white or  male candidates.

Scotland Yard’s diversity board has warned that the ‘positive action’ policy, made legal by equality laws last year, will be controversial.

The move could trigger lawsuits by job applicants who lose out and is likely to raise concerns that successful candidates were chosen to fill  quotas rather than on merit. But a meeting chaired by Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe took the decision to use positive action after it was given Government advice.

Minutes of the policy forum meeting on July 11 state: ‘The Forum were supportive of using a legal provision that could potentially deliver a more diverse workforce.

‘It accepted the Diversity Board’s caution but were confident that Legal Services could guide on the few occasions this provision would be used.’

Recent figures show that although one in ten of the Met’s 32,000 officers come from ethnic minorities, there are just two black and Asian men in the highest rank.

In March this year the Met had 7,829 female officers – but only seven in the chief officer tier. Since then three high-profile women have retired.

As part of efforts to make its workforce more representative of London’s population, the Met considered if it should use the new equality law that allows positive action.

The legislation, introduced in April last year, lets employers recruit or promote candidates if they have a  ‘protected characteristic’, such as race, that is under-represented.

But Scotland Yard’s Diversity Executive Board warned in an internal paper: ‘This is legislation, ambiguously written, with no case law existing to support legal advice. No public or private sector organisations contacted have plans to use it.’

But Ilana Swimer, an employment expert at law firm Halebury, said: ‘Even if the Met decide to support this provision, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on diversity.

‘Indeed, any employer who recruits a candidate having relied on this provision could open themselves up to challenge by other candidates who feel they have been treated unfairly.’

Charles Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, denied it would lead to tokenism.

‘You would be getting your job on merit because it’s only open to equally qualified candidates,’ he said.


A police state created by "anti-fascists"

In their enthusiasm to clamp down on ‘hate speech’, anti-fascists have become an unofficial arm of the state

Given that the key thing about twentieth-century fascism was its extreme authoritarianism, you might reasonably expect those who describe themselves as ‘anti-fascist’ to be anti-authoritarian. You might imagine that these campaigners, more than most, would know the dangers of giving the state too much power and trusting it to determine who may speak and who may not, who is a ‘decent’ person and who is not.

But you would be wrong – certainly if the events in the north-east London district of Walthamstow this weekend were anything to go by. There, anti-fascists campaigning against a protest planned for Saturday by the right-wing, allegedly fascistic English Defence League (EDL) demonstrated that they are uncritically pro-state, and unabashedly pro-authoritarian, trusting the powers-that-be to police public protest and political discourse more broadly.

The modern anti-fascist left has provided plenty of justification for increased state control over political to and fro in modern Britain. It has strengthened the use of public-order laws over political freedom, and it has empowered the state to govern all forms of political speech. That control extends not just to the statements and actions of ‘fascist’ groups, but also to the statements and actions of left-wing groups and anti-fascists, too.

So for the next 30 days, any group - regardless of its grievance - is banned from marching in Walthamstow and the rest of the borough of Waltham Forest and in the nearby boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Islington. This blanket ban is directly down to the campaigning efforts of left-wing anti-fascist protesters, who have spent the past month taking to the streets to get people to join local Labour MP Stella Creasy in signing a petition to ban the EDL from entering Walthamstow. The successful campaign for a ban was celebrated by Creasy who, ironically, claimed it meant ‘our community can get back to its normal, peaceful and tolerant state’.

In truth, Walthamstow on Saturday resembled a police state. Hundreds of police officers monitored public transport, roads and thoroughfares, looking suspiciously at anyone who walked past. Random searches of people and cars were carried out, which led to three arrests of individuals, not because they were EDL members, but for things like drug possession and driving while disqualified. Many more officers waited in the wings as mobile surveillance-cameras checked the town for anyone who dared take to the streets to express their political views.

While the UK Home Office cannot ban ‘static demonstrations’, the Metropolitan Police used section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to ban any EDL event from taking place in London, with the exception of a one-hour rally outside the Houses of Parliament. The anti-fascist protesters were permitted to have a demonstration in Walthamstow, however, and they duly decided to hold a ‘victory rally’ celebrating the fact that they had successfully kept the EDL from marching. Censorious Creasy was cheered by the anti-fascists when she took to the stage.

In what bizarre world is this a victory? In lobbying for the state to ban the EDL, anti-fascist protesters managed to have their own freedom to protest restricted as well. The fact that their own civil liberties would also be affected must have come as no surprise to many of these anti-fascist protesters, given that they were banned from marching in Tower Hamlets last year, too. Some socialist groups, however, did see it as ‘scandalous’ that they were banned from marching. They began chanting ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’, complaining that their human rights were being breached.

So it’s fine to ban the EDL from marching, but not the EDL’s left-wing opponents? Apparently, human rights should not extend to those with the Wrong Views - or perhaps anti-fascists think EDL members aren’t human. It was as if these naive protesters were complaining that the home secretary, Theresa May, couldn’t see who the good guys were.

Given the extent of collaboration between the anti-fascist left and the police, you can see why they might have been miffed. On Saturday, anti-fascist groups such as Hope Not Hate monitored the borough on behalf of the police to ensure no one that even looked like an EDL supporter was allowed into the borough. Searchlight magazine reported seeing ‘six to eight thuggish EDL types wandering around’, who were told they were not welcome. Others took to Twitter to encourage their followers to report to the police any EDL members seen entering the borough. As one anti-fascist Twitterer put it: ‘So glad the #EDL are denied access to #Walthamstow today. We are on EDL watch, [so if EDL members are] seen today anywhere in “Stow”, please let the police know.’

That anti-fascists now take it upon themselves to ensure the law is being enforced, shows the extent to which the left have become an unofficial arm of the state. They have become squealers, the state’s eyes and ears, cheering on the state to intervene.

Surely anyone with an anti-authoritarian bone in their body would be chilled by the state’s clampdown on free expression in huge swathes of London over the next month. These so-called ‘anti-fascists’ are so untroubled by it, they are holding ‘victory rallies’ instead. What’s anti-fascist about that?



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

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

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


5 November, 2012

"Liberation" can be lonely

Marriage undoubtedly requires compromises but some compromises can be worth it

This week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that more of us than ever are living alone. This won’t trouble the author Colm Tóibín, who once eulogised the freedom that living alone gives him, likening his solitary existence to that of “a cloistered nun”.

A terrifying image, surely, and not a metaphor for a life most of us would seek to inhabit. Certainly not my friend Helen: successful, well-off, homeowner; but tired of her single life, of the near-constant awareness that she’s running out of time to have children, as fast as she’s running out of the energy to embark on another round of futile first dates. Nor my friend Mark, divorced dad, active in his daughter’s life – but who still, at the end of the weekend, returns the child to her mother, before driving back to his re-emptied house, where he passes the evenings with PlayStation and Sky Sports.

In discussing solitary lives, we should ignore the Colm Tóibíns – financially independent people who realise that, for them, to live alone brings more advantages than otherwise. Most people of my generation had such a stage in their lives – between university, and settling down – but we didn’t want it to last forever. In any case, with property prices as they are, such self-selected solitary living is not an option for much of the succeeding generation.

Set aside, too, those figures pertaining to the very elderly; not because there aren’t real problems faced by those (usually female) “survivors”, but because their existence is a function of the uneven impact of medical advances and lifestyle changes on the longevity of each of the genders.

It’s not the relatively young, or the very old, who are the main drivers of this demographic change. As the ONS makes clear, the largest increase in solitary living is down to the 45-64 age group. Almost two and a half million Britons in that age category have no one with whom to share their home, an increase of more than 800,000 households since the mid-Nineties. Even allowing for the increase in total population size, that’s still a noticeable change, and they don’t all enjoy the experience. I suspect there are more divorced parents, like my friend Mark, poking about their fridges for an M&S meal for one, than there are cloistered Irish novelists.

Which would be fine, were this phenomenon merely to affect matters as concrete as housing. But evidence suggests a link between solitariness and poorer health outcomes (mirroring, bleakly, the evidence about the outcomes for children raised in single-parent households). One paper I read showed a significant increase in the prescription of antidepressants to the solitary, compared with cohabiting couples. Correlation doesn’t prove a sociological theory, of course, but it’s hard to ignore the link between living alone, and other deleterious life choices.

Which demands a political response: marriage is the most important institution to act as a bulwark against loneliness, and the Government should promote it. Iain Duncan Smith is unwinding the insidious “couples penalty”, the financial cost to setting up a home with your partner, and the other probable cause, after divorce, for the change in living habits. His Centre for Social Justice discovered that the people most penalised for living together are – surprise – among the poorest. This must be fixed (and couples who “live apart together” shouldn’t be demonised for rationally navigating the snares of the benefits system).

But if it’s understandable that a financial penalty can cause the poorest to avoid marriage, why assume that monetary considerations don’t affect the better-off? First, because politicians are scared to reward marriage in the tax system, and second, because our divorce laws so scar those who endure them that, I suspect, we’ve produced a generation with the motto “once bitten, twice shy”. The changes to child benefit for the well-off hardly help: a middle-class “couples penalty”.

Michael Howard deployed a powerful phrase in defence of his criminal justice policy: prison works. It’s time we used a similar phrase, in defence of social justice: marriage “works” too. It works for most people and definitely for civic society, yet we find it hard to say this, and shy away from its political implications. What started as a desire not to judge “lifestyle choices” has bred a generation living in lonely, quiet despair. Loneliness is a much harder political issue to tackle than, say, house-building, but – if we believe in “society” at all – hardly one of lesser significance.


More petty nastiness from bureaucratized Britain

A grandmother of four has been threatened with jail for sweeping the leaves outside her home.  Barbara Ray, 82, was accused of 'causing a hazard' by brushing the fallen leaves into a 'large heap' for roadsweepers to collect.

She was warned her simple attempts to keep the neighbourhood tidy could leave her facing prosecution for fly-tipping, punishable by a £50,000 fine and a 12-month jail term.

When Mrs Ray queried the letter, she was astonished to discover council contractors had photographed her gardener, who visits once a fortnight, sweeping the leaves into the street.

And the council even defended its stance by claiming that her behaviour was 'unacceptable'.

Mrs Ray, who worked as the financial director of a printing business she ran with her late husband, branded the council officials ‘petty bureaucrats’ as she told of her anger over the letter’s threatening tone.  She said: ‘It’s bureaucracy gone mad. I’m not a person who wants to make a fuss but it was a shock to read that letter.

‘When I challenged the district council officer and asked him how he knew I’d cleared the leaves into the road from the front of my house, he said they had photos to prove it.

‘I like to keep my house neat and tidy. The council told me to use my green bin – but that is soon full of garden waste because they only empty it once a fortnight. I’m just annoyed that the council can treat me like this.’

The mother of two first moved to her part of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in the 1950s with her husband Tony, who died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 71.

Following his death she moved round the corner to her three-bedroom bungalow, which is in a road lined with lime trees.

In a letter sent last week, an official from the district council warned Mrs Ray: ‘You were seen removing leaves from your front garden and depositing them in the road channel in front of your property.

‘Abandoning material in this manner constitutes fly-tipping under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.’

A spokesman for the authority told the Daily Mail yesterday that during the autumn, road sweepers are sent once a week to 100 of the worst roads for leaf fall in the district – one of which is Mrs Ray’s.

But she claims the sweepers do not come ‘for weeks’ at a time, so she frequently has to sweep up the leaves from her garden, driveway and the footpath.

Mrs Ray said: ‘I’ve lived through the war and have been in this town all my life. I pay my council tax and should receive this service. I’ve got better things to worry about at my age than this.’

Her family have also played a significant role in the town. Her husband acted as mace bearer for the mayor, while his brother, Malcolm, and father, Ernest, were both mayors in their time.

Mrs Ray said the council has now dropped its threat to prosecute after she promised to stop the sweeping. She turned down the authority’s offer to supply her with a second green bin – for a £35 charge. She will now put the leaves into refuse sacks, which a friend will drive to the council waste disposal centre.

A council spokesman said the ‘very large heap’ of leaves from Mrs Ray’s lawn which had been left in the ‘road channel’ were a ‘hazard’, which caused cars to move further into the road.

He added: ‘Moving the leaves in this manner is unacceptable and can cause additional problems with blocking of drains. The District Council would like to apologise if the letter sent to Mrs Ray caused any concern.’ He added that the letter had been addressed to ‘The Household’, not Mrs Ray herself.

Her local MP, Conservative Nadhim Zahawi said he was 'disappointed' about the council's action.  He said: 'As Mrs Ray's Member of Parliament it's my job to represent people like her, particularly in dealing with local bureaucracy and issues with the Council and as such it's a shame I wasn't able to get involved in this case.

'I'm particularly disappointed that the Council's Officers seem to have chosen such a confrontational approach from the outset rather than perhaps asking her local  Councillor to intervene or simply sending a less threatening warning letter.'


Jews of Diaspora and Israel are under attack

Prominent French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy declared on Tuesday night that Jews in Israel and around the world are under attack from the twin threats of anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, and total war against the State of Israel.

Speaking at a conference on the future of the Jewish people organized by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), Lévy labeled the phenomenon of anti-Zionism as “the new mutation of the anti-Semitism virus.”

“The challenge we have to face is the new shape of old anti-Semitism, a new system of legitimacy to express anti-Semitism that revolves around hatred of Israel and anti-Zionism,” he said.

Hatred of Israel, denial or partial denial of the Holocaust, and the identification of Palestinians as the only legitimate victims, he explained, form the basis of the anti-Zionist and anti- Semitic onslaught.

In addition, he said, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are planning a total war constituting a serious threat to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

“For the moment they don’t have the means to wage total war; maybe they will never have it. But when you listen to Hamas, to Hassan Nasrallah, to the men in power in Tehran including the so-called moderates such as Rafsanjani, the words they speak have to be considered as a plan for a form of total war,” Lévy suggested.

Prof. Suzanne Last Stone, academic counsel to JPPI, said the conference was designed to approach challenges to the Jewish people in a more holistic fashion.

One of the overarching challenges, she said, was the importance of building “mutual understanding” to develop and improve Israel-Diaspora relations.

One focus of misunderstanding between the two communities was the lack of understanding among US Jewry regarding the matter of religion and state in Israel.

“The Israeli way of arranging religion and state is strange and troubling for US Jews, and part of a larger set of differences between Israel and the Diaspora,” Last Stone said.

“There are no easy and immediate solutions, but the goal of this conference is to put the issues on the table and bring both communities to understand each other’s positions.”


Australian Aboriginal people 'in welfare trap'

THE Territory's Indigenous Advancement Minister has given Aboriginal people a severe ticking off.  Alison Anderson [above] said she "despaired" at their reluctance to work.

"I look at the men of Yirrkala and ask why they will not drive the 20km to Nhulunbuy to earn excellent money in the mine and the processing plant there," she said.

"It is the kind of question the rest of Australia has been asking for years, as it tries to connect the dots, tries to understand why a long-running mining boom can exist literally next door to a culture of entitlement and welfare dependency."

In a major speech to the NT Legislative Assembly, Ms Anderson said welfare dependency meant indigenous Territorians expected the government to "do everything for 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


4 November, 2012

The global war on free speech

It’s not just China and Russia: editors in Greece and Hungary are being harassed, while Britain’s straitened press is in danger of being cowed by powerful interests and excessive regulation

By John Kampfner (Kampfner is a former editor of 'The New Statesman’, a British Leftist organ.  A recent article there was headed: "The world cannot afford a defeat for Barack Obama".  Rather says it all.  Still, he is pretty right below

Look back at the big events of the past decade and ask yourself: did we find out too much or too little of what the powerful did in our name? Did we know too much or too little about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Did we enquire too much or too little about the cheating of the bankers?

When I posed this question during my testimony to the Leveson Inquiry back in January, I swear I saw the judge’s eyes roll. I fear Lord Justice Leveson had been persuaded long before that journalism was a problem for society, not part of the solution to its ills. He could have been forgiven for coming to this instant conclusion, having listened to the heart-rending testimony of Milly Dowler’s parents, or Kate and Gerry McCann, or of other victims of hounding and despicable behaviour.

Even though I have worked in the profession, or trade, for more than two decades, I hold no candle for the press as an institution. My concern is broader. Freedom of expression – the bedrock of democracy – is under threat in Britain, as it is around the globe.

Wherever you look, someone with power, somewhere in the world, is trying to prevent the truth from getting out. In dictatorships they often resort to violence. But usually those with power hide behind laws that, while technically legitimate, are designed to chill free speech.

We think such measures are the preserve of places like China and Russia. And they are. In China the media are severely censored. Dissidents are routinely jailed. Western media are blocked online when they become inconvenient, as the New York Times was recently after revealing details of premier Wen Jiabao’s family wealth.

In Russia, investigative journalists are killed when they find out too much. The internet is now severely restricted. Members of the punk band Pussy Riot languish in penal colonies for protesting in church.

But dangers also lurk in so-called democracies. In Greece, a magazine editor yesterday went on trial for having the temerity to publish details of the tax avoidance schemes of the super-rich, as ordinary people suffer greatly from austerity. If normal ethical standards were applied, Costas Vaxevanis would have been celebrated for his intrepid reporting. But shooting the messenger has become the norm for politicians and business leaders, as a means of diverting attention from their crimes and misdemeanours – and frightening whistleblowers and journalists. In France, presidents and ministers have for years hidden behind privacy clauses to keep their dodgy financial affairs secret. Hungary’s recent press law, requiring media outlets to be licensed, has led to a spate of overly critical editors being sacked and radio stations taken off air.

What is so dispiriting is that we in Britain appear now to be leaning in this direction. We increasingly regard free speech as a danger.

There are a number of reasons: some of it is the result of bad law; some of it is economic. Politicians, lawyers and the public are struggling to come to terms with rapid technological changes. The internet was supposed to be the vehicle that broke down old rules and hierarchies. We suddenly acquired a voice through emails, blogs and social networking. We could bear witness to events through sound recording and cameras on our mobile phones.

The power relationship shifted. Gone were the days when a mere citizen would have to send a letter to their MP, who would occasionally deign to reply. Mostly they didn’t, seeing engagement or accountability as an intrusion on their valuable time.

That has changed, thank goodness, and cannot be reversed. The moment George Osborne’s assistant queried, possibly innocently, his standard-class train ticket, that episode was in the public domain.

Yet at the same time we struggle with Twitter and Facebook and the freedoms they afford. Online, the extremely poor joke and the offensive remark have now become matters not for peer groups to sort out, but for the authorities. So the hapless young man who tweets in frustration about blowing up an airport is arrested; a stupid boy who insults the Olympic diver Tom Daley is visited by the police; and the equally pathetic young man who makes an ill-judged “joke” about the disappeared Welsh schoolgirl April Jones is taken in, too.

I am as angered by these remarks as anyone, but is it the state’s job to arbitrate matters of taste and decency? When Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, was invited on to the BBC’s Question Time a couple of years ago, to howls of outrage, I saw it as important to defend his right to appear – and to make a fool of himself, which he duly did. To misquote Voltaire, the only free speech worth defending is that of the person whose views you find most obnoxious.

Everywhere around the world, it seems, the right to take offence has been elevated into a human right. Usually, but not always, this “right” is exercised through religious belief. Most cases are seen through the prism of “insults” to Islam. But this “right” now seems to be exercised by whoever wants it.

What does all this have to do with our press? The best word I can find is “raucous”. A raucous, argumentative society is a healthy society. Of course we need laws to protect people – from child pornography to incitement to violence. We need state secrets. But the Official Secrets Act has often been used for the wrongful purpose of protecting the reputations of ministers and officials. We need anti-terrorism measures, but not the outrageous Communications Data Bill currently being discussed in Parliament, that would give not just the security services but dozens of lesser public bodies the right to demand emails and social media traffic from any citizen in the land. These plans are dangerous; they are also manna from heaven for the Russians and Chinese, who love to point to the West’s double standards when their records are held up to scrutiny.

We need libel laws, but not those that for years have indulged sheikhs, oligarchs and other super-rich figures, preventing anyone from writing about them. These laws are being changed, but I fear the end result will fall far short of the improvements the libel reform campaign I helped to lead has sought.

Throw in the economics: many newspapers have closed or been pared to the bone, particularly in the regions. Whose interests are served when local councils know that planning decisions and other dodgy dealings will go unreported? The same goes on a national scale, not just about politicians, but sports stars and their agents and businesses on the take. Investigative journalism takes time, requires patience and indulgence from editors, and costs money. That is the area that is being cut back most of all – to everyone’s detriment.

So how come a general view has been allowed to take hold that our press is out of control? The terrible acts of a few, hacking the phones of the vulnerable with no possible public interest, have handed the moral ground and political power to those who want journalists to be more “respectful”.

I have attended a number of press conferences over the years involving prime ministers and US presidents. When the two leaders marched into the room, the Americans would stand to attention; the Brits would sit sullenly. I know which I prefer.

Nobody sensible will defend the old-style boys’-club regulation of newspapers. Of course, something more vigorous must emerge from the Leveson Inquiry. But I have worked in many countries – not just under authoritarian regimes – where journalists are seduced by the offer of a seat at the top table, or are persuaded not to ask that extra question. “Go easy, we don’t want trouble” could all too easily become the mantra here. Would, I ask myself, this newspaper have had the courage to break the story about MPs’ expenses in the post-Leveson world? I would like to think so, but I’m not sure.

We all want to strike the right balance. But perfection is elusive. Forced to choose, I would rather have a public space that goes too far than one that – like so many countries around the world – is pliant in the face of power.


Litter-picking enthusiast prosecuted by nasty British bureaucracy

A litter-picking enthusiast who is so devoted to keeping the streets clean that he spends an hour every day tidying up rubbish himself was stunned to find himself fined £75 for putting refuse in a bin.

Council officials accused David Baker, 39, of fly-tipping because they said he had used a public street bin to deposit a pizza box and junk mail – considered illegal as this is classed as “domestic waste”.

The former geologist has gathered tonnes of rubbish dropped by strangers over the last six years, winning awards for his efforts, after becoming fed up with litter piling up near his town centre flat.

He described his fine as “bureaucracy gone mad” and said the council seemed so “desperate for money” it would fine anybody.

Mr Baker said: “I think that it is completely outrageous that I should be fined for actually cleaning rubbish off the streets.

“How can people who actually want to put rubbish in the bin be fined? To claim that what I put in the bin amounts to fly-tipping is crazy.

“I moved to a town centre flat six years ago and got fed up with all the rubbish in the street.  “I look after all the plants and dead head them daily and I go around picking up rubbish.  “I fill a carrier bag or two a day and I go out most days of the year - unless I'm on holiday.

“I am out at least an hour every day and do it all for free. I just think the council are desperate for money and have a mentality of fining people for anything at the moment.”

Councillor Tracy Wood said: “Our enforcement officers issued a fixed penalty fine to Mr Baker in Stourbridge, after they found his domestic waste and letters in the litter bin on a number of occasions.   “However, we will be reviewing the fine and speaking to Mr Baker directly to discuss it.”


It is Mitt Romney’s 'gaffes’ that should win him the election

Most commentators thought that President Obama won the final US presidential television debate last week. Attention particularly focused on the President’s put-down of his rival, Mitt Romney, when they debated defence. Mr Romney complained that the US Navy had fewer ships than at any time since 1917. Cue a scornful Obama intervention: America probably has “fewer horses and bayonets” too, he mocked – the world is changing and so is the technology of defence. “This is not a game of Battleship,” added Mr Obama, with curling lip.

Since I am a member of that widely disliked class, the “commentariat”, my immediate, instinctive reaction was that the president had scored a palpable hit. He had done what we columnists try to do in comparable situations: he had been funny, and made his opponent look stupid. We – and he – pride ourselves on being clever and so regard stupidity as the ultimate vice.

On second thoughts, though, I wonder if American voters feel quite the same way. Mr Obama may well have been making a reasonable point about modern warfare, but if I were serving in the US Navy, or related to someone working in any industry or service involving defence, security or risk to life, I would not have enjoyed that comparison with horses and bayonets. This was a piece of condescension, and it came not from a columnist but from the Commander-in-Chief.

One reason, over the past four years, that Mr Obama has lost his heroic status is that people now see beyond the simple, wonderful fact that a black man can be elected president. Martin Luther King famously had a dream about the time when his own children would be judged not “by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”. In the case of President Obama, this time has come.

And it turns out that his character is not that of a man who has emerged from nowhere to challenge the powerful few on behalf of the wretched of the earth. It is that of a media-savvy professor of an Ivy League university – comfortable with irony, more than comfortable with the sound of his own voice, confident that he knows a great deal more than most of us. One of the striking features of the lives of such professors is their terms of employment. They have what is called “tenure”: no one can get them out.

Mr Obama went into the contest that ends on Tuesday believing that he, too, had tenure. The White House was his. The election, like those bogus selection processes for top public sector jobs when the winner has been pre-decided, was little more than a tiresome formality.

In the first debate, when Mr Romney attacked him and proposed himself as a man with interesting answers, Mr Obama looked shocked at the challenger’s effrontery. Ever since then, he has had to wake up and fight back. He has certainly performed much better. But he still speaks as if he thinks his main qualification for the job is that he has it already. In this time of immense economic difficulty, incumbency should have few rights. You have to listen very carefully to get any idea at all of what the president proposes to do with the four more years to which he feels so strongly entitled.

In Britain and, even more, in continental Europe, the people who bring their fellow citizens the news do not really see this. To them, Mr Obama’s combination of historically persecuted ethnicity and posh seminar tone is just perfect. It satisfies their mildly Left-wing consciences and fits in with their cultural assumptions. The chief of these is that the excesses of the West, especially of America, are the biggest problem in the world. Mr Obama comes as near to saying this as anyone trying to win American votes ever could. His “apology tour” to the Middle East early in his presidency remains, for the European elites, the best thing he has ever done. He is the anti-Americans’ American.

Mitt Romney is not. Although he is a moderate Republican, it is fascinating how profoundly he clashes culturally with Obama, and, a fortiori, with the European media and political classes.

Early on in this campaign, Mr Romney seemed rather boringly technocratic, as if politics were a branch of management consultancy. You still hear traces of this: in that final debate, Mr Romney, son of Detroit, kept talking up “managed bankruptcy” in the automobile industry. No doubt this makes sense in business language, but his words must have struck fear into large parts of his audience.

Yet whenever Mr Romney has made what the media call his “gaffes”, I have noticed that almost all of them contain kernels of truth. Whether he is talking about the 47 per cent (his figure) of Americans who are suppliants of the state or about the threat from Russia, he is raising real problems, very much the sort of questions that Mr Obama would rather not discuss.

His decisively interesting “gaffe” was the one in Israel at the end of July. He praised the Israelis for the “cultural elements” in their success, the qualities that had made the actual, economic and political desert bloom. “Culture makes all the difference,” he declared. Of course this brought a bucket of condemnation upon his head because it was taken as an implied criticism of Palestinian culture. But his point goes to the heart of the West’s current problem. Does it still, as it once did, contain within itself the capacity for renewal, adventure and enterprise? Is its prized freedom a principle of activity for each individual or merely the right to moan about everything and tell the government to put it right?

Mr Romney is a Mormon, and Mormons often get a bad press. They feature, some as criminals, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s very first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. But Conan Doyle also says this in that story, about the great journey of immigrant Mormon believers seeking the promised land in Utah “with a constancy almost unparalleled in history”: “The savage man, and the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease – every impediment which Nature could place in the way – had all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity.” This sense of a people defeating appalling obstacles, through their own efforts and the hand of providence, is as old as Moses. As Conan Doyle implies, it is central to the story of the English-speaking peoples. Even today, it is what makes America new in each generation. Barack Obama does not believe in it – he does not even like it. Mitt Romney does.

What the media see as a “gaffe” is often, in reality, a challenge to the dominant orthodoxy. In the late Seventies, Margaret Thatcher made the gaffe of questioning the motives of the Soviet Union when everyone else was mad about détente. She made the gaffe of questioning incomes policies when most people said they were the only way of stopping inflation. After a while, she piled up enough gaffes to make sure that she won the general election of 1979. In the United States in 1980, Ronald Reagan made those sorts of gaffes, too.

Then, as now, our entire economic system was in question. It was so serious that it put the West’s global predominance in question as well. The prize went to the candidate who raised the questions, and tried boldly to answer them, not to the one who tried to suppress them. I hope the same proves true in the United States next week.


Australian Leftist government could rethink Palestine stand in UN

AUSTRALIA could still back a Palestine state winning a place at the United Nations, despite "hot debate" inside the government and determined opposition from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, has told Israeli and Palestinian officials in recent weeks Australia will not take a final decision on the potentially explosive issue until the wording of any resolution is clear.

But Labor's longest-serving foreign minister, Gareth Evans, has warned Australia could be on the "wrong side of history" by opposing a Palestinian push to win observer status at the UN General Assembly.

"The issue has been hotly debated within the government over the last year but it is one on which the Prime Minister has very strong views, and her views have so far prevailed," Professor Evans said on Thursday night.

The former foreign minister Kevin Rudd had written to Ms Gillard last year advising that Australia should abstain in the General Assembly, but the issue was left unresolved after Palestinian diplomats decided not to send a resolution for a vote.

Palestinian officials, frustrated by peace negotiations with Israel, are driving for the UN seat as a way of securing international recognition of Palestinian statehood.

But Israel is fiercely opposed to the move, accusing Palestinians of breaking an agreement not to make any unilateral declaration of statehood.

Australian diplomats had feared the Palestinian question could be brought on before last month's vote on the campaign for Security Council seat - with the potential to cruel Australia's chances to win over Arab and Islamic nations.

Australia had already risked a backlash by siding with Israel, the US and 11 other nations last year to oppose Palestine joining a key UN cultural body, after Ms Gillard over-ruled Mr Rudd.

But Australia has also sought in recent months to send subtle signals of support for a two-state solution to the conflict, with officials switching back an earlier formulation and referring to "Palestine" instead of "Palestinian Territories".

The debate over Palestinian membership of the UN is set to resurface, with the Palestine leader, Mahmoud Abbas, expected to return to the General Assembly, possibly later this month.

"When the resolution is put the only uncertainty about the outcome will be the size of the affirmative majority," Professor Evans said. He said estimates of support had 115 votes in favour, 20 against and between 50 to 60 set to abstain.

A spokesman for Senator Carr said Australia would look at the text of the resolution when it was available and make a decision.



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

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

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


2 November, 2012

Egalite without liberte? Non, non, non!

A new army of equality quangos and experts promises to make us all equal – but at the expense of our freedoms and desire to be rich

Historically, when people talked about equality, they meant one of two things. They either meant political equality - that is, equal rights, the expansion of freedom to more and more sections of society. Or they meant material equality - that is, a rethink of the way resources are created and distributed, the expansion of wealth so that more and more sections of society could enjoy it.

But today, we have a very curious situation where the new equality industry - all those quangos, experts and politicians who present themselves as the guardians of equality - actively undermines those two goals of the old struggles for equality. Today, equality is promoted not as a means of expanding freedom, but of limiting it. And equality is celebrated not as a means of expanding wealth, but as a way of shrinking wealth, or at least making it less ostentatious.

Where once we fought for equality in order to expose greater numbers of people to the gains of freedom and the joy of wealth, now the state and its offshoots promote equality in order to protect us from those things - in order to protect us from the alleged dangers of too much freedom and from the alleged mental distress that comes from wanting too much material stuff.

In relation to freedom: One of the most striking things about our society is how much validation and even adulation the idea of equality receives, and how little the ideal of freedom receives. There are numerous quangos and think-tanks devoted to promoting equality, but hardly any devoted to preserving freedom. Politicians like David Cameron are always talking about how important it is to address inequality, but they never make a loud defence of freedom - in fact, they pass laws that eat away at our freedom.

And not only does our society value equality more than it does freedom - it also uses equality as a tool for undermining freedom. You can see this pretty clearly with the UK Equality Act - the new ‘duty’ of equality that is enforced by government, which some religious and political groups have raised concerns about it, worried that it might be used to attack freedom of conscience and freedom of association.

Just consider the pretty shocking case where the state sought to force the far-right British National Party to rewrite its constitution. The Equality and Human Rights Commission argued that the BNP’s constitution was anti-equality. The constitution broke race relations laws by stipulating that the BNP was open only to ‘indigenous Caucasians’. It failed the equality test, and therefore it had to go.

Now, you might well hate the BNP’s constitution - that’s fine, most normal people do. But what you should hate even more is the idea that the state should have the right to edit or trash the constitutions of political parties. Because if we accept that the state should have that right, then we accept that there is no longer freedom of association or the right to political organisation; we accept that those two key freedoms - the freedom to associate with whom we choose and the freedom to promote whatever political views we like - can be undermined by the state in the name of ‘equality’.

The BNP case showed just how cynical the promotion of equality is these days. There were no queues of black and Asian people demanding the right to join the BNP, a racist party. This was no bottom-up demand for equal treatment - it was a top-down exploitation of the language of equality by a state keen to punish a deviant political party and force it to conform to the state’s values.

Today’s elevation of equality over freedom is bizarre - because freedom absolutely presupposes equality. Freedom is unquestionably a more important value than equality. In fact, earlier generations of fighters for equality saw equality as important only insofar as it allowed for the expansion of freedom. So for the French Revolutionaries - who propelled equality into historical consciousness - the demand for equality was about giving meaning to freedom. It was about making the ideal of freedom a reality by extending it, in Robespierre’s words, to both ‘slave and tyrant’. Equality emerged in the eighteenth century as a means of achieving freedom, which had been discussed as an ideal for centuries, in the living, breathing world.

Today, the use of equality to undermine freedom seriously denigrates both - it denigrates both the purpose of equality, and the meaning of freedom.

Then there is the debate about material equality. Here, too, the meaning of equality has been warped. Where earlier generations fought for the creation of more, in order to facilitate the spread of wealth to all, today’s equality quangos effectively fight for less. For them, equality means everyone having just about enough rather than everyone having an awful lot or all they can dream of.

Their starting point is the idea that desiring wealth is potentially bad for our mental health. They have even invented new diseases to describe the longing to be wealthy - they call it ‘affluenza’ or ‘stuff-itis’. They have pathologised the desire for more. And that’s because their aim is to lower horizons rather than raise them. For them, equality is a kind of therapy for the poor, a tool which should be used to make poor people feel better about the fact that they live on less than others. The new equality quangos are obsessed with lowering the perks and privileges of the rich - with ‘shrinking the pay gap’, as they call it - because their overarching aim is to stem feelings of jealously and out-of-control desire amongst the poor when they see rich bankers swaggering about with champagne and cigars.

This was best summed up by Will Hutton of the High Pay Commission, who recently said: ‘The knowledge that ostentatious consumption is possible has a shadow effect on every British citizen.’ In short, we must protect the poor from the sight of wealth; we must protect them from the harm of wanting things, and we must do this by making the wealth in our society less garish and obvious, by shrinking it, by removing the suggestion that everyone could achieve this standard of living or that it would be desirable for them to do so. This is really about helping the poor acclimatise to the fact that they are poor, by removing riches from their sight and from their minds.

The key problem today is the treatment of equality as an end in itself, as the good, logical end goal of policymaking. In past struggles, equality wasn’t treated as an end in itself - rather, it was viewed as a tool for the expansion of freedom and for the spread of riches. That is, it was about unleashing people’s potential and their individuality by making them more autonomous, both politically and economically; it wasn’t about making everyone the same, with the same views, the same incomes, the same life trajectories.

Today, equality, the end goal of just about every modern policy proposal, is about restraint; it’s about reining in allegedly dangerous freedoms and dampening down material desires. No wonder it is so attractive to the elite: ‘equality’ has become a PC word through which our rulers can limit people’s freedoms and lower our horizons and generally make our ambitionless, slothful society seem principled by describing it as ‘equal’. We should tell them we don’t want to be merely and always equal - we want to be free.


Why a Good Person Can Vote Against Same-Sex Marriage

Dennis Prager
Next week voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington will vote on whether to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.  Given that there are good people on both sides of this issue, how are we to explain their opposing views?

The primary explanation is this: Proponents and opponents ask two different questions.

Proponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is keeping the definition of marriage as man-woman fair to gays? Opponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is same-sex marriage good for society?

Few on either side honestly address the question of the other side. Opponents of same-sex marriage rarely acknowledge how unfair the age-old man-woman definition is to gay couples. And proponents rarely, if ever, acknowledge that this unprecedented redefinition of marriage may not be good for society.

That is why proponents have it much easier. All they need to do is to focus the public's attention on individual gay people, show wonderful gay individuals who love each other, and ask the American public: Is it fair to continue to deprive these people of the right to marry one another?

When added to Americans' aversion to discrimination, to the elevation of compassion to perhaps the highest national value, and to the equating of opposition to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage, it is no wonder that many Americans have been persuaded that opposition to same-sex marriage is hateful, backwards and the moral equivalent of racism.

Is there any argument that can compete with the emotionally compelling fairness argument?  The answer is that one can -- namely, the answer to the second question, Is it good for society?

Before answering that question, however, it is necessary to respond to the charge that opposition to same-sex marriage is morally equivalent to opposition to interracial marriage and, therefore, the moral equivalent of racism.

There are two responses:

First, this charge is predicated on the profoundly false premise that race and sex (or "gender" as it is now referred to) are analogous.

They are not.  While there are no differences between black and white human beings, there are enormous differences between male and female human beings. That is why sports events, clothing, public restrooms, and (often) schools are routinely divided by sex. But black sporting events and white sporting events, black restrooms and white restrooms, black schools and white schools, or black clothing stores and white clothing stores would be considered immoral.

Because racial differences are insignificant and gender differences are hugely significant, there is no moral equivalence between opposition to interracial marriage and opposition to same-sex marriage.

Second, if opposition to same-sex marriage is as immoral as racism, why did no great moral thinker, in all of history, ever advocate male-male or female-female marriage? Opposition to racism was advocated by every great moral thinker. Moses, for example, married a black woman, the very definition of Catholic is "universal" and therefore diverse and has always included every race, and the equality of human beings of every race was a central tenet of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other world religions. But no one - not Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Aquinas, Gandhi, not the Bible or the Koran or any other sacred text, nor even a single anti-religious secular thinker of the Enlightenment -- ever advocated redefining marriage to include members of the same sex.

To argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is immoral is to argue that every moral thinker, and every religion and social movement in the history of mankind prior to the last 20 years in America and Europe was immoral. About no other issue could this be said. Every moral advance has been rooted in prior moral thinking. The anti-slavery movement was based on the Bible. Martin Luther King, Jr. was first and foremost the "Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr." and he regularly appealed to the moral authority of the scriptures when making his appeals on behalf of racial equality. Same-sex marriage is the only social movement to break entirely with the past, to create a moral ideal never before conceived. It might be right, but it might also be an example of the moral hubris of the present generation, the generation that created the self-esteem movement: After all, you need a lot of self-esteem to hold yourself morally superior to all those who preceded you.

We now return to our two primary questions.

Is the man-woman definition of marriage fair to gays who wish to marry? No, it isn't. And those of us opposed to same-sex marriage need to be honest about this, to confront the human price paid by some people through no fault of their own and figure out ways to offer gay couples basic rights associated with marriage.

But whether a policy is fair to every individual can never be the only question society asks in establishing social policy. Eyesight standards for pilots are unfair to some terrifically capable individuals. Orchestra standards are unfair to many talented musicians. A mandatory retirement age is unfair to many people. Wherever there are standards, there will be unfairness to individuals.

So, the question is whether redefining in the most radical way ever conceived -- indeed completely changing its intended meaning -- is good for society.

It isn't.  The major reason is this: Gender increasingly no longer matters. There is a fierce battle taking place to render meaningless the man-woman distinction, the most important distinction regarding human beings' personal identity. Nothing would accomplish this as much as same-sex marriage.

The whole premise of same-sex marriage is that gender is insignificant: It doesn't matter whether you marry a man or a woman. Love, not gender, matters.

Some examples of this war on gender:

--This year Harvard University appointed its first permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. The individual, Vanidy Bailey, has asked that he/she never be referred to as he or she, male or female. Harvard has agreed.

--In 2010 eHarmony, for years the country's largest online dating service, was sued for only matching men and women. Its lack of same-sex matchmaking meant that it violated anti-discrimination laws in some states. As a result, eHarmony was forced to begin a same-sex online service.

--Each year more and more American high schools elect girls as homecoming kings and boys as homecoming queens. Students have been taught to regard restricting kings to males or queens to females as (gender-based) discrimination.

--When you sign up for the new social networking site, Google Plus, you are asked to identify your gender. Three choices are offered: Male, Female, Other.

--Catholic Charities, which operates the oldest ongoing adoption services in America, has had to end its adoption work in Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington, DC because the governments there regard placing children with married man-woman couples before same-sex couples as discriminatory.

Increasingly, even the mother-father ideal is being shattered in this battle to render male-female distinction insignificant.

--The socialist French government has just announced that in the future no government issued document will be allowed to use the words "mother" or "father." Only the gender-neutral term "parent" will be acceptable in France.

--And in Rhode Island this year, one school district cancelled its father-daughter dance after the ACLU threatened to sue the district for gender discrimination. Only parent-child events, not father-daughter dances or mother-son ballgames, will be allowed.

And all this is happening before same-sex marriage is allowed. Imagine what will happen should same-sex marriage become the law of the land.

It will hasten the end of the male-female distinction and of any significance to mothers or fathers as distinctive entities.

It will mean that those who, for religious or other reasons, wish to retain the man-woman definition of marriage will be legally and morally as isolated as racists are today.

And it will mean that teachers and other adults who ask little boys and girls who they would like to marry, will, in order to be in sync with the morality of our times, have to make it clear that it might be a someone of the same sex. "Will you marry a boy or a girl?" will be the only non-bigoted way to ask a young person about their marital plans.

The history of left-wing policies has largely consisted of doing what feels good and compassionate without asking what the long-term consequences will be; what Professor Thomas Sowell calls "Stage One Thinking." That explains, for example, the entitlement state. It sounds noble and seems noble. But the long-term consequences are terrible: economic ruin, a demoralized population, increasing selfishness as people look to the state to take care of their fellow citizens, and more.

By redefining marriage to include same sex couples we are playing with sexual and societal fire. Just as the entitlement state passes on the cost of our good intentions to our children and grandchildren - unsustainable dependency and debt -- so, too, same-sex marriage will pass along the consequences of our good intentions to our children and grandchildren - gender confusion and the loss of motherhood and fatherhood as values, just to cite two obvious consequences.

It is not enough to mean well in life. One must also do well. And the two are frequently not the same thing.

There are reasons no moral thinker in history ever advocated same-sex marriage.


Corrupt poll serves to demonise Israelis as pro-apartheid

ON October 23, the [Leftist] Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran a front-page story under the headline "Most Israelis support apartheid regime in the country", based on a clearly politicised push poll.

Once the poll findings were properly analysed and the flawed methodology and highly manipulative questions were revealed, Haaretz apologised, printed a retraction and admitted that its headline was misleading and the "apartheid" slur was misplaced. But the damage had been done. The original article was front-page news but the retraction was tucked away on page 5.

Gideon Levy, the journalist who "broke" the story (and was forced to write the retraction), has now admitted making "mistakes" that "shouldn't have happened", dubiously citing "neglect due to time pressures".

While Haaretz's admissions won't be noticed outside Israel, the original story was quickly picked up around the world. Britain's The Guardian and The Independent, Toronto's The Globe and Mail and The Sydney Morning Herald all ran the story under headlines as misleading as that of the original Haaretz piece: "Many Israelis support apartheid-style state, poll suggests" and "The new Israeli apartheid".


Australia:  Conservative radio talker has the last laugh;  now tops

With puffed-up pseudo-indignation, the Left tried to destroy him over a minor gaffe but they failed utterly

THE public has delivered an extraordinary verdict on the Alan Jones controversy and the attempt to destroy his program via an advertiser boycott.

The Alan Jones show has surged back to the top of the market. It is again bristling with ads. His number of listeners – all voters and consumers – is showing a healthy glow.

Prior to the recent anti-Jones campaign, Jones had a cumulative audience of 442,000 listeners in his 5.30am to 9am slot on weekday mornings. It was 2 1/2 times the audience size of his most direct commercial competitor, 2UE, but still trailed ABC 702.

This changed dramatically in the latest Nielsen ratings. Jones cruised past ABC 702, gaining 22,000 listeners while 702 lost 17,000 listeners.

The survey was generally bad for the flagship ABC station. Its daytime audience fell 9 per cent as ABC 702 suffered losses across every shift from 5.30am to 7pm, losing a cumulative 142,000 listeners.

This probably had nothing to do with Jones and more to do with changing media consumption patterns but the difference in fortunes was striking.

The latest Nielsen numbers are also a blast of cold air for 2UE. The station is not just a direct commercial competitor of 2GB but has also mimicked the 2GB formula, for a time even hiring David Oldfield, the former strategist for Pauline Hanson. The station should also have benefited from a ferocious coverage of Jones in Fairfax Media mastheads.

The upshot: prior to the boycott, 2UE had 166,000 cumulative listeners during the 5.30 to 9am slot, the equivalent of 38 per cent of the Jones audience. In the latest survey, 2UE shed 30,000 listeners while Jones was on air, a plunge of 18 per cent. Its audience has fallen to an equivalent of just 29 per cent of Jones's audience.

The Alan Jones show took a big commercial hit during October from the boycott but the show again has plenty of advertisers. Shares in 2GB's parent company, Macquarie Radio Network, fell sharply at the height of the boycott, from 64¢ to 54¢, but have since sprung back to pre-boycott levels.

The anti-Jones campaign has become problematic for its organisers.

In the marketplace of ideas, and the arena of freedom of speech, this controversy was a setback for Jones but has proved an abject defeat for his political adversaries in terms of market share.

The campaign targeted small businesses that advertised on the Jones program, jamming their online operations with anti-Jones spam. The campaign thus inflicted commercial damage on companies that had done nothing wrong.

The social media campaign which drove the anti-Jones campaign has been exposed as having organisers with clear organic links to the left, the unions and the Labor Party.

Ten days ago, Simon Sheikh, the long-time national director of GetUp, a social media network imported from the United States, announced he would seek preselection from the Greens as a Senate candidate in the ACT at the next election. This removed the fig-leaf, if one even existed, in front of the reality that GetUp serves as a proxy for the unions and the Greens.

Another anti-Jones organiser, Change.com, which like GetUp is a progressive social media network imported from the US, used to market itself as a politically neutral platform. It revealed itself as far from neutral when Change.com become an active cheerleader for the anti-Jones boycott campaign.

The campaign via Change.com was white hot for a week but quickly ran out of steam. After an initial surge of 100,000 online signatures in support of a boycott the growth in numbers fell to a trickle. When the petition closed after a month it had 116,000 signatures.

Any further attempts to target companies that advertise on Jones will be perceived as vindictive, given that Jones has apologised for the remark which sparked the campaign (that Julia Gillard's father had died of shame because his daughter lied so much) and commercial damage has been inflicted via the advertiser boycott. The point has been made.

The offending remark were made at a private function, and quickly withdrawn, but the outrage directed at Jones came from people who never listened to his program and are not remotely interested in his extensive philanthropy.

Based on the overall reaction to the Jones controversy, as distinct from the froth on social media, the campaign has proved to be a flash flood with little impact on the wider audience.

The Nielsen ratings suggest the campaign is widely perceived as an exercise in overkill. This morning a clearly nervous man went on air during the Jones's show and said: "First-time caller. I just want to give you my support."

Another caller, Stephanie, a Jones regular, wanted to talk about the two years of abuse she endured from another radio talk host who indulged in an obsessional hatred of Jones.

"Was your name and address ever mentioned on air?" Jones asked, in classic Dorothy Dix mode.  "Indeed my full name was mentioned for nearly two years by a broadcaster, and where I live," replied Stephanie. "My sons were mentioned … I was referred to on air, several times, as a skanky ho."

Jones: "There are rules for some and different rules for others … It's perfectly OK to refer to Tony Abbott as a 'douchebag' or 'Jack the Ripper'."

A sense of resentment has energised Jones, and his audience. It's called blowback.



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

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

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


1 November, 2012


Motherhood was once a byword for something everyone approved of but with the coming of feminism mothers are sometimes actually condemned  -- as "breeders", for instance.  Women are deluded into thinking that a "career" is more important than a family.

But mothers have the last laugh.  Have you ever seen smiles like the ones below on the faces of dried-out feminist butches?  I have known a lot of feminists (I taught in a Sociology school for many years) but I never have.

Smiles like the one below and the satisfaction that underlies them are a gift of nature but only people who are in tune with nature get them

I think all my comments in this post are however for people with feelings.  The way many Leftists positively celebrate abortion there must be many of them who are severely deficient in normal human feelings.  What I say here must be unintelligible to them   -- JR.

The happiness that only a baby can bring: The mother’s smile says it all:


Background:  Bianca and Matt Smith's two children, nine-week-old Mason and 22-month-old Isla, were both long-awaited arrivals with the help of Melbourne IVF.  Ms Smith, 35, said that after years of trying to conceive naturally, she was investing her energy in raising happy, well-adjusted children.

"You long for them for so long. You spend a lot of money and time going through a lot physically and emotionally, and it's all worth it," Ms Smith said.



Background: Like most new mothers, Katie Brown readily admits she is besotted with her baby son. But the 29-year-old has more reason than most to feel blessed by Ethan’s safe arrival – because he is the child she was afraid it would be impossible for her to have.

Following a routine smear test, Miss Brown was diagnosed with cervical cancer and warned she could die without a hysterectomy. But, distraught that she would never be able to have children of her own, she was offered the chance to undergo pioneering surgery to save both her life and her fertility. The operation, which has been performed on just a handful of British women, was a success.

To her doctor’s amazement, Miss Brown became pregnant six months later and Ethan was born by Caesarean section weighing a healthy 7lb 11oz.

Miss Brown, a dental hygienist, said: ‘Holding Ethan in my arms for the first time was the most amazing feeling ever, it was the best day of my life. It was very, very emotional.



As we see above, mothers sometimes go through a lot to get their babies.  There is no doubt, however, that ALL parents go through a lot in bringing up children.  Below is an excerpt from a humorous article that gives a version of the travails of parenthood.  The article was however preceded by the picture below of a little pink being with the most beautiful blue eyes.  I have no doubt that, despite the travails so vividly described, there would still be very many who would like that little pink being for their own  -- JR

Are you ready to have kids? Some things to check

Test 1: Preparation

Women: To prepare for pregnancy

1. Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
2. Leave it there.
3. After 9 months remove 5% of the beans.

Men: To prepare for children

1. Go to a local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself
2. Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.

Test 2: Knowledge

Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild.

Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour.

Enjoy it. It will be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

More here

In Defense of English Civilization

Sean Gabb indulges in some fantasy

We know that England is under attack, and from its own ruling class. Before we can speak of defense, we need to understand the reasons for the attack.

This is not an attack on tradition in itself, but the unfolding of an alternative tradition.

Part of what defines a nation is the relationship between its ruling class and the people at large. Our historic self-perception as English is based on the relationship between rulers and ruled that existed before 1914, and, though to a fading degree, for a couple of generations thereafter.

The English people in 1914 were capable of fully democratic self-government. They had the necessary cultural and genetic cohesiveness for a democratic system not to descend into chaos or majoritarian tyranny.

Democracy, however, was not necessary, as the oligarchy of hereditary landlords who ruled England had absolutely identified itself with the nation. Every interest group had its place within the nation, and there was a place for all.

After 1914, the old ruling class was destroyed—the heavy casualties of both World Wars, high taxes on static wealth, demands for a fraudulent kind of democracy, and so forth. The old ruling class went down before all this, because it never tried to evade the duties that came with national identification.

The new ruling class is a coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, educators, lawyers, media people, and associated business interests that draws income and status from an enlarged and activist state. It does not own the means of production but is content merely to control them. Its general desire is to avoid the entanglements that destroyed the old ruling class. It wishes to avoid more than token identification with the English people at large.

“Conservatives, after all, should not wish to copy the mistakes of the French revolutionaries.”
The present—and so far the most successful—scheme of liberation is to make power opaque and unaccountable by shifting it upwards to various multinational treaty organizations—e.g., the EU, WTO, NATO, etc.—and to Balkanize England into groupings more suspicious of each other than willing to combine against the ruling class.

State-sponsored mass immigration has been the most obvious evidence of this desire. Filling the country with people of different colors and with different ways, which do not like each other, and do not like and are not liked by the natives, is ideal Balkanization. But one of the purposes of political correctness is also to divide the native population—women against men, homosexuals against Christians, and so forth.

The final desire is for the mass of ordinary people to be dispossessed and impoverished and unable to challenge structures of exploitation that channel fantastic wealth to a free-floating class of masters.

If we want to avoid this, we must destroy the ruling class now. Its weakness is its reliance on the state as source or enabler of its income. Conservatives, therefore, must seize control of the state and disestablish the ruling class.

If we want to win the battle for this country, we need to take advice from the Marxists. These are people whose ends were evil where not impossible. But they were experts in the means to their ends. They knew more than we have ever thought about the seizure and retention of power. If, therefore, we ever achieve a government of conservatives and seek to bring about the irreversible transfer of power to ordinary people, we should take to heart what Marx said in 1871 after the failure of the Paris Commune:

…the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the precondition for every real people’s revolution….

The meaning of this is that we should not try to work with the ruling class. We should not try to jolly it along. We should not try fighting it on narrow fronts. We must regard it as the enemy, and we must smash it.

On the first day of our government of conservatives, we should close down the BBC. We should take it off the air. We should disclaim its copyrights. We should throw all its staff into the street and cancel their pensions. We should not try to privatize the BBC. This would simply be to transfer the voice of our enemy from the public to the private sector, where it might be more effective in its opposition. We must shut it down—and shut it down at once.

We should do the same with much of the administration. The Foreign Office, much of the Home Office, the Commission for Racial Equality, or whatever it is now called, anything to do with health and safety and planning and child protection—I mean much of the public sector—these should be shut down.

If at the end of your first month in power, we have not shut down half of the state, we are failing. If we have shut down half the state, we have made a step in the right direction and are ready for still further cuts.

Let me emphasize that the purpose of these cuts would not be to save money for the taxpayers or lift an immense weight of bureaucracy from their backs—though they would do this. The purpose is to destroy the ruling class before it can destroy us. We must tear up the web of power and personal connections that make these people effective as an opposition to radical change. If we do this, we shall face no more clamor than if we moved slowly and halfheartedly.

One obvious sign of success will be when depensioned enemies like Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson are seen serving on the cheese counter in Sainsbury.


British police overwhelmed by 4,000 ‘petty squabbles’ on Facebook and Twitter, with three arrests a day for offensive messages

Police forces across Britain are being forced to deal with petty squabbles on Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites every day when  they could be tackling more serious crimes.

Officers say they are wasting valuable time and resources tackling internet users directing abuse at each other.

In most cases, police simply tell victims to delete their tormentors from their networks, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a ‘few dozen’ more serious incidents have led to court, with the figure growing rapidly in recent months.

Internet trolls made sick comments about pop singer Adele’s baby boy within hours of his birth, and Tom Daley and  diving partner Peter Waterfield were called ‘team HIV’ on Twitter by Welsh Premier League footballer Daniel Thomas, who was arrested but escaped prosecution because the duo did not press charges

New figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday show that at least three arrests are being made every day for sending offensive messages via phones and computers, including  people harassing ex-partners by text message and making hoax threats as well as comments on social media.

An officer from Essex who asked not to be named said: ‘I dread to think how many hours are spent on Facebook jobs. If you don’t do at least one a day it’s been a very quiet day.’

He told how one man repeatedly called to claim that his ex-girlfriend was setting up fake accounts pretending to be him on Facebook, which has 900 million members worldwide.

When officers told the man  to simply stop using Facebook,  he replied: ‘But then I can’t see what they are saying about me.’

A young woman told police in Dorset she had received death threats on Facebook.  But when officers investigated, they found she had actually threatened to spread malicious rumours about another woman, who had replied: ‘I hope you die then.’

An officer from the West Midlands told how he had advised someone complaining of Facebook abuse to ‘unfriend’ their abuser, only to be told: ‘But I won’t have as many friends.’

Others expected police to have a ‘magic wand’ allowing them to access all Facebook accounts and find out who was behind offensive messages.

An officer from North Wales said: ‘You will always have one or two serious incidents of  harassment and bullying on Facebook and the like but for the most part it’s petty stuff.

It takes up a lot of time and the normal result is advice from us to all parties to grow up.’

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘We have concerns that we don’t have the resources to police everything that’s said on the internet.

We can’t have people getting upset in a one-off situation and involving the police.

I do think this could be the thin end of the wedge.  If we show too much willingness and get involved in every squabble, we’re setting ourselves up to keep doing this because it will be expected.’

He said it was right for police to investigate cases involving homophobia or racism, but added: ‘We shouldn’t be dealing with individual squabbles.’

The laws most commonly used to prosecute anyone who posts offensive material online, or ‘trolls’ who goad public figures and victims’ relatives, make it illegal to send a grossly offensive or obscene message using an electronic network, and apply even if it is sent privately to only one person or just repeats what another has said.

Statistics from 22 out of the  43 police forces in England and Wales show there were at least 4,098 arrests under the relevant laws between the start of 2009 and the middle of 2012, averaging three a day.

More than 2,000 people were either charged or given an out-of-court fine or caution.


Who's a Racist?

Cal Thomas

On MSNBC's Ed Schultz program Friday night, the former chief of staff for Colin Powell, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, said, of the Republican Party, "My party is full of racists ... and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin ... that's despicable." [Wilkerson has long been a contrarian  --JR]

Wilkerson's allegation followed his former boss's endorsement of President Obama for a second term. The history of racism has certainly stained both parties and there are racist Democrats and racist Republicans, but when the race card is played this close to the election, I suspect the pro-Obama forces are sensing trouble.

We've come a long way in four years, from a transracial candidate who didn't see a white or black America, but one America, to one in which if a white person votes for Mitt Romney that is evidence the voter is a racist. Suppose that white person voted for Obama four years ago and thinks the president doesn't deserve a second term because he's done a poor job? Was the person not a racist in 2008, but morphed into one in 2012?

When white liberals voted against the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas (including then-Senator Joe Biden) were they racist? Many white liberal Democrats are working overtime to defeat Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican. Are they racist?

Let's reverse the polarity. According to a recent NBC/WSJ poll, 90 percent of African-Americans are expected to vote for the president. For those who will do so solely to demonstrate racial solidarity, does this qualify them to be inducted into the racist hall of shame? And what about conservative blacks who are voting for Romney? They're called disparaging names by some blacks. Is that racism?

Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is running for Congress. She is an African-American woman and a Republican. If white Democrats oppose her, are they guilty of a twofer: racism and sexism?

While I didn't vote for Barack Obama in 2008 (and won't this time) because of his extreme liberalism, not his skin color, I was still proud of my country for electing the first African-American president. If a qualified conservative African-American had been running, I would have voted for him (or her). That fulfills the wish of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that all people be judged on their character, not their skin color.

I endorsed the nonviolent protests of Dr. King to advance civil rights, but opposed the incendiary rhetoric of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panther Party and other black revolutionaries of the 1960s. Was I not a racist when I supported Dr. King, but racist when I opposed black radicals? How does one judge such things? Where's the racist detector and who gets to operate it?

A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll concluded that "The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarized along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago."

The Post-ABC News pollsters, who appear to see so much through racially-colored glasses, might have asked some of those white voters who supported President Obama four years ago why they are supporting Mitt Romney now. I would be willing to wager most, if not all, would say the president's performance has not lived up to their expectations or his hype about hope and change.

For supporters of President Obama, including Republican-in-name-only Lawrence Wilkerson, to suggest that Republicans want him out of the White House simply because he's black, is a desperate attempt by a faltering campaign to change the subject from the president's record and lack of vision for the future.

That isn't racist. That's fact.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds