The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


31 October, 2011

Blame the Sexual Revolution, Not Men

Kate Bolick stares out at the world from the cover of The Atlantic magazine. She's wearing a black lace evening dress. "What, Me Marry?" asks the headline. She isn't smiling.

In fact, she isn't smiling in any of the photos that accompany her several thousand-word essay on singleness, marriage and the changing nature of dating and mating in America today. Bolick, 38, is groping toward accepting the idea that she may never marry. She badly wants to convince herself -- and us -- that older ideas about "unhappy" spinsters are silly cultural baggage best dropped off at the curb. And yet, there are those glamour shots -- Bolick behind the wheel wearing a fetching red dress; Bolick in a gold evening gown holding a glass of champagne; Bolick in a black cocktail dress -- but her expressions range from pensive to sad -- never happy.

Bolick seems genuinely conflicted about marriage. The daughter of a committed feminist, she marched off to third grade "in tiny green or blue T-shirts declaring: A WOMAN WITHOUT A MAN IS LIKE A FISH WITHOUT A BICYCLE." She recalls that when she was cuddling in the back seat of the family car with her high school boyfriend, her mother turned around and asked, "Isn't it time you two started seeing other people?" She took it for granted, she writes, "that (I) would marry, and that there would always be men (I) wanted to marry."

So sure was she of the limitless romantic opportunities available that at the age of 28, she broke up with a wonderful boyfriend. They had been together for three years. He was "an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind." Why did she discard him? "Something was missing."

Ten years later, she writes somewhat (though not entirely) ruefully "If dating and mating is in fact a marketplace . . . today we're contending with a new 'dating gap,' where marriage-minded women are increasingly confronted with either deadbeats or players."

There is a great deal of interesting data in this piece. According to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think marriage is becoming obsolete. As of 2010, women held 51.4 percent of all managerial and professional positions, compared with 26 percent in 1980. Women account for the lion's share of bachelors and masters degrees, and make up a majority of the work force. Three quarters of the jobs lost during the recession were lost by men. "One recent study found a 40 percent increase in the number of men who are shorter than their wives." Fully 50 percent of the adult population is single, compared with 33 percent in 1950.

But these trends, however interesting, shed only an oblique light on the problem of the decline in marriageable males. Bolick edges closer to the truth in her discussion of sex.

"The early 1990s," she writes, "witnessed the dawn of the '"hookup culture"' at universities, as colleges stopped acting in loco parentis (actually they relinquished that role in the 1970s) and undergraduates . . . started throwing themselves into a frenzy of one-night-stands." Some young women, she notes, felt "forced into a promiscuity they didn't ask for," whereas young men "couldn't be happier."

According to economist Robert H. Frank, "when available women significantly outnumber men . . . courtship behavior changes in the direction of what men want." And vice versa. If there's a shortage of women, the females have more power to demand what they want, which tends to be (surprise!) monogamy. On college campuses, women outnumber men by 57 to 43 percent.

But economic analysis can take you only so far. Men's capacity to insist upon promiscuity rests completely on female cooperation. And women have been foolishly compliant for decades.

They've conspired in their own disempowerment, not because they love their sexual freedom (though a few may), but because people like Gloria Steinem and Ms. Bolick's mother convinced them that the old sexual mores, along with marriage and children, were oppressive to women.

The resulting decline of marriage has been a disaster for children, a deep disappointment to reluctantly single women and unhealthy for single men, who are less happy, shorter-lived and less wealthy than married men. The sexual revolution has left a trail of destruction in its wake, even when its victims don't recognize the perpetrator.


British Housing chief admits demoting Christian to protect award from gay charity

A housing association that demoted a manager for speaking out on gay marriage has admitted that it feared losing a coveted award from a gay charity.

Father-of-two Adrian Smith, 54, was found guilty of misconduct and had his salary slashed by £14,000 after saying on his private Facebook page that same-sex weddings in churches would be ‘an equality too far’.

Publicly funded Trafford Housing Trust in Greater Manchester was widely condemned for its harsh treatment of Mr Smith, with critics ranging from Tory MPs to gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

In a letter to Mr Smith after it rejected his appeal against demotion, the trust revealed its concerns over tarnishing the ‘quality mark’ it received last year from the Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports homeless young gays and lesbians.

The trust’s commercial director David Barrow said Mr Smith’s Facebook comments had distressed several colleagues and ‘had the potential to seriously undermine the Albert Kennedy Accreditation, which we were proud to receive last year’.

He told Mr Smith: ‘It is clear that your comments did have the potential to bring the trust into disrepute.’

The Albert Kennedy Trust is named after a 16-year-old who fell to his death from a car park while being attacked and its patrons include Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian McKellen.

It launched its awards to recognise supportive housing trusts. Trafford Housing Trust said on its website that it had ‘achieved the highest score so far achieved by any organisation’.

In his letter from Mr Barrow, evangelical Christian Mr Smith was warned about preaching in church. Mr Smith, who now collects rent, was told: ‘I explained that in a private capacity this is your right. ‘If, however, you were preaching in this vicinity where you might be recognised or linked to the trust, there could potentially be an issue.’

Mr Smith is the latest in a series of Christians who have clashed with employers over their rights to express their views.

In the Commons on Thursday, Mr Smith’s demotion was described as ‘despicable’ by Peterborough Tory MP Stewart Jackson. He asked: ‘Should we be putting public money into an organisation that is, effectively, propagating state-sponsored intolerance?’

Leader of the House Sir George Young said he, too, was ‘a firm believer in freedom of speech’ and he would alert Housing Minister Grant Shapps to the case.

Gay activist Mr Tatchell said: ‘Mr Smith was not threatening or intimidating. In a democratic society, he has a right to express his point of view, even if it is misguided and wrong.

‘Freedom of speech should only be limited or penalised in extreme circumstances, such as when a person incites violence against others.’ Mike Smith of the Christian Institute, which is backing Adrian Smith’s legal action against the trust, said: ‘By their own admission, their fear about losing an LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual] award was a factor in their decision to penalise Adrian, a decision that has damaged his career and plunged his family towards financial hardship.

‘Sadly, they seem determined to waste more public money defending the indefensible in court.’

Trafford Housing Trust said last night: ‘We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully and adopt our ethos of valuing, respecting, supporting and treating people with dignity regardless of their age, disability, faith, gender or gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status or race/ethnicity or sexual orientation.’


Poundland backs down on shopfloor poppy ban after customers threaten boycott

Budget retailer Poundland has been forced to review its dress code after a row erupted on Twitter and Facebook following claims that it had banned staff from wearing remembrance poppies.

In a statement on Facebook, Poundland said it was not against employees wearing a poppy, but they were not allowed to do so on the shop floor because it is not part of staff uniform.

But the company said today that it will now allow workers to 'use their own discretion in wearing poppies' after hundreds of customers threatened to boycott its stores.

It had been claimed on Facebook that one member of staff was sent home from work and faced losing her job after refusing to remove her poppy. But in a statement Poundland said: 'On Friday 28th October a situation in Northern Ireland was brought to the company's attention where a store colleague was politely asked to remove a poppy by our store manager in order to comply with company policy. 'The store colleague decided to walk out and stated that she would return on Monday next wearing her poppy.'

The red poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day and is worn as a mark of respect to servicemen and women who have been killed or injured fighting for their country.

The claims that Poundland had banned staff from wearing them sparked the row on Twitter and the store's Facebook page, with hundreds of people expressing outrage at the policy.

Comments included 'disgusting' and 'shameful', and some customers said they would no longer shop at the store, describing it as a 'disgrace'. One Poundland employee, Vicky Hill, left the message: 'I don't think this is right. It's a sign of respect. Everyone has the right to wear a poppy.

'Of course, I shan't be wearing my poppy at work simply because rules are rules, and at the end of the day I abide by them. But I am not pleased with this at all.'

Shane Brown said: 'I'm a Poundland employee and I find this a disgrace tbh we should be allowed to wear them with pride and respect at ALL times!!!' Poundland customer Linda Williams wrote: 'So wrong of you! Have some respect for those who fought and died for this country.'

Poundland responded on the website yesterday saying it listens to its customers and was giving their views 'serious consideration'.

Today, chief executive Jim McCarthy said: "We have listened to the views of customers and colleagues and have, in light of their feedback, reviewed the policy. "We have decided in the case of the poppy appeal to allow store colleagues to use their own discretion in wearing poppies. "This change in policy is consistent with recent reviews of policy made by other leading High street retailers. "We apologise for any unintended offence that has been caused."

The 2011 Poppy Appeal was launched on Thursday and is the culmination of the Royal British Legion's 90th anniversary year.

Television presenter David Dimbleby ignored BBC guidelines and wore his poppy on Thursday night's edition of Question Time - 36 hours before the go-ahead from BBC bosses. David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards, ordered that poppies should be worn on screen from 6am today until '23.59pm on Sunday November 13 — Remembrance Sunday.'

Last year the Armed Forces charity achieved a record-breaking total of £36million and hope to improve on this in 2011 with a fundraising goal of £40million.


The decline and fall of British Conservatism

Neil Davenport says that the Conservative Party may still live on, but its pragmatic defence of authority, tradition and autonomy are dead. There is something in what he says but the way the Canadian Tories have come back from the dead should limit pessimism

This week, UK prime minister David Cameron faced the biggest challenge to his leadership of the Conservative Party: the proposal for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. In the end, 81 Tory MPs defied a three-line whip by supporting the proposal, while others abstained in Monday night’s House of Commons vote. Pressure had been mounting on the Prime Minister as critics attacked his handling of backbenchers and his decision to have a confrontation with them over Europe. One rebel went so far as to describe it as a ‘monumental failure’.

The Commons motion was easily defeated, thanks to the votes of those Tories who observed the party whip plus Labour and Lib Dem MPs. But the large majority at Westminster against a referendum seems to be at odds with public opinion. A recent poll found that 70 per cent of people wanted to see a referendum on Britain’s EU membership - and 49 per cent would vote to withdraw from the EU, compared to only 40 per cent who would choose to stay in. Conservative voters were shown to be more eurosceptic than others, with 56 per cent saying they would vote to leave the EU. Among all voters, over a third said they would ‘definitely’ leave the EU if given the choice.

Of course, the Conservative Party has long been torn between its ideological commitment to British national sovereignty and the pragmatic needs of the UK’s economy. Eurosceptic former prime minister Margaret Thatcher lost both the UK premiership and the leadership of the Conservative Party in part because she failed to soft-pedal her eurosceptic rhetoric. The needs of UK plc won out in the end.

Cameron himself has displayed schizophrenic tendencies towards the EU, saying there should have been a popular vote on previous EU treaties; ‘it was wrong we didn’t have referendums on Maastricht and on Lisbon’, he repeated in the Commons this week. But while this internal feud has festered within the Conservative Party for over 30 years, there’s something new about why Conservatives across Britain have attached so much importance to opposing the EU.

In many ways, the EU has become a focus for a wider sense of political disorientation felt by an older generation of Conservatives. There’s an instinctive sense that, while the Conservatives are (just about) back in office, the wider political climate is no longer hospitable to conservative ideas and values. If only Britain could pull out of the EU, the thinking goes, then maybe we could see a return to conservative values dominating Britain. In truth, it would be far better to question whether Conservatism as a set of beliefs and values, rather than the Conservative Party as an organisation, will survive the twenty-first century.

Conservatism is, above all else, a belief in defending the existing social order achieved through a promotion of tradition, authority, paternalism and the organic society that attempted to legitimise existing arrangements. The organic society, the belief that society has evolved through the natural relationships between men and women, was core to conservative values, which is why conservatives were historically hostile to both feminism and gay rights. Support for the free market also has a place within Conservatism, but it’s a qualified support even from supposedly staunch free-marketeers in the past such as Thatcher and the New Right. What they liked about the free market was its connection with private property ownership and the way it provided discipline, order and personal responsibility in wider society. Nevertheless when the free market undermined existing social structures, traditional values and authority, conservatives could be equally hostile to the dynamic, disruptive drive of the free market – as many were during the 1960s (though this opposition had its roots in the failure of the market in the 1930s).

It’s also wrong to see Conservatism as a rigid and dogmatic belief system obsessed only with the past. A key source of Conservatism’s success was always knowing when to change pragmatically in order to conserve existing power structures in society. Whether it was the postwar compromise or Harold Macmillan’s proposal that multiculturalism replace imperial values in 1950, conservatives have often been skilful in knowing when to ditch out-of-date ideas. This was one of the reasons why the Conservative Party was once the most successful political party anywhere within the Western world. While many on the Left, from the Labour Party to Trotskyist organisations, tended to live forever in the shadow of 1945 even as late as the 1980s, conservatives were sensitive to genuine changes in society and seized the moment accordingly. So why does this normally flexible-but-firm belief system have so many difficulties today?

The first problem Conservatism faced is that, through the demise of working-class oppositional movements, its historical role as defenders of the status quo had become utterly redundant. As a major consequence, it also meant that the ideas by which it justified conserving the status quo – such as the family, deference, authority, holding the line, support for British nationalism - have all become empty and redundant, too. As an essentially reactive ideology, by the 1990s there was very little for Conservatism to react against and, in the process, define what it was for. The sheer exhaustion and meaninglessness of its former historic role, and the ideology that justified that, created an urgent need for new sources of morality and authority to be established throughout wider society. This is why the concepts of anti-elitist inclusion, non-judgementalism and therapeutic protection have dominated politics for the past 15 years. The demise of Conservatism has led to the complete re-organisation of the British state around ideas once associated with the cultural left.

Whereas conservative values once set the agenda that the Labour Party had to follow, particularly on race and nation, now it is conservatives who have to prove that they are reconstructed enough to be part of New Britain. A belief in the organic society, deference and authority has been replaced by the managerial society, inclusion and relativism. The old insistence on traditional family values has given way to support for civil partnerships and gay couples adopting. A Thatcherite championing of the free market, prosperity and growth has been replaced by green restraint, austerity and measuring ‘happiness’ rather than GDP. A quick glance at Cameron’s awkward ‘social conservatism’ suggests it’s not very conservative at all.

Nevertheless, the demise of Conservatism is not the euphoric victory for progressive politics that it should be. Conservatives had something in common with anyone seeking to dramatically change society – an understanding of the importance of winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of citizens through a wider ideological struggle. Conservatives recognised that politics and society are more effectively run through shared agreements, or at least seeking to strive for shared agreements, based on autonomous individuals. As a consequence, they often understood that it’s counter-productive, or at least ineffective, to run society based on passing petty laws, restricting autonomy and cranking up regulations (although admittedly the last years of the Thatcher and Major governments were heading in that direction). So although Conservatives would insist that their moral codes were the ones that were universal and absolute, most of the time they attempted to convince us of this view through words rather enforcing such ideas through regulations. The same cannot be said for the new breed of managerial politician today.

Of course, when it came to defending narrow class interests – as we’ve seen recently with the Tory shires over preserving Green Belt land – its backward attitude towards women and gay rights, its promotion of race and empire values, we should be saying ‘good riddance’ to such reactionary and oppressive ideas. Unfortunately, in the absence of a progressive alternative to current government policy, the defeat of Conservatism has ripped apart a political culture built on informal relationships and autonomous individuals. Ideas like informality, going on your instincts and a rejection of instrumentalism were key planks of Conservatism and, by default, British and Western society. Conservatives often believed in being pragmatic rather than instrumental about running society as they understood you have to be responsive to new problems and dilemmas that no end goal can account for.

In this sense, conservatives’ understanding of the relationship between the individual and society - based on consent rather than coercion - is far more nuanced and historically progressive than the policy of recent UK governments - to hack away at areas of life that were once rightly seen as private or informal, replacing personal choice with state regulation. The demise of Conservatism, unfortunately, has meant the demise of politics and the opportunity to act as political citizens, too. The withdrawal of Britain from the EU will not, as many old conservatives tend to believe, lead to a revival of Conservatism or of civil society. The problem goes much deeper than 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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


30 October, 2011

Young boy wishes to join Girl Scouts

I suspect ideologically-motivated pressure from the mother on this poor kid

Bobby Montoya is a 7-year-old boy from Denver. Unlike a lot of young boys, Bobby has no desire to join the Boy Scouts. Instead, he wants to be a Girl Scout.

We first saw Montoya's story over at 9news.com. The NBC affiliate reports that when the boy's mother, Felisha Archuleta, tried to sign her son up for Girl Scouts, a troop leader told her no.

Archuleta spoke with 9News about the incident. "I said, 'Well, what's the big deal?' She [the troop leader] said, 'It doesn't matter how he looks; he has boy parts, he can't be in Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts don't allow that, [and] I don't want to be in trouble by parents or my supervisor.'"

Reporters with 9News contacted Girl Scouts of Colorado about Montoya's application, which prompted the group to release a statement: "Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them. In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we're better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers."

We placed a call to Rachelle Trujillo, vice president of communications at Girl Scouts of Colorado, for further clarification. She replied with this statement: "Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization, and we accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child lives life as a girl and the family brings the child to us to participate in Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her. Girl Scouts of Colorado respects the privacy of all girls and families we work with. When a family requests membership for their daughter, we do not require proof of gender, we respect the decisions of families."

So it would seem that Bobby will get his wish. Gender-identity issues are becoming more common, especially among young children--which makes it more likely that the policy of the Girl Scouts will face future tests in the months and years ahead.


British father-of-two beaten up and left for dead by Pakistani gang for being white

Probably Bangladeshi Muslims. They're the most aggressive group

A father-of-two was subjected to a racist and brutal attack by a gang of Asian men who targeted him - simply for being white. Andrew Goodram, 31, suffered a punctured lung and two broken ribs after the gang of four thugs shouted: 'white b*****d' at him before subjecting him to a vicious assault.

During the assault Mr Goodram, a labourer, was repeatedly kicked in the head, face and body at Queens Park in Bolton, Greater Manchester. One of his attackers then stood over him and stamped on his chest causing what police described as 'significant injuries'.

The beating only came to an end when one of the men decided the group should leave and they all ran off in different directions.

Mr Goodram, a father of two managed to stagger home after the assault but had to spend six days in hospital.

Greater Manchester Police yesterday confirmed that the attack, which took place at 7pm on October 19 was being treated as a racially motivated incident.

Mr Goodram who has two sons said: 'I was in such terrible pain after the attack, I was yelping and my eyes were watering. 'I'm scared now and when I see groups of Asian people. This attack has changed how I feel about going out. 'When I'm walking around especially on my own I feel intimidated and worried I might get attacked again.

'The fact is, I am not racist, I have got loads of Asian friends, and I'm really saddened that this has happened to me. 'I do believe the attack was racially motivated because I am white but I don't understand why. 'I thought we are supposed to live together in peace'.

On the night of the attack, Mr Goodram was taking a shortcut through the park when he encountered four Asian men - who were with four friends. As he walked past, one said: 'what did you say you white b*****d'?' before launching the attack. Mr Goodram added: 'I carried on walking and put my hood up and ignored them, but then they jumped me and I was pulled to the ground. 'They were kicking me and hitting me and one of them twisted my arm behind my back. 'One of them jumped on me and, when I winced in pain, they ran off.'

Police say the attackers were Asian and aged between 20 and 30. One of the men has been described as in his early 30s, 6 ft 2in, of heavy build, with a bald head and a thin 'lined' beard. He was wearing a dark hooded top with tracksuit bottoms and white NIKE trainers. Mr Goodram was unable to describe the other members of the group.

A spokesman from Greater Manchester Police said: 'The victim was walking through the park at about 7pm when he was attacked by a group of Asian men. 'The man was repeatedly kicked in the head, face and body, one of the men stood over him and stamped on his chest causing significant injuries. 'Racist abuse was shouted at the man before the attack.

'One man in the group shouted for them to leave and they all ran off in different directions. 'A group of four men are wanted for the assault'.


British PM's plans to fine criminals on benefits a third of their handouts

It's unlikely that he will have the spine to actually do this

Convicted criminals on benefits could be stripped of more than a third of their handouts under radical plans announced yesterday. The maximum amount they will have to pay in fines will be raised from £5 a week to £25 in a bid to deter welfare claimants from a life of crime.

David Cameron approved the plans following public anger about the summer riots in London and other major cities. More than one in three of those convicted of looting and violence were living on taxpayer-funded state handouts. Around 200 of the rioters were on disability benefits. ‘Frankly they were taking the mickey,’ a senior Government source said.

The current £5 limit on contributions towards fines is widely seen as a derisory sum that is ignored by criminals on benefits and does little to deter them from breaking the law.

Ministers believe the new system will send a stronger signal that criminal behaviour will be met with meaningful economic sanctions.

A fine of £25 a week represents 37 per cent of the weekly £67.50 Jobseeker’s Allowance. It is nearly half the £53.45 paid to jobless claimants under the age of 25.

The amount taken away each week will still be decided by the courts, but the Prime Minister made clear that he expects them to use the new powers.

He said: ‘People need to understand that if they commit a crime they will face the consequences. ‘The system as it stands is far too soft and does not send the right signal. I am determined to see responsibility and fairness restored to the welfare system, and this policy does precisely that.’

The changes will be introduced in 2013 when the Government’s Universal Credit scheme, replacing most existing out of work and disability benefits, is up and running. The new rules on fines will apply across the board to claimants of all types.

The move is controversial since the Government has a legal obligation to provide a minimum level of support to those on welfare, but Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said it was important to take a stand.

He said: ‘I do not want to leave people without any means of supporting themselves. But equally, individuals must know that they cannot commit crimes that impact on the livelihoods and communities of hardworking people without consequences.

‘The summer riots showed that, for many people, the present system didn’t make them think twice about what they were doing.'


The majority of Brits now want out of this bloated EU dictatorship, we at least need a referendum

A tumultuous week for the European Union, and our relations with it, included the publication on Monday of a remarkable opinion poll. It showed a majority of the British respondents in favour of leaving the EU: 49 per cent, against 40 per cent who wished to stay in.

How times have changed. When the same polling organisation, ICM, asked that question ten years ago, only 19 per cent wanted to go, while 68 per cent wanted to stay.

The intervening decade has forcibly acquainted the British public with many of the unpleasant realities of rule from Brussels. It has reminded people that a developed, supposedly sovereign democracy like Britain ought to be able to make its own decisions about matters of fundamental importance.

Thanks to the EU, this is not always so. Europe can over-ride our justice system. It can over-ride our immigration policy.

It inflicts regulation on us that suppresses growth and prosperity. It costs taxpayers and businesses an extraordinary amount of money.

Above all, the EU’s inability to govern itself with probity and economic prudence has made it an object of our contempt. It is not just that fraud and corruption prevent its accounts being signed off year after year: it is also that its arrogant belief in a one-size-fits-all currency has gone horribly and predictably wrong, with serious consequences for all EU member states, in or out of the euro.

It has been clear for years that many feel our submission to Brussels has gone too far, and that there should be a renegotiation of our relationship to allow for key powers to be repatriated to Westminster.

The new ICM poll suggests that frustration at thus far being denied such a renegotiation has forced more people towards outright opposition to the EU.

The EU and its propagandists have always been effective at pressuring the citizens of member states into believing that any attempt to leave the warm embrace of Brussels would result in disaster, with the offending nation suffering isolation, penury and irrelevance.

However, a pamphlet published this week by David Campbell Bannerman, a Tory MEP, seeks to argue (against party policy) the contrary. Its title says it all: ‘The Ultimate Plan B: A Positive Vision Of An Independent Britain Outside The European Union.’

Coinciding as it does with the ICM poll findings, his thesis deserves to be studied carefully. Firstly we need to break out of the mindset that anyone who tries to make the case for Britain leaving the EU is mad — or, to judge from the contempt in which such a view is treated on certain BBC programmes, downright evil.

Mr Campbell Bannerman’s strongest argument is that there would be no economic downside to our departure. As the EU sells more to us than we do to it, it would be very much in its interests to enact a free trade agreement with us were we to leave. In 2009, our trade deficit — the excess of what we bought over what we sold — in manufactured goods with the EU was a shade under £35 billion.

Better than that — and here, at last, there is something to be said for the 2007 Lisbon Treaty — such a free trade agreement would not be a matter of conjecture. Article 50 of Lisbon requires the EU to make a trade arrangement with any nation deciding to leave it.

So the claim that there would be inevitable and large job losses is cast into doubt. He also argues that — with the ascent of China, India and Brazil — Britain would do well to leave a trading bloc whose share of world GDP is forecast to fall to 15 per cent in 2020, down from 36 per cent in 1980.

Just as the EU took no account of its role in a post-Soviet world, it seems incapable of understanding how to remain competitive in relation to rising powers such as China.

Britain also enjoys trading relationships elsewhere in the world that are not shared by other EU countries. We send 18 per cent of our exports to the U.S.: Germany sends only 7 per cent. And the biggest external investor in Britain is America.

Mr Campbell Bannerman rests much of his case for leaving the EU on the liberation it would bring from over-regulation of every aspect of our lives — one of the reasons for the EU’s poor competitiveness. He says that more than 100,000 regulations and directives have been imposed upon us since we joined the EU in 1973.

For example, the working-time directive — designed to limit the number of hours we can work, and which is estimated to cost £11.9 billion a year in lost productivity — would go if we left the EU. So, too, would a host of environmental orders such as the EU renewables directive, which insists we derive 20 per cent of our energy from renewables such as wind power, at an estimated £22 billion a year.

The Open Europe think tank reported last year that EU regulations had cost Britain £124 billion since 1998. This figure is not a partisan invention, but based on the Government’s assessments.

But the truth is the ‘bonfire of regulations’ that ministers talk about would be possible only if we left the EU or had a successful renegotiation to repatriate such powers.

This week, as desperation mounted among eurozone leaders, Angela Merkel has taken up Nicolas Sarkozy’s line that the peace of Europe is preserved only by the existence of the EU. In fact, as Mr Campbell Bannerman points out, the peace of Europe has long been preserved by Nato with its huge American involvement.

He also dismisses as a myth the idea that British influence in the world would disappear if we left Europe. Our membership of the G8 and G20, our seats on the UN Security Council, the World Trade Organisation and the IMF are not dependent on our being in the EU.

We remain one of the top ten manufacturing nations in the world. We have the sixth largest economy, and London (despite EU attempts to handicap it) remains the world’s financial centre.

Leaving the EU, Mr Campbell Bannerman says, would mean ‘Britain would take back control over its own destiny, defence, economy, foreign relations, environment, transport, fishing, farming and market controls’.

It would also avoid the proposed Financial Transactions tax that the EU proposes, and which our Prime Minister has called ‘an attack’ on the City of London.

Britain would save its net contribution to the EU of £6.7 billion a year. This equates to 44 new hospitals, 268 schools or 62 bypasses a year; or a penny off income tax or VAT.

Those who argue that withdrawal need not damage Britain have a right to put their case. Instead of dismissing them as ‘cranks, gadflies and extremists’, as Michael Howard did when leading the Conservative Party, it might be politic to debate the points that now even a Tory MEP makes.

If Mr Cameron believes what he says about the importance of the UK being in the EU, he will take the advice of this newspaper and call a referendum on whether or not the public would like him to renegotiate our terms of membership.

This might, at least, buy him some goodwill — by making the country feel not just that he’s aware of the depth of feeling on the issue, but also that he is prepared to do something about it.

He should see that a persistent refusal to do this is hardening sentiment in this country and in his own party against Europe, and against a political class that seems resolved to ignore public opinion.

And he should realise that the longer he leaves it before allowing us a say, the worse the outcome is likely to be for him.



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

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

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


29 October, 2011

An army of "offended" people always lurking

David Penberthy writes from Australia:

One of the interesting features of modern public debate is the emergence of a small army of thin-skinned souls on permanent stand-by to be offended by pretty much everything.

And they call that entertainment.And they call that entertainment.

The way we talk, the jokes we crack, the way we describe each other, all these things are subject to such an increasingly prohibitive set of strictures that it is easier to keep your mouth shut for fear of upsetting someone.

While the scourge of mental illness is not to be taken lightly, and is something which has touched us all, it still puzzles me that one of Australia’s leading mental health organisations is spending its time vetting newspaper articles and sending letters to journalists asking that they excise certain figurative expressions from their writing.

My colleague Tory Maguire wrote a piece last year where she used the term “policy schizophrenia” to describe the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s inconsistency on border protection. She received a letter saying the term was an insult to schizophrenics everywhere and that she should not use it again.

If we take this approach we will end up with a language where ideas are never stillborn and pauses never pregnant, where movement can be impeded but not retarded, where we rewrite all of Shakespeare’s plays, and receive letters from the haemophiliacs association if we write a column stating the bleeding obvious.

One of the weirder examples of the new squeamishness came from an unusual source this week, those supposedly libertarian sensualists at the Eros Foundation, who issued a press release under the cracking headline “Customs seizes dwarf porn.” The press release was interesting not so much for the news that the films Midget Mania (Volumes 7 and 8) have been refused classification – well, that’s my weekend buggered – but more for the politically correct gymnastics the Eros Foundation used to tip-toe around the word “midget”.

The intro was pure gold: “The Australian Customs Service has set a new benchmark for the importation of adult films into Australia by confiscating two of the latest release US titles featuring vertically challenged people.” Eros CEO Fiona Patton said the ruling was “discriminatory to short-statured people and quite possibly offended the Federal Discrimination Act.” It will be interesting to see if it stands up in court.

It is in the area of racism where the trend is most pronounced. I received a yawn-inducing string of outrage this week after writing the most limp-wristed pro-republican column, which was barely republican at all, more a pathetic form of surrender at the fact that we all seem to like the royals so much and can’t agree on an alternative model that we’re stuck as a constitutional monarchy. In passing I noted that this was all a bit disappointing for republican ultra-minimalists who simply wanted an Australian head of state, and would also be happier if the Pommy flag no longer sullied our national ensign.

The use of the word Pommy sent several readers into apoplexy, no doubt because they were, you know, Poms.

From one reader: “Pommy flag? That’s a racist slur. Lucky it’s a racial attack against the white majority, otherwise, you’d be before the courts like Andrew Bolt was.” From another: “Getting the pommy bit off our flag are downright pathetic comments in fact they border on racist.” And another: “I have no interest in anything you have to say, it’s rude, tactless and uncivil…to talk about the pommy flag is just so rude I can’t believe you actually printed it.”

And so the whinge-fest continued. Another recent column, about the Andrew Bolt vilification case, was highly critical of his writing but said the judgment posed a threat to free expression as it put the onus on anybody to prove they were not racist should somebody take offence at their sentiments. Examples included declaring that the Serbs who disrupted the Australian Open should maybe bugger off to Serbia, the opinion that female circumcision by some African communities is barbaric and inhumane, the belief that Israel is a pariah state whose businesses should be the subject of a formal boycott. Several censorious folks wrote in saying that each of these opinions were potentially racist and should also be the subject of legal action under the Racial Discrimination Act. See you all in court, along with the people of short stature.

The stink over the performance of the Haka by the All Blacks in Sunday’s final was a double treat for those who enjoy being offended. First, there was there were claims that one of the Kiwis had made an apparently offensive throat-slitting gesture while performing the chant. So what if he had? This ain’t the chicken dance or the bus stop. The haka in its origins was a war dance performed by pumped-up Maori warriors shortly before they killed their enemies. The idea that it should be rendered more genteel is absurd.

After this kerfuffle it emerged that the French had not shown due deference to the haka by stepping forwards towards the All Blacks as it was being performed. This was also offensive and the team was fined, in keeping with the view that, out of respect for Maori tradition, opposing teams should stand there and do nothing. This too seems kind of absurd. If a bunch of blokes are sticking their tongues out and threatening to murder you, it seems only fair that opposing teams can respond, perhaps in a manner which is culturally appropriate –some mooning from the Wallabies, Morris dancing from the Poms, the French standing around waiting to be saved by another nation, in keeping with their historical traditions.

Meanwhile the Adelaide Zoo has cancelled its Free Rangas Day after complaints from redheads. Turn it up. Even Julia Gillard could crack a quality gag about her state of ranga-ness when she spoke to fellow blood nut Cameron Ling at the AFL Grand Final breakfast. Someone was probably offended by that too. Still what would you expect from a Prime Minister who wouldn’t curtsy before the Queen. Even though protocol says she didn’t have to, and did nothing wrong.

The whole thing is just offensive.


Workshy Black British cop says it was racist not to give him special treatment

Readers of literary classics may be remninded by the story below of "The N*gger of the 'Narcissus' " by Joseph Conrad

A senior Metropolitan Police officer forced to resign in the wake of the phone hacking scandal was racist and homophobic, an employment tribunal heard today. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, due to formally step down in November, was allegedly 'extremely brief' when dealing with the case of a black, gay officer who was off sick with depression.

Detective Constable Kevin Maxwell, who is suing the force based on claims he was bullied due to his race and sexuality, wanted discretion to keep his £40,000-a-year salary longer than the normal six month period.

However, Mr Yates refused to grant him the special treatment, usually reserved for hero officers injured in the line of duty, traumatised child abuse investigators and the terminally ill.

Kweku Aggrey-Orleans, representing Detective Constable Maxwell, told Mr Yates: 'I suggest that you dealt with Mr Maxwell's application for an extension of pay extremely briefly and without properly considering it because you knew that he had raised allegations of racism and homophobia.'

Mr Yates replied: 'No that's complete nonsense. I gave very careful consideration to this. 'I was very concerned about Kevin, very concerned about his well being.'

Mr Aggery continued: 'And also that you dealt with the appeal extremely briefly because Kevin was black and gay.' Mr Yates replied: 'That doesn't merit an answer but it's absolute nonsense.'

Detective Constable Maxwell claims he was bullied by colleagues at Heathrow Airport and witnessed racism while on duty. He claims a colleague refused to eat a curry on a trip to a mosque aimed at building community relations because 'they would have spat in it', and said fellow officers did not like being lectured to by imams.

However, Mr Yates said it was not his responsibility to deal with issues related to Detective Constable Maxwell's claims he was off sick because he was discriminated against at work.

Mr Yates said in written evidence to the tribunal: 'I did not reject Detective Constable Maxwell's appeal on the ground of his race or his sexual orientation. 'I rejected his appeal because his case did not meet the criteria. 'I have declined to extend the full pay of other officers who did not meet the criteria.'

The tribunal heard how Detective Constable Maxwell was offered any job he liked as senior Metropolitan Police officers were left 'bending over backwards' trying to get him back to work. He was told he could move to a different part of London where he would never see the officers who he worked with at Heathrow Airport again.

However, he turned down the offer and the tribunal heard how he wanted the Met. to address his concerns about racism and homophobia, rather than simply moving him elsewhere.

Detective Inspector Ajoy Gosain, his welfare officer, said: 'When I met Det. Chief Insp. D'Orsi we discussed the issue of identifying a suitable post for Detective Constable Maxwell to return to. 'I thought that Detective Chief Inspector D'Orsi was taking a genuine and generous approach towards Kevin Maxwell in that regard. I felt he was bending over backwards to try to assist Detective Constable Maxwell in getting back to work.

'In that he had such an open ended offer, Detective Constable Maxwell was in a favourable position.'

Detective Inspector Gosain, a former president of the Kent Black Police Association, described how he met the officer in June 2010 to try and convince him to return to work. 'The following day Detective Constable Maxwell emailed me to say that he didn't feel he could return and to ask me not to raise the issue of returning again. 'I was deeply disappointed with Detective Constable Maxwell's reaction.

'I had genuinely tried to help get him back to work in any way possible and I was disappointed that he seemed to totally dismiss what I had been saying.'

Detective Constable Maxwell, of Wilmington Square, London, is facing dismissal from the force under the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure after being off sick since July 2009.

He said he developed depression after being bullied at work due to his race and sexual orientation. He had worked his way up to Detective Constable after first joining the Greater Manchester Police in 2001. He transferred to the Met Police in October 2008.


Your call will be answered in 37 HOURS: Retired headteacher faces day-and-a-half on hold after phoning council to complain about bin collection

All he wanted was for his rubbish to be taken away so when the binmen were four days late John Regan decided to find out why. The retired headteacher picked up the phone and called Winchester City Council helpline hoping for a swift answer to his query. But the taped message the 60-year-old father of two received stunned him. He was 'in a 37-hour queue'.

Exasperated and, unsurprisingly, not prepared to wait a day and a half for an answer he then called the council's main number, only to be diverted to Hampshire County Council switchboard. Today his rubbish bins had still not been collected, seven days after they were meant to be emptied.

Mr Regan, from Winchester, said: 'I just want my rubbish collected. What is so difficult about emptying my bin? He added: 'I rang Winchester council after four days and I was told I was in a 37-hour queue. 'I thought this was ridiculous so I rang their main number but I was then diverted to the county council where the operator said the city council number was overloaded.

'I am increasingly exasperated. We are in the country so there is a potential vermin. It is also unsightly. I just want my rubbish collected. 'In any sort of business you would not be tolerate being treated like this.'

Winchester Council today admitted it had received a staggering 4,000 queries about the new waste collection service it had introduced with East Hampshire Council using the contractor BIFFA. Of that number 558 were about bins not being emptied.

A Winchester City Council spokesman said: 'We had an issue with our telephone system which was telling people there was a 37-hour wait but nobody waited more than 30 minutes. 'We have his case as a missed bin. BIFFA is now going around doing additional collections.'


WW2 play cancelled over 'censorship' claims

A playwright has cancelled a play set during the Second World War after claiming he was asked to remove references to Nazis, Jews and the invasion of Poland over fears of "offending" the audience.

Rod Tinson, whose Halloween play was due to be staged at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, has accused English Heritage of trying to create a "Disneyfied" version of history by insisting on changes to his script.

The play featured scenes from different periods in the Tudor castle's history, including its role during the Second World War as a key coastal defence against German invasion of Britain.

Mr Tinson says the quango asked him to tone down parts of the script, including a young Jewish character expressing fears about his family in occupied Poland, over concerns that visitors would be "offended" by the material.

The playwright cancelled the play after refusing to make the requested changes. He said he could not understand why his script would be deemed offensive.

"They said it was inappropriate for an English Heritage audience. What version of history are they trying to illustrate at this place?" Mr Tinson added.

"It was intended for adults, many of whom remember the War or know people who were involved in it. I cannot understand it. I refused to change it because it would have changed the whole storyline.

"The reason the buildings are there was to fight off any attempts by the Germans to invade."

The play was due to be performed as part of the castle's adults-only 'ghost tours' programme, which runs for four nights over the weekend.

Mr Tinson's script made frequent reference to the venue's historic World War Two gun batteries.

Charlie Fear, events manager at Pendennis Castle, said the programme would go ahead with a script from a different writer.

"It's unfortunate that we've had to pull Mr Tinson's play and we will reimburse him for his time and effort," she said. "This was our first time working with Mr Tinson and we were unable to agree on the right approach for our event."

In an email said to be from Ms Fear, she wrote: "I need to be very clear here, and in order to make this work, we have to remove any references to sex (including buggary (sic)) and any swear words, including 'bloody' I'm afraid. I would also like the references to Poland, Jews and Nazis removed too please.

"Our English Heritage visitors would be offended by the content as it still stands and it is essential that I ensure that this does not happen.

"I understand that you want to bring your characters to life, but we have to tone down the language. I hope you understand this and the responsibility I have to ensure that I meet our visitors' expectations."

Pendennis Castle was built between 1540 and 1545 to protect the Fal river estuary from attack by France and Spain. It is the Cornish end of a chain of coastal artillery fortresses built by Henry VIII.

It was later updated during the reign of Elizabeth I and again before the Civil War, when it was subjected to a five-month siege by Parliamentarian forces.

The castle is also home to a collection of wartime cartoons of Hitler and Mussolini by illustrator George Butterworth.



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

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

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


28 October, 2011

We need free speech for all – even bigots

A football fan has been jailed for posting sectarian comments on the internet. Why aren’t civil libertarians alarmed?

Stephen Birrell doesn’t like Catholics, he doesn’t like Celtic Football Club manager Neil Lennon and he doesn’t like Celtic supporters. These are not exactly unusual sentiments in certain parts of Scotland. But what is unusual is that last week Birrell was jailed for expressing such prejudices. His crime was to join a Facebook page and share his unpleasant views with the rest of us.

Birrell’s pearls of wisdom included: ‘Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags. Haha.’; ‘Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers’; and ‘They’re all ploughing the fields, dirty scumbags. FTP [Fuck the Pope]’. This guy is not a pleasant individual and obviously not likely to turn up on many lists of people we would most like to have dinner with. But no threats were made, there was no incitement to commit acts of violence and Birrell did not actually harm anyone.

Yet the 28-year-old football fan was charged with ‘religiously aggravated’ breach of the peace and sent to prison for eight months. He was also banned from attending any football games in the UK for five years. In short, this was seen as a religious hate crime and all this has happened even before the new Offensive and Threatening Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill (Scotland) is passed by the Scottish Parliament - a law that would introduce prison terms of up to five years for making sectarian comments at football games or on the internet.

The idea of sending someone to prison for expressing their personal hatreds seems bizarre in a society that claims to allow freedom of speech. But in the frenzied atmosphere being whipped up around the new laws, a judge sitting in a Scottish courtroom felt emboldened to deprive a person of his liberty by criminalising his words.

Birrell is not the only victim of this draconian new mood. Last month, my nephew Brendan travelled all the way from West Belfast to Glasgow to see his beloved Celtic play, only to be arrested while entering the ground for shouting ‘Up the IRA’, a slogan still found on many gable ends in his hometown. He was held in prison all day and overnight before being charged with ‘religiously aggravated breach of the peace’. Given the prevailing climate, the addition of ‘religiously aggravated’ turns a minor incident that has been normal behaviour for a section of Celtic fans at games for many years into a serious crime with serious consequences.

And then there were the two fans whose banner mentioned the ‘Huns’, a term used by Celtic supporters (and even some Rangers fans) for many years to describe the Rangers football team and its supporters, a term that has now been criminalised in the rush to label every expression as a symbol of sectarian hatred. These fans were also arrested and one was charged with a hate crime. The case was postponed several times, leaving the fans unaware of their fate.

For months, I have warned that politicians are using the physical attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon by a Hearts fan to blur the distinction between words and deeds. This poses a serious threat to free speech and civil liberties. But few civil liberties champions have joined this particular campaign, apparently finding the principle of free speech easy to sacrifice when it comes to ‘uncouth’ football fans who upset their liberal sensibilities.

But you don’t need to like fooball fans to defend their right to free expression. I don’t like anything Birrell says or represents, but I defend absolutely his right to say it without being locked up and labelled a criminal.

Birrell’s case, and the many more that will inevitably follow as fans outdo each other in their rush to take offence at the sectarianism of their rivals, have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with the ongoing demonisation of one group – football fans – in society.

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, can now claim the dubious distinction of presiding over one of the most authoritarian and illiberal pieces of legislation in Western Europe. Anyone who remotely cares about basic civil liberties should howl with rage at the imprisonment of Stephen Birrell and should stand up now to defend free speech and the right of football fans to be offensive, whether on Facebook or in the stands at Ibrox and Celtic Park.


Two strikes and you’re inside: Repeat criminals to face mandatory life sentences in Britain

Good if it happens but British judges are a law unto themselves

Repeat criminals convicted of a second serious offence will face a mandatory life sentence, under new ‘two-strikes’ rules.

Life terms will automatically go to anyone twice given jail terms of ten years or more for crimes such as rape, child abuse, serious GBH and terrorism offences.

They will also apply to the crime of ‘causing or allowing the death of a child’ - the offence for which Baby Peter’s mother and boyfriend were jailed.

The sentences will replace Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) which saw dozens of criminals locked up indefinitely without any prospect of parole.

As the plans were revealed last night, it emerged Justice Secretary Ken Clarke had suffered a major defeat in his opposition to mandatory jail terms for 16 and 17 year-olds caught wielding a knife.

Just 24 hours earlier Mr Clarke had made clear his opposition to such a move. On Tuesday he told the Home Affairs Select Committee compulsory jail terms for young offenders were ‘a bit of a leap’ for the British judicial system.

But Mr Clarke faced pressure from his Cabinet colleagues, including Home Secretary Theresa May, to accept tougher terms.

On Tuesday he told MPs: ‘The idea that mandatory sentences now apply to certain types of offence, to young offenders, to children, to juveniles, is a bit of a leap for the British judicial system.’ But last night he said the term was necessary to ‘send out a clear message about the seriousness of juvenile knife crime’.

The knife sentences apply to any offenders who are convicted of the new offence of ‘aggravated’ knife carrying - when they used the blade to threaten or endanger life. Anyone aged 16 or 17 would face a four-month detention and training order.

The Government has already announced proposals for a mandatory six-month sentence for adults convicted of the same offence.

As well as mandatory life, Mr Clarke also announced a new ‘Extended Determinate Sentence’ that will see serious offenders required to serve at least two-thirds of their term. Currently they are released automatically at the half-way point.

It will apply to serious sex and violent crimes and jailed for four years or more. After they have served two-thirds, they will only be released when the Parole Board says they are safe to go back on the streets.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said: ‘Under our plans we expect more dangerous offenders to receive life sentences.

‘Those getting the new Extended Determinate Sentence will have to serve at least two-thirds of it behind bars before release. ‘We are clear that there will be no automatic release before the end of the full sentence for the most serious cases.’


Repeat offenders responsible for half a million crimes

Rehabilitation is a fantasy for these people. Only permanent detention can protect the community

More than half a million crimes were committed by known offenders last year, with half carried out by career criminals. The crimes were all committed by repeat offenders and included 3,400 serious violent or sexual offences. It is the first time such figures have been released and more than 270,000 offences were by criminals who had at least 25 previous convictions or cautions to their name.

Separate figures showed 134 dangerous criminals were suspected of carrying out serious further offences such as murder, rape and other violence despite being monitored by the authorities.

The figures once again raise questions over the ability of the justice system to rehabilitate offenders. Prisons minister Crispin Blunt said: “Reoffending in this country is unacceptably high and these statistics underline the urgent need for steps to reform the system and introduce a rehabilitation revolution to our prisons and community sentences.”

A total of 510,000 offences were committed in 2009 by criminals within a year of them completing a previous sentence, the Ministry of Justice figures showed. More than 10,000 burglars went on to commit another 1,800 domestic burglaries within a year, and almost 3,000 thefts.

And more than 6,000 serious violent offenders went on to commit more than 650 violent offences, 48 of which were classed as serious.

The breakdown of figures also showed that more than 8,000 sex offenders, including more than 4,000 who abused children, went on to commit more than 1,200 further sex crimes, including 330 against children.

Of the 134 dangerous or sexual offenders charged with a serious further offence last year, 26 were managed with regular multi-agency public protection (Mapp) meetings, other figures showed.

Three of these were assessed as posing the highest risk to the public and eight serious case reviews were ordered after the offenders went on to kill or rape, or tried to murder or rape, despite being monitored.

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) panels, which include police, councils and other Government agencies, were set up to manage the risks to the public from dangerous criminals after they leave prison.

In raft of justice statistics, it also emerged that the prison population is still on course to hit 92,000 by 2014, despite Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary’s plan to cut the population by 3,000.

However, the projections do not take in to account sentencing reform measures currently going through parliament.

It is also estimated that the summer’s riots will result in numbers behind bars increasing by 1,000 for the next 12 months.


Contempt for ordinary Australians among the self-selected arts and media elite

I SUPPOSE it takes a special form of moral courage and artistic sensibility to mount a comedy television series that "satirises people living in public housing" (The Diary, Monday). It promises to be a hoot. The individual responsible, one Paul Fenech, has uncovered "a whole bunch of people in Australia who spend so much effort not working that it would be easier to get a job". I cannot wait. Such clever japes have not been heard since the Murdoch family comedy troupe were at their peak.

It is comforting to know that Fenech is not on his own in the creative community in teaching us about the debased lower orders. Only last week, the Herald's Spectrum pages ("Career on track" October 15-16) marked the arrival of "an artist with promise", a Mr Nigel Milsom, a latter-day resident of Glebe. This chap likes to draw dogs, apparently as "metaphors for our own nature".

However, Milsom has had a nasty surprise of late. As he tells it, "it seems that every Friday and Saturday there's an influx of weirdos into the area". These freaks are the people who attend the Wentworth Park greyhounds and who do so in order to "change their lot in life" and gain a "golden ticket out of their situation". Mr Milsom knows all this because he took his crayons to the course one night and observed these worse-than-senseless things in the flesh.

In times past, these "weirdos" were actually known in and around the inner city as "residents" before the whole area was much improved by the land clearing occasioned by the arrival of sensitive and creative people who are good at colouring-in and such. Over the decades many thousands of families have been forced out, some even to public housing in the city's outskirts where Fenech can now expose to the world their essential worthlessness.

Such developments are sadly consistent with some other trends in the creative and performing arts. The television series Kath & Kim consistently depicted its subjects as crass, materialistic and emotionally stunted. There was a form of characterisation in it that provided a superior and condescending perspective for the viewer. We laugh at them; not with them.

Worse still is the work of Chris Lilley, who moves well beyond gentle mockery. His work sneers at the ordinary people with everyday lives he focuses on.

There was a time when satire was directed at exposing the follies of the privileged, the powerful and the self-important. Apparently, modern Australia has rulers who are doing a cracking job. Our rich are beyond reproach. Marie Antoinette would approve.



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

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

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


27 October, 2011

The enduring appeal of the Monarchy in Australia

As in Britain, it has deep emotional roots that the politically correct brigade will never even begin to understand

The papers have now given up billing this as the ‘farewell tour’. Anyone watching the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh steadfastly working their way through the multitude and boarding a tram in Melbourne yesterday could understand why.

No one was saying: ‘Goodbye.’ So what if they are, respectively, 85 and 90? The question on Australian lips now is: ‘When are they coming back?’

Even the most ardent monarchists Down Under have been surprised by the euphoria for the Queen in recent days as she has travelled coast-to-coast across her colossal realm.

Monday saw 45,000 people crammed 30-deep on the riverbank in Brisbane just to see her step off a boat. Many required first aid for heatstroke after waiting since before dawn.

Yesterday’s scheduled 15-minute walkabout in Melbourne’s Federation Square stretched on for more than half an hour after tens of thousands turned out for a glimpse. There were so many flowers for the Queen the royal party ran out of hands.

Even more remarkable, perhaps, has been the behaviour of Melbourne’s ‘Occupy’ protesters.

This is the same anti-capitalist movement currently camping outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. But whereas the ‘Occupy London’ crowd won’t budge for anyone, the ‘Occupy Melbourne’ brigade yesterday agreed to suspend their protest in the city centre. Organisers decided it would be counter-productive and ‘belligerent’ to spoil the Queen’s day. So they called a truce.

Extraordinary stuff.

As for the royal couple, they have not betrayed a flicker of fatigue from the moment they landed in Canberra last week and embarked on a full schedule without so much as a rest day. One might say that she hit the ground reigning.

All those around the Queen — her staff and footsore veterans of the royal press pack — have noticed she is positively relishing the pace and atmosphere of this tour, happily letting the schedule slip when the crowds show no sign of letting up.

This may be her 16th tour of Australia but there is seldom a dull moment. Today she visits Clontarf Aboriginal College where pupils have devised an unusual royal menu: scones and kangaroo stew. As for the Duke, one royal official observes: ‘People keep asking us what he’s on. He’s in cracking form.’

Indeed, as the royal launch came into dock in Brisbane on Monday, Prince Philip could not stop his old nautical self and started helping to moor the thing. Now the world’s most hyperactive nonagenarian, he is off to Italy next week for a multi-faith environment conference.

Aside from one Brisbane construction worker arrested for ‘mooning’ at the monarch (it turned out to be a wager rather than a statement), this has, thus far, been a glitch-free tour.

So what on earth happened to the republicans? Is this the same feisty, self-confident nation which, just 12 years back, was the cheerleader for replacing the Sovereign? Of all the Queen’s 16 realms, which cover a large part of the planet, Australia was the one which seemed most likely to seek a new constitutional settlement.

And then came that referendum in 1999. With the liberal establishment and most of the media batting for a republic, metropolitan Australia put on its party clothes and prepared to celebrate.

But the public, as they so often do in these matters, had other ideas. In the end, 55 per cent of them preferred the Queen to the republican model of a president chosen by the politicians. [It was nearly two thirds in favour of the monarchy in my home State of Queensland -- JR]

Received wisdom, at the time, was that support for the monarchy would gradually wither away and that the republicans would waltz like Matilda through the next referendum. Except it did not work out like that.

The Royal Family continued to visit on a regular basis and Australia turned its attention to more pressing world issues.

And as royal fortunes have improved in Britain, so the mood has changed in Oz. Few countries could match Australia’s enthusiasm for this year’s Royal Wedding.

It came just weeks after Prince William had made an emergency visit Down Under, on behalf of the Queen, to meet those afflicted by a series of natural disasters — a visit which had a profound impact on the victims.

And now we have this week’s scenes. Opinion polls show that supporters of a presidential system have dwindled to 34 per cent. The activists have all but given up. Not so long ago, the Australian Republican Movement was a multi-million-pound organisation drawing the cream of the chattering classes to its champagne-fuelled soirees. Today, it is so hard-up that it can run only to a single part-time employee.

The reason? It certainly helps that the Queen and the Duke are so conspicuously happy to be in Australia. But it goes much deeper than that. We are witnessing, as one royal official put it to me this week, a ‘revival’. And much of it, surely, is down to the age-old attraction of a constitutional monarchy.

In times of uncertainty and trouble, there is something reassuring in an institution which stands for permanence and stability. And there is no greater symbol of continuity than a monarch who has been on her throne for longer than half of the countries on Earth have existed in their present form.

At the time of Australia’s referendum, republicans made much of the fact that one in four modern Australians was born overseas and, therefore, lacked a link with the ‘mother country’.

What social commentators are now discovering, however, is that support for the monarchy is just as strong among the immigrant community because newcomers feel a 1,000-year-old Crown offers greater protection of their freedoms than a fledgling president.

But there is something else here. Having spent the last two years with privileged access to the Queen and her staff for my new book, Our Queen, I have seen the way in which the aura around her has changed.

People who may seldom have given her much thought suddenly find themselves overawed by the most famous — and some would say respected — public figure on the planet. The sentiment was epitomised by one man in the Melbourne crowd yesterday. Dick Johnson told ABC Australia that he was surprised at how emotional he had suddenly become. ‘I’m not a terribly strong monarchist and I’m not a republican, but it just seems there’s something special about it,’ he said.

To which republicans say that the mood will be very different come a change of reign. But the Prince of Wales, part-educated in Australia, has a deep attachment to the place which does not go unreciprocated.

The new Duke of Cambridge can expect Queen-sized crowds when he brings his new Duchess Down Under. And, in any case, these are enduring bonds which go far beyond a mere popularity contest. Back in 1954, when she was the first reigning monarch to visit Australia, the Queen drew unprecedented crowds.

Millions of people — up to three-quarters of the population it was suggested — turned out to see her. Inevitably, her subsequent tours could not compete; comparisons would always invite a sense of anti-climax. Hence, the sense of monarchy in decline.

Well, now there is a sense of things going the other way. It may not be for ever. Australia will, doubtless, one day seek a new constitutional arrangement. For now, though, we are seeing the way in which historic symbols of kinship and shared values are sometimes more appealing than hard, rational modernity.

It is a fact worth remembering in a week when brutal European realities are set against the warmth of old Commonwealth friendships.


Occupying St. Paul’s

A centuries-old building is rendered useless by demonstrators

British history has been punctuated by stories of turbulent priests more often than by stories of recalcitrant congregations. As Thomas à Becket discovered to his detriment, it is usually the clergy — and not their flock — who find themselves in danger of being ousted. As of October 16, London’s famous St. Paul’s cathedral sits squarely in this tradition, with its dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, now publicly regretting the leniency he initially showed the camped-out members of “Occupy London Stock Exchange” — the British franchise of the now-global “Occupy” brigade.

If Dean Knowles had expected to be afforded the same respect by OLSX that he has become accustomed to from his parishioners, he was sorely mistaken. Since their free pass was issued, the people-in-tents have made it blindingly obvious that they are not merely differently dressed members of the City of London’s laity, but, literally, occupiers intent on holding the fort at all costs.

And there are costs. When the first protesters arrived, the cathedral’s authorities turned the other cheek, accepting the imposition of the protest camp with alacrity. St. Paul’s even took the unusual step of instructing London’s police to leave the protesters where they were. In doing so, an unfortunate precedent was set. As the crowd has grown to 2,000 strong, access to the landmark has been gradually blocked, forcing St. Paul’s to close its doors for the first time since 1940, when German bombs rained indiscriminately down on the city during the Blitz and an unexploded incendiary forced evacuation for a few days while the device was removed.

“We have done this with a very heavy heart,” the Right Reverend Knowles announced at a press conference, “but it is simply not possible to fulfill our day-to-day obligations to worshippers, visitors, and pilgrims.” Reluctantly, the dean has now asked the protesters to leave, which they have predictably refused to do. Clearly, “we’ll stay here as long as we have to” is a common refrain on both sides of the Atlantic.

Aside from keeping away worshippers and tourists alike, the closure is having a real impact on what is one of Britain’s finest pieces of Restoration architecture. Each day that it is shuttered, St. Paul’s loses between £16,000 and £23,000 in revenues ($26,000 to $37,000), a crippling blow to a glorious 300-year-old building that receives little financial support from the state. And then there is the fire risk: “Health, Safety and Fire officers have pointed out that access to and from the Cathedral is seriously limited. With so many stoves and fires and lots of different types of fuel around, there is a clear fire hazard,” wrote the dean in a press release explaining his decision. No doubt the irony that St. Paul’s was the grand centerpiece of the rebuilding program after 1666’s devastating Great Fire has not been lost on observers.

The closure of St. Paul’s provides a key insight into the nature of the “Occupy” protests: Making a scene is the sine qua non of the movement, the one thing on whose necessity all participants can agree. In his sad statement to the press, Knowles noted that the church was “alongside those seeking equality and financial probity” and that “the debate about a more just society is at the heart of much of our work at St. Paul’s.” But that’s not the point — for the occupiers, the medium is the message. “The fight has to go on,” said protester Ronan McNern, and then promised he would be there until Christmas if necessary.

Never mind that St. Paul’s is not the London Stock Exchange, and that its management is supportive of OLSX’s goals. (The same goes for Zuccotti Park; as one lower-Manhattan resident told me, “They aren’t occupying Wall Street!”) Never mind that the cathedral is one of Britain’s national treasures and is desperately in need of money for maintenance. Never mind that for many of the 99 percent that the “Occupy” movement claims holistically to represent, St. Paul’s is a place of pilgrimage and sanctuary and keen historical significance. As long as the performance continues, all is well. The show must go on!

London’s literati are starting to catch on to this. Writing in the Times, professional moderate Libby Purves noted that “it is impossible to think of any clear, feasible action by an elected government that would satisfy and shift them.” She is right, but then there never has been such an action. As OLSX protester Naomi Colvin put it, “We’re in the business of defining process, and specific demands will evolve from this in time.” Witness, thus, the ever-present appeal to mañana.

St. Paul’s cathedral has stood proud, open, and unharmed through twelve monarchs, an abdication crisis, two world wars, repeated terrorist atrocities, the fight over female suffrage, and fundamental constitutional change. During the dark days of the Second World War, it seemed almost preternaturally preserved from harm: As bombs dropped all around, destroying everything in sight, its celebrated dome poked imperforate through clouds of smoke, and a famous photograph provided succor to millions of weary Londoners. Since its consecration in 1708, St. Paul’s has been a happy constant in British life. It would be a tragedy if this stellar record of openness and repair were eventually blighted by 2,000 heedless members of a rag-tag mob camped out aimlessly on the streets of the capital.


Now you CAN fight back against burglars in Britain: Law change protects anyone using violence to defend home

Homeowners who fight to defend their property will have the full backing of the law for the first time. In an historic move, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke yesterday announced a major strengthening of the rights of victims standing up to intruders in their property. It means anyone who reacts ‘instinctively’ to defend their home and possessions will be protected if they use reasonable force.

The current law says they can act only if they feared for their life or those of their family. It also places duty on victims to retreat from an attacker if they are acting in self-defence. This will also be scrapped.

At the same time, the Home Office is set to change guidance for police on whether to arrest someone who has attacked an intruder in their home. It could mean arrests are not necessary when householders and businessmen say they have acted in self-defence.

Mr Clarke said: ‘While fleeing is usually the safest option if you feel threatened, people are not obliged to retreat when defending themselves or their homes. ‘We will ensure that if you do react instinctively to repel an intruder you will not be punished for it – as long as you used reasonable force. People should feel safe in their communities and especially in their own homes and these measures will ensure they are protected.’

A string of cases in recent years have fuelled public outrage at the law and led to demands for a change. They include that of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot dead a burglar, and Munir Hussain, who chased and beat a man who held his family at knifepoint.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Justice published amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

MPs will vote on the measures next week and the Bill could become law before Christmas. Tory MP Priti Patel said: ‘This is a long overdue reform to give power back to the victims of burglary and other personal crimes. ‘It will send a clear message to criminals who break in to people’s homes that the law is on the side of the homeowner.’ A string of court judgments led to demands ‘reasonable force’ be changed to allow anything that was not ‘grossly unreasonable’.

Criminologist Dr David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, said the law was ‘not quite there yet’ but endorsed the move as a ‘step in the right direction’. He added: ‘Previously, reasonable force was uncontroversial but it started to be interpreted in a way that meant you had a high chance of being arrested if you fought back in the way any self-respecting person would.

‘If someone is in your house, especially at night, then you should be able to disable them until the police come. If they get severely injured or even killed in the process, then that’s the way it is.’

Mr Hussain, a millionaire businessman, was ambushed by masked robbers at his family home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. They forced him and his family to lie on the floor and threatened to kill them. But he and his brother were jailed for attacking and injuring a criminal who they chased down the street.

The case went to the Court of Appeal where the Lord Chief Justice ruled Mr Hussain should have been given a suspended sentence.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the law will ‘put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.’

In other law changes, squatters will face a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of £5,000. For the first time squatting will be a criminal offence, as ministers aim to end the misery faced by homeowners who find strangers occupying their property.

‘Far too many people endure the misery, expense and incredible hassle of removing squatters from their property,’ Mr Clarke said. ‘Hard-working homeowners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first.’

And fees paid to middle men and blamed for huge increases in insurance premiums will be scrapped. Insurance companies regularly sell details of their clients to no-win, no-fee lawyers for thousands of pounds. Lawyers then bombard victims with calls, urging them to claim.

Mr Clarke said: ‘Our ban on referral fees together with our changes to no-win, no-fee arrangements will reduce legal costs and speculative suing, so businesses, schools and individuals can be less fearful of unnecessary claims encouraged by those looking for profit rather than justice.’


Britain has had enough of deception. It's time to close the yawning gap between the ruling and the ruled

How's this for a starkly unequivocal promise? ‘The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over 30 years ago. Liberal Democrats, therefore, remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British Government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.’

Such was the solemn manifesto pledge made to the British people by every Lib Dem candidate who stood for election less than 18 months ago.

Yet on Monday night, guess how many of the party’s 57 MPs stood by that promise and voted for a Commons motion approving the principle of an EU referendum that would include an in/out option?

The shocking answer is just one — Adrian Sanders of Torbay — a solitary honourable man in a party of puppets. As with tuition fees, the other 56 apparently thought nothing of breaking their word to the people who voted them into power.

Or how about this for another unequivocal manifesto pledge? ‘We will be positive members of the European Union but we are clear that there should be no further extension of the EU’s power over the UK without the British people’s consent. We will ensure that by law, no future Government can hand over areas of power to the EU or join the euro without a referendum of the British people.’

So said the Conservatives, every one of them, before that same election in May 2010 — and all praise to the 96 (out of 306) Tories who mounted the biggest rebellion in their party’s modern history on Monday night, keeping their word to their constituents and defying their leader’s orders to vote against the motion.

But given that manifesto pledge, what in the name of integrity possessed David Cameron to impose a three-line whip in the first place, instructing his MPs to breach their electors’ trust on pain of losing their government jobs or their hopes of promotion to the front bench?

And how profoundly depressing and unedifying to see those lifelong Eurosceptics William Hague and Michael Gove wriggling like maggots on a hook as they betrayed every belief about Europe they’ve espoused throughout their political careers.

Truly, there is something hideously wrong with the state of democracy in Britain today, when candidates say one thing to the electorate, only to be told by their party leaders to do the direct opposite when they are voted into the Commons.

The supreme irony of Monday’s debate is that it was called in answer to a mass public petition, in accordance with a pre-election Conservative pledge that was meant to prove the party’s determination to reconnect the political class with the people. In the event, the e-petition gimmick served only to highlight and deepen the yawning democratic deficit between the rulers and the ruled.

Nowhere, of course, has that deficit been more glaringly apparent over the years than in the political establishment’s contempt for voters in all matters touching upon Europe.

Indeed, the entire history of the relentless expansion of the EU’s powers since we joined what was then the Common Market in 1973 has been a tale of brazen deceit, broken promises and disenfranchisement of the electorate by all three major political parties.

Remember Labour’s 2005 manifesto pledge on the new European Constitution? ‘We will put it to the British people in a referendum.’ Nothing, surely, could have been more unequivocal.

Yet when it came to signing the Lisbon Treaty, in which the new constitution was enshrined, Gordon Brown conveniently forgot about it. Or, rather, he fobbed off the public with the monstrous lie that Lisbon (referred to in official documents as ‘the Constitutional Treaty’) was not, in fact, a European Constitution at all.

The Tories and Lib Dems were no better. Both promised explicitly to put the Constitution to a referendum. But as soon as they were in a position to do so, they smirked and said: ‘No point now. Lisbon’s been signed.’

Wherever Europe is concerned, there’s always some snivelling shyster’s excuse, some weasel-worded legalistic technicality seized on by the politicians to wriggle out of their commitment to give the public their say. (And these days, when all else fails, there’s always that catch-all standby: ‘Sorry, old boy. The Coalition agreement won’t allow it.’)

So it is that, one by one, the ancient powers of Britain’s once sovereign Parliament, paid for by the blood of our ancestors, slip away to Brussels — into the hands of unaccountable European Commission, where voters will never be able to touch them again.

(And how can we boast of the West’s belief in liberal representative government while that abomination against democracy holds increasing sway over every aspect of our lives, from immigration control to working hours?)

Meanwhile in the Continent’s capitals, the Europhile political class pushes its ambitions ever further, enmeshing one nation after another in its anti-democratic web.

Today, on the streets of Athens, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome and Dublin, we are seeing the disastrous consequences of those political ambitions. For the slow-motion car crash of the euro — long predicted by wiser heads who understood the economic madness of a one-size-fits-all single currency for countries as diverse as Germany and Greece — is bringing misery and unemployment to countless millions.

How deeply disturbing is the news, then, that the Eurozone countries have called off today’s summit because they can’t even agree on an agenda. And more worrying still is the latest appeal to the International Monetary Fund, which will mean — you’ve guessed it — once again, British taxpayers will be involved in bailing out the euro.

Let the Mail lay all its cards on the table. This paper has no desire for Britain to pull out of Europe — and particularly not at a time like this, when withdrawal would add immeasurably to the uncertainties threatening our recovery and rocking the confidence of the markets. For the same reason, we earnestly hope EU leaders will find a solution that saves the euro from disorderly collapse.

Inevitably, we believe, this will mean re‑writing the EU constitution yet again, to bring the countries of the Eurozone under a single economic government, with more uniform tax and spending policies — almost certainly to be dictated by Germany.

Whether this can work in the long run is anybody’s guess. The Mail doubts it. But in the depths of this crisis, we see no other way. Herein, of course, lies great danger for Britain. For as a leopard never changes its spots, so the Euro empire-builders will surely seek to extend any new fiscal and regulatory powers beyond the Eurozone, with their eyes fixed firmly, as ever, on the wealth of the City of London.

But here, also, lies a golden opportunity, perhaps never to be repeated, to redefine our own relationship with the EU in a way that sets democracy back on its rightful throne at Westminster.

For what the Mail wants passionately — and we believe the overwhelming majority of Britons share our wish — is to reclaim powers over such matters as immigration, social policy and business regulation, which should never have been conceded to Brussels and which are daily threatening our ability to compete with developing super-giant economies such as India and China.

We have no illusions. Yet again, the Europhile elite will seek to introduce its constitutional changes in a way that leaves a loophole for the Coalition to duck out of its statutory obligation to hold a referendum on the transfer of any new powers to the EU.

So the Mail has a simple proposal: let there be a single-question referendum, asking the public if we wish to reclaim powers from Brussels, yes or no. True, it will not satisfy those who wish to withdraw altogether. But for them, better this than the nothing they will otherwise be offered.

As for the timing, let the referendum be called the moment a new treaty is drawn up. Or if it becomes clear that the new rules are to be introduced on the sly, without a treaty, then let it be held within 12 months from today.

There can be no more lies, no more deceit, no more creeping federalism without consent. This time, those unequivocal manifesto promises must be honoured. Only then will our political class redeem the disgrace of Monday night — and begin to reconnect with the people they were elected to represent.



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

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

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


26 October, 2011

The leeches and legalists squabbling over Gaddafi

Neither Western leaders trying to wring moral mileage out of Gaddafi's death, nor UN officials denouncing it as illegal, deserve our backing

It is hard to know who comes out worse from the grisly aftermath of Colonel Gaddafi’s death. Is it Western leaders like UK prime minister David Cameron and French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who are so desperate for some moral momentum, for a shot of adrenalin to their perfunctory political existences, that they will hold up the killing of a has-been tyrant outside a sewer as a great democratic moment? Or is it the UN and its cheerleaders in the liberal press, who complain that the killing of Gaddafi was potentially illegal and will thus have to be pored over for 500 years by a panel of experts to see if he was purposely killed (bad) or accidentally killed (not so bad)?

It’s a close-run thing. We may never decide upon a winner in this competition of degraded responses to Gaddafi’s demise. But one thing is certain: the post-Gaddafi debate has exposed some serious rot at the heart of the Western political class. On one side, we have prime ministers and presidents leeching off the killing of a tinpot tyrant in the hope that it will secure them a paragraph or two, maybe even a mugshot, in future books on world history. And on the other side, we have an army of naysayers, risk-averse pen-pushers dolled up as men of principle, for whom no earthly event can be allowed to pass without becoming the subject of an interminable inquiry.

No sooner had Gaddafi’s heart stopped beating than the first crowd - the leechers - were making speeches about a brilliant new dawn. Cameron was at the forefront, tilting his head for the cameras outside 10 Downing Street as he solemnly celebrated the passing of a wicked man. Cameron’s real emotions, however, his determination to claim moral ownership of the rather chaotic slaying of Gaddafi, were exposed at a later event to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali. He said it was fitting that Diwali, a festival that celebrates ‘the triumph of good over evil, the death of a devil’, should fall today, when, thanks to Cameron, a devil had been extinguished in Libya.

This speaks to the true motivation behind Cameron’s intervention into Libya - a desire for a Blair-style black-and-white standoff in foreign fields that might allow Cameron, temporarily at least, to rise above his domestic travails and pose as Good, even statesmanlike. Yet the idea that there’s a direct link between Cameron’s dropping of bombs on Libya and the killing of Gaddafi, to the extent that Cameron now poses as the architect of the colonel’s downfall, is a myth. Headlines about Cameron’s ‘foreign policy triumph’ give the impression that it was Cameron’s carefully worked-out policy on Libya which led to Gaddafi’s death. It isn’t true.

Cameron didn’t even have a policy on Libya. It is worth recalling, as Cameron, Sarkozy and US President Obama vie to claim responsibility for the end of Gaddafi, that just a few months ago they couldn’t decide whether the toppling of Gaddafi, never mind his execution, should be one of their aims. The lack of any causal tie between NATO’s actions in Libya and what happened outside that sewer in Sirte is brilliantly illustrated by the fact that Western leaders are now squabbling over which of them is the real Gaddafi killer. As one article asks, ‘Who can claim the credit for the success of the intervention in Libya?’. Was it Obama’s ‘cautious, backseat approach’ (that is, the fact that US forces withdrew 48 hours after the bombardment started) that killed Gaddafi, or was it Cameron’s ‘powerful alliance’ with the French that finished him off?

It was neither. Obama’s ‘cautious approach’ wasn’t a strategy at all, but the very opposite: a decision to opt out of this venture just a couple of days after it started. And there was no ‘powerful alliance’ between Britain and France, as evidenced by the fact that they spent most of the time accusing each other of not doing enough and arguing over which of them was in charge (neither wanted to be).

It is because Gaddafi’s death was actually the product of general chaos in Libya, rather than of any strategy drawn up in Washington, London or Paris, that the question of who can wring moral mileage from his death has become so open-ended and testy. The truth is that Western intervention in Libya did not drive events there over the past six months. Rather, the key dynamic has been the disintegration of Gaddafi’s regime - of his political grip, his institutions, his military forces - and both the rebel advances and the NATO bombings were responses to this slow-motion collapse of an Arab dictator rather than being the authors of it. In now claiming to be the killers of Gaddafi, and thus the liberators of Libya, Cameron, Sarkozy and Cameron are doing a political, PR version of what Lynndie England did in that Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq: posing next to a dead body in the hope that it will make them look good.

Yet if there’s one thing worse than these armchair trophy-hunters, it is the other group, the legalists, who insist Gaddafi should have been brought to The Hague rather than being killed. It is testament to the extreme disarray amongst those Western leaders now posing as Get Gaddafi geniuses that even as Cameron talks about killing a devil, his own defence secretary, Phil Hammond, says it would have been better to put Gaddafi on trial: ‘We would have liked to see [him] going on trial, ideally at the International Criminal Court, to answer for his misdeeds.’ Hammond echoes UN officials, who claim the killing of Gaddafi may have been illegal, as well as international lawyers and sniffy editorialists, who gnash their teeth over Gaddafi’s ‘gruesome’ and ‘deeply troubling’ death.

Not only do these people clearly not understand the first thing about war, which, by its very definition, does not play by the same rules as those normal, law-governed areas of life. But also, their motives are not as pure as they would have us believe. Their moral handwringing over Gaddafi is best understood as a kind of lynch-mob envy. They’re actually gutted that the actions of a literal lynch mob have deprived them of the opportunity to enact a judicial lynch mob against a dictator they love to hate. The killing of Gaddafi has upset them primarily because it means they won’t be able to do the thing that they so adore – stick a dictator, preferably an African one, in an air-conditioned court in Holland, and advertise their moral pre-eminence by interrogating him for years and writing endless articles about his evilness.

In the final few weeks of his life, as he moved from his palaces to a bunker and finally into a sewer, Gaddafi was effectively faced with two choices: subject himself to an angry lynch mob in Libya or turn himself over to a judicial lynch mob at the International Criminal Court at The Hague (which issued a warrant for his arrest in June). It is telling that he went for the first option. Perhaps he deduced that death by literal lynch mob would at least be less humiliating and quicker than having to sit in a court for seven or eight years as some floppy-haired QC from Islington made long, boring speeches about the importance of us decent folk over here taking a stand against foreign wickedness over there. How revealing that Gaddafi would rather be shot to death by an angry crowd than bored to death by pompous Amnesty-backers in wigs.

For all its pretensions to ‘justice’, the international court system is really a tool of moralism and realpolitik rather than a properly universal legal set-up. It is designed largely to facilitate the mob-style expression of Western liberals’ moral superiority over messed-up foreigners. Why do you think that everyone who has thus far been hauled before the International Criminal Court has a) been African and b) been black? Both the judicial lynch mob that wanted Gaddafi in court and the literal lynch mob that wanted him six feet under were driven by similar urges: a desire to make an example of a dictator, to let off some inner steam by judging/shooting a man we all recognise as wicked. Of course, Libyans’ desire to do this is far more understandable and just, and the fact that they did it is nothing to cry about.

The post-Gaddafi clash between leeches and legalists reveals a lot about the state of the Western body politic. It exposes our rulers as deeply opportunistic creatures, so desperate for a bit of political purpose that they’ll even try to milk some PR points from bloody events outside a sewer in Libya. And it suggests that the only ‘opposition’ to this weird and aloof meddling in other people’s affairs comes from an alternative gaggle of global moralists, who prefer to carry out cultural lynchings in rarefied courts at home rather than real violence in deserts over there. These people aren’t so far from the sewer themselves.


£5,000 compensation for falling out of bed in Britain

A council employee was awared more than £5,000 compensation after falling out of bed while trying to answer the telephone. Council staff have received a total of £75 million in the past five years as compensation following accidents at work. A catalogue of farcical payouts revealed another worker got nearly £6,000 for breaking their wrist in a fall during a demonstration on a first aid course.

And it was taxpayers who paid most of the pay-outs, as many local authorities had to stump up large excess fees to their insurers. Manchester City Council, which awarded £2.6million to injured employees, revealed its insurers only footed the bill for compensation payments over £250,000.

The local authority was one of 13 councils which had to pay compensation totalling more than £1million to staff after admitting liability for accidents.

Birmingham City Council topped the list with 274 payments totalling £4.9million, followed by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, which paid out £3million to 152 staff.

Some of the biggest payments were to ex-employees who had developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while working for a local authority.

There were also hundreds of claims for slips, trips and falls in the workplace, as well as manual handling injuries to carers and labourers.

Teachers assaulted by pupils and refuse workers who had been injured during bin collections also received thousands of pounds in compensation payments.

But in some cases it seems the employee was lucky to win compensation. Lancashire County Council was forced to pay £5,500 to a member of staff who injured their back when they fell while getting out of bed to respond to a work call. And a teacher employed by the London Borough of Islington Council was awarded £9,065 after injuring their thumb with a school guillotine.

Huge sums of cash were also paid to employees who sustained seemingly trivial injuries. Dacorum Borough Council paid £7,750 to an employee who lost their toe nail when a pool table collapsed on it. And a member of staff working for Cookstown District Council in Northern Ireland was paid £16,549 after suffering cuts and bruising when he fell into a skip. Meanwhile Teignbridge District Council had to pay £5,017 to a member of staff who claimed "dust got into his eyes" while operating a manual street cleaner.

However, many of the claims were made following serious accidents.

An employee of East Sussex County Council was awarded £39,637 after being assaulted in a toilet by two colleagues during a Christmas party.

And £226,000 was paid by North West Leicestershire District Council to a member of staff who smashed his knee cap when he fell from scaffolding.

The Sun's request for information under the Freedom of Information Act also revealed some bizarre workplace accidents.

Lancashire County Council paid £9,575 to an employee who strained their back while putting paper in a printer.

London Borough of Lewisham Council paid nearly £6,000 to an employee who broke their wrist when they fell over during a demonstration on a FIRST AID course.

Wiltshire County Council paid £13,842 to a staff member who was struck in the eye with a pool cue.

And Telford & Wrekin Council paid £1,500 to an employee who suffered multiple injuries when he fell into an open grave.

Meanwhile a member of staff who was poisoned by a cleaner with a bleach tablet was awarded nearly £3,000 by Harrogate Borough Council.

And Birmingham City Council had to pay £1,750 to an obese member of staff who was injured when using a "defective toilet unsuitable for a very heavy employee".

In North Kesteven the district council paid £6,000 to an operative who injured their back while carrying a heavy bag of DOG POO.

And Gwynedd County Council in Wales paid £3,500 to an employee who injured their back while carrying a mere six tins of beans.

Meanwhile East Ayrshire Council in Scotland paid out £16,759 to an employee whose finger was bitten by a dog when they put a calling card through a mail box.

And a member of staff working for Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council was paid £1,500 after suffering emotional distress when they were trapped in a lift due to an electrical fault.

Emma Boon, campaign director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, called on councils to bring down the number of avoidable accidents. She said: "The bill to taxpayers for compensation pay-outs is unacceptably high.

"While some staff might have legitimate claims because of negligence there is a worrying rise in compensation culture in local government offices. "It's outrageous that people are getting away with making claims for things like falling out of bed or getting a huge wedge of cash simply for losing a toenail."

The Sun's request for information revealed councils have made 7,494 compensation payments to injured staff since 2006, totalling £74.6million. But the real total may actually be much higher because 20 per cent of local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland failed to respond.

Fifty of the 348 councils that replied said they had made no compensation payments at all.


Lazy workers should be sacked without explanation, British government told

Firms would be able to sack lazy and unproductive staff without giving them a reason under a radical reform of employment law being considered by David Cameron. The Prime Minister has been warned that unless he makes it easier to dismiss those who ‘coast’ at work, it will stifle economic growth.

A report commissioned by Mr Cameron has recommended banning workers from claiming unfair dismissal so that companies and public sector bodies can find someone prepared to work harder.

The radical plans are contained in a study by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft. He branded current employment laws ‘terrible’ and said that they are making it difficult for employers to find the workers they need.

A final draft of the Beecroft report, dated October 12, refers to ‘the terrible impact of the current unfair dismissal rules on the efficiency and hence competitiveness of our businesses, and on the effectiveness and cost of our public services’. It concludes: ‘The rules make it difficult to prove that someone deserves to be dismissed. This makes it too easy for employees to claim they have been unfairly treated and to gain significant compensation.’

Changing the rules would help lift the burden of red tape on small businesses who cannot afford to pay for the costs of industrial tribunals and wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

Mr Beecroft also takes aim at under performance in the public sector, where bosses often hand lucrative payoffs to unproductive employees to avoid costly tribunal cases. (They) accept inefficiency that they would not tolerate if dismissal of unsatisfactory employees was easier.

‘A proportion of employees, secure in the knowledge that their employer will be reluctant to dismiss them, work at a level well below their true capacity; they coast along.’

Mr Beecroft has recommended a new system called Compensated No Fault Dismissal, which would allow employers to sack unproductive staff with basic redundancy pay and notice.

His proposals are understood to appeal to Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, who have both called for an end to regulation on businesses.

But they will be fiercely opposed by the Liberal Democrats and the trade unions.

Last night a Downing Street spokesman made clear the Government has not decided whether to adopt the plans.

Nick Clegg said yesterday that employers will be given new powers to urge older workers to consider retirement without the risk of being sued for ageism.

The Deputy Prime Minister said firms should be free to have ‘frank discussions’ with underperforming staff regardless of their age.

Unveiling plans for a crackdown on red tape, Mr Clegg said ministers would change the law to allow employers to have ‘protected conversations’ with staff which could not then be dredged up in later employment tribunals as evidence of discrimination.


Australian court rules serial child rapist's identity to remain a secret

ONE of our worst paedophiles will keep his anonymity as he makes regular community outings, despite still being dangerous to children.

The serial child rapist is going shopping, socializing and visiting friends and there are plans for him to return to live in the community.

The Department of Justice urged Judge Wendy Wilmoth to let the man be named, saying those living in the places he visited should know the notorious figure was "in their midst".

David Grace QC had argued that the public should also know that the man was being kept under the watch of authorities.

The man is still considered such a risk that the County Court has ordered that he stay on a supervision order instead of being allowed total freedom.

That means he must live where he is told and obey other restrictions designed to protect the community.

But Judge Wilmoth refused to lift a secrecy order she made on the man's identity. This morning she continued the order, but her reasons are yet to be published.

The court earlier heard the serial child molester had been given approval for unescorted visits to Melbourne to see friends, and regularly visiting Ballarat for shopping and social activities.

There are plans to increase his liberty so he can eventually be allowed to live back in the community.

His lawyers had argued that more community outings would be difficult if the man's identity were known.



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

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

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


25 October, 2011

British grandmother accused of race hate for putting golliwog in window has charge dropped

Racial harassment charges against a woman who displayed a golliwog in her window have been dropped. Jena Mason, a 65-year-old grandmother, was arrested after her black neighbour Rosemarie O'Donnell complained about the toy to police.

Today at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, Chris McCann, head of the complex casework unit at the East of England Crown Prosecution Service, offered no evidence. In a hearing lasting less than five minutes, he said a 'review has been carried out at the highest level'.

Mrs Mason, who did not attend today's hearing, had been due to stand trial after denying that she displayed an item likely to cause racially-aggravated harassment.

Mr McCann said Mrs O'Donnell and her husband Stephen had been informed. He said: 'To establish that an offence has been committed, it would have been necessary to prove that Jena Mason was the person who placed the doll in such a prominent position likely to cause her neighbours racially-aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. 'On the evidence available, it is not possible to show exactly who was responsible for placing the doll in the window.

'Despite further inquiry and review, we have determined that the evidence is insufficient and there is not a realistic prospect of conviction. 'We appreciate that this case has caused the O'Donnell family a great deal of upset and we have met with them to explain our reasons for not pursuing a prosecution.'

Outside court, solicitor James Hartley said: 'I have spoken to Mrs Mason and she now wants to focus on rebuilding her relationship with her neighbours.'

The row erupted after a disagreement between the neighbours over plans by Mrs Mason and her husband Terry, who live in a listed manor house in the village of Worlingham in Suffolk, to build new stables on their land. Their son-in-law, Daniel O’Dell, who also lives at the 16th century manor, is in training for the British Olympic dressage team and needs the space for his horses.

But the O’Donnells, who occupy a £1million barn conversion behind a red-brick wall, hired a planning consultant to object to the application, citing boundary and right-of-way issues, traffic increase and problems from disposing of liquid and solid waste from the horses. They have also complained about the Masons’ dogs allegedly coming on to their land.

Then the golly appeared in a ground floor annexe window of the Masons' home near the main entrance to the barn.

Days after the local council granted planning permission, Mrs O’Donnell, 48, made a formal complaint to police about it, and supplied a photograph. The businesswoman and mother of two, who has Jamaican roots, said the sight of it left her ‘shocked and upset’.

Mrs Mason was arrested, questioned at Lowestoft police station, charged and bailed.

The dispute centred around whether the golly was a deliberate act of racism – or, as Mrs Mason insisted, that it simply ended up on the window sill when she tidied it up with her grandson’s other toys.


Today's men need a touch of old-fashioned chivalry, says star of period drama

Women may have won equality since the days of Downton Abbey, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hanker after a degree of old-fashioned male chivalry, according to one of the show’s stars.

Actress Michelle Dockery – who plays Lady Mary Crawley in the period drama – believes modern men have lost some of the most appealing aspects of their personalities.

She explained ‘chivalry’ and good ‘manners’ were two ‘lovely’ traits which have disappeared over the decades.

Asked how she thought the role of women had changed since the days of Downton, set during the First World War, Miss Dockery bemoaned a lack of social graces amongst the younger generation.

The 29-year-old told the Radio Times: ‘We take so many of our freedoms for granted nowadays. ‘I can travel where I like, I can have a baby when I like, I can do any job I want – but I do think chivalry has been lost a little bit.’

Miss Dockery – whose character regrets turning down her distant cousin Matthew Crawley’s marriage proposal – went on: ‘Those old manners – such as men standing when women arrive at the dinner table or opening doors for you – are lovely, and it’s lovely when you see a man doing that today. ‘But young men wouldn’t think about that for a second because it’s not the culture anymore.’

And her co-star Laura Carmichael, 25, who plays Lady Edith Crawley, said: ‘The requirement in those days to find a husband, simply to survive financially, was just awful. ‘But for the drama it’s great because there is a real sense of jeopardy for the girls and that’s what Julian [Fellowes, creator of the series] writes so wonderfully.’


Single women are being offered IVF by the British socialized medicine system -- while some couples are denied help

Single women are being offered fertility treatment by almost a fifth of NHS trusts, a Daily Telegraph investigation has found, casting doubt on the Government’s family-friendly credentials.

Women not in relationships are receiving publicly-funded IVF despite official guidance that suggests support should go to couples who have been trying without success to have a baby for several years.

Meanwhile in other parts of the country married couples are being denied help in starting a family, forcing them to spend thousands of pounds on private treatment.

It comes after a Labour law removed the requirement for fertility doctors to consider a child’s need to have a male role model before going ahead with IVF.

Critics say the Government, which David Cameron promised would be “the most family friendly we’ve ever had in this country”, should tackle the postcode lottery of IVF provision and ensure that the needs of children are put first.

Frank Field, the Labour MP who carried out a high-profile review into poverty and life chances last year, said: “It’s clearly wrong that while couples in stable relationships can’t get IVF and in other areas, single women can.

“It’s really important that Government ministers speak up for children who are the ones left out of this. It needs someone in a position of authority to reflect what most taxpayers think.”

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester who once chaired the ethics committee of Britain’s fertility watchdog, said: “The irony is that at the very time research is showing the need for both parents, we are writing fathers out of the legislation.

“It’s one thing for a mother to find herself a single parent because of tragic circumstances. It’s quite another to plan for a situation where the child comes into the world without having a father or any possibility of having a father.”

Most local health authorities stipulate that couples must have been in a relationship for two or three years to qualify for IVF treatment.

That requirement is based on guidance issued in 2004 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the NHS rationing body,.

It states: “Couples in which the woman is aged 23–39 years at the time of treatment and who have an identified cause for their fertility problems ... or who have infertility of at least three years’ duration, should be offered up to three stimulated cycles of in vitro fertilisation treatment."

The document does note that the guidelines do not address social criteria "for example, whether it is single women or same-sex couples who are seeking treatment".

However the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 removed the reference to “the need for a father” when considering the welfare of the child when considering fertility treatment, replacing it with “the need for supportive parenting”.

Gareth Johnson MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility, said that trusts offering the service to single women were going against one of the guiding principles of IVF, "that you are treating an infertile couple, not an infertile individual".

Mr Johnson, the Conservative MP for Dartford, said: “Speaking in a personal capacity, if you are going for IVF, you are trying to create a baby, so there should be some evidence of a stable background, which you would expect to be a couple.”

Earlier this year he led an APPG report that found startling differences between what health authorities offered in terms of IVF.

It found three-quarters of Primary Care Trusts were failing to offer three cycles of IVF, as stipulated by Nice. Each cycle comprises a woman's ovaries being stimulated to produce eggs, which are then fertilised in vitro and implanted in the womb. Spare eggs should be frozen for use if the first attempt fails.

The report found five trusts offered no IVF at all - Warrington, West Sussex, Stockport, North Staffordshire and North Yorkshire and York. Since then, NHS West Sussex has decided to start funding IVF again.

Many trusts have also started putting in place further barriers to IVF funding - for example demanding obese women lose weight - in part to limit demand as health budgets tighten. Yet 24 of the 135 PCTs that responded to this newspaper’s enquiries said they offered the service to single women.

Against a background of increasingly scarce provision, as the NHS tries to save £20billion by 2015, Mr Johnson said the decision to offer IVF to single women was misplaced. “There's always going to be limitations on what treatment can be offered, but this seems to say we should be giving IVF wherever we want.”

Among those offering fertility treatment for single women are 10 PCTs in southern England, including those covering Oxford, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

Criteria for access to IVF and related fertility treatment from the South Central Specialised Commissioning Group, which covers the 10 PCTs, states: "Sub fertility treatment will be funded for women in same-sex couples or women not in a partnership if those seeking treatment are demonstrably sub fertile.”

It continues: "Women in same sex couples and women not in a partnership should have access to professional experts in reproductive medicine to obtain advice on the options available to enable them to proceed along this route if they so wish."

Six PCTs in southwest London - Richmond and Twickenham, Wandsworth, Sutton and Merton, Croydon, and Kingston - also offer fertility treatment to single women. Others in southern England to confirm they offered NHS funding for IVF to single women include NHS Swindon and NHS Wiltshire.

A spokesman for NHS Surrey said it would fund fertility treatment for single women under "exceptional circumstances".

Those in the north include South Staffordshire PCT, NHS Central Lancashire, NHS Halton and St Helens, NHS Knowsley, NHS Liverpool, NHS Sefton, NHS Wirral and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire.

In July Elizabeth Pearce, 39, claimed she was the first lone parent to have given birth thanks to IVF funded by the NHS. She has a son, Leo, who is now eight months old.

She said: "I understand this is a sensitive issue—but I truly believe single women have just as much of a right to a child as couples do."

Yet exactly how many single women have actually claimed for fertility treatment through the NHS remains unclear.

Juliet Tizzard, head of policy at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said at a public meeting last week: "There are more single women wanting to have treatment with donor sperm."

Figures from the HFEA, which helps regulate the sector, show that there were 764 IVF cycles in single women in 2006, the latest year for which information is available. There were also 740 donor insemination cycles in single women the same year. The figures are due to be updated in the next few weeks.

However, a spokesman said the figures were not broken into those who were NHS or self =0funded. The vast majority of single women are thought to pay for fertility treatment privately, where it can cost £5,000 a cycle.

Anastasia de Waal, director of family and education at the think-tank Civitas, said: “The important thing is that the funding is done in an equitable way. It does seem like it is very confused and potentially unfair.”


Advocates protest 'asylum' haunted house

RADFORD, Va. - A haunted house staged at a former psychiatric hospital is the subject of disagreement over the portrayal of those with mental illness.

The Mountain Ridge Paranormal Research Society is sponsoring the "asylum"-themed haunted house event to raise money to save the historic Saint Albans Hospital property in Radford from demolition.

But the attraction isn't sitting well with some in the community who think the theme and promotional materials are insensitive to former Saint Albans patients and reinforce negative connotations of people with mental illness. A promotional T-shirt for the event says "St. Albans Sanatorium. One crazy place!" while another has an image of a girl with cuts on her face, holding a ghastly doll.

A group protested at the site Friday night, and planned further weekend demonstrations. Most of them had ties to Radford University's doctorate of psychology program.

"It's kind of based on probably the worst possible stereotypical sort of images that people have of people with mental illness," doctoral student Michael Love told The Roanoke Times

Love was among about 15 people who lined the sidewalk with signs saying "Respect for the Mentally Ill," while passing out informational fliers on mental illness.

Dominique Boone, also a student in the psychology department, said the mental illness stigma often shames people into not seeking the treatment they need.

"It perpetuates the stigma of crazy, or that those with mental illness are people you should be afraid of," Boone said.

Promoters with the sponsoring paranormal group said the theme was designed to be over the top but not to offend. Group member Don Hanauer called protesters' efforts slightly misguided.

"People will find fault where they'll find fault," Hanauer said.

He said while the T-shirts and theme touch on insanity, the exhibits and props within the building fall within typical spooky fare to be found in any haunted house.

After a walk-through, the house is heavy on gore and littered with creepy messages and the living dead, while the mental patient references are seemingly checked at the door. Hanauer said this was by design, and noted that he's spoken with former Saint Albans patients and staff who had no problem with it.

But the insane-asylum references hit home for protesters such as Corey White, a graduate English student, and Lucious Cordial, a 10-year-old. Both said they have had relatives who suffered from mental illness.

Lucious said his great-grandmother was a Saint Albans resident, and he doesn't appreciate patients being portrayed as "monsters."



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

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

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


24 October, 2011

Only when all three British parties tell you that something is right, can you be certain it is wrong

Every few decades, the British people realise that continental Europe matters to them whether they want it to or not.

Its revolutions, reunifications and power struggles often appear remote, but eventually - and sometimes violently - reach across the narrow Channel to alarm and shake us.

This is such a time. Though a thousand years of history have made us profoundly different from our nearest neighbours in politics, language, law, customs, landscape and religion, and though we tend to prefer to look out across the open sea to the wide world we once dominated, we cannot be indifferent to the European Union’s growing internal crisis.

Above all, we are not free to stand aloof because in 1973 we joined what was then the European Common Market, binding ourselves legally to its aims and regulations.

One of the great tragedies of modern times is that our leaders were not honest with us about what this meant. They insisted that it was purely a free trade area, and that its only aim was to increase prosperity.

A few mavericks warned that it was much more than that, a vast political project aimed at the creation of a new, unprecedented superstate. But we laughed at them and their cranky alarmist predictions, and foolishly trusted the soothing mainstream voices of the big parties.

Seldom has there been a better illustration of the maxim that when all three parties agree on a policy, you may be absolutely sure that it is a mistake.

Year by year, the wild alarmists have been proved right. We have lost a great measure of control over our own laws, over our foreign policy, even over our defences. We have lost our fishing grounds. We have been compelled to hand over vast contributions for purposes over which we have no control.

Individuals can even be arrested and taken to other EU countries for actions that are not crimes here. We have - absurdly - been prosecuted for using our own weights and measures. Perhaps above all, we no longer have our own national passports or control our own frontiers.

Thanks to a referendum in 1975, in which the case against membership was never given a proper chance, our political class have been able to consider the matter closed.

But in recent years that apparently decisive vote has lost its authority. Nobody under 54 took part in it. It is widely accepted that its conduct was flawed. Meanwhile, the compact original Common Market has swollen to become the sprawling EU, with a toehold in Africa, a coastline on the Black Sea and a border with Russia.

It has acquired a sort of Parliament (though one without an opposition), a diplomatic service, joint external border forces, a flag, an anthem, a so-called ‘Single Market’, a Supreme Court, a President and – above all – a currency backed by a central bank.

It regulates everything from the way we dispose of our rubbish to the shape and size of the envelopes we can use in the post.

And as it has grown, so has a strong, articulate and responsible current of scepticism about its aims and purposes. In Parliament, this is most potent and most open in the Conservative Party, though it has quieter voices in the Labour Party and even a few in the Liberal Democrats.

But outside Parliament it has produced a confident strand of responsible but critical suspicion - and sometimes more than that - in the press, which was once united in favour.

It is largely thanks to these critical currents that the United Kingdom narrowly managed to escape entry into the euro, a deliverance for which even some EU enthusiasts privately give thanks. It should never be forgotten that so much of our Establishment was keenly in favour of what would have been a national disaster. Nor should it be forgotten that many of them still secretly hope to revive the idea.

It is also due to these rising levels of doubt that European governments in several countries have begun to offer referendums on important increases in EU central powers. In Britain, these votes have never yet been held. In France, the Netherlands and Ireland they have been ignored or held again to produce the ‘right’ result.

The brazen chicanery of European politicians over the EU Constitution, later repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty, must have persuaded many previously unworried citizens that the EU project was not to be trusted.

And had David Cameron kept his ‘cast-iron’ promise to hold a ballot on Lisbon, he would not now be in the trap he has dug for himself.

It is perfectly reasonable for opponents of a new referendum on the EU to point out that this is a bad time for such a thing. Of course it is difficult for our European partners to listen to our worries about sovereignty when they are in the middle of a profound economic crisis. But such people should recognise that the issue has arisen now only because they themselves have dodged the question so dishonestly in the past. And that the crisis itself is largely, if not entirely, caused by the EU’s own insistence on creating and maintaining its economically illiterate vanity project – the euro.

We cannot constantly avoid questions of principle because the time is not quite right. Apart from anything else, one of the principles at stake is our ability to run our own economy.

Moments arrive in the history of any country when its leaders and people have to ask themselves what sort of nation they wish to be, and what sort of future they want to have. We have ducked this question for many years, which is why it is now being asked again so urgently.

If we continue to duck it, we will be sucked irrevocably into a supranational body that operates on un-British principles, that is undemocratic, that does not serve our interests and which compels us to do increasing numbers of things we do not wish to do, and which may not be for our benefit.

Our mainstream politicians have done all they can to ignore the public’s will on this subject. The Prime Minister’s strange and needlessly provocative attempt to silence his own dissenters is an example of this wilful refusal to accept that there is anything to worry about.

Rather than scuffling in this pointless ditch, Mr Cameron should call off his Whips and, if Parliament votes for it, hold the referendum on our position in the EU that we have so often been promised and denied. Then at last we would have the chance to consider what position we wish our Government to adopt, and to influence its behaviour.

It is very likely that a call for renegotiation of our EU relationship – official Tory policy after all – would win a majority.

It must be stressed that this newspaper does not view Europe or the EU with hostility. The real problem is the very different ways in which continental countries order their politics and make and enforce their laws.

There is also the seldom-spoken fact that France and Germany are in reality the final arbiters of every EU decision, and that in nearly 40 years of EU membership Britain has never been able to outweigh or divide this alliance.

If we have a referendum and vote for renegotiation, the EU will have to decide its response. Depending on that answer, it may eventually be that we have to face the fundamental question of whether we want to be in this club at all.

But we should not hurry towards such a stark and dramatic choice.

The most sensible approach is to move deliberately but carefully. First, the public should be allowed to consider if the EU is what they were told it was from the start. Then, if they decide it is not, we must see if we can create the free-trading, open relationship we thought we were going to get.

Only if this option fails, and every effort should be made to ensure it succeeds, should we consider the momentous question of whether to stay or go.


Playing by the rules makes prisoners of children

Comment from Australia

LIKE many parents, I have been wondering where the space rockets went. In the past decade, space rockets, merry-go-rounds and monkey bars have been quietly disappearing from our playgrounds. Australian Playground Safety Standards have been changing the design of children's play spaces to remove danger, risk and quite a bit of fun.

While the Australian standard for playground equipment is not mandatory, it has become de facto compulsory because compliance can be referred to in court action against childcare centres, schools, restaurants and local councils.

The standards reflect the efforts of lobby groups such as Kidsafe, which have successfully linked injury rates to campaigns to restrict children's play. Kidsafe claims, "Each year about 350 Australian children (aged 0-14 years) are killed and 60,000 are hospitalised because of unintentional injuries." The group peppers its website with warnings such as, "the average backyard is full of dangers".

In reality, serious injuries from play are pretty rare. A 2009 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found the most common causes of child deaths were traffic accidents, drowning and assault. The most common causes of injuries were falls, road accidents, poisoning, burns and scalds, and assault. And while the number of falls is high the severity is usually not. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 93 per cent of falls were of 1m or less, such as falling off chairs or out of bed.

While play is rarely bad for you, missing out on play can have lifelong health and social consequences. Which is why safety regulations are now being questioned by a range of academics, parents and play activists who are worried kids are being denied opportunities to exercise judgment, weigh risk and take responsibility: in short to grow into adults.

Many parents are looking to reverse this trend and have flocked to advocates of free play, making bestsellers of Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods and Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids. Tinkering School founder Gever Tulley's TED talk Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do has become a social media hit.

This month the Victorian government acknowledged the shift with VicHealth's Physical Activity Unit, Sport & Recreation Victoria and Playgroup Victoria jointly presenting Tim Gill, author of the British bestseller No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society at an event called Taking Play Seriously.

Gill has been visiting Australia for several years since attending the Get Outside and Play conference in Perth in 2007. As someone who travels the world championing freedom in childhood he can see how things are changing. He told The Australian that: "Very few playgrounds in Australia look as grim as playgrounds had become in the UK around the turn of the century . . . children had to abuse the equipment to enjoy it."

Britain got a wake-up call in 2007 when a UNICEF survey rated it among the worst places in the world to grow up. At that time Play England, part of the British National Children's Bureau, found that about half of all children were being prevented from climbing trees and 17 per cent were not allowed to play running or chasing games. The government's response to the UNICEF report was a huge investment in Play England to build 3500 new and better playgrounds.

In Australia things got gradually less fun in our playgrounds but not so badly or quickly as to create a backlash, but eventually the missing space rockets were just too hard to ignore. Gill sees in Australia, "growing pockets of people spreading the word" about the need to restore challenge and fun to childhood.

There are pockets such as the Bush Babies playgroups, which are popping up across the country, and the Bush Kindergarten at Westgarth in Melbourne, which is modelled on the growing movement of Forest Kindergartens in Britain. London now has more than 150 pre-schools that specialise in getting children out into the woods to climb trees, hike and play in nature.

There is a growing desire among parents to revive exciting, fun and adventurous Australian childhoods.

The message appears to be finally making its way to the top thanks to people such as Robyn Monro Miller, chair of the National Out of School Hours Association, who has been putting play on the political agenda. Last year, the Minister for Childcare Kate Ellis introduced a learning framework for outside school hours care programs to ensure children spend more time in active play.

The most significant barrier to the revival of childhood freedom is the persistent fear of strangers. A VicHealth study, Nothing But Fear Itself, found Australian parents are restricting their children's independence and freedom despite the world not becoming more dangerous.

Following the Daniel Morcombe abduction tragedy the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Program will now be a mandatory part of the Queensland curriculum and Premier Anna Bligh says she will be lobbying for the implementation of the package nationwide. While the final structure of the program is not yet settled, the stranger danger message is clear.

Gill says you cannot ask a family to put a tragedy into perspective or move on; however, we should remember, "the risk from dangerous adults is lower than it's ever been". Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron reinforced this last year, calling for, "a stop to the senseless rules that get in the way of volunteering (and) stop adults from helping out with other people's children".

In the question and answer session after Gill's talk in Melbourne, a mother of three told the audience how she had heard him speak the week before, after which her 10-year-old son asked her if he could go to the local skate park on his own. Thanks to Gill's talk, she said yes. That evening, she saw her son's status update on Facebook: "this was the best day of my life".

Gill admitted later on his blog: "I do not mind saying that I welled up a little as she told that story. Nor that I am welling up now as I type it."

The culture of fear that has defined approaches to the regulation of children's wellbeing appears to be under challenge if not yet reversing. The goal of those advocating for change is to give kids the gift of freedom.

"My dream is that these gifts of freedom are not rare gems to be treasured and celebrated," Gill says, "but part of the everyday currency of family life."


Rentamob: Australian "Occupiers" already well-known to police

SOME of those involved in Friday's Occupy Melbourne demonstration were regular protesters known to police. Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said this morning some of the protesters were from BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which campaigns against Israel. Others were from the Socialist Alliance - an anti-capitalist political party. "Many of these people in the group on Friday and the week leading up are pretty familiar faces to us," Mr Lay told 3AW.

He said a small group of the protesters were intent on fighting police, despite assuring police they would leave peacefully when asked. "I sensed a group of people that were hell bent on having a blue with the coppers and that's exactly what happened, we know that there was a group of people that simply wanted this for their own reasons."

Protesters were given assurance on the Thursday night police would not surprise them early Friday morning with demands to leave and on Friday they were given four warnings to leave from council and police.

Mr Lay said he was proud of the way police acted and they had an abundance of video to support police tactics and refute claims made by the protesters of brutality. "I was very proud of the way our 400 people worked, it was extremely difficult, it was a very long day for them and what I saw was a very well trained, very well disciplined group of people that did exactly what they were trained to do."

Victoria Police will today start examining CCTV footage of Friday's Occupy Melbourne protest for evidence of criminal offences committed by protesters.

Eight police cars were damaged as the crowd was evicted from City Square, and a police spokesman said CCTV footage would be reviewed to find the culprits.

Occupy Melbourne organisers have arranged to occupy Treasury Gardens on Saturday, claiming they have approval from Aboriginal elders of the Wurundjeri people to occupy the space.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said yesterday a team of council compliance officers would prowl the city's streets this week, poised to report any Occupy Melbourne protesters setting up camp. Cr Doyle said the protesters wouldn't have a chance to build an established campsite because compliance officers would catch them as they tried to set up. "We'll certainly task our compliance officers to make sure that we know when they try to set up anywhere. We'll issue them notice immediately that they can't do it and have the tents taken down," he said. "We don't intend to allow people to set up tents anywhere in the city. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy."

On Friday, police evicted about 100 protesters from City Square, dragging many away writhing and kicking, and set up cyclone fences around the site.

Yesterday Premier Ted Baillieu backed Victoria Police in its use of force, saying protesters had broken their promise. "They said they would move and they didn't, and I think Victoria Police handled the situation well," Mr Baillieu said.


Whining Australian woman loses out

A GOLD Coast female hotel employee who accused a male boss of sexually harassing her by allegedly commenting on her "huge knockers" has had her workplace discrimination complaint dismissed.

The Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal, in a just published decision, dismissed a complaint for sexual harassment and discrimination on the "attribute of sex in the area of work" by Aimee Harron because she failed to attend a compulsory conference aimed at resolving the issue last month.

Ms Harron lodged a complaint to the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission for alleged contravention of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 by former employer Pearls Australasia Mirage 2 Pty Ltd and supervisor Andrew Potts.

QCAT member Michelle Howard, in an eight-page decision, said Ms Harron alleged Mr Potts made comments to another worker that she had "huge knockers" after she was been interviewed for a possible job. "(Ms Harron claims she) had overheard Mr Potts tell other employees ... he had never employed an unattractive girl," Ms Howard said.

"Mr Potts had (also allegedly) spoken to her (Ms Harron) about her brother in unflattering terms, saying that he was a 'dickhead', and also said that he was going to steal her brother's girlfriend."

Ms Harron claimed she had referred the matter to her employer's Human Resources Department. "(Ms Harron) infers that she requested not to be further supervised by Mr Potts, but was not given an alternative," Ms Howard said.

"She states that she resigned to avoid further 'being vilified' by Mr Potts, who had already caused her hurt and humiliation ... (and) she believes ... that Mr Potts' remarks have sexual connotations which amount to sexual harassment."

Ms Howard said the "respondents", that is Pearls Australasia and Mr Potts, contend Ms Harron commenced "casual employment" on May 11 last year and made a complaint less than two months later about a "remark alleged to have been made by Mr Potts after interviewing her for the position".

The company asserted, via staff notes kept regarding Ms Harron's work attendance and attitude, that Ms Harron complained about the new job during her very first shift. "On her first shift on 11 May, she (Ms Harron) said she did not like the work and most likely would not return," Ms Howard said the file note stated.

"On May 15, Ms Harron told co-workers she does not want to work and is going to leave. On May 17, she arrived late for work ... and on May 22, she attended work but went home sick after 2 hours."

Ms Howard said Pearls Australasia claimed it did investigate Ms Harron's complaint and found one staff member who said there had been some comment Ms Harron "had pretty good breasts."

Mr Potts, the tribunal was told, said he had not intended to hurt or offend anyone, and the comment was a "one-off" made before Ms Harron was employed. Mr Potts also denied making comments about having "never employed an unattractive girl or making reference to Ms Harron's brother of his girlfriend".

"The investigation did not establish whether the comments were or were not made, but Pearls Australasia argues that even if they were this would not constitute sexual harassment," Ms Howard said.

The matter was set down for a "compulsory conference", between the parties at Southport on September 21. "Ms Harron failed to attend the compulsory conference," Ms Howard said. "(As such) the complaint of Aimee Harron is dismissed."



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

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

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


23 October, 2011

British Conservative leader not very conservative -- like an American RINO

(He even runs his own Thought Police)

By Peter Hitchens

Two Tory MPs are so scared of David Cameron’s pro-EU thought police that they have hidden their identities when giving radio interviews on the subject.

One said that wanting to leave the EU was ‘the love that dare not speak its name’. The other attacked Mr Cameron’s broken pledge for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Both knew that the Tory whips would destroy them if their names became known.

So their words were spoken by actors, as if they were dissidents in some foreign dictatorship.

This extraordinary behaviour, broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s ultra-respectable Analysis programme, tells you all you need to know about the Conservative Party’s real position on Brussels, and plenty of other things.

For of course, this isn’t just about boring old Brussels. The EU is symbolic of all the other great issues that divide Mr Cameron from Tory voters - mass immigration, crime, disorder, education, marriage and morals.

I have known since I first spotted him trying to weaken the anti-drug laws that Mr Cameron was not a conservative. I have spoken to former colleagues who have concluded that he believes in nothing at all, but I think it is much worse than that. I think he is an active, militant elite liberal, who despises our country and its people, just as much as any Islington Marxist does.

What I could never understand was how so many men and women with the usual complement of eyes, ears and brains (and nostrils) managed to fool themselves so completely about him.

How many times did I read weighty commentators (weighty because of the huge number of lunches they had eaten with their political insider chums) proclaiming that Mr Cameron was a ‘sound Eurosceptic’? Or that he had ‘deep conservative instincts’? I seem to remember one such even praising his cricket.

Well, it was bunkum and balderdash, wasn’t it? I wouldn’t know about his cricketing skills, but his performance on the EU issue has been dishonest and treacherous from the start.

I still remember the look of rabbit-like fear on his smooth face on the day he broke his pledge of a Lisbon referendum. He was too cowardly to take a question from me, while that pathetic burst balloon, William Hague, sat silent in the front row of the press conference, endorsing his chief’s poltroonery.

But still the Tory loyalists wouldn’t see it, fooling themselves with a babyish dream that Mr Cameron had a secret plan, that once in office he would tear off his outer garments and reveal himself as SuperCam, a real patriot and conservative.

Well, now he has torn off his outer garments, ordered his cringing followers to vote against an EU referendum and revealed that he is in fact the reincarnation of Ted Heath, the man who betrayed Britain to Brussels and got his way by bullying and shameless dishonesty.

Nobody is making him do this. It is his own true self speaking.


New British drive to speed up adoption

Nasty British social workers chase off nine out of 10 potential adopters by grilling them as if they were terrorists

David Cameron will within days launch a new drive to make adoption simpler and speedier and to improve the educational opportunities for children in care. The blueprint will see local authorities which perform badly in placing children with adoptive parents being named and shamed – as well as plans to boost the funding given to children in care as they progress through school and to university.

The initiative comes after the Prime Minister pledged to remove barriers to adoption in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this month, describing the fact that just 60 babies under the age of one were adopted last year out of 3,600 in care as a "scandal."

The move has been fast tracked on the urging of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who was adopted at fourth months old by a family in Aberdeen. Ministers are to adopt a "twin track" approach, including a new campaign to get more parents to consider adopting.

Mr Gove has already put fresh guidelines in place to ensure social workers allow white families to adopt black and mixed-race children and ensure that single people and older people are not barred from adopting.

Councils will have do report on their success in placing children in new households more regularly and more transparently – with the threat of publicly identifying the worst-performing authorities.

Ministers will impose a fixed limit of six months for a child's care proceedings to be sorted out. Currently the average time between a child being taken into care and being adopted is two years and seven months, a period ministers regard as being "unacceptably long."

The coalition is also considering radical proposals designed to help children who spend periods in care do better at school.

Moves to boost the pupil premium – extra money given to schools for the poorest children – for children who spend time in care, and to reduce their tuition fees if they go to university, are likely to be put out to public consultation. At the moment, only 19 per cent of "looked after children" (defined as those that spend some time in care) achieve five GCSEs with grades A* to C, compared with 70 per cent of all children.

They also go on to achieve worse A-level results and fewer university places – as well as being more likely to be involved in crime and alcohol abuse.

Department for Education data shows 27,310 children were taken into care during the year ending 31 March 2011, down from 28,090 the previous year. There was also a fall in the number of looked-after children placed for adoption from 2,720 in 2007 to 2,450.

In his conference speech Mr Cameron said: "I can announce a new focus on the 65,000 children in care. "Do you know how many children there are in care at the age of one? 3,660. And how many children under the age of one were adopted in our country last year? 60.

"This may not seem like the biggest issue facing our country, but it's the biggest issue for these children. How can we have let this happen? "With the right values and the right effort, let's end this scandal and help these, the most vulnerable children of all."


London's new churches: dynamic, superstitious and obsessed with money

Earlier this week, a disturbing headline appeared in my Twitter feed. “Church HIV prayer cure claims 'cause three deaths’,” it read. There was a link to the BBC website, but even before I clicked through I knew I would find the word “Nigerian”.

According to a leading HIV doctor, three women have died after attending London churches that told them to stop taking antiretroviral drugs. The news story singled out the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), whose UK headquarters are in Southwark. Its website displays a photograph with the caption: “Mrs Badmus proudly displays her two different medical records confirming she is 100 per cent free from HIV-Aids following the prayer of Pastor T B Joshua.”

This being the politically correct Beeb, however, there was no discussion of the background to the story. Nigerian and other West African churches are the most vibrant expression of Christianity in Britain. Indeed, they’re so bursting with vitality that they buy up disused cinemas and warehouses (sometimes to the alarm of residents – there have been protests about “pop-up” West African churches). The Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) has a congregation of 12,000 every Sunday.

West African evangelists claim to be able to cast out demons and cure the dying. They also predict the imminent return of the Lord. A warning to Islingtonians who think a Nigerian pastor might spice up a supper party: don’t invite a gay couple unless you’re comfortable with the word “sodomy” thundering across the bruschetta. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want an early Christian on the guest list, either, since they shared the same beliefs about disease (curable by miracles), homosexuality (unspeakable) and Armageddon (coming soon).

But there’s also a distinctly un-biblical side to the new Christianity spreading across London. It’s obsessed with money. It’s not unusual for a Nigerian mega-pastor to own a jet: Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry owns four and is worth $150 million, according to Forbes. Temitope (also known as T B) Joshua recently donated $20 million to charity, which would be impressive if his “charity” didn’t include bogus Aids cures. Forbes claims that Matthew Ashimolowo of KICC earns a salary of more than £150,000, “but his real wealth comes from business interests, including his media company”.

Some smaller Nigerian churches are also on the radar of London’s social services because they incorporate the “exorcism” of child witchcraft into their teachings, which can have dreadful consequences. According to a social worker contact, some local authority employees belong to these churches themselves and view society through the prism of semi-Christian spirit beliefs.

Why don’t we hear more about this? Imagine the hysteria if this were white American Christian fundamentalism. But, because these are black-led churches, the media report the situation nervously and inadequately. Not that the Right is any more interested: it’s preoccupied with the excesses of Islam.

In the long run, however, we’ll pay dearly for our polite indifference. I don’t want to caricature the faith of West African Christians, but it’s a simple fact that it focuses intensely on “God-given prosperity” (ie making money) and spirit possession. And, if trends continue, it will soon overtake the mainstream churches as the dominant expression of Christianity in this country. That raises the real prospect of Christians and Muslims joining forces in a culture war on degenerate British society. What will happen then?


'Reality Shows' Distort the Real World

Networks hungry for viewers know the cheapest way to nab eyeballs is to produce a "reality show" with no stars and often uber-sleazy, supposedly-unscripted-but-in-reality-very-scripted content. But in the rush for the prized 18-49 adult viewers, what about the millions of youngsters, the audience aged 11 to 17, who are also lured into the soup?

The Girl Scout Research Institute recently surveyed 1,000 girls in that age bracket and found these children aren't clueless. Everyone surveyed thought reality shows promote bad behavior: 86 percent felt the shows often set people against one another to increase the dramatic value; 73 percent thought reality shows depict fighting as a normal part of a romantic relationship; and 70 percent believed that reality TV leads people to believe it acceptable to mistreat each other.

So the youngsters see through the mud? Not exactly. Here's the rub: 75 percent said that competition shows (like "American Idol") and 50 percent of "real-life" shows like MTV's "Jersey Shore" are "mainly real and unscripted." They may not find the antics admirable, but they see them as real. For them, it is a mirror of what awaits them in the "real world" when they grow up.

What kind of "unscripted" sludge are teenagers watching on "Jersey Shore"? A new episode finds the cast taking their alcohol-drenched misbehavior to Italy (so much for "unscripted"). Deena desperately wants Pauly D. to "do sex" with her, which causes Pauly to go trolling through nightclubs looking for a one-night-stand alternative. Does this sound like a show for 11 year olds? (set ital) Of course not. (end ital) Presumably, the producers would argue: Our show is aimed at an adult audience. But millions of middle schoolers watch, too.

Pauly can't find an adequate partner, so back at the MTV-rented villa, Deena is drunk and telling Pauly "I'm a good f**k! And I have no shame!" With all the tenderness you'd expect from "Jersey Shore," Pauly replies, "Deena, I would knock the dust off that ... if we weren't friends."

The New York Daily News recap explained: "The next morning, Deena and Snooki decide to drown their sorrows -- or at least the memory of their sorrows -- with a day (and night!) of binge drinking, meatball grinding and showing strangers how to do the 'Jersey turnpike' dance move. If you don't know it, look it up. Not at work."

You shouldn't look it up at work because that would be inappropriate. But your sixth-grader can watch it on basic cable. Not only that, but with Halloween coming, your kids can buy the trick-or-treat costumes to imitate them. Last year, MTV proudly displayed a photo of what looked like second-graders dressed like their channel's promiscuous drunks. Their headline read, "These Jersey Shore Halloween Costumes Make Us Proud."

The "reality" shows featuring young people with no discernible talents whatsoever has also led to a distorted and unhealthy view of fame. The GSRI study asked girls 11 to 17 if they expect to be famous. One in 4 think so.

So how does one achieve this fame? Here's where the damage from the "reality show" is documented. Two very different worldviews emerged when the sample was divided into regular viewers of reality TV and non-viewers. On the statement: "You have to lie to get what you want," 37 percent of regular viewers of reality TV shows agreed versus 24 percent of non-viewers. On "Being mean earns you more respect than being nice," 37 percent of viewers agreed versus a fourth of non-viewers. On the notion, "You have to be mean to others to get what you want," 28 percent of reality viewers agreed, compared to 18 percent of non-viewers.

This is what networks like MTV are achieving. Regular viewers of reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression and bullying in their own lives. The study found that 78 percent of regular viewers agreed that "gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls," compared with 54 percent of non-viewers. Sixty-eight percent agreed that "it's in girls' nature to be catty and competitive with one another," while only 50 percent of non-viewers thought so.

Obviously, not all reality shows promote societal disfunctionality (though I'm hard-pressed to find an exception on MTV). Some are positive and truly inspirational by design, such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." And before the cynics pipe in to say that "the market" demands the raunchy, let us underscore that shows like "Extreme Makeover" can be wildly successful commercial ventures as well. So it follows that the reverse of the present "reality show" poisoning is also possible. What would happen if these reality shows were to promote decency, chivalry, honesty, respect, manners, modesty, beauty, innocence, goodness, and fortitude?

It would all sell.



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

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

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


22 October, 2011

Homosexual Kiss During High School Musical Leads to a Student Walk-Out

That the very idea of homosexuality disgusts normal people is the great unmentionable

Some people aren’t comfortable with public displays of affection. Don’t believe me? Consider the scene that unfolded at a Hartford Public High School (in Hartford, Connecticut), when audiences reacted to a pro-gay advocacy play featuring two boys locking lips.

The musical, called “Zanna, Don’t!,“ is about an ”opposite world” of sorts in which heterosexuals are the minority and homosexuals are the majority. In the play, straight individuals are outcasts and the most popular guy in school is — gasp — a gay student who is on the chess team.

“Zanna, Don’t” was brought to the school by the Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest, which is described by the Hartford Courant newspaper as, “a program for professionals that develops leadership skills.” The paper also reports that the group put on the show in an anti-bullying effort that members hoped would help gay, bisexual, transgendered or “questioning youth.” The Courant continues:

In a partnership with the nonprofit True Colors, one Quest team raised $10,000 to show the musical three times at Hartford High this month. The Knox Foundation and the Samuel Roskin Trust at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving gave sponsorship money.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about the show. As soon as the kiss took place, there was instantaneous clamoring. Screams, loud voices and disgust broke out and the school’s football team stomped out in protest. Some people were so anxious to leave the auditorium that they allegedly jumped over seats to get to the exit.

Now, here’s the intriguing part. The school’s principal, David Chambers, claims that the students knew beforehand that there would be homosexual affections displayed in the play. As a result, some had asked to be excused prior to the assembly. While Chambers did consider sending a letter to parents in an effort to allow them to opt their children out of the assembly, he inevitably decided against it.

According to Beliefnet, Chambers said that he believes the teens need to develop “a sense of empathy toward gays and lesbians.” But be contends, “Our kids are not there yet.” School personnel had to work diligently to prevent the students from leaving the school. Chambers continues:

“Even though it’s kind of chaotic, kind of wild and crazy, I see it as very successful. Our kids never deal with this, they keep it inside, and that’s that nervous energy. That’s why they walked out.”

In response to this, Beliefnet’s Rob Kerby wrote: "It apparently did not occur to him that some of the kids had moral issues with the scene — believing that glorifying same-gender romance is wrong. Chambers’ intent was to wear down the students sense of disgust and discomfort with viewing homosexuality on stage.

While there certainly was a negative response, the Courant also reports that many students enjoyed the show and found it important to progressing discussion surrounding homosexuality. Dineily Vargas and Angel Ayala, who are both 17-year old 11th-graders in the law and government academy, said that the show actually changed the minds of people they had seen being “homophobic” in the past.


Undemocratic Britain

Brits are stuck with elite rule

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, once told me that when canvassing as a councillor in Bradford he knocked on a door and asked if the chap would vote for him.

The answer was: ‘No. I’m not voting as it won’t make a difference — the council always gets in.’

The man was making a simple point: it doesn’t really matter what I think on the major issues, nobody takes any notice of me anyway.

Of course, he’s right. And if you ever wanted proof, just look at the farce over the EU referendum.

Forced by ordinary people to have a debate on holding a referendum (as a result of thousands signing up to the Government’s official e-petition site), David Cameron orders Tory MPs into the ‘No’ lobby. Miliband does the same, as does Clegg.

They know the majority want a referendum — which I suspect would result in a vote for Britain to quit the EU. They know we’ve always wanted a referendum and they are determined not to give it to us.

It’s the same with the death penalty. A referendum would find 70 per cent in favour. No problem. They know we want it, they know we’ve always wanted it and they are determined not to give it to us.

It’s the same with stopping immigration. Although I would vote against such a move, I know the vast majority — including many ethnic minority Britons — would like to see it.

But once again the ruling elite know we want it, they know we’ve always wanted it and they are determined not to give it to us.

Is it any surprise we feel disenfranchised? We read, listen and watch the news as politicians spout on endlessly and we wonder what planet they are on.

I know the planet. It’s the one beginning with the letter ‘U’.


Britain's faltering battle with red tape as departments are accused of dragging their feet

Measures to protect small businesses from red tape are to be unveiled, amid a Cabinet row over some departments dragging their feet over the proposals.

Under the changes, being drawn up by Business Secretary Vince Cable, thousands of small firms will be told they do not need to implement a wide range of government regulations. And it will be easier for struggling companies to make large numbers of redundancies.

But Mr Cable and Chancellor George Osborne are said to be angry with other departments - such as Theresa May's Home Office and Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions - for not prioritising the need to cut red tape.

An ally of Mr Cable said: 'Vince wants to come forward with a good package for business this autumn, but we want to see other departments putting their weight behind these efforts.'

The Business Secretary is pushing ahead with measures designed to boost job creation by making life easier for employers. The changes will be announced at the end of next month. They include making firms with fewer than ten staff exempt from some rules, and giving those with up to 50 time to implement others.

There are also plans to cut 90-day redundancy consultation periods to 30 days. Mr Cable also wants employers to be able to discuss issues such as retirement plans and work performance openly.

But allies say he is being stymied by Mr Duncan Smith’s failure to bring in simplified health and safety laws. The Work and Pension Secretary’s colleagues said this was ‘complete rubbish’.

The Business Department also believes the Home Office is slow at cutting costs to firms in applying criminal record checks.

Meanwhile, Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s policy guru, has commissioned a report to intensify the heat on Mr Cable.


Obama administration pulls references to Islam from terror training materials, official says

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday that the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.

“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.

The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial.

In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials.

Maintaining the training materials in their current state “will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community,” al-Marayati wrote.

Multiple online sources detail MPAC’s close alignment with CAIR.

In his op-ed, Al-Marayati demanded that the Justice Department and the FBI “issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community” and “establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials.”

Specifically, al-Marayati called for a new “interagency task force” to review the training materials — a task force including representatives of the Islamist organizations the FBI is tasked with monitoring.

Some believe the Obama administration’s Justice Department will go even further.

“The Attorney General has announced what sounds like reprogramming if they find people who have actually received training” that Islamist groups find objectionable, Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney told The Daily Caller. Gaffney is co-author of a report, published by the Center, titled “Sharia: The Threat to America.”



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

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

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


21 October, 2011

Britain CAN trump Europe on human rights, says Britain's most senior judge

The Lord Chief Justice yesterday cast fresh doubt on whether Britain should be following the instructions of European human rights judges.

Lord Judge said that in arguments with the French-based European Court of Human Rights, ‘maybe Strasbourg shouldn’t win’.

His remarks to a committee of peers were the culmination of a growing movement of criticism among senior judges of the court and the decisions it tries to force on this country.

They suggest that discontent with the human rights court from the public and politicians, which came to a head in the row over whether prisoners should have the vote, is increasingly mirrored among the judiciary.

Lord Judge, head of the judiciary in England and Wales, told the Lords Constitution Committee during a discussion of how its rulings should be treated: ‘I would like to say that maybe Strasbourg shouldn’t win and doesn’t need to win.’

He questioned whether the most senior British courts needed to be bound by Strasbourg judgments.

‘For Strasbourg there is a debate yet to happen – it will have to happen in the Supreme Court – about what we really do mean in the Human Rights Act, and what Parliament means in the Human Rights Act when it said courts in this country must take account of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

‘I myself think it is at least arguable that, having taken account of the decision of the court in Strasbourg, our courts are not bound by them.’ Lord Judge added: ‘We have to give them due weight, and in most cases obviously we would follow them, but not necessarily.’

Up until two years ago, British courts accepted rulings handed down from Strasbourg without question.

Among the key decisions followed to the letter was the ruling that no British Home Secretary could set the jail term a murderer must serve, and the instruction that the treatment of children in the justice system must change because Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the juvenile killers of James Bulger, did not receive a fair trial.

But the Supreme Court has recently challenged Strasbourg in at least two little-publicised cases.
Contested rulings: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg's decisions have only persuasive influence in British courts

Contested rulings: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg's decisions have only persuasive influence in British courts

Strasbourg judges are likely to make a new ruling on prisoner votes this autumn which will insist that Britain obeys the order to allow convicted offenders in the jails to vote in parliamentary elections.

Such a ruling could provide a major test of whether British courts are willing to defy the European judges.

Lord Phillips, head of the Supreme Court, indicated yesterday that he believed British courts had no choice but to obey.

He told the peers’ committee: ‘In the end, Strasbourg is going to win so long as we have the Human Rights Act and the Human Rights Act is designed to give effect to that part of the rule of law which says we must comply with the convention.

If we have Strasbourg saying “you can’t do that”, it raises some very real problems.’

Unhappiness among senior judges at the behaviour of the ECHR surfaced two years ago when newly retired Law Lord Lord Hoffmann warned that Strasbourg ‘considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe’.

Since then judges to question the Strasbourg court have included Lord Phillips, who said there were cases in which its judges should ‘think again’, and his deputy at the Supreme Court, Lord Hope, who said last year: ‘We certainly won’t lie down in front of what they tell us.’


Jihadi Terrorism and Radicalism

Book Review of Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge: European and American Experiences, second edition edited by Rik Coolsaet, Ashgate, 2011.

Nancy Kobrin, PhD

Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge concerning European and American experiences is an important updated second edition volume edited by Rik Coolsaet. He is eminently qualified to undertake this task as Professor of International Relations at Ghent University, Belgium as well as Senior Associate Fellow at the Egmont Institute in Brussels. He writes a stirring account of the recent problems concerning jihadi terrorism and its precursor phenomenon, radicalization. One of the most salient issues concerning radicalization is what makes someone become operational, that is what turns the faucet on which unleashes the violent rage of the individual, either in the collective or as a lone wolf. It seems that we are still in the early stages of understand such a complex phenomena.

There are many nuggets of information and thoughts that are found in this new and improved text. There are five new voices too: Leena Malki, Clark McCauley, Robert Lambert, Marc Sageman and most especially Lorenzo Vidino. Authors Cesari, Crenshaw, Fraihi, Peters, Roberts, Roy and Van de Voorde have either completely written new essays for this edition or have revised and update their former contributions of 2008 when the first edition appeared.

'Radicalization' means "to cause (someone) to become an advocate of radical political or social reform" and it derives from the Latin radix. However, with this second volume I couldn't help but associate another etymologically related word -- 'radish' -- because this root is eaten raw and is pungent, like the crudeness of the violence of the jihadis.

There is much that I agree with in this volume, for example "the ideological narrative is not the root cause of radicalization" (p. 262) and that radicals are not produced in a vacuum, the context is extremely important. I would hasten to add that culture plays a significant role. Furthermore the "intersection of personal history, and that enabling environment" (p.263) such as in the case of Mohammed Bouyeri who brutally murdered Theo Van Gogh is crucial to understanding what unleashed his regression into such psychotic behavior.

The term 'humiliation' appears along with another concept 'code of honor' throughout the volume as an emotional root of the problem. Yet the key emotion really is shame which was missing. The context of these environments or breeding grounds for radicalization occur in shame honor cultures where the female is completely devalued. Even in the West there are pockets of shame honor cultures or families, which helps to explain the converts draw to jihad. The female suicide bombers merely internalize male hatred of the female as self-hatred and under the guise of a suicide bombing operation can mask their complete lack of social standing and value as well as years of blatant abuse and manipulation. This is why the issue of honor killing and the suppression of women's rights is so important because, for example, the Centre for Social Cohesion in Britain did geomapping of areas where they found honor killing and jihadis. Lo and behold, they were nearly the same areas. Yet few wish to connect the dots between the behavior and the ideology. The ideologies act like a girdle for a very weak and fragile, bullying personality of an emasculated male.

True, the concept of social bonding is discussed in a series of these essays, especially Sageman's work in which he refers to the 'bunch of guys' phenomena or Malkki on the radical left terrorist campaigns in Europe and the US. However, social bonding and leaderless jihad can not have arisen de novo. There has to have been underlying major characterological psychopathology which contributed to this pathological social bonding. Elsewhere I have argued that the first bond in life with the mother is the attachment pattern for later in life. In shame honor cultures the maternal bonding is most problematic at best, again because the female is completely devalued and abused.

Van de Voorde cites Jerrold Post's work while not naming his Political Paranoia text per se, nonetheless the fact that paranoia surfaces in this discussion, inadvertently links back to the mother once again. This makes for prime problems in future social bonding. We see this in the importance of kinship and friendship bonding (p. 262) about which Coolsaet writes. Muriel Degauque, the female suicide bomber convert, exemplifies this bond as well (p. 165) There also is discussion of attachment to a role in Horgan and Taylor's essay on Disengagement, De-radicalization and the Arc of Terrorism (p. 180). This attachment can be understood as a kind of metaphor for a problem in social bonding and attachments. Professor Diego Gambetta, who is not a contributor to this volume, is one of the few counterterrorist experts who has raised the question of jihadis being schizoid, meaning forming attachments to hard, cold weapons as well as computers and cyber space rather than being able to bond to people without resorting to violence. Terrorists lack empathy.

Along these lines it is interesting to note that the work of Jessica Stern is drawn upon but not her most recent moving memoir Denial. The defense mechanism of denial points to how highly dissociated terrorists are. Paranoia by definition means that one is dissociated from reality and seeks to defend against it because it is too painful to acknowledge vulnerability and death.

The question of recidivism looms large for those working to rehabilitate jihadis and prevent them from lapsing back into terrorist behavior. A future area of inquiry which might be helpful to explore is the recidivism of sex offenders. Jihadis have very problematic fetishes and psychosexual problems. We see this in their choice of introducing bombs into breast implants, the anus and even underwear to say nothing of shoe, which speaks to a developmental obsession and obviously a perversion.

Nevertheless Coolsaet and his colleagues have done an admirable job of informing the expert and lay readers about the challenges which we continue to face. Perhaps a third volume might include recent developments in neuroscience, biometrics and even the area of the unconscious. This volume makes a great reader for students of this subject matter.


Australia: Vague laws let courts dictate public morality

SOME recent cases, including the prosecution of News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt, highlight the dangers that flow from the assertion of group rights.

Relying on legislation such as the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act and the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, groups of individuals have claimed offence at public comments on the basis that the allegedly offensive comments promote intolerance.

In fact, the idea of toleration, famously espoused by John Locke in his 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration, is being turned on its head. In it, Locke sought to distinguish the business of civil government from that of religion.

Written when controversy surrounded the idea that Catholics should be able to practise their religion in Protestant England, or Jews or Muslims enjoy religious freedom in a Christian nation, Locke argued that the state and the church had separate functions. He sought to find a way that people of different religious beliefs could live together.

As summarised by Jonathan Sacks, toleration "aims not so much at truth but at peace. It is a political necessity, not a religious imperative, and it arises when people have lived through the alternative: the war of all against all." Hence the political separation of faith and power; of church and state: "No person shall be compelled to support any religious worship, but all persons shall be free to profess their religious opinions."

Today the issue is not only religion. It extends to cultural identity and multiculturalism.

If the new philosopher-judges, such as the court in the Bolt case, subscribe to one view of these matters, they are little different from the theologian-judges before the Lockean settlement.

This is occurring when the political notion that the law should not intrude into areas of private behaviour has been transformed into the moral assertion that a person now has the right to do anything not precluded by law.

The political judgment about the boundaries of the law is now translated into a moral judgment about rights. What one was permitted to do now becomes what one has the right to do. And having asserted a right, many insist it should be protected by the law. Hence Locke's political toleration has been combined with the new moral relativism.

As Sacks cautions, "When political liberalism is combined with moral relativism it reconnects morality and politics, the very thing liberalism was supposed to avoid."

A moral judgment that liberalism allowed a person to express in the realm of faith and religion, or today culture and identity -- for example about religious belief, including the alleged beliefs, customs or practices of other religions -- is now swept into the political realm.

In morally relative politics, a right to do something must be protected as a new human right. Not only is the activity now a right, but the people involved are right (or at least as right as anyone else). To say otherwise is intolerant. Such intolerance is discriminatory and should be punished. How the wheel has turned in three centuries.

One of the great achievements of the political liberalism of the 17th and 18th centuries was the idea that the individual is the foundation of the polity. The law treated individuals as its basis. This notion was foundational to liberal democracy.

Hence in the spirit of this development, the 1776 US Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".

Under this formulation, it is the individual who possesses political rights and whose consent legitimates government. It was a rejection of the idea that rights subsisted in classes of people, whether determined by birth, hierarchy or membership of a particular group. It is central to the liberal democratic experiment.

Increasingly, however, rights are now being asserted on behalf of groups. A claim is made for example, that the expression of a moral judgment about the beliefs, statements or actions of another group should be unlawful because it is offensive to members of the group or that it is likely to insult that group.

Whereas the laws of defamation protect the individual against libel and slander, it is now claimed that moral judgments or observations about a group should be unlawful and punishable. This is a significant shift.

The main fault lies with the parliaments that have created vague laws from abstract principles about which judges can be tempted to conclusively determine public morality on issues such as speech and thought in a multicultural society.

Laws that enable groups, rather than individuals, to assert rights should be repealed before we head any further down this dangerous path.


A load of waste paper and a dog-mess bin in an art gallery? It must be Turner Prize time

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that a group of painters and decorators had left behind a pile of their paint-spattered dust-sheets.

In fact this collection of crumpled paper, suspended plastic bags and scattered chalk is the work of one of the four finalists in this year's annual Turner Prize competition.

The other artists' work includes enamel paintings of mundane scenes including a dog dirt bin and a rundown pub, shaky split-screen videos of tower blocks and a piece titled 'Do Words Have Voices' which features a battered and scratched wooden table.

The exhibition for the world's most controversial prize for modern art launches in Newcastle's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art tomorrow. This is the first time the Turner Prize has been held at a non-Tate venue in its 27-year history. But the displays are certain to generate the same amount of criticism about whether they deserve to be defined as art.

The prize is notorious for rows over the artistic merit of its exhibits - which have included an unmade bed, balls of elephant dung and a room with a light turning on and off. This year's finalists are only slightly less controversial.

Karla Black's innovative approach to sculpture sees her suspending plastic bags from the ceilings of galleries and using small scrunched up balls of dough in her pieces. She selects things she 'cannot help but use' which include powder-paint, plaster, crushed chalk, Vaseline, lipstick, topsoil, sugar paper, balsa wood, eye shadow, nail varnish and moisturiser.

Another Scot, Martin Boyce, has created atmospheric, angular sculptural installations which have philosophical names like 'Do The Words Have Voices.'

Hilary Lloyd uses still and moving images as well as sound to portray abstract urban environments. She makes her technical equipment a part of her sculptures, clearly displaying the audio-visual tools.

George Shaw's naturalistic paintings of urban landscapes, council estates and abandoned houses are small in scale but give out a strong message. He paints the landscape of his adolescent life. Each scene exists within a half-mile radius of George's childhood home on the Tile Hill estate in Coventry.

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, located on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, has a world class modern art collection of its own - as well as offering almost unparalleled views over the city of Newcastle.

It is the UK's largest display space for contemporary art outside London, and was created from a derelict 1940s grain warehouse as part of a drive - spearheaded by Gateshead council in the 1990s - for transformation through culture.

SOURCE (See the original for pix)


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

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

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


20 October, 2011

The welfare state has destroyed the work ethic for many Brits

Many job seekers cannot even be bothered to turn up for interviews on time and lack 'the right attitude to work', a damning survey of employers revealed yesterday. Despite unemployment rocketing to a 17-year high, nearly half of employers said they could not find the right person for a job when they have a vacancy.

They said candidates were hampered by poor literacy and numeracy. Even if they have the right qualifications, they often lack 'soft' skills such as timekeeping and communication, according to the report by the British Chambers of Commerce.

More than 440 firms in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were asked whether they find it easy or difficult to recruit the right staff for a job. Unemployment in the East Midlands currently stands at 183,000.

Just 30 per cent said they find it easy – but 43 per cent said they find it quite or very difficult. When asked why candidates were wrong for the job, many bosses said they did not have ‘the right attitude towards work’. Others said some job hunters were so lazy they could not even turn up for an interview on time.

George Cowcher, chief executive of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘A highly-skilled workforce is absolutely crucial to the success of any business. ‘But the results of this survey provide incontrovertible evidence of what our members have been telling us for some time. ‘Businesses want to expand, create jobs and develop their workforce, but are hampered by a lack of skills in the local labour market.’

Mr Cowcher said businesses believe that more needs to be done to help school leavers, young adults and the long-term unemployed. He called on the Government to put skills and training at the ‘very heart’ of its growth strategy.

Mr Cowcher said there were around 27,000 job vacancies in the region. Last month Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden said she could not recruit teenage apprentices for her textiles factory because they do not think manual labour is ‘cool’.

Last week a poll of some of Britain’s biggest firms, including HSBC, Santander and KPMG, found widespread despair with the quality of potential recruits. Three in four bosses said school leavers and graduates lack the ‘basic skills’ needed to join the workforce, according to education charity Young Enterprise.

Another report, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said employers had ‘concerns about the employability of young people’. It found bosses prefer foreign workers to British school leavers because they have a more ‘positive’ attitude.

Yesterday a spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘We share the concerns of many businesses that too many of our young people leave school without the skills needed for work, in particular in the basics of English and maths.’


Britain's newspapers must not be censored, says senior judge

Britain's most senior judge yesterday made an impassioned defence of a free Press. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said an independent Press was ‘a constitutional necessity’ and he warned that allowing any government regulation of newspapers would be a danger to democracy.

While there had been problems with self-regulation, he said a beefed-up Press Complaints Commission was the only sensible way forward.

Lord Judge was effectively setting out the judiciary’s ‘evidence’ to the Leveson inquiry into Press standards, set up in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Speaking at Justice’s annual human rights law conference in London, he said: ‘My proposition is simply stated: In a country governed by the rule of law, the independence of the Press is a constitutional necessity.’ He quoted 18th-century journalist and MP John Wilkes who said: ‘The liberty of the Press is the birthright of a Briton, and is justly esteemed the firmest bulwark of the liberties of this country.’

His strongly worded comments echoed views put to the Leveson inquiry last week by Paul Dacre, the Editor of the Daily Mail, and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who warned that imposing restrictions on the Press would put democracy under threat.

The Lord Chief Justice said the value of newspapers in revealing public scandals was ‘priceless’ and no new regulations in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal should risk diluting the power of the Press.

The Press might occasionally behave with ‘scandalous cruelty and unfairness’, Lord Judge said, ‘but on the very same day one of the other constituent parts of the independent Press may reveal a public scandal.

‘The scandal of telephone hacking – which took the form of cruelty and insensitivity to one family and ultimately led to the setting up of the Leveson inquiry – was uncovered and revealed by a different constituent part of the Press.

‘Whatever means of regulation are designed to reduce the occasions of unacceptable behaviour by elements of the Press, they must not simultaneously, even if accidentally, diminish or dilute the ability and power of the press to reveal and highlight true public scandals or misconduct.’

Lord Judge, the most senior member of the judiciary in England and Wales, said that when the actions of the Press were criminal, no editors had ever advocated that they should be immune from prosecution.

He also pointed out the parlous financial state of most British newspapers, saying that their survival depended on their ability to persuade the public to buy. If papers were too dull, people would not buy them. He added: ‘There can be no independent Press if the independent Press cannot survive in the marketplace.’

The Lord Chief Justice, who said he put forward Lord Leveson’s name to head the inquiry, said the ‘twin independences’ of the judiciary and the media were ‘both fundamental to the continued exercise, and indeed the survival of the liberties which we sometimes take for granted’.

‘Although judges are frequently the victims of Press criticism, sometimes indeed of wholly unjustified press criticism, the constitutional arrangements which underpin the independence of the Press provide support for the principle of an independent judiciary, just as an independent judiciary does an independent Press.’

Referring to recent criticism of the current Press Complaints Commission (PCC), he said: ‘Even if they are fully justified, the criticisms do not automatically exclude self-regulation or a form of self- regulation in the future.

‘It does not follow that we should jump from the present system to government regulation or regulation by a government-appointed body which would give ultimate power to government.

‘We do not say that the General Medical Council and self-regulation have failed when, as sometimes happens, a doctor sexually molests one or more of his patients, or, like Dr [Harold] Shipman, murders them.

‘The Commission has no investigative power. In reality it has no disciplinary power. ‘When it works, as most of the time it does, it is because the Press itself is prepared to comply with its rulings, not because it is under legal compulsion to do so.

‘To criticise the PCC for failing to exercise powers it does not have is rather like criticising a judge who passes what appears to be a lenient sentence, when his power to pass a longer sentence is curtailed.’

Voicing his thoughts on how the PCC might be strengthened into a ‘more powerful body’, Lord Judge said: ‘The sensible approach would be to avoid all government involvement in the process. ‘The choice of members and their removal should similarly be independent of government.’

Lord Judge said it was essential that membership should include ‘a significant number of editors, and/or representatives of the newspaper industry as well as what I shall describe as “civilians”.’ He said an improved PCC ‘must not be a toothless tiger’


Rotten regimes will plunder aid millions: As Britain gives more, fraud will grow, warns MPs

As Peter Bauer said long ago: Foreign aid is "an excellent method for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries"

Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money could be lost to corrupt regimes as a result of the Government’s ballooning aid budget, a hard-hitting report by MPs has warned.

The Public Accounts Committee added that the Department of International Development had a ‘poor understanding’ of the scale and likelihood of aid being lost to fraud.

The MPs said the department was directing increasing amounts of money towards conflict-ridden countries such as Somalia and Pakistan, creating a ‘danger’ that it will be siphoned off by corrupt officials.

The report is yet another damning assessment of DfID, which is enjoying a 34 per cent spending increase in real terms at a time when other Whitehall departments are having their budgets slashed.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged that foreign aid will rise from £8.4billion this year to £12.6billion in 2015 – equal to £479 for every household in Britain.

In March, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the Government will pour billions of pounds of aid money into some of the world’s most corrupt regimes in a bid to tackle poverty.

He insisted that changes had been made to safeguard taxpayers’ money, but the committee warned that ‘operating in high-risk environments means the potential for increased risk of leakage through fraud and corruption’.

The report added: ‘The department intends to focus more on fragile and conflict-affected states which pose higher risks in terms of poor security, delivery capacity, measurement of costs and outcomes, and leakage of funds through fraud and corruption.’

The report came as former prime minister Tony Blair said aid to Africa could be brought to an end within a generation.
Where you money is going

He said: ‘It’s a new generation coming in. They are grateful for the help but they know the greater sign of progress will be when they shake hands and say “thank you very much” and make their way on themselves.’

Aid beneficiaries include many of the world’s most corrupt countries, raising fears that much of the money may never reach the people it was intended for.

The biggest winner will be the failed African state of Somalia, rated as the most corrupt nation on earth. Aid to Somalia will rocket by 207 per cent to £250million over the next four years.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chairman of the PAC, said: ‘The department is going to be spending more in fragile and conflict-affected countries and the danger to the taxpayer is that there could be an increase in fraud and corruption.

‘However, the department could not even give us information as to the expected levels of fraud and corruption and the action they were taking to mitigate it. 'The department’s ability to make informed spending decisions is undermined by its poor understanding of levels of fraud and corruption.’

Mr Mitchell said the Coalition had transformed DfID’s financial management and took a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to fraud. He added: ‘Although accurately reflecting the position under Labour, the report appears to take little account of the huge changes the Coalition has made.’


Disgusting Lesbian couple want to turn son into a girl

He's a victim of Stockholm syndrome

A LESBIAN couple in California who say their 11-year-old son Tommy wants to be a girl named Tammy are giving their child hormone blockers that delay the onset of puberty, so that he can have more time to decide if he wants to change his gender.

The couple's supporters say the Hormone Blocking Therapy has only minor side effects and is appropriate for a child who is unsure of his gender.

"This is definitely a changing landscape for transgender youth," said Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, a California-based non-profit group.

"This is about giving kids and their families the opportunity to make the right decision."

But critics of the treatment say 11-year-olds are not old enough to make life-altering decisions about changing their gender, and parents should not be encouraging them.

"This is child abuse. It's like performing liposuction on an anorexic child," said Dr Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University.

"It is a disorder of the mind. Not a disorder of the body. Dealing with it in this way is not dealing with the problem that truly exists. We shouldn't be mucking around with nature. We can't assume what the outcome will be," Professor McHugh said.

Dr Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said the hormone blockers also may pose a medical risk.

"Potential long-term effects can include other abnormalities of hormones, vascular complications and even potential cancer. I think that if this child - as he finishes his puberty and teenage years - decides to undergo a transgender procedure, then there are proper channels to do so," Dr Alvarez said.

"But to do it at the age of 11, to me, could be potentially dangerous to the health of this child," he said.

Tommy's parents, Pauline Moreno and Debra Lobel, told CNN they support their child and feel this is the best way for him to find an answer to a question he has been asking all his life.

They say Tommy - whom they now call Tammy -- began taking GnRH inhibitors over the summer to give him more time to explore the female gender identity with which he associates.

Tommy began saying he was a girl when he was three years old, his parents said. He was learning sign language due to a speech impediment, and one of the first things he told his mothers was, "I am a girl."

The child's parents also said Tommy threatened to mutilate his genitals when he was seven, and psychiatrists diagnosed a gender identity disorder. One year later, he began transitioning to Tammy.

After much deliberation with family and therapists, the child began taking hormone blockers a few months ago. The medication, which must be changed once a year, was implanted in the boy's upper left arm.

Tommy will continue the treatment until he turns 14 or 15, at which point he will be taken off the blockers and pursue the gender he feels is the right one.



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

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

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


19 October, 2011

Lazy British police again

If she had called someone a "poofter" or a "n*gger" they would have been there with sirens blaring. Her assailant was in fact black

A young mother was beaten to death by her violent ex-partner in front of her two-year-old daughter after police failed to intervene 11 times, UK investigators say.

Casey Brittle, 21, repeatedly called Nottinghamshire Police before she was murdered by Sanchez Williams.

Amerdeep Somal, a commissioner at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said Williams, from Nottingham, was "well-known to local police for his propensity for violence and threatening behaviour".

"In this case it is clear that a number of officers failed to perform to the level expected of them and basic actions, that may have helped others see the full picture of her suffering, were not completed," the commissioner said.

"No consideration was given to why Casey was reporting domestic abuse but then subsequently saying that she did not want police help."

Ms Brittle died from a series of injuries to her head, including a fractured jaw, cuts and bruising in October last year.

Williams, of Lathkill Close, was jailed for life after he admitted murdering Casey at her home.

His minimum term of 15 years was increased to 20 years by the Court of Appeal in June after the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, agreed the original sentence was "unduly lenient".

One of the aggravating features of the case, said Lord Judge, was that the small child had "witnessed the murderous attack on her mother by her father".

The judge said: "We simply cannot guess the long-term damage which will have been caused to that little girl and we can only hope that her future happiness is not irretrievably damaged."

Police received allegations of domestic violence and abuse against Ms Brittle between September 2008 and August 2010.

The police watchdog recorded a number of force and individual errors. It said officers had shown a lack of understanding of the force's domestic abuse policy and procedures, and bail conditions preventing contact with Ms Brittle had not been imposed on Williams.

It also found officers had not passed information on to the domestic abuse support unit, meaning it was not given a high enough priority.

Ms Brittle's mother Victoria Blower refused to blame police as the report was published.

"I know mistakes were made in dealing with previous attacks involving Casey, but there is only one person responsible for my daughter's death and that is Sanchez Williams," she said.

"Maybe one small change in the way things were handled could have saved her, or maybe Sanchez Williams was a time bomb just waiting to explode and nothing that anybody could have said or done was ever going to prevent him from murdering Casey."

A next-door neighbour was said to have heard Ms Brittle's daughter screaming "I want my mummy" as her father carried out the killing.

As her mother lay unconscious after the attack, the little girl stayed in a bedroom on her own for two hours.

In a statement, Paul Broadbent, assistant chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said the force unreservedly accepted the recommendations of the report and that he deeply regretted Ms Brittle's death and the circumstances surrounding it and had apologised to her family.

He said: "There had been a history of domestic violence and abuse in Casey's life involving Williams.

"In the 23 months leading up to her death, a total of 11 separate incidents had been reported to Nottinghamshire Police and for this reason the force asked that the circumstances leading up to her death be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

"Whilst awaiting the IPCC's report, we took steps to completely revise our approach towards responding to, and identifying, incidents of domestic violence and abuse. This involved an overhaul of working practices, specifically in relation to the identification and management of the risks faced by victims."

A new training program, including a 20-minute film featuring Ms Brittle's mother, has also been put in place for all police officers and staff who deal with such cases.

Six officers have appeared before a misconduct meeting and admitted their individual failings in relation to the case.

One received a written warning while three received management advice, Mr Broadbent said. No action was taken against the remaining two.

Four others, who were not required to attend the meeting, have been subject to unsatisfactory performance procedures, he added.


British Libel reforms 'do not go far enough' to protect free speech: MPs worried firms flex financial muscle to gag opponents

Reforms to England's libel laws will not do enough to protect free speech, MPs and peers will say today. A powerful parliamentary committee believes further steps are needed to prevent big corporations using their financial muscle to gag opponents by threatening legal action.

It also wants extra measures to protect scientists and academics who are publishing legitimate research, and to prevent trivial claims ever reaching court.

The committee has been scrutinising the Coalition’s proposals to end the ‘international embarrassment’ that sees rich and powerful foreigners flocking to our courts to silence critics. There has been growing concern about the ‘chilling’ impact of our defamation laws on free speech.

Today’s report from the joint committee on the draft Defamation Bill says many of the Government’s proposals – particularly a move to end trial by jury except in the most serious cases – are ‘worthwhile’. But it says the plans are ‘modest’ and do not address the key problem in defamation law – the ‘unacceptably high costs’ associated with defending cases.

It also argues that powerful corporations should have to obtain permission from the courts before lodging a libel claim to prevent the threat of action being used to silence criticism.

The committee says further steps are needed to reverse a ‘chilling effect’ on scientific debate and investigative journalism.

Critics believe scientists and academics are increasingly being ‘bullied into silence’ when they raise concerns about products or services.

Former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Mawhinney, who chairs the committee, said: ‘Our recommendations should help minimise the reliance on expensive lawyers and the courts, bringing defamation action into the reach of ordinary people.’


Why the Press must stay free to say 'very rude things', by Boris

Boris Johnson made a passionate defence of press freedom yesterday, saying the right of newspapers to say ‘very rude things’ about public figures has protected democracy.

In a clear challenge to David Cameron, who has called for the current system of press self-regulation to be torn up, the London Mayor said he would not support restrictions on the media.

Instead, he said he ‘passionately’ sided with Paul Dacre, the Editor of the Daily Mail, who has argued that imposing restrictions on press freedom would have worrying implications for democracy.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly been on the receiving end of media stories about his private life, including details of extra-marital affairs and claims that he fathered a love child.

But the Mayor insisted that the media has a right to upset public figures because openness encourages honesty and stamps out corruption in public life. Speaking at a Westminster lunch, he said: ‘People looking at London see a society that is as honest as anywhere in the world – thanks very largely to the very rude things the media says about so many people.’

Many in the media believe the Government is using the Leveson inquiry, set up by the Prime Minister in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, as a vehicle for muzzling the media in revenge for exposing wrongdoing in the political class.

In a speech to the inquiry last week, Mr Dacre questioned the motives of politicians who had crushed the standing of the Press Complaints Commission, the industry’s regulator. ‘Am I alone,’ he said, ‘in detecting the rank smells of hypocrisy and revenge in the political class’s current moral indignation over a British Press that dared to expose their greed and corruption.’

Mr Dacre said that while he agreed that self-regulation should be ‘beefed up’, it was ‘in a country that regards itself as truly democratic, the only viable way of policing a genuinely free Press’.


How times have changed

It is a truism to say that Marxist thought has done much to undermine the quality of today’s college experience. But few people realize just how deeply Marxist thought has penetrated education in America. Its influence is not restricted to the realm of higher education. Nor is it restricted to the realm of economics. Marxism also affects our moral reasoning and it begins to do so in grammar school. The case of Mrs. White is illustrative.

Mrs. White was a first grade teacher in the 1960s. She taught in a small school in Alabama just a few years after the schools integrated along the lines of race. She was rather blunt in her teaching methods. But she was effective. In fact, no one ever questioned her efficacy in the classroom.

One day, Mrs. White was teaching a young black boy to read. He was pronouncing the word “this” as “dis” and the word “that” as “dat.” Mrs. White told him he needed to learn to speak English properly. She said that integration was a right accompanied by responsibilities. She went so far as to tell him that he wasn’t a “nigger” and shouldn’t speak like one. She told him he was an intelligent young man and needed to act like it.

Her methods were unorthodox but hardly controversial in that day. Years later, after the young black boy became a young black man with a college degree, he stayed in touch with Mrs. White. She was the best teacher he ever had. She taught him how to read – something neither of his parents learned to do.

In 1968, just five years into her teaching career, Mrs. White went through a very public divorce. She had an affair with another man and subsequently decided to leave her husband and three children. When she left her family, she was forthcoming about the reasons. In an unusual move, she decided to give her husband full custody without any legal challenge.

The response to Mrs. White’s divorce was uniform. Parents called for her dismissal, which was effected at the end of the school year. She never taught again – although it was a moot point given the substantial wealth of her second husband.

Mrs. White had only one daughter, named Gina. When Gina graduated from college in 1983, she became a schoolteacher. Her choice of career surprised many given that her mother had walked out on her when she was a child. No one expected her to want to grow up to be like her mother - but she did so in many ways.

In 1990, Gina did something that surprised many, given the pain that divorce had brought upon her own life when she was just a little girl. Gina, like her mother, left her husband. And, like her mother, she did so after a long extramarital affair. A final similarity was that there was no effort to win custody of her two children. She wanted to break away and begin life anew with her second husband.

Unlike her mother, she suffered no adverse effects in the workplace. Her divorce never really came up at work except among good friends who offered their support. She continued to teach for a number of years until an unfortunate incident changed her life in the course of a day.

Ebonics was a topic of discussion in the realm of education in the 1990s. In fact, one day in front of class, she was asked her opinion of Ebonics by one of her black students. Her reply was blunt. She told him Ebonics was harmful. She said it taught young black people that they were “nothing more than niggers” when, in fact, they are just like everyone else. She concluded by saying “Therefore, they should talk like everyone else.”

Gina’s use of the word “nigger” in the classroom set off a firestorm that resulted in her termination. The termination occurred over the protests of the young black man who asked the question and who insisted he was not offended by her answer. In fact, he agreed with it.

Most people would say that America has become a more tolerant place since the 1960s – a land relatively free of condemnation. That view is more than simplistic. It is wrong. The nature of judgment, not the level of judgment, has changed drastically in the last half-century. The cases of Mrs. White and her daughter demonstrate that clearly.

Mrs. White was given a pass on her use of a racial epithet in class in the 1960s because it was not seen as injurious to any individual. It wasn’t being used as an insult. It was being used to tell a student what he was not. But she was dismissed after her divorce because her behavior was seen as injurious to several individuals. It hurt her husband and children and set a bad example for her students.

Unlike her mother, Gina taught in the era of postmodern education where judgments are made on the basis of group considerations. People who see the truth as defined by power struggles are inclined to see our institutions as oppressive. And that is why Gina was supported rather than fired after her divorce. She was making a statement, not just about herself, but about women everywhere. They are free to be happy rather than subjugate themselves in deference to patriarchal oppression.

But postmodernism would not tolerate her later transgression along the lines of race. She did not offend the black student in her class. She offended a race. And groups have consumed the rights once held by individuals.

In education today, there would be no speech codes without postmodernism. And there would be no postmodernism without the influence of Marx. It’s no mystery that speech codes are used to defend the Marxist ideas that gave them life. They play the role their parents assigned them.



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

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

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


18 October, 2011

Soft justice as British criminal's letter reveals 'It's relaxing in here, we play snooker and do rock-climbing – it's quite good'

A father jailed after police found a stash of illegal guns and weapons worth £20,000 at his home has written to his daughter telling her prison is 'relaxing'.

Robert Shaw, 41, penned the note to his nine-year-old daughter from his cell telling her how he had been rock-climbing and playing snooker. Despite his age he is serving two years and eight months at Portland Young Offenders Institute on the island of Portland in Dorset.

According to the Sun, in the letter, the former flooring shop owner wrote: 'There is a snooker table, pool table, table tennis, a gym, rock-climbing, football and tennis. 'I have a TV and find it very relaxing. Apart from missing everyone, it's quite good.'

However, his 'quite good' life behind bars has sparked outrage from his former wife Sally Shaw, 40, from Exeter, who branded it a 'disgrace'. She told the newspaper: 'I thought prison was meant to be a punishment, not a holiday camp. It doesn't feel like he's being punished — it feels like he is laughing at me.'

Ms Shaw also accused him of 'gloating' that his life was better than hers and accused him of not helping her with the children financially. In addition, she feared the letter gives their two children the impression that prison is fun.

Shaw, from Topsham in Devon, is serving time after admitting ten charges of possessing a firearm without a certificate and three fraud offences. He was sentenced in July at Exeter Crown Court where he was described as an 'obsessive gun collector'.

Shaw's stash of weapons included revolvers, a German gun from the Second World War and a sniper rifle that should only be used on military sites.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told MailOnline: 'Hard work for offenders is at the heart of our plans to make punishments more rigorous. 'Prisons should be places of hard work and industry. 'Criminals must be reformed so that when they finish their sentences they do not simply return to crime, creating more misery for victims.' [Empty talk]


Vet Fights Zoning Board's Order to Destroy Backyard Tree House

In my day, kids built their own treehouses and it was only the parents who said anything about it -- with "be careful" being the usual instruction

A zoning board in Fairfax County, Va., is standing firm in its decision to order a war veteran to destroy a tree house he built for his two young sons. County officials determined Mark Grapin, an Army aviation specialist, violated zoning regulations when he built a tree house in his backyard.

“The boys wanted a tree house,” Grapin told Fox News Radio, explaining it was a promise he made to his 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons before he left for Iraq. “It was a commitment I made to the boys and, frankly, we should do our best to keep our commitments to our children."

So when Grapin returned home, he followed through on that promise and headed off to the local home improvement store. He said he contacted Fairfax County and was given assurances that he didn’t need any special permits to build the $1,400 tree house.

But it turns out – that wasn’t exactly accurate. “I was up on the roof of the thing when I found out the county board of zoning enforcement had left a notice on the front door,” he said.

It turns out Grapin didn’t need a permit – he needed a zoning variance. That’s because his house is on a corner lot. And in the eyes of Fairfax County – Grapin has two front yards.

"Because of the location on his lot, he does have to follow the zoning code,” said Merni Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the county told the Washington Post. “It’s no different from a shed or a garage or any structure.”

Grapin acknowledges that he made a mistake. “We just didn’t connect the dots to all the offices that needed to be contacted to build a tree house,” he said.

But he still made a promise to his sons – so Grapin decided to appeal the ruling. He said the board of zoning appeals denied his request for a variance – but offered him one last chance to plead his case, on Nov. 30. In the meantime, Grapin has had to pay nearly $1,800 in permits and fees to build the $1,400 tree house.

“I paid $885 for a special permit to build the tree house,” he said. “There were additional fees of $975 to have the plans for the property redrawn to reflect the tree house and then I had to pay mail fees to notify the neighbors of hearings so they could voice any concerns they might have about the tree house.”

All that trouble – for a child’s tree house.

“It might have been cheaper to take the boys to Disneyland,” he told Fox News Radio.

Grapin said he’s pretty bothered by the “queen-sized pantyhose, one-size-fits-all code.”

At his final opportunity to plead his case, Grapin will have to satisfy nine requirements to save his sons’ tree house. He must prove that the tree house “will be in harmony with the intended spirit and purposes of this Ordinance and will not be contrary to the public interest.”

Grapin said he’s come to terms with the fact that the tree house may have to come down because of the costs of fighting the county. “At some point, I’m going to have to say, ‘I’m sorry, boys. We fought the good fight.’”


Supreme Court Stands Up For Freedom

Rarely has the Supreme Court struck a blow for individual freedom as it did in its recent decision in Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. The ruling had dissenters on the left (Justice Breyer) and on the right (Justice Thomas), but nobody on the political center-right should be doing anything but cheering the outcome of this case, which centered on a 2005 California law restricting the sale of certain violent video games to children.

The Court upheld lower court decisions and revoked the law, ruling that video games were protected speech under the First Amendment. No one in their right mind would endorse the sale of these games to minors; in fact, many people believe that no one in their right mind (of any age) should even play these games. But the issue was whether the government has the right to restrict their sale, or whether the responsibility for such restrictions belongs in the hands of parents. What the high court really concluded is that government is not in the parenting business, and that Moms and Dads should get their fat carcasses off the couch, monitor what their kids are doing, and learn how to say NO.

In a world where regulations are taking over almost every imaginable aspect of our lives, it’s rare that anyone from the government instructs you to figure things out for yourself. One particularly pernicious area of government intervention is within the relationship between children and their parents. Too often, kids are told that they don’t have to listen to their parents, because there is a government agency chock-full of bureaucrats ready to help.

The Supreme Court clearly stated that no matter how heinous the game, it is the parents – not the government – who are responsible for supervising their children and ensuring that they don’t entertain themselves with this garbage. What a refreshing ruling. It’s a cold slap in the face of every growing bureaucracy that wants to take over our lives.

Unfortunately, this decision didn’t stop the State of California from attempting to expand their domain in another invasive and equally fruitless manner. The legislature passed – and Governor Jerry Brown signed – an anti cyber-bullying bill, which continues a trend in which government injects itself into issues better handled on a local, community basis. The fact that this bill became law demonstrates how leftists place no limit on how they will intercede into our lives – even if they have absolutely no ability to enforce the bill they passed.

The bill allows schools to suspend students for “bullying” classmates on social networking sites. This raises a huge number of questions. Are schools now supposed to hire personnel to monitor these websites? What, exactly, constitutes bullying? Does one girl professing that another girl dresses geeky constitute bullying? Does one boy saying that another plays football like a girl constitute bullying? Isn’t this all really another means of suppressing the First Amendment?

This is what happens when government over-intrudes into our lives and personal decisions. Unbelievably, the California State PTA went along with this. Maybe they should have figured out that they endorsed abandoning parental rights and responsibilities to a bunch of faceless bureaucrats. Or perhaps they should spend a little more time parenting instead of attending PTA meetings, after which they no doubt return home and wonder why they pay so much money in state taxes.

Hopefully, some intelligent organization will sue the State of California and overturn this ridiculous piece of legislation. We need thoughtful and committed warriors to fight the continuing expansion of government. It’s not just that government spends 37% of every dollar in our economy (as opposed to 27% just fifty years ago). It’s the entire attitude that government is capable of making every decision for us – a growing trend whose ultimate effect is the breakdown of families and communities.

A perfect example of this nanny-state attitude emerged in the fight over light bulbs. As you know, the standard incandescent bulb is being phased out by government fiat. In response to some objections to this policy, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – who is convinced that he knows better than the rest of us – made this incredible statement: “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money,” which just confirms his opinion that if both bulbs are on the shelf, we are too stupid to select the correct one ourselves. Sometimes it feels like we’re all drowning in the limitless arrogance of these petty little dictators.

Soon, people like Steven Chu will be making all of our decisions unless we stand up and say “No more! We’re doing quite fine without you, so take a hike.” That’s exactly what the Supreme Court said: Parents, you’re in charge now, so do your job.



"When the Crosses Are Gone: Restoring Sanity to a World Gone Mad"

In his most recent work, “When the Crosses are Gone: Restoring Sanity to a World Gone Mad,” Dr. Michael Youssef argues that the United States is entering into a period of spiritual and moral decline. In his meticulously researched book, he reveals how organizations – such as the Freedom from Religious Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union – are tirelessly working to eradicate Christian crosses from American society. The cross, which has stood for generations as a symbol of religious freedom in the West, is now clearly and unequivocally under attack.

One major problem, he argues, is that Americans continue to tolerate a culture that is becoming increasingly more hostile towards Christianity. The banning of crosses from public schools, county seals, and national memorials are only some of the ways secularists are threatening Christian values today.

The First Amendment, as Youseff reminds us, states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Yet over the past few decades, a growing number of organizations opposed to organized religion have purposefully and willfully misinterpreted the language of the Constitution to fit their own secular agenda.

Will Durant once said, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” In his insightful study, Youseff argues that when the crosses are gone, the collapse of the United States will soon follow. Without faith and morality, he contends, the nation cannot survive. This new work – which discusses some of the most important religious issues of our time – is a must-read for any thoughtful citizen eager to preserve and defend Christian principles in the 21st century.



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

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

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


17 October, 2011

Wall Street occupiers are an insult to the workers

IT is almost too easy to take the mickey out of Occupy Wall Street, the gaggle of hipsters and leftists who have been camping out in New York's financial district for the past two weeks and who have inspired similar protests elsewhere.

This is an obsessively anti-big business protest, its aim being to challenge the "corporate takeover" of America. Yet it has won the backing of trendy ice-cream company Ben & Jerry's, which is owned by the vast food conglomerate Unilever (revenue in 2010: €44.2 billion).

This is a movement which claims to speak on behalf of ordinary Americans, "the 99 per cent". Yet its super-cool members spend most of their time moaning about how ordinary Americans, being a bit dumb, have been "emotionally brainwashed" by "right-wing propaganda".

This is a collective that bleats about being ignored by the mainstream media - like the teenager who screeches "why won't anybody listen to me?!" - despite the fact that it has been the subject of more flattering op-eds and news reports than any political movement of recent times.

The New York Times even featured it in its fashion pages, under the headline "What to wear to a protest?" The corporate-hating hipsters were given space both to talk about their clothes ("It feels really good to wear tights", said one man) and about why they are protesting ("I like the use of public space as a performative realm and I like the combination of bodies in space", explained one woman).

Mocking anti-capitalist fashionistas is the gift that keeps on giving. Yet behind the obvious daftness and corporate hypocrisy of this pseudo-political yelp of adolescent outrage, something more serious is unfolding on Wall Street and other cities being "occupied" by the agitated: the final death agony of the progressive Left.

What we're witnessing is not the birth of something new, as the occupiers would have us believe, but rather the death of something old - the death of a principled Left that believed in progress and development and in the ability of "the little man" to change his world for the better.

Occupy Wall Street confirms the descent of left-wing activism from the dizzy heights of desiring to liberate mankind from need into the cesspool of conspiratorial thinking, priestly moralism and low horizons.

There was a time when the Left had faith in the working man. Indeed, the entire premise of the Left was that this class of people had it in them to shake up and remake the world. Now, as confirmed by Occupy Wall Street, the Left has nothing but disdain for what it views as the fat, feckless, Fox News-addicted inhabitants of mass society.

Despite claiming to represent "the 99 per cent", OWS seems to enjoy nothing more than pouring bile on everyday Americans. An article on its website says "the working class in this country has been brainwashed by the mainstream media". Like little Kim Jong-ils , OWS says it wants to "de-program people".

Another article says "the masses are incessantly encouraged, even conned, into consuming, even if it is beyond, or way beyond, their means". Well, they're a bit stupid, those masses, so desperate to get their paws on the latest mod con they unwittingly propel themselves into debt.

The ease with which the occupiers flit between bashing greedy bankers and attacking stuff-lusting robots in middle America suggests there's nothing remotely radical about their posturing against "the rich". Rather, they have a problem with all forms of material aspiration.

Some commentators have madly claimed that OWS represents a return of "working-class anger". It is no such thing. It's more an expression of middle-class anger with the working classes, for being thick, greedy, Foxed automatons who dare to think differently from their alleged moral superiors in the banker-bashing East Coast liberal set.

There was also a time when the Left believed the problems facing humanity were primarily social in nature, rather than having been brought about by the licentiousness or greed of immoral individuals.

Leftists resisted the temptation towards conspiracy theories or narrowly moralistic critiques of society, in favour of arguing that through proper use of our intellectual resources we could work out what was wrong with society, and how to fix it.

Not now. Occupy Wall Street is like a collection of little David Ickes, except where Icke believes lizards run the world, East Coast hipsters believe faceless bankers puppeteer our politicians.

They think corporations are responsible for every ill. These twisted men-in-suits have apparently "poisoned the food supply through negligence", have "purposefully covered up oil spills", and have inflicted "cruel treatment on countless non-human animals". Won't anybody think of the bunnies?

The occupiers blame the selfishness of individual bankers for bringing about the economic crisis. They demand an end to "the age of greed". Their embrace of conspiracism and cheap moralism, their borderline priestly assaults on the alleged decadence of champagne-swilling bankers, reveals the extent to which the Left has abandoned any attempt to develop a serious critique of society and the economy in favour of wailing at the wealthy.

And there was a time when the Left believed in creating a world of plenty, in making more stuff so everyone could live a life of comfort. Those ideas would be utterly alien to the stingy, stuff-loathing trendies camped out on Wall Street, whose key chant is not "we want more" but rather "enough is enough".

When Naomi Klein, the well-off queen of the anti-globalisation movement, addressed the protesters, she said their aim should be to create a "decent society" which "respects the real limits to what the earth can take". And for demanding that we live within limits, for insisting that humanity lower its material horizons, she was wildly cheered.

Just imagine if, during the great New York strikes of the early 20th century, one of the leaders of the workers had stood up and yelled: "We must respect nature's limits!" What we have on Wall Street today is nothing progressive or pro-worker, but rather a very public display of middle-class piety, of petit-bourgeois values such as thriftiness and meanness and disdain for the vulgar hordes with their insatiable materialism. That this way of thinking and style of protesting are spreading around the world speaks to the global decay of the once progressive left.

It is an insult to the many generations of working people who fought for a better world, for a freer and more plentiful world, to describe this internationally contagious middle-class miserabilism as a "return of working-class anger".


God Bless The Wall St mob?

Paul Kengor

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has a lengthy track record of jaw-dropping political statements. Among them, the lifelong Roman Catholic has been a huge disappointment to her Church on matters of unborn human life, which I’ve personally written about on many occasions.

But it isn’t just Pelosi’s actions on the sanctity and dignity of human life. Her supportive comments on radical people and causes generally have been legion. For years, Congresswoman Pelosi has made outrageous statements, from the Cold War to the Middle East, that consistently leave one speechless.

I’ll never forget her stunning House floor tribute to Harry Bridges, a notorious communist/labor agitator who spent a lifetime lying about his secret loyalties to Stalin and the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), even while his position on the Central Committee of CPUSA was directly authorized by Stalin’s Kremlin. “Today we can all hold our heads high and be proud of Harry Bridges’ legacy,” said Pelosi. “Harry Bridges is … beloved by the workers of this nation, and recognized as one of the most important labor leaders in the world.” (Click here to watch.)

Bizarre statements about the extreme Left are old hat for Congresswoman Pelosi. And now, add yet another.

Commenting on the out-of-control gang of Wall Street “Occupiers,” Pelosi glowed and said warmly, “God bless them for their spontaneity.”

“God bless them?”

What a remarkably strange thing to say. Of everything said about this Manhattan mob, this strikes me as the most bewildering.

“God bless them?”

Well, we certainly don’t want God to damn them. We would like God to bless everyone. We should pray for everyone.

But, frankly, I doubt this particular band of protestors is even thinking along such lines. This is an extremely secular, militant crowd. These aren’t exactly the nuns who taught Nancy Pelosi in parochial school.

Ironically, Pelosi’s comments came at almost the same time a representative of the mob, Roseanne Barr, literally called for guillotining—yes, guillotining—wealthy American bankers. She openly called for their forcible “re-education” and execution.

I have friends and students there in New York observing this spectacle. They email me daily. One took a picture (click here) of two homosexual men embracing while holding a sign imploring the brethren to “KILL YOUR PARENTS.”

As he snapped this picture, the throng initiated a frightening march upon the homes of those loathsome “millionaires and billionaires” that President Obama targets unceasingly with his terribly destructive class-based rhetoric. (Click here and here to read more.)

It’s only a matter of time before this angry, envy-filled insurrection turns violent.

“God bless them?” I say “God help them”—and help those they threaten to hurt.

Think about that strange inflection from Pelosi: “God bless them.” What does it normally mean, or how is it typically applied?

It’s the kind of sentiment you usually wish to a church secretary or Religious Ed director who unselfishly does five peoples’ jobs for $18,000 per year; to your pastor on call 24/7; to a little girls’ choir singing angelically; to earnest kids raising money for a soup kitchen; to a woman suffering in silence from breast cancer; to Salvation Army volunteers paying peoples’ heating bills; to a Crisis Pregnancy Center volunteer who works the rape hotline; to a nursing-home attendant who cheerfully bathes mentally challenged adults; to the guy who snow-blows every driveway on the block; to the black college students who stoically entered an Alabama school building while ugly rednecks spat on them; to Rosa Parks.

Yes, God bless those people.

“God bless them” isn’t the kind of sentiment anyone would normally direct to a ranting, raving, raging, screaming crush of self-professed “occupiers” bordering on anarchy without nary a whiff of religious motivation. I seriously doubt that the horde smashing and littering the streets even cares for someone to “bless” their event. Are there prayer chains and prayer circles going on there?

As anyone paying attention can see, this is an unkempt, cursing lot, some of them trust-fund kids on voluntary sabbatical from $100,000 (per year) elite educations. They hoist a Starbucks in one hand and iPhone in the other while shouting “down with capitalism!” As anyone there will tell you, some elements of the crowd are engaging in everything from group sex to group bong sessions.

This is not a Norman Rockwell picture. It’s about as cute as an LSD trip, as quaint and charming and innocent as a Grateful Dead concert.

Is this the kind of thing Christians are expected to bless?

To Congresswoman Pelosi, apparently it is. Yet again, her comments leave one dumbfounded. This latest statement has taken me a few days to try to assimilate.

I say God pray for them, pray for all of us, pray for me—and pray for Nancy Pelosi.


What is Poverty?

Theodore Dalrymple

What do we mean by poverty? Not what Dickens or Blake or Mayhew meant. Today, no one seriously expects to go hungry in England or to live without running water or medical care or even TV. Poverty has been redefined in industrial countries, so that anyone at the lower end of the income distribution is poor ex officio, as it were—poor by virtue of having less than the rich. And of course by this logic, the only way of eliminating poverty is by an egalitarian redistribution of wealth—even if the society as a whole were to become poorer as a result.

Such redistribution was the goal of the welfare state. But it has not eliminated poverty, despite the vast sums expended, and despite the fact that the poor are now substantially richer—indeed are not, by traditional standards, poor at all. As long as the rich exist, so must the poor, as we now define them.

Certainly they are in squalor—a far more accurate description of their condition than poverty—despite a threefold increase in per-capita income, including that of the poor, since the end of the last war. Why they should be in this condition requires an explanation—and to call that condition poverty, using a word more appropriate to Mayhew’s London than to today’s reality, prevents us from grasping how fundamentally the lot of “the poor” has changed since then. The poor we shall always have with us, no doubt: but today they are not poor in the traditional way.

The English poor live shorter and less healthy lives than their more prosperous compatriots. Even if you didn’t know the statistics, their comparative ill health would be obvious on the most casual observation of rich and slum areas, just as Victorian observers noted that the poor were on average a head shorter than the rich, due to generations of inferior nourishment and hard living conditions. But the reasons for today’s difference in health are not economic. It is by no means the case that the poor can’t afford medicine or a nourishing diet; nor do they live in overcrowded houses lacking proper sanitation, as in Mayhew’s time, or work 14 backbreaking hours a day in the foul air of mines or mills. Epidemiologists estimate that the higher rate of cigarette consumption among the poor accounts for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest classes in England—and to smoke that much takes money.

Notoriously, too, the infant mortality rate is twice as high in the lowest social class as in the highest. But the infant mortality rate of illegitimate births is twice that of legitimate ones, and the illegitimacy rate rises steeply as you descend the social scale: so the decline of marriage almost to the vanishing point in the lowest social class might well be responsible for most of its excess infant mortality. It is a way of life, not poverty per se, that kills. The commonest cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44 is now suicide, which has increased most precipitously precisely among those who live in the underclass world of temporary step-parenthood and of conduct unrestrained either by law or convention.

Just as it is easier to recognize ill health in someone you haven’t seen for some time rather than in someone you meet daily, so a visitor coming into a society from elsewhere often can see its character more clearly than those who live in it. Every few months, doctors from countries like the Philippines and India arrive fresh from the airport to work for a year’s stint at my hospital. It is fascinating to observe their evolving response to British squalor.

At the start, they are uniformly enthusiastic about the care that we unsparingly and unhesitatingly give to everyone, regardless of economic status. They themselves come from cities—Manila, Bombay, Madras—where many of the cases we see in our hospital would simply be left to die, often without succor of any kind. And they are impressed that our care extends beyond the merely medical: that no one goes without food or clothing or shelter, or even entertainment. There seems to be a public agency to deal with every conceivable problem. For a couple of weeks, they think this all represents the acme of civilization, especially when they recall the horrors at home. Poverty—as they know it— has been abolished.

Before very long, though, they start to feel a vague unease. A Filipina doctor, for example, asked me why so few people seemed grateful for what was done for them. What prompted her question was an addict who, having collapsed from an accidental overdose of heroin, was brought to our hospital. He required intensive care to revive him, with doctors and nurses tending him all night. His first words to the doctor when he suddenly regained consciousness were, “Get me a fucking roll-up” (a hand-rolled cigarette). His imperious rudeness didn’t arise from mere confusion: he continued to treat the staff as if they had kidnapped him and held him in the hospital against his will to perform experiments upon him. “Get me the fuck out of here!” There was no acknowledgment of what had been done for him, let alone gratitude for it. If he considered that he had received any benefit from his stay at all, well, it was simply his due.

My doctors from Bombay, Madras, or Manila observe this kind of conduct open- mouthed. At first they assume that the cases they see are a statistical quirk, a kind of sampling error, and that given time they will encounter a better, more representative cross section of the population. Gradually, however, it dawns upon them that what they have seen is representative. When every benefit received is a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone for gratitude.

Case after case causes them to revise their initial favorable opinion. Before long, they have had experience of hundreds, and their view has changed entirely. Last week, for example, to the amazement of a doctor recently arrived from Madras, a woman in her late twenties entered our hospital with the most common condition that brings patients to us: a deliberate overdose. At first she would say nothing more than that she wanted to depart this world, that she had had enough of it.

I inquired further. Just before she took the overdose, her ex-boyfriend, the father of her eight-month-old youngest child (now staying with her ex-boyfriend’s mother), had broken into her apartment by smashing down the front door. He wrecked the apartment’s contents, broke every window, stole $110 in cash, and ripped out her telephone.

“He’s very violent, doctor.” She told me that he had broken her thumb, her ribs, and her jaw during the four years she was with him, and her face had needed stitching many times. “Last year I had to have the police out to him.”

“What happened?”

“I dropped the charges. His mother said he would change.”

Another of her problems was that she was now five weeks pregnant and she didn’t want the baby.

“I want to get rid of it, doctor.”

“Who’s the father?”

It was her violent ex-boyfriend, of course.

“Did he rape you, then?”


“So you agreed to have sex with him?”

“I was drunk; there was no love in it. This baby is like a bolt out of the blue: I don’t know how it happened.”

I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to have sex with a man who had repeatedly beaten her up, and from whom she said she wished to separate.

“It’s complicated, doctor. That’s the way life goes sometimes.”

What had she known of this man before she took up with him? She met him in a club; he moved in at once, because he had nowhere else to stay. He had a child by another woman, neither of whom he supported. He had been in prison for burglary. He took drugs. He had never worked, except for cash on the side. Of course he never gave her any of his money, instead running up her telephone bills vertiginously.

She had never married, but had two other children. The first, a daughter aged eight, still lived with her. The father was a man whom she left because she found he was having sex with 12-year-old girls. Her second child was a son, whose father was “an idiot” with whom she had slept one night. That child, now six, lived with the “idiot,” and she never saw him.

What had her experience taught her?

“I don’t want to think about it. The Housing’ll charge me for the damage, and I ain’t got the money. I’m depressed, doctor; I’m not happy. I want to move away, to get away from him.”

Later in the day, feeling a little lonely, she telephoned her ex-boyfriend, and he visited her.

I discussed the case with the doctor who had recently arrived from Madras, and who felt he had entered an insane world. Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined it could be like this. There was nothing to compare with it in Madras. He asked me what would happen next to the happy couple.

“They’ll find her a new flat. They’ll buy her new furniture, television, and refrigerator, because it’s unacceptable poverty in this day and age to live without them. They’ll charge her nothing for the damage to her old flat, because she can’t pay anyway, and it wasn’t she who did it. He will get away scot-free. Once she’s installed in her new flat to escape from him, she’ll invite him there, he’ll smash it up again, and then they’ll find her somewhere else to live. There is, in fact, nothing she can do that will deprive her of the state’s obligation to house, feed, and entertain her.”

I asked the doctor from Madras if poverty was the word he would use to describe this woman’s situation. He said it was not: that her problem was that she accepted no limits to her own behavior, that she did not fear the possibility of hunger, the condemnation of her own parents or neighbors, or God. In other words, the squalor of England was not economic but spiritual, moral, and cultural.

I often take my doctors from the Third World on the short walk from the hospital to the prison nearby. It is a most instructive 800 yards. On a good day—good for didactic purposes, that is—there are seven or eight puddles of glass shattered into fragments lying in the gutter en route (there are never none, except during the most inclement weather, when even those most addicted to car theft control their impulses).

“Each of these little piles of smashed glass represents a car that has been broken into,” I tell them. “There will be more tomorrow, weather permitting.” The houses along the way are, as public housing goes, quite decent. The local authorities have at last accepted that herding people into giant, featureless, Le Corbusian concrete blocks was a mistake, and they have switched to the construction of individual houses. Only a few of their windows are boarded up. Certainly by comparison with housing for the poor in Bombay, Madras, or Manila they are spacious and luxurious indeed. Each has a little front yard of grass, surrounded by a hedge, and a much larger back yard; about half have satellite dishes. Unfortunately, the yards are almost as full of litter as municipal garbage dumps.

I tell my doctors that in nearly nine years of taking this walk four times a week, I have never seen a single instance of anyone attempting to clean his yard. But I have seen much litter dropped; on a good day, I can even watch someone standing at the bus stop dropping something on the ground no farther than two feet from the bin.

“Why don’t they tidy up their gardens?” asks a doctor from Bombay.

A good question: after all, most of the houses contain at least one person with time on his or her hands. Whenever I have been able to ask the question, however, the answer has always been the same: I’ve told the council [the local government] about it, but they haven’t come. As tenants, they feel it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep their yards clean, and they are not prepared to do the council’s work for it, even if it means wading through garbage—as it quite literally does. On the one hand, authority cannot tell them what to do; on the other, it has an infinitude of responsibilities towards them.

I ask my Third World doctors to examine the litter closely. It gives them the impression that no Briton is able to walk farther than ten yards or so without consuming junk food. Every bush, every lawn, even every tree, is festooned with chocolate wrappers or fast- food packaging. Empty cans of beer and soft drinks lie in the gutter, on the flower beds, or on top of the hedges. Again, on a good day we actually see someone toss aside the can whose contents he has just consumed, as a Russian vodka drinker throws down his glass.

Apart from the antisocial disregard of the common good that each little such act of littering implies (hundreds a week in the space of 800 yards alone), the vast quantity of food consumed in the street has deeper implications. I tell the doctors that in all my visits to the white households in the area, of which I’ve made hundreds, never—not once—have I seen any evidence of cooking. The nearest to this activity that I have witnessed is the reheating of prepared and packaged food, usually in a microwave. And by the same token, I have never seen any evidence of meals taken in common as a social activity—unless two people eating hamburgers together in the street as they walk along be counted as social.

This is not to say that I haven’t seen people eating at home; on the contrary, they are often eating when I arrive. They eat alone, even if other members of the household are present, and never at table; they slump on a sofa in front of the television. Everyone in the household eats according to his own whim and timetable. Even in so elementary a matter as eating, therefore, there is no self-discipline but rather an imperative obedience to impulse. Needless to say, the opportunity for conversation or sociality that a meal taken together provides is lost. English meals are thus solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

I ask the doctors to compare the shops in areas inhabited by poor whites and those where poor Indian immigrants live. It is an instructive comparison. The shops the Indians frequent are piled high with all kinds of attractive fresh produce that, by supermarket standards, is astonishingly cheap. The women take immense trouble over their purchases and make subtle discriminations. There are no pre-cooked meals for them. By contrast, a shop that poor whites patronize offers a restricted choice, largely of relatively expensive prepared foods that at most require only the addition of hot water.

The difference between the two groups cannot be explained by differences in income, for they are insignificant. Poverty isn’t the issue. And the willingness of Indians to take trouble over what they eat and to treat meals as important social occasions that impose obligations and at times require the subordination of personal desire is indicative of an entire attitude to life that often permits them, despite their current low incomes, to advance up the social scale. Alarmingly, though, the natural urge of the children of immigrants to belong to the predominant local culture is beginning to create an Indian underclass (at least among young males): and the taste for fast food and all that such a taste implies is swiftly developing among them.

When such slovenliness about food extends to all other spheres of life, when people satisfy every appetite with the same minimal effort and commitment, no wonder they trap themselves in squalor. I have little trouble showing my doctors from India and the Philippines that most of our patients take a fast-food approach to all their pleasures, obtaining them no less fleetingly and unstrenuously. They have no cultural activity they can call their own, and their lives seem, even to them, empty of purpose. In the welfare state, mere survival is not the achievement that it is, say, in the cities of Africa, and therefore it cannot confer the self-respect that is the precondition of self-improvement.

By the end of three months my doctors have, without exception, reversed their original opinion that the welfare state, as exemplified by England, represents the acme of civilization. On the contrary, they see it now as creating a miasma of subsidized apathy that blights the lives of its supposed beneficiaries. They come to realize that a system of welfare that makes no moral judgments in allocating economic rewards promotes antisocial egotism. The spiritual impoverishment of the population seems to them worse than anything they have ever known in their own countries. And what they see is all the worse, of course, because it should be so much better. The wealth that enables everyone effortlessly to have enough food should be liberating, not imprisoning. Instead, it has created a large caste of people for whom life is, in effect, a limbo in which they have nothing to hope for and nothing to fear, nothing to gain and nothing to lose. It is a life emptied of meaning.

“On the whole,” said one Filipino doctor to me, “life is preferable in the slums of Manila.” He said it without any illusions as to the quality of life in Manila.

These doctors have made the same journey as I, but in the reverse direction. Arriving as a young doctor in Africa 25 years ago, I was horrified at first by the physical conditions, the like of which I had never experienced before. Patients with heart failure walked 50 miles in the broiling sun, with panting breath and swollen legs, to obtain treatment—and then walked home again. Ulcerating and suppurating cancers were common. Barefoot men contracted tetanus from the wounds inflicted by a sand flea that laid its eggs between their toes. Tuberculosis reduced people to animated skeletons. Children were bitten by puff adders and adults mauled by leopards. I saw lepers with noses that had rotted away and madmen who wandered naked in the torrential rains.

Even the accidents were spectacular. I treated the survivors of one in Tanzania in which a truck—having no brakes, as was perfectly normal and expected in the circumstances— began to slide backward down a hill it had been climbing. It was laden with bags of corn, upon which 20 passengers, including many children, were riding. As the truck slid backward, first the passengers, then the corn, fell off. By the time I arrived, ten dead children were lined up by the side of the road, arranged in ascending order as neatly as organ pipes. They had been crushed or suffocated by the bags of corn that fell on top of them: a grimly ironic death in a country chronically short of food.

Moreover, political authority in the countries in which I worked was arbitrary, capricious, and corrupt. In Tanzania, for example, you could tell the representative of the sole and omnipotent political party, the Party of the Revolution, by his girth alone. Tanzanians were thin, but party men were fat. The party representative in my village sent a man to prison because the man’s wife refused to sleep with him. In Nigeria the police hired out their guns by night to the armed robbers.

Yet nothing I saw—neither the poverty nor the overt oppression—ever had the same devastating effect on the human personality as the undiscriminating welfare state. I never saw the loss of dignity, the self-centeredness, the spiritual and emotional vacuity, or the sheer ignorance of how to live, that I see daily in England. In a kind of pincer movement, therefore, I and the doctors from India and the Philippines have come to the same terrible conclusion: that the worst poverty is in England—and it is not material poverty but poverty of soul.


Parents Obsessed with Texting + Ignored Kids = Hell to Pay

Doug Giles

This past week I saw a sad sight. No, it wasn’t Eric Holder trying to convince us that he’s now a terror exposing hero instead of the perpetrator of a deadly Mexican gunrunning op that had its sights set on ultimately getting our Second Amendment rights revoked—though that was pretty sad, as that dog wag had all the subtleties of a Chaz Bono rumba.

What eclipsed that miserable moment (sorta) and caused me grief this week was watching a young mom at Starbucks ignoring her beautiful, little one-year-old girl while said moron giggled and texted for 30 plus minutes.

Yep, with her head buried in the phone, nose two inches off the cancer screen, mommy dearest didn’t have a clue what her kid was doing as she crawled around on a high traffic, grime-laden cement floor between the feet of strangers who held 16- ounce cups of 180 degree liquid above the kid’s tender flesh as they high stepped over her.

Hey, parents, here’s a freebie from Dr. Doug: Why not put the cell phone and gadgets down for awhile when your babies are around and pay attention to them, all right, jackass? There’ll be plenty of time later in life to ignore them—like in college, when they pierce their nipples and become whiny liberal drips, but now, when they are very young, is not the time.

FYI to Y-O-U, mom … dad: You’ve got one shot at raising that baby, and if you want to make certain your spawn doesn’t:

1. Recite hate poems about you at Barnes & Noble’s open mic night regarding how they’d like to stab you in your sleep for ignoring them for the last sixteen years.

2. Show up high as a kite at a NYC Flea Party Rally, bitching and moaning about hard work and shouting up Che Guevara’s weltanschauung as they roast a fatty …

… then you might wanna give junior some TLC while he’s a T-O-T. You dig?

As I watched this neglect go down at Starbucks, I kept thinking that this daft dame could have cooed and cuddled with her little bambina and had 1,800 seconds of parental bliss that lovely morning.

The Starbucks I visited was on beautiful Miami Beach. Mom could have pointed out to baby the seagulls, the palm trees, the gorgeous skies, the warm sun, the six-foot three-inch trannie with a five o’clock shadow, the rats rummaging through the trash eating discarded ham and cheese paninis, and the ubiquitous metrosexuals with over-tweaked eyebrows who use seven words to order their special cup of Joe. It could’ve been both a bonding and educational familial exchange in one warm whack. But no. The bird had to text.

Here’s a challenge for the parental units: If you think I’m full of crap in regard to the ramifications of blowing your kids off as you obsess with texts and/or social media then let’s do an experiment: For the next 13 years abandon the developmental stages of that genetic concoction of yours, and we’ll see how they turn out as you snub them for Twitter. Are you ready? Okay. On your mark. Get set. Go, Slingblade!

Oh and by the way, conservatives and evangelicals … you, too, can be dilatory dillweeds as this sin knows no party or religious affiliation. I know stacks of family values blowhards out there yapping about the importance of family who haven’t talked to their own family in the last few weeks. Hey, dork, save your house first … then talk to us about ours. I know way too many ministers who strode forth to save the world and lost their kids in the process. Didn’t the apostle Paul say something to the effect that if you can’t govern your own house then you need to shut the hell up?

And finally, if my exhortation to selfless and sacrificial love for your kids versus your gadgets has failed to convince you to change your behavior toward your toddlers, perhaps a selfish plea will. Soon, parents, in the not too distant future, you will return to the dependent state from whence you came, and I’m a guessin’ that the child you ignored while he or she was in diapers will more than likely return the favor when you are sporting Depends.



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

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

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


16 October, 2011

The middle-class terrorists: More than 60pc of suspects are well educated and from comfortable backgrounds, says secret M15 file

Two-thirds of British terror suspects are from middle-class backgrounds and those who become suicide bombers are often highly educated, a classified MI5 document reveals.

The paper, marked ‘Secret: UK Eyes Only’, also debunks the myths that terrorists and suicide bombers are ‘loners’ and ‘psychopaths’.

Instead, the security service says that 90 per cent of them can be categorised as ‘sociable’ and have a high number of friends.

The 200-page document, titled Radicalisation Of Muslims In The United Kingdom – A Developed Understanding, was found by a Mail on Sunday reporter in the abandoned residence of the British ambassador in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The research paper, which was intended to be read by only MI5 agents and officers, was produced after studying 90 terror suspects investigated by the security service.

While some of the information in the document comes from the interrogation of suspects, other data came from surveillance by spies and informants. The report gives a rare glimpse into how security service agents view Islamic extremists, and what MI5 believes are the main causes of Muslims becoming radicalised.

While the report says that Western foreign policy and the perception that ‘Islam is under siege’ plays a role, they are not the main cause. Instead, the four causes of radicalisation are:

* ‘Trauma’, such as the death of a loved one: Ten per cent of terror suspects became radicalised after a life trauma, says the report.

* ‘Migration’: A third of all extremists ‘migrated to Britain alone’.

* ‘Criminal activity’: Two-thirds of the sample had criminal records.

* ‘Prison’: Muslim prisoners who are not religious are often radicalised in prison. The report identified 60 known Islamist extremists operating in British jails.

The study says that the ‘mean age’ at which a Muslim becomes radicalised is 21.6 years, while anyone between the ages of 16 and 32 is regarded as vulnerable.

The report added: ‘Where data is available, two-thirds came from middle or upper-middle-class backgrounds, showing there is no simplistic relationship between poverty and involvement in Islamist extremism.’

The study also found that half of the suspects it surveyed were married and some had children. ‘This indicates that having commitments to a spouse and children did not necessarily restrain these individuals from becoming involved in activity that may have resulted in lengthy imprisonment, if not death.’

The report adds: ‘The vast majority (90 per cent of those on whom we have data) are described as sociable, with a number of friends. Our data thus tends to contradict commonly held stereotypes of terrorists being “mad”, psychopathic or evil. ‘It also challenges the theory that individuals who turn to radical or extremist networks are those who are unable to make friends in normal life.’

Professor Anthony Glees, a terrorism expert at Buckingham University, said: ‘I am glad MI5 are privately accepting that terror suspects were sociable creatures because for a long time they gave the impression that terrorists and suicide bombers are lone wolves. ‘It is also encouraging that they believe most terror suspects come from middle-class backgrounds. Traditionally, there was a belief among the spooks and police that terrorists were caused by poverty.’

The Home Office, which speaks of behalf of MI5, declined to comment.


Furious British government Minister urges ban on foreign language driving tests

Ministers are considering banning people from taking driving theory tests in foreign languages amid safety fears. The Government is concerned that ‘political correctness’ means thousands of drivers have been granted British licences despite not being able to read road signs.

Under current rules, the theory test can be sat in 19 different languages and candidates are also permitted to attend the practical test with a translator.

Transport Minister Mike Penning said it was ‘incredible’ that 93,407 theory tests were sat in a foreign language last year.

Department for Transport figures show 18,927 were in Urdu, 12,905 in Polish and 298 in Albanian. Some 230 Russians, 452 Romanians and 21 Bulgarians took the test with a translator. More than 1,500 people also took theory tests in a foreign language to qualify as a bus driver.

The taxpayer meets the cost of translating theory tests into foreign languages – but learners must pay for their own translator during the practical test. In total, around seven per cent of all theory tests are not conducted in English.

Tory MP Mr Penning said he was considering how to change the rules. ‘I find it incredible that Labour thought it was a good idea to let people without a basic grasp of English loose on our roads,’ he said.

‘Road safety should be our priority, not political correctness. Instead of spending taxpayers’ money on costly translation services and interpreters, we want to explore whether that money would be better spent on actually helping people to learn enough English to be able to drive safely.’

But details of how an English-only test regime could be introduced without falling foul of EU anti-discrimination laws are still being hammered out.


The Politics of Race

USA Today Columnist DeWayne Wickham took presidential candidate Herman Cain to task the other day on the issue of race. His complaints: (a) Cain is vying for white votes rather than black votes, (b) Cain’s claim that blacks tend to mindlessly vote for Democrats is insulting and insensitive and (c) Cain is insufficiently critical of Republicans for pursing a racist southern strategy over the past 40 years.

Now since Cain and Wickham are both black, I’m sure that most non-black columnists will choose to sit this one out and let it be just an intramural squabble. I think that’s wrong. All Americans, regardless of color, should find Wickham’s comments offensive for two reasons.

First, it takes a lot of chutzpah for a pro-Democratic writer to criticize a Republican for being insufficiently critical of his own party on matters of race. For all its sins, I don’t believe the party of Lincoln has anything to apologize for to the party of slavery, the party of segregation, the party of Jim Crow and a party that even today routinely uses the NAACP to run election eve, race-baiting radio commercials in order to fan the flames of racial hatred and get out the black vote.

But more is involved here than misplaced chutzpah. Wickham is simply wrong about the two parties’ roles in modern politics. I know. I was there. I grew up in Waco, Texas, in the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, virtually all the elected officials in Waco were (a) racist, (b) segregationist and (c) Democrats. Those were the days when George Wallace, Lester Maddox and other Southern politicians would enthrall political rallies with the promise of “Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever…”

Whether mindlessly or not, the black voters in my city did tend to vote for the entire Democratic ticket in election after election. As in many places today, the black church was the principal institution through which the party organized the black vote. Think about the incongruity of that. Racist politicians and black Baptist ministers delivered votes in election after election to candidates who did little or nothing to help blacks and who went around assuring whites of their dedication to segregation!

How did the national Democratic Party respond to their Southern comrades? They welcomed them at the national Democratic conventions with open arms. By “they” I mean the Kennedys, the Byrds, the Gores and other mainstays of the Democratic Party. Further, a lot of people are unaware of the fact that the 1964 Civil Rights Act received more Republican than Democratic votes in Congress.

Now a lot of Southern Democrats switched parties and became Republicans through the years. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina is an example. But the behavior of these politicians as Republicans differed markedly from their behavior as Democrats. The difference was not merely a difference of degree. It was a difference of kind.

I don’t believe you can find a single example of a Republican candidate using openly racist language of the Wallace/Maddox variety. Nor do I believe you can find a single Republican candidate openly endorsing racial segregation. The closest thing to an exception would be David Duke, who ran as a Republican for Congress in Louisiana. Duke’s past views on race were so objectionable, that national Republicans actually went to Louisiana and campaigned for his Democratic opponent.

Now, can you point to a single instance when the reverse ever happened? That is, was there ever a time when the Kennedys or the Gores ever campaigned for a Republican against a racist Democrat? Not that I can recall. And it wasn’t for lack of opportunity.

Both parties have committed many sins, including many sins involving race. But there is no moral equivalence here. Interested readers may find a lot of the gory details in Bruce Bartlett’s book, Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past.

Most Americans today are anxious to put party aside and race too, for that matter. What we should want to know from Herman Cain is what he wants to do for the future, not what he thinks about politics of the past.

And on that score, Herman Cain looks really good — especially if you are black and out of work. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan (9% personal income tax, 9% corporate income tax and 9% sales tax) would do much more to get the economy moving than anything being proposed by the Obama administration.


Destruction of Copts Is Islamically Correct

I am looking at a reproduction of an old engraving of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is in Bat Ye'or's book "The Dhimmi," which collects primary documents from history to chronicle the impact of Islamic law on non-Muslims through the centuries.

What is notable about the image, which is based on an 1856 photograph, is that the church, said to be at the site of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, has no cross and no belfry. Stripped of its Christian symbols, the church stood in compliance with the Islamic law and traditions of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which ruled Jerusalem at the time.

I went back to the book to find this image for a reason. It had to do with last weekend's massacre of two dozen Coptic Christians in Cairo by Egyptian military and street mobs, which also left hundreds wounded. The unarmed Copts were protesting the destruction of yet another church in Egypt, St. George's, which on Sept. 30 was set upon by thousands of Muslim men following Friday prayers. Why? The trigger was repair work on the building – work that the local council and governor had approved.

Does that explanation make any sense? Not to anyone ignorant of Islamic law. Unfortunately, that criterion includes virtually all media reporting the story.

Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist, Arabic speaker and author of "The Al Qaeda Reader" (Broadway, 2007), catalogs the key sequence of events that turned a church renovation project into terror and flames. With repair work in progress, he writes online at Hudson New York, "It was not long before local Muslims began complaining, making various demands, including that the church be devoid of crosses and bells – even though the permit approved them – citing that 'the cross irritates Muslims and their children.'"

Those details drove me to re-examine the de-Christianized 19th-century image of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – no cross, no bells. It becomes a revealing illustration of Islamic history repeating itself in this "Shariah Autumn," the deadly but natural harvest of the grotesquely branded "Arab Spring."

Given our see-no-Shariah media (and government), we have no context in which to place such events. That context is Shariah society, advanced (but by no means initiated) by "Arab Spring," where non-Muslims – "dhimmi" – occupy a place defined for them by Islamic law and tradition. Theologian, author and Anglican pastor Mark Durie elaborates at markdurie.com: "Dhimmi are permitted to live in an Islamic state under terms of surrender as laid out in the 'dhimma' pact." Such terms, Durie writes, "are a well-established part of Islamic law and can be found laid out in countless legal text books." When non-Muslims violate these terms, they become subject to attack.

To place the dhimmi pact in comparable Western terms is to say the West has its Magna Carta, Islam has its Pact of Umar. Among other things, this seminal pact governing Muslim and non-Muslims relations stipulates, Durie notes, the condition that Christians "will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church or sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration."

Thus, this anti-Coptic violence, which for the moment has caught world attention, is Islamically correct. This is the piece of the puzzle Westerners fail to grasp. But Durie takes us through the theological steps: "For some pious Muslims in Egypt today, the act of repairing a church is a flagrant provocation, a breach of the peace, which amounts to a deliberate revocation of one's right to exist in the land." As such, it "becomes a legitimate topic for sermons in the mosque (where) the faithful are urged ... to uphold the honor of Islam." In Islamic terms, then, the destruction of the church is no injustice, as Durie writes. It is "even a duty to destroy the church and even the lives of Christians who have the temerity to repair their churches." That's because dhimmi who take to the streets to protest the Islamically just destruction of the church "are also rebels who have forfeited their rights (under the pact) to 'safety and protection.'" As violators of the "dhimmi" pact, they become fair game.

It's quite simple, but the theology eludes us. Why? I think the answer is that to expose the facts about Shariah in the Western milieu is to invite their criticism. Such criticism is forbidden under Shariah. So, we remain silent – which is what good "dhimmi" do.



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

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

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


15 October, 2011

Hateful British prosecutors lose one

I deserved all I got, says the burglar beaten by his victim: Case against father thrown out when criminal refuses to testify

When businessman Steve Coupland fought off a violent burglar breaking into his van, the Crown Prosecution Service insisted he should be charged. But after a 12-month fight to clear his name, the case has collapsed – because career criminal Matthew Higgins refused to give evidence against him, saying he ‘got what he deserved’.

Mr Coupland, who has never previously been in trouble with the police, had seen his van targeted by thieves on 13 occasions – including the two nights before the incident – and tackled the burglar only after he was attacked with a crowbar.

Higgins, 43, who has an appalling history of violence, ended up being badly beaten by Mr Coupland and both men were arrested by police. Prosecutors refused to accept that Mr Coupland, 54, was lawfully defending himself and his property.

But the CPS has been forced into a humiliating climbdown by Higgins’s refusal to testify against him. Mr Coupland was cleared after no evidence was offered against him on the day of his scheduled trial at Hull Crown Court.

The father of three, who runs a cleaning company, had been so convinced a jury would see sense that he not only denied grievous bodily harm with intent but also ignored legal advice by refusing to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

‘I’m over the moon it’s finally over,’ he said. ‘This case has wasted a lot of time and money. ‘I have worked hard all my life and have never done anything wrong. I was just protecting my property.

‘I was facing years in prison, but I was determined to fight it. They said I had gone over the top, but I had to do what I had to do to stop that happening to me. The system is weighted in favour of the criminal – they would have preferred me to bring him in for a cup of tea and hand over my wallet.’

Just hours before the incident, Mr Coupland had spoken to police about attempted break-ins on his van the previous two nights in September last year.

The van, which contained nothing of value, was parked outside Mr Coupland’s house in Hessle, Hull. At 10pm he was alerted by the noise of Higgins trying to force open the van with a crowbar. He shouted at the thief and went outside to confront him.

But Higgins hit him on the arm with the crowbar and Mr Coupland – who, at 5ft 3in tall, is ‘at least six inches’ shorter than the thief – fought back with all his strength. ‘Both of us ended up on the floor,’ said Mr Coupland. ‘I was hitting him and trying to get the crowbar off him, which I managed to do. My blood was boiling.’

Higgins lost part of his ear in the fight and Mr Coupland believes this happened when he threw the thief against a pillar. Eventually he was able to restrain Higgins until police – called by his wife and a neighbour – arrived at the scene.

Mr Coupland was locked in police cells overnight and lawyers decided to press charges because of the extent of Higgins’s injuries.

‘The police were brilliant,’ said Mr Coupland. ‘They didn’t want me to get prosecuted as they are sick and tired of druggies breaking into vans and then being given community service. ‘I had acted in self-defence and was not going to admit doing anything wrong.’

Higgins has since been jailed for 21 months for drugs, blackmail and weapon offences. He was also given a three-month suspended sentence for attempting to break into Mr Coupland’s van.

He has been in and out of custody since he was a teenager and has 71 previous convictions, including a 14-year prison sentence in 1989 for stabbing a solicitor during an armed robbery.

Mr Coupland said: ‘I had no idea I was taking on such a dangerous man, but I don’t regret what I did and would do the same again. I won’t let these people ruin my life.’

A spokesman for the CPS said: ‘We have discontinued the case after the victim refused to give evidence.’


We don’t need experts to teach us how to be civil

A new British report calls on officialdom to ‘nudge’ the masses towards civilised behaviour. It isn’t only a patronising idea, but a dangerous one

It appears that some sections of the British establishment are suffering from selective amnesia in relation to the riots in England in August. The rioting is now treated like an embarrassing episode that one should not discuss in good company.

In such circumstances, anything that reminds us of the truth that these riots were not an aberrant moment in an otherwise civic society, but rather spoke to some profound underlying social problems, is welcome. A new report published by the Young Foundation, titled Charm Offensive: Cultivating Civility in 21st Century Britain, grapples with the question of how to tackle the feeble levels of civility in English communities today.

The report successfully establishes one crucial point that is often overlooked in debates about community life and anti-social behaviour: it notes that civility should not be confused with other forms of behaviour related to public activities and formal institutions. Rather, civility is a taken-for-granted form of behaviour, through which people express their own and recognise other people’s humanity. As the report notes, civility ‘can, as an unspoken language for interaction, provide the basis for achieving a “good society”, through an emphasis on qualities such as respect, empathy and compassion’.

So civility is very much a pre-political accomplishment; it flourishes in the pre-political areas of people’s lives – in their everyday conversations and interactions. Today, as in the past, civility becomes tangible through social engagement, through taken-for-granted behaviours and the rituals of everyday life.

How civility works, and how it mediates human interaction, is influenced by both social factors and cultural ones. Unfortunately, however, contemporary political thought and policymaking has lost confidence in its ability to engage with social and cultural issues. Instead, it prefers to focus policy on the alleged moral deficits of the individual, and it is more interested in discovering new techniques to manage behaviour than it is in addressing social problems. The clearest expression of this trend is policymakers’ promiscuous use and abuse of brain research, where people’s alleged mental failings become the all-purpose explanation for every social ill, from poor educational attainment to a disposition towards criminal behaviour.

Sadly, Charm Offensive also falls under the spell of this brain-obsessed outlook. It informs us that civil behaviour makes people happy. How do we know this? Apparently, MRI scans have shown that civil actions stimulate the same areas of the brain that are stimulated by experiences such as falling in love or holding a baby. So what we need in order to sort out today’s crisis of civility is a bit of ‘neurological reflexivity’.

The relentless politicisation of neuroscience reveals how influential technocratic and therapeutic policymaking has become. In the outlook of the brain obsessives, social and cultural analysis serves a perfunctory role only, providing a pretext for intervention into the pre-political or informal areas of community life. Having correctly identified civility as something that exists in a pre-political zone, Charm Offensive goes on to call for technocratic intervention into this domain of social experience. By presenting incivility as an individual problem, and by hiding behind advocacy science, the report proposes the politicisation of pre-political areas of life.

The report suggests changing individual behaviour through pedagogic and expert interventions. So, having identified lack of empathy for others as a key marker for incivility, the report’s authors suggest we should teach people how to be empathetic. They call for ‘empathy training’ in schools and in other institutions. In short, the report disassociates personal qualities and forms of behaviour from any wider moral and social context and instead treats them as technical skills that can be taught by trainers. It also reduces the virtue of reciprocity and reciprocal behaviour to a ‘skill’, which can be cultivated by external experts.

It is not surprising that when being civil is looked upon as little more than a skill one can acquire through training, the cultivation of civility comes to be seen as an act of self-interested manipulation. ‘Civility seems to thrive better when it is embedded from the outset as an integral and explicit element of any strategy or new venture’, says Charm Offensive.

The strategic planning and manipulation of behaviour promoted by Charm Offensive are very similar to the Lib-Con government’s policy of nudging. The doctrine of nudge is devoted to remoulding the way people think and act through behaviour modification. Nudging is presented as a benevolent attempt to help people realise what is in their best interests. So Charm Offensive also advocates what the nudge lobby calls ‘choice architecture’, which ‘may help us to make better choices and behave more consistently with our beliefs and aspirations’. In relation to the problem of incivility, the report proposes the adoption of the kind of techniques usually associated with the promotion of government-sanctioned healthy lifestyles. It states: ‘[the] behavioural-change approaches currently being applied to reduce obesity or increase recycling could be applied far more systematically in the promotion of civility.’

As is the case with all forms of paternalistic intervention into our lives, the solution is to ‘send in the experts’. Apparently it is the experts who know how to nudge people to do what is in their best interests. It is experts who can apparently teach otherwise morally illiterate people about the value of empathising with others. And it is experts – with the help of behavioural economics, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology – who can become the architects of civility. This is why the authors of Charm Offensive complain that ‘very little investment’ in expertise has gone into the field of tackling incivility.

The casual manner in which behaviour-management is put forward as the solution to problems in community life reveals a serious loss of focus in modern policymaking. To make matters worse, the advocates of nudging delude themselves into thinking that what they offer is a benevolent alternative to old, more intrusive forms of state intervention. The authors of Charm Offensive contrast their ‘softer, bottom-up interventions’ with old-style ‘punitive top-down policies’. But what is ‘bottom-up’ about campaigns that are drawn up and initiated by experts who work at think tanks and research institutions? What is bottom-up about advocating training programmes in ‘effective empathy’?

It could be argued that one reason English communities have problems of incivility is because so much of their informal life has come under the scrutiny of official and semi-official institutions. If civility is indeed an accomplishment of pre-political interaction, then all this intervention into everyday relations and interactions can only disrupt the process through which people work out what forms of behaviour are appropriate to their circumstances. The attempt to regulate the informal sphere has a very destructive impact, as strikingly exposed by the confusions that surround intergenerational relations. One of the principal legacies of policies designed to protect children from their parents and other adults has been the erosion of adult solidarity. Many modern forms of incivility are the direct outcome of the reluctance of adults to contain the behaviour of children – and more nudge-like intervention into community life can only make this bad situation even worse.

Whatever the problems confronting communities today, the answers will not be found through displacing political deliberation with technocratic policymaking. The very fact that, just a few months after the riots, there is an absence of serious debate on the fundamental questions raised by this violent event should be the very first issue to be confronted and interrogated. Avoiding the big questions by treating incivility as a problem that could be put right through training individuals in neurological reflexivity represents a naive belief in the power of the expert to fix communities. Surely decades of failed community programmes indicate that a hands-off approach would be far better and is long overdue.


Foreign boss fired two British cleaners for being lazy

From what I know of the British, their boss was right

Two cleaners claim to have been sacked for not working as hard as foreigners. Stella Judge and Sarah Pritchard say they were told that Britons were lazy while immigrants were happy to work all hours on the minimum wage.

Yesterday their MP used Parliamentary privilege to raise their plight in the Commons. Henry Smith said the cleaning firm, Jani-King, had questions to answer about the case, which corresponds with widespread fears that home-grown workers are losing out to immigrants.

‘The allegation that two of my constituents have been sacked simply for being British is deeply disturbing,’ said the Tory MP for Crawley. ‘The suggestion is that Britons are lazy and foreign workers are cheaper.

‘Unemployment and immigration are big concerns – with people increasingly worried about being dismissed and replaced with non-British workers. ‘I’m hoping for a fuller explanation of the situation in this case from Jani-King.’

A spokesman for the firm – based in Kingston, Surrey – denied the pair were sacked for being British. ‘Two employees have been dismissed following standard employment procedures,’ she said. ‘The reasons are unrelated to ethnicity. Jani-King has over 1,200 staff in the UK and is an equal opportunities employer.’ The spokesman said she could not reveal what proportion of the staff were foreign because no statistics were kept on nationality.

The two women at the centre of the claims – next-door neighbours in Crawley, West Sussex – said last night that their colleagues came mostly from Mauritius, then more recently Bulgaria.

Miss Judge, a 57-year-old mother of five, has launched a claim for unfair dismissal. She and Miss Pritchard had started full-time work cleaning the Gatwick Travelodge in summer 2010, originally for One Complete Solution. But when that firm lost the contract in April the work passed to Jani-King, which took on the employees. Miss Pritchard, a 30-year-old mother of one, said she and her friend quickly realised their days were numbered.

Miss Judge was sacked at the start of July and Miss Pritchard was made redundant three weeks later. She said: ‘We would work a normal shift from 8.30am, then go home – but the foreign staff would still be there at 10.30 at night. When I went home, they stayed on. ‘They were on the minimum wage, £5.93 an hour at the time. At first most of them were from Mauritius but now they’re generally from Bulgaria where the manager is from. ‘It was obvious we were sacked for being British.’

Mr Smith said Jani-King reacted ‘aggressively’ to his letters which amounted to ‘this is none of your business’ and had threatened legal action.

Speaking as MPs discussed topics for future debates, Mr Smith told the Commons: ‘I have been dealing with a case on behalf of two constituents who were dismissed from their job with a commercial cleaning firm called Jani-King, allegedly for being British.

‘Can we have consideration for a debate on discrimination against British workers in this country?’

Leader of the House Sir George Young urged him to inform ‘the appropriate authorities if anything illegal has taken place’ and said he would contact Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.


South Australia: Aggressive response by homosexuals to Bible message

CHRISTIAN street preachers and a pro-gay rights group are a push or shove away from causing violence in Rundle Mall. That's the warning from the chairman of the shopping precinct.

Theo Maras told The Advertiser yesterday that the groups had been involved regularly in "guerrilla warfare" throughout the Mall, triggering customers to keep clear of shops because of safety fears.

"There is a real potential for violence," Mr Maras said. "All you need is a group of people to push and shove on both sides and you will have a fiasco." He said the groups seemed to care more about seeking attention for themselves than their causes.

"We are not against the Bible or the pro-rights group," Mr Maras said. "It is not about who is doing it; it is that nobody should be doing it. "People have a right not be intimidated or yelled at."

Street preachers representative Caleb Corneloup said the group's Friday night preaching had attracted protests from the gay community for about six weeks.

He said the protesters claimed the preachers were exercising hate speech. "I've asked them what they say is hate speech, and the only issue they told me is that we believe that homosexuality is a sin and those who practice it will go to hell for eternity if they don't repent," Mr Corneloup said.

"I disagree with that because we have a standard biblical position towards homosexuality."

He said his group refused to stop preaching, despite the controversy and ongoing protests. "Street church is there to stay, we're never going to leave," he said.

Mr Corneloup said he believed the presence of the gay community was in response to his group preaching at a pro-gay marriage rally earlier this year.

The preachers have been at the centre of a legal stoush with Adelaide City Council over the group's presence in Rundle Mall. Yesterday, the council asked the Supreme Court to settle its feud through mediation.

Council lawyers said they wanted the dispute set down for a private mediation - presided over by a judge - before the matter returns to court in two weeks. However, Justice John Sulan adjourned the matter to be heard at the next scheduled hearing.



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

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

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


14 October, 2011

The Cairo pogrom

by Jeff Jacoby

HAVE YOU EVER seen a pogrom? Sarah Carr has. "The Coptic Hospital tried its best to deal with the sudden influx of casualties," wrote Carr, a Cairo-based journalist and blogger, in her firsthand account of Sunday's deadly attack on Christian protesters by the Egyptian military. "Its floors were sticky with blood and there was barely room to move among the wounded."

In one room of the hospital morgue Carr counted the bodies of 12 people, some of whom had been killed when soldiers in armored personnel vehicles charged the crowd, firing and random and crushing the protesters they ran over. One of the victims was "a man whose face was contorted into an impossible expression. A priest . . . showed me the remains of the man's skull and parts of his brain. He too had been crushed."

What happened in Egypt on Sunday was a massacre. Government security forces assaulted Coptic Christians as they marched peacefully to the headquarters of the state TV network. They were protesting the recent burning of St. George's, a Coptic church in the Upper Egypt village of El-Marinab. Yet broadcasters loyal to the ruling military junta exhorted "honorable Egyptians" to help the army put down the protests. "Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords, and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians," the Associated Press reported. "Troops and riot police did not intervene." Graphic video of the violence was quickly uploaded to the Internet. So were even more graphic images of the murdered protesters.

Back during the Tahrir Square demonstrations against strongman Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military was widely praised for not using force to crush the protests and keep Mubarak in power. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for example, declared that Egypt's military had "conducted itself in exemplary fashion" and "made a contribution to the evolution of democracy." Popular, too, was the notion that the uprising could catalyze a new era of interfaith solidarity. "Egypt's religious tensions have been set aside," reported the BBC in February, "as the country's Muslims and Christians join forces at anti-government protests."

But the "spirit of Tahrir Square" has ushered in neither liberal democracy nor a rebirth of tolerance for Egypt's ancient but beleaguered Christian minority.

One of the country's leading liberal reformers, Ayman Nour, said Monday that with the latest bloodshed, the military has lost whatever goodwill it accrued last spring. It's hard to believe that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cares. In the eight months since Mubarak's ouster, the military has tried and convicted some 12,000 Egyptian civilians in military tribunals, often after using torture to extract confessions. The country's hated emergency laws, which allow suspects to be detained without charge, not only remain in force, but have been expanded to cover offenses as vague as "spreading rumors" or "blocking traffic." And just as Mubarak did, the generals insist that government repression is all that stands between Egypt and social chaos.

As for Egypt's Coptic Christians, their plight has gone from bad to worse. Post-Mubarak Egypt has seen "an explosion of violence against the Coptic Christian community," the international news channel France24 was reporting as far back as May. "Anger has flared up into deadly riots, and houses, shops, and churches have been set ablaze."

With Islamist hardliners growing increasingly influential, hate crimes against Christians routinely go unpunished. Copts, who represent a tenth of Egypt's population, are subjected to appalling humiliations. The mob that destroyed St. George's had first demanded that the church be stripped of its crosses and bells; after the Christians yielded to that demand, local Muslims insisted that the church dome be removed as well. For several weeks, Copts in El-Marinab were literally besieged, forbidden to leave their homes or buy food unless they agreed to mutilate their nearly century-old house of worship. On September 30, Muslim thugs set fire to the church and demolished its dome, pillars, and walls. For good measure, they also burned a Coptic-owned shop and four homes.

Many Copts are choosing to leave Egypt, rather than live under this intensifying anti-Christian persecution. The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations calculated last month that more than 90,000 Christians have fled the country since March 2011. At that rate, estimated human-rights advocate Naguib Gabriel, one-third of Egypt's Coptic population will have vanished within a decade.

Or maybe sooner -- maybe much sooner -- if Sunday's anti-Christian pogrom is a sign of things to come.


Australia: Jewish community wants Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir outlawed

VICTORIA'S Jewish community wants a radical Islamic group banned, claiming it poses a security risk. Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in several countries, is due to hold a conference against the Afghanistan war in Melbourne tonight. The group's Australian branch has also recently criticised a new counter-terrorism website launched by the Federal Government.

Victorian Jewish Community Council president John Searle said yesterday that Hizb ut-Tahrir's beliefs were contrary to those of most Australians. "They peddle a very virulent form of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism, and they are the sort of group that would encourage home-grown terrorists," he said.

"We are not happy that they are here at all. We don't believe they are a desirable influence on young minds."

Mr Searle said the Jewish community council wanted the group banned and was concerned that speakers at tonight's event could inspire people to take extreme actions. "They are certainly at the very extreme end and extremists do not produce any good results for anybody," he said.

But Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar denied the group was extremist or anti-Semitic. "The claims made about us are based on hearsay," he said. "We are happy for them (Jewish community members) to come down and have a look at our conference." Mr Badar said the group had a problem with Israel because of the occupation of Palestine.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said Hizb ut-Tahrir's views were well out of step with the Australian community and the question of banning the group was constantly being reviewed by security and intelligence agencies.

"The Government takes a hard line against groups that advocate terrorism, and will act upon advice from its security agencies as to whether they should be proscribed," he said.


Useless British police again

Police refuse to investigate rooftop lead theft as it was 'too dangerous' to climb ladder to get to crime scene -- but publicity brings a bit of backpedalling, of course

When thieves stole lead from the roof of Nina Nash’s jewellery shop, she called police to report the crime. But she was stunned to be told that the long arm of the law did not extend far enough.

Hampshire Constabulary said officers could not attend the scene of the crime because climbing a ladder 15ft on to the roof ‘breached health and safety rules’.

Miss Nash, 34, who owns the Wedding Ring Studio in Southampton, described the rules as ‘ridiculous’. She said: ‘The message appeared to be, if you’re going to commit a crime, do it up high. ‘In real terms it seemed to suggest that they are not allowed to use the necessary equipment to get to the scene of the crime.’

Miss Nash said the thieves had left plenty of evidence, including footprints up the shop wall as they climbed up to the roof and two pieces of lead which could have carried fingerprints.

Yesterday John Apter of the Hampshire branch of the Police Federation, which represents police officers, criticised the force’s response. He said: ‘If there is a victim of a crime we should find a way to provide a service even if that presents a little bit of danger. After all, policing is a dangerous job.’

Senior officers claim call centre handlers may have been over-zealous and have promised to look into the crime.

Inspector Rachel Stokes of Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘Unfortunately the wrong information may have been inadvertently handed out by the call-taker in this case and we are looking into this. ‘However, in line with all crimes it was reviewed by an officer and it was quickly picked up that there was potential forensic evidence that should be looked at.’

She added: ‘There is no ruling automatically stopping a crime scene investigation officer from climbing. ‘We will be making sure staff at the force inquiry centre are aware of the policy.’

Hampshire is not the first force to claim climbing is too dangerous for officers. In 2005, police called in to investigate acts of vandalism at Middleton Parish Church, near Rochdale, refused to inspect the damage because, they told church officials, that they did not have specialist ‘ladder training’.

A man whose mobile was taken from his car in a police station car park on Saturday suggested that officers viewed their CCTV footage. But Carl Rundle, 38, was told it would have to wait until Monday because the cameras are run by a private firm who charge a call-out fee at weekends.

Mr Rundle, whose car was outside Abingdon police station in Oxfordshire, said: ‘I was shocked because you instinctively think that a police station will be a safe place.’

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: ‘It was felt that the review of the CCTV footage could wait until normal office hours.’


And sometimes the BritCops are stupid as well as useless

And the courtesy for which they were once famous seems to have vanished entirely: Old lady watering flowers for holiday neighbours is threatened by police with Tasers after being reported as a BURGLAR

Good neighbour Patricia Cook was only too happy to look after her friend’s house and garden while she was away on holiday. The 67-year-old and her daughter Louise dutifully visited to water the plants and pick up windfall apples.

Suddenly they were confronted by police wielding powerful Tasers after they scaled a 7ft fence to challenge her. The drama happened after another neighbour rang 999, fearing that burglars had broken in.

Mrs Cook said yesterday: ‘I was mortified and so embarrassed about it all. 'It was a bit over the top, to say the least.’

She had gone into her neighbour’s garden opposite her house in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, with her daughter. Less than ten minutes later two police cars with flashing lights raced up, and three officers climbed the garden fence.

Mrs Cook said: ‘I had the watering can and Louise had picked up about four apples, when this voice from the other side of the fence asked us what we were up to. ‘I asked, “What do you mean?” At this point, I wasn’t sure who it was. Next minute these police officers were scaling the fence with Taser guns, the whole lot. ‘There were two patrol cars parked skew-whiff on the road outside with their lights flashing.

‘If you break into someone’s house you’re hardly going to go and pick up a few bruised apples from the garden.

‘I showed them the letter my friend gave me to explain what we were doing there. ‘But they still insisted on taking down all our personal details – our names, dates of birth and addresses. I was very angry. Why should I be on their records when I’ve done nothing wrong?’

Mrs Cook has now sent a strong letter of complaint to Hertfordshire Police. She said: ‘It’s such a waste of time and public money – the taxpayers are paying for this. I didn’t even get a “sorry”.

‘One of the officers mentioned that a neighbour rang up. He said they were just doing a good job.

‘I’ve lived here for more than 40 years and I go to that house every week. All it would have taken was someone to ask what I was doing. ‘I was very upset that night. I’ve never broken the law in my life.’

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘We understand that a complaint is pending and once this has been received we will look into the circumstances of the incident. ‘However, until this has been completed we are unable to make a further comment.’



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

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

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


13 October, 2011

Texas Woman Sues Continental Over Turbulent Flight

She expects the airlines to control the weather? Maybe she listens to Al Gore too much

A Texas woman is suing Continental Airlines and three other carriers over mental trauma she says was caused by a turbulent flight, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Colleen O'Neal alleges that the October 2009 flight from College Station, Texas, to Houston -- a usually short flight that ended up taking more than two hours -- encountered extreme turbulence that caused her to fear for her life.

O'Neal experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and now fears flying, which has had a detrimental impact on her career, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Harris County district court.

Also named in the suit are regional carrier Pinnacle Airlines, which operated the flight; Pinnacle's owner, Colgan Air; and United Airlines, which recently merged with Continental.


Tall order to tame Muslim extremists

ONE of the great failures of the post 9/11 decade all over the world has been the attempt to de-radicalise Islamist extremists. I have just returned from a week in Indonesia and I have to report to you that de-radicalisation there has been a bust.

I spent an afternoon with two leaders from the Institute for International Peace Building, YPP in its Indonesian acronym. YPP runs a series of de-radicalisation programs in Indonesian prisons. Their verdict was that they have some success with foot soldiers, and very occasionally with failed field commanders, but virtually never with those they term "ideologists".

Unlike other de-radicalisation programs, their approach is not concerned much with theology and Islamic issues. When they are dealing with poorly educated people they will try to challenge the Islamist ideology, but overwhelmingly their focus is on helping inmates with a more practical view of life: how they can support their families or find a job.

Indonesian jails have been notorious as schools for terror. The Islamist extremists inside dominate prison mosques, are looked up to by other prisoners, can mobilise contacts outside to threaten their enemies and can bribe or harass guards into allowing access to mobile phones, Islamist literature and much of the paraphernalia of successful planning of terrorist operations.

The Indonesian government is pondering whether to build a jail specifically to house Islamist extremists. My YPP friends tell me this could be good or bad. It might make it much more difficult to separate the foot soldiers from the leaders and could easily backfire in a messy fashion.

My impression, after talking to people in many countries, is that almost everything Western governments do in their own societies under the rubric of de-radicalisation is a waste of money or makes things worse.

A story in Melbourne this week reported that de-radicalisation money was being used to employ an outreach officer to help a local mosque deal with residents' complaints about traffic snarls caused by Ramadan services. This may or may not be a useful way to spend taxpayers' money but it's hard to believe it will have the slightest effect on whether someone takes up terror. But it shows how difficult it is for governments to make any meaningful contribution in this at all.

As I have often written, and firmly believe, the overwhelming majority of Indonesian Muslims are naturally tolerant, pluralist, inclusive and believe in the rule of law. However, it is wrong to understate the problem of extremists. As my YPP friends told me, there are thousands of Indonesians who have been trained in jihadist values and some military techniques. That training has occurred in Mindanao in The Philippines, and within Indonesia in Ambon, Poso and other key locations.

Indonesia is intensely important to Australia. It has prospects for a good economic future and far more natural forces at work to blunt the sharpest edges of extremism than in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the practice of Islam in Indonesia is becoming more conservative and the numbers who practise intolerance, sometimes violently, are rising.

Here we come to one of the deepest conceptual questions about Islamist extremism: are we dealing with psychological pathology or with a hearts-and-minds strategy? Are violent extremists the psychological equivalents of members of Western cults or are they psychologically sound but have deliberately embraced an ideology of extremist Islam?

It is fair to say this is still an unresolved question among Western intelligence and analytical agencies. I think the numbers of intolerant Indonesians are simply too large for the cult analogy to hold up.

Islam is genuinely different from other religions in its inherent militancy, the call to its followers to create a political order according to the specific rules of Islam and in the interpretation of jihad as a violent struggle for Islamic supremacy that attracts at least a minority of Muslims. It may be a relatively small minority, but it is a minority big enough to cause endless trouble.

What is encouraging about Indonesia is that the good guys, who explicitly reject all this, are highly active. I don't mean liberal Muslims exactly. Except for a tiny Jakarta elite, who are more liberal than Muslim, liberal Islam has all but died out in Indonesia. I mean the small-c conservatives who believe in human rights and in the rule of law and who are willing to campaign for that vision as their interpretation of Islam.

I met a brilliant, dynamic young man, Fajar Riza Ul Haq, who heads the Maarif Foundation, which campaigns for Muslims to see human rights as integral to their religion. He told me that when he first broaches this concept with schoolteachers they typically find it objectionable, seeing it as a Western concept. Indeed, he accepts the analysis that Indonesian Islam is generally more conservative today than a decade ago, and becoming more conservative still. He doesn't equate being conservative with a propensity to violence, but he does think this conservative bent can be a precursor, as it were, to a more extremist view, that it shares a certain degree of cultural and even analytical commonality with the extremists' world view.

He is also convinced, while avoiding conspiracy theories, that outside actors, especially elite players within Indonesian politics, intentionally stir up communal hostilities for their own political purposes. He comes originally from Solo, and while Solo is a centre for conservative Islam, it traditionally has not been the site of violent Islam-Christian clashes until recently. Fajar believes recent attacks on Christian churches have been carried out by groups from outside Solo who believe that, by engineering serious communal strife there, they can radicalise a large number of new jihadists, as my YPP friends told me happened in Ambon.

Fajar also reports a disturbing statistic: that 90 per cent of Indonesian youth, according to surveys, would be prepared to carry out violence in the name of Islam. That's an ambiguous result, hard to interpret because of the imprecise nature of the question, but it's not really reassuring.

That Fajar finds resistance among schoolteachers to his message on human rights shows how much work is still to be done. That he can generally talk them round over time, and that he is engaged in this work with energy and skill and commitment, is a powerful sign of hope.


Top British judge's furious attack on courts for using human rights laws to defy Parliament

British courts are using Human Rights legislation to knock down laws rightly made by Parliament, a Supreme Court judge said yesterday.

Lord Brown launched a furious attack on other judges for making ‘highly contentious’ rulings and ‘frustrating’ Government policy decisions.

His comments came as his court, against his wishes, overturned a ban on marriage visas for foreign nationals wanting to marry a Briton when either is under 21.

The rule was designed to protect against forced marriages involving vulnerable young women.

But by a four to one majority, the Supreme Court judges said it was a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a ‘private and family life’.

This has been used by terrorists and hardened criminals to escape deportation simply because they have family or social ties in Britain.

Lord Brown, the only judge to dissent, said in his judgment that the decision should be ‘one for elected politicians, not for judges’. He wrote: ‘Article 8 is a difficult provision which has already led to some highly contentious, not to say debatable, decisions. Upon that I am sure we would all agree.

‘In a sensitive context such as that of forced marriages, it would seem to me not merely impermissible but positively unwise for the courts yet again to frustrate Government policy except in the clearest of cases. To my mind this cannot possibly be regarded as such a case. ‘Unless demonstrably wrong, this judgment should be rather for Government than for the courts.’

The court heard forced marriages were most commonly found in Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities and were used as a way of getting around immigration rules.

The rule, introduced in 2008, was challenged by two genuine couples who were barred from marrying in Britain. Diego Aguilar, a Chilean student, married Briton Amber Jeffrey before the rule came into force in November 2008, when she was 17 and he was 18. But ministers refused him the right to stay in the country because of their ages.

Briton Suhyal Mohammed was prevented from bringing his young Pakistani wife, Shakira Bibi, into the country because both were under 21.

The High Court ruled in favour of the Government, but its ruling was overturned in the Court of Appeal. And yesterday the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Court’s ruling.

One of the judges, Lord Wilson, said it was a ‘colossal interference’ with Article 8 rights to force couples to live separately, or force a British citizen to leave the country. Lady Hale, Lord Phillips and Lord Clarke also upheld the judgment.

Lord Wilson said the Home Office had failed to prove the restriction was justified, despite accepting it had ‘a legitimate aim in deterring the practice of forced marriages and is rationally connected to that aim’.

But Lord Brown said the other judges had taken Article 8 even further than the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Similar age restrictions exist in Germany, Austria, Belgium and other European countries, he said. In Denmark both bride and groom must be 24 before they can wed if one is from overseas.

Dominic Raab, a Tory MP and human rights expert, said: ‘This is a patent example of the courts legislating to expand the right to family life. It goes beyond the European Convention, it goes beyond precedent in the UK or the Strasbourg Court and it is stricter than several other European democracies.

‘Yet again, unaccountable judges are substituting their view on what amounts to an effective immigration policy for that of elected law-makers, and on a wafer-thin basis.’

Immigration minister Damian Green warned that today’s ruling threatened to ‘put vulnerable people at risk’. He said: ‘This is another very disappointing judgment, which overturns a policy that exists and is judged to be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights in other European countries.

‘The judges themselves agreed increasing the marriage visa age had a legitimate aim.’


Australian conservative leader should seize free speech as election issue

TONY Abbott has been gifted a new election issue that he should seize: a Labor Party ready to restrict political debate and valid expressions of view by the Australian people.

Labor's response to the Andrew Bolt case has been a wall of silence. There is no doubt, however, this is a Labor law and the judge's decision that further represses political debate is seen as a Labor value.

Unless overturned on appeal (if there is an appeal) this law will haunt Labor and constitute another chapter in the degeneration of its culture, a process now dangerously advanced.

Indeed, it is hard to find a more perfect example of the trap of political correctness and the legal-human rights culture of legislating for good behaviour than this application of the Racial Discrimination Act. It plays into Abbott's favourite political crusade: Labor's capture by elite special interests that patronise the Australia people and insist on laws that restrict debate in a way most Australians will not accept.

There is one certainty. Labor will pay a political price. This has yet to dawn on caucus because of the range of more serious problems that Labor faces.

But Abbott and shadow attorney-general George Brandis have taken the decision that counts. They intend to punish Labor on free speech and punish it hard. In Abbott's hands, however, this assumes a lethal import.

In his oped on this page on September 30, Brandis said: "If the Bolt decision is not overturned on appeal, the provision in its present form should be repealed."

There is no shadow cabinet decision to this effect. But Abbott and Brandis have consulted and, in effect, have decided. It signals a new cultural attack on Labor on grounds of political correctness.

This penetrates to values and Abbott loves a clash over values. Imagine his message: Labor wants to gag ordinary Australians (yes, the outsiders) who speak out against the values prescribed by the insiders.

The split between Labor and the Coalition seems to be wide. Brandis told The Australian yesterday: "If I was to become attorney-general in an Abbott government I would make defence of freedom of speech one of my most important priorities."

Only a fool could mistake such signals. If the decision by Justice Mordecai Bromberg stands, then Julia Gillard as PM should commission a review of the 1995 amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act that were relevant in the Bolt case.

Such a review would signal Labor's willingness to rethink the act. But it is improbable because these were Labor amendments and for many the Bromberg decision is exactly what the law was designed to achieve. Labor, in effect, is trapped. The defeat of Bolt, one of its hate figures, is seen as a victory for Labor values, for human rights and against hate speech and racial intolerance.

There would be uproar if Gillard signalled she was unhappy with the law or its implications.

The issue here is not Bolt. His articles contained many mistakes. Indeed, there is a persuasive argument on journalistic grounds that they should not have been published and former editor of The Age Michael Gawenda has said he would not have published them.

Nor does the notion of Bolt as free-speech martyr have the slightest traction, given that few other people have enjoyed the benefits of free speech for so long.

If the law were merely limited to race hate there would be no issue. But it isn't. The heading on Part 11 A of the act refers to "racial hatred" but, as Justice Bromberg said, its provisions are not restricted to racial hatred or racial violence.

Any argument this law is necessary to protect Jewish, Aboriginal or Muslim communities from racial hatred is false because the law extends far beyond such purposes. It makes behaviour unlawful in a racial context when it is likely "to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate". This is a conspicuously low threshold. Brandis describes it as a "grotesque limitation on ordinary political discourse".

Judge Bromberg sees the purpose of the act as being to promote tolerance in a multicultural society and he makes findings within this framework. In short, it is about respect in a multicultural society, a threshold lower than the defamation test. The certainty is that Australia's robust political discourse will sometimes fail this test.

Should Pauline Hanson have been subject to legal action for her comments about Aborigines? Or would this have only been counterproductive? How far should the state go as political censor?

The act has a series of exemptions on free-speech grounds including "fair comment" in the public interest. But Bromberg found Bolt failed to qualify because his articles were inaccurate (a completely valid call) and written in inflammatory language that used mockery, derision and cynicism.

This showed that Bolt "failed to honour the values asserted by the RDA" and that his articles reinforced "racially prejudiced views".

The core message is apparent. "Insufficient care and diligence" was displayed by Bolt in upholding the values of the act and, as a result, he was not entitled to exemption on free-speech grounds.

Prominent lions from the cultural industry are now cheering a finding that you can have free speech provided you meet the required standard of politeness. Yes, they are a farce.

Nobody pretends free speech is unfettered. Yet the limitations revealed by this judgment are significant. So is the reaction. What counts in Australia today is politics and ideology: the wider debate increasingly reflects the view that "provided I agree with you I will support your free speech, but if I don't then I will oppose it".

This strange mood is driven, above all, by the failure of the progressive forces to carry the nation with public hostility to carbon pricing the prime exhibit. This was the policy enshrined by the progressive forces, yet it is the policy that has ruined Gillard. The upshot is a tide of anger and resentment that rises and falls within Labor and its cultural backers.

Labor has stumbled into a print media inquiry that may be toothless, constructive or hostile to print media operations. Who knows?

Frankly, not Labor. Meanwhile many of its cultural backers are irrational about Abbott and fan hostility to shock jocks, the so-called Murdoch media, while betraying their resentment of an Australian public that still backs Abbott.

It would be a disaster for Labor to become party to the new political correctness. Doesn't Labor see this is not about Bolt? Doesn't Labor grasp that this issue plays directly into Abbott's entire political narrative? Doesn't Labor grasp that stifling debate is a sure loser with the voters?

And when will Labor get some mainstream common sense into its values? If it doesn't, it faces greater electoral erosion.



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

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

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


12 October, 2011

European Union Regulators Ban Children’s Toys, Blowing Up Balloons

EU regulators have a new target; children’s games. The Telegraph reports that the “EU toy safety directive” recently put in place, bans balloon blowing by unsupervised children, whistles, magnetic fishing games and other party favorites popular during the holidays. EU regulators have been banned children from blowing balloons and playing with certain toys to protect them against the threat of choking and chemicals.
“Despite having been popular favourites for generations of children, party games including whistles and magnetic fishing games are to be banned because their small parts or chemicals used in making them are decreed to be too risky.

Apparently harmless toys that children have enjoyed for decades are now regarded by EU regulators as posing an unacceptable safety risk.”

It is unclear how the EU directive will be enforced. In addition to restrictions on party games, the new laws will also impose restrictions on how loud noisy toys “including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be.”

One European Parliament consumer safety committee member said of the EU regulations, “I would say that this is crackers but I sure children are banned from using them too. EU party poopers should not be telling families how to blow up balloons.”

The European Commision insists that the new safety legislations will prevent “horror stories.”


Damning investigation into British rapist who re-offended is suppressed… to protect HIS privacy

Details of how a rapist was able to commit a second sickening attack only months after being freed from prison will not be made public – after officials said it would breach his privacy.

Fabian Thomas, known as the ‘Barefoot Rapist’, was supposedly monitored by probation staff, but four months after his release he was able to arm himself with a hunting knife to attack a teenager.

Now officials are refusing to release the internal report into what went wrong, claiming it contains ‘personal and sensitive data’. The decision has caused outrage, with critics arguing the public has a right to know. Rape campaigners say women must be informed so they can stay safe.

Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said he would be writing to ministers to clarify the rules. ‘Who is protecting who, here?’ he said. ‘If someone has committed such a serious offence while being monitored in the community, then the public have every right to know how it was allowed to happen. They need to have confidence in the system.’

Thomas, 23, was called the ‘Barefoot Rapist’ after he took off his shoes and socks to sneak up on his first victim. He threatened to kill the 17-year-old in an alley in Taunton, Somerset, on New Year’s Day 2006, before raping her twice.

Jailed for eight years, he served four and was released last October. Four months later he assembled a ‘rape kit’ with a knife, balaclava and a top layer of large clothes which he later disposed of to cover his tracks. On February 20, he attacked a 19-year-old in a supermarket car park in Plymouth. Hours earlier, he described his plans on a rape fantasy website.

Sickeningly, he also invited another user to give him instructions during the attack and listen down the line. His victim managed to fight him off, after biting him on the ear. He confessed to the attempted rape at Plymouth Crown Court last month.

The sentencing judge jailed him indefinitely to protect the public, saying it would be at least five years before he could apply for release. "Quite undoubtedly you are a dangerous, violent, sadistic, sexual predator and this court has a duty to protect the public from you for as long as it takes until you are no longer a threat to the community."

Few offences frighten the public more than planned offences of sexual violence.

A local newspaper asked for details of the Serious Further Offence review, carried out if a convict commits a high level crime on probation.

But Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust refused, saying it would breach Thomas’s privacy. Assistant chief officer Mark Benden refused even to confirm that the report exists. Such a review would contain ‘sensitive personal data relating to the offender’ and publication would breach ‘one of the principles of the Data Protection Act’.

Astonishingly, Mr Benden said not releasing the details meant staff would be ‘completely frank and open’ with the investigation.

Maggie Parks, of the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in Cornwall, said: ‘Serious sex offenders need regular and careful supervision. We need to have sufficient information to keep women safe in our community.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘There are a number of good reasons SFO reviews are not routinely published, chiefly because they contain operational detail about the way serious offenders are managed and routinely publishing such details may jeopardise the way in which we carry out procedures to protect the public.’


Life of Brian 'couldn't be made today' because of political correctness and religious extremism

Monty Python’s classic comedy Life of Brian could not be made today because of a toxic mixture of political correctness and religious extremism, according to its director. Terry Jones said he was surprised by the controversy surrounding the 1979 film and that he would fear for his life if he directed a similar one nowadays.

The 69-year-old told the Radio Times: ‘At the time religion seemed to be on the back burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It's come back with a vengeance and we’d think twice about making it now. A similarly satirical film about Muslims? Probably not – looking at Salman Rushdie.’

Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses, was issued with death threats by Iran over his 1988 book.

Life of Brian opened to widespread protests but went on to become the highest-grossing British film in the U.S. that year.

Jones said he was surprised by the controversy surrounding the 1979 film, which chronicles the life of hapless Brian Cohen who is born in a Bethlehem stable next door to Jesus.

He gets mistaken for the Messiah by the Three Wise Men, in spite of his mother’s insistence that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’.

Jones declared: ‘I never thought it would be as controversial as it turned out, although I remember saying when we were writing it that some religious nut case may take pot shots at us, and everyone replied, “no”.

‘I took the view it wasn’t blasphemous. It was heretical because it criticised the structure of the church and the way it interpreted the Gospels.’

The film opened to widespread protests as 39 local authorities refused to allow the film to be screened on grounds it could break censorship laws on blasphemy.

Where the film was shown, it was picketed by religious groups and the Pythons – John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam – received death threats.

The six-man troupe played up to the controversy billing is as ‘a movie destined to offend two thirds of the civilised world… and severely irritate the rest.’

Perhaps the most spectacular reaction to the film’s portrayal of the story of Jesus came in a television debate between the then Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood, and Roman Catholic producer Malcolm Muggeridge, against John Cleese and Michal Palin.

Mr Jones recalled: ‘It was quite a cheek because they’d had a good lunch, arrived late at the viewing theatre and missed some of the film.’

In Aberystwyth, it was screened for the first time in 2009 after the mayor, Sue Jones-Davies, who played Brian’s onscreen girlfriend, agreed to screen it, even though she appears naked in it.

In recent years, Danish cartoonists were threatened after poking fun at Mohammed, and writers for U.S. comedy South Park received death threats at their New York office after an episode about the prophet.


Australia: Insane killer OK to drive a cab??

How can ANYBODY be certain that he won't have another bad turn for some reason?

A REFUGEE who butchered his wife in a fit of insanity could be back driving a cab in as little as three weeks. The Court of Appeal yesterday cleared the way for him to hit the road in a ruling that sparked outrage.

His passengers will never know his past because his identity has been kept secret during his four-year fight.

Last night angry Department of Transport officials were considering a High Court appeal, in a last bid to keep the killer out of Victoria's cabs. Others called for immediate changes to the law to prevent the man ever getting behind the wheel of a cab.

A taxi directorate spokesman said factors such as how quickly he registered for driver training, whether he passed and if he had a driver's licence, would determine how quickly he was back on the road.

In a unanimous decision, three Court of Appeal judges dismissed an appeal by the Director of Public Transport against a VCAT ruling that allowed the man - known as XFJ - to be accredited as a cabbie.

XFJ repeatedly stabbed his wife in 1990 after being granted refugee status. A jury found him not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

The man sought work as a cab driver to earn money while caring for a sick son.

His application for accreditation in November 2007 was refused by a Director of Public Transport. On review, another delegate decided that, while he was "technically competent" and "sufficiently fit and healthy" to drive a cab, his application should be rejected because he was still not suitable.

XFJ then took his fight to VCAT. Two psychiatrists wrote that he was of sound character and unlikely to re-offend and VCAT judged he was suitable for a taxi licence for 18 months. An appeal to the Supreme Court was unsuccessful.

In their Court of Appeal judgment yesterday, justices Chris Maxwell, David Harper and Philip Mandie dismissed a further appeal.

"What counts decisively against the director's argument ... is the sheer implausibility of the proposition that a decision to accredit one driver could have any material effect on public confidence in the taxi industry," Justice Maxwell said.

"As both the director and the tribunal found, (XFJ) is technically competent and in good health and capable of meeting reasonable community expectations." XFJ's lawyer, Barbara Shalit, said the case highlighted the importance of considering all the circumstances before drawing prejudicial conclusions about risk to the public.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said the the decision was being reviewed before considering any possible next steps.

RMIT transport academic Dr Paul Mees said: "The (court) decision seems to be based on an idea there is some sort of inherent right to hold a taxi licence, but this is not like the right to vote," he said. "The burden of proof ought to be on why you are a fit and proper person to hold a licence."



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

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

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


11 October, 2011

Meet the PC oligarchy that now rules Britain

The Tory conference confirmed that politics has been colonised by experts, hacks and snobs who are utterly insulated from the madding crowd

You couldn’t have asked for a better snapshot of the unbridgeable chasm that now separates politicians from the public than the Tory Party conference. This weird, media-oriented, stage-managed display of pragmatism and bluster confirmed that politics has become completely disassociated from ordinary people’s lives and concerns. The conference showed that the political class and the only other section of society that has any interest in what it thinks and says – the media – are now so insulated from the madding crowd that they not only think in a different way and have different outlooks on life, but seem to speak in a different language entirely. The rarefication of British politics is complete.

The most striking thing about the Conservative Party conference was the extent to which its agenda was determined by what is not happening in the real world rather than what is. Surreally, this was a supposedly political gathering at which the big issues of the day – from the economy to the future of Europe – were either skirted around or given the deeply unconvincing Cameron-as-plucky-bulldog treatment, while issues that have no traction whatsoever amongst the public – from sexist language to gay marriage – were put centre stage by both Tory spokespeople and political reporters. (See Rob Lyons on Cameron’s economics here.) The conference revealed that political issues are very rarely generated from below these days, but rather are the creations of tiny cliques of think-tankers and professional advisers who are paid to come up with eye-grabbing ‘talking points’.

The power of small numbers of professionals to set the political agenda has reached an extraordinary level. So as the conference kicked off, and as the world economy continued to shake and the Euro continued to go down the pan, the key issue was Tory leader David Cameron’s use of sexist language. Cameron made a grovelling apology for having said ‘calm down, dear’ to a female Labour MP in parliament earlier this year and for having referred to his fellow Tory Nadine Dorries as ‘extremely frustrated’. In effect, he was bowing to pressure from minuscule numbers of influential women – primarily highly paid newspaper columnists and expert pollsters – who have been warning him to speak in a way they consider to be ‘appropriate’. That such a dinner-party spat can take centre stage at a party conference in an era of recession is a searing indictment of the hermetically sealed nature of modern British politics. This unedifying clash between professionals over how the fairer sex should be addressed brings to mind the old court system, in which mannerisms of speech and the depth of one’s curtseying were also treated as the be-all and end-all, elbowing aside burning political issues. The return of speech ritualism is further evidence of the isolation of the political class.

Two other issues that got the media class excited – as those who are paid by the Tories to fabricate Big Political Issues no doubt knew they would – were gay marriage and the possibility of introducing a fat tax to wean people off their alleged addiction to junk food. Again, neither of these issues is a grassroots one; neither exercises the hearts and minds of everyday people. Rather they’re artificially created problems, the products of either elite agitation or think-tankers’ brainstorming, which are then latched on to by politicians in the hope that talking about them will help to garner some positive coverage from the media class at least. Cameron’s comments about a fat tax – which would target those great scourges of our age: ‘milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food’ – were particularly striking, because they gave an insight into what this oligarchical political class thinks of those who live outside its bubble. We are not political subjects to be engaged with, apparently, but rather bovine objects to be physically tampered with, punished for our gluttony, pressured to ditch those gastro-pleasures which the political and media elites, as they discuss the horrors of sexist language over wine and vol-au-vents, have decreed to be ‘fattening’.

The Conservative conference brought to a head a trend that has been evident at all the mainstream party conferences over the past five to 10 years: a sense that these people are only talking to and amongst themselves; a powerful feeling that the political scene consists of tiny clubs of people perfectly insulated from the masses. Indeed, it’s wrong even to refer to the various things discussed at the Tory conference as ‘political issues’, since most of them were not really political at all, but rather were shallow moralistic obsessions foisted on to the agenda by inside agitators, and most of them were not issues either, in the sense that if you stopped the average man or woman in the street and asked them what they thought about the scourge of sexist language they would wonder if you were mad. These are entirely fake issues, designed to give the cut-off political and media classes something to tussle over.

The otherworldly nature of party conferences is a consequence of some huge political shifts in recent years. It is the hollowing-out of the mainstream parties, their speedy and profound jettisoning of members and grassroots supporters and their subsequent disconnection from the public, which creates today’s strange and alien political culture. The absence of pressure-from-below on the political parties leads to a situation where small groups of influential people can set the party political agendas, from academics obsessed with inequality to the illiberal theoreticians of the nudge industry to newspaper hacks who felt personally offended when Cameron used the word ‘dear’. It is the slow-motion withdrawal of everyday people from a political scene that no longer has anything to say to them that nurtures today’s courtly atmosphere, the rise of speech codes and apologetics and issues that matter little to the masses.

Even Tory-bashers play the same game as the party they claim to loathe. One criticism that has been made again and again of Cameron and Co. is that they are ‘re-toxifying the Tory brand’. Apparently Cameron has failed to ‘decontaminate’ his brand – what Theresa May once referred to as a general view that the Tories are ‘the nasty party’ – as evidenced in the fact that at this week’s conference some of his people dared to criticise the Human Rights Act and talk about immigration. Not only do these kinds of criticisms contain a powerfully censorious component, where all discussion of human rights or immigrants is instantly judged to be ‘toxic’ and ‘contaminated’ – they are also firmly rooted in the same narrow brand-obsession and image-obsession that passes for Tory politics these days and for politics in general.

So where a Tory party desperately trying to discover some purpose rebrands itself as ‘nice’ rather than ‘nasty’, its critics simply shout back ‘Your brand is being recontaminated!’, like executives at an advertising firm. The myopic concern with party branding is also a product of the disassociation of politics from the public: parties that have no real connection with a significant section of the masses also have no real raison d’être, and thus must try to magic one up courtesy of an army of brand-minded experts. Politics has been colonised by experts, hacks and snobs who are utterly cut off from normal people.

The Tories’ conference, like Labour’s and the Lib Dems’ before it, was a weirdly stultified affair. There was no real debate, no attempt at policy formation, not even any real policy proposals. It all rather confirmed that parties with no base of support, with no roots in society, quickly become ideas-free zones, since there is no pressure on them to embody certain ideals and to argue the toss for those ideals on a public platform. It’s not even accurate to refer to the public as mere spectators to politics these days, since most of us didn’t spectate – we had far better things to do than watch these self-serving PR exercises disguised as party conferences. Rather, today there is simply the oligarchy and its friends on one side of the metaphorical canyon, having noisy but substanceless discussions about matters of etiquette and branding, and the masses on the other side, who are looked upon as a bovine blob whose temperature must occasionally be taken through opinion polls or stage-managed focus groups. By ignoring the party conferences, we committed a small but important act of rebellion against the oligarchy. More and better acts of rebellion will be required.


Unhistorical history

By Frank Furedi. Frank seems to be back in Australia at the moment

LAST month Julia Gillard insisted the final test of public life was not whether you were "on the right side of the politics" but whether you were on "on the right side of history. And in my experience, the judgment of history has a way of speaking sooner than we expect."

US President Barack Obama confidently declared this year: "History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that we were on the right side of history."

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says the countries that stood up to the old regimes during the Arab spring are "on the right side of history" while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks countries trading with Syria are on the wrong side and should "get on the right side".

Suddenly history not yet written has emerged as a source of legitimacy for a bewildering variety of claims and causes.

Invoking the blessing of history is an implicit claim on a higher form of providential validation.

It is a way of saying: "You are not only opposing me but also the almighty figure of history, a sacred transcendental being who must be appeased." It represents a half-hearted, ineffective stab at a moral judgment.

When Gillard advises people to keep in step with the march of history on climate change, her words convey an implicit warning.

Those who get on the wrong side will face not only the judgment of the electorate but risk being trampled under history's jackboot.

Recycling history as a cautionary tale is simply a tried and tested form of guilt-tripping. The prophecy is unlikely to be proven wrong, at least not in the short run, but the fear is raised that if we are not careful we could find ourselves in history's dustbin.

History, however, does not work according to divine laws that can be second-guessed by soothsayers and oracles.

While it was understandable for the ancient Greeks to personify history through the muse Clio, it is a little disturbing to encounter 21st-century public figures assuming her mantle.

One of the most important achievements of the Western Enlightenment was to go beyond the superstitious notion that history works to a preordained plan or that it is a purposeful movement towards destiny.

The idea of history as Fate has been challenged since the 16th century by humanist thinkers who argued that the world changed in accordance with human action rather than a host of demi-gods that needed to be appeased, and contained no inner meaning that only the prophets could interpret.

It does not reward or punish those who disregard its message. History is what we make it.

Of course not everyone is comfortable with the idea that history is open-ended and its direction is uncertain. That is why some have opted to seek refuge in philosophies that seek to endow history with inner meaning and purpose.

Such views of history are often expressed through the ideology of historicism. The Oxford English Dictionary defines historicism as the "belief that historical change occurs in accordance with laws, so that the course of history may be predicted but cannot be altered by human will".

Those who claim the authority of standing on the "right side of history" are in effect endorsing the historicist belief that the future is already foretold. During the past century historicism often dominated the world views of the dogmatist and the simpleton.

One of the most memorable example of this orientation was provided by Nikita Khrushchev, the former leader of the Soviet Union. In a self-consciously provocative speech delivered in November 1956, he noted "whether you like it or not, history is on our side", before he threatened the Western world with the memorable phrase "we will bury you".

Not for the first time a prediction of who would be on which side of history proved to be wildly misguided.

The problem with appealing to history is not only that it tends to be at best a rhetorical affectation rather than an argument. It is also a rhetorical tactic used to avoid discussion and the clarification of difficult issues. It is not possible to argue against a prophecy.

Moreover, the claim that an act or a policy enjoys the authority of history closes down discussion. Its practitioners are not only putting forward their own opinions, they are claiming to speak on behalf of an unquestionable higher authority that cannot be held to account by mere mortals.

If history has spoken and given its verdict on climate change or on the Arab spring, any opposition to it can be castigated as not only wrong but malevolent.

One final point worth noting. Until recent times most serious political figures were too embarrassed to use the phrase "on the right sight of history". Through searching the Lexis-Nexis database, I found only one reference to this phrase during the 1970s. In September 1979, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson called on American businesses to stop trading with South Africa and "choose to be on the right side of history".

During the next decade until September 1990, the database provides only 120 references. Compare that with the past 12 months, which provide 1375 claims speaking on behalf of the right side of history.

With so much energy invested in upholding the authority of history it is evident that what we are experiencing is a 21st-century variant of the old doctrine of fatalism. This elevation of Fate assigns human beings the unflattering role of deferring to forces beyond their control. Surely there is much more to the human experience than acting out a script casually scribbled down by Fate.


The British children's football league which only lists scores as 1-0 or 1-1 'to avoid humiliation after heavy defeats'

A junior football league has stopped publishing the results of its matches in case the scores embarrass the young players. Telford Junior League – made up of 20 divisions ranging from under-10s to under-16s – now records all games as either 1-0 wins or 1-1 draws.

Bosses at the league have defended the decision to withhold the number of goals scored which they claim will spare the youngsters the humiliation of losing badly.

But campaigners and parents say the policy teaches children that competition is a bad thing and risks creating a generation of bad losers.

Unrepentant league bosses have defended the policy, saying it is in line with Football Association guidelines, which the FA disputes. The FA says it has no rules relating to results above the age of eight.

And the league, which was founded in 1984 and has more than 2,000 players from clubs in Telford, north Shropshire and Bridgnorth, will also stop recording results for under-11 teams altogether from next season.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: ‘This is because they don’t want kids embarrassed if their team has lost heavily. ‘If that’s the case what’s the point of having a league table up on the website at all?’

Another parent, who also did not want to be named for fear of turning officials against his son’s team, said: ‘I think it’s crazy - kids need to learn about winning and losing from an early age. They aren’t recognising the boys’ achievements.

‘They might not want to embarrass the losing team but if one of the lads scores six or seven goals and that isn’t recorded what kind of message does that send to them? ‘The lads might as well not turn up.’

Assistant secretary Stephen Groome said the league had introduced the results policy on its official website this year. He said: ‘Shropshire FA have said it is a guideline and we chose to go with it. If someone else wins, the children do not need to be embarrassed. ‘There are mixed feelings about it and it’s up to each league. From next season under-11s won’t even have their results recorded.’

He said goal difference did not play a part in determining final league positions and teams finishing on equal points would share their position. ‘Sometimes there is a 16-1 or 16-0 goal difference but it’s not a determining factor in junior football because the league will be shared,’ he added.

Stephen Clarke, manager of the under-11s Wrekin Panthers team, backed the move. He said: ‘The children’s welfare is paramount. The winners have three points on the website if they win and the children who lose 20-0 would feel very disheartened if it was on the website. ‘They might think of not playing. I think it’s a very good idea.’

But Mr Clarke added there must come a point when players had to accept defeat. He said: ‘I think probably by the age of 15 then they have an understanding that life is a bit of a competition and we are competing with other people.’

Dame Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion, has spoken out in the past about the decline of competitive sports for children. She said it risked spawning a generation of bad losers and blamed a culture of political correctness for making ‘competitiveness’ a dirty word.

A spokesman for the FA commented: 'There’s an FA rule that prohibits the publishing of results and league tables across all media for U7 and U8 age-groups where the focus of the game is about learning to play without the pressure of full-time scores. 'For older age groups, there are no rules or FA guidelines which indicate that the final score should be changed.'


British father calls for shopping centre boycott after he is quizzed by police for taking photos of his own daughter

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

A father claims he was quizzed by police under anti-terror legislation after he was spotted taking a photo of his daughter in a shopping centre. Chris White took a picture of his four-year-old daughter Hazel while she was eating an ice cream at Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow last Friday.

However, Mr White said a security guard ordered him to stop, claiming it was 'illegal' to use a camera in the centre, and asked him to delete any images he had taken on his mobile phone.

Mr White had paused to take a snap of his daughter posing on the back of a scooter seat at an ice cream bar on their way around the shops.

A Facebook campaign was launched over the weekend calling on the public to boycott the mall. It has attracted more than 19,000 'likes' on the social networking site and hundreds of comments.

Mr White said he was approached by the security guard who asked him to delete the pictures at about 4pm.

Explaining the incident on his Boycott Braehead Facebook page, Mr White said: 'I explained I had taken 2 photos of my daughter eating ice cream and that she was the only person in the photo so didn't see any problem. I also said that I wasn't that willing to delete the photos and there seemed little point as I had actually uploaded them to Facebook.

'He then said i would have to stay right where I was while he called the police, which seemed a little extreme.'

When police arrived he told Mr White there were 'clear signs' in the centre ordering shoppers not to take pictures inside the mall.

Mr White said: 'The police officer than started to say that there were privacy issues around photographs, to which I said yes and in a busy shopping centre I waited until only my daughter was in the shot. 'I explained that I was happy to show him the photos although not sure under what authority he could ask me to delete the photos.'

Mr White said police told him they 'were within their rights under the Prevention of Terrorism Act' to confiscate his mobile phone without any explanation. However officers let Mr White keep his photos but took all his details and he was then allowed to leave.

The shopping centre tonight apologised to Mr White and said it was changing its policy 'with immediate effect' so families and friends can use their cameras in the centre.

A Braehead spokesman said in a statement: 'We have listened to the very public debate surrounding our photography policy and as a result, with immediate effect, are changing the policy to allow family and friends to take photos in the mall.

'We will publicise this more clearly in the mall and on our website. We will reserve the right to challenge suspicious behaviour for the safety and enjoyment of our shoppers.

'We wish to apologise to Mr White for the distress we may have caused to him and his family and we will be in direct contact with him to apologise properly.'

Mr White said he had been overwhelmed by the public response on the issue and thanked people for their support. He added: 'Hopefully we can now move forward with a common sense approach into a situation that allows families to enjoy precious moments with their children, but at the same time ensure that such public places are areas where we can feel safe and protected.'

Supt George Nedley, of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde division, told BBC Scotland: 'As a result, a full review of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the allegations made is under way.



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

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

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


10 October, 2011

Parent of a child with ADHD? Have a free car under crazy £1.5bn British government scheme

Iain Duncan Smith has ordered a crackdown on thousands of families with youngsters diagnosed with ‘naughty child syndrome’ who get new cars paid for by the state. The Work and Pensions Secretary has been shocked to learn that the families of more than 3,000 people suffering Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are believed to have been given vehicles under the £1.5 billion-a-year Motability scheme.

Mr Duncan Smith is determined to stop what he regards as abuse of free cars for the disabled as part of his campaign to curb the UK’s annual £192billion benefits bill. The number of people with cars paid for by the Government-funded Motability scheme has soared to 575,000 – up by 200,000 in just over ten years.

The number of claimants receiving disability benefit for ADHD – or hyperkinetic disorder, as it is categorised by welfare officials – has rocketed from 800 a decade ago to 43,100 last year. An additional 55,900 claimants are given handouts for ‘behavioural disorders’, taking the total for ADHD-related conditions to 99,000. It has led to claims that a lack of proper checks has led to widespread abuse.

Mr Duncan Smith was enraged to be told initially by his department that there were no precise numbers on how many people with the condition received free cars. However, after persistent enquiries by The Mail on Sunday, officials finally revealed that 3,200 such claimants qualified.

Motability was launched in 1978 with a handful of specially modified cars, such as motorised blue three-wheel trikes and Mini Clubman Estates with a ramp at the back for a wheelchair.

But now it is the biggest fleet-management outfit in the UK. Mike Betts, its chief executive, earns £1.17 million a year. Its website openly advises claimants how to use the benefit to get luxury cars such as a £30,000 Audi A6, a £35,000 BMW X3 or a £37,000 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Some doctors believe the big rise in the number of children said to have ADHD is a direct result of their parents’ right to claim disability benefit of up to £10,000 a year.

While critics believe ADHD is just a label to describe restless or naughty children, psychologists insist it is a real condition which applies when a child is persistently restless, to the point where it has a detrimental effect on their development. Some adults are also affected.

The Government says that about a third of a million children aged between six and 16 suffer with the disorder.

ADHD was almost unheard of 20 years ago, but the number of prescriptions for Ritalin – the controversial drug which suppresses symptoms – has rocketed from 2,000 in 1991 to close to 350,000.

Motability claims are processed by the Work and Pensions Department as part of the £12 billion-a-year Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Successful claimants are handed over to Motability, which supplies the cars.

In more than seven out of ten cases people who get DLA receive it for life, with no more questions asked.


The den busters: Children in tears after park officials pull down their camps... because they might harm insects

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

Children have been left distraught after seeing their makeshift dens torn down by park officials – because the camps harm insects.

The destruction took place in historic Richmond Park in South-West London, where it has long been a tradition for children to build hide-outs using fallen tree branches in an area called Spankers Hill Wood.

But last week the wigwam-style dens were pulled down after being deemed unsafe by officials, who also claimed they threatened the habitat of rare beetles.

One mother described how her seven-year-old son was left in tears as park employees moved in without warning. 'We were at an ice-cream kiosk when six men jumped out of a van wearing high-visibility jackets,' said the woman, from nearby Kingston-upon-Thames.

'They were all over the den like ants, pulling it down. They also destroyed others nearby. My son and his friend were shouting, trying to get them to stop, but they carried on and then drove off.

'The boys were upset. It was ridiculous – building dens is one of the great innocent pleasures of childhood. They were only using dead wood and branches that were lying on the ground. The den was only small and not in the least bit dangerous.'

The mother added: 'The man at the kiosk said workers came round on a regular basis to take the camps down. He said he'd heard it was for safety reasons.

'We're forever being told about the dangers of children spending too much time in front of computers and televisions, yet this is what happens when they play outside. It's such a shame because Richmond Park is a wonderful place for them.'

The workers took down the dens opposite a mobile snack bar, where several benches and tables allow parents to relax as they watch
their children play safely on the edge of a wood.

Richmond Park has strict rules banning barbecues and prohibiting cyclists from some areas.

One park worker said: 'You can't stop children falling out of trees and pulling branches off. It's not that big a deal. Perhaps they should concentrate on the cyclists who regularly break the speed limit.'

Psychologists and education experts say it is essential for children to be allowed the freedom to explore and create their own adventures in the open air, particularly when many spend hours cooped up at home watching television or playing electronic games.

Play England, run by the National Children's Bureau charity, was recently awarded £500,000 of National Lottery funding for a project to encourage children to become more aware of the natural world.

Research has shown that less than 25 per cent of children regularly play outside, compared with more than 50 per cent of their parents when they were young.

Play England's Mick Conway said: 'It is a myth that children prefer indoor-based play activities. Playing in a park or riding a bike are far more popular with children than computer games.'

Richmond Park, one of London's Royal Parks, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its wildlife, including rare species such as the cardinal click beetle and the stag beetle. Deer also roam its 2,500 acres.

A Royal Parks spokesman said: 'We recognise the benefits of natural play activities, but for the safety of visitors we have to dismantle dens if there is a risk they could collapse.

'Visitors should not disturb dead wood on the ground as this is home to invertebrates, which are important to the park's biodiversity.'


Women are hardest on other women

The "sisterhood" is a myth

DIPPING my toes into the forum of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas with a panel devoted to the topic All Women are Sluts, I decided it would be an appropriate venue to take a young date. Thus armed, we sat in the Playhouse at the Opera House, in front of the great orator and storyteller Mike Daisey and his director wife, and waited for fierce debate to break out.

The panel was all women, including the moderator - an embarrassing bias to begin with.

The Melbourne convener of Slutwalk, Clem Bastow, spoke eloquently for women to dress sexily, briefly, scantily and not to get raped. Samah Hadid, a young Muslim girl in a green hijab and multi-layered, comfortable pants and top, smiled widely with bright red lipstick and make-up and promoted the right of Muslim women to dress up and not be dressed down. Catharine Lumby stirred the middle-aged feminist critique, under attack for attacking the aggression of young feminists.

In many arenas women are under attack from other women. The great debate in feminism is between women themselves, about their roles, robes and attitudes. In my own world, I would pick a jury of women over men in a rape case because women are harder on women. Women judges, in my humble observation, are more critical of other women appearing as advocates before them. Women gossip more cattily and crushingly about other women.

In a world where economic currency is falling, the most favourable currency is sex. In the cardboard kingdom of Richard Pratt, sexy women fight for a piece of cardboard to call their own. In my own building, bylaws were stuck to the mirrors in the lift, foreshadowing the board's intention to ban brothels in the building. I suspected they were there when I used my iPad or iPhone. The screen displayed in the scan for a wireless connection the names of nearby networks. Imagine my shock when the names of two were WHORES and C---S. I finally put two and two together, confirming Madison Ashton as the madam in residence, but only briefly given the bylaws were passed and eviction followed. Dick Pratt was a pants man even when his own masculine scaffolding must have been failing under the pernicious disease that is prostate cancer.

Since Adam pinged Eve the world has always been a sex world but now it is getting the publicity and media to match its partner in crime, money. Sex and money go hand in gland. Rich men get more sex than the poor. Charisma and character get men somewhere but currency takes you further. Fathers plead with their daughters to marry rich, not for love. Fortune trumps fame every time.

Perugia in Italy is a peaceful place for a murder trial. I miss Vanity Fair's Dominick Dunne's description of the countryside and details of the death of Meredith Kercher. The murder was an exquisite interaction of sexual frenzy, bisexual behaviour and bloody handprints on the pillow.

Amanda Knox, known as Foxy Knoxy, and the victim were perfectly cast for Dunne's classic penmanship. He had written about money and sex for 50 years, having had some experience in both.

The prosecution initially argued ''cult sacrifice'' before settling on ''sex game gone wrong''. There were many problems with the prosecutor's DNA evidence. There was no DNA from Knox in the murder room. Nevertheless she was convicted and sentenced to 26 years. The judges reasoned that the actual perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was assisted by Knox and her boyfriend in subduing Kercher after she resisted Guede's sexual advances. They said Knox smoked hash and read sexually explicit comics, provoking her behaviour. She was acquitted and released last week. She can look forward, if she can cope, to her own show, Knox on Fox, millions in advances for her story, Playboy centrefold requests and perhaps resumption of her studies.

It will be hard to lead a normal life after being described as a drug-taking, sex-crazed she-devil. In proceedings by a Congolese bar owner against her false accusation, she was called, ''an explosive mix of drugs, sex and alcohol'', ''Lucifer-like, demonic, satanic, diabolical''. The prosecutor told this jury to ignore her ''doll-like appearance'' and said she was a ''spell-casting witch, a virtuoso of deceit''. The world is indeed sexist. Knox's co-accused boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, barely gets a mention in coverage of the trial, in the same way Michael Chamberlain was just a bloke in long socks who was married to the alleged baby murderer Lindy Chamberlain.

Before Knox on Fox starts, the Murdoch network needs to eat a lot of humble pie because correspondents Ann Coulter and Jeanine Pirro said Knox had been convicted and punished fairly. As I said, women are harder on other women than men would dare to be.


Traditional Australian families a dying breed

THE number of traditional family households is set to shrink to less than a quarter by 2026, with childless homes to become the new norm.

AustraliaSCAN projections, provided exclusively to the Herald Sun, show the number of households with nuclear families is forecast to plunge from 33 per cent in 2006 to just 22 per cent in the next 15 years.

For the first time, single households and couples with no children at home are expected to eclipse the classic households of mum, dad and children living with them.

Single-person homes are predicted to rise from 24 per cent to 31 per cent, making up the biggest demographic of households in the country, the household composition data shows.

Experts say the ageing population, people living longer, stresses on families, financial pressures, rising divorce rates and fewer marriages are shaping changes to the family structure.

The traditional notion of the family has also been reinvented in modern times to include step families, de facto couples, single parents, gay parents, international adoption and surrogacy.

Imogen Randell, managing director of Quantum Market Research which runs AustraliaSCAN, said the classic Aussie family was a shrinking group of households. "If the trend continues as it has done for the past 30 years it could be that by 2026 they are in the minority," she said. "We are living longer and, as we age, it's more likely that we will end up living alone, either divorced or widowed.

"Our population is ageing, fewer people are getting married and the fertility rate is currently below replacement levels (at about two babies per woman)." The couples with no children category includes empty nesters.

An AustraliaSCAN survey of 2000 people has found more than 80 per cent believe having a good marriage and happy children are signs of accomplishment in life.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett recently stirred debate by saying happy heterosexual marriages are the best environment for children's mental health.

His comments came after the release of a report by a Sydney family law professor, commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby saying two married parents tend to provide better outcomes for children than one.

Melbourne family psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack said the vital thing for a child was to be loved, no matter what the family model.

She was shocked by the AustraliaSCAN predictions, even taking into account the ageing population. "People are putting off children later," she said. "And I'm seeing a growing trend where people are less willing to work on a relationship and will just leave if it gets too hard."

Households shrank from 4.5 children in 1911 to 2.6 in 2006, Australian Institute of Family Studies figures show.

AIFS director Professor Alan Hayes pointed to contraception and better educated career women delaying childbirth as influences on family size.

"I do not see this as the demise of the family. They are coming in smaller sizes and a wider range of shapes," he said. "The question in terms of public policy is what supports do we need to help families function well."



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

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

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


9 October, 2011

In Britain, it's not only government bureaucrats who are nasty and inefficient

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

British Gas has been accused of using 'bullying tactics' on a 91-year-old to recover an unpaid £5,000 bill - despite him never having had gas at his home.

Sir John Tavare, 91, and his 87-year-old wife Lady Daphne were stunned when a debt collector arrived at their house in Prestbury, Cheshire, and claimed they owed the money. This was because the couple, who have lived there for 30 years, have never used the fuel.

Sir John, a respected businessman who received a knighthood for a campaign to clear up the River Mersey, later called police after thinking he could have been the victim of a scam.

But British Gas admitted there had been a blunder, and eventually apologised to the family by stating the outstanding debt was owed by someone at a property of a 'similar address'.

Nick Tavare, the couple's son, said his parents were deeply disturbed by the experience and accused British Gas of employing 'bullying' tactics without having first made sufficient checks.

He said: 'A man came along to see the gas meter. He refused to show any identification. 'When he was told there was no meter, he began to shout 'If you don't give me access to the house, I will come back with a bailiff in the middle of the night and kick the door down'. Fortunately for my parents, their carer was in and answered the door as well as a guest who also overheard what was said. 'My parents are 91 and 87. If they had been in on their own, who knows what would have happened?'

Sir John, the former chairman of the Mersey Basin Campaign, helped raise funding to clean up the polluted river and attract new developments. He was awarded a CBE for services to industry.

His son added: 'One of the problems was we couldn't speak to anyone in authority to deal with the problem. 'British Gas eventually conceded the house with the alleged debt has the same street name but a different post code - and a completely different name. 'How can it be that they can send debt collectors to a house that has no gas without doing any basic checks first of all?'

British Gas bosses apologised for the mix-up and spokesman Sara Powell-Davies said: 'I am very sorry for any upset and inconvenience. 'We visited their property in error and we have contacted Mr and Mrs Tavare to apologise and to advise them that we have updated our records to make sure this doesn't happen again.'

And debt recovery firm Chase Solutions denied their caller had acted aggressively on the doorstep. John Wolfenden, from the Chorley-based firm, said: 'Our agent visited the address, in connection with an unpaid British Gas account of £5,134.62. 'Our agent, who has been engaged in this work for some years, denies emphatically any allegation that he behaved in a threatening, bullying or intimidatory way. 'Our agent asserts that throughout his conduct was business-like.'

A spokesman for Cheshire Police confirmed they had received a phone call immediately after the visit. He said : 'A call reported that a man who purported to be a debt collector was demanding money in an aggressive manner. 'On investigation it transpired he was a legitimate collector working on behalf of a gas company but had gone to the wrong address.'


British Police say sorry to cafe owner threatened with arrest over Bible DVDs

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

Police have apologised to a Christian cafe owner they threatened with arrest for displaying passages from the Bible on a television screen. The Mail on Sunday told last month how Jamie Murray was visited by two officers who warned he was breaking the law by showing the DVDs.

But after our report appeared, another officer from Lancashire Constabulary visited Mr Murray’s cafe and admitted the force had misinterpreted the Public Order Act, which bans the use of insulting or abusive language – but allows the reasonable expression of religious beliefs.

Mr Murray, 31, welcomed the apology but said he would pursue an official complaint against the force because, he claims, it still refuses to admit he was threatened with arrest.

The two original officers visited his Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool after police received a complaint that Mr Murray was inciting hatred against homosexuals by showing New Testament DVDs.

Mr Murray said: ‘I accept the police apology as far as it goes, and I forgive them. But some things need to be cleared up. ‘They have said they were duty-bound to investigate me. But it wasn’t an investigation. They had already made up their minds I was in the wrong. They never asked to look at the Bible DVDs or asked my side of the story. They have also said they never banned me from showing the Bible DVDs. That’s not true. ‘I asked them straight – “Are you telling me I can’t show the Bible DVDs?”

They left me in no doubt that I risked being arrested if I continued to do so. I don’t want this to happen to other Christians. I won’t let the police brush this under the carpet.’

He claimed he was subjected to an ‘aggressive inquisition’ for nearly an hour and feared that if he did not switch off the DVDs, he might be led out of the cafe in handcuffs.

And he said he was told by WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, that if he continued to show offensive material under the Public Order Act, the police would have to ‘take the matter further’.

The Salt and Light cafe has for years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible – a 15-DVD set produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament – on a small flatscreen TV on the back wall. The sound is turned down but the words flash on to the screen against a series of images.

Mr Murray worked in a homeless shelter for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago – and said it prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of the seaside town.

The police’s original response provoked dismay among Christians, with former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe writing in a newspaper column: ‘Does the Chief Constable of Lancashire want to ban the Bible itself? After all, that is the logic of his position if what his force is doing meets with his approval.’

And Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, which is backing Mr Murray, said: ‘This incident is serious and needs to be dealt with through official channels. Too many police officers – not just in Lancashire – are using the Public Order Act to investigate Christians for expressing their beliefs.’

A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary insisted they had merely ‘discussed’ the matter with Mr Murray ‘and at no point was he asked to remove any materials or arrested’.

Initially, the force had said they were satisfied the beat manager had performed her duties professionally and ‘the action we took was completely proportionate’.

However, the spokesman has now admitted: ‘The officer misinterpreted what she believed to be appropriate legislation. An apology has been made to the proprietor of the cafe for any distress we may have caused and this was accepted. As a result of this incident, the Constabulary is issuing guidance to staff.’


Babies know difference between right and wrong when they are just 15 months old

So much for the Leftist "blank slate" theory

It is often thought of as one of the qualities which distinguishes humans from animals. And a new study has shown that the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong is a skill which even babies can possess.

Infants who show a good understanding of what is fair and unfair are also more like to share their possessions with others.

Babies in the study were able to differentiate between the equal and unequal distribution of food, showing an early awareness of fairness, scientists said.

There was also seen to be a link between how sensitive the babies were to fair behaviour and whether they would be willing to share a favourite toy.

Jessica Sommerville, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington, said: 'Our findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism are more rapidly acquired than we thought.

'These results also show a connection between fairness and altruism in infants, such that babies who were more sensitive to the fair distribution of food were also more likely to share their preferred toy.'

The research, published today in the journal PLoS ONE, involved showing two short videos to 15-month-old babies.

In the first, a bowl of crackers was distributed between two people - first with an equal allocation of crackers, and then with one person getting more crackers than the other. The second video showed a jug of milk being shared between two people in a similar way.

Scientists measured how long each of the babies looked at how the food had been distributed, as babies pay more attention when they are surprised.

They discovered that babies spent more time looking at the allocation of food if one person got more than the other.

Dr Sommerville said: 'The infants expected an equal and fair distribution of food and they were surprised to see one person given more crackers or milk than the other.'

Previous studies had shown that two-year-old children can help others, which is considered a sign of altruism, and that those who are between six and seven years old show a sense of fairness.

Babies are likely to pick up on ideas of fairness and unfairness 'by observing how people treat each other', Dr Sommerville said.

In a second task, scientists recorded whether or not the babies were willing to share a toy with a stranger.

Those who had been more surprised by the unequal distribution of food were found to be more likely to share a favourite toy than the babies who seemed more surprised when there was an equal distribution of food.

Dr Sommerville said: 'The results of the sharing experiment show that early in life there are individual differences in altruism.'

Those who were willing to share a favourite toy had been 'really sensitive to the violation of fairness in the food task', she added.


Vandals Spray Paint Swastikas & Graffiti on ‘Joseph’s Tomb’ Near Israel

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers discovered that Joseph’s Tomb, a revered prayer site that is believed to be the place where the biblical character Joseph is buried, has been vandalized.

According to Jewish Week, swastikas and other graffiti were spray painted onto the tomb. The damage was found early in the morning before 1,500 Jewish worshippers arrived at the location to pray. To keep these worshippers from seeing what had occurred, the soldiers reportedly covered the damage with white paint prior to their arrival.

The Israeli Army has apparently been coordinating monthly pilgrimages to the tomb for worshippers since 2009. This particular event was planned in coordination with the military ahead of Yom Kippur (the holiest day on the Jewish calendar). According to an army spokesperson: “This morning, soldiers discovered swastikas painted on the walls of the building that contains the tomb. The soldiers cleaned the premises and a complaint was sent to the Palestinian Authority.”

Danny Dayan, who is the chairman of the Yesha Council which represents West Bank settlers, railed against the vandalism, calling it “shocking.”

Dayan was particularly surprised, as the defacing took place just days before Yom Kippur.

Gershon Mesika, who has been heavily involved in restoring the site and who is the head of the Samaria regional council, responded to the incident by saying that “only barbarians would be able to commit such terrible acts.” He continued, saying, ”People who can pathologically desecrate such a holy site are not worthy of being called human beings.”

AFP provides some history, which showcases the divisiveness that exists surrounding the religious site:
The tomb is a place of pilgrimage for religious Jews, who believe it to be the final resting place of the biblical figure Joseph. Muslims believe that an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yussef (Joseph) Dawiqat, was buried there two centuries ago.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. But the Israeli army evacuated the premises in October 2000 shortly after the start of the second intifada, or uprising, and it was immediately destroyed and burnt by the Palestinians.

The restoration of the tomb was completed recently, and following improved security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the army allows Jewish worshippers to make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the site.

This isn’t the first time the tomb has been vandalized over the past decade. Interestingly, this most recent act of aggression comes just one day after a mosque was torched in Northern Israel, causing one to wonder if this act is retaliatory.



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

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

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


8 October, 2011

Britain to allow homosexual marriage?

For the entire history of civilisation, marriage has been defined as being between a man and a woman. Throughout that history, almost all civilisations have regarded marriage as central to their survival.

So if you say that marriage should, in fact, be differently defined, you are saying something very big and bold. The onus of proof should surely not be on those who justify the status quo, but on you. You must show that you are right and that everyone else, for thousands of years, has been wrong.

One hopes that the Coalition can make a go of government in these difficult times. One understands why each partner needs to find issues that it can concede to the other. One also understands why David Cameron wishes to “rebrand” his Conservative Party. But can one feel completely easy when, driven by his political civil partnership with Nick Clegg, he tries to change the nature of marriage for ever?

In Manchester on Wednesday, Mr Cameron reminded his party’s conference that they had clapped him five years ago when he had said that “it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man”. So, he effectively commanded them, they should clap him now when he announced that he favoured legalising gay marriage. They clapped, obediently if not enthusiastically.

In arguing for gay marriage, Mr Cameron was not so foolish as to take his stand on equality alone. What mattered, he said, was the commitment: “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.” So his belief was part of his politics: “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

This is, undeniably, a strong argument. Sensible conservatives (and Conservatives) are always looking for ways in which affections can be strengthened by society. The homosexual lifestyle, they may reason, is often even more chaotic and lonely than the heterosexual one. If it can be helped to become more stable, they argue, why not? Theirs is a modern version – though they would not want to put it like that – of St Paul’s idea that it is better to marry than to burn.

In recent years, this way of thinking has gained ground. As homosexuals have declared themselves, people have come to recognise that they are no better or worse as friends, neighbours, colleagues, teachers, police officers or Members of Parliament than anyone else. Women have probably been the key factor in this social change. Fifty years ago, few women knew any man who said he was homosexual. Now they do, and they often say that they prefer them to the rather more exhausting company of straights.

So if homosexuality is accepted, there is an apparent logic – and political prudence – in allowing homosexual people to do whatever everyone else does. Everyone else is permitted to marry, so why not gays?

Well, I must admit that social change has made me see more sense in this way of thinking than I did 20 years ago. But I still believe there is “just cause and impediment”.

Part of the problem lies in the way “rights” now work. Take the notorious example that set Ken Clarke against Theresa May this week. Mrs May protested that it had been impossible to deport a Bolivian man suspected of shoplifting because a judge had decided that his human right to a family life would be violated by separation from Maya, his cat.

Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. The point was that Maya was shared between the Bolivian and his boyfriend. He and the boyfriend had been together for four years and the boyfriend’s father was seriously ill. This persuaded the judge to uphold the Bolivian’s right to family life, against the interests of the British taxpayer and criminal justice system. Perhaps Mrs May was frightened of saying this, but surely the widespread feeling would be that Maya the cat, the boyfriend and the boyfriend’s sick father do not really amount to what most people would call a family for the Bolivian. If the definition of family can be almost anything, and if your human right to one gets you “out of jail free”, then a real family life – marriage, children, that sort of thing – gets devalued.

And human rights, so ludicrously inclusive on one side of the argument, are fiercely strict on the other. Not only does the Government decide, for example, that homosexuals may adopt children, but it also makes it illegal for agencies that do not accept gay parents to continue with their work. Human rights forbid bed-and-breakfasts to refuse a night to a homosexual couple, even though there is supposed to be a human right to freedom of conscience. Anglican churches can marry people with the force of law. How long, if we have gay marriage, before they are compelled to marry homosexuals too?

The word “tolerance” is used, but it is not what is actually being proposed. Anything that the authorities call “homophobic” will be treated – is already being treated – with the same intolerance that was directed, half a century ago, at anything that was called homosexual. In politics, such issues, as with capital punishment, euthanasia and abortion, have long been matters of conscience. Mr Cameron is entitled to argue that, for him personally, gay marriage is a Conservative idea, but if it becomes Conservative policy, whipped in the lobbies, that is something else. Anyone who followed the mainstream teaching of his own Church, synagogue or mosque, for instance, would either have to disobey his conscience or be kicked out. If you are not careful, you bring about a situation where traditional religious belief excludes you from the Conservative Party.

To a good many people today, the fact that some homosexuals want to marry will overwhelm all other arguments. What you want, you should have, they believe, so long as the other person wants it too.

Is this as true or as simple as it seems? There are, for example, roughly as many Muslims in Britain as there are homosexuals. Muslims believe in polygamy – for men only, up to four wives. Muslims insist that women, just as much as men, welcome this rule. Suppose that Mr Cameron had got up and told his conference, “it shouldn’t matter whether commitment is between a man and a woman or a man and four women”, would he have been able to make the audience clap? Mightn’t they have recognised that a situation in which men were now permitted to marry four women would damage a society in which, until now, one man could only be married to one woman at a time? Wouldn’t they have said that the consent of those involved was not the only issue at stake? Wouldn’t they have been right?

Arguments on these subjects are tricky to make, particularly in the rough world of politics. They touch on deep feelings, deep beliefs and thousands of years of searching for the best way to live. Gay marriage is not a simple issue of fairness for all. The obsession with defining an individual’s identity by his or her sexual desires, and putting the fulfilment of those desires above everything else, is only about 100 years old and will, I suspect, pass. The need for men and women to have children, bring them up and look after one another is much more important. So Mr Cameron should tread more carefully.


Australia: Victorian Labor Party urges feds to approve gay marriage

THE Victorian ALP has said federal Labor must take a stand on marriage equality and is urging the party to support gay marriage at its national conference in December.

In opposition to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's support for the status quo, the state Labor conference voted today in support of a motion calling on the ALP to amend the party's platform to support same-sex marriage at its national conference.

Rainbow Labor co-convenor Sarah Cole, who moved the urgency resolution, said Labor was a party about progress and needed to take a stand on marriage equality.

Ms Gillard has said she expects the issue will be debated at the December conference.

Ms Cole was supported by speakers from the Australian Services Union and Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.

Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association head Joe De Bruyn opposed the motion.

The delegates broke out in applause after the motion was carried.


British Police deny crime figures were 'airbrushed' following Manchester riots in the summer

Riots reveal how police methods of recording crime are totally unrealiststic -- designed to minimize the amount of crime recorded and thus make the police look good

Police were last night forced to deny they had ‘airbrushed’ official statistics which showed crime levels actually fell during the summer riots.

In August hundreds of shops were trashed as gangs of looters went on the rampage in London and other major cities. More than 1,700 people have appeared in court for riot-related crimes, and claims for damages are expected to top £200million.

But the violence and mayhem barely registers on official crime statistics for the month of August in riot hotspots in London, Manchester and Birmingham. The figures prompted claims that official data was ‘distorted’.

Labour MP Graham Stringer said: ‘I support transparency and releasing crime figures but only if they are going to be accurate and this looks very much as though the police are putting out distorted information.’

But senior officers hit back firmly, insisting the figures were simply a quirk of the way crime is measured. These mean a break-in at a shop involving a gang of 100 people is recorded as a single crime.

Official figures for central Manchester showed there were just 21 crimes reported in St Ann’s Square during the whole month of August - the lowest figure for four months. The number of crimes in Market Street - the scene of widespread looting - fell to 42 in August from 49 in the previous month.

Similarly, in Piccadilly Gardens, where many shops were raided, there was no sign of the rioting in the official figures which show a fall from 81 offences in July to just 63 in August.

Across Greater Manchester as a whole, there were 31,967 crimes recorded during August, which was a slight fall on the 32,219 recorded in July.

The streets around Birmingham New Street - also a scene of widespread violent disorder - recorded a fall in crime in August compared to July. The total number of offences committed was 1,507, down from 1,522 in July, according to the police.uk crime mapping site. The same website shows crime fell around Mare Street in Hackney - a scene of major disturbances on August 8 - from 2,277 offences in July to a total of 1,984 in August.

Police said the figures were the result of Home Office crime recording rules which have not changed from before the riots. Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘The Home Office rules are clear and we follow them in a consistent way.

‘We had more than 1,000 people involved in the disorder but that does not equate to 1,000 crimes. ‘If four people break into your house then it is recorded as one crime in the same way as if one person had broken in. ‘On the other hand if one person breaks into a house which is sub-divided into four flats then it is recorded as four crimes. ‘To say that the disorder has been “airbrushed” from the crime statistics is both misleading and inaccurate.’


Rare sanity in English law: Homeowner cleared after burglar stabbed to death

"British justice" once meant something commendable. Now it is just a cue for laughter. But maybe this judgment gives some hope of sanity

A homeowner arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of an intruder at his property has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Vincent Cooke, 39, was initially arrested by police on suspicion of murder after stabbing one of two men suspected of trying to burgle his home in Manchester.

Police said that during the break-in the intruder smashed down his door and threatened him with a knife before Mr Cooke allegedly stabbed the Raymond Jacob, 37, six times. His wife Karen, 34, and 12-year-old son returned home during the incident but escaped unharmed.

He was due to answer bail later this month, but the Crown Prosecution Service has decided has that Mr Cooke acted in reasonable self-defence.

The family of known offender Mr Jacob later said they had been "distressed" by the events and supported the police inquiry to find out what happened.

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Cooke said: "I would like to offer my utmost thanks for all the support the public and media have offered me and my family during this terrible event. "I am most relieved that the CPS have decided not to charge me with any offence. It has been a living nightmare for me and I'm still suffering flashbacks of the incident," he said today. "I hope to now be able to get on with my life but will never forget the day that I had to fight for my life."

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West area, said after considering the evidence Mr Cooke should not face charges as he acted "honestly and instinctively" at the time of the attack.

"At the time he was in fear for his own safety and the safety of his wife and son who arrived at the house as the incident was happening," Mr Afzal said. "It is clear to me that Mr Cooke did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary on that day to protect himself, his home and his family from intruders.

"As crown prosecutors we look at all cases on their merit and according to the evidence in the individual case. I am satisfied that this is a case where a householder, faced with armed intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self defence.

"The law is clear that anyone who acts in good faith in using whatever force they honestly feel is necessary to protect themselves, their families or their property will not be prosecuted for such action."

Ministers are planning to clarify the law on self-defence in England, after a string of cases where homeowners have faced prosecution for defending their property.

The arrest of Mr Coley, 72, on suspicion of murder following the death of Gary Mullings, 30, who had broken into his shop in Old Trafford forced the issue back in the national media spotlight.

Last month’s stabbing came just days after the Crown Prosecution Service decided no charges should be brought against householder Peter Flanagan, 59, who was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal stabbing of a burglar. John Bennell, 27, was attacked after he broke into his home in, Pendlebury, Salford, in June.

David Cameron has also promised that the new Justice Bill would "put beyond doubt that home owners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted".

Under the current law, home owners who use “reasonable force” – which is no more than is absolutely necessary – to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted.



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

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

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


7 October, 2011

A licence to kill freedom of expression

Licensing journalists was a bad idea in John Milton’s day - so why are politicians and editors keen to revive it now?

‘For who knows not that Truth is strong next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licencings to make her victorious, those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.’

Who knows not? John Milton, in his 1644 polemic against the Licensing Order of 1643, Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England, evidently thought he was asking a rhetorical question: surely it’s plain that the truth will out without the help of licences or government policies, which would instead cause ‘the incredible losse, and detriment that this plot of licencing puts us to, more then if som enemy at sea should stop up all our hav’ns and ports, and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest Marchandize’.

However, it seems that to shadow culture minister Ivan Lewis the hindering and retardation of journalism is a reasonable price to pay for tackling ‘irresponsible’ journalists. After the scandal of phone hacking at the News of the World, Lewis clearly believes that Truth is in need of his help in order to emerge victorious. At the Labour Party Conference last week, Lewis suggested that journalists who are guilty of ‘gross malpractice’ should be ‘struck off’ and prevented from working in the industry, the implication being that a register of those who are fit to practice or not would be drawn up by any future Labour government.

Despite stressing the ‘independence’ of such an initiative from government, Lewis failed to explain who exactly would decide what was ‘malpractice’ and what wasn’t. Without state support, how could such a register be enforced? Cue thousands of horrified tweets from journalists from all colours of the political spectrum, including staunch Labour supporters. Within hours, Labour leader Ed Miliband was forced to step in and declare that a journalists’ register was not the party’s official policy.

Rather than being a potential Mugabe-in-the-waiting, what’s telling about Lewis’ idea was that, despite its announcement at the Labour Party’s biggest event of the year, it seemed to have been barely thought through. Not only does this policy hokey-cokey reveal much about the chaotic state of Labour right now, but it also shows how ignorant senior politicians are of the importance of freedom of speech.

Strikingly, however, even after Lewis had gone to ground red-faced, at least one prominent individual within the newspaper trade came out of the woodwork and advocated such a system of licenses. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show last week, the new editor of the Independent, Chris Blackhurst, rallied to Lewis’ defence and said he’d made ‘some good points’: ‘I know there’s an issue with the fact that there is a register of journalists, but frankly maybe we should’, he said, ‘there ought to be an ability to have that person removed. Let’s not just look at doctors, all sorts of professions… The Jockey Club. They actually bar jockeys from riding horses. Why can’t we bar journalists from writing articles?’

While emphasising that he didn’t want the state to play a role in issuing such licenses, when pushed on who would issue the license, Blackhurst said he ‘hadn’t thought it through that far’. He didn’t seem to know how to deal with papers that simply chose to opt out, although he suggested that the Press Complaints Commission or another body should have the power to ‘go onto news floors, seize documents, seize computers’. How such an approach could be carried out without the backing of the state went unexplained.

Remarkably, Blackhurst claimed he was taking this shudderingly anti-democratic approach in the name of the public: ‘If you put yourself in the position of the public, what they see is journalists behaving badly and nothing happening to them.’ However, he seemed oblivious to the actual contempt he was showing to the public by floating the idea that they should be prevented from reading articles that a journalist has written, sharing their insights, just because this journalist happens to have been blacklisted.

Blackhurst is not alone in favouring such a licensing system for the UK press. Another commentator for the Guardian claimed that, while Ivan Lewis was wrong to single out journalists, he should instead have focused his draconian gaze on where the ‘real’ power lies: ‘owners, editors and newsroom offices’.

And, earlier in the year, Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown stunned BBC Dateline presenter Gavin Esler by praising Italian journalist Annalisa Piras as having ‘quite a good idea’ when she proposed: ‘You don’t want in a democracy people who behave unprofessionally to give information. So why don’t we establish a kind of register and if you actually commit a crime like bribing the police, you are struck off?’ Such is a bizarre sense of ‘democracy’, where people are deprived of one of the most fundamental aspects of it, freedom of expression, in its name.

While there are currently few people openly advocating licenses for journalists, even some of those journalists who oppose formal licensing are actually enforcing an informal kind of licensing, with their suggestion that it’s fine for tabloids to be closed down and that only respectable broadsheet journalism should be protected from the police.

Although he may not be explicitly in favour of licences for journalists, Guardian writer Jonathan Friedland, for example, has declared that the ‘public interest’ was served by the closure of the News of the World: ‘The textbooks of the future will struggle to find a better example of a story in the public interest than that one’, he says referring to the Guardian’s investigation into phone hacking. ‘It had an enormous public impact, from the closure of the NotW and abandoning of the BSkyB bid to the departure of the Met’s commissioner and one of his most senior officers.’

The celebration of the closure of a newspaper as being of ‘enormous public impact’ is licensing in all but name, where we get a subtle - but very powerful - idea that there is a ‘good journalism’ and a ‘bad journalism’, with the reprehensible gutter press broadly unworthy of a licence to print.

And who should deem what is worthy or unworthy of being published? What makes them infallible? As Milton pointed out, ‘The State shall be my governours, but not my criticks; they may be mistak’n in the choice of a licencer, as easily as this licencer may be mistak’n in an author.’ Much the same could be said about a pseudo-state body, such as the Press Complaints Commission, which deems to decide what is in the public interest rather than leaving that judgement to the public itself.

The ‘arrogance’ on behalf of a potential licenser to make such decisions on our behalf was more than evident to Milton, as it should be to us. Which is why any time the idea of licensing journalists is raised, we would do well to adopt his approach of ‘endur[ing] not an instructer that comes to me under the wardship of an overseeing fist’.


The unfree speech movement

U.C. Berkeley’s response to a student satire on affirmative action shows the campus isn’t ready to talk about race

In 2008, in response to the furor over his association with the outspoken minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright, then-Sen. Barack Obama delivered a famous speech calling for a national conversation about race. In that speech, he argued a long-standing “racial stalemate” had prevented both blacks and whites from discussing their concerns about race “in polite company.” For many blacks, he said, the bitter legacy of discrimination meant that “questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways.” As for whites, “[m]ost middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race … So when they hear that an African-American is getting an advantage in getting a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed … resentment builds over time.”

Obama’s crucial point was that the anger and fear of both blacks and whites was legitimate. On the one hand, whites needed to recognize that racial discrimination, past and present, did “not just exist in the minds of black people,” but was a real issue that had to be addressed. But blacks, too, needed to break out of their programmed responses to white grievances. “[T]o wish away the resentments of white Americans, to dismiss them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing that they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.”

Obama’s message has apparently not gotten through to the University of California at Berkeley. As the hysterical reaction to a recent “Diversity Bake Sale” shows, the place that gave birth to the Free Speech Movement (and my alma mater) is not capable of talking freely about race.

Last week, the U.C. Berkeley College Republicans – not a group I ever thought I would find myself defending — staged what they called an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” to protest a bill, S.B. 185, that would allow public California universities to consider race, ethnicity and gender in admissions. The bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he may sign, is an attempt to get around Proposition 209, which California voters passed in 1996 and which prohibited preferential treatment of minorities by the state.

In the bake sale, cupcakes were offered at different prices to different racial and ethnic groups. For whites, the price was $2; for Asians, $1.50; for Latinos, $1; for Native Americans, 75 cents. Women got an additional 25 cents off.

The cupcake sale was an obvious, and dead-on, political satire. The purpose of S.B. 185 is to give “underrepresented minorities” – blacks and Latinos – preference in admissions. To comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings outlawing racial preferences in college admissions, the bill disingenuously asserts that it will not give such preferences, but that is an obvious ruse: Its author, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, has stated that its purpose is to increase black and Latino enrollment at California public universities. If it did not give those groups an advantage in admissions, it would be pointless. The Academic Senate of the University of California recognized this in a letter to the U.C. administration recommending that the university remain neutral on the bill. The bill’s intention is to give blacks and Latinos a discounted admission to California colleges. The bake sale, which offered discounted cupcakes to blacks and Latinos, is an exact equivalent. If the bake sale is offensive, then racial preferences themselves are offensive.

Regardless of your position on affirmative action, the bake sale was completely within the bounds of acceptable satire. It was not like one of those fraternity pranks where a bunch of yahoo rich white kids dress up in blackface and pretend to be ghetto gangbangers. Yet many U.C. students, the U.C. student government and the U.C. administration reacted to the bake sale as if the Ku Klux Klan had erected a gigantic burning cross in Sproul Plaza.

Enraged counter-protesters decried the bake sale as “racist.” The student organizers of the parody were threatened, and there was talk of defunding their organization. The student senate voted 19-0 to condemn the bake sale.

Most egregiously, U.C. Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau and two top administrators felt impelled to send out an open letter to the campus community, condemning the bake sale as “contrary to the Principles of Community we espouse as a campus.”

The terrible offense the creators of the bake sale were guilty of? Hurting people’s feelings. “This event has moved the campus community into dialogue, because it was hurtful or offensive to many of its members,” the letter – also signed by Gibor Basri, vice-chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and Harry LeGrand, vice-chancellor for student affairs – piously intoned. Remarkably, this letter did not even attempt to argue that there was anything objectively offensive about the bake sale. The mere fact that it offended some students was considered sufficient grounds to condemn it; whether it was actually offensive, or racist, or beyond the pale in any way, was deemed irrelevant by U.C. Berkeley’s top brass. “The issue is not whether one thinks an action is satirical or inoffensive; the issue is whether community members will be intentionally — or unintentionally – hurt or demeaned by that action.”

If he actually followed this absurd position to its logical conclusion, Chancellor Birgeneau would have to spend all his time firing off open letters. He would have to rebuke pro-Israeli groups for hurting Palestinians’ feelings, and vice-versa. He would have to criticize opponents and supporters of abortion rights for making their adversaries feel bad. In fact, if he really wanted to defend the feelings of the campus community, he should send an open letter to California voters, telling them that by passing Proposition 209 they did something very hurtful.

But of course Birgeneau will not send any of those letters. Because his hypocritical letter is really only concerned with protecting the feelings of one group: underrepresented minority students. Its implicit message: It is not permissible to talk about race except in approved ways. Any deviation from the script will be censured.

Is this any way to run a university? And is it any way to advance racial dialogue?

As then-Sen. Obama pointed out, affirmative action remains one of the most divisive issues in American society. White anger over it has been one of the key factors behind the rise of the American right. Even many of its most articulate defenders, like Orlando Patterson and Glenn Loury, acknowledge how flawed, problematic and morally troubling it is. It needs to be talked about. By trying to make it off-limits to free discussion, U.C. Berkeley has abdicated its proud heritage as a bastion of free speech and succumbed to a stifling racial politeness that does no one any good – least of all the minority students whose allegedly delicate feelings it is at such pains to protect. College is supposed to be a preparation for life, and life is full of arguments and confrontations, some of which can hurt one’s feelings. Condescension and paternalism are not solid foundations for racial progress.

The sanctimonious approach to race in the chancellor’s open letter reflects the anodyne, Mom-and-apple-pie celebration of “diversity” that has become a quasi-official American orthodoxy. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the fact that American institutions, from the government to big corporations, now actively promote racial inclusion, harmony and understanding. But when racial “diversity” becomes a sacred cow, one that trumps everything else, true diversity – diversity of opinion – is threatened. Colleges and universities are one of American society’s last lines of defense of that vital diversity, which also goes by the name of freedom. They must hold the line.


British bureacracy good at being offensive but hopeless at helping

Ellen Hiscox has lived in the same house for 60 years. Since her husband died, she’s been cared for by her daughter Catherine.

Back in August, 88-year-old Mrs Hiscox had an operation on her leg, which left her incapacitated. When she was released from hospital, they contacted social services to request some temporary home help.

Although Catherine looks after her mum full-time, she needs some assistance with basic tasks such as getting her up and down the stairs. The nurse at her local GP’s clinic also recommended she should ask for the loan of an orthopaedic back rest and footstool.

It took six letters and as many phone calls to Dacorum Borough Council, Hertfordshire, before she received a reply. Eventually, the council agreed to a home visit to decide whether Mrs Hiscox qualified for help and sent two officials to her house in Hemel Hempstead to process the application.

Catherine wondered why it needed two people. Turns out one was a social worker and the other would be conducting an elf’n’safety risk assessment. While the social worker considered Mrs Hiscox’s clinical needs, her oppo wandered round the house making notes. After a while they left, saying they’d be in touch.

Shortly afterwards, a letter arrived from the council detailing the results of their investigation.

It was decided that Mrs Hiscox was not entitled to any home help, despite her lack of mobility. The request for a back rest and footstool was also refused, even though her own doctor thought she needed them to make her more comfortable while she recovered from the operation.

But that wasn’t all. The letter said they should put up a ‘Mind Your Head’ notice on the stairs, for the benefit of anyone who may be required to use them in an official capacity, ‘e.g.: a loft insulation installer’.

This was apparently because an occupational therapist had ‘scrapped’ (sic) her head while going upstairs on a previous visit. The assessor concluded that anyone over 5ft 6in was at risk of injury. She also recommended that the house should be ‘de-cluttered’ just in case someone tripped over and hurt themselves.

Catherine was livid. ‘How dare they tell us to put up a Mind Your Head sign in our own home? Mum’s lived here for 60 years and I’ve lived here for nearly 50. No one has ever hit their head up to now.’

Admittedly, Catherine and her mum are both shorter than 5ft 6in. But her dad was 5ft 8in and he managed to negotiate the stairs for more than half a century without knocking himself senseless. They’ve got friends over 6ft who have found their way to the bathroom safely.

Now you might be thinking that maybe the Hiscox home is one of those restricted-headroom Anne Hathaway’s Cottage jobs, where you have to bend double to get through the front door.

You’d be wrong. Hiscox Towers is a perfectly normal, three-bed detached house put up during the building boom of the 1920s. There are tens of thousands of similar properties all over Britain.

And the last time anyone looked, the hallways of suburbia weren’t littered with the corpses of people who bashed their heads and suffered irreparable brain damage while climbing the stairs.

Catherine was equally furious at the suggestion her home needed ‘de-cluttering’. She admits it was a bit untidy when the council officials turned up, because she’d just been shopping and was halfway through emptying the bags. She’s also been rushed off her feet looking after her mum round the clock.

Catherine said: ‘I write children’s stories and there’s always lots of books around. But I’m almost OCD about cleanliness. The house is spotless.’

There are a few pieces of extra furniture which used to belong to Catherine’s aunt, who died recently aged 90. But it’s hardly Steptoe’s scrapyard.

What we have here is a classic example of just about everything which is wrong with local government in Britain. We pay our taxes and expect to get a few basic services in return — in this case, a little help for an 88-year-old lady after a routine operation until she’s back on her feet.

What we get is a bureaucratic system run for the benefit of those who work within it, not those who pay for it. First it takes a dozen letters and phone calls to get a reply from social services. After an unacceptable delay, the council rejects out of hand a perfectly reasonable request for assistance.

Instead of getting a footstool and back rest, Mrs Hiscox is forced to endure a dopey bird with a clipboard poking her way round her home, carrying out an unnecessary and intrusive risk assessment.

Then, to add insult to injury, she receives an illiterate letter — Catherine says it was littered with grammatical and spelling errors — telling her to ‘de-clutter’ her home and put up a ridiculous Mind Your Head notice on the stairs. The letter also addressed Mrs Hiscox as ‘Gwendoline’, even though her full name is Florence Eleanor and she has always been known as Ellen, for short. So much for dignity for the elderly.

I’m only surprised the council hasn’t insisted on Catherine and her mum wearing hi-viz jackets, hard hats and steel toe-capped boots in the house at all times, as well as keeping a stock of protective headgear and footwear by the front door for any visitors.

Incidentally, Catherine tells me that yesterday they received a visit from another council officer who rejected a further request for help tending their 100ft garden. Probably just as well, otherwise they’d have had to ‘de-clutter’ the herbaceous border, erect a couple of dozen hazard warning signs and cordon off the rose bushes with traffic cones.


The search for meaning in mortality

by Jeff Jacoby

DAVID HOROWITZ aches to believe that life has meaning and that there is a purpose to this world. The prolific writer, a former Marxist radical who became a leading conservative activist, has spent his (so far) 72 years as if how we live matters deeply. Still, he cannot shake the bleak intellectual conviction that in the long run nothing we do will endure or make a difference - that life on earth is ultimately meaningless and history is heading nowhere.

Yet Horowitz's own journey suggests something more hopeful and optimistic.

He was a militant leftist who opposed the Vietnam War and supported the Black Panther Party, but broke with his radical allies over the bloody repression that followed the communist victories in South Vietnam and Cambodia. By the 1990s he had become one of the most vocal opponents of political correctness in academia, and he emerged after 9/11 as an outspoken critic of radical Islam.

In his brief and affecting new book, A Point in Time, Horowitz wrestles with even deeper concerns. He writes admiringly of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher whose "practical wisdom" was that life's torments -- and tormentors -- should be faced with equanimity, since oblivion is the common fate of all. "Be not troubled," advised the emperor, "for all things are according to nature, and in a little while you will be no one and nowhere." It is a passage Horowitz quotes several times. He is at peace with the prospect of dying, he says, "comfortable with the idea that soon I will be no one and nowhere, and comforted in a stoic way by the knowledge that it doesn't add up."

Is he, though? As Horowitz notes, even Marcus Aurelius was "haunted" by the implications of a world without transcendent meaning. If the universe is nothing but "a confused mass of dispersing elements," the great Stoic wrote -- if there is no God, no perfection, no possibility of redemption -- why do we hunger to live? Why do we have such hopes for the future?

In the end Marcus Aurelius decides that "there are certainly gods, and they take care of the world." But that is a step too far for Horowitz. Though Jewish, he is an agnostic, unable to bring himself to belief in God or in an afterlife where justice finally prevails. "I wish I could place my trust in the hands of a Creator," he writes forlornly at one point. "I wish I could look on my life and the lives of my children and all I have loved and see them as preludes to a better world. But, try as I might, I cannot."

As it happens, I read A Point in Time during the High Holidays, the 10 days of repentance that extend from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. One of the great themes of this solemn interval is that life on earth is fleeting, and so we must make the most of it. In the evocative words of "U'Netaneh Tokef," an emotional high point of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy, man is "like a broken shard, like grass dried up, like a faded flower . . . like a dream that slips away."

Contrary to the Stoics, however, Judaism regards human mortality not as a reflection of the world's meaninglessness, but as God's greatest gift to the men and women He creates in His image. A lifetime - that brief window between dust and dust - is the opportunity He grants each of us to become His partners in creation by making the world a better, kinder, more hopeful place. Our job is not to accept the world as it is, nor to make our peace with the idea that eventually we "will be no one and nowhere." Judaism believes in life after death, but it is only in life before death that human achievement is possible.

And there is no achievement greater than self-improvement.

Judaism is the religion of the free human being freely responding to the God of freedom.

"If the world is to be redeemed it will be one individual at a time," Horowitz writes at the end of his book. The religion of his fathers teaches not just that individuals have the power to improve themselves ethically, but that their ability to do so is a divine endowment.

"Judaism is the religion of the free human being freely responding to the God of freedom," observes Sir Jonathan Sacks, the British chief rabbi, in his introduction to a new edition of the Rosh Hashana prayerbook. "The very fact that we can . . . act differently tomorrow than we did yesterday tells us we are free. We are not in the grip of sin. We are not determined by economic forces or psychological drives or genetically encoded impulses that we are powerless to resist. Philosophers have found this idea difficult. So have scientists. But Judaism insists on it."

David Horowitz may not believe in the Creator from whom this freedom comes. But his life -- and A Point in Time -- attest eloquently to the meaning and moral progress that are possible when that freedom is cherished, and used wisely.



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

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

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


6 October, 2011

Anti-Semitic Incidents In Calif. Jump 8 Percent; Highest In US

Why is this only local news? If blacks were being attacked it would be in the papers coast to coast. One guess: Most of the perpetrators are Muslims and we must not speak ill of them

The state of California is leading a national surge in anti-Semitic attacks and other incidents.

KNX 1070?s Pete Demetriou reports the increase in reported the number of assaults, vandalism and other threats soared by about 8 percent - the first such rise since 2004.

Over 1,200 incidents were reported in 2010, with 297 in California and nearly half of those in Los Angeles, Kern, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

Among the most disturbing aspects of the jump is that more are occurring in areas with predominantly younger populations and with teens taking part in a significant part of the actions.

With 1 of every 5 hate crime incidents in L.A. County being labeled as anti-Semitic, officials are taking a closer look at the data - especially since the threats are happening in diverse neighborhood


Barriers to adoption put up by British social workers to be swept away

Race rules which block white families from adopting black children should be ripped up to end the national ‘scandal’ of thousands of youngsters left languishing in care, the Prime Minister said yesterday.

Mr Cameron said the Coalition would put a new ‘focus’ on making sure that more children are given the chance of a permanent family.

And he signalled that the Government would sweep away the apartheid-style race rules which have prevented children from finding a loving home.

The PM said he wanted to see more children adopted by families following figures this week which showed that just 60 out of 3,660 babies under one were adopted last year. In total, there are over 65,000 children in care.

‘This may not seem like the biggest issue facing the country, but it is the biggest issue for these children,’ he said. ‘How can we have let this happen? We’ve got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families.

‘With the right values and the right effort, let’s end this scandal and help these, the most vulnerable children of all.’

Recent figures showed that it takes an average of two years and seven months before a child going into the care system – often living with frequently changing foster parents or in children’s homes – has his or her future settled by adoption.

For those left behind, the future has often proved bleak. Among teenagers who have recently left the care system, nearly a third are NEETs – not in employment, education or training.

Adoption by couples of a different race from the child has been banned since the 1990s following claims that the child suffers identity crisis. Independent research has found that this is not the case.

Ten years ago Tony Blair vowed to sweep away the petty rules but his 2002 Act, which introduced adoption by gay couples, failed to meet a target of 50 per cent more adoptions from care.

In many cases, the authorities demanded that potential parents have the same ethnic make-up as children they wished to look after permanently.

Adoptions were also prevented to parents judged too old, too unhealthy, or to be smokers. The hostile approach has been blamed for helping to cut adoptions tenfold since the 1970s.

Last year, ministers pledged to act after figures showed a disastrous drop in the number of children trapped in state care who escape into adoptive families.


Hate speech laws should be abolished

David Kemp comments from Australia

IF any comfort is to be found in the Andrew Bolt case it can only be that it will lead to the repeal of the law that declared his opinions illegal and not to be republished.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is contrary to the principle of freedom of speech that underpins our democracy, and we cannot afford to allow it to stand if we wish to preserve our freedom.

This is not simply a matter of facts being wrong. If it were, the case would have been conducted under defamation law.

Nor is it simply a matter of "bad journalism". Bad journalism of the category complained of here should not end up in a courtroom. It should be examined in the realm of public debate, as it has been until now in any society confident in its liberal democratic principles.

The person responsible for this law, Michael Lavarch, has justified it (The Australian, April 9) on the basis that "history tells us that overblown rhetoric on race fosters damaging racial stereotyping and this in turn can contribute to societal harm well beyond any deeply felt personal offence".

The former attorney-general reminds us that freedom of speech is not absolute, and in that he is correct. The law as it stands, apart from his act, does not permit perfect freedom to say anything. To say something that causes a riot, or is libellous or defames a person, or is misleading or deceptive in a commercial context is not permitted.

But his law goes well beyond these time-honoured exceptions. Let us substitute the word class for race in his statement, or the word religious, or the word gender, or the word national, or even the words politics and political. Lavarch's statement is true for each. Overblown rhetoric on any of these topics can create stereotypes, can cause offence, and if made the basis for action may lead on to damaging consequences.

It was not racial hatred but class hatred that raised the guillotine during the French Revolution, or when millions were starved and slaughtered in Stalin's attack on the "wealthy" peasants, or in Mao's collectivisation, or in his vicious Cultural Revolution, or in the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

But in democracies we have long known that it is not words that produce such horrors, it is the failure to expose prejudice, to control violence and ultimately it is the absence of democracy that leads to these catastrophes. Violence and incitement to violence are proper domains of the law, but this is not what this law is about.

Lavarch and his ilk tell us that what people say is potentially too dangerous to be left to the uncertain processes of freedom of speech and the sanctions of public opinion. What is needed, he says, is a government tribunal to counsel and warn, to secure retractions and ban republication like the medieval church. If his view is accepted then liberal democracy becomes a historical interlude between the ruling classes that preceded it and the bureaucracies and tribunals that Lavarch would apparently like to see replace it.

This is a truly grotesque process that has no relationship to our democratic tradition and, dare I say it, one contrary to the inalienable natural rights of people to freedom of speech, on the observance of which, ultimately, the legitimacy of the democratic state depends.

The law enunciated in the Bolt case seems to fall within the concerns expressed by US Supreme Court judge Louis Brandeis, when he said that "experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty, when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning, but without understanding."

The exact point was addressed in his famous essay, On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill, the strongest opponent of political correctness in his day, when he considered the argument being put by some at the time that "the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion".

Mill pointed out the "impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed". To make offence the test is to undermine the very freedom that can expose error. Mill then went on to say in words that may or may not apply to the present case: "If the test be offence to those whose opinions are attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever an attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, to be intemperate".

You may or may not agree with Bolt, and the judge has found that not all the facts in his articles were correct, but neither hurt nor accuracy have ever been seen as relevant in discussions of the principle of freedom of speech in our society.

In a democracy people are entitled to say what they want, regardless of who is offended, and whether their facts are correct or incorrect.

If they are wrong, others will refute them. We do not need Lavarch's tribunals and courts to teach us how to be good democrats.

The processes of this law I find obscene in the full meaning of the words: offensive, loathsome, ill-omened, disgusting.

The law that has made these events possible must be abolished as soon as possible.


Homosexual passports coming to Australia too

It's already happening in Britain

GAY parents could win the right to not be referred to as a mum or dad, but instead 'parent 1' or 'parent 2' in passport applications. They would have the option of choosing "parent 1" and "parent 2", instead of mother and father, under a proposal being considered by the Government for its new electronic passport application system.

Gay rights groups applauded the potential for gender-neutral forms in Australia, but family groups expressed concern.

Australian Family Association spokeswoman Terri Kelleher said the move undermined the traditional family model. "It would break down the understanding of a family and family relationships; how long until they just use parent one and parent two?" she said.

Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Sarah Rogan said it would be a "progressive" step for same-sex couples. "It would reflect the make-up of families across Australia," she said. "It would also be beneficial for children to see that their family is considered a family."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposal stemmed from problems same-sex parents had when filling out forms on behalf of children. "Feedback from same-sex parents of minor passport applicants has highlighted difficulties they have experienced when completing parental consent sections of passport applications," a statement said.

"Consideration is being given to include parent 1/parent 2 alongside the mother/father fields as part of a proposed electronic enrolment facility for passports."Britain will make a similar change by December after pressure from gay lobby groups, while the US this year dropped mother and father from passport applications to reflect "different types of families".

The proposal comes after recent changes allowing transsexual Australians to carry passports in their preferred gender without the need for a sex change.

Australian Bureau of Statistics available show that in 2006, 50,000 people were living in a same-sex couple relationships. But the report said this was expected to be a conservative figure.

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said it was a sign of the times and reflected changes in modern families.



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

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

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


5 October, 2011

Living amid Hollywood hypocrisy

By: Janine Turner

I had to listen to it for years on sets, at dinners, in rehearsals, in the make-up chair, and at award ceremonies. The judgmental, hot, mostly uninformed rants of Hollywood liberals breathed down my neck and sucked all the air from the room. Usually, the rants were so hostile that I was afraid to speak up, or so ridiculous that I thought it futile to reply.

The liberal Hollywood elite, who stand firmly on their right to be heard, their right to express, their right to persuade through art, arrogantly deny that same freedom to anyone who may disagree with them. And like most liberals, they have a blind spot for their own intolerance.

I remember one Emmy ceremony in particular for its incessant anti-conservative, anti-Republican diatribes, one after another. I remember sitting, slumped in my chair, just counting the moments until I could be released from the lions' den. There I was -- a captive, a hostage to their narrow-minded and condescending point of view, expressed in a vacuum.

I couldn't wait to leave Hollywood. I always felt like I was in a bubble when I lived there -- in a stifling tropical snow globe. It was like that fabulous scene in "The Truman Show" where Jim Carrey leaps from his boat and beats his head against the sky on the set of the world, wanting to get out.

In Hollywood, they think America is inherently bad, a world embarrassment, even as they gorge themselves on the American dream.

Hollywood is a surreal and pretend world whose way of life is actually ruthless free enterprise -- it is called show business, after all. Hollywood is where stars, movie producers, writers and agents actively seek glamour, money, power and fame; where they covet fast cars and face-lifts and fly in private jets. They drink fine wines and insist on free spirits. They are the ultimate connoisseurs who insist on living liberty at large.

Yet somehow, the inhabitants gag at the very thought of capitalism going on elsewhere.

In Hollywood, they deplore censorship. Yet they embrace tyrants such as Hugo Chavez who use their power to censor opposition voices. They sneer at Wall Street even as they fall all over themselves running to see how many millions their movies have grossed. They think Obamacare works nicely for poor people in the "flyover states," yet they would never accept anything but the top doctors for themselves.

They think socialism is a novelty -- a nicety whose time has come. Yet how odd to imagine their lot under a Chavez or a Castro or a Stalin. Just picture the collapse of Hollywood's playground -- the redistribution of their wealth, the despotic squelching of their free speech, the strangling of their rights and riches.

They would howl like lone wolves do in Westerns. They would beg like Scarlett O'Hara. They would scream like the Wicked Witch of the West. But instead of screaming, "I'm melting! I'm melting!", they would scream, "Not me! Not me!"


A Call to Ban the Full-Face Veil in the U.S. and in Israel

Nancy Kobrin, PhD, Joan Lachkar, PhD

As psychoanalysts, we are addressing the psychological implications of wearing a full-face veil. It is well known from psychological research and infant and human developmental psychology that contact with the mother's face is of crucial importance. The importance of eye contact with the mother's gaze is substantiated by the research and writings of such famous researchers as Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Margaret Mahler, Otto Kernberg, Mary Ainsworth, Beatrice Beebe, John Bowlby, Daniel Stern and others who have made major contributions to the study of attachment disorders. This is further confirmed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that the full-face veil is terrifying to children.

Babies and children are in constant need to be able to read the nonverbal, covert body language messages of their mother's face. It goes without saying that the kind of message that the full-face veil communicates to the infant is that the mother's gaze is cut off and therefore uninvolved or concerned with the infant's well being. To the public too the mother has been erased, so to speak, from being part of civil society, an individual demanding and deserving recognition and respect. The full-face veil communicates hatred and terror of the female. This is not a good message to communicate to a baby.

Beatrice Beebe, Ph.D. cites an article entitled "Mother-Infant Research: Mother-Impact Treatment" (pdf) based on endless clinical researchers as mentioned above, noting the importance of the "dyadic view" or the face to face non-verbal communication between mother and her infant. The face to face interaction is most relevant for communication as well as for social development. A depressed or stressed mother runs the risk of insecure and dysfunctional attachment to her infant. One can imagine the relevance this has to a Muslim mother forced to hide her face with a full-face veil.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has written about her experience seeing Saudi women fully veiled when she was a child:

And all the women in this country were covered in black. They were humanlike shapes. The front of them were black and the back of them was black too. You could see which way they were looking only by the direction their shoes pointed. We could tell they were women because the lady who was holding our hands tightly to prevent us from wandering off was covered in black, too. You could see her face, because she was Somali. Saudi women had no faces.

We pulled away and ran over to the black shapes. We stared up at them, trying to make out where their eyes could be. One raised her hand, gloved in black, and we shrikes, "They have hands!" We pulled faces at her. We were truly awful, but what we were seeing was so alien, so sinister, that we were trying to tame it, make it less awful. (Infidel, p. 40)

The second point we wish to make about the full-face veil concerns the security risk. The full-face veil is not only terrorizing to little children but it becomes a gross security risk. In our analysis the full-face veil is an insidious form of Islamic extremism's seemingly benign behavior which hides under the guise of "religious freedom." The full-face veil is a passive aggressive tactic predicated on the submission of the devalued female, and is also an affront to Western women.

What follows are other implications regarding the ability to form healthy attachments which are prerequisites for developing empathy for others. The lack of empathy characterizes the extremist Islamic ideologies such as Hamas or Hizbollah, that is killing the kufar, the nonbeliever. Beginning in utero to age three, the growth of the baby's brain doubles if not quadruples in size. This is the time when the motherboard of the baby's mind is made, when mirror neurons are put in place to develop empathy. If the maternal attachment is not healthy the baby will falter.

This is not to blame the mother but to understand the serious nature of her task and the daunting conditions under which she lives. The abuse of the female in any culture has horrific ramifications for which society ultimately pays the price in violence. The need to hate and the need to have an enemy is in place by age three. The full-face veil runs counter to the serious task of developing empathy and giving up violence as a solution to one's problems. It is unfortunate that the most influential of all Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia, fails to comprehend how the full-face veil is damaging to its very own citizens and the next generations.

The full-face veil is becoming omnipresent, more and more we encounter this in the U.S. and even in Israel. It is about time that America and Israel follow the path of France and Holland by banning the full-face veil. Muslim women in black full-face veils and burqas down to the black gloves with infants and little children in tow, is not only a growing occurrence but unacceptable to our way of life and the way we wish to raise our children. Just imagine what would happen to the macho male Muslim if the burqa were taken away, they would be subject to the power of the women, her sexuality as well as her motherhood and her maternal capacities.

Make no doubt about it, the Muslim men hiding behind these women do not have good intentions, more a way of domination for their own self serving purposes and even worse the sacrifice of their own children -- abuse, trauma, deprivation and suffering.

It is time to ban the full-face veil in America and Israel.


Study: father’s presence makes children happier, more intelligent

Research at Montreal’s Concordia University has shown that fathers who actively engage in raising their children make important contributions to their children’s cognitive abilities and behavioral functioning.

The study carried out by Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology, and associates, used data from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, an intergenerational longitudinal data set collected in inner city areas of Montreal. “This topic is particularly relevant in Québec, a demographically and culturally unique province in which female lone parenthood is relatively common,” Pougnet explains in the preface to the report.

According to recent Statistics Canada figures, 22 per cent of Quebec families are comprised of households where biological fathers are absent, compared to a national average of 13 per cent.

“This pattern is related to socioeconomic disadvantages that predict negative cognitive and behavioural outcomes in youth,” the researchers state.

One hundred and thirty-eight children and their parents from lower to middle income backgrounds participated in two waves of data collection: at ages 3 to 5, and again at 9 to 13 years old. The children were given IQ tests, while their mothers completed questionnaires on spousal conflict and the home environment. The children’s teachers contributed to the research by observing and reporting the child’s behavior at school.

“Teachers were a somewhat more independent source of information than mothers, fathers or children themselves,” Pougnet said in a press release from Concordia University, “because a father’s absence can result in home conflict, maternal distress and child distress.”

The study found that, “Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older — even among socio-economically at-risk families.”

“Regardless of whether fathers lived with their children, their ability to set appropriate limits and structure their children’s behaviour positively influenced problem-solving and decreased emotional problems, such as sadness, social withdrawal and anxiety,” said Pougnet.

The study also found that girls were more affected by absent fathers than boys. “Girls whose fathers were absent during their middle childhood had significantly higher levels of emotional problems at school than girls whose fathers were present,” said Pougnet.

The research team suggests that the findings of their study not only contribute to the body of research connecting fathers and childhood development, but should also be used by governments to establish policies that support the role of fathers in their families and society.

“These findings add to the increasing body of literature suggesting that fathers make important contributions to their children’s cognitive and behavioural functioning,” the report concludes, “and point to the benefits of developing policies that encourage fathers to spend time with their children (i.e., parental leave for men) and promote positive fathering and involvement through parenting courses.”


A former Australian conservative Prime Minister succumbs to the anti-Israel virus

The former PM's defence of the Palestinians and Hamas is offensive. It's probably Stockholm syndrome. He used to be savagely mocked and hated by the Left so he has apparently decided to join them. Perhaps that is also why he has attempted to re-wite history

by Isi Leibler

I RETAIN fond memories of my genuinely warm association with Malcolm Fraser when he was prime minister and I headed the Australian Jewish community. Our relationship was based on shared values and my appreciation for his inestimable assistance on behalf of Soviet Jewry, ensuring that, while I was in Moscow, the Australian embassy provided support for my efforts on behalf of Jewish dissidents.

I also recollect that in those days he was enthralled with Israel and he would spend hours discussing and enthusiastically lauding the achievements of the Jewish state.

In Jewish mystical folklore we relate to a dybbuk - a malevolent spirit capable of dramatically transforming a person's entire outlook. I am tempted to attribute Malcolm Fraser's dramatic reversal of attitude to a dybbuk.

In his recent Age column, Fraser repeated his now standard portrayal of Israelis as villains and Palestinians as noble underdogs. But on this occasion, the numerous demonstrable falsehoods he expresses impel me to respond from my vantage here in Jerusalem.

For example, he says that in 1948 the Israelis "pushed out" the Palestinians, omitting to mention that Israel had accepted the UN partition plan but that it was the Palestinians, supported by five Arab armies, who invaded the new Jewish state with the objective of destroying it. He repeats the mantra that settlements over the green line are at the core of the Arab-Israeli problem. But he conveniently omits to mention that the PLO indulged in terrorism before 1967 when the first settlements were established, and that even today they represent less than 5 per cent of territory beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

Fraser also repeats the canard that "Israel refuses to talk substantially about realistic boundaries", ignoring the fact that two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, had offered the Palestinians 95 per cent of the territories formerly occupied by Jordan. But they were rebuffed. What I regard as even more offensive and perhaps pathetic is the praise that Fraser extends to Hamas, the evil Islamic fundamentalists who share much in common with al-Qaeda. He says that Israel should be negotiating with them. Is Fraser aware that the Hamas charter calls explicitly on the faithful to murder all Jews and that their Islamic faith prohibits them from engaging in any form of compromise because the Jewish state must be utterly destroyed?

He even makes a bizarre observation that the thousands of rockets and missiles launched by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians "caused little damage" and did not justify Israel's response. I wonder how Fraser, as a prime minister, would have responded if residents in his neighbourhood were forced to live with their children in shelters for extended periods of time because their neighbours were lobbing missiles at them. Not to mention dispatching suicide bombers to target them in shopping malls.

He enthusiastically supports Palestinian efforts to bypass UN resolution 242, endorsed in 1967, which called for direct negotiations to resolve the territorial conflict. But even after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an unprecedented move, froze all construction in the settlements for 10 months, the Palestinians refused to negotiate. Furthermore, in his recent speech at the UN General Assembly, the intransigent Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected compromise on any issue, reiterated his determination never to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and even denied the historical association of the Jewish people with the Holy Land. He hypocritically accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing", employing terms against them such as "racist" and "apartheid" without retracting his earlier proclamations that not a single Jew would be permitted to li ve in a new Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has made clear he is willing to compromise and make major sacrifices for peace by ceding land, but will not endanger the security of his citizens. If the Palestinians had accepted this 10 years ago, they would already have a state. They can have one tomorrow if they display a willingness to accept Israel as a Jewish state and are willing to peacefully coexist with it.

Netanyahu accepted the latest Quartet call to negotiate without any preconditions. Abbas refused. Many believe that he is not seeking a settlement and even if he were, he would not have the political power to implement it, especially having reiterated his determination to reunite with the genocidal Hamas.

I am truly saddened that the Jewish community has lost the friendship of Malcolm Fraser and hope that, in the course of time, he will adopt a more rational and open-minded approach.



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

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

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


4 October, 2011

World Vision can fire non-Christians says SCOTUS

THE US Supreme Court has agreed the World Vision Christian charity organisation can hire and fire its workers based on their religious beliefs.

The nine justices of the nation's top court, opening their new term, upheld a ruling by a lower court that World Vision was a religious organisation and as such was exempted from laws against religious discrimination.

Three former employees, who had been fired in 2007 in a dispute over the requirement that they had to be Christians, had taken their case to the Supreme Court. But the justices today refused to take up the suit, meaning the lower court's ruling from August stands.

"Today's action by the US Supreme Court represents a major victory for the freedom of all religious organisations to hire employees who share the same faith - whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, or any other religion," the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns, said in a statement.

World Vision employs some 30,000 people around the world.

Mr Stearns said he was "pleased, relieved and gratified with the court's action" which brought to an end four years of legal battles. "Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organisation was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ," he added.


Egalitarian civilisations 'are weaker' than those with inequality

This will all be familiar to students of dominance hierarchies in the animal kingdom. In such hierarchies the territories of dominant animals expand as food becomes short and the weaker animals simply get pushed out to die. So the survivors of a stressful situation are always the strongest and fittest animals in the group -- which is good for the survival of the group and too bad about its weaker members. Konrad Lorenz is the best known writer in that field

Societies with entrenched class systems thrive better than those with a strong egalitarian streak, suggests new research from the U.S. When the lower end of society has less than the upper classes, it makes people more likely to emigrate in search of better conditions, according to the team at California's Stanford University.

The team used a computer simulation to model two factors - stability and rates of migration for two types of society, one 'egalitarian', and one unequal. The results make surprising reading.

In the 'stratified' cultures, with a rigid class structures, shortages of food or money affected the poorer people more, while those at the top were less affected and social hierarchies remained intact.

The survival of the ruling class - and the social structure that put them in place - meant that such societies could adapt more quickly. By comparison, in societies which operate along more equal lines, deprivation is shared between the population. They bear the impact more widely and are thus less able to adapt, and slower to recover.

'The fact that unequal societies outnumber egalitarian societies may not be due to the replacement of the ethic of equality by a more selfish ethic,' as originally thought,' said cultural evolution specialist Deborah Rogers, lead author of the study. 'Stratified (unequal) societies simply spread and took over, crowding out the unequal populations.' This difference in 'survivability' was most easily seen in the early stages of human societies.

'This is the first study to demonstrate a specific mechanism by which stratified societies may have taken over most of the world,' Marcus Feldman, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford.

'Inequalities in socioeconomic status are increasing sharply around the world. Understanding the causes and consequences of inequality and how to reduce it is one of the central challenges of our time.'

That means the unequal cultures grow and spread across the globe, while the equal culture is displaced, adding to the list of reasons why communism failed as a societal model when faced with capitalism.

The research, published in the science journal PLoS ONE, leads to the galling suggestion that the 'bankers bonus' culture ultimately keeps our society strong by a driving sickened and struggling public away in search of a better life.

The research paper grew out of PhD work by the cultural evolution specialist Deborah Rogers, though she is now a researcher at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany.

Various theories have been put forward for the development of inequality and hierarchical societies in the early years of human civilisation, with some suggesting it was to do with control of crop irrigation systems, while others have said it occurred slowly as a result of small differences in wealth due to inheritance.


Conservative MP's bill takes aim at Canada's hate speech provisions

A Conservative backbench MP from Alberta believes a majority of his caucus colleagues will support his private member's bill that would repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech over the telephone or Internet.

Tory MP Brian Storseth introduced Friday in the House of Commons a bill that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code dealing with complaints regarding "the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet."

He said he believes the current human rights code fails to protect freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and insists Canadians are better off if the government repeals sections 13 and 54 — the latter section deals with associated penalties.

The code as it currently reads allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, he said, when hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group is already covered by the Criminal Code.

"Freedom of speech is the freedom that all other freedoms are built on. It cannot be restrained to the politically correct," Storseth, MP for Westlock—St. Paul, said Friday as he introduced Bill C-304. "The best way to fight bigotry is to ensure that we protect and enhance our fundamental freedoms in this great country of ours."

Conservative caucus chairman Guy Lauzon said the private member's bill "hasn't even come near caucus." However, he figures Storseth has canvassed a large number of Tory MPs for their support — otherwise he probably wouldn't have introduced the bill. "There's no point putting something forward if it's not going to carry, so I'm sure that Brian has done that," Lauzon said. "Personally, I like his bill."

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin noted the House of Commons justice committee previously examined the issue and found the human rights code was a bit outdated and needed some revision.

But he disputes Storseth's argument that the section restricts free speech and must be abolished. "I don't agree with him," Comartin said Friday. He also questions whether the bill will receive support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or the majority of the Tory caucus. "I'm not sure about his analysis of the membership of his party," said Comartin, adding he hasn't heard Harper endorse the idea.

Conservative party members voted a few years ago at their annual convention in favour of a resolution to eliminate the human rights commission's authority to "regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints" dealing with hate speech on the Internet.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who oversees the human rights commission, voted for the resolution.

The prime minister, meanwhile, has said that "everyone has some concerns" about the issue and that it's a delicate balancing act to protect free speech without inciting hatred.

On Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Commission said that complaints regarding hate speech account for slightly more than one per cent of those received by the quasi-judicial body. Only two such complaints have been received since 2009, both of which were dismissed, said commission spokesman Craig Carson.

"The commission serves the will of Parliament and so is following the debate with interest," Carson said. "The Commission works to ensure that only complaints of real and actual discrimination under the act are accepted."


Anti-Catholic bigotry lives on among the Australian Left

The designations QC [Queen's Counsel] and SC [Senior Counsel] invariably suggest a barrister [trial lawyer] who is considered and skilful in cross-examination. Court reporters usually take note when, in answers to tough-minded questioning from a QC or SC, a defendant or respondent replies that he or she simply cannot remember the circumstances of a certain event.

The tables were turned on Friday following a series of tweets from the prominent Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside. First up, Burnside tweeted that Susan Mitchell's Tony Abbott: A Man's Man , which was released on Saturday, was a "great book". Burnside concluded: "Abbott will lead the country back to the dark ages." Soon after, the Melbourne QC sent out a tweet: "Paedos in speedos". Not surprisingly, the tweetdom interpreted Burnside's comment as linking the Catholic Abbott with the paedophile scandal in sections of the Catholic Church.

Burnside then issued a tweet which declared: "This is an unprompted apology to Abbott. He is NOT a paedophile and I was not referring to him. He has many flaws but that is not one of them." Asked by The Weekend Australian whether he was replying to a tweet which asked: "Are sexist abbotts like predator priests?", Burnside replied that he could not recall. Well, now.

Mitchell's 196-page tome is essentially an anti-Catholic sectarian rant of a kind prevalent in Australia a century ago. Mitchell's message is that Australians should not elect the Coalition led by Abbott because he is a conservative Catholic who has "never left the Catholic Church". Mitchell, who did not attempt to interview Abbott for her book, presents the Opposition Leader as a "mad monk" and an immature "zealot" who is ingrained with "sexism and misogyny" and who does not acknowledge the separation of church and state.

In the author's view, Abbott has been reliant on "a series of older male mentors throughout his life". They include, wait for it, "his father, who once hoped to become a Catholic priest". Shame. Then there are the Jesuit priest Father Emmet Costello, John Howard, Cardinal George Pell and the late political activist B.A. Santamaria. All except Howard are Catholic.

Henry Rosenbloom, who runs the book's Melbourne publisher, Scribe, has allowed a number of factual errors to remain in Mitchell's text. I will detail these in my Media Watch Dog blog on Friday. The essential criticism of Mitchell and Rosenbloom is that they believe it is acceptable to describe Abbott as "dangerous" on account of his Catholicism.

Louise Adler,who as chief executive of MUP published Abbott's book Battlelines, wrote in the Herald on Saturday that "the gap between Mitchell's reading and my acquaintance makes me reflect on the disjunction between the public performance and the private reality". Adler is a not a conservative.

The fact is that Abbott, both in government and in opposition, employed a number of senior women on his personal staff. He is politically close to such senior Liberal Party MPs as Julie Bishop and Bronwyn Bishop.What's more, according to the latest Newspoll, Julia Gillard leads Abbott by only two points - 39 per cent to 37 per cent - when females are asked who would make the better prime minister. The evidence suggests that, unlike Mitchell and Burnside, many voters do not regard him as a dangerous misogynist intending to create a Christian theocracy in the Antipodes.

Abbott critics fail to understand he is a pragmatic politician with the ability to communicate in a direct language which virtually all Australians can understand. With the next federal election unlikely before late 2013, there is no point in the opposition releasing detailed policy and setting itself up as a target as John Hewson did in the early 1990s.

In his influential Herald column last week, Peter Costello suggested Abbott's economic and industrial relations policies have been unduly influenced by Santamaria's legacy and that of the Democratic Labor Party, which went out of existence in 1978 when Abbott was 19. Three leading Coalition figures - Abbott, Andrew Robb and George Brandis - have had some relationship with Santamaria and/or the DLP.

Costello also mentions three others educated in the Catholic school system - Christopher Pyne, Joe Hockey and Barnaby Joyce. Yet there is no common position among this lot on economic or social policy. Some are ardent economic reformers - Robb and Hockey come to mind. Others are quite liberal on social policy - for example, Brandis and Pyne. Moreover, Santamaria was a protectionist and a social conservative who attempted to talk Abbott out of becoming a Liberal MP.

According to Costello, the "DLP was good on defence and the Cold War but not up to much on economic issues". Fair enough. But the DLP was also the first parliamentary party to oppose the White Australia policy and its principal influence on social policy was to achieve government funding for non-government schools which, in time, benefited the families of both Catholic Abbott and Protestant Costello and many more besides.

Abbott's political success has surprised many commentators. The key to understanding the Opposition Leader is to play down ideology. Mitchell's sectarian rant obviously excited Burnside. But it is unlikely to have much long-term effect.



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

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

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


3 October, 2011

Goodbye, mother and father! Now Parent 1 and Parent 2 appear on British passport form

For decades, passport applicants have been required to provide details of their mother and father. But now, after pressure from the gay lobby, they will be given the option of naming ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.

The change, which is due to take place within weeks, has been made following claims the original form was ‘discriminatory’ and failed to include same-sex couples looking after a child.

It has led to claims the official travel document is being turned into a ‘PC passport’. Campaigners for family values said the move ‘denigrated’ the roles of parents bringing up children in traditional families. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but have quite distinct roles to play in the care and nurture of their children. ‘To speak of “parent 1” and “parent 2” denigrates the place of both fathers and mothers. ‘Much as the equality and diversity social engineers might wish it were otherwise, it still takes a father and a mother to produce a child.’

The decision follows the revelation last month that details of the holder’s sex could be erased from all passports to spare transgender people from embarrassment.

The latest shift follows lobbying from gay rights groups, who argue that the current passport application form fails to recognise same-sex couples who are both officially registered as a child’s parents. Documents seen by the Daily Mail suggest the change was made as a result of lobbying by the gay rights group Stonewall.

The Home Office ‘Diversity Strategy’ states: ‘IPS [the Identity and Passport Service] is working with Stonewall in response to an issue about having to name a “mother” and “father” on the passport application form.’

Mr Wells added: ‘Like the Labour administration before it, the Coalition seems to be in Stonewall’s grip. ‘It is high time ministers started to represent the interests of the country as a whole and not capitulate to every demand made by a vocal and unrepresentative minority.’

Gay couples are registered as the official parents of any child they adopt. Those who use surrogate mothers must apply to the courts for a ‘parental order’ in order to be recognised as a child’s official parents.

Similar changes have been made in recent months to passport application forms in the U.S., outraging traditional family groups and religious conservatives.

Officials accepted that the move was made following lobbying from gay rights groups who claimed it was discriminatory. But a spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service insisted it was necessary to incorporate same-sex parents on the form so that accurate information is collected.

He said: ‘IPS is planning to amend the application form and associated guidance to deal with same-sex parents applying for a passport on behalf of a child. ‘Currently, the application form provides the relevant boxes of “mother” and “father” to be completed. ‘The new form to be introduced by December 2011 will in addition provide for “parent 1” and “parent 2”.

‘It is essential that any parent provides the necessary information on their status as parents or guardians when applying for a passport on behalf of their child. 'This protects the interests of the child and ensures that IPS is able to issue passports securely and safely to the right person. ‘The passport application form is therefore being updated to incorporate same-sex parents.’

Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual. But figures from the Office for National Statistics last week suggest that this is a wild exaggeration. According to the Integrated Household Survey, homosexuals and bisexuals make up only 1.5 per cent of the population. One per cent said they were gay or lesbian, while 0.5 per cent said they were bisexual.

More men than women declared themselves homosexual, with 1.3 per cent of men saying they were gay compared with 0.6 per cent of women who described themselves as lesbian.

Some 94 per cent said they were heterosexual, 4.3 per cent declined to answer the question or said they did not know, and 0.4 per cent said their sexuality was ‘other’.


The proposals are the latest shake-up to established rules for passports.

Last month, the Daily Mail revealed that the Government is preparing to introduce passports without details of the holder’s gender.

It would spare transgender people and those with both male and female organs from having to tick ‘male’ or ‘female’ boxes.

Supporters say it will solve the problem of embarrassing situations at border controls, where people whose sex appears to differ from that in their passport undergo questioning from guards.

As the rules stand, everyone must identify themselves as a man or women, even when they are undergoing sex-change therapy.

But, following pressure from the Lib Dems, the Home Office has begun a consultation on changing the rules.


Everyone's a little bit racist

Blame TV and magazines? Not likely. It's inborn. You can even find it in babies, rather amazingly -- JR

As the song from hit musical Avenue Q says, everyone’s a little bit racist - but scientists believe it may not be your fault. Instead they are blaming TV, the internet and even the books that we read.

Researchers from Georgia Tech's School of Psychology in the U.S. used a word association test to discover that most people have ‘built-in’ prejudices.

However, this racism isn’t necessarily something they believe in, but something that seeps into the subconscious from modern-day culture, they claim.

Study leader Paul Verhaeghen exposed people's inherent racism with a straightforward, but sneaky, word test. Volunteers were asked, for example, if the letters g-u-b formed a word, then if the letters g-u-n formed a word. He found that participants gave their answer much more quickly if they were shown a black face before the letters g-u-n.

Another part of the test involved measuring response times to stereotypical word pairings, such as black-violence. ‘It suggests that most people associate black people with violence and this seems to be universal,’ he said. [Because it's true}

Keen to find out the source of this racist thinking, his team examined a collection of works known as the Bound Encoding of the Aggregate Language Environment (BEAGLE).

This contains a sample of books, newspaper and magazine articles, about 10million words in all, thought by psychologists to be a good representation of works that are in the American culture. They found that racist pairings of words, such as black-murder, were fairly common in the various literature. And in the test it was these associations that participants responded fastest to.

In other words, popular culture appears to be drip-feeding people with prejudice. Examples included women/weak, white/greedy and old/wise.

Verhaeghen said: ‘What you have is stuff you’ve picked up, from reading, watching stuff on the internet.’

He stresses, though, that how people behave towards one another is far more important than how they react instinctively to what they read or watch.

He added: ‘One of the things these findings suggest is that for those of us who, like me, very often feel guilty about these gut reactions you have and you're not supposed to have is those gut reactions are normal and they have very little to do with you. ‘They have more to do with the culture around you. What is more important is your behaviour, rather than your gut reaction.’

The results of the study will be published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Social Psychology.


An end to the male role of breadwinner? The 20-something British women who earn more than men

Women’s average hourly pay is now just over £10 an hour, compared with just under £10 an hour for men

The traditional role of men as the main breadwinner could soon be a thing of the past, it has been claimed. Young women aged between 22 and 29 are now being paid more on average per hour than their male counterparts.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, said the effect could be a result of higher numbers of better-qualified women coming into the work place. She believes it could mean a role reversal, with more women going out to work while their partners stay at home, to take advantage of their higher earning potential.

She said: ‘To me this is a particularly interesting point because if in their mid-twenties women are earning more than men, this opens the possibility that we could see a tipping point at which it becomes more the norm for women – as the higher earners in a family – to return to full-time work, leaving their menfolk to play the part of main carer for children in the family. ‘That could have a profound effect on the representation of women in senior roles and their pay rates across the spectrum.’

Recent figures, which contrast sharply with similar research from 1997 that showed the opposite trend, reveal the gap between men and women’s hourly pay is also closing among 18 to 21-year-olds and 30 to 39-year-olds. It is only among older workers, 40 to 49-year-olds, that men remain significantly ahead of women, earning just over £14 per hour on average while women earn just £12.

Mrs Curnock Cook, who was delivering the Elizabeth Johnson memorial lecture at the Institute of Physics, added: ‘I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’ve come and solved the gender gap in pay rates.’

She said a number of factors could affect future earnings of men and women, but the figures did show it could make sense in some households for the woman to go back to work after childbirth and for the man to take on the caring role.

Recent research found women bosses in their 20s were now paid more than men doing the same jobs. The survey from the Chartered Management Institute found their average salary was £21,969 a year, £600 more than a man could expect at the same level. But the report said across all age groups women executives were still paid 25 per cent less than men.

The findings were based on a survey of 34,000 managers, and backed up evidence from official statistics that the traditional gender pay gap has gone into reverse among the young.

The closing of the gender pay gap follows more than a decade of greater educational achievement by girls than boys and a view among some employers that they are more ambitious and efficient.

The institute also found salaries for women went up by 2.4 per cent in the year to February, compared with 2.1 per cent for men.

The £21,969 salary of a junior female executive - typically in food retail or the Health Service - compares with £21,367 for a male counterpart.


Australia: Silencing dissent won't resolve indigenous issues

THE Bolt case reveals that Leftists prefer symbolic victories to dealing with disadvantage

THE judicial finding against Andrew Bolt has drastic implications for free speech but it also demonstrates that in almost two decades since the landmark Mabo decision, Australia's left-liberal political class has learned little about the important priorities in indigenous issues.

The loudest voices and most powerful advocates on indigenous issues still seem to be pre-occupied with political and symbolic victories rather than practical solutions. So while we learn of indigenous families in remote South Australian communities relying on food parcels from the Red Cross, the national debate focuses on how to silence a debate over cultural identity.

Rather than address the serious issues that were raised in the now banned columns - questions of racial preference for jobs, grants and prizes and how to ensure they support the most deserving - the obsession has been with wreaking vengeance and silencing Bolt.

On the matter of free speech it is worth noting that, at least, Judge Mordecai Bromberg conceded the issues raised by Bolt were matters of public interest. But Bromberg said some of Bolt's words meant more than their literal meaning and that while he accepted the literal meaning of some of Bolt's mitigating phrases, he found Bolt did not believe them.

So now when airing opinions on matters of public interest, Australians are subject to sanction by a court according to a judge ascribing extra meaning to the words we use, or denying our sincerity in the use of other words.

If that is not frighteningly Orwellian, nothing is. And, may it please the court, that is exactly what I meant to write. No more, no less.

Many left-liberals in the love media have welcomed the decision as revenge against Bolt, rather than railing against it as an illiberal blow against free speech. Much has been made of the findings about errors of fact. Errors are always unfortunate and sometimes egregious but in this case they are hardly the central point. Some of what Bromberg cites as factual error is more a matter of emphasis. It is a canard to suggest the case was about disputed facts: it was about apparent offence caused by Bolt's controversial and strongly worded opinion.

It is not surprising that many people genuinely and passionately disagree with Bolt's views. While intellectually cogent, they were stridently put. That is his way. Cultural identity must be an issue for free debate in a multicultural society that makes distinctions and decisions according to identity.

It has been surprising to see many, such as David Marr and Julian Burnside, who would consider themselves enlightened liberals welcome the decision and revel in the schadenfreude of Bolt's misery.

This is an unusual position, it seems to me, for two men who were prominent in the censorship outcry over Bill Henson's nude photo portraits of children. At that time, in a debate hosted by Marr, Burnside said, approvingly, that "political censorship is not so popular these days".

That now seems contestable. I think Burnside and Marr ought to at least admit it is Bolt's opinions and the way they were expressed that are at the heart of this case, not his facts. The modus operandi of the morally vain liberal Left has always been to trumpet its tolerance by denouncing others. Still, that is the point; we must be allowed to offend each other.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor yesterday missed the irony when he defended Bolt's censure for causing offence, then almost in the same breath, suggested Tony Abbott must accept offensive comments about him, and the offence caused by his own views, as part of the democratic compact. Indeed.

Ideological sparring is not to be spurned; it is the very essence of a robust democracy. We shouldn't wish away freedoms to silence our opponents. Defamation laws provide sufficient protection.

Sadly, the issue of the nation's shameful indigenous disadvantage remains at the eye of an ideological storm. And in the Bolt case the complainants by their action, the judge by his activism, and the commentators by their analysis have shown that maturity in the debate is a long way off.

My experience of this harks back to the secret women's business saga of Hindmarsh Island. When Aboriginal affairs minister Robert Tickner banned a bridge development in 1994 on the say so, as it turns out, of one witness's secret and fabricated evidence, it represented the high point of the left-liberal agenda for delivering symbolic victories to Aboriginal Australians. As a young journalist I investigated the facts and revealed the fabrication claims. All hell broke loose. In my naivety I presumed it would be a simple matter of the truth winning out.

Instead, the resources of the federal government, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, environmental groups, the ABC and even some churches turned it into a cultural battle between black and white. By the way, in that debate, the indigenous "credentials" of the dissidents were often questioned. A royal commission eventually confirmed the fabrication, and after losing the government, Labor dropped the cause. (Although the proponents later claimed some solace from a federal court case.)

Those caught up in that storm believed the trauma and vitriol of the experience might be worthwhile to help prevent such cultural shenanigans in the future. As Beryl Kropinyeri, one of the Ngarrindjeri dissidents who blew the whistle on the misadventure, said at the time; "Reconciliation starts with the truth."

Yet time and again since, we have seen leading Aboriginal activists and the political class focus on symbolic indigenous victories over perceived white and-or conservative antipathy. Instead of considering how best to educate indigenous children in remote communities, we have admonished ourselves over the wrongs of the stolen generation and the need for a formal apology. When shocking abuse of indigenous children was revealed, triggering the Northern Territory intervention, the debate was not about repairing communities and providing hope for children, but about indigenous rights and discriminatory paternalism.

In the Kimberley now, indigenous locals are insulted as "coconuts" because they dare to choose an economically self-sustaining future over a triumph in environmental and cultural politics. There are promising initiatives, such as Generation One's push for indigenous jobs. But it would be better to debate the tough issues Bolt raises, rather than leave the sorry saga of indigenous disadvantage to business as usual.



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

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

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


2 October, 2011

British Government to save Year of our Lord from BBC's 'Common Era'

The Government last night moved to safeguard BC and AD after The Mail on Sunday revealed they were under threat because they were considered offensive to non-Christians.

Last week this newspaper reported that the BBC had replaced Anno Domini (the Year of our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era (CE) and Before the Common Era (BCE).

The Corporation believes BC and AD are offensive to non-Christians and has started to use the ‘religiously neutral’ alternatives on websites and in programmes including University Challenge and Radio 4’s In Our Time.

The decision has prompted an avalanche of complaints from viewers, Christian groups, politicians including London Mayor Boris Johnson, and even some of the BBC’s own star presenters, who have vowed to stick with the traditional terms.

And there was further embarrassment for the Corporation last night when the Government publicly championed the use of BC and AD. A spokesman for the Department for Education said there was nothing offensive about BC and AD, and urged teachers to keep using them in lessons.

He said: ‘It is common sense for schools to use BC and AD in everyday teaching because that’s the most widely used and understood way of dating historical events. ‘A school’s job is to prepare children for the real world so it’s plain common sense for them to use BC and AD.’

The Government’s intervention will be welcomed by Christian groups who fear that the switch to BCE and CE is part of a concerted attempt to ‘airbrush’ Christianity from national life.

The Mail on Sunday has established that dozens of universities, museums, leading historians and even the retailer W H Smith have either dropped BC and AD entirely or they are using it alongside the alternative BCE and CE system.

The Usborne Encyclopedia Of World Religions For Children uses the terms in all of its chapters including the one on Christianity. And a guide for 11 to 14-year-olds studying Key Stage Three History uses the modern terms in its section about Ancient Rome.

The book says the Romans conquered Britain in 43 CE and that their hold on power lasted until the 5th Century CE. The BBC uses BCE and CE in its Bitesize GCSE History book.

Dozens of universities including the Open University, which is Britain’s largest, are also using the terms in particular courses. The OU’s online study guides for classical history, Latin and religion are littered with the terms and even Christ’s birth and death dates are presented in terms of BCE and CE.

Durham University’s Oriental Museum has also adopted the system to classify its collection. A spokesman said that in common with other museums, it wanted to use a dating system which wasn’t associated with any ‘one religion’.

Several historians including Professor Mary Beard, the author of Pompeii: Life And Death In A Roman Town, have used the terms in their work. She said: ‘I do use BCE and CE in writing but not in speaking.’

The British Council’s website states: ‘The terms CE and BCE are relatively old terms that have experienced increased usage in recent years. They are identical to BC and AD and may eventually replace them.’

A spokesman for the British Council last night said the views were those of an individual employee who had posted them on its China home¬page. It said its own style guide still encouraged the use of BC and AD.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘As we have made clear from the beginning, the BBC uses BC and AD as standard terminology. It is also possible for individuals to use different terminology if they wish to, particularly as it is now commonly used in historical research.’


Defend a free press — don’t just guard the "Guardian"

Yes, the police threat to the liberal newspaper was outrageous – but who invited the authorities to crack down on the press in the first place?

It was, as all liberal-minded people (and Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail) agreed, an egregious assault on press freedom for the Metropolitan Police to threaten legal action to force the Guardian to reveal its sources. So there was much celebration and not a little smug satisfaction in media circles when the Met, under pressure from within and without the legal system, dropped the action last week.

Where, the Guardian editors and their outraged high-level supporters demanded, did the Met ever get the ‘ill-judged’, ‘misconceived’ and ‘perverse in the extreme’ idea that they could order the Guardian to tell them who leaked details of Operation Weeting, the phone-hacking investigation?

It’s a good question. Where on earth could Inspector Censor and PC Prodnose have got the notion that it was their business to investigate, arrest and prosecute journalists, or interfere with the operations of a free press? Step forward the moral crusaders at the Guardian and its allies.

For years they have been demanding more police and legal action against the Murdoch press and those allegedly involved in phone-hacking, inviting the authorities to police the media more closely. Then these illiberal liberals throw their arms up in horror when the authorities try to take advantage of their invitation to investigate the high-minded ‘good guys’ at the Guardian as well as the lowlife at the defunct News of the World. Their naivety is only exceeded by their elitism. Give the state a licence to interfere with the press, and you should not be surprised if it tries to exploit it – even if today’s spineless state officials ultimately lacked the gumption to take on the Guardian.

The threat to take the Guardian to court was doomed from the start. It seemed clear that the Met’s heart was not really in it when they issued a bizarre statement to justify the action, which spent most of its time praising the Guardian as if that paper were the conscience of the modern police force:

‘We pay tribute to the Guardian‘s unwavering determination to expose the hacking scandal and their challenge around the initial police response. We also recognise the important public interest of whistleblowing and investigative reporting - however, neither is apparent in this case. This is an investigation into the alleged gratuitous release of information that is not in the public interest.

‘The Metropolitan Police Service does not seek to use legislation to undermine Article 10 of anyone’s human rights and is not seeking to prevent whistleblowing or investigative journalism that is in the public interest, including the Guardian‘s involvement in the exposure of phone hacking.’

If it was strange to hear the police posing as the guardians of press freedom, it was equally odd that, beneath the outrage, some high-profile protests at the Met’s threat to the Guardian basically took a similar line. We are on the same side in the phone-hacking crusade, the liberal press and lawyers appealed to the police, so why turn on the Guardian?

This touching display of faith in the progressive ethics of Plod was put in a typically infantile nutshell by the actor and political idiot Hugh Grant, who continues to transmogrify into a caricature of the PC prime minister he played in Love, Actually. Why, pleaded Grant at the Liberal Democrat party conference, were the ‘good cops’ investigating the Murdoch papers’ phone-hacking now picking on their ‘fellow goodies’ at the Guardian? This is political struggle recast as rom-com fairytale between goodies and baddies.

The general bewildered assumption among the liberal critics was that the threat of action against the Guardian went against the grain of the Met’s phone-hacking investigation. They could hardly have been more wrong. The police’s move against the underhand methods of the liberal as well as the tabloid press spelt out the true message of the phone-hacking furore: that there is too much press freedom altogether in Britain, and that the police and courts have a responsibility to move in and tame the feral media.

And who has been campaigning for tougher legal action against ‘rogue’ journalists for years, driving the phone-hacking scandal through parliament and demanding more intervention? The same allegedly liberal journalists and lawyers who were up in arms when the Met turned its attention from the tabloids to the Guardian, squealing ‘Do it to them, not to us!’.

It was quickly clear to all, including the Crown Prosecution Service, that the Met had overstepped the mark on this occasion. The law generally gives journalists the right to protect their sources these days, thus excusing the Guardian from a repeat of the humiliation it suffered in 1983 when it complied with a court order and betrayed a young civil servant, Sarah Tisdall, who had leaked information on the siting of US cruise missiles in Britain. Tisdall was sentenced to six months in jail.

When the Metropolitan Police did a hurried u-turn and dropped the action this time, a ‘senior source’ at Scotland Yard told the Guardian: ‘Obviously, the last thing we want to do is to get into a big fight with the media. We do not want to interfere with journalists.’ The paper hailed this climbdown as a victory for its sterling defence of press freedom.

Yet in reality, the post-phone-hacking crackdown, which the Guardian’s anti-Murdoch crusaders did so much to start, is all about the authorities seeking to ‘interfere with journalists’ – and not only those implicated in hacking murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone messages. This interference goes way beyond police investigations of individual reporters and editors.

The government, after all, has set up a judge-led inquiry to decide on the future of the British media and how to regulate the press more tightly. That is state interference with journalism on the grand scale, at a time when there is already far too little press freedom in our society. It was telling that the opposition Labour Party’s culture spokesman thought the way to win some cheap applause at his party conference on Tuesday was to call for the creation of an official register of professional journalists - basically a licence to write - so that those who fail to meet the standards expected (by who?) could be ‘struck off’ like doctors guilty of malpractice.

The need now is for an unequivocal response, not just to the Met chancing its arm with the Guardian, but to the entire political-legal-moral war on the idea of a free press. Instead, the liberal defenders of the Guardian have been the main cheerleaders for the authorities taking firm action.

They have tried to excuse this impressive display of double standards by depicting it as a black-and-white issue, with a clear moral divide between what Hugh Grant calls the ‘proper press’ and the improper tabloids. In fact, investigative journalism is often a grey area where the law is concerned. It was pointed out recently that back in 2006, a top Guardian reporter, David Leigh, had admitted to using phone-hacking techniques in pursuit of a story. By encouraging the state to police the media more closely, the liberal press have made a rod for their own backs, even if the Met backed out of trying to use it this time.

However the Guardian-Grant fanclub might attempt to twist it to suit their tastes, the truth remains that you cannot have a free press for some but not for others. Indeed, as with all free-speech issues, it is more important to defend freedom for those of whom you – and especially the authorities – disapprove. As Karl Marx had it, if you want a properly free press, you cannot grasp the rose without the thorn.

Instead, the fact that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone was indefensible – which everybody accepts – has been turned into an excuse for refusing to defend tabloid journalism against further interference and regulation. Even the £2million, £3million or £Xmillion of compensation now to be paid to the Dowler family is apparently not enough to pay the Murdoch papers’ debt to society. (And nor is any decent journalist allowed to ask exactly what good such a payout for listening to a dead girl’s mobile messages is supposed to achieve.)

So while there was uproar over the Met’s half-hearted threat to its new mates at the Guardian, it remains open season on the tabloid press. Even if you never read the News of the World (which millions did) and do not want to know what’s in the Sun, Star, Mirror or Mail, this should be a cause of serious concern.

Because the immediate danger to a free and open press in Britain today is not the threat of comprehensive state censorship - it is the stifling atmosphere of conformism already being created around the phone-hacking scandal. Suppose that those allegedly liberal media campaigners got their way, and the authorities restricted themselves to only ‘interfering’ with tabloid excesses, while leaving alone those who conformed to the Hugh Grant Law on behaving like ‘goodies’. What sort of a victory for a free press or a democratic society would that be, to find ourselves living under a one-party state of non-jackbooted Guardian values?

Despite the self-congratulatory air around the Met’s recent climbdown, the true state of the debate about press regulation today was illustrated by reports that the next chairman of the under-fire Press Complaints Commission is to be the former army chief, General Richard Dannant (that’s Baron Dannant to the likes of us). It looks as if, in a desperate bid to save the remnants of self-regulation and stave off total legal regulation, the British press industry is saying to the government’s judge-led inquiry: ‘Look, no need to beat us up from the outside, we can appoint our own army hardman to do it from the inside!’

Thus does the future of press freedom in Britain appear to be trapped between a rock and a hard place – aka an army general and a judge. That really is ‘perverse in the extreme’.


Thomas the Tank Engine forced to carry 'decorated tree' for 'winter holidays' as Christmas is banned on Sodor

Thomas the Tank Engine has been accused of joining the politically correct bandwagon after Christmas was written out of one of his adventures.

Even Christmas trees have been axed in an episode of the DVD, Little Engines, Big Days Out, and are instead referred to as decorated trees. Brightly wrapped presents are delivered to a ‘holiday party’.

Critics say the omission was particularly strange because the original Thomas books, hugely popular around the world, were written by a clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.

Ann Widdecombe, the former Government Minister and convert to Roman Catholicism, said it was ‘extra ridiculous’ not to mention Christmas in a children’s story as youngsters would be anticipating the special day for months in advance. ‘The shops will be stocking Christmas gifts, the television will be advertising presents and people will be talking about it, so the idea that children won’t hear about it is ludicrous,’ she said.

‘It is another example of the politically correct brigade trying to airbrush Christmas out of our lives because they fear they might upset non-Christians, which is nonsense.’

In the episode called Keeping Up With James, there are references to ‘winter holidays’ but no mention of the word Christmas. Thomas is carrying a fir tree as narrator Michael Angelis says: ‘Thomas is pulling a special tree. You always see a tree with decorations during the winter holidays.’

In the story, red engine James is anxious to beat the other engines to finish a series of jobs because he wants to win the privilege of distributing children’s presents.

The narrator says the Fat Controller, the rotund manager of the railways system on the fictional island of Sodor, tells the trains that when the lines are clear of snow he will need an engine ‘to take the presents to the holiday party’ – an apparent reference to a Christmas celebration. He adds: ‘All the engines wanted to take the presents train. It was the jolliest train of the year.’

At one point, James pulls into a station where children are singing carols and decorating a Christmas tree with shiny baubles. The narrator says: ‘James listened to the choir and watched all the colourful decorations being put up.’

Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, said: ‘It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title. ‘Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.’

However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: ‘This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.’

The original Thomas characters were created by Mr Awdry in 1945 while he was a vicar.


Scanners embedded in road to result in fines for those driving on worn tires?‏

Here's a new one. According to AutoExpress, police in the UK are looking into scanners embedded into roadways that can detect the depth of a vehicle's tire tread. If your rubber doesn't meet a set of pre-determined parameters, you could eventually expect to see a fine show up in the mail. Currently, law enforcement says that the technology will only be used in checkpoint scenarios to alert drivers of a potentially dangerous situation, but given that the system costs somewhere around €50,000, or $67,500 at current conversion rates, critics are concerned that the depth-measuring device will be used as a cudgel to drum up revenue.

That concern is bolstered by the fact that Trevor Hall, a major proponent of speed cameras in the UK, is also behind the measure.

We're all for improving road safety in any way possible, but if this new technology results in fines for motorists, we have concerns. After all, measures like the one proposed here would almost certainly target low-income drivers and unfairly position revenue generation on their shoulders. After all, if you can afford new tires, chances are better that you'll buy them



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

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

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


1 October, 2011

Hate preacher wins human rights payout... even though he shouldn't be in Britain at all

A banned extremist who made a mockery of Britain’s border controls is now likely to pocket £5,000 in compensation because immigration officials could not speak his language.

The High Court ruled yesterday that Sheikh Raed Salah, described as a ‘virulent anti-Semite’ in the Commons, could claim compensation for unlawful detention by immigration officers.

They had seized the pro-Palestine hardliner – who should never have been allowed into Britain in the first place – to have him deported. But immigration staff failed to explain to him ‘in a language he could understand’ precisely why he was being detained – a technical breach of the rules. The preacher cannot speak English and officials failed properly to translate what was happening, the court ruled.

As a result – even though the Home Secretary had legal powers to hold him – he was unlawfully detained for 34.5 hours, until proper explanations were given to him about what was happening in Arabic.

At one stage, an immigration officer had tried to use an ‘app’ on his iPhone to give instructions to the extremist. But he did not give Salah, 52, all the information required to make his detention lawful, Mr Justice Nicol decided. Salah can now formally apply for taxpayer-funded compensation. The likely pay-out is between £4,000 and £5,000 – or about £150 for every hour he was held.

Michael Weiss, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said the case was an ‘embarrassment’ for UK Border Agency officials. ‘I find it scandalous that someone like this is getting damages and is being paid with British taxpayers’ money,’ he said.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said he was shocked by news of the ruling. ‘We speak English in this country and anybody that wants to come here and preach hate is going to do so in English as well,’ he added. ‘I fail to see the logic of what has happened. Yet again some form of craziness is making Britain look ridiculous.’

Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, managed to walk through immigration checks at Heathrow Airport on June 25 despite being barred from the UK by the Home Secretary. Immigration officials had failed to inform him of the ban – and he was unaware that he should not travel here.

He was finally detained three days later on the direct orders of Theresa May, but only after addressing meetings in London and Leicester. The Home Secretary ordered that Salah be removed on the grounds that his presence was not ‘conducive to the public good’.

Court papers say Mrs May has alleged that Salah has ‘publicly expressed views that fostered hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK’. He denies being an anti-Semite and is challenging his removal.

Lawyers claim his treatment was a breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act – the right to ‘freedom of expression’. A separate court appeal on this row is due to take place next week.

In the meantime, Salah has been released on bail and is staying at a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb in North London while his case is processed.

He is credited with a string of outrageous statements, although he denies being an extremist. He is said to have claimed that the 9/11 plot was carried out by Israelis and that Jews were warned not to go to the World Trade Centre before the murderous attack in New York on September 11, 2001.

He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for fundraising for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian spy.

It is understood that Government solicitors will fight the claim for compensation on the grounds that it is a minor point and his overall detention was lawful. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The decision the Home Secretary took was the right one. The court decided there was a technical problem when he was detained.'


After girls gunned down by street gang Britain's Tories pledge U.S.-style shock tactics to put youngsters off a life of crime

Children as young as ten are being sucked into a dangerous gang culture, Iain Duncan Smith warns today.

The Work and Pensions Secretary says a ‘collapse’ in traditional fatherhood is driving youngsters into the arms of gang leaders, who offer them a ‘perverse’ sense of structure and belonging.

Of those aged between ten and 19, a startling six per cent – 450,000 – now report belonging to a gang, with as many as 200 rival groups operating in London.

In an interview with the Daily Mail on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, Mr Duncan Smith revealed radical plans to use U.S.-style ‘shock therapy’ to try to reverse the trend.

A Government blueprint to tackle gang culture, to be unveiled by the Home Office and the Work and Pensions department this month, will include controversial ‘call-ins’ for gang members who have not yet committed any crime.

They are taken into a courtroom where a judge warns them about potential penalties, the families of victims of gang-related violence describe their experiences and surgeons confront them with images of shootings and stabbings.

In the U.S., similar ‘tough love’ schemes are credited with reducing gang-related deaths by 60 per cent in some cities.

Mr Duncan Smith said the latest statistics showed that in both Manchester and Liverpool around 60 per cent of shootings are gang-related and there has been a 75 per cent increase in serious stab wounds amongst older teenagers.

Effective action to tackle ‘social breakdown’ would mean starting with gang culture, which is blighting entire communities.

‘We have a growing gangs problem. There are between 100 and 200 gangs in London alone. ‘They are getting younger and younger. It is down to about ten years old in some cases.

‘These gangs end up having a massive disproportionate effect on the community. There’s a shock wave around them. They are a massive driver of further social breakdown. In an area dominated by gangs it’s almost impossible to improve people’s quality of life. ‘So it is a critical element in tackling social breakdown.’

Mr Duncan Smith said as many as one in five of those convicted of taking part in rioting and looting this summer were gang members, adding: ‘There’s no question that there was a lot of targeting, a lot of high-level criminal activity and organising going on that the gangs were involved in. Were gangs responsible for the rioting? Clearly not. But there are wider groups of dysfunctional families who aren’t necessarily in gangs but whose children will end up being signed up by them.

‘Social breakdown means there are fathers completely missing. Constructive fatherhood has gone in many of these communities. ‘Often for these boys a gang does provide a kind of structure, it gives a sense of belonging, it gives a perverse sense of purpose. And criminal activity sometimes gives them an income too.

‘Mothers are struggling with poor education, very few skills, have had children early, often in their teens. If they are in relationships they’re often violent, abusive ones.

‘That’s the picture we see in these areas – a value set that has completely collapsed. We are arresting now the great-grandkids of the first members of the families who were arrested.'

Mr Duncan Smith said gangs were ‘at the tip of a growing, violent culture’. ‘Almost all are made up of people that come from broken and difficult backgrounds.

‘They’re also sometimes the drivers of social breakdown, because communities become blighted by their behaviour. No shopkeeper will want to invest money in a community that’s going to be dangerous and difficult.’

Mr Duncan Smith said gang culture was also fuelling welfare dependency, since in many towns and cities members refused to look for work or even travel through areas controlled by rival groups.

He said that gang members could be forced to attend the new ‘call-ins’, even where there is no evidence that they have committed a crime, though pilot schemes have shown that around 75 per cent come voluntarily.

‘It will be possible to compel people who are known for their gang activity to attend,’ the Work and Pensions Secretary said.

Sessions will be held in court and opened by a judge or magistrate. Chief constables will tell gang members: ‘We know who you are, where you live and what you’re doing, and we’ll do everything possible to make your lives hell.’

Individuals are also confronted by mothers whose children have been killed because of their membership of gangs and surgeons who show them horrifying real-life images of victims of gang-related knife and gun crime. Former prisoners who have served time for gang activity also speak to gang members.

Mr Duncan Smith said evidence from the U.S. and pilot projects in Scotland suggested the shock therapy could have ‘phenomenal’ results.

In the interview, he also backed an extension of more conditionality in the welfare system – pointing out the Tories had been championing the idea of a ‘something for something’ principle, adopted by Labour at its conference last week, for many years.

Mr Duncan Smith promised help for middle-aged women unduly affected by increases in the state pension age would be unveiled ‘before the end of the year’.


Iraqi immigrant who publicly supports Israel and the Jewish people attacked by fellow Muslims, and carved on his back

One Iraqi immigrant living in St. Louis, Missouri might have learned the hard way what happens to Muslims who publicly support Israel and the Jewish people, when he allegedly suffered a heinous attack in August — where, in addition to being stabbed and held at gunpoint, assailants carved a Star of David into his back.

Alaa Alsaegh, a writer whose Arabic language poem, “Tears at the Heart of the Holocaust,” was featured on Nonie Darwish’s website, ArabsForIsrael.com, reported the incident to local authorities and was later taken to a hospital where his wounds were photographed. The Egyptian-born Darwish is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity and has been one of the most prominent and outspoken critics of Islam since the September 11 attacks.

According to Darwish’s article in FrontPage Magazine on Wednesday, Alsaegh‘s poem expressed the author’s affinity for Israel, the Jewish people and his mourning over the grim fate of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Such sentiments purportedly did not sit well with certain members of St. Louis’ Islamic community, however, prompting a string of alleged threats directed at Alsaegh in which the poet was smeared an infidel and a traitor to Islam. But despite being accused of apostasy, the young man continued writing his poems — that is until the morning of August 14 when Alsaegh was reportedly attacked.

FrontPage provides an account of the incident:

"According to Mr. Alsaegh, as he was driving at 10:30 in the morning on Compton St. near Park Ave., a small white car cut him off and hit his car, while another car stopped behind him. The occupants of the cars, some of whom wore security guard-type uniforms, quickly entered Alsaegh’s car, pointing a gun at him. They pushed his upper body down against the steering wheel, stabbed him and pulled off his shirt to expose his back. Then, with a knife, they carved the Star of David on his back while laughing as they recited his pro-Jewish poem. Mr. Alsaegh believes that the attackers could be Somalis, but he was not sure. After the attackers fled the scene, Mr. Alsaegh was surrounded by witnesses to the crime and was taken to the hospital. The photo representing this story was taken at the hospital."

St. Louis Police confirm that officers responded to a call for help at approximately 10:45 a.m. on August 14 and Both Dariwsh’s article and a report from local KMOV state that the FBI has become involved in the investigation — though the agency has not yet made any official statements pertaining to the incident, nor has it labeled it a “hate crime.”

Thus far, no arrests have been made.


Australian depression charity finds high rate of depression and anxiety among homosexuals

Australia's depression charity restricted access to a key report into gay and lesbian mental health because staff were concerned about the views of the organisation's chairman Jeff Kennett, former employees - and the report's author - claim.

Former staff members at beyondblue have told The Saturday Age the report, Feeling Queer and Blue, was put "completely to the background" because "we knew that Jeff [Kennett] didn't want it in the foreground whatsoever".

Mr Kennett drew controversy in July 2008 for comments likening a bisexual football trainer to a paedophile working as a masseur for young boys. Last month, he said happy heterosexual marriages were the best environment for the mental health of children.

The La Trobe University report into depression among the gay, lesbian and bisexual community was withheld by beyondblue for six months after it was finished in December 2008. Unlike many other beyondblue research reports, it was not spruiked with a media campaign. There is no evidence this was because of a direction from Mr Kennett.

"We felt it sank like a stone," said its author, Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, director of La Trobe's Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria. "They had a summary on the website but it was impossible for the public to get access to it. There was a sense of 'now we've done it, shut up about it'."

Associate Professor Mitchell said beyondblue was now strongly supporting the gay and lesbian community - who, the report documented, suffer from much higher rates of anxiety and depression than heterosexuals - but it had treated the report like a "grubby little secret".

"It was such a low priority, we had a sense that maybe it was [Jeff] Kennett who was being pandered to," she said.

One former staff member said beyondblue used the research to put off working directly with the community.

Several former staff told The Saturday Age the depression initiative went into "damage control" following Mr Kennett's comments about the bisexual football trainer.

"There was a lot of dismay on that day in the building and senior management took us all to task for expressing concern about it," said one, adding that while they believed Mr Kennett did not have a personal issue with gays and lesbians, "on an institutional level there was something going on there".

Former beyondblue board member and Labor MP Caroline Hogg backed Mr Kennett. "Sometimes the things that he says sound a bit clumsy. But I don't believe him to be homophobic. I would not have worked on a board with a homophobic chair," said Ms Hogg, who oversaw the commissioning of the gay and lesbian research. "He has put in so much effort, you have to take the rough with the smooth."

Julie Foster, a spokeswoman for Mr Kennett, said beyondblue did not play down the report and did not go into damage control over the former premier's comments. "The report was available to be downloaded from the website and hard copies were distributed," she said.

Mr Kennett is the subject of an 836-member Facebook campaign - spearheaded by the gay community - that is calling for him to be "sacked" as chair of beyondblue.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds